Mile 1257.9: The Other Half

“Damn, half gallon  of ice cream is not easy to carry in your stomach,” I think while heading back to the trail, leaving Pine Grove Furnace State Park.

I spent all morning sitting outside the general store, pondering the pros and cons of hiking with such huge amount of dairy inside my intestines. After finally deciding to hike on, the sky had suddenly turned grey and an annoying drizzle quickly becoming a thundering shower.

“Fantastic.”

However, 30 minutes later the thunders weren’t the only thing making disturbing noises out there. I had to stop, quickly.

Feeling relieved from my break in the nature, I resumed my hike and managed to walk 15 miles before deciding to end my day. It was Wednesday, and I had been alone for a week already.

I didn’t mind being on my own anymore. Fortunately, since I had crossed into Pennsylvania I had the chance to walk into a town every day, making my hike a little more diverse and entertaining.

My only concern was the almost total absence of thru-hikers. Since I had left Harpers Ferry, the number of people on the trail had fallen abruptly, with the majority of them being simple day-hikers.

“I guess it’s true that only 40 percent make it this far,” I kept thinking while spending another day without seeing anybody.

On Friday, while spending another night completely alone, I remember of something and I can’t resist to hold my excitement.

“Ben! I know he lives somewhere around here,” I realize. “Do I still have his phone number?”

Fortunately I do and immediately send him a text, hoping to get a quick response.

“Yea man I could help you out with resupply if you need, or if you wanna grab some food.” It was the best text I could get.

I hadn’t seen Ben since Georgia.

Unfortunately, he had to give up on his dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail due to his grandfather passing away just a week after he started. But we kept in touch in these months and I was now happy to get to see him again.

“Hustler! Glad to see you my friend,” I hear a voice coming from behind a tree.

“Ben!” I hug him. “Finally I get to see some familiar face out here.”

I spend the rest the rest of the night and the next morning telling him stories about my hike so far. Ben listens carefully, and looking at his eyes I can tell he wished he could’ve been there sharing those moments with me.

He was stuck in the first half and it’s unfortunate, but that’s how the trail works. Not many people get to see the other half of it.

After getting breakfast, he drops me off at the trailhead. I put my backpack on and look at the green tunnel ahead of me.

“Enjoy the rocks!” says Ben before driving away.

Yea, the rocks,” I think worriedly. “I guess there must be a good reason why they call it Rocksylvania.”

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