Chapter’s End

July 6, 2016
Delaware Water Gap! It’s 9:30 a.m. and here we are at the Pennsylvania-New Jersey state line!

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It’s halfway across the bridge across the Delaware River – on I-80! The trucks rumble by, inches away from us  beside the concrete barrier, the bridge shaking. Only on the AT! Oh my!

Our three-hour walk this morning included the last of the Pennsylvania Rocks, a lily-pad pond, and a tunnel of rhododendron flowers! What a fitting flourish for the end of this section of our walk!

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430 trail miles, three complete states (WV, MD, PA), 36 days.

Now, for a month of family visits and preparation for our next section from Delaware Water Gap to Killington, VT and completion of a second traverse of the Appalachian Trail!

Thanks for reading my blog!!!
Stay tuned for the next chapter starting in August.

In joy,
Regina

Completion

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July 5, 2016
This is our last night on the trail for this section walk. Tomorrow, we’ll walk an easy 6 miles to Delaware Water Gap, rent a car, and drive back to Virginia.

The rocks are waning, Pennsylvania is falling behind us.
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Today’s walk gave us a chance to exercise one of our “trail mastery” skills: moving on from an undesirable social situation. Let me explain.

We arrived early at our day’s goal, just nine miles from our starting point, at a shelter with easy access to water. A couple of hikers were already there. They pointed us to the water. We noticed a picnic table on the trail to the water source, in a shady clearing behind the shelter. Nice! We could set out our stuff there! I suggested that we share the fire the other hikers were tending at the shelter and took our pot over there. No problem.

During the next ten minutes, we received a barrage of social behaviors that encouraged us to move on for the night! That’s my choice when I encounter folks whose behavior seems unfriendly, aggressive, self-righteous, or simply unpleasant.

These folks exercised their “freedom” to do what they wanted on the trail, including burning their plastic hotdog wrapper, chopping saplings for an all-day fire with a machete, playing loud music at the shelter, setting up their tent inside the shelter, and bragging about their free stay at the church hostel in the next town since church people “wouldn’t take a hiker’s last food money.”

Although I made brief attempts at “authority of the resource” conversation about each topic, my statemebts were met with vociferous argument and judgement:
“Everyone else burns their trash! I’m not going to pack mine out either!”

“I have blisters from hacking wood all day! We took a zero day to dry out our wet gear, and want to keep the bugs away!”

“Do you suppose anyone will mind if we set up our tent inside the shelter?”

Enough. Sometimes creating community at a shelter can wait for another day, another group. I feel sad, and wonder if I’ve let the bullies win, but proud of myself for offering the chance for discussion.

Perhaps I provided some food for thought without confrontation. Mostly, I felt sure that I can choose to move on from an undesirable situation, no explanation needed. That’s a useful trail skill, I believe.

Calzone Day

July 6, 2016
There are only two people in the world who celebrate Calzone Day! That’s me and my hiking partner, John. The first Calzone Day was July 6, 2007, when John bought a calzone in Monson, Maine, couldn’t eat the whole thing, and shared it with me!

We didn’t know at the time that we would become hiking partners, but now celebrate the day we met!

Today marks nine years since the first Calzone Day!

A New Idea

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July 2, 2016
“Pennsylvania has rocks!!” says my baby grandson. His mom sends me photos that keep me laughing! 16 days ’til our next visit!

Dry

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July 2, 2016
Have I told you that I LOOOOVE my tarp shelter?!  It kept us dry in the thunderstorm last night. Chalk up another success for the Rayway tarp system!

This 1.5 lb drape of fabric has sheltered us in all kinds of weather in all four seasons.

Check here for more tarp successes. http://forgivenesswalks.com/reginas-tarps

Whohoo for the tarp! And Love Your Gear!

In joy,
Regina

Stay or Go?

July 1, 2016
We easily walked from last night’s camp to Eckville Shelter, arriving at about 2 p.m. The trail today was scenic with views from Pulpit Rock and The Pinnacle, winding from Blue Mountain to Eckville Rd on a smooth, old dirt road. Not so many rocks at all!

Eckville Shelter is a remodeled garage behind a big farmhouse next to the road to Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, where hawks gather in great numbers during spring and fall migration.

