About 11:30 after we got motivated, we headed out for Harper's Ferry and we arrived about noon. Because it was a federal holiday, the park Visitor's Center was closed and the buses weren't running into town. We usually park and ride into town to avoid the congestion in downtown Harper's Ferry, but New Year's Day we continued past the park entrance to Shenandoah Street only to find the parking lot next to the river and under the railroad trestle closed as well.
We continued on to the Amtrak station where everybody else was trying to park. After about 10 minutes, a car left and we were finally able to get a spot. The congestion in the parking lot would be a good indicator of how crowded the trails were: there was no solitude at all. I kind of expected there to be fewer people, but the weather was supremely gorgeous. Everyone on the trail was pleasant and wished us a Happy New Year, but still, I relish my quiet on hikes.
On the way to Harper's Ferry, Ann told me about a hiking challenge that asks people to get out and make 52 hikes in a year, an average rate of one per week. That sounds easy enough, but with my work schedule leaving me about 48 days off a year (not to mention all the other things we have planned for this year), it's going to be a hell of a challenge for us. But why not try? Here then is the saga of hike number one for 2017.
|1889 Victorian-Style Amtrak Station, Harper's Ferry|
|Pilgrim Ganders in HFNHP|
|Crossing the Potomac, Bridge Plaque|
|Descending to the C&O Canal Towpath|
|Tunnel under Maryland Heights|
|Maryland Heights Cliffs, Lock House, Canal|
|Bird's Nest in a Sycamore, C&O Canal Towpath|
|The Abandoned Hilltop House Hotel|
It was a truly gorgeous day especially for the first of January, but in spite of that, Ann and I clearly had very different takes on the nearly 50-degree sunny day. She started off in many layers of clothes with hat and gloves, while I wore shorts and a long-sleeved shirt. Ann quickly found herself shedding layers once we started climbing. And climb we did.
Across the Potomac in Maryland, the mountain goes up very quickly and there are a couple really steep sections. As we were climbing one section of very steep terrain on an old wagon road and Annie was finding it hard to get her breath, I mentioned to her that it must have taken some herculean effort to drag cannons up this road during the Civil War. And in crazy coincidence, we saw the sign below beside the trail not 50 yards from where I made my remarks. It reads "Tired and Breathless? ... Try ascending this road hauling a 9700 pound gun..." Take a moment to read it, especially the last part about President Lincoln calling it quits going up to review the troops because it was too steep. Not much of a hiker, I guess.
|Ann Was Huffing and Puffing As She Read This.|
|At the Ridgetop, Stone Fort Plans|
|The Potomac From Stone Fort|
|Sitting on Stone Fort Ruins|
|Brunswick MD and Sugarloaf Mountain|
|Hilltop House Hotel from Above the Cliffs|
|Northwest Towards Shepherdstown|
|Harper's Ferry, Always Photogenic|
|1/1/2017: What's Wrong with This Picture?|
|Big Kettle of Vultures at the Cliffs|
|Eye Level Fly By|
|One of the Brand New CSX ET44s|
|St. Peters Rises Above Town at Sunset|
|Back Where We Started|
It was without a doubt a really spectacular day to visit one of the most spectacular sites on the East Coast and not a bad hike for getting back into the swing of things after several weekends without getting out. And now for the next 51 hikes this year!