So I went backpacking by myself from 7/9 through 7/12 in Allegheny National Forest, and it was probably the hardest thing I've ever done physically and mentally. Very happy that I've done it. It was a valuable experience that I really needed at this point in my life.
I followed the blue blaze again on North Country National Scenic Trail for 30 miles over 3 days with a backpack entirely too heavy for my stubby legs. And whose fault was it? Me. I packed too much food, too much first aid supply, and other extra stuff.
The weather certainly did not cooperate. After a fabulous night 0 at Willow Bay campground where I enjoyed a calzone and knitting on a camp chair, my day 1 started with a soaking wet tent. Wet ultralight tent was not-so-light. After realizing that I was moving much slower than expected, I decided to hike extra distance on day 1. Enter pouring rain. I made it to Sugar Run and camped there. My homemade Tyvek tarp came in handy.
The rain had stopped overnight, and my day 2 started with a dry tent and a wet, oversized tarp. Wet tarp was heavy and bulky. The morning was spent alternating long green tunnels and natural gas wells. Then, I entered the long, dark valley along Hemlock Run. I reached the campsite by Chappel Bay at 6. Just as I was finishing filtering water for the next day, I heard distant thunders. The storm hit just as I finished throwing the tarp up and pitching my tent.
I woke up to a drizzle on day 3, but I was hopeful because I should have a shorter distance to cover on my last day! Well, until the rain turned into another storm that morning. The swollen feet, soaked boots, and heavy pack slowed me down to a depressing level. I chose to skip a sit-down lunch and staggered along with some energy bars. The storms seemed to have taken few trees down, and that posed extra challenges to this vertically challenged person. As a final blow, at 2 miles to go, I broke one of my trekking poles; the lower part just slipped out completely at the most unfortunate timing. I managed to reach my car at 4:30pm.