13-14: wildcat, tuxedo motel, west mountain 

Day 13: wildcat Shelter to tuxedo motel (NY17)
Sometimes it’s wonderful sleeping in the woods. The crickets and frogs put you to sleep. There may be a light rain on your tent or the tin roof of the shelter, drowning out most of the noise. 
Sometimes it’s less fun. Bugs flying into your tent walls. Shelter-mates snoring. Feet throbbing. A cold draft through your sleeping bag or a rock under your hip. A precarious slant on the ground that dumps your head off your pillow, or a slant to the entire shelter that moves half of your pad slowly closer to the person next to you. 
Last night was a not great night for sleeping in the woods. F-Stop has a small dog who decided to hop out of her hammock in the night, then periodically stood up to shake himself, jingling his collar. I was somewhere between cold and sweaty. My heels never stopped hurting. I took a Benadryl to pass out but I still woke up several times. 
When I heard the rain start at 4:30am, I knew it was going to be a rough day. 

I stayed in bed, half asleep, until 5:30. It was still raining, and would likely rain until 8pm. FD and I hadn’t quite decided on a destination. The shelter at 14 miles (a good distance in NY with all the rock scrambles) has a really aggressive bear, according to hiker reports. It’s been stealing food and standing up to intimidate hikers, sometimes blocking the path to the shelter. 

The next shelter was in 19.5 miles. We’d had reports from the Wiz that the trail was really terrible and difficult until the 14 miles Shelter (fingerboard shelter) and improved after that. But still…that’s a long day. We halfheartedly talked about maybe tenting somewhere 3 miles before or after Fingerboard, but there was nothing marked on the guides, so it was a total guess if there even was anything. 

We set out in the rain, deciding to figure it out later. 
The trail started off ok, with some rock stairs and some dirt trail. 

We stopped for a break at 4.5 miles. I have a new snack- peanut butter with nestle morsels. 

The rain didn’t let up. If it wasn’t outright raining, the wind was blowing, shaking fat drops from trees. My socks were soaked; I could feel new blisters popping as I walked (when my socks get wet I get lots of blisters. When they pop I feel a sharp, hot pain). 
We made a few rough climbs. There were huge rock scrambles and ridgeline walks. This is ok in good weather (still scary for me! I hate heights!!) but gets dangerous in wet weather. FD slipped. 

FYI, we went straight up those rocks in that picture. Tiny foot holds, no real path. We went back down similar rock faces. 

We made a decision to get off trail at NY17. There was a motel 2.5 miles down the road. We could shower, do laundry, dry ourselves off, and ice our knees and feet. 
In the last 3 miles we had to hike, we found trail magic left by Skyking (we met him…somewhere) and a lost baby deer, crying for its mom. 

For anyone looking to do this section- it took us forever and the descent down to NY17 was rough. 

We eventually got a hitch into town. I showered and we dropped off our laundry and we ordered Chinese. 

I’ve been icing everything I can since we got here. 

And now, clean, dry, and fed, I’m ready for bed. We’ve mapped out the next few days, so I have some sort of plan of attack. 
I feel good about this decision. 
Miles: 10

MVP: ice on my knees

LVP: rocks. And knees. Again. 
Day 14: tuxedo motel to west mountain shelter
Waking up in the hotel was glorious. The room had been silent all night. I woke up slowly and stretched out in my bed. My feet were tight, but nothing hurt too bad. It’s rare that a morning doesn’t begin with hiker hobble anyways. 

We didn’t rush to leave. It was raining but it looked like it would slack off by 9, so we enjoyed the morning. 

We walked down to the gas station for breakfast and called a taxi. Hitching is illegal in New York. 

We had a bit of a climb, but in general, the trail got much better. 

We did go through the lemon squeezer today. I fit through with my pack on, but FD had to take his off. 

We had to throw them up in order to get up this little rock scramble though. 
The trail got nicer. 

We enjoyed a break and I drank a cherry Coke I’d packed out. 

