Leaving Harper’s Ferry you follow an old canal road for several miles.  The path runs right along the Potomac which is both scenic and flat which makes it quite enjoyable for someone who has been climbing up and down mountains a lot.  And after about 3 miles all that is over and you get to climb a mountain again.

There are some people who attempt a 4 state challenge out of Harper’s Ferry.  Slack-packing and going back a bit to get started in VA one can do miles in VA, WV, MD and PA on the same day.  Assuming that you hike 44 miles that is.  That shit is not for us.

Good thing, too.  We made it only around 10 miles out of Harper’s Ferry since we hung around so long we ate lunch at a restaurant.  And the climb when we did hit it – sucked.  Nothing like 3 miles of perfectly flat roadway to help you understand the exertions of a good climb.

The next morning we got completely soaked in a thunderstorm that Weatherbug said wouldn’t be along til after lunch.  ALL weather apps lie to hikers. 

As you leave Maryland and enter Pennsylvania you cross the famous Mason-Dixon line.  Unlike the Confederacy we are pushing well beyond that line.

Pennsylvania is known for being rocky on the AT.  People complain about it a lot.  Maryland was no bed of roses as far as rocky goes so I entered PA with some trepidation.  Rocks did not immediately spring from the ground and stab at my feet.  So far, so good.

Shortly after you arrive in PA there is the Pen-Mar park.  Bobby D’s, a local Italian restaurant, delivers to the park.  They had a $19.99 special:  large cheese pizza + 10 wings + 2 liter soda.  We ate the pizza, rebagged the wings (BBQ) and poured the remnants of the soda in our “extra” water bottles that we carry and only fill when we have need to do so.  Not wasting soda = need.  Then we booked it a few more miles to Deer Lick shelter.  As we left Hammer and Littlewing were arrivingat the park.

Hammer is a hiker we have seen a lot.  We met him back before the Smokies and he seemed very trailwise at the time.  He was just using a tarp to sleep under as were his buddies, Mallet and Mouse.  Oddity: Hammer and Mallet went to school together and their trail names are their actual surnames.  Mouse – I am not sure where he got his trail name.  We stayed behind them for a long time and saw the ledger entries at various shelters indicating how far ahead they were – yet we somehow caught up to Hammer who is now hiking with his girlfriend, Littlewing.  As a couple they are pretty cool.  We’ve been alternating ahead/behind them since Waynesboro.

Deer Lick is actually two separate buildings – one for snoring and one for non-snoring.  People failed to respect the designations.  We tented so it didn’t bother us any.  The leftover wings supplemented breakfast.

The next morning we were slow to start but had a good midday treat.  We walked 1.2 miles off the trail to visit the South Mountain Inn, which has no rooms to rent but to mitigate this omission sells Yeungling for $4 per pitcher.  They do a decent menu as well.  We had chicken tenders, burgers, onion rings, fries and salads.  By the time we finished lunch (and a couple of pitchers) we were pretty much over our indignation at all the motorists who had ignored our attempts to hitch there.  Good thing, too.  We got no ride back to the trail either.  Yankees do not pick up hitchhikers apparently. 

The afternoon sw us into Caledonia state park.  We made the mistake of paying $4 each for showers at the pool facilities.  The water was not only not hot, it was barely tolerable.  I spent my shower time shivering and wishing for my $4 back.  After that we declined to spend any money at the snack bar and headed out.  And ran smack dab into some trail magic.  Parmesan and Opie were thruhikers last year and laid out a good spread which we happily partook of:  hot dogs, baked beans, salad, several kinds of chips, fresh fruit, sodas and even ice cream.  We left the park with full bellies and a 700 foot climb for our last few miles into the Quarry Rock shelter.

Quarry Rock, if not the nicest, is certainly one of the nicest shelters on the trail.  Like Deer Lick it has two sleeping shelters, snoring and non-snoring.  The caretaker goes to much extra effort at Quarry Rock.  He has roofed over the walkway between the buildings, added a lockbox for food storage, installed solar lighting in the privy along with a doorbell, lined the stream with rock border and brought in hanging basket flowers.  He visits daily to water them and tend the area.  Tent pads are wooden elevated structures and like everything else at this shelter very nice.

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