Monday, June 11, 2007

Across some new states

Greetings from beyond the half way point! Odd as it is to say I actually now have less to do than I have already done. Its fairly hard to believe. I left Harper's Ferry mid-day on the 4th with a little bit of a heavy heart. I was glad to be getting back out on the trail, but it was also kind of hard after having seen the folks in town. I did a pretty bland 10 miles to Crampton Gap Shelter that afternoon and called it a day. Fortunately, the next morning I was back in the swing of things and all was right with the world...except for my boots. I had traded out my tursty Salomons in Harper's Ferry for a pair of Vasque's due to the fact the the Salomons were about the buy the farm. Unfortunately, the Vasque's were clearly going to take some breaking in, and the backs of my heels were pretty raw by the end of the day. Its a shame my mind were so focuesed on my feet that day because it was a really nice day to be out. The wind was blowing real hard, like it was going to storm, more or less all day. Fortunately, the rain never came and I got the wonderful cool weather anyway. Other than that though, there isn't much to be said about that day.
The boots felt a lot better when I put them on in the morning. Maybe my heels had toughened over night. Anyhow, it was a nice mornings walk and when I got to an overlook called High Rocks there was a hang glider preparing to take off. I helped him launch and got a number of good pictures. I have never seen someone hang glide before and I have to say it looks like a whole lot of fun. Maybe it's the next thing I need to try when I get back from my trip. Anyhow, I crossed into Pennsylvania later that afternoon, putting me into big state #7.
I only had ten miles to go into town to get resupplied and they passed by in no time. In addition to knew boots I also shed some gear and picked up a new (much lighter) pack in Harper's and when I don't have any food it feels so light I can fairly fly across the ground. I was planning on getting in and out of town pretty rapidly. Instead, I ended up spending the night at the wonderfully welcoming home of Jim and Cheryl Hutchinson. Cheryl also has Celiac and they were kind enough to not only give money to my cause but also open there home for me to spend the night. It would have taken a better man than me to have turned down such hospitality, not to mention such an abundance of gluten-free food.
On that note, the people at Foods by George had sent a large shipment of food to the Hutchinson's for me including Gluten free pizza, english muffins, brownies, and crumb cake. It was all outstanding (it was particularly nice to have some pizza) and I really want to thank the folks at Foods by George for their donation. It was most appreciated.
I got away fairly early the next morning after stuffing in as much food as I could, and set out for the Iron Masters Mansion Hostel at the HALFWAY POINT of the Appalachian Trail. It was immensley hot, somewhere up in the 90's but I got used to that pretty quickly. I am thankful that my background of summer camping has made me at least somewhat resistant to the heat. The bad part of that day was the fawn that I saw. Five or six miles in that day I came across a fawn with a broken leg lying in the middle of the trail. It was quite clearly in pain and distress, but I couldn't think of anything that I could do for it so I just had to keep on moving. Gorilla later told me he had picked it up and moved it off the trail and he was fairly sure it was dead. Seeing stuff like that is always hard, it makes everyone involved just feel completely helpless. I think people have a hard time dealing with things when there is absolutely nothing we can do to change the course of events. We don't like to think of ourselves as helpless.
Anyway, on a more light hearted note I arrived at halfway that evening and as per tradition I had to partake in the HALF GALLON CHALLENGE. For those of you who don't know, the half gallon challenge involves eating a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting. I thought this would be no problem. What I thought turned out to be quite wrong. The last third of the ice cream was fairly brutal. I more or less had to choke it down. Another hiker named Sublime, who I know fairly well, had actually broken the speed record of 4 minutes and 14 seconds with an astonishing time of 3 minutes 48. How can someone eat that much ice cream in that amount of time you ask? By melting it and drinking it (shudder). It will be quite some time before the idea of ice cream excites me again.
The next day was pretty standard. I got up and going pretty late, thinking that I was only going to the shelter 15 miles away. I also really took my time that day for the same reason. However, upon arriving I suddenly decided it would be a better idea to do the remaining 4 miles to the campsite outside of Boiling Springs. The last mile or so was through some farm fields and that was really pleasant walking. The sun was casting a really nice late afternoon light, the temperature was pleasant, and the wind was blowing. Incidentally I don't think I have ever fully appreciated the phrase "waves of grain" until now. Those fields are unbelievingly vast, and they really do move like the ocean when the wind blows. All I can say was it was quite idyllic. In spite of that my choice of camping may have been a mistake since the campground ended up being right next to the railroad tracks. Anyone who has ever spent the night in a house near the tracks knows why.
The next day ended up being longer than expected as well. I planned on doing 22 miles to the last shelter before Duncannon. Instead I did a full 26 miles, my longest day thus far, all the way into town. I have only a couple of things so say about that day. The first 12 miles were rediculously flat. They were all across farm country and I think there might have been a net rise of 20 feet the whole time. This sounds like it would be really cool, but it actually get rather boring after a while. Secondly, the gypsy moth caterpillars are incredibly distressing. They are all over everything out hear, and you can actually hear them knawing away all of the leaves. Aside from that , they are just pretty gross. I really hope the forest service can figure something out, because there are a lot of dead trees out there. Finally, I do not want to wake up with a porcupine as an unexpected bedfellow. This desire is brought on by a sign at one of the
shelters warning that there have been multiple sightings of Porcupines in the shelters and that the salt from perspiration is a definite attraction. Fantastic. Anyhow, thats all for now. I hope everyone is well out in the real world. Sorry, I was going to try to upload some pics, but the computer I'm working with seems to be resisting. I'll do my best to get some up next time.

