Day 85 – 6.7 miles to Harpers Ferry at 1022.5

Finally reached the spiritual halfway point of the AT: the headquarters of the ATC in Harpers Ferry.

With only a few miles between camp and Harpers Ferry (the apostrophe seems to have been lost at some point in time) I tried to sleep in and take my time getting ready but was still on trail around 7:30am. It was a bit cooler than the last few days and the trail started off nice and easy so it was a gentle way to begin. I passed two identical tortoises within a half mile of each other, perhaps racing?

The guidebook says we first left Virginia and entered West Virginia at 1005.7 though there was no sign, and since then we’ve been crisscrossing the border. Now at 1020.7 we have committed to West Virginia so it’s goodbye to the longest state on the AT. We’ve been in Virginia for 555 miles which I think is plenty.

A few miles from town the trail got rocky and I slowed down to reduce the battering to my feet.

Soon enough I was crossing the Shenandoah River Bridge and the river was sparkling in the early morning sun.

And then into Harpers Ferry, a very small touristy town.

It has very little in the way of hiker services but is the site of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters, the umbrella organisation that manages the AT.

It has long been a traditional rite of passage for the ATC to photograph, document and archive all hikers intending to complete the whole trail, whether in one thru-hike or in sections. You can look up the records of hikers from decades past and I was looking forward to joining their ranks. Perhaps I should have let the hiking sweat dry off first! The blue “205″ means I am the 205th section hiker this year. Am a bit sad to be in blue.

Since the ATC wifi wasn’t working I headed straight to my motel, the Econo Lodge, and luckily they got me straight into my room despite it being only about 11am. I could get straight on with laundry and showering and enjoy the air conditioning! I called Half App shuttles and Rhonda came to pick me up. Rhonda is half Cherokee and hiked the whole trail when she was 17 which is 41 years ago, killing her food as she went. She drove me to Walmart instead which is how we roll in 2016. It is about 7 miles out of town and it was good to get resupply out of the way early to as with Memorial Day tomorrow my options for transport and shopping will be limited.

I have to stay here through Tuesday because I have a new trekking pole and a summer weight hiking shirt waiting for me at the Post Office. That was a mistake because the ATC holds packages 7 days a week. I’m not complaining about a day off though!

In the afternoon I had a wander around downtown and marvelled at all the hot tourists lining up for ice cream, and had a nice chat with the General Store-cum-outfitter chap but was happy to return back to the restful and cool room to consume pizza and chocolate milk for dinner and watch TV. En route one of my trouser pocket zippers broke which is the one that holds my phone so is important. I checked videos on YouTube and the motel manager went out to his car and got me the tools I needed to fix it. I got it working again – joy – and gave it one final squeeze with the pliers for luck, only for the whole zipper to fall apart in pieces. Sadness. Will have to rearrange how I carry things and try to get it fixed in the future.

5 thoughts on “Day 85 – 6.7 miles to Harpers Ferry at 1022.5

  1. Congrats on making the spiritual half-way amigo.

    I think the photo showing the trekking sweat is quite apt really. And 205 is a pleasing number, even if it is in blue.

    Enjoy the rest :)

  2. Yippee for reaching the spiritual halfway point! I’m proud of you, such an inspiration. You’ve definitely earned that pizza and choc milk! Will have a celebratory champagne waiting for you at home :) x

  3. Hi Sparky!

    As you are from the U.K., I am wondering how you are finding the cultural differences, specifically with regard to radio and television. I live in Canada, but find I enjoy a lot of British TV shows that are quite different from American ones. Examples are, gardening (Gardener’s World, Life in a Cottage Garden), mysteries (Agatha Christie, Sherlock Holmes, Inspector Morse, etc.), period dramas (Downton Abbey, Poldark, Mr. Selfridge, etc.), comedies (Jeeves and Wooster, Keeping Up Appearances, Doc Martin, etc.)

    Do you find yourself longing for the programs you enjoy at home? What about sports? Many Brits and Europeans live and die with their football (soccer) teams, but you would be hard pressed to find any matches on regular American TV.

    Wishing you an adventurous hike,

    Canada Goose

    1. Hi there, thanks for the questions. I don’t miss regular TV at all perhaps because life on trail is so busy and fulfilling. Back home I tend to watch whole series “on demand” rather than watching anything week to week. Nowadays you can catch up on anything later. I’m not a soccer fan any more and the NFL doesn’t start until I’m done this year!

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