This morning I walked into Unionville, New York. This is the ninth state on the Appalachian Trail, and I have to admit, I stopped and thought about how far I've come. It really boggles my mind sometimes. I have started to encounter Southbounders, that is, hikers who started in Maine, and it makes the end seem so much closer.
Lyme Update: I have been on antibiotics for five days now. Somewhere around day three I started to feel better, and now I feel almost completely normal again. It appears as though I caught this early enough so as not to be a problem. Yesterday I did my first 20 mile day in almost 2 weeks. It felt so good to be back!
Yesterday morning I saw one of the most exciting things I've seen on the trail. Not only was there a large black bear in our camp, we got to see it get caught in a trap (pictured below.) Apparently New Jersey is notorious for bear activity, and the Rangers had just set this trap on the previous day. I have excellent video of the capture, however this is on my good camera which is not connected to the internet. I'm sending home the SD card and hope to share that soon. (Video now available.)
Foot Update: My feet are no longer an issue! According to the doctor, I have unusually high arches. Because my arches were not getting enough support, every time my foot struck the ground the arch would collapse bit. This collapsing action would cause the bones in the feet to spread, which in turn would stretch thin the soft tissue in the bottoms of my feet, causing that tissue to absorb even more of the impact. Hence the bruising. About two weeks ago I switched to an insole designed to add arch support, and since then the bottoms of my feet have improved tremendously. Unfortunately, these insoles alter the fit of my shoe, and now I have blisters where I never had blisters before. Such is the nature of this hike: you are never 100% pain-free; you just exchange one problem for another.
And finally, as an added bonus, two days ago I caught up with some old friends I haven't seen since early in Virginia. Overcoming my physical discomfort has certainly been beneficial, but nothing compares to the spirit boost you get from hiking with old friends.