10th August 2021
16.7 miles / 1,865 ft ascent / 7 hours
I left Harpers Ferry around 7.30am, slightly later than I’d hoped for, given the forecast was for a scorching day. Today’s route was north along the Appalachian Trail, turning around at the Edward Garvey Memorial Shelter, a trip of around 17 miles.
Most of my hiking trips these days are out-and-back hikes, rather than loops, since I live next to the Appalachian Trail. I’ve always enjoyed them. You get to see all the cool scenery again, but from a different perspective.
The view from the point of Harpers Ferry – the confluence of the Potomac (left) and Shenandoah (right) rivers – was majestic, as always. My route took me over the bridge into Maryland and out along the C & O canal, parallel to the Potomac River.
The miles along the canal were relaxing. Surrounded by trees, with glimpses of the river to my right, it’s a good walk to do some thinking. I was in a reflective mood this morning, perhaps because I’m 40 now, or because I had space to think without my kids absorbing all my energy (editor: no ground-breaking insights were discovered though 😂).
The Appalachian Trail turns away from the C&O canal after a few miles to head north up Weverton Cliffs, which I’ve climbed a few times before (incl. with Lexi and the boys).
Weverton Cliffs has tremendous views over the Potomac River, and across to the mountains of Short Hill Tract, Loudon Heights and Maryland Heights.
After a brief rest at the lookout, I continued hiking north along the AT. It climbs for a further 20 minutes or so, but then levels out along the top of the ridge for a relatively easy walk.
Again, the easy miles were conducive to deep thinking. I lost myself in a trance like state. I passed no other walkers and had this whole stretch of the trail to myself.
The shelter is spectacular, perhaps the best lean-to type shelter I’ve seen. It was two story, with a fantastic upstairs. There were plenty of picnic tables and benches, fire pit, latrine, bear box and bear pole, and numerous tent sites.
After lunch I played around with the new Hennessy backpacking hammock that Pete bought me for my birthday last year. I wanted to practice the setup, so I can spend a night out soon.
I recorded a quick timelapse of the setup:
The return trip was uneventful and considerably hotter and busier than the outward leg this morning.
Of course, I stopped to enjoy a refreshing dip in the Shenandoah river, by the 340 road. Always a great way to finish a long hike (like this one!).