Friday, June 28, 2013

Flies and Feet

6/24: 4.8 miles. Duncannon to Clark's Ferry Shelter. We meant to do more this day, but we ended up sitting at the Ice Cream parlor in Duncannon for 4 hours. Blooper.

6/25: 24.6 miles. Clark's Ferry to Rausch Gap

6/26: 17.6 miles. Rausch Gap to 501 Shelter

6/27: 15.1 miles. 501 Shelter to Eagle's Nest Shelter

6/28: 9 miles. Eagle's Nest Shelter to Port Clinton

----

Do you see a pattern in the past 4 days? The days are getting shorter, figuratively. I can't really imagine how the days would literally get shorter, unless we somehow screw up daylight savings time, don't save enough daylight, and completely run out, leaving the US in perpetual darkness. That's how it works, right? Arbitrary human concepts affect the workings of the cosmos! That's why my horoscope is 100% accurate. I write my own horoscope. Today it reads "You will hike."

Over the past week and a half, there has been a growing pain in my left foot. I've named it Kirk Cameron: for the early 90's feel good family sitcom Growing Pains. I would call it Alan Thicke, but that name has already been relegated to my leg hair. Kirk began as a small pain, just a strange tugging sensation in the space between the two foot bones connected to my big toe and second toe. With each passing day, the tugging became a tearing. Then a ripping. This is happening beneath my skin, so I can't actually see what's wrong. There is a constant dull pain, but each day I am be able to hike less and less miles before the dull pain turns into constant, nagging screaming. Not unlike the constant nagging screaming that comes from banshees, tornado sirens, or spoiled children deprived of CAAAANNNDDDDyyyyyyYYYYYYY!!!

I tried to ignore this while hiking. Luckily Pennsylvania provides all manner of distractions. First there is the constant heat and humidity. Then there are the rocks that are irregular, jagged, and sized anywhere from a bowling ball to a yoga ball. They cause hikers' feet to twist, bend, slip, and contort to all sorts of angles not meant for feet. These rocks come from a glacier that slid across the landscape millions of years ago, cheerily pooping out rocks behind it as it went. The trail follows this ancient pathway of glacial excrement, reminding us of two essential truths: life is fleeting, and glaciers climb over mountains for fun-zies. 

Next on the head parade of distractions:  hordes of 17-year cicadas. Cicadas are absurdly large, humming insects that are black and rimmed with bright orange. They're actually pretty cool looking and they don't bite, so they shouldn't be so bad as far as insects go. However, there are more cicadas in these woods than there are freckles in Scotland. The combined humming of their wings sounds like a hundred alien spaceships searching in vain for thier lost E.T. Sometimes it also sounds like robot children shrieking. I will have you know that the cicadas don't actually bother me much- aliens and robots are calming in comparison to the traffic of NYC.

Speaking of distracting insects, there are a gazillion gnats. The gnats are inexplicably drawn to ears and eyeballs. I have gotten quite good at catching gnats by clamping down my eyelids at just the right moment, crushing their little bodies against my eyelashes. Unlike the cicadas, these bugs drive me CUH-RAZY. They like to be the most aggressively blinding when one is trying to navigate slippery, dangerous rocks. I have a solution to this, however. I have made a sensory deprivation tank for my head. 

I have a pair of ridiculous green leopard print $5 sunglasses. The gnats collect on the glasses, but not in my eyes! FOOLS. I then have a rainbow bandana that I drape over my head and secure in place with my buff. This keeps the bugs from buzzing incesssantly in my ear canals. Whistle and Dumptruck say this makes me look like a pharoah, or the only chick in a groovy 70's band. I call it my Pride Moses look, and I like to imagine myself parting the Red Sea of Bigotry while techno music plays and RuPaul stomps a mean catwalk down the trail behind me. 


I told Whistle to pose for this, so she showed me her partially chewed granola bar. She's going to influence my children one day!

Finally, there are huge thorn bushes that have overgrown across the trail, forcing hikers to bushwhack through spiky, angry plants at all heights. My skin looks like I got into a fight with a small army of furious kittens.


My elbows! It's everywhere. 

All of these distractions have not proven to be distracting enough. Kirk Cameron is not content to be ignored. He was becoming more powerful and complain-y every day. I want to keep hiking, so I knew that I needed to find out what was wrong.

