Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Mile 1204.7 - Recap of MD/WV

We are actually 30 miles into Virginia now, but I have yet to give my report on Maryland and West Virginia!

MD & WV were the shortest states we'll go through on the AT (47 miles combined), but they provided us with the MOST magic!! I'll just give you the play-by-play.

On Thursday afternoon, we entered Maryland. We had done 20 miles that day and were thinking about setting up camp for the night at a city park.

But then Fire Marshall convinced us to join him and his girlfriend Alex for dinner at Golden Corral ... How we missed out on this American institution all this time, I have no idea! For a hungry hiker, it's a perfect fit! Anyways, when we returned to the park for the night, Deal & I decided to hike 5 more miles for the day! This meant we did our first night hike! We ended up at this very awesome shelter, which Deal still wouldn't sleep in because of the snake incident in PA.

So Friday, we woke up and hiked. Nothing too exciting to report for that day, actually. Maryland does have lots of history along the trail ... Lots of Civil War battles were fought here, which is crazy to think that someone could have been shot where you are hiking. There was also this interesting monument to Washington ... Apparently the first one built, then showed up by the one in DC!

The real excitement began on Saturday. First of all, Fire Marshall attempted to hike Maryland all in one day ... And succeeded! He is really good at the AT challenges! His 41-mile hike took him about 15-16 hours!!! Geez Louise!

Now back to us. Weeks ago, we made plans to meet up with several friends in this area. We were going to do lower-mileage days to make sure we had some visiting time. This was all before Hurricane Irene planned her arrival. Trail maintainers were going around telling hikers to hunker down. We were very excited because we felt the planned visits with our friends were perfectly timed for hunkering down!

We woke up Saturday and thankfully, the hurricane hadn't started. First thing on our agenda was not hiking, but meeting my other college roomie Kelly/Chile, her hubby & son for breakfast. Kelly even brought us extra treats to take with us. I'm not sure why, but everyone just wants to see us eat and shower ...

Anyways, it was great to visit with them and we even hiked a little of the trail together. I do believe Antonio (their son) is aspiring to be the youngest AT hiker ever at 3 1/2 years.

So then Deal & I set off to do big miles before the hurricane. We did a whopping 7 miles!!! The next magic came from one of Deal's buddies from the Prep, Tim. Tim picked us up and treated us to a night in a hotel!! There were a bunch of evacuees from the Chesapeake Bay staying there as well & they asked if we were evacuees and we said sort of. Anyways, we avoided the rains & winds for the night thanks to our trail angel!!!

Tim put us back on the trail Sunday morning & despite the lingering hurricane wind & rain, we hiked 10 miles into Harper's Ferry, where we were picking up our maildrop and meeting more friends.

We got to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, where they check in all AT hikers. We were #s 13 & 14 for SOBO thru hikers! When we left Maine, I think we were #40ish, so a lot of hikers dropped out and we passed a fair share.

Anyways, another one of Deal's Prep friends, Pat/DrFlyer, his wife, Bri/theDancer, and their 15-month-old were there to meet us! Bri brought us black bottom cupcakes, which she was able to make right before they lost power from the storm. Thank goodness for that! They took us out for lunch, again with the attempt to fatten us up.

We then collected our packages and once again, received some major mail magic! 5 packages of awesome goodies! Oddly enough, the guy told us we were NOT the most popular thru hikers to come through because someone else had 6 packages!! Still, no need for us to resupply for awhile!! Thank you all so very much!!

Next up was a visit from our friends Chris/Mouth and Kayt/NHBound. Kayt also brought us home-baked goods that she made before losing power! We sat around at the ATC center talking with them for awhile, then all of the sudden, Chris said they had a surprise and more friends were coming ... Our friends Sara/Caliente and hubby Mike/theFather walked in with their 7-week-old baby (with a personalized onesie in our honor)!!!! They drove 5 hours from Cleveland for the occasion!!! A crazy, wonderful surprise! So we spent the rest of the day with them and ate some more (of course). I am surprised they let us hold the new babe ... our odor was pretty bad!

The stats for MD & WV are not too exciting, but I can't go without reporting them!

41 miles
3.5 days
1 night in a tent
1 additional night in a tent for Deal, while Steadee opted for the new, beautiful shelter
1 night in a hotel
1 shower
Deal dug 1 hole!
4 deer
2 turtles
1 bee sting for Deal!