The shelter features a caretaker who lives in the house, a solar shower (cold today!), a charging strip for electronics, and six bunks.

We enjoyed our semi-private visit, with just one other hiker, until others started walking in around 3:30 or so. We started to consider our options.

There really wasn’t much  advantage in staying for the night. Six bunks would mean that many of the dozen hikers would be camping in the grassy lot across the street. There was no laundry, minimal cell signal, no wifi connection, no access to extra food, which meant we would be depleting our trail food without making progress to our next resupply.  In addition, the growing number of hikers meant no privacy either.

This time, the choice to cook our dinner on the huge picnic table complete with conrete slab stove pads, allowing a full three hours of phone charging time before walking out for a couple more hours of walking, was easy!

Our three hours provided rest, a cold shower, dinner, and some good conversations with other hikers. The guest caretaker surprised us with his delight that he could meet the renowned Mssnglnk of Pacific Crest Trail fame.

That was my trail name in 2008 when I walked the PCT, the same year a hiker named Jester walked as well, making a movie of his trek in a group called The Wizards. John and I walked at a pace that loosely coincided with the Wizards. I showed up in the movie a couple of times, and we shared a PCT finish photo with Jester and some of the Wizards. The caretaker is a good friend of Jester’s and loves his movie, The Wizards of the PCT. He’s been trying to meet all of the hikers in the movie, and marveled at his good fortune to meet one right here at Eckville Shelter. “You’re my hero, MssngLnk. You’re one of the great ones.”

Flattery was fun for a few moments, but we still packed up and hiked back out to the trail a little after 5:00, climbing back up the ridge toward the night’s camp further north on the trail, Eckville Shelter behind us.

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Pulpit Rock

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The Pinnacle

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Rhododendron Flower just opening!

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Box Turtle on the trail!

In joy,
Regina

Port Clinton

June 30, 2016
A popular hiker hangout in Port Clinton, PA is Frank’s Barber Shop. The barbers are a father-son team who’ve been running the shop for decades – $8 a cut. They had a steady stream of customers for the 2 hours we stayed while sorting our maildrop and charging phone batteries.

“Would you like to cut my hair?” I asked the younger Frank. He looked at me, “No, not really.” I think he just cuts men’s hair. And they just really enjoy having the hikers visit.  They offer everyone coffee and cookies – vanilla amd chocolate  sandwich cremes – and find out our trailnames and where we’re from.

Another local guy, their friend, offers shuttles to nearby Hamburg where the services are.

We got a ride to Hamburg for shopping at Wal-Mart and Cabella’s (because Wal-Mart was out of fuel canisters!) from a guy named “The Regular” who is updating a 1960 Ford Falcon – red. “I have to drive it around to test it, so I may as well be driving someone, otherwise I’d just be by myself.” I gave him some gas money.

At Wal-Mart, I got impatient waiting for John to get out of the bathrrom, so I ducked into the Vision Center. After Kelli had adjusted my glasses, I said, “You can tell everyone that Regina walked 340 miles to have you adjust her glasses!”

Lori, also at the Vision Center, helped by letting me plug my phone and charger into an outlet near a cupboard where the phone was out of sight. We got to talking about the AT, and she said, “That’s something I’d like to do!” You know me, I got pretty excited about that and invited her to contact me.

And then Cricket, at the entrance, noticed our packs and asked us aquestions about the trail too. It’s fun being celebrities just walking the trail and coming in to resupply!

This time, we decided to “get outta Dodge” and return to the trail without spending the night in Hampton or Port Clinton. Our choices were Microtel, the Port Clinton Hotel, or the town pavilion, a huge picnic shelter open to hikers.

Whewee, sometimes it’s a challenge to leave town! There’s a feeling that there’s something there I need, except I don’t know what. Since we’ll be completing our first section of this year’s walk in just one week, I didn’t really need a night in town. Still, there’s a pull. But, this time we ignored that and walked out of town.

Ahh. As soon as I stepped on the trail and started  walking again, I felt at home!  “I have what I need to be here!”

Well, I did forget to buy garlic, which I love chopping up into my hummus and quinoa. I’ll have to get it next time! And, if I change my mind, there are four towns in the next 70 miles!

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Leaving Port Clinton along the Schuykill River.

In joy,
Regina