Day 103- Friday, June 22- Washington DC- (0) (1043.2 total)
The train to DC wasn’t scheduled until 11:30am this morning, so plenty of time to lay in and take a slow morning. The lady who did my slack pack yesterday said I could hang on to the small day pack she lent me and take it to DC, so I was able to leave my whole pack at the hostel and make my load much lighter. The girl running the place cooked up some pancakes this morning for all of us to eat which was a great touch. As we were all getting ready this morning, another guy in the hostel who was also planning to head to DC today got a text from Amtrak saying that the train was delayed 2 hours. It comes all the way from Chicago everyday, and apparently gets delayed fairly frequently. I heard last week it was delayed by 6 hours. The hostel usually gets everyone out by 10am or so but when we told them about the delay they were nice enough to let us stay longer. 2-3 other times as we were getting ready we got more texts with further delays. I think it was about 2pm when we did finally get on the train. Me and the other guy walked down to the old town and train station area to have lunch and get some coffee before catching the train, but he had been having stomach problems since last night and he finally decided to just head back to the hostel and rest all day. He thinks he got some food poisoning from the local pizza place.
I got into DC at around 3:30pm and then navigated the local metro system to a DC suburb here in Maryland where I’m staying with my old friend from college Shawn Arita, his wife Christina, and their 2 daughters ages 4 years old and 5 months. I actually first met Shawn back in 2003 when I was first at the East-West Center on University of Hawaii campus for grad school, but never really hung out with him or became friends. Just saw him around. When I came back the second time, from 2009-2012, I figured everyone from my pervious time would be gone and it would be all new faces. What I forgot about were the PhD students who take so many years to finish. Shawn had been doing his MA the last time I was there and was now working on his PhD, so he was still around. He was dating his wife Christina at this time, but Christina was off in Samoa doing her own PhD research, so Shawn and I ended up hanging out a lot and becoming close friends. After our long days of studying, he would often call me up to go surfing in the evenings. Many awesome sunset surf sessions at Ala Moana with Shawn in those days, and then grabbing food on the way home.
Later when Christina got back to Hawaii, Shawn and Christina decided to get married but also decided to keep it quiet from their families and friends. They told me about it because I had my license to officiate weddings at this time and they wanted to get married at the top of Stairway to Heaven in Hawaii. If you haven’t heard of this place, stop now and go YouTube it. It’s this amazing stairway that goes straight up the edge of this huge green mountain cliff on Oahu. The views from the top are spectacular! But although many people go up there, it is officially closed off to hikers. To get up there you have to go super early in the morning- like 1 or 2 am before the security guard gets there. So the 3 of us went up at around 1am and then stood around shivering in the cold at the top until first light when we did a small wedding ceremony. That was definitely the most adventurous and amazing wedding ceremony I ever officiated.
So I’m here visiting Shawn and Christina, and tomorrow 2 other friend from the same East-West Center group who now also live in the DC area will come visit for a BBQ. It will be a really nice reunion. I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to reconnect with so many old friends on this trip. I’m here until Monday, so will probably do more of the traditional touristy DC stuff on Sunday and Monday. Oh, and the other thing I have to do while I’m here is go headphone shopping. Accidentally put mine in the washing machine last night. :(
Day 104- Saturday, 6/23- Washington DC- (0) (1043.2 total)
Reunion day today. Been looking forward to this day for a long time. Got up this morning and took Shawn and Christina’s car to the post office to pick up the replacement credit card that my Mom had forwarded here, and then went to Target to get my new headphones and some stuff to contribute to the party. Hung out at the house all morning until people started arriving at around 2pm. First Anh Luu and her family arrived. Anh is from Vietnam and was on my floor in Hale Manoa at the East-West Center from 2003-2005, and I became close friends with her and a group of other Vietnamese students. She was working on her MBA. We nicknamed her “Mama” because she would always cook for us and take care of everyone. It was the summer of 2004 when we all got to know each other and became close. We all had more free time since it was summer and we started doing beach trips and hikes and stuff all around the island. Then the next Christmas break I took Anh and a few others to the Big Island for about a week and we rented a car and camped all around the island. Very memorable trip and I really enjoyed showing them around. We all finished up in 2005 and I took off for Japan. That was the last time I saw Anh- 13 years ago until today. She since got married and had two kids who are now 10 and 6. It’s crazy how life changes so quickly. Was awesome to get to meet her whole family and catch up again.
