AT Days 1-4 Check-In and Start

AT Days 1-4 Check-In and Start

Quick apology

I apologize for not posting sooner. I still haven’t figured out how to do this by phone. Each day has been filled by hiking eating and sleeping – I’m improving, but do NOT have “trail legs” yet at all.


Day 0 – Check-In at ATC Headquarters (0 miles)

Day 1 – ATC Headquarters Harper’s Ferry to Rocky Run Shelter (16.1 miles)

Day 2 – Rocky Run Shelter to Ensign Cowell Shelter (15.8 miles)

Day 3 – Ensign Cowell Shelter to Deer Lick Shelter, PA (14.5 miles)

Day 4 – Deer Lick Shelter to Quarry Gap Shelter (15.8 miles)

Day 0

Before starting, I checked into the ATC HQ to register (not required, but desired). I had my picture taken, and had a review of “Leave No Trace”. I am #135 through-hiker out of Harper’s Ferry this year. Amazingly, they had their first Georgia through hiker come through in early March! Wow!

Day 1

I had a send-off from my wife and brother-in-law, and started late about 11:00am accompanied by my daughter (for the day) and my son (PCT trail name Smiles) for the week. Today is very unseasonably hot in the 90sF. This caused sweating which rolled down my back and into an area where I did NOT want chafing, which happened anyway. The temps remained high for the next few days with extra help from very high humidity (which actually got worse). 

The start of the trail goes through the beautiful town and crossed a train bridge to Maryland. We followed the river and towpath flat for about 5 miles before a steep climb to Weverton Cliffs viewpoint. We had more gentle uphill until we get to the shelter.

Due to the late start, it was dark by the time we reached the shelter. And it rained. The universe is preparing me for all outcomes! Ha ha! The shelter was empty which made it easier to set up for the night. I slept only OK in spite of being beat because I couldn’t find a comfortable position. My equipment was fine and comfortable enough, the problem was me. I was so stiff, I could barely step up onto the shelter platform – even without my pack. To be fair to me, my pack weight was a hair under 30lbs including enough food for a week and full water – which isn’t bad at all.  My conditioning, however, was not nearly enough.

Day 2

I felt much better in the morning – good.  Hot, but clear skies. We had a mix of fields and woods. Crossed our 1st Interstate I-70 today – we walked out of the woods, crossed the street, walked between 2 people’s yards, through some bushes, then BAM! Standing over the Interstate. 


We got to the shelter just at dusk and had it to ourselves for a bit before some others arrived who set up tents, instead. Tonight, I can step up to the shelter platform tonight!  Sleeping is still painful but slight improvement. Cooking has been no problem.

Day 3

Again, felt better in the morning. I’m starting to get in the swing of it. Today is sunny. 

Today, we crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into PA. We got to the shelter in plenty of time, and met one of the many Section hikers that seem to be out at this time of year. Later in the evening “Special K”, a young woman who left Georgia in late March and has been knocking out 30 miles per day!! I am in awe!

Day 4

Today, we had our first “Trail Magic”. While common in the south with 50 hikers per day coming through, there aren’t enough hikers here yet to be worthwhile for the trail angels to set up. However, Ashley was driving by and happened to see us coming out of the woods onto a trail, and pulled her car to the side of the road and hollered if we were through-hikers? Yes! Her trunk was full of chips and treats. A real angel! Thank you, Ashley!

At the end of the day, we added a ½-mile each-way road walk on US-30 to 65 South BBQ. Although the food was excellent, this might have turned out badly because we got to the shelter later. All the days are starting to roll together in my perception, and we certainly gave no thought to the day of the week. But it was important for us to know that this was Friday and the start of a weekend. That means that weekend hikers are out in force. Consequently, when we got to Quarry Gap Shelter, it was completely filled as well as all the tent sites around it. So, we headed up the trail having learned a lesson. We were thrilled that we were lucky enough to find a great tent site only about 0.1 miles further. Happiness and Gratitude! 

That night, the rained started which continued for the next several days. We slept well (except for my continuing hip pain at night).

Thoughts from the First Few Days

90F Weather is do-able, but the sweating is rough.

I’m not really hungry, but my son keeps telling me I have to eat anyway. I already notice that my energy wanes when I don’t eat. It’s a must-do. I need to eat more. A LOT more.

The first day was rough, and I’m still stiff and sore at the end of the day, but improving. I have to pee once at night, but it’s no big deal. Likewise, the privy is not a real issue.

We’ve been seeing lots of Section Hikers (both directions) and some through-hikers. The through-hikers move much faster and farther per day, but the others we see periodically. They tend to be faster but quit earlier. I conclude that I’m covering a good distance, but slower in doing it at this point.

There are beautiful trail sections and views. The birds and forest are great and I’m grateful to be in the midst of it.

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