Day 93 – June 8 – 19 miles – Annapolis Rocks to Waynesboro PA
At the Annapolis Rocks Campsite there was a caretaker that lived in a large tent. Next to the large tent was a picnic table that had a tarp hanging above it. It was there that Stoat and I decided to have breakfast. As we were eating, Flashfire stopped by. She and Zeus were planning on staying at another couchsurfing.com place that night and she wanted to find out what our plans were.
We talked over our plans for a few minutes and then Flashfire headed out again. Not long after she left, the caretaker groggily emerged from his tent. He asked us if someone with a German accent had been speaking. When we said yes, he looked relieved. He said that he had been dreaming of Indiana Jones. When he woke to the sounds of someone speaking with a German accent he became very confused.
After clearing up his confusion, he let us know that we had camped there at the right time. That night the dragstrip in the valley would be open for business. Filling the area with the sounds of a raceway. Then on the weekend the place would fill up with overnighters. We felt lucky to have the place basically to ourselves.
After hiking in the woods for a few miles we came to a few open fields. It was a welcome change of scenery.
In one of the shady spots between fields someone left some trail magic.
We were doing ok on water but we appreciated the gesture anyway.
A little while after the trail magic we came to a power line area that I thought looked pretty enough to take a picture of.
After passing through easy terrain for a while, we came to something I was not expecting. A boulder field. “Oh no”, I thought, “The rocks of Pennsylvania start in Maryland! Why didn’t we know this?”
That section of the trail was not marked that well. There were several times when we had to look around a little to find the trail. Thankfully the boulder field only lasted a short while. My concerns of rocks covertly invading from Pennsylvania were assuaged.
At some point after the rocks we met up with Scarecrow and the three of us walked the remaining miles to Pen Mar Park.
When we got to Pen Mar park we saw a sign advertising trail magic. We turned a bend in the trail and we saw some people having a picnic. We stood there for a minute trying to figure out if they were the trail angels or just a group of people enjoying a day a the park. It would be kind of embarrassing if we accidentally crashed someones picnic. Then a woman waved to us. That’s all we needed to see to walk quickly over.
Jen was the name of the woman who waved us over. She and her husband had a table set up with all kinds of food. When we asked her why she was doing trail magic, she said that she read about it and thought it would be something interesting to do. How cool it that?! (To read about her experience providing trail magic in her own words click here.)
While we were at the trail magic, Stoat and I saw a sign we had been looking for. Our mom had sent us an old picture of our grandma standing next to a sign on the Appalachian Trail. We weren’t exactly sure where the picture had been taken. We had been keeping an eye out for it and we finally found it. We asked Scarecrow to take a picture of us so we could show our Grandma when we got back
(Grandma is on the far right)
When we got back on the trail we crossed some railroad tracks and immediately came to a border crossing sign.
Not only were we crossing into Pennsylvania, we were crossing the Mason Dixon Line. After 93 days we were now in the North. Stoat and I high-fived and crossed the border together.
Next to the sign there was a stone mailbox of sorts that contained a trail register. Signing trail registers was a fun thing to do and it also let hikers behind you keep track of your progress.
On top of the mailbox was a painted rock that really struck a chord with me. It said, “Katahdin Is Calling.” That simple phrase gave me a reality check. It reminded me that we weren’t just on some long backpacking trip. We were almost to the halfway point of the freaking Appalachian Trail. I had been so caught up in the day to day adventures that getting to Katahdin had become almost an afterthought. Seeing that rock had brought back old dreams of someday summiting Mt. Katahdin with my brother.
When it was my turn to write in the trail register, I glanced at what Stoat wrote. I looked at him in surprise. “What?”, he said a little too innocently. I said, ” There are some people around here who might come after you for that.” He said, “Who cares! Plus, how will they find me?” Good point. In the register he wrote, “Death to the Confederacy!” His attempt at historical ironical humor.
2.6 miles later we came to route 16 where we were going to try to hitch a ride into town. When we came to a small parking area a car pulled up and a hiker got out. We went over to the driver and asked if he could give us a ride into town. He said he was driving for Uber but he wouldn’t charge us because he was heading back that way anyway.
The driver ( Paul ) dropped us off in the Walmart parking lot which was right next to the hotel where we had reservations. We thanked him, he wished us luck, and went on his way.
We went over to the hotel to check in and drop our packs. We planned on eating at the Apple Bees next store and the resupply at Walmart.
At Apple Bees they had a 2 for $20 dollars deal. It included 2 salads and two entrees. That sounded like a good deal to me so I ordered it for myself. Stoat ordered his own meal. When the food came to the table, the employee was a little confused. They couldn’t seem to get past the idea that there was three salads and three entrees for only two people. I assured them everything was fine and to just give…me…my…food. The only thing left when I was done was a little bit of salad and a little bit of pasta. I guess I could have eaten that too if I hadn’t ordered dessert as well. Hiker Hunger is an amazing thing.
On the way back to the hotel, we passed two off duty well diggers who were drinking some beer in the hotel parking lot. The older guy called over to us. ” You guys hike from Georgia?”, he asked. When we said that we had, the younger guy looked at us with incredulity. “What the F—! You guys walked from Georgia?!” His mind was blown. He had never heard of the Appalachian trail before he met us, and he suddenly had all kinds of questions.
It was cool to see someones first reaction to finding out about the trail. It was also interesting to hear the conversation with him go from, “What is the Appalachian trail?” to “How can I hike the AT?”
After talking with them for a while we called it a night.
Before going inside, I noticed how bright the moon appeared. I thought about how, at that very moment, the pale glow of the moonlight was reflecting off tents, filling shelters, and casting shadows all along the vast length of the AT. About how calm the forest got at that hour. About how I’d grown to love the sound of a soft breeze making its way lazily through the trees as I drifted off to sleep.