Friday, July 1, 2016

Day 62: Harper's Ferry

6/20: right off the C&O canal path
Mile: 1019.6 - 1024.5

Even though the night was supposed to be balmy there's a lovely breeze and I sleep the best I have in ages. Rest Stop broke camp and has hiked on without me even waking up. This is pretty much our pattern right now, as town buddies. We're rarely hiking together but we manage to sometimes camp together and hit town the same days which has helped with the loneliness. With so many people this is still the loneliest I've ever been on a trail. It's a blur of faces with very little connection. Enough moaning, more milestones.

I pass another border sign, I guess I left West Virginia and didn't realize it. The hiking is nice and easy and I feel great which certainly helps.

Crossing the Potomac River on a giant bridge everything changes. I have no idea why but it feels like I've been punched in the gut and I stagger towards the town of Harper's Ferry. I'm very close and planning on taking a break at the Appalachian Trail Center's office so I continue on. I think it's partly the direct sun because I feel like I can breathe as I get back into the trees. But the beautiful historical buildings and all the signs are a bit of a blur.

I make it to the ATC office and then wander down to the post office to get my box since the office doesn't open until 9 and there are always these small town chores that are just much better finished. I walk right past the building 3 times, old historic stone with a police station, post office and liquor store all in one. No wonder I missed it. I collapse back on the steps of the ATC hoping time and lying on cool pavement will make me feel better.

There's a small handful of hikers when they open and a small room with a couch, cheap soda and the last 10 plus years of photo binders to pick through. This is the unofficial halfway point and it's tradition to get your photo and your number. Looking through old years I stumble on familiar faces. It's a much needed break and fun to catch up with familiar faces that pop in. The folks running the center are wonderful and I'm glad to spend some time there.

Yikes already 847 people ahead of me! Not even counting those who walk right by the office.

Relief map of the whole trail. Looks like the mountains come back soon enough.

It's finally time to go, my growling stomach will no longer let me longer. This town is full of history and great old buildings, a treat to walk through.

After eating an overpriced breakfast in a cramped old building its bs k to the streets now filled with tourists. I think I liked 7 am much better.

The trail crosses another giant bridge and heads onto the C&O Canal (Chesapeake and Ohio). More history with old locks and stonework alongside lovely shaded flatness and turtles!

I need to grab more food for the next day or so but the heat is oppressive and when Rest Stop and I get to the convenience store it's across the street from a very hiker friendly motel. I vote feeling lousy is a great excuse for air conditioning and call it a day. Side note, if you're ever in the Harper's Ferry area the Knights Inn is right outside of town, half the price as the other lodging choices and the friendliest staff I've yet to meet. An awesome ending to a long morning.

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