What a way to start. Cross the bridge over the Potomac at Harpers Ferry and you are on your adventure. This part of the trail is famous for the four state challenge. You touch PA and head south through Maryland into Harpers Ferry WV finishing with a short hike up the ridge to touch VA. Or reverse the route. Either way, it is very popular with many different types of hikers and it is worth every step.
Pride in the Trail
The Maryland section of the Potomac Appalachian Club takes great care of the trail and the facilities along the trail. The shelters are spectacular and spotless. Thank you to all the shelter maintainers, the ridge runners and the countless volunteers that make Maryland’s section of the AT beautiful. The state residents support an outstanding series of historical parks along the route that are some of the best kept parks I have seen. Some of the bloodiest moments of the American Civil War occurred near the trail, and the monuments to those who lost their lives fighting for what they believed and fighting to keep the country together are kept in reverent and respectful beauty.
The Pen is Mightier Than The Sword
One state park you pass through is Gathland. It is the estate of a Civil War correspondent who made his mark becoming one of the most recognized reporter of the day. The state park that was his estate is now a beautiful memorial to all reporters who put themselves in harms way so that the public can learn the truth about what is really going on in the field. The truthfulness, honesty and integrity which these correspondents reported the news of the time is remembered in the many displays and artifacts that are presented.
The Pivot Point for The Battle of Antietam
As your forge Antietam Creek, and fill you water bottles while hiking, you can feel the sacrifice of the Americans on both sides of the Civil War whose blood made this stream run red below the place you are crossing on the bloodiest day in American history. You can’t help but be overwhelmed by the sense of responsibility we now have to make sure the democracy for which they died remains strong and secure. The hike passes many Civil War stories and plaques that bring out the details of the days surrounding that battle and the battles that raged in the areas throughout that era of time. Even though the events occurred many generations ago, the fragile nature of our precious form of government comes to mind and as you walk. Thoughts of how we owe it to these hero’s and the hero’s of our other conflicts since then to work hard to understand our differences and keep the honesty and integrity in all our communications so that rational decisions can be made to maybe avoid this type of sacrifice again in our history.
The Original Washington Monument
Maryland is home to the original tribute to our Founding Father and first President. The structure was built by a community effort many years before the current DC monument had its long construction history as the center point of the cross that makes up the National Mall.
Pen Mar and the First Resupply
As you complete marvelous Maryland having stopped at the vista of the High Rocks or taking in the American history , you end up at the state line where a couple of beautiful parks greet you on your journey. The streams run clean and the facilities are a wonderful and welcoming site for the hikers on their treks. One nice surprise, about halfway through the 40 miles of trail in the state is Dalhgren Campground. As I passed by, I didn’t think much of it, but I spotted a building and figured I’d stop for a bathroom break. Well, I opened the door, and there were free showers with stocked soap and a 110 VAC outlet. I stripped immediately and jumped in. While drying in the sun, I recharged my power pack for the phone and all was once again good. Things get real simple out on the trail and your appreciation of water, shower, power and American history all become forefront in your mind.
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