The sun even came out for a bit. 

Lots of water today, which meant lots of stream crossings. I’ll take it, though, if it means I never have to repeat the 4 miles from hell that we walked in PA. 

We stopped for lunch at a shelter (William Brian memorial) with Discount and Guinness. This shelter is built into a rock. 

Saw a little baby snake. 

Climbed up Black Mountain. 

And then down to cross palisades, a super busy road. 

And finally up west mountain to the shelter. It was crowded with a bunch of older men out hiking (flip floppers I think) but they made room for us. We’re watching the lights come on in NYC from bed right now. Pretty sweet deal, if you can climb mountains. 

Miles: 13.1

MVP: this view!

LVP: raindrops from trees. And puddles!

5: eagles nest to Port Clinton 

There’s something to be said for the internal alarm you develop after years of waking up early for co-op work and early morning studying and gym sessions. I can just say, “alright, let’s wake up early!” And I wake up at 4:57am. It’s handy. 
Of course, that doesn’t mean that I’ll actually get UP at 4:57 am. I stayed in bed for another hour or so, toasty warm with my vest and rain jacket spread out over my legs. My entire body was huddled inside my quilt, which was snapped together into a loose bag shape. 
Ahhh, backpacking! 
The other two people in the shelter were still snoozing, so I packed up quickly and silently(ish) and headed out of eagles nest. 8.7 miles to Port Clinton!

So I hauled myself over the rocks and tried to keep up momentum as best I could. Dear Prudence podcast helped with that. Sometimes I would walk slowly, to try to save my feet the pain of the sharp rocks, but then I thought, “ugh, they hurt no matter what. Rip the bandaid off.” And just went for it. 
The only view was, of course, rocks. 

To give you an idea of what I was walking through, here’s the elevation profile. Everything’s flat all right, I went from the water drop on the left to the blue P, So I only had one little bump that was weirdly vertical to get up, and the rocks. And then…

Then we went down to Port Clinton. 

I may have mentioned that I slipped the other day and caught myself on a trekking pole. It bruised my left arm somehow, and made it very uncomfortable to use a trekking pole with that arm. So I’m down to one pole and I’ve got this descent. Well, as Dr Griggs would say, “just differentiate the durn thing.” You could take it slow and cautious or just go for it. I went for it. It hurt! But I made it. 
And then there were more steps. PORT CLINTON!! 

I swear. 
But I made it. The trees and rivers were stoic against my bitter complaints, and soon I gave up. After all, it was a beautiful fall day, and I had food in my future. 

My car was waiting patiently for me, watching the mountain I’d just tumbled gracelessly down. Appropriate. No mice. 

I drove off. I got food. And, despite it all, I was actually a little sad to be leaving. 

Miles: 8.7 

Trip total: 95.9 (+8.8=104.7)
MVP: mcdo 

LVP: left arm

Thanks for joining me on this one, friends! I think it’s time to have some fun, don’t you? 

4: William penn to eagles nest 

I woke up at the shelter, convinced I was alone now. I heard a “tap, tap, tap” in the dark. I turned my headlamp on quickly, hoping to see what was making the noise. A little mouse was trying to take an acorn between the gap in the boards, down into what I assumed was his hideyhole. The acorn wasn’t going to fit. It was like a scene out of the old-school Disney Cinderella. I laughed. And went back to sleep (well, first I snapchatted my sister and used the temperature filter to see how cold it was. 36F! I had only brought my summer quilt!)
When the sun was up, I decided to start walking. I only had 19 miles to Eagles Nest shelter or 28.8 miles to my car. Either way, no bad. I went with just a little water and figured I’d fill up at 501 shelter in 4 miles. 

Well, an hour or so later I figured I should be getting close. I pulled out my phone to check the GPS and realized I’d hiked 4.4 miles…in the wrong direction. 
What can you do? I turned around and 8.8 miles later I was right back where I started. I went .2 off trail to get water only to find nothing but a puddle. I started scooping water, absolutely desperate, and then saw the dead salamander. 

