I know, its been a long time. So long in fact, that I am now more than halfway done with the AT. YAY! I passed into Harper's Ferry, WV (the psychological halfway point), just this evening with quite the bounce in my step.
A little history of what it means to be "halfway": The AT's halfway point changes, since the trail gets rerouted, switch-backed and detoured in various locations every year. In other words, if you thru-hike the AT in 2009, you will not have hiked the same trail as those in 2008, 2007, ...etc. Harper's Ferry was the halfway point when the AT's southern terminus was at a mountain called Oglethorpe in Georgia. Now, with the terminus moved to Springer Mountain, GA, the actually halfway point is close to Pine Grove Furnace, about 75 miles north of Harper's. Pine Grove is the sight of the Half-Gallon Challenge (see first photo). Halfway, half a gallon, in half an hour. I ACCEPT! In all reality friends I had help from the dashing young lad to my left, but I ate way more.
The half gallon challenge is held at the General Store in Pine Grove Furnace State Park. If you are successful, you get a small wooden spoon. Sadly though, as the Fall season starts to set in, hours for the store get cut, and southbounders get cheated out off their wood utensils. Never to miss an opportunity, 5 of us went to the closest country store and devoured 4 half-gallons anyway, with Bacon finishing the one Curse and I shared in addition to his own.
Speaking of which, the people you meet on the trail are AWESOME, and the group of friends you travel with will change depending on how many miles you hike on average, and how many zero (0 mile days), and neros (nearly zero mile days) you take. Let me introduce you to some of my current hiking entourage. These characters in the photo at the right are from left to right: Bacon, Curse, and Buffalo. Others, include Lost Rob, Professor, Ledge, Happy Feet, Navajo, Gooch and Fiddler. I hope you all get the chance to meet them sometime. Cool school, all of them.