Day 40

Campsite to Mason-Dixon Line, Pen Mar Road, 1,125.9 miles, home – 45.1 miles – VA-WV-MD-PA

I wake at 3 AM. It isn’t raining anymore, but I have a soaked tent. Mountain Mime, hiking by head lamp, passes as I’m breaking camp. He got an early start! I’m hiking by 3:45 AM. I catch up with him before Harpers Ferry and we hike for a little before I get ahead of him. The muddy trail is slick from the rain and difficult in the dark. I meet Matt and Nate on the WV side of the river at 5:15 AM. They have McDonald’s breakfast and I down a couple of McGriddle sandwiches. Those things are good.

We head off and a few hours later, we meet up with Uncle Eric and continue on to South Mountain Inn to meet the family and Mom. We get there at 11 AM. We lie on the grass in the shade for a while, eat, and hang out with the kids before restarting. The eight of us restart toward the Washington Monument. It is uphill right away and Ryder uses one of my trekking poles.

Less than five minutes of hiking, Ryder, without a word, steps off the trail, pulls down his shorts and poops in the woods. It’s very funny. After about 10 minutes of walking, he wants me to carry him up the hill. I put him on my shoulders with my pack for about a minute before telling him he needs to walk. Everyone hikes ahead and it is just Ryder and me. It is really a good time. He is doing really well considering the terrain and his little legs. He picks up a piece of log that looks similar to a rifle and, from then on, he is bear hunting. I read a sign: No Hunting – Weapons Prohibited. He replies, “It’s OK, I’m pretend bear hunting.” We cross the final road, the park entrance to the Monument, before we take a seat on a log. He says he is “tired of walking around all these rocks.”

It is hot. He had almost made it to the parking lot at the top of the last hill, near the Monument. Mom drives by and picks him up and I walk the last few hundred meters. Ryder and I hiked two miles in two hours. The others are waiting for me at the parking lot.

I sit for a few minutes and then Lindsay, Uncle Eric, and I, carrying Beckett in the backpack, are off again toward Rt. 40 where Uncle Eric is parked and Mom and Ryder will meet us. Once we get to Rt. 40, I take another break before they leave. I am feeling unmotivated to restart. It’s already approaching 3 PM; I know it’s going to be a long night. I still have about 20 miles to go.

I leave my tent, sleeping bag, and a few other thing from my pack and slackpack the remainder. I am moving very slowly and I’m getting tired. The terrain is rocky. As I make my way toward Wolfsville Road, Debbie, her boys, and Shelby and Jessie, appear. They are hiking south on the trail to meet me. We all hike together back to the road. They had walked a good ways because I am moving so slowly. Hiking with them re-energizes me a bit. Once we get to the road crossing, Lindsay drives by with a Big Mac meal for me. The meal is a good pick-me-up since it is evening now and I still have a good ways to go and a long night ahead.

I’m hiking by headlamp as I make my way up the switchbacks from Rt. 491, when I see another headlamp beam a ways back. It’s Mountain Mime who’s caught up. Good. I can use the company on this night hike into Pen Mar Park.

We greet the Mason-Dixon Line at 11 PM. Lindsay is waiting for me. We go straight to the grocery store to get some food before heading home.

It is so great to be home! It looks so nice. I take a shower and eat cereal until going to bed at 2:15 AM. What a long day! I am looking forward to the next three zero days at home!

I weigh myself: 181 lbs. Not too bad, about six pounds lighter than when I left March 27.

Being a tourist. War Correspondents Memorial Arch, Gathland State Park, MD

Crossing I-70 footbridge

I’ve waited tens of years to see this sign mid thru-hike.

I’ve seen this line a thousand times, but never like this. 40 days. 1,125.9 miles. 6 states. 2 pairs of shoes. 0 zero days.


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