The cold front came through making it a lot harder to get out of our warm sleeping bags in the dark morning, however we have an exciting day ahead of us so not much motivation was needed. We quickly ate our Aldi brand cheerios and powered milk, packed up and headed out.
We crushed the 3 mile descent and then the 3 miles of C&O Canal Towpath. It’s a wide flat path on which mules towed barges until 1924 and is now turned rail trail for biking and hiking. The C&O stretches 185 from DC to Cumberland, MD. It was fun to see the bike packers riding past and made us consider our next adventure.
We crossed the bridge to Harpers Ferry, WV. The town is very quaint and historic. The cobblestone southern streets reminded us a little of Williamsburg, VA. The houses lining the main street were small and clearly very old (by American standards). We walked by where John Brown had his last stand and as we headed up the main street we ran into Wildfire.
Wildfire had gotten there yesterday and stayed in a hostel. He is hiking out to the next town and planning to meet his family. We were very so happy to hear from Wildfire that Cast Iron and Gourmet were successful in the 4 state challenge…such a cool accomplishment! We parted ways and headed to the Battlegrounds Coffee shop for second breakfast. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast sandwiches while chatting with another SOBO named High Flyer that we just met but had heard the name before. We laughed at the phrase “stopping for a cup of coffee in West Virginia” since the WV AT mileage is so short…only 2.4 miles (to be fair we do skirt the border a few times so it’s probably a little more).
We headed to the ATC (Appalachian Trail Conservatory) where thru-hikers can register and have their pictures taken for the book of records kept on who has made it this far. It includes NOBOs, SOBOs, Flip Floppers and Section Hikers. We were SOBO numbers 108 and 109 to have registered in Harpers Ferry. We know this will be slightly off if the hiker chooses not to register or if they arrive too late (example Gourmet and Cast Iron). However most do and it was cool to see how few SOBOs there are compared to NOBOs that numbered in the thousands. Eric even found his picture from 2011. He enjoyed seeing all the people he had hiked with to Katahdin and those he had hiked with early on but never saw after Damascus, Virginia.
We left the ATC and wandered into some shops which included a historical candy shop. Each section was from a different century and the owner has written books and given interviews about the shop on tv/radio. It was fun to see which candies we could recognize.
We wandered around town and decided it was Beer o’clock. We sat on the patio of The Rabbit Hole, enjoyed a West Virginia brewed beer and gazed at the tree clad mountains. After a while it was time to move on so we said goodbye to Harpers Ferry and made the 1000 foot climb out of town.
We kept a good pace and hit the Virgina border a little while after. We laughed that we woke up in Maryland, walked through West Virginia and will go to sleep in Virginal tonight. We continued to skirt back and forth between WV and VA. A little while later we came to a road and made a pit stop at a gas station about .3 miles away. We decided to buy ourselves another snack (Eric crab seasoning flavored chips and Hayley a pint of Ben and Jerry’s). We knew we had plenty of time to get to camp as we were only doing 15.9 miles today. Since there was no sign for the state line on the AT we opted to take photos with the ones on the road.
We made it to camp earlier than an anticipated and had another nice fire on chilly night. However, we are excited to be in Virginia. The journey in this state will be long but fun. The days of quick border hopping are behind us. We anticipate being in VA for a month but are definitely ready for it!
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Eric and Hayley grew up less than 20 minutes apart in small towns on the North Shore of Massachusetts. It took 27 years for them to meet each other and have been together for the past 8 years. We’re hiking the Appalachian Trail Southbound in 2022. Eric hiked the AT northbound in 2011 and was known as “Mountain Dew”. Hayley has always enjoyed the outdoors and got into backpacking soon after meeting Eric. We are excited to start this adventure on June 27th.