Coasting Through States

I crossed the Mason Dixon Line after some memorable last days in PA. My home state treated me well, but I was ready to take on the South. Maryland seemed to be a continuation of the terrain in PA. Then came the historically significant and beautiful town of Harpers Ferry, WV. Not only was this a milestone of my AT journey, but it was an amazing town to walk through. This section concludes with me riding the “AT Roller Coaster” and making it into Virginia!

The historic Harpers Ferry.

Day 80 (19.8 miles)

Got up around 6:15 am. The rain had stopped but there were thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon. I did my normal routine and headed out. I must have been in a daze this morning, I cant recall much of anything about it. I do remember running into Dirty and hiking with him a bit.

A beautiful morning that I don’t even remember.

A good chunk into my day and I came across the Mason Dixon Line. I was officially out of PA and into Maryland. More importantly, I was in the South! I gave the sign another one of my stern looks. We beat the South once and I plan to do it again.. in a slightly different context.

See you Yankees later!

Maryland welcomed me with a steep rocky climb up to a nice lookout. It was getting towards the end of the day and I could feel the weather beginning to change.

The view from the top of High Rock Ledges.

Just before the shelter I met up with Tick Bite. He was going to push a bit further, but I was happy to be done. The water was a far way down the mountain. I ditched my pack and headed down. Just as I reached the bottom, the storm began to come down on me. I hurried to get my water and run back up the mountain. I grabbed my pack and headed to the shelter. The rain picked up shortly after and I was excited to have stayed nearly dry.

Raven Rock Shelter.

That evening a few other hikers showed up. We talked for a while and made dinner. Hiker midnight came around quick. Good laughs with good people!

Raven Rock Shelter: T1, S3, P3, W3, B2

Total Score: 54

Day 81 (20.6 miles)

Another 6:15 am morning. One of the other hikers, SpongeBob, hung his food underneath his poncho to shelter it from the rain. It looked like a dementor in the ominous haze of the morning. I made good time this morning. The weather was warm but not too humid. The hiking was quite enjoyable; not too many rocks and the terrain was easy. There were some cool war memorials along the way, as well as the original (and less impressive) Washington Monument.

The original Washington Monument.
The stone spiral staircase to the top.
The view from the top, apparently a great place to view birds of prey.

I stopped at a shelter for lunch. There was a guy there who had hiked up to relax in nature. He offered to cook me up some rice and chicken that he had brought with him. I gladly accepted and made a delicious burrito out of it. The afternoon got a bit hot and my body hit a lull. I wanted to go further but the water situation at the further shelter was not trustworthy. I settled for going another 8 or so miles to Old Rocky Run shelter. I took the rest of the day to write and rest. A few other section hikers showed up. One of which loved to talk… not the best when you are trying to concentrate.

Old Rocky Run Shelter: T1, S2, P3, W1, B2

Total Score: 12

Day 82 (25.0 miles)

I left the shelter around 7:30 am and booked it into town. It was a surprisingly chilly morning. My hands were actually cold while hiking! The terrain was easy but I had some pain in my left thigh. It grew progressively worse throughout the morning. At least the trail was pretty, I was surrounded by a dense lush forest.

The green tunnel everyone talks about.

Shortly down the final descent into Harpers Ferry there was a nice overlook.

Possibly some of the mountains for the next day.

I then meandered my way down roughly 1000 ft. in elevation to the bike path along the Potomac River. My thigh was in shooting pain by the time I made it to the bottom. The pain started along my IT band but transitioned to the center of the top of my thigh. Luckily, I have a PT on speed dial! My fiancé, Kara, was able to give me some stretches that helped instantly.

The Potomac River.

After taking a short break to deal with my failing body, I hiked for 2 miles along the river. Eventually it led me to a bridge that crossed over the Potomac and into Harpers Ferry.

A tunnel at an Unknown Location.
Looking back at the Potomac River.

I crossed the bridge and was immediately met with a historic vibe. Beautiful brick buildings and cobblestone (likely not actual cobblestone) paths. The town theme seemed to be around the revolution led by John Brown. I actually know more than I would like to admit about this man. I read a 750 page book about his son, which included a lot about John, called Cloudsplitter. It was a painful read at the age of 16; a trip to Harpers Ferry would have sufficed. Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing the old homes, armory, and overall architecture of the town.

