Solo on the AT

That was about it for our hike. We descended South Mountain and walked about three miles along the abandoned railway into Harpers Ferry. We were there so early hardly anything was open. A row of restaurants line the lower streets in the old part of town, catering mostly to tourists that visit the museums and relics on weekends. It was Monday morning and we couldn’t find anyplace to eat so we rode the shuttle bus to the Visitors Center and picked up Karen’s car. 

On our way out of town I ran an idea by Karen. I was still feeling good and not in any hurry to stop hiking. I had plenty of trail food left and plenty of time for another short hike. The transportation was not a problem, Karen could drop me off a ways north and I could hike back to my van. The more I thought about it the better I liked the idea. 

We found a pizza parlor and gorged ourselves on wings and pizza, googled a nearby cinema and went to see the new “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, and then checked into a motel for the night. While I did laundry – my hiking clothes were stinky – Karen found a highly recommended Mexican restaurant on Yelp and we ate some more. 

The next morning, Karen dropped me off 20 miles north of my van and I continued on another section of the AT. It was fun meeting the same hikers we met two days before and seeing their surprised looks, answering puzzling questions at how I got ahead of them.  I saw three black snakes, even stepping on one, but no rattlers, thank goodness.  

The weather was great for my extra hike and I made good time to Tumbling Run Shelter, my stopping place for the night.  Tumbling Run is a unique area:  Twin shelters – new, clean, well cared for-  showcase a campground with decks for picnic tables, fire pits, clothes lines, a nice privy with sanitizer, and numerous tent sites. I chose a tent site away from a group of day campers and set up camp. When I returned to the shelter area, the camp host was in the process of kicking out the day campers. The shelters are for hikers, and he told us how campers park at a near-by road and walk in to party.   

There were only three of us then. We practically had the area all to ourselves. I gathered wood for a fire and we talked until dark. One of the thru-hikers was going home in a few days to attend graduation. He was some kind of math major at a prestigious college and had graduated early, leaving him time to hike the AT before the ceremony. He didn’t think he would be back to finish the trail. He missed his family too much. 

When I awoke the next morning, both thru-hikers were gone. There was a heavy dew on everything so I hung around camp for a while, hoping my tent would dry a little before I packed it. I had plenty of time; there was only nine miles left to finish. If I would have known what was just up the trail, I would have probably left sooner, when it was cooler. 

For about three mile, I walked through some of the worst mosquito infestation I’ve ever seen. They were relentless, and Deet didn’t seem to phase them. I think I used half a bottle trying to keep them from devouring me. They even bit right through my clothes. With all the rain in the last few weeks, the standing water made perfect breeding grounds. 

It was almost 2:00 pm when I reached my vehicle. I still felt good after 60 miles and would have probably kept on hiking if I had a way to get back. I hope Karen and I can do another hike this fall and get some family to join us. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

7 Responses to “Solo on the AT”

  1. Dick says:

    Yep. You’re a hiking machine. Too bad about the skeeters, but otherwise it sounds like you had a great time.

    Where are you off to next?

  2. Mom says:

    I’ll bet that you are in better condition now than Daryl is, after his lazy time in a sling, and then being in Taiwan for three weeks. He has probably got some exercise, but 60 miles is quite a distance. Keep us posted; I love to get your blogs and know that the rest do, too.

  3. Mom says:

    What percent of the AT have you hiked?

  4. Dale says:

    Mom – I have hiked less than 10% of the AT. I don’t think it would take Daryl long to return to his ball form.

  5. Donna says:

    Well, everything sounds like fun except the skeeters! Count me in for this fall. I’ll have to look for equipment to rent.

    I’m back in my tennis shoes today. Just a slight limp, but it’s feeling pretty good. If it hadn’t been so hot today, I would have taken a short walk. I need to get back at that.

  6. Mom says:

    Where are you now, PA or NY or parts south? You are hard to keep track of.

  7. Daryl says:

    Boy, I hate skeeters more than I hate rain. At least they rarely come together.

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