Another good friend from that same time in Hale Manoa was Chelo. Chelo was also on our floor and was working on her PhD. Chelo grew up next to the ocean in the Philippines and is a huge water person. We would always laugh that the only things she would ever do were study, swim, or go running. Laser focused on her studies, being in the water, and keeping fit. She has since gotten married and had 2 kids, and they have all been living in different countries around the world with her husband’s job- Guam, Germany, etc. I hadn’t seen her for maybe 9 years before today.
The party was fantastic. Great to be able to chat and catch up with everyone. They were at least 10 kids there running around all crazy and making us laugh. Good food and good people. It kind of overwhelmed me at times, just all the memories from the old days and seeing everyone again after so long. Was very emotional. It’s so rare for me to be in this part of the country and I feel so fortunate that we were all able to reconnect like this and spend time together after so many years. I really appreciate Shawn and Christina for having me here and putting all this on, and for everyone else to have made the effort to come out. My heart was very full and warm today.
Day 105- Sunday, 6/24- Washington DC- (0) (1043.2 total)
Fun day off today. Shawn had some work he needed to catch up on, and Christina needed to take their 6-month old Aleia to the doctor, so I took their 4 year old Maile to go watch Incredibles 2. There is a movie theater walking distance from their house, so the two of us walked over to catch the 10:15 matinee. Well, actually I walked and she rode on my shoulders. I made the mistake of putting her up there a couple days ago and now every time she sees me she is asking me to put her on my shoulders. The movie was fun and she seemed to enjoy it. But when I asked her how she liked it afterwards, she said “It was just a little bit good.” She got a little scared from one of the scenes.
After the movie, Shawn took her to her swimming lessons and I jumped on the metro and headed into downtown to do some sightseeing. I walked a ton all around the national mall and saw a lot of sights. I first walked over to see the White House. It was weird to see it in person after seeing it on TV and in the movies so many times. I wish I was seeing it under a different administration, but I just tried to think of the presidents like Lincoln, JFK, and Obama residing there. Then I walked over to the Vietnam War Memorial- the wall. I have had a fascination with that war since I was a teenager, and so have always wanted to go see the wall in person. Seeing the sheer number of names on that wall was a real shock. 57,939 people. Very moving. Next I walked down to the Lincoln memorial where I got to see the huge Lincoln statue, the exact spot Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. stood to give his famous “I have a dream” speech, and took in the classic view of the reflecting pool and Washington monument.
Thought I was heading out of that part of the mall after that, and headed along the reflection pool to the WWII memorial. Was sitting there taking a break from the heat when a police officer struck up a conversation with me. I said I was tired from all the walking in the heat and he told me it was good for me. I laughed and told him about my hike and he immediately reached into his pocket and gave me what cash he had on him. It was only $7, but it was the spirit of it that was really touching. He didn’t even pause. The second I told him what I was hiking for, he was immediately digging into his pocket. Very nice guy. He also told me that I had to walk clear back to nearby the Lincoln memorial, as I had missed the Korean War memorial and also the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial. I didn’t know either of those existed, but was very interested to see both so I turned around and headed back. The Korean War memorial was much more involved than the Vietnam one, and very haunting. Conversely, the MLK memorial was very inspiring and uplifting. Many of his quotes were displayed along a wall. A couple of them really struck me. “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for human rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” The other quote that struck me was one that seems very pertinent today with all of our border issues. “Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.”
By this time the day was winding down so I headed back to Shawn and Christina’s house. It’s tough to be here for such a short amount of time, as there is just so much to see. I found 5 museums that I’m dying to go visit- the Holocaust museum, the African-American museum, the native-American museum, the air and space museum, and the natural history museum. But I just won’t have time to see them on this trip. I could probably squeeze 2 of them in tomorrow before I go back to Harper’s Ferry, but I’m trying to balance these days off between friends, sightseeing, and resting. Today was a ton of walking and my feet got sore. This is my halftime break, so I think I should probably be smart and just rest my body and mind tomorrow in preparation for the second half. Will definitely need to come back here again to do the museums someday soon. I have been very impressed with DC.
