Harper’s Ferry 

Psychological halfway point. That’s what they call Harpers Ferry at 1023 miles. Several firsts occurred here. I got my first care package, a Mother’s Day present from my son and daughter-in-law. Everything I asked for : a new phone charger, dirty girl gaiters, repair tape to fix the rip in my pack suffered on Dragon’s tooth, and dark chocolate. You don’t need much and can’t carry much on the trail.   I had the first visit from a family member or friend. My husband is working in DC and was able to come out to Harpers Ferry to spend an afternoon and stay overnight. Also, my boss lives outside of DC and might be able to come for a visit in a few days (farther up the trail of course), he’s out of town for vacation currently. I found a geocache here in West Virginia today with two trackables. Alas, one is missing the frog it was originally attached to. So I may mail it to my friend L for repairs. Tomorrow I’ll be in Maryland. 

Boomer scores a treat. We stopped at the outfitters for fuel and miscellaneous. The clerk gave Boomer a bag of dog treats and asked if she could take a picture with him. I said of course. So she tapped on the counter while holding his dog treats because she thought it was cute to photograph him with his paws on the counter. But, being a border collie, he took that as a signal to jump up and sit right on the counter. 

Final bear tally for Shenandoah National Park was 11. All normal bears, who either just glanced at us and/or ambled away. I also got to attend a ranger presentation about the bears of Shenandoah, by serendipitously arriving at a wayside as he was setting up his display. Ranger Weinheimer says he doesn’t think he’s related to the family by the same name in my hometown of Marcellus. I learned that there are an average of two bears per square mile in the park, for a total of 400 to 600 bears. One of the other hikers reported seeing a mother bear with two cubs, one much larger than the other. So he wondered whether one was last year’s and one was this year’s. It turned out that the cubs were the same age, but the smaller one had a jaw deformity that limited its ability to eat. I also learned a little bit about the hormone leptin and its role in preventing the bears from breaking down protein while hibernating. And how it affects their stool, making it look like new born baby stool, meconium. 

Aches and pains. It seems like as soon as one thing feels up, I managed to get some new injury. Somehow I pulled a muscle right where my ribs connect to my sternum. That’s one of the reasons I took a zero day in Harpers Ferry. I am very glad for the invention of ibuprofen and Aspercreme. As well as KT tape which seems to have almost eliminated a pain I had along the lateral border of my right foot. And gel heel cups which have definitely helped a planter fasciitis sort of pain on my left foot. And Vaseline for preventing toe blisters. And moleskin for protecting my clavicles from my backpack straps, at least until I get a chance to try one of the ideas suggested by readers of my previous blog post. At any rate, all those aches and pains make a good excuse for being slow. I am the 517th hiker to get their picture taken at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy  this year. 

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