Thursday Sept 23rd, 2021, 1730-1845 Harpers Ferry to just south of WV/VA border, SOBO AT mm 1171.3
1250 gain, 450 loss
I probably should have just combined this day with the other posts for my nero and zero in DC, since not a whole lot happened. But for continuity sake, I’m writing it separately. I woke up for the second morning in a row in a comfy bed in a lovely home. Lightning from the storm woke me around 3 am, making me so happy to be safe inside. I was very lucky to be able to stay with my friends for a zero, coinciding perfectly with the rain.
It was really coming down all night and in the morning. The news showed flooding around the city. Sheila and I were able to take the dogs for a walk around 10 am, when it started to clear a bit. We had fun chasing squirrels around the DC neighborhoods. We then went to a pie shop for lunch. I got a delicious piece of chicken curry pie and another of banana cream. It really hit the spot.
Sheila gave me a driving tour of the National Mall, presented from a NPS police officer’s perspective (that’s what she does for work). I’ve visited the mall many times previously, so it was really interesting seeing things from a new angle, especially after the insurgency on Jan 6th. There was also a very sad and stark display of white flags planted on the lawn in front of the Washington Monument, one for each US citizen that has died from COVID. Seeing over 600,000 little white flags in sheets blanketing the grass was heartbreaking. So much loss.
Sheila dropped me off at Union Station, where I boarded the train to HP. I would have loved to have spent more time with my friends but the harsh realities of the times we’re living in made me yearn to be back on trail. I’d read too many headlines and seen too much news on TV. I’m so lucky to have such an escape for now. Boarding the train was like a passage back in time to when things were simpler.
The train arrived HP just after 5 pm and I made a beeline for the trail. There was a whole lot I didn’t see in the historical area but I didn’t care. I just wanted to be out in the woods, listening to the crickets, enjoying my meager dinner. I crossed the Shenandoah River, collected some water at a stream and hiked into the hills. I needed to walk only as far as the VA & WV border…the delineating line of where the historical area begins / ends. My 4 state challenge concluded at this point. I had reached the Penmar park around 5 pm on Sunday. Now, 4 days later, I had finally arrived in Virginia. Nevermind that 3 of my 4 days were neros/zeros. I had walked through most of Maryland in 1 day and I’m not even sure where WV began.
I’ve been in the confines of 10 different states since August 18th. It took me a little over a month to grace all those borders. Virginia would be the longest state yet at around 500 trail miles … it’s nearly a quarter of the length of the trail. At least I’d have some time to get used to being in the same state for a while. It’s been a challenge at times to remember what state I’m even in. Some have flown by so fast.
I came to a nice campsite at dusk and pitched my tent. The night noises filled the air, drowning out the nearby highways and trains. The crickets did not disappoint and sleep came easily.