Find pictures of this section here and here!
Day 78: Harpers Ferry Hostel to Dahlgren Campground (15.8 miles)
For breakfast, we ate all-you-can-eat make your own pancake breakfast. Pancakes are much easier to make with a stove and a grittle. We had the usual up and out of town but it wasn’t nearly as steep. At the top (Weverton Cliffs) we had a nice view of Harpers Ferry and the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers joining. The trail was mostly flat and a little rocky. We had lunch at a large park and civil war memorial. We got to take advantage of running water and the parks bathrooms. Anytime we can use a toilet with running water, Bottle Cap and I feel very spoiled. We raced to the campground, hoping to set up our tent before it started to rain. Fortunately, a heavy rain never came and it only sprinkled. At the campground, we ran into Jet Lag, Tags, Peaches, and Mother Teresa, who we have passed several times along the trail. Right before the campsite, we saw a fawn calling for its mom. It was very cute but ran away before I could get a picture. At the campground we also met a section hiker with an adorable puppy. I got to watch and play with the puppy while his owner went to the restaurant up the road. The campground was close enough to the road we ordered pizza and soda for dinner. Bottle Cap and I try to never miss an opportunity for town food.
Day 79: Dahlgren Campground to Raven Rock Shelter (18.8 miles)
It was a long mileage day, but the trail was flat enough that we made very good time. In the morning we passed another historic park with the first Washington Monument. Again, we got to take advantage of bathrooms and running water. The day was growing increasingly hotter and more humid. It started to feel like summer because of all the vactioners. There was only one tough climb right before the shelter. It was a beautiful, relatively new shelter (maintained and built by the PATC). The only downside was the far location of the water. Luckily a southbounder had given us a heads up and we filled up at the creek before hand. So far MD had made me feel like a hiking machine.
Day 80: Raven Rock Shelter to Antietam Shelter (12.0 miles)
Sadly, this was our last day in MD. We did a short hike to High Rocks which had a view of the upcoming PA valley. A gentleman with boyscouts told us that if we took the road down we would have a much easier hike to the Pen Mar State Park. So we did a short walk down the road to a nice park with bathrooms and soda machines. Jet Lag, Peaches, Mother Teresa, and Tags were all there and they had already called a shuttle into town. We resupplied at Walmart and had lunch at a Chinese buffet. While filling my prescriptions at Walmart, the lady behind the counter offered to give us a ride back to the trail head in her truck. She even took us by the post office. Just passed Pen Mar Park, we passed another state line and left Maryland for Pennsylvannia (aka Rocks-sylvannia). We went up and over a mountain and took at short break at Deer Lick Shelter. We had planned to move 2 shelters past to Tumbling Run but we heard many hikers were going there. We stopped early at a less crowded shelter with a nice water source with Jet Lag, Tags, Mother, and Peaches.
Day 81: Antietam Shelter to Quarry Gap Shelter (13.4 miles)
It poured rain on and off all night leaving us to pack up a wet tent in the morning. We had a nice little view at Chimney Rocks where the elevation change in PA to all the other states was very visible. All the mountains seemed so much smaller. We had a nice lunch at Rocky Mountain Shelter and then second lunch at Calcedonia State Park. It was a nice state park with a concession stand, bathrooms, and a pool. While eating we got to dry out our tent on the grass. We ended up stopping early at Quarry Gap Shelter because we ate way too much and it was so nice. It was like a home away from home complete with a sun dial and welcome gate. All of the nicest shelters and section of trail have been maintained by the PATC. Turtle and Snail were also at the shelter along with some friends who were hiking with them for a couple weeks.
Day 82: Quarry Gap Shelter to Ironmasters Mansion Hostel, Pine Grove Furnace State Park (16.9 miles)
Since we stopped early the previous day, we woke up early to try and catch hiker bubble. Pine Grove Furnace State Park is the other unoffical half-way point and home to the half gallon challenge (hikers eat a half-gallon of ice cream). Though we were not partaking in the challenge we had hoped to see other hikers try. We hiked the first 12 miles to the official half-way point very quickly for us. At the half-way point, we stopped to eat lunch and take pictures of our accomplishment. After moving so quickly my feet were sore so we completed the last 4 miles at our usual slow pace. We arrived at the park as hikers were recovering from the challenge. Tags, Jetlag, Mother, and Peaches were all there. We also ran into Blimey and Pipin the Elf again (no going by 2 Ducks and 2 Beers/Abe). While we waited for the hostel to open, we ate a pint of ice cream and some fried food. The hostel is also run by the PATC and caretaker, Roger. It is a converted mansion that used to be owned by the Iron Master of Pine Grove Furnace, an iron furnace. It was a very neat historic building. We spent the evening relaxing there.