Day 8, 60 miles: Caledonia State Park, PA. Week 1 Recap.

Sunset over Pen Mar County Park
Pen Mar County Park

Hello everyone, Christian and I are more than a week in now, and of course a lot has happened.

The miles are getting easy in many ways. Our first two days we were both sore and stiff from hiking, but I haven’t experienced that in a while now. Our packs get easier to carry each day, and our big shake down only 3 days in helped a lot. The blisters and bruises are still a bit of a problem, but soon once those spots become callused we shouldn’t have too much grief from our feet.

The first day on the trail we hiked out to the nearest hiker shelter out of Harpers Ferry. Only 7 miles with a nice view on the way, we thought it would be easy. Apparently it was for everyone with their trail legs, but it was brutal for us. Climbing up switchbacks was a rude awakening that doing C2AT (Couch-to-AT) was going to be tougher than we thought.

Ed Garvey Shelter – Morning Day 2

Day 2 was easier already. We went to bed sore the night before but woke up refreshed. We tackled an 11 mile day, pushing on 2 more miles than we planned just because the next campsite had showers and toilets. We also made great time getting there and had all day to relax with Uke and Joe at camp. Joe also just started at Harpers Ferry so we had a lot to talk about. He and Uke were also kind enough to share some of their mayo packets and candy with us. I hope we cross paths again sometime.

Laying down after an exhausting Day 2, this was my view for a while

After a resupply, shake down, and lunch stop in Frederick, MD the next day, we hiked a short day out to another shelter. At this point my blisters were at their worst, but everything else was going much better with our newly purchased trekking poles and lighter packs.

Washington Monument in our Day 3 hike (and my new trekking pole photobombing)

Day 4 was pretty crappy actually. It was nice when we got to see Annapolis Rocks, but the rest of the day was tough. My feet were covered in band aids and tape and they were so swollen I had to hike in my sandals, there was a lot of climbing and Florida levels of humidity with high 80s temperatures. And the campsite at the end of the day was our least favorite so far. At least we got some cools pics.

Annapolis Rocks, Day 4

Day 5 made both of us consider quitting. It rained for hours, humidity was Eight Hundred percent, and the trail was SO ROCKY I WANTED TO THROW STUFF. We had a long way down to go that day, and the trail at its worst was maybe a mile-long stretch of literally only slippery rocks without any trail blazes to help keep us on track. We can only assume that section is so absurdly rocky, dangerous, and annoying that they can’t find anyone to go out there and paint trail blazes.

THIS IS THE TRAIL! WAT?! WHERE DO YOU STEP?

I took the above picture while saying to Christian “I need to get a picture of this bull**** or else no one will believe me.” In an act of self-fulfilling prophecy, as I walked into this area just after the picture, my feet completely slipped out from under my and I fell onto my side. I took a fairly deep cut on my leg just under my knee, it will definitely leave a scar, and took some scrapes on my wrist and arm too. I was able to clean up my boo boos and get myself patched up right there, thanks to my first aid kit. Here’s the after picture:

Screw you too, Maryland

After I barely gathered enough courage to get back on the trail rocks, we were finally able to progress further into our long day. Before sunset we made it into Pen Mar County Park, flushable toilets and a wonderful view greeted us. Those two things helped make our day a little bit better, but there was also a parking lot and a road… We were given the option of getting far from the trail for a night (or two, or three) and had to mull that one over for a few minutes. It was a tough call, but we decided to hike another mile to out destination campsite. But not before watching the sunset a little longer. Our campsite was a mile north of the Mason-Dixon line, which was a somewhat poetic ending to our worst day on the trail so far, we were in a new state with a clean slate.

I was smiling because I got to leave Maryland

The next day was a lot better from the start. We camped with some awesome people, Pancake, Heisenburg, Rooster Talon, Fat Hen, and King of the Freaks; we had a fun chat over breakfast. We avoided the rain that day by hiding in a shelter just in time. Paul With Bunyons was also in the shelter and we had a fun time sharing stories with him, this guy is trying to hike over 10k miles on the AT, and he was at 8600. And he had plenty of stories to share. We made it to our destination knowing we were only a day away from real meals and beds and showers (we already decided on staying in a motel).

Day 7 was the best day on the trail so far. The weather was perfect and the trail toward Fayetteville was pretty easy. Way to go Pennsylvania. We were hiking about on pace with Ninja Roll and Roby-Doby and got to chat with them on our breaks. We ran into Pondy on one break also, he’s from Winter Springs! Small world. Once we hit Route 30, we hiked an extra half mile along the road to get to a diner that caters to hikers. We feasted there on burgers, fries, and shakes and it was amazing. Our motel was 2 miles further down the road, and Christian gained a level to his Charisma trait by getting us there: we were loitering in the parking lot, and a couple leaving the diner asked if we were thru-hikers. We got to talking to them about the trail for a few minutes, and Christian slipped in “We’re looking to stay at the Scottish Inns and Suites, do you know how far it is?” to which the awesome gentleman immediately offered us a free ride. Showers and clean beds were exactly what we needed, especially for our cuts and blisters.

We spent Day 8 resupplying and then hanging out in Caledonia State Park as a zero day. They have a swimming pool! It felt so nice. And we may have snuck into the pool instead of paying $4 each (don’t tell William Penn). We are quite refreshed and ready to get back on the trail!

The Song of the Week goes to:

(The “her” in the song can refer to the trail.)

5 thoughts on “Day 8, 60 miles: Caledonia State Park, PA. Week 1 Recap.

  1. Proud of you for sticking with it! It WILL get easier. Another week or so and your body should be used to it. That’s when it starts to become a lot of fun!

  2. Ryan, please thank Christian for his “charismatic way” getting you guys a free ride. Glad you are refreshed and taking the rest when you need. I hope the new hiking shoes work out better for you and please don’t slip on any more rocks. Love you Bud.

  3. Just wait till you get to the Pa state of rock river. Oh my talk about a bunch of rocks. Good hiking my friend.

  4. Hope you guys keep going an experience of a life time push in push hard the rest of your lives will be a piece of cake living this dream vicariously through the both if you please tag me in future posting

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