Joyful Sounds

Sunday, July 11
Dahlgren Backpack Campground (1040.3)

To get back to Trail, leave motel and walk back to the center of Harpers Ferry. It's early, see few people. Get to where Trail is supposed to be but it takes a bit to find the ramp which heads up to a shared railroad bridge which crosses the river. Day hikers, runners, and bikers use the same path.







It almost appears the path is going into the dark tunnel on the other side, but instead descends down a sturdy iron fence to a pathway below. Again, trail is not well marked as path goes in two directions, but see a hiker I know and get settled on the right path.


The path is smooth, following an 1800's "C&O Canal Towpath". The canal still exists, initially dry and filled with various plant growth, and later with water and bright green algae. I'm the only hiker, but there's lots of bikers, joggers, and casual walkers. At three miles veer off to a parking area, but towpath apparently continues much further.

I'm now firmly in Maryland. Rest for a bit, since next section is supposed to be challenging. Start, and maybe because I thought it was going to be tough, it seems easier. Up some, across rocky section that leads under a highway.

Stop at the Ed Garvey Shelter (1029.4) for water and food break. Talk to a family on a day hike, then with Crashpad and Tupac who seem a bit surprised to see me. Gabe is texting suggesting we go a bit further than planned to Dahlgren Campground, which makes sense.

Back on the trail and find I'm really enjoying the hike. The trail is forgiving, the heat and humidity are lower than in Virginia, and I'm making good time. Taking a "good rock"* break, Crashpad and Tupac bring my cook set bag which I'd set aside at the shelter. Thank you! They move on.

Trail veers off into what appears to be a state park, which it is, but it's mostly dedicated to a War Journalists Memorial, and partly to a Civil War skirmish in 1862 during the larger battle of South Mountain. Rather than recount both here, please separately do an internet search for background and learn of the memorial's sponsor, it's worth it.

From rags to riches as a Civil War journalist.

War Correspondents Memorial



Skirmishes abound in this area as Lee struggled to consolidate and protect his forces before the Battle of Antietam. 

Crashpad and Tupac are here and give me general directions, including pointing me towards an air conditioned museum where I can drop my bag while visiting. I do, and wander around. Eventually decide to continue on, get backpack and head through park toward trail and yet again, Crashpad is calling to me. I head over to a covered picnic area and a woman has set up Trail Magic with cold soda, fruit, and eight pints of fresh ice cream from a local creamery.

Sketch is too far away to participate.


Trail angel (left), Tupac (center), and Crashpad (right)

When is something bad going to happen today?

Say many thank you's and return to trail to finish the seven miles to the campground. It is state run, with seven tent pads, four occupied so I settle in on one to wait for Gabe. He arrives an hour or so later, and had a tougher day.

A group of younger hikers are crowded at a picnic table and later find out why. They've ordered in pizzas. A bit incongruous but makes me smile. A few others soon after having hiked to a convenience store for beer.

It about 8:30 so I crawl into my tent to get away from bugs and start settling in. As I'm lying there I listen to the conversation, as one dialog turns into three, volume increasing so each conversation can be heard. Broken by laughter, three turns to two, and two into one, then a brief silence, before it starts again. Makes me both happy and mildly melancholy, as I recall my own youthful conversations and our kids growing up with that same carefree sound.

______

* Good Rock Rule: I started this rule in 2014, which is if I see a good rock (or log), regardless of when I had my last break, it's okay to sit down. It's an option to sit, not an obligation. "Never pass a good rock."

A "great rock" is a different thing, flat and wide, high enough that my feet are in the air, with a slight rise so my backpack is lifted off my shoulders. Very hard to pass a great rock.




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