Friday, June 1, 2012

Maryland, A.T. Thruhike 2012

     After a long, long stretch in Virginia, I am back to knocking off states. West Virginia was as short a stretch as they come, and Maryland wasn't far behind.
     What is great about Maryland is it is very unique from the other states thus far. It wasn't much for wilderness, as I wasn't in deep forest for more than a few miles. It didn't have very many climbs, or rocks; it is some of the easiest trail the Appalachian Trail has to offer.
     What Maryland did offer was an amazing history lesson. It was an intriguing and interesting change of pace.
     As soon as I set foot in the state, I was walking along the old C&O Canal towpath. Mules would use this stretch to haul barges through the canal, until 1924. This interesting footpath was almost lost to highway construction, but was saved by a group of protesting hikers, led by Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas, whom had hiked the entire A.T. himself previously.
     Later that same day, I walk through fields where famous Civil War battles were fought, including the one credited with being the beginning of the end of the war. Some places I walked, I was standing over mass graves of Confederate Soldiers. Interpretive signs along the way bring me back to those days, with great details of how the war was fought.
     I was welcomed into a small museum at one point. In it on display were many actual items used by soldiers in those very fields. I wondered how it felt, living in those times, and fighting a war with ourselves. Seeing their clothes, weapons, canteens, and other belongings really helped put me there.
     I climbed a small hill, with signs along the way that make up a timeline of George Washington's life. At the top, a side trail brought me to a large stone structure. That structure was the first monument dedicated to George Washington.
     Originally built by townsfolk in 1827, the bottle-shaped monument has a staircase leading to the top, where an observation deck gave me views of Maryland and its surrounding states.
     I enjoyed a nice hot shower that night in a facility paid for and provided by the state. I was very grateful.
     The following day, I followed a ridge, with some nice views in a few places. Then, passing through Pen Mar Park, I came to a sign... The Mason-Dixon Line. I am in Pennsylvania.
     Pennsylvania has a reputation for difficult, rocky terrain over low elevation. I am curious to see it for myself. This trail is just amazing, every step of the way.

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