Friday, July 2, 2010

The Half-Gallon Challenge

With today’s hike, we have reached the half-way point along the Appalachian Trail--the midpoint between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mt Katahdin in Maine.  We had not originally planned to come this far, but when we got to the Mason-Dixon Line (our original goal) we had another week before our reservations were up at the campground.  So, what to do for a week?  Hike, I guess.

We were both excited to see the midpoint sign.  It was a little odd for me since I was hiking south and got to the sign before I had actually hiked to that point.  Still, it was a special moment.  There was nobody else around so I made my own picture at the sign.  When Gene got to the sign, he didn’t have the camera.  I guess there’s no actual proof he was there.

The old mid-point sign

I was glad to see there was a sign.  We had read that the old sign had been removed and installed in a place of honor at the Appalachian Trail Museum and that a new sign was being made.  The halfway point keeps changing.  As the trial is rerouted for various reasons, the total distance changes, thus the midpoint changes.  The old sign was located four and a quarter miles farther north than where the current midpoint is.  

Even though we passed the halfway point today we did not do the half-gallon challenge which many of the thru-hikers try.  For decades, the store at Pine Grove Furnace State Park has offered the “half-gallon challenge.”  It’s simple--eat a half-gallon of ice cream and you get to keep the little wooden spoon.  There was a hiker, Beaver King, on the porch of the store eating his half-gallon of strawberries and cream ice cream.  He finished while we were there and received a round of applause from everyone on the porch.

After our hike and our lunch, we toured the brand new, just opened June 5th, Appalachian Trail Museum.  It’s a small collection of personal items of those first few folks to brave the wilderness and complete a thru-hike--Gene Epsey, Grandma Gatewood, Ed Garvey, and Earl Shaffer.  They don’t have much, but what they have is nice and well presented.  It’s a start.

The hike today was nice.  The forest was open and along much of the trail there were ripe blueberries for the picking.  We had several stretches of trial along forest service roads.  Because of a detour, one road section lasted for about a mile.

This hike brings us to the end of this section with a total of 345.5 miles since our start at VA 614 at Jennings Creek way back at the end of April.  We have a little more time before we are scheduled to be in Maine for a small reunion with friends.  We’re going to spend it hiking, but not here.  It’s too hot here.  Tuesday, we’re heading up to Connecticut for a few days.  Maybe it won’t be quite so hot there.

Until Tuesday, we’ll be hanging around the campground getting our chores done and getting organized to move.  We may go to Antietam Battlefield Sunday.  We’ll see what the weather does.

That’s it for today.

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