Later on,
The Breadless Horseman

PS - I have been reminded that I should mention that I am in fact trying to raise money for Celiac Research with this hike, so that is what I am going to do right now. If you are interested in contributing or just in learning more about my hike and the disease go to and look for the appropriate link. Thanks again.


Anonymous said...

Dear Gordon
I was interested that the half-way point of the trail is in PA. So I looked up the coordinates for Mt Katahdin, Montreal and Quebec. Mt Katahdin is about 20 miles north of Montreal and 30 or 40 miles south of Quebec. When you say you are walking to just north of Montreal, it puts the trail length into better perspective for me. That is a heck of a walk - keep it up. Wish I could walk some of it with you.


Amy said...

Hi Gordon! It's Amy Balmer--the girl who used to live with your famiy. How in the world are you??? I got your blog site from your mom and although I wasn't able to read it all, I did read some and it is TRULY AMAZING what you are doing! Absolutely amazing... my best friend Tracey has Ciliac (I can't remember if that's how you spell it) as well, so I have a small understanding of the effects the disease can have. I absolutely respect what you are doing, besides the fact that it is just really cool :). I will write more later, but just wanted to say Hi and tell you i think it's amazing what you're doing!

Amy B

Anonymous said...

Hi Gord. One of our freinds has been diagnosed with Celiacs and had read about your trek. I gave him your blogsopt and he is very interested in what you are doing. You have really made tracks since I last checked on you. Thanks for the interesting descriptions of what you have seen and who you have met. At this pace you'll be back in NC before you know it. Keep slogging along and ENJOY!
Carol and Burt

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey Gordon!
It has been awhile since I last checked your site, and I am glad you are still chugging along. I am thinking about your trip through the grain field and how it looked like the ocean moving in the wind. I can remember being little at Doughton and wanting to take a float and ride over the grass. It sounds like your hike has reached a lot of people and I know it has been incredibly inspiring for some. Hope you stay away from the porcupines :)
Love ya,

Anonymous said...

First rustic dance of the summer going down tonight! Sorry you wont be here to enjoy... But the first week is wrapping up nicely. Hope you're taking care of each yourself. Love, ME

Eric said...

breadless...beatbox here! glad to see you are still hiking. Yorkie and I always look for your comments in the shelters and they seem to be few and far between, so sometimes we worry that you may have gotten off. glad you haven't.

We got into Delaware Water Gap 6/23, and I'm still here solo on the 27th waiting on a mail drop. We'll be heading into NYC in a week or so. just wanted to let you know where we were. take care.

Anonymous said...

I've been avidly reading your blog, and I'm amazed at how easy you make it sound to knock out all those miles. I'm thankful for the now frequent use of paragraphs (I am an English teacher, you know) and I am so proud of your accomplishments so far.

Laura Hall French