AT- Days 114-127

July 17, 2018

Day 114- Tuesday, 7/3- Duncannon, PA- (0) (1147.9 total)

Didn’t do much except lie around all day and try to rest up to get rid of this cold. The motel shuttled me over to a local restaurant for breakfast, and I was able to get lunch delivered so I didn’t have to go out. I did discover the show “The Office” today on Netflix however. I know, I know. Late to the party again. But now I’m addicted. Still in season 1, but that show cracks me up. Pretty crazy. Good way to pass the day.

Talked to the lady at the front desk while I was waiting for my lunch to be delivered today. She is from India. Most of the motel owners I’ve met along the trail are Indian. She told me it’s a common business for Indians who come to the US. Her and her husband own a few. She did her BA and MA in India, and is now doing her MBA here in the US and plans on getting her PhD here, and then opening more motels. I asked her why she needed a PhD for running motels, but she just told me she loves to learn and study and wants those qualifications. I asked her why the heck she is in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania doing this. Wouldn’t she be happier in a larger city with more diversity and other Indians to socialize with? She told me that all Indians or other nationalities that make it here to the US are generally go-getters who are trying to make their businesses survive. So she said there ends up being a ton of competition and rivalry and things get very unpleasant. So she prefers to be out here amongst a mainly white population where they can just work and avoid all the drama. Interesting. Never would have imagined that.

Another thing she told me that surprised me was that several of her customers here are actually living here. We don’t really have motels in Hawaii in the same way as they do here along the highways, so I am unfamiliar with how they work. But apparently a fair number of people who are strapped financially end up living in motels because it’s cheaper. They have had people live here as long as 30 some years. That blew me away. I thought these were just places to stay for 2-3 days for people passing through, or places for people to hide to have affairs or drink/do drugs. Never knew they could be permanent or long-term homes.

Day 115- Wednesday, 7/4- Duncannon, PA- (0) (1147.9 total)

Had to make a quick decision yesterday on weather or not I’d stay another day, since the motel was filling up for the holiday. I was feeling rough enough that I decided I should just err on the side of caution and rest one more day. So today I just chilled out again and gave my body an extra day of rest and recovery. I am starting to feel better. The cold seems to have left my head and now just feeling a bit weak. I did go out this morning to get some breakfast and do my resupply. Got my groceries but was worried about getting fuel for my stove. There is an outfitter in this town but it is closed for renovation. Luckily we tried the hardware store and found some there. I was getting worried that I would just have to cold soak my pasta sides this time. Doable, but that one hot meal a day is something I look forward to after a day of hiking Bought a cheap beard trimmer at the drug store and trimmed my beard and shaved my head, which makes me feel 1000x better, cleaner, and more human. Some guys grow their beards out and never shave or cut their hair for the whole trip, but I just can’t do it. Get feeling too grungy after a certain point and just need to clean up.

Seems like this was actually a fairly good time to be sick. The heat wave had been pretty bad the past couple of days. It’s supposed to cool down and be nice over the weekend, so it was probably best to be indoors anyways. Sounds like a thunderstorm outside right now. Gotta have some of those to cool us down after so much heat.

Well back to reality tomorrow. I am planning to do some shorter miles for the next few days until my strength comes fully back. Then I need to start cranking the 15 plus miles again. I still have plenty of time, but this is such a miles game with the October 15th deadline looming (when they close the park where the trail ends in Maine), so I quickly feel like I’m falling behind and need to catch up. It’s a constant low-level stress in the back of everyone’s mind. Gotta keep pushing north. Winter is coming.

