By S. J. Brown
This is part two of my blog “One Step at a Time.” Part one detailed my prep for a section hike on the Appalachian Trail with my daughter so she could cross something off her bucket list. Then I covered the beginning of our journey. This blog covers the final leg of our trip.
We had arrived at our planned stop for the night much too early. Feeling confident and energized we decided to keep hiking. We proceeded to our next planned stop the Gathland State Park to refill our water bottles. We rested there for a while as local emergency workers tended to a fellow hiker. Once he was safely on his way to the hospital we refilled our water bottles and found the now familiar white hash mark that told us we were still on the trail.
Over the next four miles we found very few landmarks or scenic views to enjoy. This made that leg of our journey seem very long and tedious. By the time we reached the shelter we were both tired and ready to shed our backpacks for the night. We explored the shelter and decided the loft would be the perfect place to spend the night.
Although neither of us was hungry we decided to have some dinner and hopefully lighten our packs a little. So far the hardest part of the hike was those backpacks. We were surprised when another hiker arrived since we had been alone in the woods most of the day. We chatted with this experienced hiker until nearly dark when we retired to the loft. An hour or so later another hiker wandered in. The two men chatted about hiking in the lower section of the shelter while we lay in our sleeping bags watching the lightning accent the sky.
Our morning started in the Ed Garvey shelter at sunrise. Neither of us slept well yet we were up, had breakfast and on the trail at 7 am. Our new plan was to complete our journey before dark. Thankfully as we left the shelter there was a sign pointing us in the right direction. It would really suck if we retraced our steps from the day before. As we proceeded along the trail we were alone once again with nature.
The heavy fog that engulfed the area prevented us from enjoying the scenic view from the Weverton Cliff. Since we were still miles from our destination we took a break before descending the switchbacks that awaited us. We were grateful to be going downhill, but the thin rock ledge that led us in one direction, then another was a bit nerve racking for us unseasoned hikers.
Our arrival at the section of the trail that joined the C & O canal was a relief. We would be on level ground for a while. But we were confused about which way to proceed. Thanks to a helpful day hiker we headed down the path hopeful that we were going in the right direction.
Once we began encountering more hikers we knew we weren’t far from Harpers Ferry. With a leisurely walk across G Byron Memorial Bridge we were across the Potomac River. Once we crossed into West Virginia we took a break and placed a call to our ride home. Two states down one to go.
By now we were both tired and ready to be done with our hike and those backpacks. The last leg of our journey took us into Virginia via a heavily traveled road. It took us nearly an hour to reach the parking lot where our ride waited. She greeted us with cheers and cold drinks. We had done it, 20 miles 3 states and we did it in a day and a half.
Back at home we were both sore and tired. We enjoyed hot showers and some pizza before spending the rest of the day as couch potatoes. This was a journey I had never considered. We laughed, we complained, we chatted for miles. This was a unique experience I am glad I tackled. Would I do it again? Nope. I look forward to the numerous day hikes that are in my future but I won’t be carrying a tent or sleeping bag for miles again.
Have you ever challenged yourself to do something a little out of your comfort zone?
Thanks for stopping by and letting me share my experience.
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My books, Close Ups and Close Encounters, All the Birds I See, Clancy’s Cat Nap. Bennie the Butterfly and two coloring books based on my images are all available through my website http://www.sjbrown.50megs.com.