David Lesser Memorial Shelter(1010.3)-Harpers Ferry (1019.5) West Virginia
Elevation chart courtesy of Guthook’s AT Hiker app. He has apps for many trails including the PCT and CDT.
It rained pretty hard much of the night last night and it was still raining this morning, but I was nice and dry. I slept really well. The tent did well, but there was still the slight splashing that came onto the mesh and little drops would come through. I just propped my sit pad (also the back support of my pack) and trash compactor bag against the mesh so it wasn’t a problem. Nice and dry in the morning! I needed to go through my photos on my camera from the last month since I’d be getting my bounce box today with my laptop and loading my photos from this past section. Since it was raining, I stayed in my tent and did that. Thankfully, the rain stopped by the time I packed up.
I left at 7:20am with 9mi to hike to Harpers Ferry. It was quite foggy, but it cleared after an hour or so. I had plans to meet friends in Harpers for breakfast and it took longer than I expected to get to town because there were some miles of rocky trail that made for slow going.
I came down our of the woods and crossed the Shenandoah River into Harpers Ferry. As I walked over the bridge, the impact of the moment hit me. It was a reminder of how I felt when I walked into Tuolumne Meadows on the PCT. A major milestone was being reached and it’s a significant one. Harpers is said to be the mental halfway point of the AT and it’s the home of the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. I was pretty stoked coming into town!
I didn’t know what to expect for Harpers Ferry as a town and I was really surprised to find out that it is a National Park with a ton of historical significance from the Civil War era. I am going to be taking a zero and my stepmom and family friends will be coming in, so I’m sure we will be doing some touring. Here is the section the trail takes into the quaint downtown area.
When I got to town, I had breakfast with Jan and Dan. They are from my hometown of Carbondale, IL and when my sister and I were in high school, we babysat for their two kids. Jan and Dan are currently riding the popular multi-day bike trail called the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Towpath Trail. In an amazing chance of timing, they are riding through Harpers Ferry the same day I’m hiking in! We had breakfast together and I don’t think I’ve seen them in person since I was in college! It was great to see them and be able to overlap. What a fun coincidence!
From there, I was picked up by 2012 ATer, Shanti, who volunteered to host me for my first night. She took me to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy Headquarters where thru hikers officially sign in and get their picture taken in front of the building to go in the official yearbook of sorts. It was quite the moment! I started off on April 16th at Amicalola Falls and I was hiker #1,195. Now I am #424. I’m in the archives that will forever be at the ATC! It was a great moment!
I was also very happy to finally meet Laurie Potteiger, the Information Services Manager who has worked for the ATC for over 20yrs. I’ve been in communication with her over a couple of things and it’s nice to meet her in person. She even mentioned in Bill Bryson’s book as she was working the desk when he came into the ATC and she answered many of his questions. She has met most of the thru hikers who have come through the doors the last two decades. So cool!
It was quite a day and Shanti took me to her place in Shepherdstown where I was able to shower, get Subway, do laundry, and be spoiled with plenty of food. Shanti was sure to have my favorite trail snacks at her place along with plenty of chocolate milk. For dinner, she even made me a huge cheeseburger. Just a great host. THANK YOU Shanti!!!
I spent the rest of the day loading my 600 pictures into my summary slideshow and catching up on emails and blog stuff. I will do more tomorrow, but I do want to make one note about Harpers Ferry. It DOES NOT have good reception for Verizon. I cannot make phone calls from Shepherdstown and had just one bar going in and out in Harpers. If I didn’t have Shanti hosting me, I’m not sure that I would have had the wifi needed to load all of my pictures(maybe videos). It’s the first town all trail that I haven’t had reception so I figure it’s worth noting…also, some of you noticed my SPOT wasn’t working the last few nights. Sorry about that. It appears that the batteries were low and it is now back up and running.