Spent a wonderful day in Harper's Ferry after getting off the train around 11 am. First stop was the Appalachian Trail Conservancy office to have the traditional thru hiker postcard photo taken. I was hiker #17 under alternative hiking schedules. From there I did some local sightseeing and bid adieu to my train companion and section hiker "Sketch" from Eugene, Oregon.
The weather couldn't have been better; high 60s, sunny skies and a gentle breeze. The town was bustling with tourists and adventure seekers from all over. As I made my way toward the convergance of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, an oriole landed in the branches overhanging the water followes by a great blue heron gliding just above the waves. Families and couples were strolling along the railway bridge over the Potomac and below on the C&O towpath. Rock climbers on the black cliff above the railway tunnel had caught the attention of many of us with cameras as we commented how we would not be so brave as those we were observing.
Upon descending the iron grated spiral staircase to the buff colored gravel towpath, I instinctively turned north to follow the river upstream. Butterflies and birds flitted and fluttered all around. Parental geese guided their goslings away from human intruders and others floated on the river along with the kayakers. A turtle was sunning on a log like it's human counterparts on the boulders on the river's edge. All God's creatures seemed to be celebrating this glorious spring day in harmony with one another.
My intended destination was the Harper's Ferry hostel. Although I saw no white blazes, I assumed it was due to the width, clarity and historical nature of this towpath and it wasn't until I had traveled 2 miles from the bridge and had not yet encountered my next turn marker that I
realized I must have made a directional error. After discussing my location with a passing gentleman who indeed informed me that I should have turned south at the bridge instead of north, did I then turn to retrace my steps and head downstream. Yes it was a 4 mile error and one of the best mistakes I have ever made. I truly had no regrets about spending the time on that beautiful walk.
The Harper's Ferry hostel was an excellent facility capable of accomodating large groups and I met a couple there named "Lefty" and "Hush" who were just married and starting the trail for their honeymoon.
Maryland has been fairly easy going and the trail is extremely well marked. I especially enjoyed seeing the original Washington monument in Boonesboro and the beautiful stone buildings at Gathland State Park. I also finally spent my first night in a shelter and eventually met my first shelter mice. Received my AT baptism while hiking in rain and have really enjoyed the less crowded conditions but still am meeting lots of people. Usually I don't go more than 2 hours without seeing someone.
The last couple days I have been enjoying visiting with my family and especially sweet was spending Mother's Day with my mom. Tomorrow morning I will return to the trail . There are more persons, both family and friends, that I will be spending time with over the next week or so with trail time in between. Eventually though I will be focused almost solely on moving north again. I'm glad to have these memories to carry with me.