Raven Rock Shelter [mile 2149.3; SOBO 1130.9]
Well, Waynesboro was an adorable little town—small city, actually. For Philly folks, it’s sort of a combo of West Philly and Ambler, but with a four-lane street down the middle. Big old houses, square facades, interesting shutters and woodwork, brick sidewalks, plenty of shops and places to eat. They’ve apparenently gotten grant money to refurbish and restore, and it’s paying off. The Burgundy B&B is awesome. Gorgeous place, and the owners know what hikers need.
Note for 14ers: I don’t know if this will be corrected or if it’s just a SOBO issue, but the Guide is messed up here. Waynesboro is actually five miles from the trail, and the map in the book called ‘Waynesboro’ is another town entirely—a town between Waynesboro and the trail. But David at the Burgundy House was happy to come get me and shuttle me to Walmart, except I didn’t need the Walmart run; there’s a Dollar General and a Turkey Hill convenience store within walking distance of the B&B. Which you’d know if you had a map of… you know. Waynesboro! Also, the Waynesburger restaurant makes an outstanding gyro.
So. On looking through the guide and after consultation with my ride home, I should be hitting the finish line at around 11:00 AM on Friday. After today’s experience with Maryland, I realize I could probably have finished on Wednesday afternoon. But this is good. Three gentle days into Harpers Ferry. Take it slow, ruminate, unwind… a bit of a cool-down. Literally, too; the weather was brisk today, but it’ll be Novemberish for the rest of the week. The easy days will mean I can stay in my cocoon until the sun’s up.
This morning started with my favorite breakfast: French toast! It’s actually not my most efficient hiking breakfast (two eggs, bacon, wheat toast, OJ), but it’s the one I like best. And I didn’t mind the carbs and sugar because I knew I was only doing a nero today: a pitiful five-mile stroll. Have to stretch this out to Friday somehow!
After breakfast David drove me back to the trail, and I said goodbye to the cutest Corgi dog in the WORLD (and I almost stole him!), and I set off walking.
It was windy today! Still is. That’s the last of the warm weather blowing out to sea, or wherever weather blows around here. But the sky was deep blue. It’s funny; as soon as I stepped into Maryland yesterday I started to see trees still clinging to their yellow leaves. I guess this wind will take care of that.
Funny. I didn’t feel like music today. I just wanted to walk and think.
Am I glad I did this hike? Yes, oh yes. It’s been so productive to step away for a while and remember how to breathe. Sort of like an eight-month retreat, a timeout from the standard hamsters that chew on my brain. I feel… recentered. I don’t know how long it’ll last once I get back into the hamster cage, but there are some plain and practical tips I’ve figured out for dealing with my everydays. Those will be unpacking for a long time, I think.
The silence has scrubbed me clean.
Anyway. The rocks didn’t end with Pennsylvania. Today had its fair share of them, plus somebody else’s share; there was a long boulder scramble that I guess is the first real one of those that you come to if you’re heading northbound.
Which brings up an interesting point, and something David mentioned. Maryland is the meat of the Four-State Challenge, in which intrepid thru-hikers touch four states (Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania) within a 24-hour period. It comes to 42 or 43 miles, plus the few miles on either end to get somewhere to camp. You hike all night.
I never looked into it much because I knew it was out of my wheelhouse, but David said the convolutions are amazing to see. Apparently most people nowadays do a zero beforehand in Harpers Ferry. They ship their pack ahead so they can slack it. Then when their clock starts, they dash across the river up to the Virginia state line, then start hoofing. That means they’re doing Maryland at night, right?
I don’t know how the rest of the state is, but I can’t imagine doing the bouldery bits at night, before you’ve had a chance to get your boulder legs under you in Pennsylvania.
David’s opinion is that it’s counterproductive. Most people collapse for one to two zeroes afterward, so their mileage is actually less than it would have been had they just hiked normally. Plus there’s the greatly increased risk of injury, and it apparently takes a toll on your body that takes a while to recover from.
Anyway, I find it fascinating. My point was to note that I’m in awe of anybody tackling those boulders at night. Good luck, Quad-Staters! Be careful!
After the boulders, the trail got easy peasy—hiker superhighway. The wind had even cleared away the leaves in spots. Aanndd… I got to my shelter by 1:00 in the afternoon. LOL. This week is going to be interesting. By which i mean… you know. Boring. As in many hours spent inside my tent.
Lucky for me, I enjoy that sort of thing!