When we got to Port Clinton, a small town along the trail, Dumptruck and I decided to try and find a Walk-In Clinic. The pain wasn't bad enough for an ER visit. We were in town only 5 minutes when the Post Master, Russ, happened to drive by and told us to come by the post office later. He said he would talk to a local trail angel and get us a ride. Dumptruck and I consulted with Grim and Whistle, who decided that they would continue to hike, and we would meet them once my foot was taken care of. Dumptruck and I went to wait in front of the Post Office, which was just in the first floor of an old townhouse. 

We were sitting in front of the PO for a few minutes when across the street the door to the Barber Shop opened. A man looked out, and beckoned for us to come over for free cookies and coffee. The barber shop was small and cozy with wood panneled walls. It was filled with musical instruments, two beautiful old-fashioned barber chairs, NetGeo magazines, and several large taxidermied birds. Lynyrd Skynyrd crackled perfectly on the record player. Frank, the barber, handed me a gorgeous several decades-old Flatiron Mandolin and asked me to play. Several older gentlemen who clearly hang out regularly in the shop, sat around and shot the wind while I twiddled around on the mandolin and Dumptruck answered questions about the trail. 

By 4pm, Russ had gotten in contact with the local trail angel, Fred. Fred is a hearty, kind septuagenarian who wears his sunglasses over his glasses and don't you give no nevermind about it. He drove us to the Walk-In Clinic 20 minutes away, and waited with us while I met with the doctor. The doctor was absolutely wonderful, informative, kind and sweet. She didn't tell me to stop hiking. To the contrary, she told me we'd try and figure it out as quickly as possible so I could finish the trail. Unfortunately, what she figured out was that I probably have a stress fracture in the bones of my left foot. 

Woof.

She sent me to another little clinic to get an X-Ray, and Fred graciously offered to take us there. Dr. Spencer had told me that often, X-Rays don't catch fractures, but that we should try anyway. The X-Ray did not, indeed, catch any fractures. The doc said that the next step would usually be to get an MRI. However, she told me that an MRI is ridiculously expensive, and that I should wait a few days to see if rest will make it better. If not, then I should get an MRI to see if it's a torn ligament or muscle, or fracture.

So- I am resting. I am planning on trying to hike again starting early next week. In the interest of actually finishing the trail and not maiming myself or making Kirk Cameron more ornery, I might skip the rest of Pennsylvania. The rocks are rumored to get even worse in the Northern section. Several hikers farther North of us have said that they'd rather have the Hiker Flu Noro-Virus again than hike Northern Pennsylvania because of the rocks. 

Otto says that a thru-hike still counts as a thru-hike if you do any missed miles within a year; a thru-hike can be an accumulation of many sections. So I'll see how it goes over the next few days, but when I start hiking again on Monday or Tuesday it may be North from the Delaware Water Gap, just at the PA/NJ border. If we do that, then Dumptruck and I will come back to battle the rocks sometime this fall. Good news is that means I'll have more to blog about even after we summit Katahdin!

Love,
Clever Girl

My prescription healing bootie. I've never been more attracted to myself.

Look at Dumptruck's calf muscles!

Hitchin' a Ride

"What's that smell?"

"What smell?" asked Whistle, playing innocent and shrugging her shoulders. The four-year-old in his carseat grinned, reached over and took a handful of Whistle's shirtsleeve in his hand. He pulled it to his nose, sniffed and giggled again.

"That smell!"

Whistle made a goofy face and said that she lives in a tent, and so she doesn't always have access to a shower. Isaac, the boy, nodded with understanding, clearly not offended by the smell. Just curious; learning things about the world.

"If you were sleeping, and a dinosaur ripped open your tent in the middle of the night, what would you do?" queried Isaac, raising his eyebrows concernedly. Whistle gasped.

"Oh my goodness, I don't know! What would you do?"

Isaac leveled his eyes at her, blinking once and responding with the gravity of Lawrence of Olivier:

"I'd tape my tent."

In the front seat I was having a lovely conversation with Isaac's adoptive father Frank, who had very kindly offered to give us a ride from the post office, to the grocery store, and back to the trail head. This was the fourth ride we'd gotten in as many hours. Whistle and I were alone, sent as disciples into town to pick up stuff from the post office and grocery store. The trouble was that we had to get from one town to another town about 10 miles away, which meant that we would have to hitch in several different directions. 

I have a short attention span when it comes to hitch-hiking. I think this comes from having terrible luck and being generally defeatist about my ability to attract a ride. I think I have a cursed thumb. Whistle, on the other hand, has a very good technique of being adorable and wholesome-looking, while also wiping her forehead with the back of her hand, which is sign language for "Golly! It sure is hot out here!" 

