Mile 1019.0 – Harper's Ferry, WV

DSC01195Alright, a new state. Virginia was something over 500 miles. I’m not sure the correct mileage and am too tired to look it up. West Virginia has a total of like 4 miles. And Maryland coming up has only 40.
I hiked the last section from Luray to Harper’s Ferry with Jeremiah. I just heard from Shaman that she is still in Luray letting her leg heal up from the canoeing injury. I guess the cut got infected and she’s now on antibiotics. I wish her well and hope that she’ll catch up. She may catch up to Jeremiah soon as he plans on spending a few days with a Marine friend in Fairfax VA. Jeremiah himself was in the Marines for 5 year’s and was medically retired after suffering a detached retina. His story is very similar to another hiker I’ve met named Shady who was an Army Ranger and lost sight in one eye after getting shot in Afghanistan. In fact, there is a whole group of hikers out on the trail this year called the “Wounded Warriors” who are hiking to reduce PTSD. Neither Jeremiah nor Shady are part of this group. In addition to these U.S. service members I’ve been hiking with Fidget who was in the British Army working on avionics. Fidget is the only foreign girl I’ve met on the trail. There are a few British guys, a bunch of German guys, and I’ve met an Estonian.
Having aquablazed for miles I missed much of the Shenandoah National Park. I’m told that I didn’t miss much as there were long sections unmaintained with high grasses. In fact, in that area “Dr. House” got bit by a tick and infected wtih Lyme Disease. He had the antibiotics on hand; after all he is Dr. House. I assume he got the trailname as he looks like the guy on tv. I’ve never seen the show myself, but know the actor, Hugh Laurie, from his comedy sketches on the BBC. So, anyways, I jumped back to the trail towards the end of the Shenandoahs and saw a massive amount of wildlife. In the first day I saw my first ever rattlesnake on the trail. Soon after I saw a bear for the first time. I only saw the back of it’s head while it was running away, but heard from others that it was a sow with 2 cubs. I didn’t get the best view of the bear, but I did get a Blackberry Milkshake from the wayside on Skyline drive and was a happy hiker for a bit despite the heat and humidity. Over the last section I was 4 or 5 days without a shower and felt disgusting. One night I could hardly sleep in my greasy clothes and so got to a hostel to do laundry the next day.
Yesterday was an excellent day. I started out hiking the “roller coaster” – a 13 mile stretch with quick up and downs alternatively. After a short break at the Bear’s Den hostel I made it to the Horseshoe Cafe and had a big lunch. Then I got back on the trail to make it to a free PATC (Potomac Appalachian Trail Club) hostel, but I heard from another hiker that it was full with a scouting group. So I pushed on to the David Lesser shelter and found one of the nicest shelter’s on the trail. I stayed there with just 3 others. The crowd has really thinned out. I think a lot of hikers have quit by this point. Historically less than a third make it this far. I guess they aren’t quite as stubborn as I am. Just after the Horseshoe cafe I made it 1000 miles. Now, at 1019 in Harper’s Ferry, I’m at the psychological half-way point. The actual halfway point is some 60 miles down the trail into Pennsylvania. If I quit here I would have only given what my dad always calls a “half-ass effort.” As I kid I’d always jokingly retort that I’d try harder and give a “full-ass effort.” It will take all that and more to get to Maine.
I’m staying at the Teahorse hostel here in Harper’s Ferry, population 318. It’s amazing that such a historically significant city is so small, but the hills here make it difficult to build much.
I just ate (and drank) a large quantity down in the town and got 3 packages from the PO. (1 from myself, 1 from my mom, and 1 from my friend Lydia). I’m fully resupplied for now and expect to make it to Waynesboro PA with the supply I have. (not be confused with the other trail town – Waynesboro VA)
The trail has been much flatter (other than the roller-coaster) than other areas. I almost feel slow hiking “just” 20 miles a day, considering that a good effort could do 30 a day. But at this point I only need 13 mile days to complete on time. Really I should slow down entirely, but I want to give myself more time in the Whites in Vermont.
Just after I got to Harper’s Ferry and visited the AT Headquarters I ran into Newton and his wife. I was very sad to hear that he has to go off trail for a few days to go to his brothers funeral. His brother, Don, crashed a medical helicopter in Northern Ontario and died a few days ago. He leaves a wife and 3 kids. I’ve hiked on and off with Newton for the past month or two and will really miss seeing him on the trail. He is quite fast though and I expect him to catch up. I will be praying for his family.
Lots of others things have happened, but I’m too exhausted to recount them all. I’ll add some pictures if the computer cooperates! – BANZAI!!!!