The four of us cross over the busy Shenandoah Bridge, up the bluffs and into the old bluff town Harpers Ferry, pinned as it is between the Potomac and the Shenandoah Rivers. This is the “psychological halfway point” for thru-hikers, though the real half point won’t be for a week or so.
Catbert crams us into her small car and carts us off for steak dinners. Notes and I embarrass ourselves by eating great quantities. I notice I must make an effort to recall my town manners.
Tuesday, June 3, 2003
Catbert drove me to the post office, where I collected a boatload of packages. Then she stuffed me and a few other thru-hikers into her four-door Toyota and took us for a hearty breakfast of pancakes, sausage, eggs, OJ and coffee.
Then to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy office in Harpers Ferry, ATC’s headquarters. This group over- sees the A.T. I got the traditional picture taken. I was number 198 to go through the ATC offices this year.
Back at the hotel I set about opening my packages. My heart was warmed, and I felt tears prick my eyes. Suddenly, I was so homesick.
First, my LongTrail partner Clyde sent me some lightweight white photon lights to use while night hiking or privy hunting. Guess he didn’t want me to run broadside into a moose.
Vicki Kiser sent me pictures of Fudgie, a horse I bred, foaled, raised and trained. He looked splendid. Fudgie owns Vicki now. Vicki included an abundance of that all-important food group: chocolate.
My final package really brought the tears down. My landlady, Dottie sent me a note and a handful of pictures of Rocket (my cat) and Pogo (my scruffy little Benji dog).
I missed them!
A thousand miles walked and 1,172.6 more to go. Not even halfway yet! How am I going to hang in there another three and a half months? I am really missing Southern Pines, NC. Yet I want to keep walking.
thoughts of Jan’s A.t. Journal
What were some of Jan’s challenges and/or sacrifices?
What were some unexpected or special moments for her?
What would you miss the most if you hiked the A.T?
What would your Trail name be?
September 18, 2003—The Day
So this was it. The Day.
I arose early and packed my pack for the last time. I ate a hearty mountain-climbing meal at The Appala- chian Trail Cafe in Millinocket, ME, which opened at 5 am. I caught a glimpse of Katahdin, with the early sun painting her very top. My stomach did a flip-flop of excitement. I was ready for this climb, which I had heard was hairy but also spectacular.
The icy Katahdin Stream kept me company on the first half mile. This lively brook was a joy to behold, as clear as glass, so clean the water looked pale aqua in the deeper pools and each stone on the bottom stood out.
So much for a “footpath” in the wilderness! Sometimes I was hanging onto the rock face by teeth, earlobes, toenails, shoelaces... or so it seemed. If I thought too much about it, it was mind-boggling. So, I didn’t permit thinking.