The boys took showers at the campground, and came back and told me that the water only came out as long as you held a lever down, and the water was at best, warm. How frustrating. Keith, of course, had fixed that problem by borrowing some string from someone camped down by the bath house, and tied his shower so it would stay on. I had lucked out, because the evening before, when they went straight to the pool, I had used the shower at the pool house, and it was just a nice, normal shower.
Near the bath house was a couple of bicyclists, and I took our extra food to them. They were from Little Rock, and were riding to Acadia Nat'l Park in Maine! After they finished, they were actually moving to Maine to start their jobs as physicians.
We started hiking, and this was the first sign we saw:
We had never seen this one before. It was warning of the steep hill ahead. Once we topped it though, we stayed up on the ridgeline the rest of the day.
We stopped at a cabin near a stream for lunch, and I soaked my feet the entire time. This was one of those really icy streams. Did my feet wonders!
After lunch, we walked into about a solid mile of a forest thick with mountain laurel in full bloom. This was the best we'd seen of these blooming. I was glad Shadow and Spider were getting to see it. Spider even remarked how good the woods smelled right there.
As we hiked, we developed the plan to try to go extra far this day because the trail had become so easy and level, so we were making good time, and also our goal was to reach Pine Grove State Park before it closed. Shadow and I took turns being 'point man,' which is what we call the lead hiker. It's their responsibility to not only set the pace, but also to keep everyone on the trail. Before you knew it, we had hit the half-way mark on the trail- exactly halway between Georgia and Maine! We took pictures there, and visited with Aquablaze, a hiker we had not met before.
We had hit the halfway point on the exact day that we had been on the trail 3 months. This was encouraging to us, because we had planned to take 6 months to complete our hike, so we are right on schedule!
We were excited to take part in a big tradition on the trail at the halfway point - the half-gallon challenge. Thru-hikers who reach this point try to see if they can eat a half-gallon of ice cream in one sitting. Some even time it. Swamprat has been betting everyone that he would be the fastest. He bet everyone - with the loser having to cowboy camp for a night (sleep out under the stars, not in a tent.). He and Spider, in particular had been trash talking each other all day.
I let them know that ice cream did not excite me. I would, however, be happy to participate in a contest involving burgers and fries!
We finally reached Pine Grove Furnace State Park, the site of the Challenge. The boys all bought their half-gallons of ice cream. Lucky for us, we are near Hershey, PA, so the brand was Hershey 's - excellent! I ordered two orders of cheeseburgers and fries - just for me They finished the half-gallons no problem. Swamprat did it in 9 minutes. I also finished mine no problem. After they ate their ice cream, they all had burgers and fries as well.
We then hiked over to the Park campground and paid for a site. As soon as we set up camp, our next door neighbor came over with cold drinks. His son was a thru-hiker, and was hiking in to meet him tomorrow. We enjoyed hot showers at the campground (on these, you had to push a button for 30 seconds of water! To keep the water on consistently, you had to push the button about every 20 seconds - crazy!) and then had a great campfire. And nobody ended up sleeping under the stars.
(Check out my new hiking skirt!)
Camped at Pine Grove Furnace State Park, mile 1095.6 - hiked 19.1
- Steady and F100