And so on Saturday morning I met up with a group in Harper's Ferry to hike off the calories of the day before. There was an early morning frost on the ground and even thin ice on the puddles. I passed a couple of guys in a car as we approached Harper's Ferry and shivered as I looked up at their whitewater kayaks on the roof. We were going to hike Loudoun Heights,a pretty challenging climb, but one that would definitely keep us warm.
We met at the Appalachian Trail Headquarters where they were hosting a Holiday House with hot cider and plenty of homemade cookies. I had a small cup of cider and looked longingly at all the plates of goodies before finally succumbing and selecting a tiny almond cookie that was barely an inch across. It was delicious, and I had to walk outside and wait for the others before my hands started grabbing more. A chunky squirrel was scampering among the leaves across the road and looking so well fed that if his coat had had buttons, they would've popped off. He was certainly well prepared for the winter.
We headed down a steep hill to a rocky ridge that looked over the Potomac. In 1773 Thomas Jefferson said while visiting here, "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 [Potomac], 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 ... This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic."
The top slab is now balanced upon 4 pillars, placed between 1955 - 1860 as erosion and constant clambering upon it had made it rickety. Ken even mentioned that Jefferson's opponents had pushed the slab off and it had been eventually replaced. We couldn't believe that it had been retrieved from the bottom of that hill if that tale was true.
And then we were at the first of our outlooks and the views were amazing.
there's an excellent article here.
We sat on the rocks to eat our lunch but it was chilly in the shade with the winds and our rears soon got too cold from our stone perches so after about 15 minutes we gave up and started the climb back up to the top of the mountain.There were lots of groans at the thought of climbing again and Ken mentioned that we had 2 choices. We could hike up or jump off. It would then all be over in a few seconds! We all laughed at that.
A little later a very kind Ken drove us up the hill to our cars, all of us grateful to have avoided that last hill. We'd walked about 8.5 miles and I was a very happy bunny to finally take off my hiking boots and sink into Stuart's warm, soft car seat for the journey home.