Day 106- Monday, 6/25- Harper’s Ferry, WV- (0) (1043.2 total)
Decided to just chill and rest my feet today rather than walk around and see some of the museums that I’m dying to see. But also decided that if it works out I definitely want to head back to DC after I finish the trail, before I start heading back west. Come back and see the big stuff I missed and see all these great people one more time. Inshallah. So just laid around and watched Netflix all morning which was nice and relaxing. I did get up early and walk with Shawn to drop Maile off at her school. And of course she made me carry her on my shoulders one more time.
Took the metro back to Union Station and was having some food to kill time until the train. Thought with my 4 day break here that everyone I know will be far ahead of my by now, but suddenly in walks Shadow and his girlfriend. They took a few days in DC too, so got to ride the Amtrak back to Harper’s Ferry with them and we are staying in the same hostel tonight. Was glad to see some familiar faces.
Before leaving Harper’s Ferry for DC, I went out to Walmart with the owners of this hostel to do all my resupply, so I didn’t have to do it when I got back now and save myself some time. So instead of going on the Walmart run with everyone this time, I walked down the road to the local pizza place which is the only place that stays open until a decent hour. Walked all the way down there only to discover that they are closed on Mondays. And when I looked at my watch, it was almost 7pm when all the other places in town close. Shoot! Well, luckily the Walmart train hadn’t left yet, so back I went to find some dinner. These hostel owners are super cool tho. When we got back they added me on Facebook and said if I am back in town after finishing the trail, I am welcome to come stay with them here for free, just to hang out and BBQ. They are well cut out for running this type of place. Good vibes here.
Tomorrow morning the lady from the outfitter will come pick me up here at 7am and take me back the 18 miles to where I did my slack pack from the other day, only this time I will head north. Was super glad for this break, but at the same time I was seeing other trail friends making progress on Facebook and I’m itchy to get up there. It will be a bit tough to get back in the groove after such an awesome halftime, but I’m out here to hike so back to the grind!
Day 107- Tuesday, 6/26- Raven Rock Shelter, Maryland- (18.6 miles) (1060.8 total)
Was good to get back on the trail and make some miles northward today after the long break. The lady picked me up at 7am and drove me the 17.5 miles north to where I had slackpacked from a few days ago. Put in a solid 18.6 to get myself back in the groove. Again I saw people that I know, so the break didn’t totally get me away from everyone. I ran into Floyd part way through the day, and then saw Wiki at one of the shelters along the way where I was taking a break. Then Butcher showed up at this camp this evening. Hadn’t seen any of them for ages as they were about 2 days behind me the whole time. But that’s all it takes. One or two days apart and you never see people, even tho you are so close.
The shelter where I took a break was kind of interesting. I rested for a while and then walked down to get some water from the spring. Then thought I’d use the privy before I took off. Went into the privy and lifted up the lid, and the thing was full!!! I’m talking like 6 inches below your bum if you sat down. Which I didn’t. Definitely would rather dig a cat hole in the woods. I’ve seen a ton of privies on this trip, and none of them are pretty, but that was by far the most disgusting one yet. Whoever is supposed to be taking care of that shelter is seriously slacking on the job.
I’m always looking for ebooks or podcasts to listen to while hiking and I got a good one from Shawn’s wife Christina yesterday. Christina is involved with international women’s education policy as her job, and she told me to download and read the book “Half the Sky.” I found an audiobook copy of it and listened to a couple hours of it while hiking today. It is written by reporters from the New York Times and is about the importance of educating women around the world to combat poverty, human trafficking, and several other issues. Their research got pretty deep into these issues and uncovered some heart-wrenching stories that moved me nearly to tears as I was walking. Obviously my hike is focused on these same issues, but I know I still have lots to learn on the subject and this book is providing some great information. Please read it if you have a chance.
