I remember I was on the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania when I finished reading Fahrenheit 451. I was at a camp maintained by Boy Scouts, a clean and elegantly designed shelter scarred only with the signatures of many dozens of prepubescent boys. My companions for the night were a diverse group of interesting characters, some out for the night, some making the same journey I had signed up for. For every one of us it seemed it was an escape. My companions remained anonymous until I finished the last bits of the book. They could tell something about it struck me deep. Continue reading Boston manhunt and Fahrenheit 451
Today I passed through a cute town, Boiling Springs, Pennsylvania.
An older man walked up to me, exchanging my maps for new ones at the post office. He said to me “I envy you. I respect what you are doing. And I wish I could be out there too.” He has passed the point in his life where he is free to safely roam and explore. Its a strange thought imagining that at some point in my life, I will find that some things that seemed normal will no longer be possible. I can’t imagine; I’m still on the uphill.
My two friends Cheesemeyer and Twisted Hair left the trail for Thanksgiving and my plan of double ramen noodles seems to be a respectable meal for tomorrow night.
I met a lady named Mossy who finished her thru-hike on October 15, this year. She has only been home for little over a month so it was great to talk to someone who has experienced everything I have been through. She lives just outside of Boiling Springs. We knew many of the same people, some of which I had to break the news to her had gone home.
When we were heading our separate ways, she turned around and said “Oh yeah and Happy Thanksgiving.”
I am in the shelter with a man far from as sweet as Mossy. He is also a thru hiker finishing his trip two days from now. A veteran just released, he served a few years in Iraq.
“Were you in the action?”
“Yeah, it was awesome,” he responded confidently.
That is enough to make any stranger wonder.
I met up with Cheesemayer and Twisted Hair again today. Last time I saw them was in New Jersey. We hiked out from Duncannon in the rain.
I went to the diner late this morning and saw packs sitting outside. I walked in to see my friends making progress on plates of pancakes and french toast.
I ordered some french toast and we all patiently ate, waiting for the rain to dissipate as the afternoon came. Before we knew it, the afternoon came.
“You guys want to get lunch?”
“Hey, how convenient!”
We ended up walking back to the Doyle’s restaurant instead of eating at the diner. I admitted to Vicky, the owner of the Doyle, that I had not made it very far from when I left earlier that day. After lunch though, we did muster the inspiration to walk the twelve miles to the shelter, now in the rain and the dark.
I am staying at an old Budweiser hotel, The Doyle Hotel.
I was washing my clothes upstairs in the fourth floor bathroom. I walked up only in my long underwear (everything else needed washing). A very large, long haired man was filling a pot with hot water. A hiker? Definitely not.
“Can I just grab my laundry?”
“Ehh, yaeh ugh mine jus fil ma pot. Yuuggghhhh. Yuggghh. Yeugghhh. Jus fil’n ma pot.”
I took that as a yes.
The owners Pat and Vicky bought the restaurant, bar, and hotel from hiker hating previous owners. Pat and Vicky are just about the exact opposite, suiting their hotel to primarily hiker needs. They maintain an online register of hikers coming through-
I woke up from a horrible nightmare of insane small town locals kidnapping me. It was like being in the middle of a Children of the Corn movie.
At least with the children of the corn nightmare I could wake. These footsteps and whispers all around me at five in the morning, I cannot wake from this. There are people out there. I wish it were I bear. I wish it were coyotes.
I lay in my sleeping bag, sweating buckets despite the near freezing temperature around me. What are these whispers? Who are these people? How many are there? Too many to count. Did I sleep to close to the road? Do they know I am in here? Do I get my knife out? Maybe they don’t even know I am here. Maybe there is nothing to be scared of. Do I get my knife out? Do I hide?
I want to fall back asleep! Bring me children of the corn!
Do I call my mom? Should I call out “Who’s there?” Should I pack my stuff up and leave quickly? Should I leave my stuff and run? I don’t want to be here! Try to fall asleep. I can’t sleep! It may not be safe to sleep!
I finally muster the courage to check outside. I peek around a corner of the shelter. A man is walking in the fog. There are other behind me. I quickly turn around and see other shadows near silently lurking in the winter fog. The first man sees me.
“Bill?” he whispers.
Do I respond? Is he safe? Do I run back in the shelter and grab my knife before he realizes his target is awake. “No,” my trembling voice responds.
He walks up to me abruptly with no words exchanged, then looks at me firmly and says “Where are you headed?”
“Georgia,” I say as I stumble back. “Um. What are you doing? I mean, when did you get here?”
“We got here last night around ten. We’re headed north and we’ll be out of here about nine.”
“How many of you are there?” Hearing that they were hikers made me feel safe. The nightmare was over.
“About twenty. We’re a boy scout troop from Pine Grove.”
Today marks the first time in my life I was happy to see boy scouts.
Carried a conversation with a bird. I have no idea what I said in his language but I hope it was not offensive.
Saw a bear. My first wild bear ever. He sprinted his massive weight away quickly and despite the realization that he is afraid of me, it was frightening to see how quickly he could move his bulk.
Stepped in poop
Got really tired
Got un-tired. considered doing a thirty mile day
Then got really tired again and thought I might take a nap
Karate chopped a wasp
Yelled at a bird to shut up
Reminisced about the butane canister we threw in the fire at Brink Road Shelter
Twisted my ankle on a rock, cursed the rock
Cursed Pennsylvania for its rocks
Considered going home for thanksgiving
Considered skipping Pennsylvania because it sucks
Considered going home for good
Decided to continue hiking
Thinking about Georgia too much. Singing Ray Charles “Georgia always on my mind” too much.
Discovered a hole in my down booties
Discovered a hole in my shorts
Discovered a hole in my sock
Discovered a hole in the logic of a thru-hike.
Received a text message from a friend saying “I MISS YOU!” And felt everything seemed to be in its place.
Fell asleep to a crackling fire underneath the lights of a pitiful meteor shower.