Birch Run Shelter to tenting at mile 1,109.4 miles – 21.0 miles – Mother’s Day
I’m out at 5:30 AM. I get an early start, even though I have less than 10 miles to Pine Grove Furnace State Park and will be there well before the family. I pass the official halfway point sign before the park. I get to the park about 8:30 AM and relax, sleep, eat, under the pavilion until my family arrives. I visit the AT Museum too.
It is great to see my family, Matt, MaryStuart, Mom, and Dad, and hang out with Linds and boys on Mother’s Day. I don’t have much of a hiker appetite coming off the rest days and easy morning of hiking, but I wait for the family to arrive to do the Half Gallon Challenge.
Although I am not especially hungry, it is neither a half gallon (1.5 quarts) nor a challenge to polish off the carton of Hershey’s ice cream. I was eating before the “challenge” and then continue eating lunch: turkey sandwich, cheesecake, chips, candy, soda, and more afterward. There is only chocolate and vanilla at the camp store and I choose vanilla. I would have preferred peanut butter or cookies and cream instead. The carton is only about 1,000 calories. I’ve eaten more than that in one sitting.
After several hours together, at about 3:15 PM we say goodbye. This is hard for me to do. Unlike in the past when I knew, roughly, when I would see them again, at this point I’m not sure when that will be. It’s challenging for Lindsay every day at home and it’s tough to leave her to do that all by herself. I think a little awesomeness may have leaked out as we are saying goodbye.
I just got to get this thing done! The plan: I need to do big miles, all day every day; hike to 6:30 PM or later everyday (with an occasional shorter day for rest, as needed); I need to take full advantage of the terrain, weather, lighter pack days, etc. When the terrain is easy and/or the weather is nice and/or my pack is light, I need to hike faster, farther, longer all the way to Katahdin.
After leaving her, I cover nearly 12 miles in three hours. The terrain is flat and fast again. It feels good to know I can do that kind of mileage easily and in the later part of the afternoon. I am definitely a strong hiker and have lots of confidence at this point in the trail. I get some trail magic left in a box at a road crossing. I load up with several varieties of soft baked Quaker cookies. Then I find a campsite for the night.
Duncannon is possible tomorrow if I have a good day! I am strong and excited for the days ahead.