Yesterday my buddy and I had the chance to enjoy a different section of the Appalachian Trail for the first time. We started at the base of Weaverton Cliffs in Maryland and made our way down the C&O Canal/Appalachian Trail for a little over 3 miles. As we made our way across the bridge and into Harpers Ferry WV, we enjoyed the nice little warm up before our initial climb. Lower Harpers Ferry is exactly that, lower. From that point on we started climbing. First, a bunch of stairs leading out of Harpers Ferry and onto the actual Appalachian Trail.
We made our way up toward's Jefferson Rock and stopped for a moment so I could snap a few photo's. This was my first time in the town of Harpers Ferry so I was being a tourist. From there it was a mixture of rolling and twisting trail, eventually dropping us out at the bridge crossing at the Shenandoah river. The ground was wet and muddy because of the light snow-rain mixture from the previous night. It was cold but nothing that would have you shivering. We crossed the bridge and got back onto the trail. Another flight of rock steps to climb. From that point on it was a continuous climb to Loudoun Heights. As we made our way up the 1.5 mile climb we made our way through rock's and root's. A constant twisting and turning leading us in to snow.
The ground became slick and the trail was hard to pick up. At time's the snow would stick to the tree's and make it hard to see the white blazes. We made it up the 901 foot climb without any problem's. We took a moment so Milburn could down a gel and we could get a quick breather before heading out towards Keys Gap.
Today (Feb 11th) was an all new adventure for us. We have completed the Maryland section of the Appalachian Trail (42 miles) already and wanted to knock out some section's in West Virginia and Virginia. We chose to run just 20 miles today and see how the trail treated us. There are some hard section's with some serious rock patches but it's pretty tame compared to Maryland. After making our way through some rock garden's we were able to get in a nice steady groove of running. Our footprints were the only ones on top of the mountain so we enjoyed some nice quiet running. It was so nice to get out there and enjoy such a good day. The snow falling made me feel like a kid out playing. We eventually made our way over to Keys Gap, where we decided to run a bit further to hit the 10 mile mark.
The way back seemed to go without any problems and the trail seemed easier to run. We did pass two other runner's and a walker at the parking area near Keys Gap. Near the top of Loudoun Heights we passed two hikers. That's not bad at all. Seeing 5 people on the Trail is a good day.
Milburn was out in front of me as I enjoyed snapping photo's to later show my wife and daughter. I had to play catch up for a bit and caught him on the descent back down the trail towards Harpers Ferry. I messed up our combined streak of not falling while on the trail's. It would have been 43 miles at the end of our run but I slipped going down the mountain. Nothing major, a minor spill really, but it was a fall. As we crossed back the bridge of the Shenandoah I snapped a photo of part of the area where we just ran.
We sidetracked our way over to the Appalachian Trail Visitor's Ceneter before making our way back to Weaverton. The difference in temperature on top of the mountain to the basin was drastic. The snow had turned to light rain at times and the sun was shining now. The fog that had been there burnt off leading to a very pleasant day. The Lower Harpers Ferry area now had some people walking around checking the sight's out. It really is a nice area and has some major historical landmarks. A must see for sure. However, today was not the day for us. I snapped a few more photo's as Milburn continued running. I eventually made my way up to him and we enjoyed the flatness of the Canal leading back to where we were parked.
Overall it was a good day of trail running. We enjoyed seeing some new trail's and knocking off some more of the Appalachian Trail. This capped off a 58 mile week for me. I dropped my mileage a bit for recovery this week but hope to bring it back this coming week. Get out there and enjoy your life!! Have a great week!