Day 116- Thursday, 7/5- Peter’s Mountain Shelter- (11.4 miles) (1159.3 total)

Felt well enough to get up and go again this morning. Gonna just keep the miles a bit lower for the next few days until I feel back to 100%. The first 2 miles of the hike today was through the town, along roadways, and across highway bridges. As I was walking along, I caught up to another hiker. I introduced myself and went through the usual explanation of how to pronounce my trail name and what it means. I get pretty tired of explaining all that every single time, but Imua is a meaningful enough name for me to be willing to go through all that each time. Then I asked this guy’s name and he said Maga. I thought wow, somebody with as unusual a trail name as I have. That’s cool and I asked what it meant. He tells me, “Maga: Make America Great Again.” I stuttered a bit and had no idea what to say. You gotta be a pretty damn hardcore Trump supporter to make his slogan your trail name. That threw me off for a minute. But then we just kept walking and started talking a bit. Turns out that this guy has traveled all over the world, taught English in China, backpacked all over SE Asia and India, and trekked in Nepal. Almost identical to the travels I did. That surprised me actually. Fair or not, I imagine hardcore Trump supporters to be all about building the wall, strengthening borders, and keeping all the “others” out. But this guys has been around the world and met all these people and lived amongst them. I wonder how he bridges that dichotomy in his mind. I didn’t want to ask and open that whole can of worms and start a big argument. After all, it’s not like this guy just kinda sorta supports Trump. He took his slogan as his trail name!!!

Got to camp pretty early today with the lower miles. The water source here is ridiculous. Super nice piped spring with a super fast flow. But it is 300 rock steps down a steep hill to the water. Not too fun carrying 5 liters of water up that hill. Didn’t see too many tent camping sites as I came in, but the shelter is a super nice one. 2 stories with a nice deck. I have been noticing recently that very few people are staying in the shelters these days. When I first started it was the shelters that filled up first. Now everyone is tent camping. I was wondering why, but recently figured out that it’s because of the bugs. Summer is here and people are getting eaten alive in the open shelters, unless you cover yourself with DEET before bed. Since there are not many camping sites around this shelter, I just ended up setting up my tent inside the shelter, of course minus the rainfly. Just using the bug netting inner part to keep the bugs off of me while still staying dry in the shelter. It already rained once pretty hard after I got her and is supposed to rain more tonight. Thankfully the weather is supposed to cool off these next few days.

Day 117- Friday, 7/6- Yellow Springs Campsite- (13.4 miles) (1172.7 total)

My campsite tonight is on the site of an old coal mining village from the 1850s. I can’t see anything much left over from those days except a well that I found when I was brown-blazing behind my campsite. It was around 20 feet deep with no cover on it. Not something you would want to stumble into in the middle of the night if you were going out to pee. Pretty cool to see something from that era tho, and it is very well preserved.

Feeling a lot better today, so hopefully that continues. I got to camp early with the shorter day and was able to take a nap in the afternoon which was a rare treat. I looked ahead to the next town on my app and noticed a hostel place just a bit further past the town which all the commenters are raving about. Apparently run by a really kind couple and they make us a home cooked dinner and breakfast, plus resupply shuttles. I’m sold. It just means that I’ll have to push an 18 mile day tomorrow to get within range of it for the next day, but it sounds worth it.

I have been in touch recently with a girl who is volunteering at the organization in Thailand. She agreed to help me edit and post up my videos to YouTube, and she has now posted a couple so have a look if you have time. She has done a great job. The chanel is called Trekking Against Trafficking. My brother was initially supposed to work on that end of things for me, but he ended up being too busy, so I’m really glad to have found someone to do it. Someone told me that YouTube is the #1 social media site, so hopefully with the tags it will attract some attention and further donations.

Day 118- Saturday, 7/7- William Penn Shelter- (18.0 miles) (1190.7 total)

Ran into Maga this morning while hiking. We did end up getting into some political discussion, but again to his his credit he was very calm and open to discussion. I asked him if his name was more because he was actually that hard core of a Trump guy, or if he was just trying to get discussion started with is trail name. He said both, but that he was disappointed that no one would talk about it or engage him at all.

We came around the corner in the midst of our discussion, and suddenly there was some trail magic! A full on spread too- hotdogs, hamburgers, fruit, veggies, dessert, etc. Turned out that 3 of the people there had done the trail last year so brought their parents out this year to give back. We met all the families and I noticed that one of them had a high school aged Japanese girl with them. They introduced her and she tells me she is from Shizuka, in Gotemba. Wow, of all places! That is the same prefecture where I lived and taught for 3 years from 2005-2008. It’s a second home to me and it was awesome to talk to her and remember the Japan days. Later after I ate I was talking about my charity and a couple behind me asks me about it. Turns out that they are also involved in an anti-human trafficking charity named Grow in northern Thailand somewhere between Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai. Their organization also uses education and safe shelter to get hill tribe girls away from at-risk villages and move in a better direction. Almost exactly the same as what I’m trekking for. Crazy! The Japan and Thailand connections, both at one trail magic cookout. What are the odds?

