I joined my buddies Tortilla Tosser, Stoneheart and Trail Beard on the AT in Northern Virginia, not far from Front Royal. The idea was that I would spot them on their AT section hike. I would park at a road crossing each morning and hike with them for a couple of hours. Then I would return to my car and travel north to pick them up at a end-of-the-day road crossing. This was a rare chance for the three of them to rack up miles on their section hike of the entire AT without carrying full-weight packs.
The lads made their way north over the “Roller Coaster” of North Virginia where a narrow corridor forced trail builders to follow a severe up and down course. Then, they hiked into West Virginia where we stopped by ATC HQ in Harpers Ferry. It was fun getting reacquainted with my old friend, the legendary Laurie Potteiger. As a side note, I met Laurie’s husband on the trail where he was slaving merrily away with a trail crew.
As you will note in the photo above taken by Trail Beard (Kevin Tanner, all rights reserved), we left Harpers Ferry and hiked a few easy miles on a lush, wet day down the historic Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Towpath. Flat, easy hiking which made for a nice finish to a wet day.
Over the next few days, I spotted the guys through Maryland where they began to get some sense of the delightful rocks which get much worse in Pennsylvania. Tortilla Tosser has already completed PA, so he gleefully regaled the other guys with how much fun it will be when the PA rocks turn their feet into sawdust.
The next-to-the-last day of the trip ended near Pen Mar Park, a sentimental favorite spot of mine which I hiked past on my 1973 thru-hike and where we met son with snacks on his 2000 thru-hike. And finally the last day ended with the trio more than a dozen miles into PA. Tortilla Tosser has about 170 miles left to finish his section hike of nearly 40 years. We hiked a lot together since 2000, and I finished my section hike in 2014. Now, I feel invested in helping the Tosser wrap up his own section hike. This time out we had a great trip with no injuries and lots of laughs. Stay vertical, keep walkin’ and recommend THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story to all your friends.