What can you do? I filtered a bottle of dead salamander water and walked on. 

I took like 4 pictures all day. Here they are. 
Two snakes and a view:

There was very little water in this section. Well, there WAS some water but it was always off trail and I was already so ticked off about having walked that extra 8.8 miles that I kept refusing to go. I finally got to this old shelter site with a good water source but I just didn’t see the water. I tried to engineer this puddle into some sort of flow, but it just wasn’t working. 

Then I looked down the side of the trail and there’s a huge stream. Of course. I scrambled down the hill and filtered bottles full, a beaver warning me off with his tail beating the ground. 
And then I walked 1 more minute and it was like some sort of water oasis and all these flowing little streams crossing RIGHT over the trail. Way to go Lindsey. 
So, I walked some more. I changed my socks. And I night hiked. And eventually I got to the shelter. There were two hikers already asleep at 8pm, so I was quiet and slept. 

Miles: 8.8+19.2=28
MVP: beaver water

LVP: dead salamander water

3: peters mountain shelter to William penn shelter

Controversial Opinion: I actually think Pennsylvania is blazed better for SOBOs than NOBOs. I keep looking behind me to double check for blazes. 
I woke up early, mostly because I was freezing. I ate until I was warm enough to get going, and then I started hiking. 10 minutes down the trail and I look up at what I THOUGHT was a huge possum only to realize it was, in fact, A PORCUPINE!! It bristled its quills at me and I backed up quickly. Then, the thing had the audacity to actually chase me down the trail. I mean, it chased me kind of slowly, but still. 

Anyways, I kept walking. 
 It was cold. I saw the sun rise eventually. I kept walking. 

I did 9.5 miles by 10am. Not great, but ok. 

I startled two deer- they were right on the trail! They ran off and then stopped to stare at me. Can you see them? 

Standing on these pine needles instead of rocks seriously felt like clouds. It lasted maybe 10 steps. 

I stopped for lunch at Yellow Springs. 

Rausch Creek had a cool diversion well but I couldn’t get a clear picture, unfortunately. The ruins of the village were cool too. 

I love being able to look ahead and see the next mountain I’m going to walk up. So inspiring. Bring it, AT. My cardio abilities are at an all-time high. 

Never say a mechanical engineer can’t appreciate a nice bridge! 

That moment when you’ve hiked 25 miles and it’s only 5 pm. 

That moment when the trail goes straight up. At least I was listening to a podcast about the presidential debate, so I had plenty of political angst to get me through the climb. 

Warning: graphic image. Imagine how startled *I* was to come across this!

So, at this point I was…oh, 28 or so miles in. 

30 miles. 

And here I am at the shelter, at 7:59, after 31.4 miles. From 5:40 am to 7:40. Not too shabby 🙂

I can’t tell if I’m alone or not. There are some boots but it’s awfully quiet. 
So, not a new record like I was going for, but a much faster time than the last time I did 30+. 
Sometimes people ask me how I do such big miles. Um, well, the answer goes like this (for me):
1. Start early

2. Try to get 10 miles by 10am. It’s sort of a mental thing 

3. I like to take lots of little breaks. I change my socks often and rub my feet when I do that. It helps. 

4. Eat constantly. Drink as much as you can. 5 hour energy helps too. 

5. Podcasts and phone calls keep your mind off your feet. My feet always hurt more than my legs. In fact, my feet will hurt so much that I’m basically nauseated most of the afternoon. You just ignore it. 

6. Have icy hot for when you go to bed. Your feet and legs will be throbbing. Also take a Benadryl to help you stay asleep. 

7. Bask in the glory of having accomplished something so amazing. People run marathons all the time. They don’t do it while climbing mountains with 20+ lbs of gear on their backs. And then sleep outside 🙂
I’m kidding. A little. Do big miles, don’t do big miles. I think it’s kind of fun. It does hurt a lot though. And you DO have to eat constantly and that gets old. 
Anyways. There you go. 
Miles: 31.4

MVP: croissants again. Now they’re all gone 

LVP: cold. 

