I hitched out of Front Royal, VA on Wednesday, June 24th and hiked a whopping 3.6 miles with Rigga and Zipp where we set up camp at the Mosby Campsite. The next day, we passed by the Jim & Molly Denton Shelter which is known by hikers for its big extensive front porch and solar shower.
On Friday, I hiked through a stretch of trail well known by hikers as “The Roller Coaster.” I had been hearing horror stories of this section of trail since Trail Days in Damascus, VA. The Roller Coaster is basically 13.5 miles up continuous ups and downs.
Luckily, after about 3.5 miles into the ups and downs, there was some refreshing trail magic thanks to “The Chef”–thanks again! He grilled hot dogs, provided music, fresh fruit, beverages, etc. It couldn’t have been more needed that day!
After enjoying the amazing trail magic, I hiked a little over three miles where I reached the biggest milestone I have crossed yet.
I officially hiked 1000 miles.
It honestly felt pretty unbelievable. When I kept repeating the number in my head it sounded almost impossible. 1000 miles. Wow. After reveling in this little victory, I picked up my pack and continued to hike on. Later in the evening, I cooked dinner with Zipp, Wind and Lorax.
We all planned on going into Harpers Ferry, WV the next day and decided we would hike as long as we felt like it into the night. It’s more fun night hiking with a group anyway. Shortly after dinner, we finally left Virginia and crossed into West Virginia!
After crossing the border, we hiked another 8 miles before setting up camp which made it nearly a 25 mile day. It was hard to go to sleep that night, as I anticipated reaching Harpers Ferry. However, when the rain rolled in I finally drifted off to sleep.
I had hoped the rain would stop by morning, but it just got worse. I woke up at 6am, and decided to go ahead and start hiking the 9.1 miles into town. I essentially felt as if I was hiking through a hurricane. Branches fell, wind whistled and rain thudded all around me. What else can you do in that situation but hike on?
When I crossed over the Shenandoah River bridge, it was so windy and misty I could barely get a picture. I thought my phone was going to fly out of my hand!
Finally, around noon I arrived at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) Headquarters in Harpers Ferry. Thru-hikers stop in here to have their photo taken, receive their hiker number and to be congratulated for making it to what is considered the “spiritual halfway point.”
Rebel Yell, Perk, Rigga, Chance, Zipp, Land Mammal and I all met up at the headquarters and went to lunch. Most of us decided to zero the next day in celebration of hiking (almost) half of the trail.It was really nice to have most of our original group (“The Fam”) together in Harpers Ferry. I think we realized that it’s probably unlikely that we will all stick together throughout the entire journey, but we will never forget the friendships we’ve built and the struggles we encountered together. It’s interesting how we all started hiking alone and planned to hike solo to ‘discover ourselves’ and ‘reflect’ on life. Yet, we all agree that the people have really made the experience what it is. Without the encouragement of my fellow hikers, the hardships and difficult times may have been less manageable. It’s funny how life pans out sometimes.
During zero days, a hiker should really rest and relax his or her body. But in a town as cool as Harpers Ferry, there was no way I was going to accomplish that. So, I visited the Harpers Ferry National Historic Park, scoped out every museum in town and read almost every informational historic sign in town. The town is just riddled with history!
On Monday, June 29th, I hiked out of Harpers Ferry and crossed the Potomac River into the state of Maryland–another state down!
Only 40 miles of the AT run through Maryland and then the trail crosses the Mason-Dixon Line.It was strange knowing I would soon be leaving the south, but exciting all at once!
Below are some additional pictures from this time period–