Ever Wonder What Its Like To Live In A Trail Town?
One thing that caught my attention about the Appalachian Trail, before I hiked it, was the talk of the amazing people that you meet up with along the way. Stories of lifelong friendships being born, and recaptured. One thing I don’t hear as much, is about the towns of the trail. How people leave behind a life, and find a new one in a different place through the trail.
This is something that happened to me. When I came to Harpers Ferry my first time, it seemed small. It seemed to be a hub for the trail. But thanks to the connections I had made while hiking, I knew that there was much more to it.
As I began my work in town I met many people that are close to the trail, and it seems they have nothing but love for it. The people here absolutely love hikers, and welcome them with open arms. At the hostel in town, Cross Trails, people come and go all through the winter months: cold weather hikers, and just travelers. One of my favorite things is hearing all the unique stories.
Aside from the hiking, trail towns need other ways to support themselves when there are no hikers coming through. When I was on the Pacific Crest Trail at Cascade Locks, it seemed parasailing was a big business. Back here at home in Harpers Ferry, however, rafting is a big business. It’s always interesting to me seeing how different towns have unique ways of supporting themselves based on their location.
Harpers Ferry seems to be a hub for hikers just as much as locals. I can name at least 15 people off the top of my head that moved here after finishing a thru hike. Because of this, it has helped me a lot with post trail depression, being around people with similar experiences and people that care about what you do helps so much. I personally think that keeping your connections from trail and making the trail part of your everyday life can nearly eliminate the loneliness of being post-thru hike.
As far as trail towns go, Harpers Ferry is one with lots of interesting history outside of the trail, being a battleground for the civil war and so close to major towns like D.C., Hagerstown, and Winchester. In my opinion we should all (including me) take the time to look into these towns more, and how we help them. Just as they do for us.
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