Descending into the Delaware Water Gap PA I heard the sounds of traffic. The trail though getting steeper also got smoother and reminded me of Georgia, with the rhododendron bushes in bloom. I hit a rocky out crop to see I-80 below. Thoughts of hitching a ride to Utah flooded my mind. Two days ago with my attitude, because of the rocks, would have propelled me down the mountain side to try for that one lucky ride and be home in a couple of days. This day, July 14, however, my attitude flipped. Earlier in the day I crossed a seemingless landmark, a pipeline. This pipeline marked 899.9 miles left to Mount Katahdin. Less then 900 miles to go! I didn't race down, I tenderly let my feet down.
Pennsylvania's rocks took their toll on my feet. The shoes worn from stepping on pointy tips of rocks from little ones to basketball sized ones. The biggerones I can step easily on depending on the angles of slant. The worst ones were hinden under vines of various tormentors. The trail maintenance lacking greatly. Then the worry of snakes, added to it. I had two slither out under foot over the past 100 miles of rock. Thankfully those were garden snakes. Most of the rocks are contained in the sections north of Duncannon.
The people of Pennsylvania, fantastic. Most days I came upon folks they added to life. Serveral days, I didn't dig into my pack for lunch. Other days, I didn't ask for a ride, they happened. Other days, there was a restaurant along the trail. Several grocers offered a piece of fruit to thru-hikers.
In the southern regions I couldn't help but let myself be detoured by the history. Tracts of stone boundary walls marked ancient, to the US, farm property. Tiny cemeteries hide just out of site of farmer's fields with no established trails to them. A large monument, like a castle arch and tower, commemorates fallen Civil War war correspondents.
Rocks, rocks, rocks, arugh! They tenderized my feet, added shin splints, and added to the beating of my knees. I've added a foam roller to massage out the knots to my kit. My attitude sank as the rocks didn't let up. Stretches of rocks with little relief of forest duff or big ones. The big ones, that one can hop from one to another were fun without the pack however, the pack needed to bounce along with me.
Passing the 900 miles left mark lifted my spirit. This state really tested my tenacity to keep going, to keep pressing forward. This state showed different colors. I can't believe I've come within reach of the goal.
Each state brings a different lesson. I wonder what do the remaining states have for me? What lessons will I learn? What will I take with me from each state? Where and how will I apply each of the state's lessons?
Hike on. Let the lessons remain...