After a great breakfast and a slow morning with the Wheatons, we all hit the trail together. Jonathan and RobinHood flew up the first hill with the girls at their heels. The adults (with Hurricabe riding) struggled to keep up. After the Wheatons turned off to head back home (with hugs all around), the kids pace slowed noticeably! But we still cruised into Harpers Ferry before closing hours for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy headquarters.
Harpers Ferry is known as the psychological halfway point (the real halfway point is rumored to be three score miles north in Pennsylvania). We were lucky enough to walk into ATC headquarters when some celebrity volunteers were manning the front desk. We met Pam Underhill (the former NPS superintendent of the AT), as well as the current NPS superintendent of Harpers Ferry National Park (whose son, No Pants, we met in the Smokies also thru-hiking this year). And of course we met the ATC’s Laurie Pottinger.
It was all very exciting. We had our pictures taken for the thru-hikers book, and leafed through the old books, looking at our photos from 2002 and finding pictures of the families from that year that inspired this adventure. Baltimore Jack (a serial thru-hiker, though not hiking this year) was also there, and we enjoyed seeing his picture in the 2002 book on his way north. We put off opening most of the packages until Saturday, but we were treated to a bag of honest to goodness Pemmican made by my friend Mr. Anthony and left for us when he was down this way a couple of weeks ago. Everyone but Momma Bear tried some, and we’re all glad that it is not our sole source of protein on this trip.
We had been planning to come into Harpers Ferry a day later, spend the night and celebrate Cartwheel’s 8th birthday, but a Wired week put us a day ahead of schedule. In yet another display of trail life kismet, we ran into Sean (Reilly’s dad who we camped with on 5/24), who was setting off on a hike of his own with some friends, but who also came bearing gifts for Cartwheel from Reilly. After a dinner in town, we walked out to a pretty campsite on the upper Potomac. Tomorrow we’ll hike a little farther north, then catch a ride back to Town to spend the night and meet up with a few good friends from the DC area on Cartwheel’s special day.