Sky Meadows State Park, Virginia, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Ryan Linn
Read something else

Wrapping Up the Virginia Hike

We set out into the last bit of the AT in Virginia, the section between Shenandoah and Harper’s Ferry, a section that is often overlooked because it just flies by for most AT hikers. It is, after all, a section with no major mountains, little exciting terrain, and a lot of filler where the AT is routed between tightly packed roads and private property.

Ryan Linn       Trip Report       06/23/2014
Ryan Linn
Trip Report
06/23/2014

Duff, Trigger, and I left Front Royal after a half day at the Quality Inn, drying out and recovering from the nasty conditions of the previous day.

I’m always amazed at how quickly the body can heal with just a half day of rest on a long backpacking trip— my feet had been in a lot of pain when we got into town from the huge miles I’d done in the national park, plus the mad dash to town on the rainy final day (14 miles to town in the rain by 11 AM), but by the morning my feet felt totally fine.

My mind wasn’t quite back to 100%, but I’ll get to that later.

Hikers walk through an overgrown green forest in Virginia on the Appalachian Trail.
Welcome to the jungle…of Northern Virginia.
Photo by Ryan Linn

We all decided to hike on the same schedule to Harper’s Ferry, since I had a train ticket, Duff had family meeting her, and Trigger was right on schedule hiking, all of us aiming for a Monday arrival. So we set out into the last bit of the AT in Virginia, the section between Shenandoah and Harper’s Ferry, a section that is often overlooked because it just flies by for most AT hikers.

It is, after all, a section with no major mountains, little exciting terrain, and a lot of filler where the AT is routed between tightly packed roads and private property. Much of the trail in this area was practically a jungle, with undergrowth so thick it was impossible to get off trail for anything like camping or using the facilitrees.

What few views the trail passed were mostly overlooked by the through-hikers I saw, everyone focused solely on getting to the 1000-mile mark of their grand journey.

I must admit, I felt much the same way, as I was now in the stage of the hike where I was mostly just eager to get home for some rest and relaxation before heading west to teach at NOLS.

The heat and humidity weren’t as oppressive as they had been in southern Virginia, but they were still more than I ever care to deal with. To add another nasty side to the hike, pulling ticks off my legs was now a daily occurrence. At least none made it past my shorts, with their heavy duty permethrin treatment.

The last few days before Harper’s Ferry highlighted the biggest problem of this trip for me— as I had feared from the beginning of this trip, I had wound up right in the middle of the giant herd of through-hikers.

The crowd had thinned out since Shenandoah, thankfully, and the folks I hiked near for the last few days were all wonderful people, but the trail was packed none the less. Being so close to Washington DC, being in the middle of the through-hiker crowd, being in an area that has such mellow hiking— I can’t even count how many people I ran into on a given day.

Before long I was standing in the little office at the edge of Harper’s Ferry, just as I had seven years ago, feeling a little bittersweet about the end of the trip.

I stayed at the Teahorse Hostel, a fine place within walking distance from the ATC headquarters, with a great group of fellow hikers. We all had a relaxed evening in town, with dinner and a World Cup match at a bar, and that was it. Early the next morning, I was on a train to DC, then Boston, then Portland.

I had my parents send my computer to me at Harper’s Ferry, so I was able to get right into working on updating my apps.

A hiker leans agains the wall at the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
Happy to be done, happy to be at the ATC.
Photo by Ryan Linn
Two people enjoy a large meal.
The best place for a post-hike dinner, Conte’s 1984 in Rockland, Maine, with my buddy Uncle Tom.
Photo by Ryan Linn

It’s always best after a long hike to stay busy to avoid post-trail depression, but that doesn’t stop you from missing the hiking lifestyle.

I have a love/hate relationship with long distance backpacking, and this time was no different. I was so sick of the heat, the blisters, the younger partying hikers, the crowds, the humidity (again), but as soon as I changed into some cotton clothing and packed my things up for the train ride, I felt like I was leaving home rather than going there.

Luckily, I had a few days in Portland with my best friend before heading further up the coast, and then a big dinner at Conte’s with one of my best hiker buddies, Uncle Tom. And I’ve been plenty busy ever since.


Want to keep up with all that’s going on at Atlas Guides? Sign up for our newsletter!

Read more!

Check out some related blog posts!

Get our trail guide for this area!

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)       $59.99 full guide
Learn more
Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Zoë Symon
Pennsylvania, Appalachian Trail
Photo by Zoë Symon

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail is one of the oldest National Scenic Trails in the US. Its path takes you from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mt. Katahdin in Maine.

2200 mi (3540 km)
$59.99 full guide
Learn more
Get our trail guide for this area!
About the Author
A man wears a blue shirt, blue backpack, and a tan baseball cap.

Ryan Linn

Ryan is also known as “Guthook”, which is where our apps get their name. Already an avid hiker, he hiked the Appalachian Trail, New England Trail, and Pacific Crest Trail before joining forces with Paul to create the Guthook Guides apps. Ryan handles iOS development for our apps from his office in Maine, and usually runs away to the forests and mountains throughout New England. He also volunteers with the Maine Appalachian Trail Club and the Natural Resources Council of Maine. Baxter State Park in Maine is his happy place.