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Day 97: The Real Middle

Summary: 1100 miles and the real 50% Random campsite: 1090.1 Random campsite: 1106.2 Total miles: 16.1 We excitedly sped away in the morning since, at long last, we would pass the actual halfway point. The miles were about as flat as we had ever seen and we managed a 3.5 mph pace for most of it. This also means Peregrine the wingèd and Grant the piston managed some ungodly speed that probably approached 4.5 mph. Tyler tried to keep up Peregrine's pace out of sheer curiosity but had to run to keep up. We hit the actual halfway point, which was an unobtrusive humdrum sign, early on. We signed the register, and answered the three questions the halfway point asked 1. How did you get here? 2. What have you learned? 3. Are you feeling half empty or half full? 

The next stop on the journey, besides the old and more colorful halfway point, was Pine Grove Furnace State Park, which was the location of the acclaimed half gallon challenge. 

At the halfway point, those calorie starved enough, brave enough, and stupid enough consumed a half gallon of ice cream to commemorate their halfway journey. Your only reward is a stamped wooden ice cream spoon and indigestion. Grant and Tyler partook and conquered (Tyler felt better given he opted for sherbet so that he could finish the hike for the day without digging an extreme number of holes along the way also it had half the calories of the ice cream), Peregrine and Emily, the wiser of the group, ate regular lunch. While we sat around digesting, we met Bear King, a section hiker celebrating his birthday with a half gallon the following day, Fay/Ducky, a thru hiker from Portland who knows Tyler's brother Cole, and James, a photographer from the Harrisburg newspaper doing a photo series on thru hikers. We all got our photos taken and Grant, and the two of us were even interviewed. I think they will be on but not sure whe. Tyler's glasses, despite temporary repairs, broke again, so to Mary from Maine's eternal shame, he probably looks like a monster. James also gave us his number so that when we visit Harrisburg for the fourth, he can answer any questions we might have about the town. 

*Handshake of congratulations from James the photographer

*Grant completed the challenge but in the end, it looks like the ice cream won.

*Tyler's photo shoot with James

After sitting around for a while, we walked a whole quarter of a mile down the trail to relax by the lake. Peregrine, Grant, Simba, Alter Ego, Emily and Tyler went in the water for about a whole minute before we all heard thunder and the life guard closed the beach. So we took free showers in the changing rooms/bathrooms and eventually the lightning and downpour came. We all hunkered down under the snack bar awning and waited out the rain. Most of us cooked dinner. 

Still, the on and off downpour delayed our departure until about 7:30 and there was no way we would make the remaining 7 miles before it got dark. As we are taking a break from night hiking until we upgrade one particularly weak headlamp, it appeared that we had failed our cookie quest. We would never make the 15 remaining miles to Boiling Springs by noon on Saturday so we would have to have Mary bump the package again (just 26 miles up the road to Duncannon). 

We found a nice stealth camp about four miles down the trail. Peregrine continued on so he could get to Boiling Springs early and fish, but the three of us stayed. Somehow, with soggy sticks, Emily and Grant got a fire going by rubbing bark off branches and twigs and splitting thicker wood with Grant's knife. We set up our mats around the fire, tried to dry off some sweat and rain soaked clithes, and relaxed late into the evening.

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