One interesting challenge we had today was a suddenly flooded trail- it was more of a pond than a trail. Usually there are ways around the edges of these things, but not this one. It was too big. If I had been smarter, I would have changed into my Crocks to walk through the water, but it never crossed my mind, so got my feet a bit wet. As I was making my way through all of this, I suddenly noticed the culprit- beaver dam! Amazing how much they can change an entire landscape like that.

Day 119- Sunday, 7/8- Rock and Sole hostel- (13.5 miles) (1204.1 total)

This hostel Rock and Sole had really strong reviews on The Guthook app, so I decided to nero into here today. Not much of a nero actually at 13.5 miles, so I left fairly early to try to get here as early as possible and make the most of the remaining day. When I was about 4 miles from the finish, I heard from a guy that there was trail magic where I was ending my hike for the day.. A second huge BBQ trail magic. I hadn’t had a full on trail magic like this for several weeks, and now 2 days in a row. Getting spoiled. A few of us had already called ahead to reserve the hostel and we were supposed to call the people to come pick us up when we arrived. We all delayed that a bit so we could get some lunch and enjoy the trail magic. But this older married couple ended up calling the hostel pretty soon after I had arrived and so I ended up having to rush through my meal to get on the hostel shuttle. I was kind of annoyed that I had to rush, and also that we all kind of just ate and ran. The trail magic was put on by a former thru-hiker and it was her birthday. She does this every year on her birthday to give back. So it just felt rude to eat and run so fast. I always try to hang out a while and visit with the people who have put so much effort into preparing all this food.

Anyway, this hostel is amazing. It’s actually a side building on someone’s home, and the couple who run this place have put a ton of care into this property. Nice green lawns, chairs and a fire pit right next to a stream where we can hang out, and just a really homey and beautiful place to stay. The dinner they served tonight was hands down the best I’ve had at a hostel on the trail so far. By a mile. Especially after the last place where we got frozen pizzas and Eggo waffles. The wife made us pulled pork sandwiches with homemade BBQ sauce, fresh green beans, corn on the cob, and homemade almond cake with fresh strawberries and ice cream for dessert. All this for $40. Great deal for what we get here. After dinner they drove us in to town to resupply our food and stuff. Tempting place take a zero, but these miles aren’t going to hike themselves.

Day 120- Monday, 7/9- Rock and Sole Hostel- (0) (1204.1 total)

Well, this place ended up sucking me in for a zero after all. Woke up this morning and just didn’t feel rested at all. The usual busy half day yesterday doing all the errands, and still feeling a bit low energy from the head cold. The body just felt tired and I decided to listen. It was just what the doctor ordered, and this was the ideal place for it. We had an awesome breakfast of French toast casserole, egg casserole, fresh fruit, and OJ. This lady is an amazing cook. Then I just spent all day laying in bed in the bunkhouse watching Netflix. Everyone else left to hike and no one else showed up today, so it was nice and solitary and quiet. Just how I wanted it. Watched a million episodes of The Office which is my latest addiction. Also watched a movie called Come Sunday on Netflix. I discovered it from a This American Life NPR podcast the other day. Very interesting true story about an evangelical preacher that starts to reinterpret the Bible and go in some interesting new directions, many of which are met with a lot of resistance. Worth a watch. The lady here made a great chicken salad sandwich for lunch with apples and grapes cut up inside. Then fried chicken sandwiches, homemade mac and cheese, steamed veggies, and a salad for dinner, with homemade chocolate cake and ice cream for dessert. Very well rested and well fed now and ready for another chunk of the trail now.

Day 120- Tuesday, 7/10- Port Clinton, PA- (14.6 miles) (1218.7 total)

Felt like a million bucks this morning after that zero. Really needed that. The cheese, egg, and bacon bagel sandwich, fresh fruit, and homemade muffins for breakfast didn’t hurt either. Damn I will miss her cooking. Very flat section today for the most part. There was always the stupid and very untrue rumor that Virginia was flat. Actually it has turned out to be Pennsylvania, but I guess the rock issues overshadow the nice flat terrain.

