Mission Incredible: Shaffer hits the half-way point

  • Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Rare Breed hitting the trail after a night in a shelter. PHOTO BY PHYLLIS SHAFFER

Well, she's made it. Almost. We just got word from Phyllis Shaffer, our blogger who is hiking the Appalachian Trail. She has made it over the hump.

“For the thru-hikers that are on the trail and have hiked past the official halfway mark, it feels a little like hump day. You know you still have a long way to go, but you know the most challenging section of your journey is still ahead of you,” she explained.

“I will admit I celebrated walking past the little sign that marked the ‘You are officially halfway to Katahdin spot,' but I had a knot in my stomach at the same time because I know the best and the hardest part of the journey is yet to come.

“So, I started picking up pears and almonds when I go into town instead of stuffing my face with Snickers. I doubled my protein intake and started soaking bread with olive oil and I only eat real butter. I eat two cans of sardines every time I go into town to resupply. I even had prime rib, loaded baked potato and a huge salad for lunch and dinner when I went to Holly Hill for a zero! Yes, I am bulking up and trying to get stronger because New Hampshire and Maine will be cold and rugged and unforgiving! It will be my toughest challenge and I intend to have my body and my head ready to take on the final test.

“I think different things drive hikers to continue a journey that is so difficult, but for me, it is the dream of standing in front of a wooden sign at the top of Mount Katahdin with a smile on my face and knowing that I finally made it with a lot of help from above.

“So far I have experienced things that I am sure I would not have been exposed to in my comfortable world at home, and the experience has made me a better person.

“This trip is not glamorous and it is not easy. I have picked ticks off my legs, suffered spider, chigger and mosquito bites. Slept in a shelter with total strangers. I have eaten cold Spam on a piece of stale bread for breakfast and thought it was a party in my mouth! I have walked into town after a week on the trail, checked into a $50 motel (because it was the nicest place to stay in town), looked in the bathroom mirror and noticed dirt rings around my neck!

“I have burned two shirts, one pair of socks and a sports bra because they stunk so badly I didn't want to put them in the trash!

“It has been an eye-opening, sometimes terrifying, but always interesting journey.

“Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone and forcing yourself to move beyond what is normal in your world is a good thing. It's like clicking a reset button.

“I really do see the world differently these days and I am excited about the rest of the journey that is ahead of me. See all you at Katahdin!”

Rare news

Phyllis met a 29-year-old thru-hiker in Maryland and has seen him all through Pennsylvania. His name is Rare Breed and he is from Boston. Rare Breed will be joining the U.S. Marines after his hike to Katahdin and feels that his 40-pound pack and six-month hiking experience will prepare him for Marine Corps bootcamp, said Phyllis. During his hike, he took the four-state challenge and by adding a few extra miles, he set foot in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania, all within a 24-hour period. The challenge is through the entire state of Maryland (just more than 40 miles) and is popular with “Young Guns” who are thru-hiking. Rare Breed completed the hike in 21 hours. He carries a license plate on his pack (a Virginia plate that he found on a physically challenging day) for good luck and he will take it to Katahdin.

“Good luck, Rare Breed. I am cheering for you,” Phyllis said.

Visit http://blog.moultrienews.com/mission-incredible/ to read more about her hike.

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