I left the TeaHorse Hostel at 8:00 am after eating their signature waffle breakfast and walked through the town, crossing the railroad bridge to get to the C & O Canal in Maryland. The Maryland section or the AT is only 40 miles long, and I was planning on resupplying again in Waynesboro, PA in a few days.
Once you cross the Potomac, the AT follows the C & O Canal Bike and Foot Path for several miles before climbing back up the Appalachian Ridgeline at Weverton Cliffs. It’s only about a 500 foot ascent and an easy climb. It’s also a popular area for day hiking and I saw a lot of families and small groups out for hikes. That was the original intent behind the founding Appalachian Trail, to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for people on a local and regional basis, and not as a long distance trail for thru-hiking. (see Benton Mackaye’s Appalachian Trail Proposal.)
I soon came to the Ed Garvey Shelter, a two-story shelter with a loft. I stopped briefly to check it out. The loft has a separate entrance around back, which is pretty unique.
Shortly after leaving, I came across two young, college-aged women who had spent the night in the loft. They were on their first backpacking trip ever and were having a great time. Who knew? Spring Break comes to the Appalachian Trail.
After talking to them for a while, I headed out, passing through Gathland State Park, where I got more water at a frost-free pump rear the park restrooms. The park is the site of several historic memorials, including an arch dedicated to War Correspondents, a reminder that the AT runs past many Civil War battlefields and notable places as it threads its way through Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
I arrived at the Rocky Run Shelters by mid-afternoon and set up my hammock for the night. I was joined by two other section hikers at dusk, Rayland and May, whose trail names are Wait Up and Catch Up. From Florida. They’ve been hiking the AT for a few years and were out to do Harper’s Ferry to the Delaware Water Gap in Pennsylvania.
There are two shelters at Rocky Run, a very old one, which has been largely abandoned, and a spanking new shelter which still has varnish on its floor.
Rayland and May stayed in the shelter because they had it to themselves and I slept in my hammock. It was quite windy that night and it got quite cold, but I was snug as a bug sandwiched between my down top quilt and underquilt.
It was still freezing the next morning however and I bundled up when I broke camp. The best way to get warm is to get walking.
My goal for the day was to get to the Ensign Cowall Shelter, just outside Waynesboro, PA so I could get to town early the next day, resupply, and get cleaned up at a hostel without having to spend two nights in town.
The walking was pretty easy again, past more historic parks including the (George) Washington Monument with a nice climb up to a viewpoint called Annapolis Rocks. I decided to check out the view there and get some water at a nearby spring, when I met Eric Prince and his family at the viewpoint. We had a nice conversation and after about 30 minutes, he realized that he knew me from my blog. It took a week on the trail, but I’d been recognized. I relish my anonymity on the trail, which is why I’m fairly secretive about when I take my section hikes, but it was nice to meet Eric in person since we’ve corresponded in the past. Small world.
Five miles further on, I arrived at the Ensign Cowall Shelter which turned out to be a real dump, sited near the road which an adjacent parking lot. The shelter had been taken over by a multi-generation family group and they weren’t very welcoming.
No worries. I rambled off and pitched my hammock out of earshot (and up wind from their fire) and settled in for the evening. I was thankful that I had the hammock, because the tent sites around this shelter were just plain awful. Hammocks aren’t perfect, but they really are a better camping shelter for this section of the AT than a tent. I’ve convinced of that.
Lying in my hammock that evening, I made plan for my resupply and Nero (near zero day) in Waynesboro, PA. One of the nice things about my hike so far, was the constant availability of cell phone access along the trail (since my phone is on the Verizon network.) Cell phone and internet access is a two-edged sword, no doubt, but it really makes hostel and shuttle reservations a lot easier to arrange from the trail.
I arranged to stay at a B&B in town that provided free shuttles to and from the trail and hiked into town the next morning to wash up and feed my hiking hunger.
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