For the first hitch, we had been attempting for about 10 minutes when I got distracted by a fully fruiting blackberry bush by the side of the road. I chirped in delight and crashed through the bushes, filling my hands with berries. I was just about finished collecting a handful for myself and one for Whistle when a pickup truck pulled over. I stumbled out of the shrubbery, stuffing berries in my mouth hurriedly. The resulting explosion of juice from the velocity of consumption put purple stains all over my hand, shirt and mouth. And I wonder why I don't have better luck hitch-hiking.

The first hitch was able to get us a few miles down the road, and dropped us off at an intersection to head in another direction. The intersection was busy and populated mostly by huge semi-trucks. We stood in the heat, the bright sun beating down on our backs and radiating up from the asphalt. My tan is coming along quite nicely. Future Clever Girl is going to read that previous sentence and shake her fists at the sky, hurling curses at Past Clever Girl and her brazen ignorance of the power of the sun. I'm sorry Future Clever Girl. I love you very much. You're beautiful, even if you look like an old leather bag.

After a while, a man walked up on us from out of nowhere. He said he'd passed us earlier, but hadn't been able to pull over. He asked where we were headed, and said he'd be willing to head in that direction. He gestured for us to follow him. Whistle and I made eye contact, shrugged, and followed him. He led us up the hill to a truck stop, and we realized our good luck: he was a truck driver. We were finally going to be able to get a ride in an 18-wheeler. DREAM. REALIZED.

His name was Clint, and he was quite polite and charming. He bought smoothies for Whistle and I, then brought us to his truck. Climbing up into the cab was a little bit like climbing into a tree house... If your tree house can go 65mph down the highway and transport several tons of merchandise across the country. Whistle and I were jostled around like cans of soda, gripping the molded plastic as we sat in the back of the cab and watched the road go by from up in our mobile lookout post. Clint played old school pop music from a radio, while Whistle and I sang along, bobbing our heads with the beat and the boinging about of the truck. 

Clint dropped us off 3 miles from the post office, as it was the closest he could get in his gigantic truck. We bid him farewell, and he honked his horn as he trundled off back down the road to heaven knows where. Whistle and I made our way down the road, and stood on the road in front of a McDonald's. Out came the thumbs.

"Where are you ladies headed?" 

The voice came not from the road, but behind us. We turned to see a sweet woman by her old school Suburban SUV. She told us that she had to take her daughter and her daughter's boyfriend to work, but that she could take us to the post office on the way back. She said it would probably be about 40 minutes round trip. We immediately agreed. Taking a ride down the highway, feeling the wind in our hair, seemed like a heck of a lot more fun than standing on the side of the road. 

I got in the front seat and Whistle climbed into the way-back. The woman's name was Missy, and she had a heart of gold. Missy's daughter and boyfriend emerged from McDonald's, and off we were. 

"Where do you guys work?" I asked Beth and her boyfriend.

"The chicken factory."

We drove to a town that is known for its chicken factories. The town's water tower has, in place of a town name, painted portraits of chickens in repose. When we arrived at the factory, Beth's boyfriend tried to pop forward the seat to allow Whistle to climb up to the middle seats. Whistle's foot got stuck between the seat and the doorframe, and she tumbled forward and nearly fell out into the chicken factory parking lot. Luckily, days of hiking without poles have made Whistle as agile as a cat. She recovered. The chickens were not so lucky.

I had a truly wonderful time chatting with Missy on our way out of town and back to the post office. It was definitely the right decision to spend an extra 40 minutes on another adventure. Missy had a genuine laugh, and found hope even in difficult times. Hiking this trail has shown me some of the most beautiful vistas I have seen in my entire life, but it has also shown me some of the most beautiful people.

Upon arriving at the post office, Whistle and I met an older gentleman and his small, friendly son. This was Isaac and his father, and they brought Whistle and I to the grocery store, as they also had some grocery shopping to do. After we bought a huge carton of ice cream, among other essentials, Frank brought us to his house to meet his wife. He pulled into the garage and honked the car horn hollering out to his wife, 

"Look! I picked up some girls at the post office!"

He then very generously offered to bring us back to the trail head. We had spent a grand total of 20 minutes in town, after close to 4 hours of being shuttled around rural Pennsylvania. What is this but an adventure!?

