Saturday, March 5, 2016

Southbound on the Appalachian Trail 2015: Maryland/ Harpers Ferry West Virginia

 The Appalachian Trail quickly passed through my home state of Maryland, covering about 40 miles or so. Some hikers attempt what is called the 4 State Challenge, which is starting the 40 mile section at the PA/MD border, hiking the 40 mile section of Maryland, crossing through West Virginia in Harpers Ferry, and finishing the day in the state of Virginia all in a 24 hour time period. Again, about 40 miles total. That's not my cup of tea, but as they say, "Hike your own hike."

High Point Rock
 We had perfect weather hiking through Maryland. Mosquitoes were pretty much gone at this point. Nights were still filled with the sounds of crickets. The trail passed several Civil War memorials and battle grounds. Maryland was where I grew up, and it was a treat to be home and to see places I had never been before.
Hornets nest

AT crosses the I -70
 One place I had seen many, many times was the small, fenced in footbridge, where the AT crossed over the I-70. Every time I drove under that bridge over the years, I dreamed of one day being able to actually hike on the footbridge on the AT. I always wondered what it would feel like to look down on the cars, and be in the midst of a thru-hike. Well, now I can tell you it felt as incredible as I always imagined. I felt very grateful to turn a dream into reality.
Washington Monument. 2 AT hikers were struck by lightning here earlier in the summer. As a result, monument was closed.

One of several Civil War monuments along the AT in Maryland. This one was dedicated to Civil War journalists.
 Another special moment of the trail was meeting my mom and dad outside of Harpers Ferry. My dad joined me for about three miles of the trail along the C&O towpath. We met my mom in town, had ice cream. They were good sports putting up with my rugged, filthy condition. I also went home for a couple of days to rest, resupply, and get new shoes. My first pair had lasted over a thousand miles, and were the best hiking shoes I'd ever worn. They were a Nike running shoe. I bought the same shoe again, and they also lasted another thousand miles to Springer Georgia.
Beautiful Potomac River outside of Harpers Ferry

Turtles along the C&O Canal

My dad joined me for three miles along the AT to Harpers Ferry

Foot bridge into Harpers Ferry

My parents and I outside the ATC building in Harpers Ferry.
Camo and I resupply outside a Maryland Wal-Mart.
Camo and I split up just before I met my parents, as he had to head into a town to do laundry. I was pretty certain I wasn't going to hike with him again as he was going to be at least two days ahead since I decided to go home for a couple of days. As it turned out, he spent a couple of days to rest in Harpers Ferry, and we were able to meet up again after I returned to the trail. The trail would really become a lot of fun from here to the finish. I received word from Moosie, who I had met on the PCT and CDT, that she was now on the AT as well, just a couple days ahead. She had hiked the northern section of the AT 10 years ago, and was now finishing the trail. Camo and I would later meet up with her in Virginia...

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