Twenty-Second Post: Appalachian Trail 

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.

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5 thoughts on “Twenty-Second Post: Appalachian Trail 

  1. It sounds like an interesting adventure! Kind of makes me think of Forrest Gump too, to think of people hiking from town to town. I bet that would make for an interesting book!

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  2. I’ve been to Harper’s Ferry and had no idea it was a launching or way-by for those on the trail. I wouldn’t mind doing bits of the trail but like you, I’m not interested in more than that. Over here in the west it is the Pac NW trail – same idea, too much for me but I’ve been on bits of it.

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  3. Interesting! I wouldn’t know how to identify the thru-hikers, so I learned a lot from reading your post. From what I’ve heard, one needs to be very prepared before attempting to hike the whole Appalachian Trail.

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  4. Wow – I love seeing the hikers through your eyes. I’m sure you’ve seen or read the book about the woman who walked alot of the Pacific Coast Trail? I admire hikers like you. And Harpers Ferry is SO beautiful.

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