1000 Miles at Harpers Ferry
I learned early during my journey that I’d drive myself crazy if my one goal was to sit atop Mt. Katahdin. It seemed like too distant, and too insane, a motivator, so I set smaller goals … such as just making it to the next town. For the last three months, I obsessed over reaching Harpers Ferry, WV, which sits at the beautiful 1,014 mile marker (from Springer, GA). Something about reaching the thousand mile marker seemed exhilarating, and I thought that if I could get to Harpers Ferry, surely I could hike another 1,000-plus miles to get to Maine.
But Harpers Ferry isn’t a highlight just for me. The town is considered the “psychological halfway point” on the trail. Because of constant reroutes, the technical halfway point changes practically each year. It’s tradition for thru hikers (whether north or south bound) to swing by the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) headquarters to sign the register and have their photos taken in order to be included in the official hiker count for the hiking season. I was thru hiker #338 (for this season) to pass through the town.
Think of the ATC as the trail equivalent of the grand wizard in Dorothy’s Oz … they’re the ones behind all the smoke and mirrors. The ATC works with thousands of volunteers to maintain and protect the foot path that so many of us enjoy. Their headquarters is open to the public and has an abundance of informational materials about the trail. If you’re interested in learning more about the trail and meeting whatever smelly thru hikers happen to be passing through, stop on by and hang out for a while! Click here to visit the ATC website.