Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Mason-Dixon line followed by a 1/2 gallon-sized failure

Two more state lines down, and the halfway point has officially been crossed!!
I'm sitting at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA.  Officially in the north, but people are still friendly.  And it is HOT. 98 degrees outside right now but the tavern here is nicely air-conditioned.  For $14 per person, we couldn't resist staying the night.  When another hiker was being wishy-washy about staying, I said "what are you on, a death march or a vacation"? The truth is that it is somewhere in between.  Today it felt like a death march.  Anyway, here's the story of Maryland, southern Pennsylvania, and my failure to eat a half gallon of ice cream at once.

Maryland.  The AT through it is short and fairly easy.  Some hikers even attempt to complete the whole state in a day, about 40 miles.  Day Tripper had to go home for a few days, so I took it easy so he could catch up.  And in my 3-day traverse of Maryland, I began to miss Virginia.  Maryland had some good historical exhibits and some good wild fruit (mulberrys, raspberrys, apples, cherries, blueberries) but that was about it. No views, no interesting climbs, a few nice shelters but a few mediocre ones, and lots of road crossings.   Overall, I am totally indifferent about the state of Maryland.

Leaving Maryland and crossing into Pennsylvania I passed a major mile marker- the Mason Dixon line!!! It was just a post in the ground with "Mason-Dixon line" written on it with a black marker.  I heard that so many people have stolen the sign in the past that they stopped replacing it.  Now we're out of the land of sweet tea and soda, into the land of pop and Yankees.  Besides the fact that no one here in PA says y'all, the southern part of the Keystone state has been just like Maryland- a whole lot of boring.

Pennsylvania  is famous for its rocks, but the rocks on the trail are much worse in the northern part of the state.  It hasn't been too bad so far. There have been few views and LOTS of road crossings.  Walking across the Cumberland Valley provided a sight I hadn't seen in a while- miles of corn fields, wheat fields, and cows.  Walking through tall grass across majestic fields sounds beautiful, but in reality it is terrifying because of the possibility of lyme disease.  Two guys I have been hiking closed to have been diagnosed with it this week, but the treatment if it's caught early is simple. One out of five hikers is said to contract lyme disease, so the more friends get it, the less likely my chances are.  Just kidding... 

In PA Bloody Nose and his girlfriend Emily joined me for the weekend. The brought bagels, M&Ms, and some awesome company.  Together we crossed the AT midpoint and Bloody Nose was able to travel the 1/4 mile of the trail that he skipped during his 2007 thru-hike.  Also, the duo got to witness my attempt at the famous half gallon challenge.

At the Pine Grove General store in PA there is a tradition for thru-hikers to attempt to eat a half gallon of ice cream as quickly as possible.  I had been thinking about the challenge since before starting my thru-hike, and I was pretty confident that I would have no problem finishing it.  I choose cookies and cream, by far my favorite flavor, and dove in with a flimsy plastic spoon in hand.  About 5 minutes into the half gallon, I already felt ill.  At minute 22 I slowed down and hit a wall.  I finished a little less than 3/4 of a gallon, which is failure. After an hour rest I walked away slightly disheartened about a few pounds heavier. I did vomit just a little bit of it up, but it wasn't full-blown spewing. And once we were back on the trail, I felt awesome and we were able to hike 15 more miles that day for a total of 23 miles.  Maybe I should eat ice cream everyday!!! Just fyi, the previous day a hiker had finished a half gallon in a little over 8 minutes.  An average time is somewhere between 30 minutes and an hour.

Just after finishing the challenge, I found out that Day Tripper had hurt his knee and was meeting me in Boiling Springs, PA.  I took my 7th zero day (day off) there at an amazing place called the Allenberry.  It's a resort and "playhouse" that I otherwise would not have been able to afford, but they have great hiker rates and a swimming pool, a jacuzzi, and a game room. Great place to spend the day recovering. And we watched the movie Major League, which led to...

haircuts.  Day Tripper and I just got haircuts in Duncannon.  My hair is very, very blonde and dry these days because I'm outside 24 hours a day, so I got a few inches of scraggly cut off.  Day Tripper opted for something a little more unique.  Are you familiar with Charlie Sheen's character in Major League? The "wild thing"? Google a picture of him if you're not.  Day Tripper got that haircut.  I will try to put pictures on facebook soon.

That's all I've got for now.  I'll let you know how the rocks in northern Pennsylvania treat me.   The temperature is supposed to continue to be 10 degrees above average, but every time it gets too hot I will close my eyes and think about a cool breeze on Katahdin.



  1. How can you be indifferent about the state that made me?! But I completely agree about PA. I see you in THREE DAYS!!!! I'm bringing goodies for you!

  2. Happy to hear you're still going strong! Keep on keepin' on!