Day 69: Blackburn to Harpers Ferry Hostel, MD
Trip Start Mar 15, 2010
134Trip End Jul 23, 2010
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Well the other day we did the roller coaster, today I'm going to recap the emotional roller coaster that took place...
So started out really early (5 am) to an alarm so I could leave and get to town before the post office closed at noon. Walked out of the hostel at 6:10 which is a new early time!! The ridgewalking didn't present too many challenges other than the persistent rocks everywhere. I was so excited to get to Harpers Ferry and had grand visions for my afternoon off and going to explore the city etc etc.
The hiking went fine (even if the time seemed to ooze along as slow as molasses!) and soon I was crossing the Shenandoah River!!! (oh Shenandoah I long to see you!) goodbye Virginia and hello West Virginia!
Harpers ferry of course is most known as the site of John Brown's attempted slave uprising, during the build up to the Civil War. But the city played other important hisotrical roles too. Jefferson visited, Washington surveyed it, saw first successful railroad, first integrated higher education (Storer College) and biggest surrender of Union troops during the war. (listen to Mr I-just-read-my-park-brochure-a-couple-times!!!)
Anyway, lots of history and the whole downtown is a historical national park. Because it is also symbolically halfway on the trail the Appalachian Trail Conservancy HQ is here. So I visited this location, drop off my pack and get to the post office a full hour before deadline!!
At the ATC I get my photo taken and officially I am thruhiker number 98 to go through... Not bad! Doesn't seem like that many are in front of me though, especially with how few I've seen of late.
Unfortunately Harpers Ferry is not a very hiker friendly place... It's an expensive tourist trap that seems to sell a lot of ice cream to visiting people
So I decide, well so much for this place... I'm gonna head to Maryland where there should be a better town in a couple days. I learned this information from my new copy of "the Companion" thruhiker trail guide... I had to buy it because the second half that was supposed to come in a maildrop accidentally got pitched!! It must be interesting to see someone buy a book in your store and then immediately rip it in half. Yes this is what I did!! (at this point information about the Smokies isn't exactly worth carrying!!)
So I hiked away from Harpers Ferry. However I did have the blues and while passing all the tourists, there inquiries " are you a thruhiker?" etc made me feel a bit special which is fun... No magic though...
Instead of hiking on though, at the end of the C&O towpath walk on the Maryland side of the Potomac, I elected to walk a mile down a side road and stay at a hostel...
Lots of nice cool people here including some honeymooners walking their way home on the trail, some sectioners, a British Airways pilot, and TP another thruhiker whom I hadn't seen since the first day in the SNP
The hostel had lots of stuff in the free box so that gets eaten and we hang out and talk for quite a while. Definitely nice to be in out of the pouring rain, not sleeping up on the ridge. Oh and must I mention SHEETS!!!
Thanks for the comments aunt Jessie, and also for the text messages from Sarah in Germany. So cool that so many people are following this adventure around the world. I hope these emails are enlightening, often funny, and perhaps occasionally inspiring!
Another question came through: I met the guy that designed the roller coaster, how is this possible, or has the AT moved? Well, yes the AT has moved. In fact the trail is always moving. Every year it changes length (usually gets longer) by adding switchbacks or exploring new areas, attacking new ridgelines, etc. In this case the AT used to run along a ridge I believe through some private property but land disputes had it kicked off. Therefore the trail now occupies a new adjacent corridor but with much more difficult up and downs. Amazing to think about all the tiny local struggles that occured over the years and then imagine trying to piece together the entire 2175 mi trail. Sometimes still mind boggling!
Well I'm here at the hostel and ready to make up for the short day today (only 16-17ish) with a big one tomorrow! I hope the weather is agreeable, or I might end up going all the way to another town where I can hostel it up. Anyway, I'm in my 6th state, only 8 new ones to explore. Love the milestones.