The only problem with the hostel I just stayed at was that it wasn’t anywhere close to an outfitter for our resupply. We got the food shopping done, but no camping supplies that needed to be replenished. Luckily, this very next town of Port Clinton, only 14.6 hiking miles away, is near the biggest Cabela’s in the world. Or “redneck REI” as I like to refer to it as. All kinds of outdoor gear- a lot of it hunting related- but they do also have a camping section. They are actually located in the next town of Hamburg, PA, but offer a free shuttle for us hikers passing through Port Clinton. They don’t really cater to backpackers so were missing a lot of the things I wanted, but I was able to get the important items.

Since I’m back in a town after just 1 day of hiking, I checked into the one hotel in town. There is a place to camp, but I heard it’s sandwiched between a 4 lane highway and some train tracks, so I decided to get a room. To get to the room, you enter into a honky-tonk bar blasting country music and then up to my room right above the bar. Quite down there now tho thankfully. Nothing fancy here tonight, but good enough for just a quick sleep. Better than sleeping on the ground.

The trip up to Maine for the fundraiser is coming up soon, at the end of this month. As I said earlier, my friend Jack will drive me up there from NYC. The owners, Jane and Patty said they would find us a couple of beds somewhere while we are up there. Well I got some pictures of our crash-pad up there today. It’s a cabin right on the ocean! Apparently a friend of theirs was kind enough to offer it to us for a few days. Incredible. Check Facebook for photos. It is gorgeous. Can’t wait to see it in person!

Day 121- Wednesday, 7/11- Eckville Shelter- (15.1 miles) (1233.7 total)

Woke up early and strolled across town to a nice little diner for breakfast before heading out. When I checked Google for their hours, it said they opened at 5am. Luckily I didn’t get up that early. When I got there the waitress told me they changed their hours and don’t open until 6 now. I think I got there a few minutes after 6. It would have sucked to have had to wait outside for an hour. Nice pancake and egg breakfast there- gas for the car.

The hotel bar was quite all night and I got a good rest. My only complaint is that this morning when I brown-blazed down the hall to the shared bathroom and did my duty, only then did I realize they were totally out of TP. Fortunately there were paper towels in the machine. Let me tell you, those are not cottony soft. Then, as I was checking out, the lady asked me if I had a blanket on my bed. I said no, just a sheet. I had to wear a jacket last night to stay warm. She said she had washed the blanket and told another employee to put it back on my bed but it never got done. We will give that place a 1 star rating. Still a nice break from the tent tho.

The rock fields along the trail are starting to increase in length, but the really crazy stuff is supposed to start tomorrow and last 4 or 5 days. Something to look forward to tomorrow. To be honest I’m just ready to get into them and get them behind me already. I’m sure this section is way over-hyped like a lot of things on this trail, but I’m sure it will also be tough. After hearing about these rocks since Georgia, I’m ready to see what they are really like.

Tonight’s shelter is a unique one. It’s actually a building behind someone’s house. There is a caretaker living in the house and the shelter area has nice lawns, a solar shower, cell phone charging, etc, all free. Across the road is another big lawn area for camping where I have my tent set up tonight. Very pretty area. The caretaker is pretty odd tho. I went to his front door to ask where I could tent camp, and he kind of shooed me away, saying the shelter was in the back. Then he told me if I had looked at the map in the front properly, then I would know where the camping area was. Fairly weird and rude guy, but I stayed friendly and later on when I saw him he was much nicer. Said he’s been running this place since 1992.

Just as I was finishing up dinner tonight, Wingman and Easy Bake strolled in. We are the only 3 here now. Haven’t seen them in a few days and I figured they were ahead of me a bit after my zero days, but here they are. Good to see some familiar friendly faces after a long day of hiking.

