Dear Readers, It is with much dismay that we must publicly chastise our fellow Appalachian Trail hikers. For over two months, we’ve been warned that we would hate Pennsylvania. The Rocky State. The State of Twisted Ankles and Wobbly Knees. The Viewless State. The State of Inhospitable Ill Repute. The Endless Nightmare.
You guys are lying liar-pants’.
Pennsylvania – is a rock-star, weaving her way through charming towns and over soothing vistas. The end of each day we were greeted with a sweet reward in towns or fields or woods. The days went quickly… we finished hiking through PA earlier this week. We miss her already. This is our love-letter-list to the mis-understood gem of the AT:
Wind Gap’s Beer Stein bar – The first town in awhile where they understood and watched out for our vegan dietary restrictions. They had plentiful grub. Charming Staff. And of course the beer and whiskey we needed to toast our victory of 900 miles. They let us camp in the back grassy field. And when we awoke the next morning, they opened their kitchen and fridge walk-in and let us cook whatever we wanted FOR FREE.
The cop hostel – We night-hiked past timber rattle snakes and tic-infested fields to arrive at the charming town of Palmerton where you can sleep in the basement of town hall and shower for free if you check in with the local police station. Which we did. and enjoyed immensely.
Hawk Mountain’s Mike – a friend-of-a-friend whom we’d never met, picked us up and generously hosted us for two nights in his charming and rustic country abode. Einstein the cat reigned supreme and we had our best zero days yet. Swimming in ponds, reading, cooking, showering, singing around the bonefire and best of all, meeting many of Mike’s local friends who were super lovely and smart and fun.
1000 mile marker – a huge milestone for us which we achieved on Harpo’s dad’s birthday. A great day for everyone.
Easy terrain – despite some rocks – there were amazing days of flat terrain, breath-taking field walks, pleasant night-hiking, fire roads. We pulled our biggest miles ever out in PA – achieving several 25-mile days. And our first marathon day of over 27 miles.
Intentional night hiking into Boiling Springs. A fabulous day of mostly flat terrain where we were able to hike easily, sometime just by the light of the full harvest moon. We got into town at 9:30pm and the local bar was closing but sold us a six-pack. We could legally camp for free just outside of town by the railroad tracks which soothed us all into our best slumber in weeks. The next morning we checked in at the regional ATC office and loved visiting the cute café down the street for fancy coffee drinks. The town was beautiful and charming.
Pretty state and federal parks – often with grocery supplies and potable water and other amenities right on trail – so we were able to gain back some of our urban pot-bellies eating so many oreos and potato chips.
The trail weaves right by or through many charming, historic towns in PA, including Duncannon, home of the notoriously run-down Doyle Hotel. $40 got us a room for 3, replete with cobwebs. The spot also has a bar/restaurant. The proprietors are DELIGHTFUL. And the PO in this town rocked. So nice.
PA WE LOVE YOU AND THE BEAUTIFUL, SALT-OF-THE-EARTH PEOPLE WHO INHABIT YOU. WE’LL BE BACK.
In every journey there is a moment when everything becomes endless, when you reach the threshold of continual arrival. You find yourself meditating with your eyes open, turned inside-out, yielding to immediacy.
At this moment, your vision becomes extremely clear. The smallest insect on a picnic table suddenly manifests the most excruciating detail. Every sound is extremely close, vibrating the air around it.
As the forest opens up, a vista expands with seeming infinite depth of field – this mirrors the interior landscape in a series of shifting horizons. Vast storms, warm wind, sultry beams of late summer light all travel freely. Everything is momentary, and time becomes malleable.
The duration of the journey and the topography it traverses become operations rather than obstacles. Moments echo themselves, yet each is absolutely singular.
Definitions relating to socially drinking whisky, or whiskey, on the Appalachian Trail. All definitions assume the vessel is a bottle unless otherwise noted because, really, who has time to take out a mug.
Sip: The smallest drink from a bottle, taken out of politeness rather than thirst.
Sup: A slightly larger, thirstier sip. Enough to whet the palette.
Drink: A good natured, hearty pull. Also, sometimes exists in a glass.
Drank: A drink after several drinks – the singular plural.
Belt: A strong enough drink to warm you belly or lower.
Slug: A belt that hits you in the head, or gut. Often accompanied by cartoon stars.
Swill: A lascivious drink accompanied by a sideways glance.