Day 73: Birch Run to Alec Kennedy

Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
Trip End Jul 23, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Pennsylvania
Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Today was a BiG day, literally, emotionally, and gastrointenstinally...

Now that I've got your attention: woke up at 5 this morning and hit the trail by 630 ish. I partly wanted to get moving to do a big day, and partly because I was hoping to catch Willard, the guy I hiked with in the Smokies who was just ahead (thanks to shelter logs I knew this)

So I made the next shelter (6 mi) by 8, and who is sitting there packing his bag? Willard!! It was awesome to see a friendly face again. I had been about 1-2 days behind him since Gatlinburg. Not much has changed, we just both have longer beards!!

So after a brief chat we hit the trail chatting and hiking and after just 0.5 mi we reach the midpoint of the AT!!!  So it is now closer to Katahdin, Maine than Springer, Georgia. What a great feeling, I can now add up miles and count them down!!! On that note we also passed
the 1100 mi mark today, pales in comparison with the halfway marker, but I've always enjoyed the hundred mi markers.

One tradition on the AT is to complete the "half gallon challenge" after reaching the midpoint. Basically you just have to eat a half gallon of ice cream in one sitting. So at the easiest road crossing (and conveniently, lunchtime) I had already hiked 18 and we walked to a grocery store and selected our ice cream. I did mint chocolate chip. "Make Time" was already there in the midst of his challenge and we quickly joined in. The people there are obviously used to this
irrational behavior, and the cashier just said, "good luck!"

Took me about 30 min to eat it all, had some trouble getting past about the 1/8 mark. Felt pretty horrible afterwards, but that only lasted about 5 min... Waited an hour and then we hiked the final 6 mi to the shelter.

Today was also officially my longest day yet, I hiked over 25 mi which is a pretty decent feat. I'm still hoping to eventually do some days bigger than this, but it is more or less approaching my maximum.  Hooray!!

The climbs after the ice cream were somewhat challenging, especially since we got up to a ridge line and flirted with some giant rocks. In and out and up and down these stinking things... We were very annoyed, especially after a long day!

Weather was beautiful, so we really enjoyed that for the halfway day, got to "enjoy" our ice cream sitting on a picnic bench in the shade, and some guys lugged some beer up to this shelter. Hiker heaven!

So it was a fantastic big day, I'm still digesting it all and looking forward to getting to town for the weekend hiking with some cool peeps.  Yes, I just said peeps... I've been on the trail too long. Feels like home though, especially when you meet old friends. Willard and I (and
Slapshot for most of the day) hiked together and talked the whole time... Something I hadn't done in ages. Time flew.

How are you? Hopefully all is well. It's really annoying with this hacked email thing, so hopefully I can fix it when I get to town.
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Robert, your Grandfather Connor would have been proud of you--a half gallon of ice cream in 30 minutes. That was his ultimate "treat, and he did the half gallon, but NOT in 30 minutes and NOT with a hike and climb ahead of him! Congratulations on the "halfway" mark! Which town are you meeting Sarah and others for Memorial Weekend? Have a great time together.

Prime on

Hi Donner,
I'm enjoying reading your blog, make sure you keep the updates coming. Hit any rocks in PA yet?

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