Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Day 75: Onward to Harpers Ferry!

May 21: By morning, a light rain had settled in. It was a very Seattle-like rain, slightly more than a heavy fog that hangs in the air and gets everything wet. It’s never fun leaving a nice, warm and dry hostel for a wet day in the mud, but the rain was light enough that I only felt compelled to use my umbrella for about 10 minutes during a heavier downpour.


‘Twas a wet and dreary day.


The trail soon crossed into West Virginia and I stopped for the “required” photo op next to the sign marking the state line. I remembered reaching this point on my first thru-hike and being so incredibly happy—thank GOD Virginia was finally behind me! This time around, it felt good to knock off another state, but it didn’t provide that same euphoria that it did last time. Of course, now I’ve completed states like Florida (about 1,300 miles) and California (about 1,700 miles), so the 550 miles of Virginia doesn’t seem quite so long as it did then!


The rest of the day’s hiking was largely uneventful. More of the same. Not very exciting, but not notably bad either.


Late in the day, I picked up my pace in an attempt to get to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters in Harpers Ferry before they closed at 5:00. I arrived with a mere 5 minutes to spare and the place was hopping with dozens of people. Not just hikers either. I noticed several of them asking very pointed questions with the folks working there and assumed that they were reporters. A whole bunch of them.


The big thing hikers do here is get their photo taken outside of the building and added to the hiker albums. I did this in 2003, and I certainly planned to do it this time around as well. Inside, I found a girl who worked there, Elaine, who brought me out and took my photo. Just before she was going to take the photo, however, another woman walked up and asked if it would be okay for her to take a photo of my getting my photo taken. She was a reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette and was writing an article about the trail. Both Elaine and I gave our consent, then we all got into position. Me, in front of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy sign in front. (Which used to say Appalachian Trail Conference back in my 2003 hike—the ATC changed their name since my first thru-hike.) Elaine stood in front, taking my photo. And the reporter stood behind her and slight off to my left to get a photo that included both Elaine and myself.




It probably took a bit longer to get this hiker photo than most because even after Elaine got her photo, we asked the reporter if she got her photo too. Was everyone happy? Elaine used a digital camera to get my photo—another upgrade since my 2003 hike when they used Polaroids. She showed me the photo and asked if I liked it, and it looked fine to me but I asked her what she thought of it or if she had any suggestions on how to improve on it. She’s probably taken hundreds of these photos and has seen it all. So I asked her what she thought of the photo and said it was better than most. Alrighty then, let’s keep it! =) I never did like my 2003 photo—it was time to fix that was a vastly improved 2015 photo!


As for the photo the reporter took, you can see it online in an article titled Some trailblazers who have passed on. I was as surprised as anyone when I saw the title of the article! “No! I’m still here! Alive and kicking!” Except for a vague idea that she was writing an article about the Appalachian Trail, I didn’t really know anything about the specifics of the article. Anyhow, to paraphrase Mark Twain, my death has been greatly exaggerated.


I was officially listed has northbound hiker number 218. Just before me was a hiker named Uphill, who I didn’t know, then Superman (#216) and Heavyweight (#215). Blueberry was still elusive having been there earlier in the day (#208) but had already left and was still MIA. Whatever trap he had for me had not been sprung.


Afterwards, I walked down to the Teahorse Hostel. Harpers Ferry is crazy expensive for lodging and the hostel was the only place that I could find for less than $100/night! (A lot less!) I was a little surprised to see no other thru-hikers at the hostel—a lot of them would have passed through Harpers Ferry today. Where did they all go? There were several other hikers at the hostel, however. Mostly section hikers out for a week or two and flip-floppers who were just starting their hikes in Harpers Ferry and heading north, then when they reached the end of the trail, go back down to Springer Mountain and keep hiking north until they reach Harpers Ferry again.


I went next door to the Anvil restaurant for dinner where I ordered a burger and blueberry cheesecake. (I’d later tell Blueberry that I was stalking him, and eating his relatives whenever I had the opportunity.)


Goodbye, Virginia! And hello West Virginia!


Viewpoints were badly obscured with fog.




Did I mention how wet everything was today?








Crossing the Shenandoah River into Harpers Ferry.




I pose for my hiker photo in front of the ATC headquarters. Fun fact: I deliberately put on my pack because I wanted it to be in the photo. Until just before this photo was taken, it was just sitting outside when I went into the building. So I also wanted my body to be slightly sideways instead of face-on so people can see my beautiful pack! =)


By comparison, here’s my photo from 2003.


Dinner at the Anvil!


Anonymous said...

I drive over those Harper's Ferry bridges every day on my commute. I'm sorry you didn't see it on a nicer day -- it can be beautiful! Although, maybe tomorrow you'll post about seeing a picturesque sunrise?

Unknown said...

Wow.. the article.. kind of depressing - I'm not going to lie... but at least you had your picture in an article =)

I hear a lot about Harper's Ferry.. if I'm ever up that way.. may have to stop and have a look around.

-Only Dreaming