The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the AT, is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. It is approximately 2,181 miles long. The path is maintained by 30 trail clubs and multiple partnerships,and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in wilderness, although some portions do traverse towns and roads, and cross rivers. The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Along the way, the trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
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Friday, July 8, 2011
Duncannon, PA - 7/7
Ryan checked in last evening from Duncannon, PA to let us know he was feeling much better. The antibiotics apparently did their job and his fever and flu symptoms were 75% gone. In spite of feeling a little weak, he covered 24 miles yesterday. He reports eastern Pennsylvania to be exactly as predicted – rocky. The past two days have gone from open country to rocky outcrops. Most of the trail is washed clean by rain exposing fist sized rocks. He said it was very tiring to constantly shift position and weight to find good foot placement. You have to watch every step.
Trail magic has abounded so far in Pennsylvania. He commented that the people in rural PA are very welcoming to hikers. Wednesday night the trail passed through a small town and they were invited to set up their tents in a local’s field. They made pizza’s for the hikers and they all stayed up till 1:00 in the morning answering question and talking about the hike and trail. The next morning the people drove sandwiches and breakfast out to the hikers at 7:00 a.m.
He felt he was finally 100% on equipment. He got the right pack delivered in Duncannon and the package from home included another cycle of tick antibiotics, the ankle brace he wanted, and some clothing he’d asked for.
Since leaving Harper’s he has covered 125 miles in 6 days. Pennsylvania has about 260 mile of the AT within its border. New Jersey will be the next state he enters. He should be in NJ before next weekend. Ryan’s efforts to reduce his pack weight have paid off in a 10-15 pound reduction. He has taken on a minimalist attitude about necessities. The only real luxury he’s carrying is a book. In these more populated areas he can resupply more frequently and carry less between resupplies. He also said that the water sources have been much better than in Virginia. He’s had to do very little water filtering since leaving Harper’s. All of these benefits help to add mile per day. He feels his stride had increased considerably. He said after walking this far you get a real good feel for the miles and the time it takes to cover them. Earlier on he felt was walking at about a 2 mph pace. He thinks he is consistently walking at about 3 mph now.
Talking to Ryan 2 months ago he was just walking. Now, he is a walking technician. Stride, foot placement, use of poles, pack position, shoe style, and trail surface all add or detract to forward progress. Now, it’s all about the miles. For the first time he talked, not about how many miles he has walked, but how many miles he has yet to walk. Tomorrow he should be under 1,000 miles left. Tomorrow he has been on the trail for 3 months.
There is not an ounce of “quit” in anything he’s said or done since being dropped off on the trial head that cool day in April. He is determined – and hairy. I offered him a cash reward to shave that badger off his face – nothing doing. He posesses the fastest growing beard on the planet. Didn’t that guy used to play a bass in ZZ Top?