But now hates us. I'll come back to that later.
First things first... THANK YOU UNCLE RON FOR THE TREATS!!! There wasn't a thing in your present that we didn't devour. The jerky/sticks, banana chips, Carnation breakfasts, granola bars, milk and anything else I may have left out were unbelievably delicious. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
When Rob and I came back to the trail, we noticed that there were a few things we had to acclimate back to:
1) Peeing in the woods. As I was doing so an hour into the hike, Rob mentions to me "you don't
look as comfortable peeing in the woods anymore". I don't know if it is because I became
comfortable with indoor plumbing or if it was because my husband was analyzing my tinkling
2) Eating not-so-satisfying meals. While at home, we could raid the fridge at any time. It's a little
more difficult to do so out here. As a result, our stomachs were making a constant grumble for
about a week.
3) Not being scared of the woods. Every sound can be heard during a quiet night. It didn't take too
long before we lost our fear of the woods and regained our fear of the people who recreate in
4) Waking up early. For the first three days, people were stopping at a shelter to eat lunch and we
were barely awake getting our stuff around.
Fortunately for us, the trail greeted us back with huge blooms of delicious, wild raspberries. And to think I almost spent $4 on some while back at home. Psh.
Within the first week of being back, we hit a couple milestones. First, we crossed the Mason-Dixon line. We are no longer in the land where they say App-uh-latch-yun Trail and are now in the land where the say it the normal way... App-ah-lay-shun Trail. Finally. I was sick of being corrected when I was saying it the right way.
The second milestone was crossing the official mileage halfway point. It's crazy to think that we are closer to Katahdin than we are to Springer. We feel so accompished! To celebrate this feat, it is tradition for thru-hikers to take part in a little something called the "Half-Gallon Challenge." The challenge, when written, sounds easy... to eat a half-gallon of ice cream. No other stipulations. I was actually really excited to have an excuse to do so. The first 1/4 of it was fairly easy and then the tides turned. It felt like the dairy expanded in my stomach and it was almost impossible to squeeze more in there. But... I did. I completed the challenge in 1 hour and 15 minutes. When I say that it was extremely difficult, I should speak for myself. Rob took it like a champ and finished his half-gallon in 28 minutes. Apparently the record to date is 4.5 minutes. Go ahead. Try it.
We had pleasant hiking for the first half of Pennsylvania. We enjoyed easy, rolling hills, soft ground, and good views. We even received a whopping FIVE trail magics in one day. This is while Pennsylvania still loved us. And then things turned. They turned bad. Real bad. Really, really bad. Apocalyptically bad. Okay, I'm sure you get it...
The "Rocksylvania" nickname that hikers give the state started to live up to its name. THERE ARE ROCKS EVERYWHERE. They are either small and jagged so they jab into your feet. They can be medium-sized so that you have to balance and practically jump from rock to rock (not in a fun way). They can also be large and flat but slightly slanted so if they are even slightly damp, you can slip and crack open your head. Hopefully this doesn't happen. Every complaint I wrote about in the past about rocks, forget about it. I was a wimp back then. They NOW officially suck.
Rob did fall on his face. Don't worry, its still pretty. Lucky for him, he didn't fall a foot in the other direction because he would've gotten a sharp rock in the eye.
And, on top of all that, our beloved camera with about 140 pictures that were not yet uploaded, is no longer in our possession. It is in the trunk of some really nice man's car as it fell out on our hitch to this very library. Gone with it are our pictures of the half-gallon challenge, our new friends, the halfway and Mason-Dixon signs, and other wonderful experiences over the last couple of weeks.
But, as I write this with all limbs and eyeballs in place (as well as our marriage), we can still say that our spirits are good. We have met another young couple (Sap and Vicegrip) who we have been spending a lot of time with. Our bodies feel surprising good. And, while the first half of the trail was spent in a sort of "cleansing" way, we are starting to feel a bit of clarity heading into the second half.
Katahdin is starting to come into sights with about 2 months to go. Hopefully we can replace the camera by then. But, for now, we'll shoot for the PA/NJ border and continue to enjoy the remainder of the trail one day at a time.
Hello. We are Robert and Candice Fox. We created this blog for people who want to follow us as we thru-hike the Appalachian Trail. If you don't know what the Appalachian Trail is, we will let our favorite online resources tell you most anything you need to know. Just click on the blue stuff.