Yes, Virginia, There Is an End to You
After a week off in Myrtle Beach, I rejoined the Snail Brethren and hiked out of Front Royal. I have to admit that after a week of not doing much, the hike seemed harder. It did not help that we had a pretty long uphill and it was very hot. The little black flies and mosquitoes also did not make the hiking any easier. Throughout the hike we heard thunder and saw lightning but the storm simply bounced around us without any rain until the end. The first shelter we hit had a solar shower but we did not partake.
At the end of the day, we had to cross railroad tracks but there was a train blocking the way and it was not going anywhere. So what do hikers do when they confront a downed tree, large muddy puddles? We go around it.
One of the things that I like about hiking the AT is the different landscapes we see. For instance, in one day we went through an extremely narrow path with thick shrubs and trees surrounding us. It felt extremely claustrophobic since we could not see anything. Then, suddenly, we were in meadows where we could see for miles around us. We can scramble up rocks, then the next thing we are walking on pine needles. Some days we hike in fog or clouds then the next day it is bright and sunny. Never a dull moment.
Roller Coaster #%#@##
I am not sure why they thought this was a good idea. You go up and down 13 mountains in 13.5 miles just to end up at the same elevation. So not only do they do this, the trail is littered with rocks, and they move. And to make matters worse, since we have had so much rain, the trail turns into a creek and muddy. I would like to meet that trail boss in a dark alley one day.
I passed the 1,000-mile mark in the Roller Coaster. Not sure exactly where since there were three different markers.
Right after the Roller Coaster, we encountered my first timber rattlesnake. It was huge. It did not seem very interested in moving so we decided it would be best to bushwhack around him. So far Yankee has simply stepped over the other snakes we have seen (nonpoisonous).
The End of Virginia
After the Roller Coaster, the Snail Brethren and I were getting close to West Virginia. I decided to hike an extra five miles into Harpers Ferry while they took a shuttle back. I knew that they would eventually have to go back to Virginia to finish the 55 miles they had skipped so I wanted to see if I could do the 12 miles. I was running against the clock since the Appalachian Trail Conservancy closes at 5 p.m. This is where the unofficial halfway point is and where the hikers get their picture taken. I wanted mine on the day I arrived in Harpers Ferry, not the next day. I made it with ten minutes to spare. The descent into the town was not the easiest due to some big boulders I had to navigate. Yankee never seems to have a problem with the downs.
Not much to say about this state since it is only about 17 miles long, although you walk in and out of it. It is beautiful since it meanders throughout Harpers Ferry and you pass by several old buildings and the town has a lot of history.
Start of Maryland
The trail crosses into Maryland along a long pedestrian bridge, then ambles along the Potomac River on the C&O Canal path for three miles (yay, it was all flat). The path was pretty muddy and we were surrounded by water. A few days prior to our hiking that bridge, it had been closed due to the river being so high, it was deemed unsafe. Two days after we crossed it, it again closed due to flooding. We were lucky we did not have to take a detour.
The Rest of Maryland
I was going to do a separate blog for Maryland but there is not much to say about it. It is 40 miles long. The first monument erected for Washington is right by the trail. You pass the Mason-Dixon line into Pennsylvania. And, of course, more mud.
I have pictures of the Washington monument as well as the Mason-Dixon line, but somehow my phone will not give up those pictures.
Ahead to the rocks of Pennsylvania.
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