Day Two on the AT

On our second day, we pushed ourselves well past our normal hiking range. There was a campground at Turners Gap, by US40, that boasted a free shower
and restaurant within minutes of the camp. After two days of dripping perspiration and trail food, both options sounded good. 

The hiking was easier the second day. We were starting to get deeper into Maryland and the terrain was not quite as hilly. We still had to climb 1000 feet to some of the ridges, but when we got up on them, they were fairly level walking. On one ridge called High Rock, there was a flat rock jutting out over the cliff, used by Hang Gliders as a launch point. It must take a lot of nerve to run and jump off that ledge. 

We ate lunch at another scenic lookout called Annapolis Rock and rested in the warm sunshine. There were some rock climbers scaling the wall on ropes far below, and we could hear their shouts of either fear or conquest rising up. 

From Annapolis Rocks to Washington Monument, we encountered droves of day-hikers. The good weather of the weekend had brought everyone out to enjoy the woods. The AT crosses Rt.40 where a convenient parking lot allows families and pets to walk for a few hours and experience the trail. 

For a while, we were counting how many thru-hikers we passed. By going South, we were meeting the North-bounders every half hour or so, and by the second day it became overwhelming to keep track. At first, I would ask them if they were headed to Maine, but eventually all we needed was a sniff to tell their destination. When one would pass, we would look at each other and say, “Thru-hiker!”.

We climbed the winding stair way to the top of the Washington Monument. Built in the early 1800’s by a small town in Maryland, this structure was the first, and decidedly more modest project than the one in Washington. Still, it provided panoramic views of the countryside. There was also a museum in the park and we spent a few minutes looking at the displays. After resting for a spell on the grassy lawn, and filling our water bottles from the faucet, we walked on to the campground. 

At about 4:00 pm, we descended a ridge and walked across Alt. Rt.40 to the Backpackers campground. To our dismay, there were already two troops of Boy Scouts occupying the whole site. We found out later that because of flooding on a trail near Harpers Ferry, the scouts had diverted to this campground. Karen and I eventually found a place where we could pitch our tent, secluded within the woods and out of earshot of the scouts. 

We took showers and walked to the restaurant. It was called the Old South Mountain Inn and was much more elegant than we needed, but the food was delicious and generous. They asked hikers that trickled in whether they had showered or not, and clean bodies were allows to enter the dining room, while stinky ones had to sit at the bar. 

After dinner, we read more plaques, scattered on the lawn around the inn. It was quite confusing reading about the battles that sprang up in the area: what commander moved his army here; where the charges took place; what side pushed through and who retreated. We were getting tired by now and retreated ourselves to the campground for tea and hot chocolate. 

We talked for a while to five men that were mirroring our exact hike. We talked briefly the night before but didn’t get to learn much about them until the third night. We turned in early and slept well through the night. In the morning, we were packed and on the trail by 7:30.  

End of Part Two…

3 Responses to “Day Two on the AT”

  1. Dick says:

    This sounds like a great trip so far. I know it’s something you have wanted to do for a long time. If if weren’t for your knees, I bet Karen in right — you’d try to do the whole thing.

  2. Donna says:

    I’ve heard of “no shirt, no shoes, no service”, but “no shower”??? That’s pretty funny, but would make me want a shower before going in; not so I could sit in the dining room in style, but so I wouldn’t have to sit at the bar with the stinky folks!

    So no rain? That’s cool. Or was it? Maybe it was hot.

  3. Karen says:

    Damon and I just hiked from Rt 40 to Annapolis rocks and back on our way home from visiting Nate and Malka in DC. We followed our footsteps from 12 years ago. 😊

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