Day 70. I made my way back to Harpers Ferry at 11am and officially checked in the ATC for my photo. The ATC is the organization that formally tracks the member numbers each year, even though its collected voluntarily. They are the unofficial agency overseeing the trail which provides support, education, and resources to the AT community of hikers. This building acts as their headquarters and trail museum, with tons of great resources for current and aspiring hikers. I respect what they do for this trail, so I gave them an appropriate pose for my photo.
When I started in Amicalola Falls, I registered with the ATC staff there, receiving my orange 2018 badge and hiker number. I was Northbound hiker #436 when I started March 1st, but when I checked in with them today, I was #137. And that’s after waiting two days to get back here, since it wasn’t open when I rolled in on May 7th ( I would have been #130). Retention rates say 25% of thruhikers are still hiking at this point, and that number differential is right in line … though it is also influenced by my speed of late.
I spent an hour hiking from the ATC to old town Harpers Ferry and touring the old historic city. It truly is an incredible place to visit, as it is overflowing with Civil War landmarks and battle stories. The AT and hiker community is a smaller subset of the culture in town, but it was still prominent. Many tourists stopped to ask me questions and chat about my trip. There is also a very small outfitter with good supplies and gear to peruse. Also, small restaurants galore. Spending a day here would be a fantastic time in the future. Fortunately, I’m moving to Virginia in a few months so I’m sure to come back.
The first few miles of the hike today were along the Potomac River on a wonderfully paved road. You cross the river immediately upon departing Harpers Ferry, marking entry to Maryland and my 6th state. Many hikers, bikers, and walkers strolled the path and we all enjoyed a beautiful sunny afternoon together. The trail was covered in bright green leaves and looked breathtaking. I snapped a photo (above), which is darn near frame-worthy if I do say so myself. In addition, giant turtles line the stagnant pond that paralleled the river walk. I tried to get a close enough picture to see them too, but it isn’t great. There are at least 6 sunbathing on that log below.
After that, I briefly hiked through Gathland State Park, with it’s monuments and civil war era building relics. It’s small, but provided a short and nice break before climbing up 1000 feet for the next 2 miles. It was great hiking though – the “Green Tunnel” nickname of the Appalachian Trail finally started to make sense as I hiked under a canopy of lush oak and other large trees. It shaded the sun and made for a pleasant afternoon.
I passed the first couple shelters and eventually stopped at Rocky Run Shelter at half past five. This shelter is actually 2, as the original one has been superseded by a brand new replacement closer to the trail. It’s isn’t anything special, but it’s shiny, new, clean, and comfortable. I had dinner and setup camp for an early turn-in.
I was up too late last night contemplating, organizing, and reviewing my gear for this 2nd half hike, so I’m exhausted. But it appears to be worth it, as the changes already are paying dividends (e.g. shoes, poles, filter/flask). Allenberry is only 82 miles away and I’d like to get there by Sunday for my next milestone, so the next week looks pretty nice. Besides the thunderstorms expected tomorrow. Woot!
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1024.8
- Start Time: 12:00
- End Mile: 1040.2
- End Time: 17:30
- Miles Hiked: 15.4
- Miles to Go: 1150.7
- Lodging: Rocky Run Shelter