Made it to Harpers Ferry and no more blues! (1023 Miles)


View from the office today!

After 15 straight days averaging 18 to 20 miles I made it to Harpers Ferry, WV as hoped, to celebrate my birthday. What better place than the unofficial halfway point of the AT.  Spirits are high,  with a view like the one above how couldn’t they be, and I’m eager to experience the second half of this journey!

Tomorrow I will be attempting the 3 state challenge, slightly modified from the 4 state challenge that many thru hikers attempt.   I’ll be starting out at 5 am or so and will attempt to hike the entire state of Maryland in 24 hours, starting in WV and ending in PA.  Most hikers who try this start at the VA /WV border, which is 3 miles south of Harper’s Ferry and travel through 4 states, but going back to Virginia anytime soon is not on my to do list… So the modified 3 state challenge is approximately 40 miles. Scott Jurek, the ultra runner who is attempting to break the AT speed record, breezed through it a few days ago so it shouldn’t be to difficult,  right?

The Virginia blues just like my time in the state have thankfully come and gone. As soon as I stepped into the Shenandoah National Park last week things began to improve.   Here’s a quick rundown of my first days in the park and why the AT has been such an enjoyable experience.


Got a ride to the trail in the morning from “Miss Lady” a wonderful trail angel from Waynesboro, VA.  Miss Lady spends her time shuttling hikers at her own expense and had actually hit a deer the day prior but with everyone ok except for the deer, she was right back at it shuttling hikers the next day. The town of Waynesboro is unique in that a list of twenty or so similar trail angels and their contact info is posted were the AT nears town.  It is so impressive to see that so many people would help out us smelly hikers and ask for nothing in return.

After a leisurely hike through the Shenandoah’s where it seemed as if the flies and gnats were not allowed (helps when you take a shower), I ended my day at a shelter where there was a posting for trail magic at the nearby campground the following morning. Talk about motivation to get your day started!


I got up around 6am and hit the trail shortly after hiking as fast as possible thinking of the upcoming feast.  The trail magic did not disappoint,  a family was putting on a feast for hikers and provided dinner and breakfast to help out us hungry hikers. It was a great experience again thanks to the generosity of people whom I didn’t even know. The community of people that supports the AT is truly amazing.  Besides the trail magic the terrain proved to be again very easy as I was able to cruise through the park.


Again I hit the trail early as I’ve come to enjoy the morning woods and cooler temps. As it neared lunch time I was focused on the remaining 5 miles I had left prior to the next wayside/restaurant near the trail. Shortly after I came across a parking lot near the trail and was greeted but a woman and her grandson.   They were all set up with a trail magic feast and had not had any customers yet so I had to stop in.  While I didn’t need any more food as I was planning to stop at the restaurant,  I stopped for a brake and to thank these nice trail angels.  “Just Sue” and her grandson had been doing trail magic throughout the summer as they had heard about the experience from a past PCT hiker.

I left the trail magic with a full stomach and feeling great after meeting these kind people.  It is so hard to describe how thankful we hikers are for people who take time out of their day and their own money to feed us and brighten our day.  I always leave these experiences thinking I’ve done nothing to deserve free food as I’m just out here for my own reasons, but I’m so happy to meet great people and share their kindness towards others.

It’s experiences like these that have really helped out at the most needed time and provided motivation on tough days.

Few pictures from the last two weeks:


Early morning Shenandoah’s


Afternoon storm rolling in


Just a friendly rattlesnake looking for hikers to feast on…. I HATE SNAKES…

2015-06-22 18.17.54

The “Russian Jumper” who prefers to climb bear poles to hang his food than to use the handy pole.


1000 mile marker, pretty happy to have made it this far!


I thought this day would never arrive…what a great feeling.


Early morning Shenandoah River crossing.


The sight of John Brown’s raid, which led to the start of the civil war.


Harpers Ferry one more time, sad to leave this place but ready to take on Maryland!

Next update from Pennsylvania if all goes well.






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Comments 1

  • Barb : Jun 23rd

    Jesse – We are really enjoying your posts. Love seeing you forge into the unknown. Your photos are lovely and might even inspire your old aunt and uncle to dust off their hiking shoes and try a bit of the AT ourselves. With all the help from trail supporters it sounds like we might be able to manage some of it. The thing I hate is carrying a lot of weight on my back. Otherwise I love hiking distances.

    Thought how your Grandpa would be proud of you. Maybe when your Dad retires you can get him to join you for the PCT – though he might slow you down too much?

    You are a great writer in the Smith tradition.

    We are with you in spirit,
    (Aunt) Barb


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