One of the great pleasures of life on the trail is reading trail registers. You get into the shelter after a long day of walking and sit down with the log book in your lap to read notes left by friends who passed this way before you. Many are humorous; some give a simple account of the conditions on the trail that day. Often times words of encouragement have been left for those who will come after.
Pennsylvania was a challenging state to walk through with its miles and miles of rocky trail stretching from Duncannon north to New Jersey. The trail often resembled a dried up river bed with boulders lined up as far as the eye could see–an obstacle course of slanted, sometimes slickly wet surfaces to balance across. When the rocks were not large and filling the trail they would be small and pointed, wearing down the soles of your feet and poking them painfully. But as with all adversity on the trail, the discomfort produced another highlight along the way: humorous log entries about how much the rocks suck. At the last shelter in Pennsylvania I spent a long morning laughing over the musings left by friends before me: graphic representations of why Pennsylvania did not fit humans, a wonderful break-up letter to the state, and perhaps my favorite, Punkin Pie’s brief sarcastic remark: “Goodbye to my home state of PA. I’ll miss you like I’ll miss a boil on my butt.”
Every day I look forward to getting a brief insight into the experience of friends who have moved ahead of me on the Trail. I leave my own notes and hope they are of benefit to those behind me. It’s one more way in which the Trail functions as a vast community of fellow travelers.
* Click the thumbnails below for some colorful examples…