Showed up to a very crowded shelter and campsite tonight. There is a huge Boy Scout Tripp here tonight. We are seeing more and more scout troops out here on the trail recently, as well as many other day hikers and section hikers. It’s not like earlier in the hike where it was mostly just us. It’s summer time now and people are out here enjoying the trail when it’s not raining. There have been record rainfalls this year. In Harper’s Ferry they apparently closed the trail for a bit the other day because the river got too high. The very popular rafting companies are all out of the river because there is too much water. Crazy. Speaking of water, I was not thrilled at all at the distance to the water source when I arrived this evening. It was about a mile round trip down a fairly steep hill. That the furthest walk to water I’ve ever had so far. Definitely not what you want after an 18 plus mile day. I’m bushed.
Day 108- Wednesday, 6/27- Rocky Mountain Shelter, PA- (19.6 miles) (1080.4 total)
The big news of today was passing out of Maryland and into Pennsylvania, and also crossing the Mason/Dixon line- leaving the south and entering the north. Another milestone to feel some progress. I’m glad I finally got to see some of the south. I had long wanted to explore that part of the country. I’d have to rent a car to explore it fully, but I got to see a unique segment on foot- enough to give me a taste. Excited about seeing all the northern states now. I hear things change quite a bit as we travel further north.
I was looking at my pack today and I suddenly noticed a hole in the hip belt pocket. Upon close inspection, I realized that a mouse had chewed through it. A couple days ago, I had pulled a bag of trail mix out of that pocket and noticed a hole in the bag that looked suspiciously like it had been chewed open. I didn’t notice the chew hole in the pack at that time, but it all makes sense now. I never leave food in those pockets after I finish hiking for the day, so I think it must have happened while I was in DC. I left my pack at the hostel so I didn’t have to lug it around DC, but I probably left the snacks in those pockets. It’s a small hole and I should be able to easily cover it with some special gear tape that I have. I’ve heard of this happening a lot in shelters where there are often mice. That’s why we need to get all food out of our packs each night and hang it or safely store it elsewhere.
A second 19 mile day in a row has me feeling pretty tired. I was going to try to push 4 19 mile days in a row, but now I’m thinking I will slow it down a bit tomorrow. Hiking 10-11 hours a day is wearing. Time for an early one tonight.
Day 109- Thursday, 6/28- Birch Run Shelter (13 miles) (1093.7 total)
Did a bit of a shorter day today, just 13 miles. Was feeling tired from the last 2 big days. Also been feeling a bit low energy the past couple of days. I’m not sick, but I can feel the little hint of something that I think my body is fighting off. I was around a lot of kids in DC, so probably got a little something there. So just taking it a bit easy and trying not to tax the body too much. Got to this shelter nice and early as a result- at around 2:30pm. Nice to have some time to chill and do all my chores slowly, instead of getting in at 6pm and rushing through everything and straight to bed. After a bit, a Ridgerunner showed up and we ended up talking quite a bit. Interesting to hear about all of his experiences with hikers out here. He thru-hiked it last year.
Listened to more of that book “Half the Sky” today while hiking. So much good food for thought in that book. It gets so sad and heavy in parts, but it’s also so educational. The amount of suffering by women around the world is unimaginable. I’m glad I am getting the opportunity to contribute to the improvement of some women’s lives through doing this hike, but listening to this book does make me daydream of doing more somehow. It’s the usual dilemma of how to do something meaningful that you are passionate about, but also making a decent living in the process. But aside from that issue, it just becomes clearer and clearer to me that one major way to reduce the suffering of women in the world, as well as to reduce poverty and inequality in many developing nations is through education, especially the education of women. Educating women just trickles down so much further in families and societies and has a much broader impact. I was inspired by an MLK quote I saw at his memorial in DC. He said, “Make a career of humanity. Commit yourself to the noble struggle for equal rights. You will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.” In another quote he also stated, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have 3 meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits.” People ask me all the time what I plan to do after this hike, and I always tell them that I have no idea. Just waiting to see what flows and where life takes me. I’m hoping I might meet some people along this trail who might spark some ideas or offer some kind of opportunity. But I do know that I would really like it to be something that is along these lines- using education to help those with little opportunity, or those who are oppressed in any form, open doors to new worlds of life opportunity and raise their station in life. I do enjoy the ESL teaching that I do, but I also reflect on the fact that I am predominantly teaching those who already have a great deal of opportunity in their lives. Students from families well-off enough to afford to send their kids to Hawaii to study. I have no idea how this might occur, but I’d love to shift my focus to those in greater need.
