Appalachian Trail south of Harpers Ferry, WV, Friday, October 2, 2020 — We rendezvoused at the church parking lot next to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry. Hot Starbucks and blueberry muffins fortified the blue sky, dry air and perfectly cool autumn morning.
Bellies comfortably full, the Gang of Four plus one piled into my Subaru, masks on and windows down for the shuttle to our starting point at the Keys Gap trailhead. From there we planned a three hour tour to Harpers Ferry with a detour to the Loudon Heights scenic overlook.
Our plus one was Nancy who was dubbed the Iron Ranger for her roots in Northern Minnesota’s Iron Range.
The start was uneventful. We marched six to eight feet apart.
The AT is infamous for its rocky tread. It wasn’t long before the Iron Ranger got bucked off her horse in a classic face plant that dealt her a bruised cheek and a small skinned area on the palm of her hand. She’s made of Viking stock, so patched up, she soldiered on. Little did we know that by day’s end we would each do some serious soldiering.
Taking a break.
Badass removes a branch blocking the trail, her first experience as a trail sawyer.
Along the way we photographed natures interesting handiwork.
Not far from the orange trail that goes to the overlook on Loudon Heights. This where the “What could go wrong” part comes in.
I’ve hiked through here dozens of times but had never diverted to see the overlook after seeing photos taken there. It’s excellent, but Maryland Heights was much better, so I never bothered. Besides I was always in some kind of hurry.
We rallied at the turn off behind the trail sign. My assumption for a number of reasons was that the viewpoint was less than a mile out of the way. When we returned, the sign said it was two miles.
Round trip that’s at least two extra hours. So instead of finishing at 3 p.m. we finished at 5:30 when the walk all the way back to the church parking log was factored in. Probably would not have done that if I’d looked at the sign.
This view of the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers was the holy grail.
By the time everyone reached the overlook many of us were spent. We took plenty of rest breaks on the way to Harpers Ferry.
Full circle. Lunch turned into dinner at Keys Gap. Our weary bodies smacked the log benches with the sound of a waitress wet-ragging a plastic table cloth.
There we were with quads made of jelly, sore feet and empty fuel tanks.
Seemingly to pick us up, AWOL bragged her gluts were in fine form. That was a rare opening. She has wanted a new trail name, so we started riffing – Hardass, and Buns of Steel emerged as candidates. Being who we are, Iron Butt won the day. Iron Butt it is.
At some point I think I was charged attempted murder if not formally that’s what everyone was thinking. I thank them for the acquittal.
Saturday night was Badass’s birthday.
Celebrating six feet apart at Bulldog’s house.
Guess what? We had as much fun as they did on Gilligan’s Island and we’re already planning our next outing.