Boiling Springs, PA
A few mornings ago, the trail meandered north through a boulder-strewn landscape. As I stopped to marvel at their beauty, my attention was distracted by a soft sound behind me. I turned to see silence, the sound momentarily paused. When it began again, I lifted my head toward the sky. It was very faint, but familiar. It sounded weak, almost strained, and then it was instantaneously identifiable as the honking of a flock of geese. An enormous flock, hundreds deep, a massive “V” shooting to the north.
Perhaps it seems mundane, to watch a sky full of geese move overhead. But for me, they signify life in motion, a migration driven toward the warmth of spring. For the first 50 days of my hike, it was quiet, really quiet. But now, I’m greeted at 6am by the first songbird (well, 7am now as the clocks have sprung forward recently, which is great for me as I still get up at 5am, but now have an extra hour in the evening making things a little easier to hike a 25 mile day before nightfall…just barely).
This moment in time will remain one of the most memorable for me. It’s part of why I’m out here, hiking three long-distance trails in one calendar year. It’s to become aware of the simple, subtle changes that take place across the seasons, which in turn helps me to reflect inward and to discover the simple, subtle changes in myself.
On a different note, I made my way out of the forest and across the Cumberland Valley. I was joyous for the change in scenery, one that was reminiscent of the CDT in that the trail takes hikers through pasture and across a wide open and hot valley. It was 82-degrees at the peak of the day, and my white, irish complexion burned beneath the sun. Bring it on sun, I said. Bring it on. I savored ever ounce of that day, including a few hours of rest in the town of Boiling Springs, PA. It’s a sweet and charming town, very hiker friendly. People would stop on the street to ask if I was thru-hiking, and would agree that I was very, very early. Several would look at their watches in disbelief, as if checking to make sure that indeed it was early march, and not somehow much, much later. I too feel like time is escaping me, a bit perplexed at the pace of my hike. I mean, out here it should slow down, but the next thing I know, the sun’s rising, and it’s another day of hiking.
I did relish the moment, and sat inside the Boiling Springs Tavern for lunch. The bar itself is like an elegant saloon, with history on its walls dating back to the mid 1800’s. The staff and other patrons were incredibly friendly, again a bit thrown off guard seeing a northbound thru-hiker this early. And a girl. I enioyed a few of the local brews, a delicious burger and by far, the best peanut butter pie I’ve ever had. The pie, made in-house, was rich and creamy, with a chocolate graham cracker crust and coated with crushed peanut butter cups. Absolutely delicious. Well satisfied, I left town, following the blazes that walk through Boiling Springs’ small downtown, and resumed my progress north through the Cumberland Valley and into northern Pennsylvania.
UP NEXT: THE DOYLE HOTEL & THE SOUTHBOUND THRU-HIKER