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July 8, 1983 Friday (1173.6 mtg) From Gonzo!s Appalachian Trail journal

From Tony's I only had to travel about a mile before I marked off another state in my fourteen state trek. Virginia and its five hundred plus miles were behind me. I had gotten up early and did not get a chance to see Tony before I left. At the very extreme southeast corner of West Virginia, the trail entered and went by an area known as Raven Rocks before running past an area known as "the Devils Racecourse." After that it followed the border between West Virginia and Virginia on the ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains until Loudon Heights overlooking Harpers Ferry.

I stopped at Key's Gap shelter, but did not take the one tenth of a mile side trail to the store nearby since I would be arriving in Harpers Ferry this afternoon. While at the shelter, we all got excited when we read something in the register that talked about the KOA located near Harpers Ferry. Supposedly every Saturday there was an old fashioned ice cream social, and this particular KOA claimed to have a water slide located in the park. With the heat the way it has been lately, that was all it took to convince Tom and me that we should spend the night at the KOA.

I chose to descend off the ridge into Harpers Ferry along the past Appalachian Trail, now a blue-blazed side trail called the Loudoun Heights Trail. The Post office was my first stop. I received a package from my mother and a letter from Dave Szabo. Next, I stopped at a local restaurant for a refreshing rootbeer float before continuing on to the Appalachian Trail Conference headquarters in downtown Harpers Ferry. There I met Jean Cashin, who takes care of all things at the headquarters. I had corresponded with her as I planned my trip and purchased materials such as guides and maps, etc. but had not actually met her until today. I bought a new version of the Philosopher's Guide for 1983, five postcards, and an updated version of the NY/NJ guidebook and maps. While we were there, Tom and I had our pictures taken with the polaroid camera that was used to record all the thru-hikers that stop in at the ATC during their hike. That same afternoon, I met Greg Gilbert, another thru-hiker on his way north. Tom and I talked Jean into giving us a ride to the KOA where we paid for the nights stay at the entrance to the park, but after checking out the tentsites and discovering they were all located on a hillside, and finding not a level spot in the place, we became irritated. When we found out that they really did not have an ice cream social or a water slide, we really got ticked-off. We went back to the entrance and demanded a refund. KOA's are not designed for AT hikers.

I caught a ride to the Sandy Hook Bridge over the Potomac River, and was dropped off such that I could walk across the bridge into Maryland. I had entered West Virginia today and now was leaving on the same day. Five states down - nine more to go. I talked with a fisherman who was fishing from the bridge high above the river. He was fishing for Channel Catfish. I imagined that it must be tough getting the fish out of the water and reeling it all the way up to the bridge platform. Probably exciting just to watch.

At the far end of the bridge and up the road a piece, sat Cindy Dee's Restaurant. I stopped there for a meal and was disappointed to find that due to a fire in May, their cooking was all done with the microwave. Since I was already there, I ordered one of their microwave items and found it to be good anyway. Since I had not intended to go any farther today than I already had, I only continued the short distance necessary to reach the American Youth Hostel located near the trail just past the bridge, and paid the $5.25 required to spend the night. From what I recall, the church run hostels beat the AYH by a mile as far as cleanliness and feeling of hospitality. I think maybe this was because this place was just getting started and was still under renovation.

Having left West Virginia, I called my mom and informed her I had entered Maryland, the sixth state. I told her about my longest mileage day that took place the day she and dad dropped me off so early in the morning on July 4th after their brief visit. I traveled an awesome 30 miles in one day! I must have been experiencing mosquitoe problems during the last few weeks as she asked me if I had gotten any repellant yet. I had not, so I told her I was looking for Cutter's Musk Oil repellant with a picture of a Pirate on the bottle. (notes from mom). I told her that I got the package she had sent on July 1. I left instructions for the next package that she would send out the following day to the town of Duncannon, Pennsylvania. She would enclose a roll of Agfa slide film in this package along with other items.

Gonzo! Appalachian Trail Journals ©1983

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