Sunday, December 23, 2012

Harper's Ferry

Mike pointing into West Virginia
Harper's Ferry is a small, historic town at the confluence of the Shanendoah and Potomac rivers. The town itself is in West Virginia, but directly across the river to the north is Maryland and to the South is Virginia. It also happens to be the approximate halfway point of the Appalachian Trail.

For this past (2012) Thanksgiving, my family and I went to Maryland to spend the holiday with my Yia-Yia (my Greek grandmother), my uncle John and his family. Thanksgiving itself was pretty great, considering that Mike and I were seated at the kid's table and we got to spend the whole evening acting like children and being completely unapologetic about it. The evening culminated in an epic Nerf gun battle in the basement, while the grownups did the dishes upstairs. If that's not what Thanksgiving is all about then I am frankly not sure what is.

For the Friday after Thanksgiving, we decided that we would all go to Harper's Ferry to go on a hike. Neither Mike nor I had even been to Harper's Ferry before, and it was exciting to walk along part of the  AT while we were hygienic, clean and unencumbered by large packs. The town itself is an "Historic Village" and is quite cute. However, the most site-seeing I did in the downtown happened while my cousin Kate and I were sprinting through the streets in a desperate search for a restroom. This had the adverse effect of causing my brain to interpret all of the finely crafted vintage storefronts as simply "NOT BATHROOMS" which made it a bit harder to appreciate the scenery.

The trail itself is accessed by crossing an old railroad bridge into Maryland, and then hiking up along a ridge that wraps around to a cliff overlook of the downtown. We went with my immediate family, as well as Uncle John and two of his kids (Russell and Kate). Kate is whip-smart and has an amazing deadpan sense of humor, which made it hard for me during the hike, as I would often have to stop walking because I was laughing so hard.

Me and Kate
Once we reached the cliff overlook, there a second craggy section that could be accessed by a narrow path right on the cliff's edge.

"Can we go over there?" Kate asked me, pointing over to the second crag, where there were some other people climbing around.

"Absolutely!" I said, clambering over to the narrow path with her.

"Cool. I figured it would be okay, as long as I went with a sort-of grownup."

"A sort-of grownup?"

"Yeah, well, I mean you look grown up. But you and I both know you're just a kid."

Everyone else eventually followed us over, and we ate some snacks while looking out at the world from a bird's-eye view. At some point Russell disappeared, which caused Kate to get into a panic;

"Oh no, did Russell fall over the edge?! HE HAD THE CHEESE PUFFS. WE HAVE TO FIND HIM."

It may have just been the time of year, or a coincidence, but there was an incredible number of dogs on the trail (being walked by people, not just wild dogs; although that would have been very exciting). It is interesting the range of dogs that people will take on a hike up a mountain, as we saw everything from chihuahuas to great danes and everything in between.

Harper's Ferry will likely be a stopping point for Mike and I, as my Uncle John wants to pick us up there and take us to his house so we can shower and briefly remember what it's like to be civilized human beings. It was interesting to stand on the top of a cliff and look down at scenery that will look the same to me months from now, but I know it won't feel the same.


More photos after the jump! (Click the "Read More" link)


My uncle John, and my brother-in-law Adam behind him


Me and Kate

My sister Ellen, Harper's Ferry below

My little brother Nate

Nate and Russell 

Kate and John

Adam 

Adam and Ellen

John, Russell and Kate 

Kate and Russell found a ladybug








Mike and I found an old abandoned house



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