Love,
Clever Girl

Sunday, June 23, 2013

We're Getting Some Ice Creams, You Wanna Come?

6/18: 15.8 miles. Deer Lick Shelter to Quarry Gap Shelter.

6/19: 16.9 miles. Quarry Gap Shelter to Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

6/20: 19.1 miles. Pine Grove Furnace State Park to Boiling Springs Campground.

6/21: 14.8 miles. Boiling Springs Campground to Darlington Shelter.

6/22: 11.3 miles. Darlingon Shelter to Duncannon, PA

------

There is a widespread misunderstanding regarding the difference between adults and children. So often I have heard adults say that they pine for the golden days of youth, when they had no responsibility, could be care-free and whimsical. It's confusing for me. Don't these people remember the homework? The requirement of having to ask before being allowed to do anything? The inability to choose what was being bought at the grocery store? The chores that had to be completed by someone else's standards? The lack of any money other than a $5 a week allowance? THE GIRL SCOUTS?!

Of course there is an incredible amount of responsibilities that come along with adulthood, but there is one key difference: Choice. As a child you are a ball of imagination trapped in a world where your only choice is what order you get to do your homework in. Your meals are chosen for you, your days are scheduled for you, your clothes are chosen for you and they're never as cool as your friends' clothes and you can't even always choose your own friends because you have to convince your parents to let you hang out with them on the weekend.

But as an adult you can do ANYTHING YOU WANT, as long as you work hard enough to save the money to do it. You can run down the aisles of a grocery store and fill your cart with nothing but cheetos and grapes and no one can stop you. You can have a dinner party on a Tuesday for no reason at all. You can go to sleep whenever you want and wake up whenever you want, within the confines of a job of course. But if you're not enjoying your job, you can technically switch careers or take a vacation. Wanna make a garden? Do it! Wanna go to clown school? Get your rubber nose and buckle down your red boot straps! Tired of clown school? Quit! Turn your giant clown shoes into outdoor potters for your garden! It's a lot harder to just quit elementary school. People get all ruffled. 

I watched with a mixture of horror and fascination as both Whistle and Dumptruck shoveled spoonful after spoonful of ice cream into their mouths. The half gallon challenge had been calling our names since the beginning of the trail- taunting us with its pure licentiousness. Wasn't this the sort of thing that called out to us in our childhood dreams? How is it possible that we can sit around a picnic table as full-grown adults and eat 2,400 calories of frozen lactose without even a second thought? I'll tell you how: we're grown-ups, and we can do whatever we want. 

The half-gallon challenge is another mini-quest of the AT, where hikers are encouraged to test the boundaries of their GI tract by eating an entire half-gallon of ice cream. A half gallon is a whole standard family-sized carton, followed by another pint. This happens at the Pine Grove General Store, which is a few miles beyond the halfway point of the trail. Dumptruck selected Moose Tracks, while Whistle selected Black Cherry. Grim and I abstained, because we were both not feeling 100% already. Dumptruck was able to eat his entire carton, followed by a pint in under 30 minutes. Is he a monster or is he a man? He is a monster of a man.

Whistle made it through her Black Cherry carton without incident until the last cup or so. She decided to drink the last bit, and then fell silent. There was a quiet moment, where outwardly nothing was happening. Whistle sat with a contented look of accomplishment. Meanwhile, inside Whistle's body, the penny dropped. She suddenly lurched forward, grabbed her empty ice cream carton, and vomited up beautiful puffy cherry clouds. The deed was done in a matter of moments, and Whistle proclaimed that it was the most pleasant barf that she had ever experienced.

"It tasted exactly the same! And it was still cold!" She said gleefully, clapping her hands together and looking around for something else to eat. 

The four of us (Grim, Whistle, Dumptruck and I) recovered from our 4-state-challenge and have been continuing our trek North with some hobbling. None of us were specifically injured by the trek, but we are feeling a bit of extra tendonitis. Grim has actually been sick for the past week, but has continued to be approximately one zillion times faster at hiking than we are. We all still do the same amount of miles, but by the time us other 3 get there, Grim has already finished his dinner and is lightly dozing. We've also been in a little bubble with 2 other hilarious hikers named Sunshine and Carpenter, who were there to witness the filming of our halfway video (it was Sunshine who reminded Whistle to put salt on her eggs). Yesterday we ran into Hot Dog and Apple Butter(!!!!), it was amazing and wonderful. We are taking a zero and they already took their zero, so they're a day ahead of us. But it's great to know they're blazing ahead! The Shanty Town Scouting Team.