Day 122- Thursday, 7/12- Bake Oven Knob Shelter- (17.4 miles) (1251.1 total)

Isn’t it weird how your mind works on problems subconsciously while you sleep? Last night after dinner I was cleaning up and putting stuff away and I couldn’t find my ziplock with my spoon and lighter in it. I looked high and low, through all my stuff. I even retraced my steps to to table where I ate dinner. Nothing. It was bothering me but finally I just figured it would probably turn up in the morning somewhere. Then in the middle of the night I suddenly popped awake and knew exactly where it was. I was brushing my teeth before bed as I was cleaning up. My toothbrush ziplock goes in a different side pocket in my pack. I checked and sure enough, I had mistakenly put the spoon one in there with the toothbrush. But so strange how some part of my mind kept working on that problem while I was sleeping and woke me with the answer when it finally clicked. The interesting human mind.
Today is my 4 month anniversary on the AT. That feels quite long to have been out here hiking like this. Still 2.5 months to go as best as I can predict, so still some time left, but getting there.

Well, after today’s hike, we are definitely in the heart of the Pennsylvania rock country. Quite a few long boulder fields today, but the crowning glory was a section called the “Knife’s Edge.” That part was a beast. Try to imagine a massive A-frame section of huge rocks, and we had to walk along the top edge part of it. I had to collapse my trekking poles so that I had my hands free to scramble with. It definitely took 100% focus to get through safely. Plenty of opportunity for injury going through something like that. Crazy. Thankfully it was dry tho. That would have been a nightmare if the rocks were wet. The best thing about today’s hike was that the trail passed next to a restaurant around lunchtime, so I got to forgo my usual peanut butter and honey bagel and get some real food.

The water source for this shelter tonight was an extra hike after the 17.4 we already put in. Steep 0.4 miles one-way to a spring. There were 2 closer springs mentioned in the guidebook, but both were dry, so we had to slog all the way down to the 3rd one. With more rocks. But the bigger water concern for everyone is the dry section of trail coming up. There was a zinc mine in the upcoming area for many years and it poisoned the land. Supposedly we will soon walk through a section devoid of trees and with contaminated water. So that leaves us with a 16 mile stretch without water. I was planning to fill up and carry 5 liters of water (about 11 pounds) for the last 10 miles tomorrow, then have to hike the first 6 miles of the next day without water until the next good water source. Fortunately Wingman told me tonight at camp that there is actually a B&B restaurant place part way through that stretch. It’s only 1.3 miles off trail, an easy hitchhike, and they have milkshakes!!! So that means that I can fill up water there and then only have to lug the heavy water 5 miles tomorrow. Sweet!

This shelter is pretty old, small, and funky. There are wasps living inside it and there is no privy. Glad I’m tent camping tonight. Had dinner next to the shelter tonight with Bill. Bill is an 71 year old man from Alaska who did half the trail last year and is trying to finish the 2nd half this year. We were sitting there talking when this very intense German woman shows up. She immediately asks if anyone is sleeping in the shelter and when Bill says he is, she asks if he snores. She said she cannot sleep one wink if anyone snores. She said she liked some of the past shelters that had 2 separate buildings, which people jokingly said were for snorers and non-snorers. I told this German lady that one of those was for the snorers and the other for farters. She says she doesn’t mind farters because it’s just one fart and it’s finished. It doesn’t keep her awake. I told her she had obviously never slept in a shelter next to me. Bill was laughing, but this lady didn’t seem to find the humor in it at all. She just said no, that’s impossible, your body doesn’t have that much gas inside it. I told her to speak for herself. Finally she walked off to go find a tent site. I didn’t appreciate her underestimating me like that.

Day 123- Friday, 7/13- Delp’s Spring Campground- (17.5 miles) (1268.6 total)

Whew, we hit some major rocks today. Lehigh Gap up to Blue Mountain Ridge were no joke! We climbed 1000 feet in 1 mile, straight up a boulder field that was totally exposed. I had to collapse my trekking poles at the bottom so that I could use both of my hands to climb up. It took some very basic rock climbing to get up certain parts. Took forever to get through that mile. People say though that that climb is very similar to what we will face in the White Mountains of New Hampshire when we get there, so I just looked at this as a nice intro to get my mind prepared for what’s ahead in a few weeks.

