So without hesitation I approached my buddies about hiking Maryland as soon as the ’01-’02 school year concluded. This time it was I, not Alton, who did most of the planning. For the entire fall I spent time convincing the others that we needed to give hiking one more try. So in late May of 2002, five of us (Fitts’ truck broke down before we left GA) set out in two SUV’s for Harper’s Ferry, WV. I had even arranged for a stay in a real AT hostel (Sandy Hook) the night before we were to begin our southbound trek from Pen Mar Park at the PA/Maryland border.
Like the previous year in the Whites, that first day was an ordeal despite the “easier” terrain. After a night at a shelter some 9 miles in, Doc, Reg, and Lindsey decided that hiking definitely was not for them. They hitched a ride back to the vehicle and opted for a tour of Gettysburg. Alton and I trudged on, determined to complete the entire 42 miles, even though we had already decided that this was a three day hike, not a one or two day one. Our buddies, before deserting us, did offer to carry some of our gear to the Dahlgren campsite, where we planned to set up our tent (yep, still the 4 man one) the second night. We didn’t know what slackpacking meant at that time; however, over the years, “slackpacking” has become one my favorite hiking terms.
Day three took us into Harper’s Ferry and to the end of that year’s hiking adventure. Since Maryland was complete, over the next few years, Alton and I continued the section hiking, knocking off a state here and a state there. Fitts even joined us for the section from Springer to Neel’s Gap during spring break, 2003. Alton has completed more sections than I have and has promised to complete his section hike with me in Maine, if I make it that far. That would be pretty special—Alton completing the AT section hiking at the same time I completed a thru hike, on Katahdin together. If nothing else, it should make for some interesting journaling over that last 300 miles.