You would think that going from Georgia to Maine would be enough of a challenge but these crazy thru hikers have developed little mini challenges along the way. There is the Grayson Highlands Pony Challenge where you are supposed to try to ride a wild pony for at least seven seconds. Fortunately, we didn’t learn about that one until we were a few hundred miles away. There is the Four State Challenge where you hike continuously touching Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania. Jellyfish, Astronaut and NC’Ice did that one but somehow we ended up ahead of them anyway with a good night’s rest in between.
Then there is the Half Gallon Challenge where you try to eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting in honor of reaching the half way point. I opted out of this one fearing that the sugar rush would keep me up all night but it was fun to watch the others crush this much ice cream in under an hour. It really isn’t much of a challenge with how hungry we are all the time but it is a cool tradition anyway.
The 23 mile hike today was perfect. The weather warmed up nicely and I spent some time in the Appalachian Trail museum park. Everything was closed but the grounds were beautiful and the dogwoods are just beginning to open in this part of Pennsylvania. It’s been so great to spend over six weeks in dogwood season as we chase spring up to Maine.
When we got into Boiling Springs we found a place called Buck Off Farm that we could camp on for the night. They had horses, chickens and some friendly dogs to play with. We built a huge fire, ordered a pizza in from town and sat around reminiscing about home. We are all starting to feel pretty homesick but at the same time looking forward to the next 1,000 miles. This thru hike can only be done if you spend a huge chunk of time away from family and it got a lot harder over the last few weeks.
Now that we are over half way done we are starting to talk a little bit about Katahdin. I wasn’t ready to even begin dreaming about the finish but it is starting to feel like we might actually make it. The hike itself is fragile as is everything else in life but we are feeling so much more confident that our bodies are holding up and the logistics are falling into place. It feels great to dream about it during these long days but then I remind myself to come back to the moment and enjoy this day. There is so much that the Trail has to offer before Maine and I don’t want to miss a second.