Nina Baxley: Appalachian Trail Thru-Hiker

Harpers Ferry, WV

October 9, 2000
Location: Harpers Ferry, West Virginia
Miles Hiked: 1,164.9
Miles Remaining: 1,002.2

This morning, my tent wore a light dusting of snow. Hail pelted me as I hiked into West Virginia this afternoon. Then the sun came out, and the clouds literally disappeared. Then the sky turned grey a few minutes later, and I got hailed on again. Now it's cold and rainy, and I'm glad to be INSIDE. Sometimes it's nice when I can come in from the rain for a while.

Pennsylvania was exhausting for me—physically, mentally, and emotionally. The rocks aren't too bad—if you only hike through them for a few days. After 100 or more miles of sharp, rocky, ankle-twisting trail, however, my feet really began to hurt. Each evening in Pennsylvania and Maryland (yes, the rocks extend into Maryland!) I would hobble into the shelter, my soles feeling as if someone had beaten them with a meat tenderizer for several hours. For days, the balls of my feet have been bruised and swollen from stepping on the sharp rocks that (surprise!) are hidden under the trail's deep carpet of fallen leaves. Several times a day, I would sit on a rock or fallen tree, my feet pulsating with pain, my soles begging me, in their own way, not to go any further.

But I had to keep going. Sometimes I had to make it to town before the post office closed. Sometimes I had to get to a shelter before dark. Most importantly, I wanted to reach Harpers Ferry—known as the"psychological halfway point" for thru-hikers—before Columbus Day weekend, when I would take three days off from the trail. [MORE. . .]

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