Trip Report: Maryland AT into Harpers Ferry, 2/23-2/24

Posted by Michael Martin on

Well, this weekend, the weathermen were predicting death by drowning (or perhaps hypothermia) if anybody was so foolhardy to venture out of doors, but Jimmy, Matt, Carolyn (and Lulu), Noam, and I all managed to meet up at Grosvenor to head out for the march into Harpers Ferry. I admit people were rather quiet in the morning. There was a grim set to people's jaws that said, "Yes I'm really looking forward to walking through freezing rain all weekend." I forewent the ritual of weighing everyone's packs, fearing that it would seem something other than a fun thing to do ...

But something happened after we got the car shuttle set up and started walking south on the AT from the pedestrian bridge over I-70. Yeah, it was damp, and we had our shells on, but they just weren't getting that wet. The trees around the Washington Monument were shrouded in ice, but as we passed Turners Gap, the forest started to dry out. The forecasted deluge never happened!

These miles weren't especially difficult with the long, relatively flat Maryland ridges, but we made them look easy with everyone hiking swiftly. Carolyn and Lulu knew the trails so well that they kept cutting off distance by taking short cuts along the roads. About the third time I passed her, I asked her if she had developed some sort of teleportation technology! I really hope I am in that sort of shape when I'm 65!

(Teleportation would be nice, too.)

We reached Gathland State Park and Crampton Gap in the early afternoon, and took a break in the sun. Here, we learned that a Boy Scout troop (training for Philmont) were ahead of us on the trail. I chatted with their leaders (I did Philmont as a scout), and learned they were headed to Ed Garvey. After our break, we turned on our jets, passed the entire troop, and reached the shelter before they did. We nabbed the best campsite, with lots of tent space and our own fire pit. After setting up camp (there were three Big Agnes Fly Creeks!), we had a lovely campfire (courtesy of Jimmy's fire-building skills), listened to Noam's stories of thru-hiking Corsica, drank some whisky, and headed to bed at backpacker's midnight (9pm). Lulu learned how to sleep in a bag.

The next morning dawned clear and brisk, but the water did not freeze over night. We strolled down to the big views at Weverton Cliffs, posed for pictures, descended to the C&O canal, and walked past Harpers Ferry to our cars, which we parked at the base of Maryland Heights. From there, Matt guided us up one additional climb to the view overlooking the city--one of the best views in the region, certainly. The weather was so nice that I recall thinking that I wished I was Georgia-bound.

After that, it was a quick reversal of the shuttle and then a celebratory lunch at the Brewer's Alley in Frederick.

All in all, this was a great "low mileage," introductory trip for DC UL. We had an awesome and strong group. I hope I see you guys out on future trips! Thanks for keeping me company on this book chapter!


PS Splits were 16-9 ... Almost exactly what I predicted (*glances at Booty-Less*).

Michael Martin posted on

FWIW, Google Earth says we hiked 24.9 miles on this trip with about 4,206 ft. gain / 5,142 ft. loss.