Summer solstice happened this past week, and we had camped near a cornfield. The sun had set over a horizon that went farther into the distance than we're used to. Fireflies filled the fields, little moving stars winking on and off and swirling around us like a shoulder-height milky way. Whistle, Grim, Dumptruck, Sunshine and I attempted to set off some floating chinese lanterns, but failed miserably because it was far too windy. The escapade ended with Dumptruck sprinting across the field, flailing his arms and stomping up and down on a burning pile of crepe paper caught in the rushes. Don't worry, we left no trace.

The next day, we found a Mulberry tree, and spent 10 full minutes standing in the shade, filling our mouths with the berries. Our fingers, lips and tongues were stained a bright purple, and we laughed as children who have found the candy stash. Except better because we don't get in trouble. We're grown-ups!

Love,
Clever Girl








Yes. This is re-ice-cream.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Halfway There!



WE MADE IT HALFWAY (as of yesterday 6/19). So we made this air-banding video to celebrate. I might say I've never been more proud of anything I've done. My education may come close, but not quite.

Love,
Clever Girl

Monday, June 17, 2013

Grim Determination

"Not very many people have traveled as much as you have. Why do you do it?"

"Well, I don't know. I suppose some people are cave-dwellers. Some people live in houses. Others prefer loose-footing. I'm a ramblin' man."

-----

On Saturday Dumptruck, Whistle and I hiked 44 miles in 18 hours. FORTY FOUR MILES. IN 18 HOURS.

Grim hiked 53. 

This is one of those tales that may need rewriting in the future, as I think it is a goldmine of adventure and idiocy- the perfect recipe for a good story. However, due to the aforementioned 44 miles in 18 hours, my literary capacity is not at 100%. Thus I present to you a barely fleshed-out skeleton outline of the day. 

All four of us had set out together to do the quad-state challenge, which is one of the many invented mini-quests within the AT. There is nothing official about it. I believe that someone somewhere was looking at the map and decided that the terrain looked manageable enough that he could walk from Virginia, through West Virginia, through Maryland and into Pennsylvania in one day. Not to be outdone, a few hikers every year since then decide to take on this personal challenge. I did it for four reasons:

1. Idiocy
2. Bragging rights
3. When else in my life will I be in the sort of physical shape that this could even be entertained? I should try.
4. So I can finally justify the pair of truck-nutz on my pickup truck.

Here are the things that happened, starting Friday night and ending with Saturday night:

- Whistle, Dumptruck, Grim and I plan to get out to the trail at Keys Gap by 6pm so we can hike the 3 miles to the VA-WV border, and be asleep by 7 or 8.

- We arrive at pickup spot at 6pm.

- CONFUSION! DISORIENTATION!

- Due to an unfortunate and accidental vaudevillian show of events with our ride, we do not arrive at Keys Gap until 10pm.

- We had planned to get up at 3am, so deciding that sleep was more important than 3 miles, we collectively agree that if we can hike 44 miles, we can hike 47.

- A large black widow spider crawls over Whistle's tent. We do not take this as a bad omen. We should have.

- We are in our tents by 10:30pm, camping at Keys Gap.

- Because my brain takes sick delight in torturing me, I sleep like a colicky baby. I get maybe 3 hours of sleep.

- 3am: alarm

- No reaction

- 3:30am: alarm

- No reaction 

- 4:20am: "GuuUUUuuyyyss...??" 

- Groaning. 

- Encouragement for movement.

- Rebuttal.

- Questioning of manliness.

- Begruding movement.

- Consumption of caffeine.

- Hiking by 5am.

- Arrival in Harper's Ferry (7.5miles) at 7am.

- High-Fives!

- Cross the river to the C&O Towpath

- Great speed! Happiness! Good feeling!

- 3 miles on the path. Over 10 miles done for the day!

- Pause...

- Confusion regarding lack of White Blazes

- Close consultation of map.

- After the bridge we had needed to go to the East.

- We had walked 3 miles West.

- Moment of silence.

- Explosion of noise!

- General flailing and gnashing of teeth.

- No one blames anyone, as we all 4 didn't look close enough at the map, so no one is angry at anyone but themselves.

- Realization that now we will have to hike the 3 miles back (6 miles total out of the way). Added to the 47 miles, in order to get to the Pennsylvania border, we will need to hike a total of 53 miles. FIFTY THREE MILES. That's over two marathons.