Tomorrow was going to be my last hiking day before going into a town for a zero to resupply and take break. However when I looked more carefully at things today, it turns out that the town of Delaware Water Gap is a much better place to resupply since it has a proper outfitter. And it’s just one more hiking day further. I have enough breakfast and lunch for another day, but didn’t have anything for dinner so I was going to try to do a quick resupply run into a town somewhere or get takeout for one dinner so I can make it an extra day. But just as I was about to start the big rocky climb today, there was a bag sitting on a rock that said hikers please take what you need. Inside I found a couple packages of ramen noodles and 2 homemade cookies. Perfect! Now I have dinner and don’t need to detour.

Speaking of food, I had to hitchhike into a small restaurant today at lunchtime. As I said, we are in a very dry stretch of the trail right now, so we need to be strategic about finding water. This place has a hose behind the building that they allow hikers to use to refill water. Took me about 15 to 20 minutes to get a ride. It was only 1.3 miles off the trail, but when I’m hiking 17.5 already, I have no desire to walk any extra miles. Got picked up by a French guy who was pretty excited about the World Cup final this weekend. Great guy. I got there around 2pm for a late lunch and had 2 tuna melts, onion rings, 3 Cokes, a water, a huge piece of chocolate cake with peanut butter icing, and a scoop of ice cream on the side. Awesome. Filled up my 5 liters of water and lugged my heavy pack back to the road and got a quick hitch back to the trail. Had to hike another 5 miles to this campsite, but now have plenty of water now for tonight and tomorrow morning.

Day 124- Saturday, 7/14- Unnamed Campsite- (16.3 miles) (1284.9 total)

Strangely, today was kind of a carbon copy of yesterday. Got up early and hiked until lunchtime. Along the way, I came to a shelter and had to stop there to take my morning break and refill water, just like yesterday. This time tho, the spring wasn’t right on the trail. I had to walk half a mile downhill to get to it. Nice water source once I got there, and at least I could leave my pack at the top. On the way down I got a text from Workhorse. I immediately replied and then he called me. He is now 2 days ahead of me which is frustrating. So close yet so far away. But it was great to hear his voice and catch up a bit. Hope I somehow can get back in step with that guy soon. He did pass on some bad news. Our friend Taco broke her foot on these crazy Pennsylvania rocks and is laid up for a few weeks at Delaware Water Gap, the town I will stop at tomorrow. Bummer for her. I will find her tomorrow and grab dinner or something. He said she is looking for a work-for-stay at one of the hostels in town. Hikers who are low on money or need some time off the trail for whatever reason will sometimes stay at a hostel and work there for room and board. Hope her break is not too bad and she can get back out here soon!

At lunchtime I crossed a road that led into a nearby town, the last place I could fill up water for a long time. So I hitchhiked in, got some lunch at the diner, filled up my water bottles in their sink, and hitched back out to the trailhead. Just like yesterday. I think today was the 3rd day in a row that I got lunch at a restaurant while hiking. Getting spoiled out here. The hitchhiking rides today both came almost instantly. That surprised me because is males usually have a hard time getting picked up. The guy that took me in to town, Homeward Bound, was a former thru hiker of the AT himself back in 1993. And a guy named TJ took me back to the trail in his bright red Jeep Wrangler. Both picked me up within 30 seconds of standing there. That Wrangler reminded me of one that we had when I was a senior in high school. Beautiful Jeep. I didn’t get to drive it very often, but whenever I did, I felt like the king of the world. It even had a tape deck in it, which our other car didn’t. We didn’t keep it very long. It had some problems and my Dad sold it. I was pissed. I told my Dad that I was going to college the next fall so that I could get a good job someday and afford to buy myself my own Jeep. That still hasn’t happened.

Was a very long and rocky day today. I put in 16.3. There is a shelter another 3 miles up or so, and I considered going that far, but I just didn’t have the gas. The rocks were wearing me down today. It’s also my 5th day out here. Tomorrow I will hike 10 miles into town to resupply and zero. My legs and mind need the rest. Tonight I’m camped out in my tent at a random campsite along the trail. I’m the only one here, so nice and quiet. Early to bed and early to raise tomorrow morning to knock out this last day. It’s supposed to rain tomorrow morning and there is supposed to be one more big rock challenge tomorrow morning as well. I’m really hoping I can get beyond it before the rain comes. Wet rocks are no good out here.

