Winter Appalachian Trail – Day 57 (44 miles)
I got up just before 5am, a couple of hours before dawn. I wanted to get an early start to the rather long four state challenge.
I crossed the bridge, walked through Harper’s Ferry and continued along next to the rather impressive Shenandoah River.
I then turned towards the mountains and began my first climb of the day. It was not big at around 1,000ft (300m) but I found my body slow amd lethargic, almost like just after a fever. Great, today is going to be a long day!
I got to the top and thought that it might be that I simply did not eat enough yesterday? I tried to get as much fruit in as possible yesterday and might just be feeling an energy deficit? I eat over 2,000 kcal over the next hour just in case. It helped a little but I still was just feeling off. These days happen sometimes, just not usually when I’m trying to walk 43 miles (70km). But the day must continue!
Up on the ridge I found the terrain flat and quick. It was easy walking and allowed the miles to pass quickly. Not only that but the temperature was hot and was expected to reach 70F today! I was actually sweating and it was still early morning.
After a couple of hours I dropped off the ridge. At the bottom there was a campsite with a Maryland sign. I walked through West Virginia without even realising it! 2 stated down, 2 and 23 miles to go.
By this stage I was still not feeling great. Normally, 20 miles with only 1,000ft gain would be a walk in the park (excuse the pun), but today I felt like I was trying to climb Everest.
There was nothing particularly exciting happening with the scenery and along with feeling out if sorts I turned to my MP3 player to distract me.
I had a short climb up to the second ridge of the day. With a wide open and well graded track this one might have been even easier walking than the first.
I dropped off this ridge around mid afternoon and walked up to Ensign Cowell Shelter. I still had another 9 miles to PA and was really considering calling it a day. For some reason I continued.
I walked another hour and took a 45min break at the base of the last climb. It is so unusual for it to be warm enough to sit around and take an extended breather.
I waded a creek and then started the last climb. It was a fairly sharp 700ft but I found it challenging. Near the top night fell and the heavens also opened up. It started to rain heavily and did not stop.
I walked the last 5 miles under flashligh, in the rain and with sore muscles and joints. Not the most pleasant couple of hours of my life.
But I got to the Pennsylvania state line! Four states and a fair adventure later.
I still needed to find a place to camp in the downpour. The state line is next to a road and surrounded by houses so I walked another 20 minutes until I found a sheltered site. It did have 10 sets of eyes looking back at me. Deer court in a headlight! I watched them trot off and then I set up my tarp and went straight to sleep.