- Decision to try anyway.

- Whistle and Grim pull ahead in speed, and Dumptruck and I continue not far behind.

- Accomplishment of 25 miles before noon (7 hours of hiking). 28 miles left.

- DT and I find Grim and Whistle at noon. Trail magic at Civil War memorial- picnic food and drinks from a thru-hiker (Wolfe)'s family!

- Grim and Whistle hike on, DT and I eat lunch.

- Hiking

- 26.2 miles. Passing of first marathon.

- DT has no iPod (he put it through the laundry 3 weeks into the trail), so I play music from my iPod speakers all day. We blaze through the forest with a soundtrack.

- Whistle found a shower. There was also a puppy to play with for 15 minutes.

- Things get a little blurry at this point.

- Sun starts to go down. 39 miles completed. 15 miles left.

- DT and I find Whistle. Grim is far ahead, because he is an incredible specimen of a human. GOD HOW DID YOU MAKE THAT MAN?!

- DT's left foot is hurting him. We take and inventory. Between the 3 of us we have taken: 25 caffeinated beverages, 35 advil, and 3 sudafed. I feel okay, but fatigued. Whistle's hands are shaking from caffeine. We decide to keep going.

- The sun has gone down. It is pitch-dark, and I can see nothing but the back of Whistle's feet in the pool of light from my headlamp.

- Rocks. So many rocks. Foot stress exponentially increasing.

- Still going fast- We hike 5 miles in 90 minutes. 

At this point I want to take a break from the bullet list because I want to dedicate some time to the hilarious mental degradation of Whistle. Her brain was breaking down with the speed of halflife of radioactive material. She suddenly started cursing the trail, hurling insults into the darkness. When that wasn't enough, every 5 minutes she would pick up a baseball-sized rock and throw it down the trail as hard as she could (when we weren't near any shelters or campers, I promise). She would laugh like a hyena being tickled, and then spit curses and punch at the air. I narrated her movements out loud as a way to keep my own self sane. I was starting to have visual hallucinations, and the place where my achilles tendon attaches to my bone was shrieking in pain.

We made it to a road, and had officially walked 44 miles. We knew that if we went to sleep, we were absolutely not hiking the next day, and wanted/needed the ability to get into town. There were no other roads until past the border. So it was 44 or 53. 

Grim was texting us, telling us he was a few miles to the end but was moving like a snail (after hours of a 4 mph pace). Grim is an incredible hiker, and also doesn't complain. His ankles had been swollen when we last saw him, looking like there were gobstoppers under his skin. And yet he hiked on. 

The other 3 of us knew we couldn't go on. I made eye contact with Dumptruck as we sat for a bit, tears starting to swell in my eyes from the pain of tendonitis. Whistle rolled on the ground, feet in the air, clutching her stomach and laughing uproariously. We knew if we kept going we'd get seriously injured. 

We had hiked 44 miles, in 18 hours, on 3-4 hours of sleep, with full packs on, over beautiful (but very rocky in sections) terrain.

We didn't make it to Pennsylvania, but we consider that we successfully completed the 4-state-challenge, as the challenge is 44 miles in 24 hours. If we had been able to start at the actual border of WV-VA, and hadn't gotten lost, 44 miles of hiking would have put us over the border. But we added 9 miles, and hobbled ourselves.

Once we started to set the tent up, I couldn't stand up from the pain of my ankles. Dumptruck set up the whole tent and helped me into it, being a hero once again. 

After a few minutes in her tent, Whistle's dementia faded and her pain set in, but she didn't complain. She had led us through the darkness, and didn't slow down or lose hope. She's a gentleman and a scholar. Also I love her.

I now want to take a moment and acknowledge that Grim ACTUALLY FINISHED IT. We all met up in Waynesboro, PA, on Sunday morning. DT, Whistle and I got a hitch into town from a fantastically kind lady named Rachel. Grim had an insane journey, and barely even had the energy for a hug. We 3 didn't like being separated that night from him, because even though he's amazing, what we were doing was still stupid and scary. We were worried, but also knew that we'd made the right choice because if the terrain at the end was kicking his butt, it would have killed us. But he crossed the Mason-Dixon line that night. 

Champion.

Champions all around.

And now we will hike an average of 10 miles a day until we are back to normal. 

Love,
Clever Girl

This is the photo that Grim took as he passed the Mason-Dixon line at 1am. HERCULES.