Double Zero in Harpers Ferry (5/12, 5/13, 5/14)
Day 76, 5/12: Zero in Harpers Ferry
Louis and I slept in. My left lower back was still hurting but we had errands to run so I couldn’t stay in bed all day. We went to the post office and picked up my packages. I ordered a cuben fiber tarp for my hammock, snakeskins for my hammock, a dry bag (mine is leaking), and Charles, my friend from high school, sent me a care package! It felt like Christmas.
Afterwards, we went to Walmart and got food for resupply. We headed back to the hotel and met my mom. We unloaded everything, relaxed for a few hours, and then went to a sandwich shop for dinner. The yelp reviews of the place were outstanding, and they weren’t wrong. It was a bagel and cookie shop that also had sandwiches. My mom and I had a Reuben, eclair, and apple turnover. Louis wasn’t feeling well so he had chicken soup.
We went back to the hotel but I realized I needed guy line tensioners for my new tarp, so we went to Walmart and then Home Depot in search of something that would work. I settled on small carabiners. We went back to the hotel and I lay in bed, feeling exhausted and my back was hurting.
Day 77, 5/13: Zero in Harpers Ferry
I stayed up late, getting my gear together. There was a lot I wanted to do with my gear like sewing part of my multipack and changing the straps that I didn’t have time or energy to do. When I woke up early this morning, I realized I felt like I hadn’t had a day off at all. We had been running around all day. I decided to take another zero and ran it by Louis and my mom, who agreed. I stayed in bed all morning and it was glorious. Around 2, we headed to the ATC and I got my official picture taken.
Me outside the ATC
I saw Winter, Tip, and I met Treeline who’s hiking with her dad True Grits. Being a thru hiker in the ATC with 1,000+ miles under my belt, I felt like a celebrity. The whole ATC was dedicated to what I’ve been doing every day for the past 2.5 months. There was a 3D map of the trail and I could see the mountains I’ve already climbed. The climb out of the NOC in particular I remembered as being hellish, and it looked just as bad being able to touch it on the map. The White Mountains looked daunting, but so did the Green Mountains which I haven’t heard people talk about. Maine looked gloriously flat. I can’t believe I’m almost halfway. It was a bit surreal to see the map and everything I’ve already hiked.
After the ATC, we went to get sandwiches again at the bagel and pastry shop we went yesterday. Louis got cheesecake to go and mom and I got a lobster tail. Back at the hotel, I worked on my journals and Louis and I sat in the hotel lobby, talking and enjoying each other’s company.
Louis and me at the bagel shop
Day 78, 5/14: Harpers Ferry -> Rocky Run shelter (15.4 miles)
It took a while to pack up and shower, but we finally got the car loaded up before 10:00. We took Louis’s car to Turner’s Gap and mom followed us, taking us back to the parking area where I stopped hiking. The small parking lot was full, and we asked a ranger there if long term parking was allowed. He said we’d get towed here (glad we asked) but long term parking is available at the visitors center.
We drove the steep hill a few miles away to the visitors center, filled out the paperwork, and in the nick of time caught the shuttle. As the shuttle drove down the hill and passed the parking area where I stopped hiking, I asked if we could be let out. The ranger on the bus said they don’t stop at the parking area anymore, and the shuttle only goes to downtown Harpers Ferry. Once we were let off the bus, a mile away from where I stopped hiking 3 days ago, I was slightly conflicted. I could hike back a mile and then another mile forward to officially check off every white blaze, but it was getting late in the day and we had 15.4 miles ahead of us. If I did the 2 miles to and back, that’d be at least another 45 minutes added on. I decided getting my mom and Louis to the shelter before dark was a higher priority.
Louis crossing the bridge
We hiked across a bridge that was full of tourists. The tourists thinned out and turned to bicyclists as we walked a wide path that had the raging river on one side and a small creek completely covered on the surface in algae or some type of plant on the other side. We spotted a snake in the grass and a snake swimming through the water, leaving a trail in the green surface. We saw dozens of turtles and a couple frogs. It was a good day for spotting critters.
Frog on a log
We had a short climb which mom wasn’t a fan of, so we took it slow. The trail leveled out and we made it to the first shelter for lunch. We found 2 girls there, one starting her flip flop hike and one hiking the first week with her. The thru hiker recognized my name from instagram and said she follows me. I felt a bit like a celebrity. We ate hard salami and buffalo milk cheese mom packed out and bananas from breakfast. We continued on, alternating who was leading our little group.
Louis enjoying this hike much more than the last one
We came across a very long black snake on the trail. It wasn’t moving so I gently nudged its tail with my hiking pole, trying to get it to shoo off trail. It reared its head at me, obviously very unhappy with my poking. It eventually slithered away. I love watching snakes move. Their bodies seem to defy gravity.
My mom hiked ahead, and Louis and I hiked together, enjoying spending time with one another. We sang songs and took our time hiking. We came to an overlook and found dark clouds in the distance, but the forecast was had a 0% chance of rain thankfully. After the last terrible rain experience, I’m a little rained out.
Me and my most favorite hiking partner
We caught up to mom and got to the shelter with an hour or so of daylight left. We met a thru hiker Honey Badger hiking with his day hiker friend Mots, and a flip flopper Chick-fil-A hiking with his dad who had been on the trail for 2 days. Honey Badger usually hikes with the big group led by Legs and Darwin, but he took some time off and was behind them. I showed mom how to get water and filter it. She set up her hammock on the top bunk next to Honey Badger and Mots (who she called Honey Bun and Applesauce), and Louis and I set up our pads on the bottom floor. We ate dinner, socialized with the group, and turned it. Louis and I shared an earbud, listening to music as we fell asleep.
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