The Comma

As exciting as it was to be back in the land of our gear tests and practice hikes, nothing has yet compared to the feeling of hiking 1,000 miles. That comma carries some serious weight. When, aside from flying, have I done 1,000 miles of anything in a continuous fashion?

Hooray! No one was here to take our picture so this is another magically spliced photo

We passed into the four digit realm on our first day in West Virginia. The day had been an interesting one. We began with the “Roller Coaster”–a 14.5 mile stretch with a dozen tightly packed ascents and descents ranging from four hundred to seven hundred feet. We were lucky enough to drop in at a PATC hostel midday for a couple of pints of ice cream–our number one craving on warm, rigorous days. Passing the 1,000 mile mark late that afternoon gave us a boost of energy that lasted into Harpers Ferry, the symbolic halfway point of the trail. Technically, it’s about 75 miles shy of the actual halfway point but the Appalachian Trail Conservancy has its headquarters there and makes a pleasant fuss over the hikers passing through.

Here are a few images from our days in Shenandoah National Park and Sky Meadows:

Four separate thruhikers reported that this particular bunny sat obstinately in the middle of the path leaving the shelter. Why it returned repeatedly to such a high traffic location, we may never know.

Skyline Drive cuts through the middle of Shenandoah National Park and the AT tracks it closely–we crossed back and forth over the road as many as 12 times in a day.

A yellow lady slipper orchid growing by the trail.

After switching to our lighter weight summer gear a few weeks earlier, we encountered fits of freezing rain and snow even into May. This day had us in high hopes for seeing a “snowbow” (the snowy sibling of a rainbow…) but it never materialized.

We found the tree from one of our previous forays into the park!

Sky Meadows on a lovely Mothers Day meant lots of families out and about. One such mother, bedecked in sparkly fairy wings, explained that we were in “Imaginationland” as her two children passed by in even more extravagant costumes.


The view at the end of the Roller Coaster.

Behind those twigs lies the mighty Shenandoah River with Harpers Ferry just across the bridge. Halfway, ho!


After five months of Snickers Bars and couscous, eating all the meat and vegetables I can get my hands on...
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