West Virginia
6.3 miles
1 day/1 night
1 night in a hostel
1 shower
Deal dug NO holes!!
1 silver AT marker
3 deer

By the way, we no longer count NOBOs. We stopped counting in PA. I know this will sound snobby, but the NOBOs we've seen in PA and points south are most likely not making it to the end by Katahdin's deadline of Oct 15, or sooner if the weather turns bad. So in our book, we count them as section hikers. Just call us AT snobs ...

Guess what? We have less than 1,000 miles left!!!! Holy granola!!!

Although we have entered our 11th state, it's the longest state (550ish miles). We like it so far and are happy to be among the mountains again, but you are bound to hear me complain at some point I'm sure.

Tomorrow we are taking a ZERO at Fire Marshall's family's house!!! Yeah!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Mile 1,130! PA is finished!

On Thursday, we conquered our eighth state and entered Maryland!

Oh and we hit the halfway point of the trail on Wednesday!!

Oh PA. We did not love you, but we tried not to hate you. I have to admit, the second half was better than the first half and helped redeem the state. I'll go as far to say it was "somewhat" enjoyable. But, we are definitely glad to be done with you, PA!

Here's the synopsis of PA.
229.6 miles
12 days
7 nights in a tent
4 nights under a roof (we even slept in an old jail in a town)

3 showers
5 dig-a-hole poop in the woods for Deal/0 for Steadee (by the way, just because I don't dig holes, doesn't mean I don't go to the bathroom! I just choose to use the privies)
1 hitchhike
4 iPod days (I have been "reading" a book!)
6 silver AT markers

The rocks.
PA has rocks. Lots of them. It's like someone back in the day blasted the whole state and voila, there are rocks everywhere. Then someone decided to put all the rocks ON the Appalachian Trail. Some rocks are big, some are small, but the bottom line is they are annoying.

The thing is, during the first 300+ miles of our trek, we hiked on rocks, roots, and other obstacles everyday. But, then the trail became evenly graded and friendly. And we got spoiled.

So to encounter rocks now is not fun. Our feet have new blisters and have been barking louder than usual.

The snakes.
PA has snakes. We saw 8 snakes. I wasn't as fearful as I thought I would be, but they were mostly at a safe distance. Except this lil guy that lives in Bake Oven Knob Shelter (we did not sleep here, just ate lunch here).

3 copperheads
2 black snakes
3 garter snakes
10 deer
3 cats????
1 groundhog

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream!
In PA, there is a tradition for thru hikers (gimmick). Since you hit the halfway point of the trail at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, they encourage you to eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Deal & I did it as a team ... 55 minutes. As for Fire Marshall, he accepted and conquered the challenge. 48 minutes! The record, by the way, is 8 minutes. It seemed in the log book, most people were between 15 minutes and 3 hours. Fun fact ... a half gallon of ice cream provides 3200 calories, just 1/4 of what we burned that day!

The shelters.
The trail in PA is maintained by 1700 different hiking clubs. And you can notice a huge difference. We saw some of the best- and worst-maintained shelters all in one state. It seems, the shelters in the first part of the state are surrounded by trash. And their privies were full to the brim. Gross, gross and more gross. We never actually stayed in a shelter in PA (and Deal has sworn off shelters altogether after seeing that snake in the one). There were a ton of primitive camping spots in the early section too. There were a few times we saw fire pits in the MIDDLE of the trail! I think this section just heavily used by locals who do not follow leave no trace principles and use the forest as their dumping grounds!

The weather.
The day we entered PA, it rained. The day we left PA, it rained. Pretty much everyday there was the threat of scattered tstorms. But, no, we did not feel the earthquake! I do believe we will feel the hurricane though!

Trail Magic.
Another disappointing thing about PA! Many NOBOs told us they got so much trail magic in PA. Well, either they lied or PA hates SOBOs! There was 1 empty cooler (trail tragic) and a small can of Pringles left in the mailbox at the halfway marker.
But, we did get all that mail magic back in Port Clinton and then got trail magic from our friends, Rachel/Charlotte and Chris/PA Dutch ... They came to the trailhead (with cherry cokes) and took us out to lunch!!! It was so good to see them. We actually are going to see more friends in MD and WV this week!

Strange things we saw in the PA wilderness:
Abandoned book, chair & clothes (which forced us to look for a dead body!)
Life-sized cross in field (it was eerie)
Rusted car

Flashlight on tripod in middle of the trail (we thought it could be a booby trap ... If you read this sign closely, it says "there is 1 booby trap in the above mileage." hehe)

So that was PA. Sigh. Goodbye.

Maryland is only 40.9 miles, so it'll be a quick state. Some hikers attempt to do it all in one day and Fire Marshall is going to try to join that club! Good luck buddy!

Location:Buchanan Trail E,Waynesboro,United States