Trip Report: LM - AT in MD: Washington's Monument to Harpers Ferry

Posted by Jimmy on

After a great cross country skiing weekend and what had felt like a extremely long absence from backpacking (for me), the overnight trip along the AT in Maryland was finally here.

Karan, Kylie, myself, and Steve G, promptly arrived a the Grosvenor Metro station at 8:30 and shortly soon thereafter, left for the end point of the hike to go and meet Miles and Brian C. During this time, we received numerous texts and posts from Quoc that he had overslept. He was still determined to do the hike. I’ll give it to him, he was very persistent and ended up meeting us at the starting point of the trip.

At around 9:45, we rolled into Harpers Ferry, and parked our cars at the base of the Maryland Heights trail head. After some introductions, and really, what had felt like a glorious reunion (we haven’t seen Miles in so long!) we piled into Miles and Steve’s cars and headed for the starting point. So after all that, the meeting arrangements, the car shuttling, the gear arranging, the la di da da da, all out of the way, we finally were on the trail hiking by around 10:45.

During the drive to the starting point, that most of the ridges where white. It was weird considering the ridges around Harpers Ferry didn’t have much snow on them and we all missed the specific point at which the snow started to appear. Considering the recent weather, and the given temperatures, we all thought there would be little to no snow. Well, as we hiked in, we found ourselves walking in about 3-4 inches of icy packed down snow. I questioned my decision of wearing trail runners, but it ended up not being bad at all. We just had to be careful about footing for the first 4, 8, 12 miles! Haha.

Now I’ll have to say, typically, I’d hike my usual brisk pace and stream ahead with purpose, but instead, I hiked at a leisurely pace and had a great time catching up with Miles. Karan also had this idea too coincidently… Haha. It was fun, and relaxing. Plus the weather, considering that it was February, was quite pleasant.

After a couple miles, we all met at the Washington’s Monument. I noticed that the gate was locked leading up to the top, which I have never seen before. So no views from atop. None the less, the whole scene there was quite beautiful. Hopefully, some good photos were taken there! Soon, we were all on the move again, headed for the White Rocks overlook.

A couple more hours had passed before I reached White Rocks. At this time, I had realized my plan of walking leisurely came with a small consequence of not covering the amount of miles I had hoped for. 3.5hrs had passed and some of us (including myself) had only covered 7 miles with over 7 more to go! It was about 2:30! I had to told the faster guys to meet at Gathland State Park and wait for the rest of us, but at this pace, they were gonna wait at least 40 minutes. I decided to blast ahead to go tell the guys at the front to go ahead and meet at camp.

I caught up with them and told them the plans. As they went off, I waited for the rest of the group at Gathland. There were nice photo opportunities here as this place was littered with Civil War era buildings. Once the rest of the group caught up, we proceeded up to camp. Prior to us hitting the trail again, however, we were curious to see if the water pump next to the bathrooms was on. To my surprise it was and we filled up for the night here vice the spring at camp (involves a 1mile round trip with a 700ft climb). Once on the trail, after another hour or so, we arrived at the Ed Garvey Shelter. To my surprise, we had the whole place to ourselves!! Sweet. (Kylie, you win the bet)

Steve, Kylie, and Brian set up their shelters while Karan, Miles, myself, and Quoc set up inside the shelter. I must say, this shelter is one of the nicer ones I’ve seen. It has a loft!! After our quick setup, we quickly gathered some wood and got a nice fire going. What a great scene in hindsight! Lovely fiery sunset, good fire, sweet shelter, good company, and pleasant weather. I couldn’t emphasize how relaxing and nice it was. Well, by around 9 or so, we headed for bed.

Up and early, we all hit the trail by 8am and after a quick couple of miles, we found ourselves at Weaverton Cliffs. I think a photo shoot happened here with Kylie and Miles as the subjects. Curious to see these photos… After taking in the sights, we descended down towards the C&O Canal trail. It was definitely quite scenic to walk along the Potomac, but man, hiking along that towpath is quite unpleasant. I’d rather walk 3 miles of mountains than 3 miles of flat walking anytime! Still no idea how Michael Martin did 61 miles on it!! It went pretty quickly however, and before we knew it we were back at the cars. At this point, we swapped our packs for daypacks and headed up for Maryland Heights.

20 minutes later we were presented with magnificent views of Harpers Ferry. I think this is where all the iconic photos of Harpers Ferry are taken. We all took some good photos which also included an “of course” epic jump shot of Kylie! After this, we retraced our steps and headed back down to the cars.

We parted ways with Quoc who had to go to work, but the rest of us were off to BJ’s Brewhouse and Restaurant in Frederick for a celebratory post hike meal! It was fun times indeed.

Thanks to all that made this hike! Quo, you definitely impressed me with your persistence and attitude! You definitely need to come out with us some more. I’m sure you’ll learn a ton! Brian, Steve, Kylie, Karan, and Miles, your companies were truly great. I hope to see you guys again real soon!!