On a completely different note, I was listening to a podcast by Peter King today, the long time sports columnist from Sports Illustrated. He was discussing the concussion issue and the fact that many parents may be keeping their kids out of football these days because of the risk of what may happen to them later in life with brain issues. He went to observe a high school football game between 2 inner city teams and talked to the mom of one of the star players. (This family had been robbed when this kid was only 7 or 8. His dad tried to fight off the guy and ended up getting shot in the head in front of this boy.) Peter King asked her if she was worried about her son’s brain and quality of life at age 60. Her reply? She said she was most worried about her son surviving to see age of 18 due to gang violence in their neighborhood. If football could keep him away from all that and allow him the opportunity to go to college and live to see adulthood, then she was all for it. Life at 60 was not much of a concern. Crazy when you look at it from that perspective, huh?
Day 110- Friday, June 29- Pine Grove Furnace State Park, PA- (9.8 miles) (1103.4 total)
Huge milestone today- the official halfway point on the trail! Harper’s Ferry was the “spiritual half way point,” but today was the actual milage half way mark. Feels really good to finally have more miles behind me than ahead of me now! Been chasing this for a long time. My friend Rob DuMars really put it into perspective today when he said, “So, you've walked through an entire region of the country and are now entering another region. You're passing through whole states. You've made significant progress on the CONTINENT. The path that you've covered could be seen from SPACE . That's incredible.” Yea, when you put it that way, I suppose.
The other big highlight of the day was getting here to the general store and taking on the “Half-gallon challenge.” After hiking half the AT, you gotta sit down and eat an entire half-gallon of ice cream! I was hungry for some real food and lunch when I got there, so I ordered a grilled cheese and a burger to start. I didn’t want all that ice cream to just go into an empty stomach, but I was also worried about eating too much food and getting overly full before starting on the ice cream. So I just ate half the burger. Was thinking I might finish the other half after the ice cream until this girl’s German Shepard came over and licked it. He got the rest. My strategy was to let the ice cream soften to the point that I could eat it super fast. I was going on the Thanksgiving theory of eating as much as you can, as fast as you can within a 20 minute window. Apparently your brain doesn’t realize what horrible damage you are doing to your body and how much food you are shoveling in for the first 20 minutes, so you don’t feel full until around then. I actually thought it would be tougher to do, but I got through all of it pretty quickly. Neapolitan for the majority of it so I didn’t get bored of one flavor, then some weird kind called Magic Unicorn for the last bit. They don’t make exact half gallons anymore, so we had to eat the 1.5 quarts and then add the extra. Was fun but I felt like shit for about an hour afterwards. I think it’s a sign tho. If you can finish the ice cream, you will finish the trail.
Tonight staying in a hostel right next to the general store. The next 2 small towns are not really so good to stay in- gotta camp since there is no motel, etc, so I will push further to Duncannon, PA instead. But I didn’t have quite enough food and supplies to make it that far, so this is a great place to stay for a night and resupply at the store. Only $35 for a bunk that includes dinner and breakfast. Not a bad deal. I thought dinner might be something homemade here- at least that was my wishful thinking. But alas, frozen pizzas.
Day 111- Saturday, 6/30- Unnamed campsite- (15.3 miles) (1118.7 total)
The lady who ran the hostel last night saw that I was from Hawaii and got really excited. Turns out she feels a really strong connection with the islands. Her daughter went to Hawaii Pacific University and so she got to go visit once for her graduation. She was talking on and on about how much she loves it. Then she went upstairs and got her laptop to show me her YouTube video photo slideshow of her trip. She had the whole thing set to a soundtrack of Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s music. It was beautiful. I told her she needs to go back again, but she said she is just barely getting by on her social security checks and can’t afford it. Sad. I thanked her for making me homesick before I left to start the day.
The hike was broken up nicely by a general store right off the trail at lunchtime today. Was good to get the food and some cold drinks. The temperature is really starting to rise out here. Everyone is warning us to carry a lot of water as a heatwave is coming. This whole week has highs in the low 90s. It gets super humid and hot in the midday and really makes all of us feel quite lethargic while hiking. Now we all wish the cold and snow would come back. Lol! As soon as I finished my lunch and relaxed a bit I got back on the trail and out of that area. Several speeding cars passed by blasting rock music, some hikers got yelled at as people passed by, a guy I waved at as he was pulling out of the general store just gave me a sour look and didn’t wave back. To say it was white-trash, redneck in that area would be an understatement.