A cannon perfectly aimed at AT hikers.

I made a quick stop at the Town Inn for a resupply. An interesting vibe to say the least, but it was fast. Then to the Rabbit Hole for a great burger and beer.

Better than tuna and ramen!

I concluded my town visit with a trip to the ATC building. A volunteer there took my photo in front of the building. If you are familiar with the AT then this photo may look familiar. It is a tradition amongst thru-hikers to have their photo taken and register at this location. I was SOBO #77 for 2022!

Something I have been looking forward to since Day 1!

I hiked another 9 miles out of town to the Lesser Shelter. The whole “SOBO bubble” was there and it was good to see everyone. I chilled on the porch of the shelter and talked to the other hikers until it was time for bed. Another great night with great people!

Lesser Shelter: T1, S3, P2, W2, B2

Total Score: 24

Day 83 (21.1 miles)

I slept in, a seemingly new theme to my hike. It is hard to wake up early when the sun doesn’t rise until after 6:30 am. I hiked with Mountain Goat for the first few miles of the morning. It was beautiful weather and great terrain. We were cruising miles and soon hit the Northern terminus of the “Roller Coaster”. This talked up mountain amusement park ride consists of roughly 10 peaks and valleys. The elevation gain and loss is somewhere around 5000 ft. respectively. A seemingly humorous sign was placed at the beginning.

The start of the roller coaster.

Down, up, down, up, down, up… that was the name of the game for today. I expected it to be much more difficult for as much as it was talked about. Everyone I talked to seemed to feel the same way. I stopped at the Bears Den Hostel for a lunch break and some water. There was a nice place to sit and eat. After an hour break I made my way back to the trail and immediately got to an overlook.

Bears Den Overlook.

I then finished the 6 remaining whoops of the roller coaster. In doing so I crossed the “less than 1000 miles to Springer sign”.

A rewarding sign.

The trail itself was well kept and easily traveled, but the elevation gain was more than I had done in weeks. I was happy to make it to the other side of the coaster, which included another hiker warning.

The Southern Terminus of the Roller Coaster.

Shortly after the end was the Rod Hollow Shelter. There was supposedly a creepy couple living there… but they were gone when I got there. I settled in and was shortly greeted by Talking Head, another SOBO. He shared some of the pawpaw fruit that he had collected. I had never had it before but the area was loaded with it. It was quite good and I had a couple of them before dinner. The whole SOBO crew soon showed up and we filled the place! The highlight of the night was some large toads hopping around camp.

Rod Hollow Shelter: T1, S3, P3, W2, B4

Total Score: 72

Day 84 (15.2 miles)

Got up at 5 am to get an early start on the day. I really needed my coffee this morning. I tried to be quiet as I gathered my things, mostly everyone else was asleep. My stomach felt a bit off today. I relieved myself in the privy but it did not fix the issue. I began hiking before 6, the trails were even easier today. Beautiful fields were still covered in dew from the night before.

Beautiful fields!

A few miles in and I thought I had to fart. To my surprise the fart was a bit more than I was hoping for. Many former thru-hikers say that you will shit yourself at some point on your hike. I thought that it would never happen to me, yet there I was cleaning out shit covered shorts on the side of the trail. I continued on down the trail and was surprisingly still enjoying myself. The temperature was cool and perfect for hiking. I passed a few other hikers as I neared the parking lot where I would stop for the day.

There was some trail magic at the parking lot with snacks and drinks. I had a little of both before my fiancé, Kara, showed up. I was taking a zero the next day for a birthday party back home. Kara picked me up and we drove to Harpers Ferry for a small afternoon date. She of course brought me some treats for the drive there. We stopped at the ATC building so that I could show her the awesome 3D AT map and the hiker photo album. Afterwards we went downtown for some lunch and a bit of a history walk. The rest of the day was spent driving home and having a delicious dinner with both of our families.. and of course a couple dogs.

Thanks for reading this trail update! It seems crazy that I was in PA just a few days ago… and now I’m in Virginia. I hope you enjoyed hearing about some of my experiences, including the “shitty” ones. Until my next post, remember to keep wandering your own direction!

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Comments 1

  • thetentman : Sep 24th

    Love the ‘Stern’ look. Made my day. Thx. 500 miles of Va coming. Good luck!


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