2: Darlington to Peterson Mtn Shelter

Do you ever have one of those mornings where you wake up early but just…can’t get up? You’re just exhausted and sniffly and over it? That was me today. I stayed in bed maybe 3 hours after I first woke up. 
I was on trail by 7:30 though. And it was WINDY. 

The trail was beautiful, with fall leaves and cool winds and just enough sun. I loved it. 

Do you look at these pictures and wish you were here? I wish you were here!

That’s not to say it was ALL perfect. Pennsylvania loves rocks. Steep rocks. 

Flat rocks. 

Stair rocks. 

Water rocks. 

Medium rocks. 

Big rocks. 

Table rock!

Alllll sorts of rocks. They like rocks so much that I stopped for lunch at the Doyle in Duncannon, even though I was tying to make good time today. 

Whatever. I was hungry and I wanted a Coke. 

And I stopped for a break on the blowdown. Sometimes you just need to sit and you might as well sit when you’re crawling over a tree anyways. 

I made it to the shelter before dark, of course, and found a friendly group of sectioners. I had to climb down more rock steps to get water from a dripping water source, then climb back up, and I was exhausted after that. 

I ate dinner, and then, of course, my work never ends. 
It was time to do some homework. 

Today was a good day. It wasn’t perfect. My feet hurt and I had some blisters to drain and I’m tired and I still have more homework to do…but it was good. 
Miles: 22.3
MVP: Coke and chicken fingers

LVP: it’s so cold. I’m in my bag with all my clothes on and I’m still cold. Time for a winter bag!!

1: boiling springs to Darlington shelter

Well. What’s there to say, really? 
I finished my midterms and drove to Pennsylvania. I got to the hostel at….way too late. Or early, depending on how you look at it. The good news is that driving there wasn’t bad at all. I never got tired, which is what I was worried about. 
The hostel was warm and the bed was clean and tidy. I stretched out and slept. 

I woke up at 9, which is not as late as you might imagine, given how little sleep is gotten all week, and the fact that I’d gotten to the hostel at 5am eastern. 
Craig and Jody made me breakfast and I got situated and we hit the road. My original plan was to hike Boiling Springs, PA north to Delaware Water Gap, PA, which is the state line. I didn’t get on the trail until about 12:30 though, which really cut I to my hiking time. And then I got a text from Craig asking if I wanted him to leave my car somewhere closer. I thought I might need to look at my miles again…after all, I’d need to catch up on sleep and do homework while I was out hiking, so I couldn’t be able to do 30s every day I was out. And that’s when I realized. I’d miscalculated. 

So. The NEW plan is to go to Port Clinton, which still won’t be easy but is doable. Of course I’m disappointed because it doesn’t give me a nice, beat bow on northern PA, and of course I’m tempted to skip thanksgiving to finish Port Clinton to DWG, but I won’t do that to my mom. I’ll spend at least one holiday with her this year. 
So anyways, there I was in boiling springs and I met Lost and Found, another sectioner. He started off while I poked around the ATC, but I eventually caught up with him. We hiked together for a bit, talking about Wisconsin and trails and sectioning and all sorts of things. I decided to hike on, but we met up at the shelter. 

There were several SOBOs at the shelter. Some friendlier than others, but I enjoyed my evening, despite the lingering stress of having to change my plan and still having to do homework. 

I did some really incredible rock moving at this low flow water source. Should have been a civil engineer. 
Had to check my hair for a giant spider. Never found him again after the initial sighting, so I assume he’s living inside me now. 
It did feel so good to tuck myself into my down quilt, warm and toasty, the wind blowing outside and me snuggled inside the shelter. No matter what is wrong or what I still have to deal with and figure out, there’s nothing quite like sleeping outside. 
Miles: 14.3

MVP: croissants

LVP: math skillz