Some pretty hilly hiking the second half of the day. I was hiking with Wingman and Easy Bake most of the day. On top of one hill we climbed we had to go through the “rock maze.” We had to forgo the poles and scramble up, over, and around big rocks for a while. Easy Bake had to throw her pack up one section before climbing up herself. At one point we came across a guy practicing bouldering. He had a huge pad with him that he put at the base of the rock in case he fell.
At nice big campsite area tonight. Lots of flat space for our tents and right next to a stream. The only bad thing is that despite trying to deny it for the past couple of days, I do feel like I’m starting to come down with a cold. I guess there is no good time to get sick on this trail, but if it worsens and I have to rest for 2-3 days, that would be a drag after just having taken a few days off in DC. Oh well. I’ll just get a good night’s sleep tonight and see how I’m feeling tomorrow.
Day 112- Sunday, 7/1- Darlington Shelter- (18.2 miles) (1137.0 total)
Happy July! Can believe I’ve been hiking since March and it’s now July. Seems crazy. Boy July in Pennsylvania has brought the heat and humidity tho. Today was well into the 90s. It was an interesting hiking day. The good parts: the trail was almost totally flat for the whole day and very few rocks, so we could make great time. We also came out of the forest for some stretches and walked through the Pennsylvania farmland and got some very different views than we are generally used to. Corn fields, wheat fields, cows, silos, etc. The bad parts: We had to walk exposed through the farmland at some parts and the heat and humidity were off the charts. I felt like I was going to melt at some points. Fortunately there were enough water sources along the way so we could stay hydrated- as hydrated as it’s possible to be in this kind of weather. I’m also still fighting this head cold which started peaking today, so it was challenging. The good thing about being on the trail with a cold is that I don’t need any tissue to blow my nose- I was just firing snot-rockets into the bushes every 10 minutes. Much easier. Plus toilet paper is too much of a commodity out here to be wasted on your nose. Planned to stop in a town along the way to have lunch, but ended up missing it. I crossed over a pedestrian bridge across a very busy highway at one point and could see the town, but it seemed like a bad place to walk. I just figured the trail would bend around and get closer at a smaller road that was safer, but it never did. Suddenly I was half a mile past the town when I checked my map. Definitely wasn’t backtracking, so just ate my peanut butter and jelly bagel in the shade along the way instead.
Walked through the very pretty town of Boiling Springs today in the morning. I actually had wanted to stay there when I was making my plan, but it sucks as a hiker town. No motel or hostel, no outfitter. Now I’m thinking that’s on purpose. It seemed like a very classy little town, a bit upscale, so I think they are trying to discourage hikers from stopping. One guy tonight told me that they instituted a dress code for the main restaurant and you need to be wearing a collared shirt. Not too many of us hiker trash carry one of those in our packs. It’s like the workaround to segregated schools. Sure, everyone is welcome here. We’ll just raise the prices until the less-desirables can’t afford it. Like my high school on the Big Island, Parker School. Speaking of Parker School, I was quite disappointed with them this week. When I was back home before this hike, I got in touch with them about doing an article about my hike and charity in their newsletter. They were very enthusiastic and invited me to stop by. So I drove all the way up to Waimea from Hilo and spent half a day with them. They showed me all around the school, discussed all the changes and growth and future plans, and interviewed me for a long time about the hike. It was never specifically mentioned, but it seemed like the idea was for them to write a short piece on my hike. They said that their next newsletter was coming out in a few days so it was too late for that one, but that they’d put my story in the June edition for sure. Well, I received the pdf version of that one a few days ago in my email. In the digital version, I got a tiny square on the last page where they list several alumni and what they are up to. So no actual focused story on my hike like I was expecting. Then, most of the info they did include was wrong. They said I had already finished the hike and that it took me 8 weeks. They included the name of the organization I am hiking for, Friends of Thai Daughters, but no link to their website or to mine where people could learn more and possibly donate. And finally, when I talked to my mom the other day, she tells me that she received the print edition and I am not in that one at all. They left me out entirely. WTF, Parker School? Terrible, unprofessional job. It’s a private school and the tuition is not cheap (the only way I got to go there is because my dad’s company helped with the tuition), so this could have been a good opportunity to get my website and cause noticed by people with the means to help. A chance for more girls in Thailand to receive an education and a chance at a better life. But they dropped the ball. I’m disappointed.
