So I am now halfway done with the trail, psychologically speaking. Harpers Ferry, WV holds the Head Quarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, one of the huge support groups for the trail. There on the facade of their building is an old wooden sign that every thru hiker gets their photo taken at and it goes into a book that logs your name, hometown, start date and the date you reached Harpers Ferry. It's a blast to go through and look at the photos of all the people you know ahead of you.
I pushed some big miles to make it to Harpers by mid day Friday so I could meet my mom and brother. It felt like Christmas because that is the only time I get to see them both at once. I had come from a hostel 20 miles out of town called Bears Den. It is a very cool, old stone building with a lot of AT history to it. When I arrived, other hikers were half way through a Lord of the Rings marathon. It was an atrociously rainy day and many had opted not to hike. I had sadly lost Captain Planet a day or so before. He is from Roanoke, Va and had met some friends in a near by town for a day or two with plans to go into DC as well once he reached Harpers Ferry. It seems that our time hiking together had ended much too soon, but I had plans cooking up in my head that made it okay.
Though I would miss Captain Planet, the only person I had met and actually befriended on a meaningful level in the 400 miles since leaving Woods Hole, I had decided I was going to jump up to PA, where all of my old crew was. Duffle Miner and Jean Genie were still some unknown place close to me but I had been unsuccessful in staying with them. In the time I had been hiking alone I had learned a lot about myself. Namely, that pride and independence are not the same thing and also that the glory of thru hiking the trail by the rules of everyone else is worthless when you're miserable when doing it. All the sudden I realized that its okay that I can't do this alone. It's freaking hard! And that's alright. So against the belief of almost all hikers, I decided I would "yellow blaze", which means take a car and cut of a section of the trail. I am skipping 195 miles, which I will make up later this fall after I reach Katahdin. This is against "the rules" of thru hiking, which has no rules except to live by the saying "hike your own hike".
So as my brother drives back up to New Jersey he is going to drop me off in Port Clinton, PA to meet Movie Star (now going by Gonzo) and Wild Blue, who I haven't seen since he raced off into the mountains as we left Hot Springs, NC. It is indeed cheating but I honestly believe it is the best for me, much like stopping to rest at Woods Hole long ago. I am tired of being alone. Of sleeping in an empty shelter, of worrying about who I can hitch hike into town with (ain't doin that alone!), of not having anyone to run my plans by and not having a true friend on the trail to watch of for me. Since day one, with out me even asking, Gonzo had my back and I always knew he wouldn't leave me in the metaphorical or literal cold. I want that again. Need it, I would even say. Hiking with Jeremy and Cameron reminded me of how good it is to have someone who is along side you in the journey. It's so comforting!
I don't need plush things, I just need friends to share what I do have with!
So this begins a new saga with old friends and a new outlook on the trail, again!