6/5/15 – Harper’s Ferry – 8 miles (Nero Day)
We fell asleep in rain, woke to rain and started hiking in rain. Although we were still feeling pretty crappy from the day before (I had seriously considered quitting) the three of us (Roub, Darwin, and I) kept our focus on getting to the ATC Headquarters. We cruised along the trail with Oz and before we knew it we were crossing the bridge into Harper’s Ferry. My excitement was growing with every step. We hit the .6 Blue Blaze Trail that would take us to the ATC Headquarters and I let out a big “whoop!” After walking a little ways thru town, we turned a corner and BAM! There it was, the ATC Headquarters!
We stared in amazement for a few minutes then dropped our packs and entered. We were immediately welcomed by loads of volunteers. I gazed at all the AT themed items surrounding us pictures, maps, patches, jewelry, etc. and felt like I earned everything. This was a place meant for me, for us, thru-hikers. A volunteer then lead us to the Hiker Room that was loaded with food, drinks and a huge hiker box. Once we were given the full tour we had our official picture taken and our numbers were assigned. As of June 5th 2015 we are hikers 431 and 432 forever and always in the catlolog of thru hikers for the year. Darwin and I were both very excited for this huge milestone in our journey.
Our arrival at the headquarters became even more surreal when we found the Four Horsemen’s picture in one of the catalogs. Their documentary “Trek” was one of the ways I first heard about the AT. I remember when Darwin and I first watched it. I very vividly remember how much I was horrified by the thought of doing a thru-hike. I would have never guessed two years later I would be doing that “horrific” thing. We continued to flip thru the catalogs and were awed by the amount of hikers that had arrived at this same point in their hike. We dug into our mail drops we received from our family and congratulated our fellow hikers as they arrived to the headquarters. We then waited for Mamma Roub to come and take us away to showers and soft beds.
We previously decided to take a full zero tomorrow in order to celebrate reaching our mental halfway point and our upcoming wedding anniversary. This will also be the last time Roub would see Mamma before summiting Katahdin. This whole experience however was a very different one for our new friend Oz. She was just hitting her first 100 miles having started mid Shannies. We all had something to celebrate today.
After lunch we dropped Oz off at a hostel then Darwin, Roub, Mamma Roub and I headed for the hotel. Once we arrived we immediately took showers and did laundry. I got to visit with Mamma just her and me, which always helps with my homesickness. It was so good to see her and have a girl talk. She bestowed upon me a silver necklace with a compass and AT charm. She told me it was to help me find my way back to Roub and her after the trail. Life after trail? What will happen to me? What will become of my tramily? I hadn’t thought this far ahead and it scared to do so now. Going North is all I know right now. Life on trail is so simple. I pushed these thoughts aside and cherished the moments with Mamma. I ached knowing I wouldn’t see her again for a couple months and that’s only if Roub stayed with us.
We set outside to enjoy some pizza and a few adult beverages for dinner; still relishing our accomplishment. The hotel manager who was new to the area came out and visited us while we ate. He was the most polite and interesting person to talk to with. He asked us tons of questions about the trail and was proud to show us his newly made hiker box, which we so gladly pillaged. Our bellies full and our bodies clean, Darwin and I fell asleep to the sound of an Ed Sullivan infomercial and the hum of the air conditioner. A zero day was on the horizon.