Saturday, May 31, 2014

100 Days

Day 86: Zero day in Pittsburgh
Day 87: Zero day in Pittsburgh
Day 88: Zero day in Pittsburgh
Day 89: Zero day in Pittsburgh
Day 90: Harper's Ferry to Crampton Gap Shelter (7.5 miles)
Day 91: Crampton Gap to Annapolis Rocks Campsite (14.1 miles)
Day 92: Annapolis Rocks to Raven's Rock Shelter (11.5 miles)
Day 93: Raven's Rock to Pen-Mar Park, Waynesboro, PA, Days Inn (4.6 miles)
Day 94: Pen-Mar Park to Tumbling Run Shelters (8.6 miles)
Day 95: Tumbling Run to Quarry Gap Shelters (12.2 miles)
Day 96: Quarry Gap to Pine Grove Furnace State Park Campground (16.9 miles) Half-Gallon Challenge
Day 97: PGFSP to Little Dogwood Run (15.6 miles)
Day 98: Little Dogwood Run to stealth campsite near piped spring (17.3 miles)
Day 99: Campsite to Duncannon, PA, The Doyle Hotel (12.3 miles)
Day 100: The Doyle to Clark's Ferry Shelter (4.3 miles)

Hike recap...
Our hike since returning to the trail has been awesome. Aside from having head colds, the terrain has been easy so our mileages have been rather consistent. We did a short day into Waynesboro to try to recover from our colds more quickly by spending a night in a warm bed and having a hot shower. The other short day was coming out of Duncannon because we didn't leave until 5pm due to a severe thunderstorm moving through the area. Our stay at the Doyle was amazing! The run-down old hotel definitely has some charm! Our attempt at the Half-Gallon Challenge was a bit pathetic. First, the General Store was closed so we couldn't participate in the "official" challenge, but the Ironmaster's hostel next door sold 1.75 quart containers of ice cream so we decided to make our own challenge. We decided to try and race each other which was a huge mistake! Eating ice cream very quickly is no fun at all, so we ended up eating half that night and half the next day. Our 98th day brought us through the Cumberland Valley and the quaint town of Boiling Springs just in time for their Memorial Day Parade. Sheila enjoyed the free eggs she yogi'd from the customers at Cafe 101, but she did not enjoy the 21 gun salute at the end of the parade. 

Reflections on 100 days...
Wow. 100 days! It seems like just yesterday we set out from Amicalola Falls in about 4 inches of snow and struggled to summit Springer Mountain before nightfall. I can still remember the feeling of the anticipation and excitement of what was to come. I remember being nervous of walking over to h the shelter to meet the other hikers at the end of our 8.8 mile day. I remember being really unsure of myself and unsure if I could really do the thing. The AT was a big and scary unknown. 

Today, I'm a little more confident in who I am and why I'm out here, and I'm still excited about what's to come (New England!!! Whaaaa?!) The AT is still an unknown in many ways, but it also feels like home. Our 5x8 tent is the coziest little house we could ask for and walking the spine of Appalachia is the best commute. The AT has become the "real life," and everything else is referred to as the "before times." I'm confident we can summit Katahdin before having to head home and start the newest chapter of our lives. 

The past 100 days have been marked by plenty of ups and downs (literally and figuratively), some of which I've documented in previous blog posts. It's hard to capture every moment out here to share with the world, but thinking back on these 100 days fills me with an immense feeling of joy and accomplishment. Hiking everyday for 11 hours a day is hard work. Sometimes you're rewarded with a great view or particularly nice terrain, but more often than not you seem to be trudging up and down pointless mountains over snowy, slushy, muddy, rocky, root-y, or uneven terrain. It's painful and exhausting more often than not. Hiking the AT is not about finding happiness in every step, though for us there is an inherent happiness in the hike. For me it's more about finding joy in the personal growth I have experienced which has stemmed from pushing my physical and mental limits and stepping outside my comfort zone. 

There is a quote I often see on cheesy home decor products that says, "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take but by the number of moments that take your breath away" and I have found it to be so incredibly true. For over 100 days now I've been able to wake up alongside the most loving and kind man and our silly dog in a little tent in the woods with the biggest grin on my face, and it continues to take my breath away. 

On on! To Katahdin! 

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