First Section Hike on the Appalachian Trail

Only 20% of people who try to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail are successful. Does that seem low to you?

Maybe that statistic shouldn’t surprise me because I’ve never gone on a hike more than six miles (ha!). But it seems low to me. I figure if you’re setting out to hike 2,200 miles that you’ve not only extensively planned for a successful hike, but you’ve also trained and are fully committed to finishing.

I’d love to know more about the people who don’t complete it and their reasons. Was it their first attempt? Are they experienced hikers? Did they get injured or fall ill? Did they get inspired by Reese Witherspoon’s performance in Wild?

I’m not cut out for thru-hiking the AT, or any long-ass trail for that matter. But I’ll get on the trail and section hike for a few hours. Maybe in the twenty years, I’ll see the whole thing.

Our Hike

Camp Hill to Jefferson Rock

Distance: 1.13 Miles

Difficulty: Easy

Our hike was a bit impromptu. We set out for a morning drive to check out Harper’s Ferry (the town) and see the National Historical Park.

We didn’t realize it was a National Park fee-free day, and the town/park was packed. Rookie mistake. Parking was dismal anywhere near the historic downtown area.

We knew the AT ran through this area and decided to search for a trailhead instead.

A parking lot stood empty near Camp Hill, hidden from the main attractions. Excited to finally place our shoe soles on the iconic trail, we followed a brick path that wanders past historical buildings and connects you to the AT.

New spring leaves and wildflowers lined the well-defined and blazed trail. After spending a year quarantined in Downtown Denver, the wilderness smells and sounds of birds made me feel like I just entered the Pearly Gates. Is it possible to forget the color green? I’m pretty sure I had.

The Potomac River peeks through the trees as you meander along the easy trail for a half-mile.

The trail opens into a scenic view as you meet your destination, Jefferson Rock.

The Potomac River splits the rolling mountains, giving you an unobstructed view of where West Virginia meets Virginia and where Virginia meets Maryland.

Thomas Jefferson, for whom the rock is named, beautifully described the view.

“The passage of the Patowmac through the Blue Ridge is perhaps one of the most stupendous scenes in Nature. You stand on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain a hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the Patowmac in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it asunder and pass off to the sea.”Thomas Jefferson

We stayed and enjoyed the view for a while, grateful for momentarily beating the crowds that would soon swarm to this scenic location and get in line to snap a quick Instagram selfie.

The short hike back to our car was equally enjoyable and still a low trafficked piece of the trail.

I agree with Jefferson: “This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic.” Or, in our case, a long cross-country drive from Colorado.


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© 2020-2021 Alexys Carlton. All Rights Reserved.

All pictures were taken by me (or my husband if I’m in it). All Rights Reserved.

Published by Alexys

Hi, I’m Alexys. I love to write. I enjoy the process of finding the best words to express my points, emotions, and imagination. Alexys Writes is my personal blog, a place where I write about whatever I want and share it with you, my dear reader.

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