We’ve been out here awhile


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Optimist

Optimist during a break in Pennsylvania, in need of a haircut and a bath

It’s rained for 8 days in a row now and everything is either soaked or at least damp, our spirits included. I am the Optimist on the trail and I am fully into this adventure but the rain, along with some of the trail section through PA thus far has me working hard at remaining the upbeat optimist of the AT.

First, tomorrow marks 50 days for us on the AT. For so long, it still felt like we were fresh on the trail, like our start date of April 2ndwas still recent, and that we had so far left to travel. We’ve passed the halfway point, we now have fewer than 1000 miles remaining, and we’re well on our way through PA, a long, grind-it-out state on the trail. Part of the challenge is that at this point, we’ve thought of so many new adventures we’re excited to research or get started on. Yet despite how far we’ve traveled, we know there is much to go, and while walking 10+ hours per day is exciting, we know there are so many other things to experience as well.

Regarding Pennsylvania, it’s been tough for a few reasons: we’re low in elevation with little in the way of views or scenery and it seems like we’re often almost in people’s backyards at times. The trail seems oftentimes patchworked together through here as we’ve cut through corn fields and crossed many more roads. It’s also a very rocky state which tends to slow things down. And worst of all, and we know this isn’t PA’s fault, but it’s rained the entire time. We should be out by Monday or Tuesday of next week and on to NJ. There have been good parts too, but the rain just has us down a bit.

On a different note, I figured out that yesterday I crossed the 6000 mile mark for long distance trails hiked. With 2181 on the AT in 2000, 2663 on the PCT in 2007, and now 1185 on the AT so far in 2011 I am now part of the 6000 mile club. Julie is quickly approaching the 4000 mile mark putting us over the 10000 mile mark as a couple.

In conclusion, this post isn’t meant to be a downer, but rather to show some of the realistic challenges and struggles of the trail. We just saw a young couple buy plane tickets home two days ago after deciding to give up their trail dream. There are lots of folks struggling with the challenges of the trail as a whole right now. People think that this is vacation and this should be fun but in reality, it is a lot of work with lots of unpleasantness associated with it. It is like everything in life in the sense that there are the good and the bad. We know there are always tradeoffs with everything and at this point, the only thing to do is to simply keep walking and to do our best to smile and have fun while we’re doing it.

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