Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Day 76- We're Halfway There, Woah Living On A Prayer

June 16, 2015
Bears Den Hostel(1002.9) to Harpers Ferry, WV(1022.8) 19.9 Miles

Wow, I can't believe I have walked 1,022.8 miles to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. When I was planning this trip, I was very doubtful that I would make it that far. It seemed like a pipe dream, but now look at me. After the first week on the trail I was pretty sure I would make it this far and now I have no doubt that I will finish. I've seen and experienced so many amazing things and the best is yet to come!!!

Since I stayed at the hostel last night, I was able to get going much faster this morning. All I had to do was get dressed and eat breakfast. Just Doug, cooked mulberry pancakes for everyone, they were really good. I was on my way by 6:45. 
Bunk room at Bears Den
Thru-Hiker sign in

As soon as I left the Bears Den, I was greeted by a nice view into the valley.
View from Bears Den Rocks

I should probably note that I woke up in a bad mood this morning. There were several different factors to my mood, but one was that I woke up to a message on my phone telling me that the Lightning lost to the Blackhawks for the Stanley Cup. I also didn't sleep very well thanks to another hiker being up late talking loudly, then up early still talking loudly. As a result, my first few miles of hiking were fueled by rage instead of pancake sugaryness. I was listening to my ipod and having a pity party for myself when The Beatles, "Let It Be" came on. I decided to "Let It Go", and laughed at how I went from Sith Lord Yoda, back to Jedi Master Yoda thanks to The Beatles and Elsa. In real life, I would stew over the smallest perceived slight for days. I'm glad that I'm learning how to shake things off. I would rather be happy and go lucky(terms that never would be used to describe me) than grouchy and irritable all the time. This change of attitude came about in an incredible enchanted-looking forest. 

I had just finished up the last 5 miles of the roller coaster and played frogger crossing a very busy road, it was a nice change of scenery to enter the cool enchanted forest. 
VA 7 took me 5 minutes to get across

In my rage-filled stupor, I lost sight of the days end goal, Harpers Ferry. Harpers Ferry is the symbolic and psychological halfway point of the AT because the ATC headquarters is located there. The ATC's(Appalachian Trail Conservacy) mission is to preserve and manage the AT. It is 100% volunteer based, one of the largest volunteer based organizations in the country. The headquarters is especially hiker friendly. They have a hiker lounge inside the Visitors center, where they have a fully stocked fridge with sodas, gatorades, coffee drinks, and juices. They also have a computer for internet access and a phone with free long distance(a sign encourages hikers to call home). The coolest part of the experience is the thru-hiker database. When you attempt a thru-hike you sign in at the beginning, middle, and end. Only 50% of hikers sign in at Amicalola Falls State Park. I signed in as hiker number 932. At the ATC headquarters you sign in again and they take your picture. I was hiker number 633 to sign in this season. No matter what happens next for me in this hike, I will forever be a part of the record books and that is pretty cool. The ATC records go back over 70 years. I was able to see a lot of the hikers I know and to put faces with names of all the others that I haven't met. There was a troop of Girl Scouts visiting when I was there and one of the ATC volunteers asked me to speak with them. It was a neat experience and hopefully when one of those girls grows up she will remember the AT and decide to hike it(like I did). 
Outro and I at the ATC headquarters

The other big news from the day was I finally said goodbye to Virginia. We were in Virginia for over a quarter of the trail, 551 miles. I was super excited to have that behind me. After my zero day, I will pass through two more states. From now on I will pass through states fairly quickly. 
Peace out VA

In my new zen frame of mind, I hiked 19.9 miles in 7 hours. I was exhausted but exhilarated when I arrived in Harpers Ferry. I crossed over the Shenandoah River on US 340. 
Shenandoah River

On my way to the ATC I passed by several historical points, including the site where John Brown was murdered. 

I am looking forward to doing a little more sightseeing on Thursday before I hike out. I visited Harpers Ferry as a kid on a field trip, but I don't remember a lot of it. 
The next state after West Virgina(only 4 miles) is Maryland. The Maryland section is only 40.9 miles long. I could theoretically walk across VA, WV, MD, and into PA all in one day. Doing so is called the 4 state challenge. I'm not sure I'm crazy enough to attempt it, but I am considering giving it a go. 

Airlock, Outro, and I were picked up by Gary in Harpers Ferry. We went to a great pizza restaurant in Leesburg called Fireworks. The pizza was amazing and the beer list was impressive. We will zero at Airlock's house tomorrow. I will be back in the trail Thursday, Outro will be off until she meets up with her dad on June 20th, and Airlock is taking off until Saturday or Sunday. I guess we will all be going our separate ways, but the trail works in mysterious ways so I hope we see each other again. 

"A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles." -Tim Cahill 


  1. "Happy and go lucky"! What a journey of mind, body, and spirit. Travel on.

  2. I'm glad you are learning that rage, grumpy and irritable Doesn't get you very far!! The walk is doing you good.
    Pretty little forest setting but not the highway.
    I thought Airlock was going to be gone for a week on vacation. I was hoping Outro was going to join you. I do think it would be better to have someone to share with and safety in numbers. Keep going forward, we like reading your journal!!
    You have done so well with your personal desire to challenge yourself. We are very proud of the way you have tackled this.
    I'm reading A Walk in the Woods(started today) and enjoying the history of AT and learning about Forestery service. It is funny, too.
    The miles will eventually end but, not your friendships or accomplishments. You are blossoming along the trail!!LY

  3. I used to always say that walking seemed to bring harmony and balance to my mind, body, and spirit. I would imagine a walk of that magnitude ought to solidify that balance for a long time. It doesn't seem like you've been gone long enough to cover that many miles, but congratulations to you for making it that far. That is such an accomplishment. I have no doubt you will make it to the end. I love the picture of the enchanted forest. 👍

  4. Keep going Katie. Im reading "A Walk in tbe Woods" too:) Youre right to let things go! One of my senior co-workers told me when he retired "DONT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF CUZ ITS ALL SMALL STUFF" Be safe out there!!

  5. Congrats on making it to Harpers Ferry! I've been off the grid for a few weeks and now enjoying catching back up on your blog. My boys and I actually spent last week at Loft Mountain Campground in SNP. Looks like we got there the day after you went through. We had lots of fun day hiking along the AT and side trails. We also got to do some Trail Magic as our campsite was just yards from the AT. We met Lucky, Lolly, Hail Storm, Songbird and her Dad who was hiking some of the trail with her. Also saw my first black bear when it ran right down the trail into our camp. Luckily we had just packed everything in the bear box in preparation for going on a hike and he eventually moved on. Can't wait to read the rest of your adventure!

  6. Congratulations on the psychological halfway point of the AT Soon you will be facing the half gallon challenge..Will you do it? Glad your learning to shake things off instead of carrying it with you. Much healthier for mentally and physically for up. Looks like once again you and Airlock will be parting ways...seems harder for the readers than for the hikers but after all you have to hike your hike. So with that Hike On!!

  7. I was so excited to read that you made it to Harpers Ferry. There is no stopping you from reaching your goal of Katahdin or any other goal you set for yourself in life. I loved the enchanted forest picture. Amazing.
    Yoda, may the forest be with you.
    Huge congrats!!!