A couple of years ago I was hiking on the C&O Canal up by Shepherdstown, WV when I crossed paths with a woman who had hiked up from Harper’s Ferry. I had never thought about hiking to Shepherdstown from Harper’s Ferry. Since then I hadn’t really ever stopped thinking about it. I mean, it would be really neat to walk to Shepherdstown and have a great lunch, wouldn’t it? Well, wouldn’t it??? I finally got the chance to find out! And a few hiking pals willingly agreed to come along. 🙂
We met at the C&O Canal across the river from Shepherdstown, then shuttled to Harper’s Ferry. Thanks to hiker pal Thelma we were sporting a national park pass and did not have to pay to park at the train station in Harper’s Ferry! This was a good sign, as were the sunny skies, warm sun and bathrooms in the train station. 🙂
We left our hiking poles in the car, joking about how tough this flat hike would be. Queen V commented on the “strenuous” elevation gain as we walked up the ramp to the railroad bridge that crosses the river to the canal. Crossing the railroad bridge, we descended the spiral staircase down to the canal and headed north to Shepherdstown.
Chatting lightheartedly, we walked briskly and the miles flew by. At the first campground hiker pal L promptly tried out a “chair” she found. Dargans Bend at mile 64.9 called us in for a quick break and stretch, then we were off again! Still all smiles!
The Potomac River was moving fast in the other direction. Small white capped waves bullied their way south, made ever stronger by the recent heavy rains and melting snow. As beautiful as the river was, after so many miles, it made me feel as if on a treadmill. Walking, ever walking, were we getting closer? Except for the small brown mile markers that counted down the miles, there was no way of knowing.
Then we stomped on to Antietam Creek campground. Arriving at the campground, it was time to sit down and get off our feet! That flat walking was taking its toll on all of us. While we sat there at the campground I kind of drifted off into thoughts like, “I should’ve brought another pair of socks…I hope these sore spots on my feet aren’t blisters…shin splints? No not even thinking about that.” then I looked to the blue, blue sky and caught a glimpse of … is that a…yes, oh, then out loud I exclaimed “hey look!!! an Eagle!!”
It was now time for us to move on as well, not too much more now! We can do this! We passed mile marker 71, then 72. Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be the last one! We had come almost 13 miles. My steps were slow now. Just one foot in front of the other. It was getting harder. My legs were stiff, and the threat of shin splints was ever greater. No, no, no! That will not happen! I took my head out of the pain and focused on the cold beer and taco salad that would be waiting for me in Shepherdstown.
It worked…I slogged that last mile with dignity (as excruciating as it was to lift each foot and put it down on that blasted hard packed gravel covered canal). Arriving at the car I was definitely ready for comfort and cursed my lack of forethought in leaving my flip flops back in Harper’s Ferry. I fell into Queen V’s brand new car, feeling slightly guilty at leaving mud on the passenger side floor mat. But then we were moving. Oh the pleasure of a car after a long, long, walk!