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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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