Tagged: harpers ferry

Through Harpers Ferry


Gathland Park

This section of the trail is steeped in Civil War history.  I am approaching the Mason Dixon line so many battles were waged in this area.  As you walk through the woods you see remains of rock walls and even foundations for houses that were erected many years ago.  Some highlights of the area are Sky Meadows State Park, Gathland State Park, Harpers Ferry downtown area.

After a long and enjoyable time off the trail with family back in VA I ventured back and found the first day to be a struggle emotionally as I was just coming from a period where I was surrounded by loved ones in a comfortable and enjoyable environment and heading down the trail into unknown and unforgiving territory.  The day started out very dull and the first night I wound up staying at the Rod Hollow shelter just to experience the comforts and comraderie of a known entity and fellow hikers.  It wound up being just me and an older man for the first part of the evening and then a whole group headed in headlined by the girl with the shaved head 3-hats, A-Game, the hippy couple and others and the shelter was livened up a bit.  The whole night things were falling from the trees and I even flinched a few times as these tents are basically paper thin and anything that wanted to come crashing through from above pretty much could.  The falling objects wound up being walnuts I believe.

The next morning I was the last one to leave so I had the place to myself and I hovered by the spring as this was a spectacular water source and took the time to mix up a Carnation instant breakfast with some Nido instant milk and I even wrapped up my shin with an ace bandage just to prevent further injury to my overworked shin.  From here I still had stopping on my mind until I found a campsite by a river.  I paused for a bit and soaked in my surroundings as it was a wide open space with leaves and twigs covering the ground.  It was a very relaxing spot and caused me to focus on these special places and to not focus on negative aspects of the journey.  Over the course of the day my dog Brodie wound up chasing down and injuring a Chipmunk, chasing a fox that was about the same size as he, and forcing a turkey into flight and thus abandoning a pack of baby turkey’s that she was tending to.  It was a very active wildlife day and it would have been much more active had I not been able to discourage Brodie from attacking these poor little turkey babies as he was eyeing them with much consideration. 

Set up camp at a spring just before the West Virginia line and found yet another promising spring with fast rushing water just below the site.  Yet another great campsite and one that I set out to find each and every day.  That night brought a violent but brief storm with high winds that had Brodie a little perturbed. 

Moved along the Harpers Ferry the next day.  Ran into my old buddy Spark Plug who wound up coming into the ACT headquarters just before me acquiring hiker number 479 to my 480 as their official tally for northbounders continued.  The area around Harpers Ferry is nothing special but you can imagine the history involved in its formation.  The raiders must have hovered in the very same woods and soldiers must have passed along our very same route but of course this is not documented.  All you are left with is the big items such as John Brown’s fort and a rock overlooking the merging of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers that provided Thomas Jefferson with inspiration.  I was stopped many times by tourists through Harpers Ferry who eagerly awaited my responses to common questions that thru-hikers receive any time they mix with regular society such as what do you eat and where do you sleep and what do you do if it rains.  It was a nice little village and I was in no rush to anywhere so I entertained each and every group that engaged me in conversation as I stood out from the crowd with my 40lb pack and hiking dog.

Wound up at Gathland State Park that night just ahead of storms.  I made a beeline for the vending maching but cringed at the $1.75 price tag associated with a 20 oz soda.  I could not pass it up but I was not going to get more than one.  I than headed to the pavilion at the center of the park complex where I met two hikers who were out for a few days and heading southbound the next day to meet their significant others.  It was an older guy and his daughters boyfriend.  I asked them about camping possibilities and they mentioned that they were going to try to weather the storm under the pavilion by sleeping on the picnic tables.  I had not gone this route the entire time out there so I was intrigued by this as you would not need to set up your tent and thus have to pack it up wet and you were not confined by a shelter.  The storm didn’t wind up coming until about 3am and by that time we had seen much comings and goings in the parking lot in the form of hikers being dropped off, families gathering, and cars being left for day hikes.  We even saw a seemingly normal family get out of their van at around 2:30am, stumble over the mauseleum on the gounds, go through the memorial which they referred to as the ‘Gates of Hell’ and climb down the hill a ways.  The older guy in the pavilion mentioned that the Blair Witch project was filmed in a neighboring town so their focus on the afterlife may have had something to do with this late night diversion but I am figuring that they were monitoring their iphone for the pending storm and saw that it was heading our way and they cut their camping night short and made a beeline back to comfortable environs.  Gathland was a very nice park and by this time I have a renewed vigor for the AT.  I have still yet to hear a good thing about Pennsylvania so this may all change in the coming days.  I am looking forward to eating an entire half-gallon of ice cream at the half-way point but I am wondering if this and the Delaware Water Gap can provide enough motivation to trudge through the unforgiving rocky terrain of the state.




This section of the trail is steeped in Civil War history.