|resupplied in Brunswick|
|Back into the green tunnel. Constant shade was a major blessing throughout the hike in 90 degree weather.|
|entering the Appalchians|
|Saw two of these during the hike. I thought they were otters which seemed crazy. A large swimming rodent whatever it is.|
|Onto the flattest 3 miles of the Appalachian Trail|
|I took a small detour and hiked into Harpers Ferry for ice cream.|
|Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers converge|
|Historic town of Harpers Ferry|
|ice cream hit the spot|
|Saying goodbye to Harpers Ferry|
|Potomac River mellows out|
|One of two bald eagles in tree.|
|paw paw fruit|
|Calm and quiet on the towpath|
|Trains were a common site on the hike|
My plan was to hike into the town of Brunswick and resupply. Other than the morning sun really heating things up, resupply went off painlessly. I had to hike a mile to the Dollar Store in town. Found everything I needed to last 3 more days and was back on the towpath within the hour. God, it always feels great to get back on trail after resupply. The path around Brunswick is always pretty quiet, other than the occasional biker passing by. Traffic began to increase as I got closer to the flattest 3 miles of the Appalachian Trail and Harpers Ferry. The AT descends off the ridge and onto the towpath for 3 miles, past Harpers Ferry, and then climbs steeply back onto the ridge after crossing the Shenandoah River. It felt great to be on the AT again. I ate some lunch just before Harpers Ferry and watched some rafters go down the river. After lunch, I decided to take the footbridge into Harpers Ferry for some ice cream. While crossing the bridge, a woman and I made eye contact,
"I'm sorry, I just have to ask," she said. "How long have you been on the trail?"
Since I was on the Appalachian Trail at this point, I knew what she was getting at.
"4 days." I replied. "I'm hiking the C&O from Washington D.C."
Awkward silence ensued, the disappointment in her face was palpable.
"Oh," she answered, then continued walking.
The C&O, the bastard son of the AT. After walking into Harpers Ferry, I bought a cup of ice cream and sat in the shade watching the tourists. I was ready to get out of there, so after finishing the last bite, I took the footbridge back over the river and was back on the towpath, eager to see new territory. The ecosystem seemed to change slightly as I hiked north from Harpers Ferry. To my right, small rocky cliffs rose up from where the canal builders must of had to painstakingly dig out the waterway for the canal boats. The plants and trees took on a different flavor as well. Now that I was in the mountains, or maybe just the time of year, mosquitoes started getting bad again. They would come in waves, really aggressive for a mile, then would disappear for a mile or two, then come back, then disappear. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason when they'd show up. The canal was also really peaceful at this point, one of my favorite sections up to this point. Rain showers came and went during the afternoon, but nothing that warranted rain gear. I just had to keep my camera dry, which I did with a plastic bag. I saw a couple bald eagles up close during this section which was a highlight.
My plan for the afternoon was to hike to Antietam Creek campground and call it a night. After a couple hours of hardly seeing anybody, I arrived at the campground. There were a few others camped there, it looked like a nice site along the river. Unfortunately, the sign there mentioned something about needing to make reservations before hand before camping, and if you didn't have any, to call a number which required walking up a road to get cell service. One problem I have when I backpack, especially when it gets late in the day, is making hasty decisions. It's like once the engine is turned on, it's hard to turn it off, or to restart it. So I made a hasty, not well thought out decision to just keep hiking and to look for a campsite along the river somewhere.
Bad decision. Once I left Antietam Creek, the canal slowly became busier. The complete quiet and solitude I experienced all afternoon, slowly became replaced with a house, here, a house there, a road here, a road there. I was feeling exhausted but couldn't find a spot where I could comfortably call it a night. So I hiked a mile, then another mile, before I knew it I was crossing the 20 mile mark for the day and feeling wiped out. Still the canal seemed to be getting busier and busier with every footstep. Unfortunately, that's just how it goes sometimes, the timing does not line up properly. Finally, when I could not hike another step I had to set up camp. There were young people jogging down the trail every minute, people walking their dogs. When I finally saw a break in the foot traffic, I bushwhacked to the river which seemed to be only 40 feet away. I found a tiny ledge that offered just enough protection and privacy from the towpath, could still hear people walking by 20 feet away. I was hidden behind paw paw's and a small mound. I was so tired I had to make it work. After setting up my tent poorly amongst the vines and plants, I slid my way down to the river gabbing onto roots. There was a perfect little pool nestled between the river bank and a downed tree where I was able to safely lower myself into the river and bathe. This raised my spirits significantly. I climbed back up to the ledge where my tent was placed. Ate a couple of bars for dinner, and passed out exhausted, but at least clean...