Day 125- Sunday, 7/15- Delaware Water Gap- (9.8 miles) (1294.7 total)

The rain did come last night which made me nervous about going over Wolf Rocks this morning, especially in light of Taco’s broken foot recently. When I looked on my app, it turns out that there is a 1-mile blue-blaze trail that skirts around the big rocks, so I decided to take that route instead. All the comments on that section said to be very careful in the rain, so I decided to err on the side of caution. The rest of the trail after that wasn’t too bad. Some rocks for sure, but no huge obstacles like that one and so I was able to get into town around 11:30am.

I checked into my motel and was able to catch a bit of the World Cup final. I was rooting for the underdog in Croatia, but France was the better team. I think I was the only American in the lobby watching the game- everyone else from other countries. Just shows the unfortunate lack of popularity of the sport of soccer here.

I called Taco and met her for lunch. It’s actually her foot that is broken, not her toe, and she is in a walking boot. Her doctor says 2-4 weeks. She met some local people who are letting her stay with them for free while she heals. The kindness of strangers. She is applying for jobs in town to make some money and pass the time while she heals. Was good to catch up with her again. I’m impressed with her resolve to want to keep pushing and still finish up he trail despite this big set back. Most would quit.

Ran into a guy in the hallway of my motel who recognized me. Took me a minute to place him, but I had met him at a shelter a few days back. His name is Half-Bear- he didn’t even stay at the shelter that night, just stopped in for a rest and then pushed on late into the evening. But we all had some good conversation while he was there- they were asking me a ton of questions about Saudi- so I guess that’s what made him remember me. He invited me to come chill out in his room and have some dinner. He also hikes alone a lot, so I think both of us enjoyed the company. I walked down the street and picked up a pizza for us, and later we both walked over to the convenience store for snacks. Fun evening and I hope to see him up the trail further.

Day 126- Monday, 7/16- Delaware Water Gap- (0) (1294.7 total)

Went to bed last night around 10:30pm or so feeling fine and ready for a good night’s sleep in a real bed. But somewhere around midnight I woke up feeling pretty sick to my stomach. At first I thought it was just a stomach ache from eating too much crap for dinner last night, but it just got worse and worse, and I ended up throwing up several times in the toilet. No fun at all. Woke up this morning still feeling terrible- the vomiting had passed but it left me just totally weak and with no appetite. I was thinking it may have been food-poisoning from the pizza, but Half-Bear said he felt fine all night. So maybe a virus or flu? Who knows, but it has sure knocked me on my ass. Half-Bear was kind enough to pick me up some stomach medicine and some plain bread and bananas to try to eat, but it was all I could do to force down one piece of bread and half a banana. I really felt like I needed rehydration salts which he hadn’t been able to get, but I knew they carried them at the outfitter down the street. I kept thinking I needed to get up and walk down there, but kept falling asleep all day. I finally dragged myself down there at around 3:30. Otherwise just been laying in bed all day. Usually when I’m sick I can at least watch something on my phone to pass the time, but today I have been too weak to do even that most of the time. Just sleeping all day and trying to drink some of these electrolytes. What a miserable day. I just got over that head cold and had to lose a day for that, and now this. Frustrating to keep losing days, but clearly my body is not up for it right now and I need to rest a couple days here.

Day 127- Tuesday, 7/17- Delaware Water Gap- (0) (1294.7 total)

I thought for sure that after sleeping all day yesterday I would be awake all night, but I ended up sleeping all night as well. Guess I was really wiped out. I woke up this morning feeling better for sure but still very weak. I do think I turned a corner but it will still take some time to get my strength back. I was able to walk down the street to the bakery to get some muffins. Still trying to eat pretty bland food but need to start eating something to get some energy back. Otherwise just pretty much lying on my back all day, not doing much. Too weak to go out to do any errands like grocery shopping or resupply, so just trying to do what I can here like getting this blog posted and planning my next few days ahead for whenever I’m well enough to hike. Not much else I can do. It is what it is. I’ll move again when I can.  

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