“Rawr! I’m a bear!” I spoke, while clawing at her tent’s fabric with my fingers.
It was 1am, and Some Shine also appeared to be having trouble sleeping. She had just sent me a text, so I decided to see if I could rouse her. The waters of the Potomac babbled some twenty feet away, and I had it in mind to sit by the edge with her. Our beach was secluded and snug.
Soon her laughter, and the sound of her tent zipper joined the night’s sounds.
“It’s beautiful! Let’s go for a walk!” She said, after a quick survey of our moonlit surroundings.
We were stealth camped just off the C&O bike trail. This 184 mile thoroughfare marries with the AT for three miles, as both trails leave north from Harper’s Ferry, WV. It’s the perfect place for a midnight stroll.
I used my headlamp for a couple minutes, to help us navigate the rocky slope back up towards the trail. From there we navigated by moonlight, our steps quite safe along the smooth path. Limbs from the surrounding trees provided a beautiful tunnel, lending mystery to the darkness.
At least a hundred Fireflies signaled ahead, like some haywire strand of Christmas lights in the inky depths of the forest. Soon a car passed on nearby road, and the sheer brightness of the headlights were quite jarring. I mused aloud about what the fireflies must think of passing cars. Some Shine knew the answer though.
“They’re like, quick! Mate with it!” She’s probably right?
We walked hand in hand, briefly pausing to inspect a map, which was encased in a wooden trailhead post. We talked about enlightenment, the value of releasing expectations, and mental health. A sound caught our ears and my headlamp found a pair of eyes reflecting back some fifty feet away. A raccoon looked up cautiously from the waters edge. After a half mile or so, we went back to camp.
That walk was the perfect idea, just enough exercise to burn off the residual stress energy from all of the travel we had done that day. We woke at Westmoreland Park that Thursday morning, ate lunch in Richmond and caught a train into DC. There we found the most interesting attraction to be the botanical gardens. Another train dropped us in Harper’s Ferry at 5pm, where our first task was, naturally, to procure ice cream from a nearby shop.
We had been traveling since Tuesday, and spent one night in a rest stop. Lisa decided to drive her hatchback instead of the van to save on gas. Seats folded, our sleeping pads fit perfectly in the back. With my feet flat against the trunk, my head just barely cleared the passenger seat, slid as close to the dash as it would go.
New to sleeping cars, I found rest difficult to achieve. Lisa slept soundly next to me though. This after she blocked out a lone street lamp by hanging a bandana in the rear window. She’s a pro.
The following day we arrived at her sisters house in Virginia Beach. I caught two hours rest in the back seat, as her and her sister split the drive to Westmoreland National Park. This gave the two time to talk, and me time to drastically reduce my irritability. Lack of sleep still turns me into a toddler at times.
Some Shine’s sister brought her paddle boards, and I gave the wobbly craft a go. I don’t think the smile ever left my face. We paddled down the Potomac River together, Some Shine sitting quietly as her sister paddled their boat. The reds and oranges of the clouds at sunset, along with the sea breeze and accompanying birds, made that evening magical.
The following day we donned our packs at the Richmond train station, and bid her sister farewell. The first official day of our hike would be Friday, June 7th. I’ve always been fond of the number seven.