My in-laws left this morning. Yesterday Ed and I took them to Harper’s Ferry. My father -in-law said it was more interesting than he expected.
Harper’s Ferry, in addition to being the site of John Brown’s raid, is where the headquarters of the Appalachian Trail Conference is located. I don’t know about the Appalachian Trail. I’ve done some decent size hikes, but my longest one is only 550 miles, and that hike was substantially better supported than the AT–it was mostly hike from town to town, take a shower and sleep in a bed kind of hiking. Mostly.
Still, I played a game with myself, trying to see if I could tell who were the thru-hikers taking a day’s rest in Harper’s Ferry and who were the people just out for a short jaunt in and around the town.
I think there are facilities for showering and washing clothes for hikers in Harper’s Ferry, so I couldn’t identify them by their grime. Everyone looked like they’d showered recently and everyone had clean pants.
The hikers would be wearing boots and not sneakers. That disqualified a number of contestants easily. They would also be wearing hiking pants and not jeans. Probably a quarter of the people in and around the park were wearing jeans with hiking boots. Jeans are ill suited for serious hiking: they chafe, are heavy and take forever to dry. I think even Bill Bryson knew that.
Finally, the thru-hikers would have walked over a thousand miles by the time they reached Harper’s Ferry. They would be nimble and trim.
Of the hundreds of people I saw in Harper’s Ferry, I believe six of them could have been thru-hikers. As much as I would like to be nimble and trim, as much as I enjoyed my past hikes, I know the Appalachian Trial is no place for the likes of me.