Out here on the trail we are asked to practice the “leave no trace” philosophy in order to minimize the human impact on the land. Things like pack out all the trash you generate- pack out what you pack in, dig your cat hole at least 6” deep, stay on marked trails, camp only in designated camp sites, etc. For dish washing, we aren’t supposed to wash anything in the stream. After eating, we should pour some water into our pot, scrub all the food off the edges with our spoon, and drink the “grey water.” A couple of days ago I learned the leave no trace method for brushing your teeth from a ridgerunner I met. I didn’t even know there was a special way. Ideally, they want you to swallow your toothpaste after brushing. But if you can’t do that, then before spitting, take a swig of water and mix it with the toothpaste in your mouth. Then spray-spit it in an arch across the bushes. This way it disperses the watered-down toothpaste across a larger area and is less likely to attract animals with the smell. Good to learn something new. Been doing the spit method ever since.
Well, only 10 miles to get to the next town tomorrow. With this head cold kicking, I’m gonna get a room there and take a nero/zero and then see how I feel. Hopefully that will get me over it.
Day 113- Monday, 7/2- Duncannon, PA- (10.9 miles) (1147.9 total)
Out of camp by 6am this morning to get to town as early as possible and take a rest. The hike was pretty rocky in parts. Got to Duncannon a bit before noon- super hot and humid again and now there are excessive heat warnings for the area. Good time to take a couple sick days I guess if I can also escape the heat. Duncannon is a dive. Pretty run down. I got to the Doyle Hotel where many hikers stay. They have a cheap hostel where many hikers stay, but I was warned away from it- supposed to be a super dive. Anyways, with this head cold I’m not up for a hostel environment. Need a quite room to rest up. But I heard the food was good at the Doyle, so stopped there for lunch. My motel is 5 miles or so out of town, so the shuttle picked me up there after my lunch. The driver took forever tho, and I had to wait an hour and a half or more after I ate. Eventually made it tho and very happily collapsed on my bed here. Really did very little all day- mostly just laid around on my bed. Didn’t even get around to showering until way later. For dinner they shuttle us to any nearby restaurant we want. There aren’t many to choose from, and I just decided to go with Burger King drive thru, just to make it quick and get back to bed.
One very cool thing that happened today tho was a mention of my hike on my favorite podcast. I listen to a Broncos podcast 5 days a week to keep up on the latest news. BSN Broncos. This is a very dead time of year, just before training camp starts, so the hosts keep asking listeners to send in questions that they will answer and give them more to talk about. So the other day I decided to write in and ask a question. I also told them I was on the AT and that their podcast helps me to pass the hours while hiking. And I gave them my website and asked if they would share it. I thought they might just stick to the Broncos portion of my question, or give the charity part just a quick mention. But in fact, they actually talked about it quite a bit, were very excited and complimentary about it, and one of the guys actually went on my website during the podcast and donated some money right there. He also encouraged other listeners to donate as well. That was awesome! Being sick and with this heat I have been feeling a bit low recently, but this was the boost of spirit I needed. Really cool of those guys.
Also talked to my friend Jack Silverman in New York tonight. He and I used to work together at the HELP Program back in Hawaii. On August 3rd in Maine, there will be a fundraiser for Friends of Thai Daughters that I will be getting off trail to attend. If you don’t know, the founders of FTD are 2 women from Maine- Jane McBride and Patty Zinkowski- hence the Maine fundraiser. Anyway, the original plan was for me to fly from NYC up to Portland, Maine for this event, since I will likely be on the trail in NewYork state by the event time. However Jack tells me last night that he will take some time off and drive me up there, join the event, and drive me back down. So we can make a road trip of it and catch up while driving, in addition to attending the event itself. Awesome! Looking forward to that.