Appalachian Trail: Harper’s Ferry and Bear Poles (day one)

We started off with a walk through Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia. The town is rich with civil war history and I felt like I was in a museum instead of a real place where people live, work, and play.

Upon leaving Harper’s Ferry, we followed a nature trail out of town and saw countless cyclists out for a morning spin. We crossed a highway and began a large climb up to Weverton Cliffs. A cascade of resilience came over me with every step. The climb to Weverton Cliffs was tough and nothing in Manitoba remotely compares to Weverton Cliffs to train on. I’m thankful for the training I did do because I truly think it gave me an advantage over myself if I had not trained.

One of my group mates was nursing a preexisting foot injury and had to stop often to rest. The incline was tough and I wanted to just push on, small steps, one foot in front of the other, as small as my stride was when I felt it was all I could do.

A trail runner passed us at least eight times, no word of a lie, between his ups and downs. When he stopped to help us take a group photo, we joked that he became an honorary member of our traimily (trail family) with the amount of times we saw him.

We stopped at Ed Garvy shelter for lunch. We were advised that a bear had been there in the morning. Trail volunteers came before we arrived and cleaned up garbage that had been left out by a group of youth. We had seen a large group of youth, about 12 of them, hiking down Weverton Cliffs and presume it was them.

Two of my mates were nearly out of water and the water source at Ed Garvy is a very steep climb up and down. We were advised that unless absolutely needed, people should not get water at that shelter. Water was rationed between the group and we pushed on.

Day one ended on a very late evening. We made the mistake of hanging around Gathland State Park for too long before continuing on to Crampton Gap shelter. The water flowed plentiful from taps at Gathland, the scenery and history was relaxing, and there was electricity to charge our devices. Charging devices should have been the least of our concerns.

The entire hike to Crampton Gap shelter was an intense climb. I turned on The Mountain by Dierks Bentley and I pushed my way though. I leaned deep into my trekking poles, praying they would not break as I hauled myself up the mountain.

We set up camp and ate dinner in the dark. We struggled to find the bear bag hanging pole because of the dark. It was a challenge to get our bags up, having never used a pole before and with only having one head light. A kind man helped us with the bear pole but his night vision was quite poor, as he told us.

With finally crawling into our tents at 11 at night, we decided to have a later morning start so that everyone could get some proper rest.

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