Oh my goodness! The Trail Stooge has been the Slacking Stooge lately. So my last blog post was right before I left Harper’s Ferry. Awesome time there. It has been a while since then, so I’ll try to blog what has occurred over a few entries, that may not be chronologically ordered, due to my brain being overburdened with memories.
So as my colleague, Solitaire, has mentioned, I have been quite busy. My business has been primarily due to several visits as well as a health scare (not a major one, so no worries). And thank you Solitaire, your company was much appreciated. And yours as well Scuba Springsteen.
So, let’s start with one of the first major events that followed my departure from Harper’s Ferry. That event occurred soon after, and was the official half-way point. Right around the official half-way was what is called the “Half Gallon Challenge.” So it’s a nice little play on words – half gallon for half way. It’s honestly pretty disgusting, and I felt terrible after I was done, but it’s a necessary thing to do. Here I am displaying my trophy for completing the challenge. It’s a little ice cream stick. Pretty awesome trophy according to me:
And here’s my buddy Wash struggling through the challenge. He did straight Vanilla – terrible choice. His got all melty and disgusting half way through. I went with the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough – much better choice.
One of the more brutal stretches I encountered was the cold nights. Like a fool, I sent my +20 sleeping bag home at Harper’s Ferry. And much to my chagrin, the temperature dropped drastically for three nights or so. One night, I heard it dropped into the high 40’s. Obviously, I could not sleep in those conditions. So for three nights straight, I rose early and began hiking. Early for a hiker was 2 am. So I was a very sleepy hiker, but it was better than being awake and freezing cold in my tent.
All I had was a silk sleeping bag liner. One night I attempted to McGyver a bunch of my random pieces of gear. I filled one trash bag with dead leaves to use as a blanket, and put the other over my feet. It succeeded somewhat at keeping me a little warm, but it definitely didn’t work well. I think I slept ‘til 1:50 that night – the latest I slept during that stretch. Here’s me in the early morning hours of one of those nights:
The day following my last freezing cold night, my parents came to visit me in Boiling Springs, PA! It was a blast. I got good food and drink, and they got to hang out and meet some of my friends who I’ve been with along the trail. Patches (female Patches), Indy, and Hummingbird were all hanging out. Then Sunday morning, we hiked out of Boiling Springs for eight miles. Mom and Dad did great. The AT was nothing compared to the Camino! Here we are strolling around Pennsylvania. We heard tons of gunshots that day, as I did throughout all of PA. It was certainly an interesting trot through the state:
And alas, badness had to come eventually to my travels. While my parents were visiting, I noticed a circular rash on my leg that eventually turned into a full-blown bullseye. Luckily, I caught it early and was able to get antibiotics into my system early. It was kind of a crazy two days as I scrambled around town with Dad to get to the ER (it was a Sunday), then get to the pharmacy, then get hiking! The day after I noticed the rash, I felt terrible. Achy, feverish, and generally miserable. Here’s the rash at it’s worst:
Pretty crazy looking. And it was a major scare. But my mind got the best of me. Just a few days ago I called the hospital to get the results of my blood titer (to see if I had antibodies against the Lyme). And much to my surprise, I tested negative for any Lyme. So who knows what I felt that day when I felt terrible – it was all in my brain I believe. But the good news is, no Lyme, and no further issues. I have a clean bill of health.
So that is not all that has happened since I left Harper’s Ferry. My good friend Solitaire is going to write a post about his travels with me in the coming days. But before he does that, I want to leave you with this image. Keep it in your mind, and dream of it at night. It is me, pretending to ski jump off a mountain: