West Virginia // Week 4 // Food Poisoning, stolen money, visited my a cross country walker, and dinner date with an 80 year old "tycooon"

Day 22 - stuck in Leesburg // total: 111m                                                                                                           

Day 23 - Leesburg VA to Bald Eagle // 15 miles // total: 126m                                                                         

Day 24 - Bald Eagle to Harper’s Ferry WV // 11 miles // total: 137m                                                                 

Day 25 - Rest day // 0 miles                                                                                                                              

Day 26 - Harper’s Ferry to Shepherdstown // 14 miles // total: 151m                                                               

Day 27 - Loved it so much, had to stay another day // 0 miles                                                                     

Day 28 - Shepherdstown WV to Opequon // 15 miles // total: 166m

The weather was getting warmer and the sun was bright. As I made my way I came across a large group of senior citizens sitting on a long picnic table, I stopped to chat for a moment but I really just wanted to keep pushing forward, no time to waste. Then as soon as I walked away, I thought to myself, what are you doing? You are supposed to be meeting people, you should have stopped to chat.

I walked and passed several different campsites, some were still flooded from all the rains the week before. I came across one perfect campground overlooking the canal, but it was early in the day so I kept walking. Coming to the final campsite before it would become dark I was running out of water. Then I arrived at my site, it was less than desirable. Right by some railroad tracks that seemed to appear from nowhere, down a hill, there was a muddy, buggy, dirty campsite. I knew I didn't have time for other options, so I started to roll my cart down the hill, then the cart flipped, I ran after, stumbled, the cart was fine, my knee was tweaked. Then I went to get water and the well was dry, I pumped and pumped and pumped but nothing would come. So there I was, muddy, hurt, and thirsty. I begrudgingly through up my tent, and climbed inside. I didn’t even make dinner, I just wanted to forget what I was doing.

That night I lay in my tent and thought about quiting. Everything passed though my mind, all the work I had put into the project, what I would tell people, what I would do upon my arrival back to my “real life”. That’s when I counted the miles, 126, one hundred and twenty six, is that all I have in me I thought? No, it wasn’t, I knew I needed to press on, things would work out, they always do.

The next morning I set out to make it to the next town, 4 miles down the trail and get food and water. I started on the trail and the first thing I found, a cold, unopend, bottle of water. It must have fallen off of someones bike, it was my first sign, things were looking up. I made my way to an entrance to a small town, but the town was up a very large hill so I decided I should hide my cart in the bushes. I was hoping no one would notice and then out of nowhere there was a hippy guy with a small backpack and feather neck tattoo.

He introduced himself…. Gary. Gary knew exactly what I was doing. I was on a common trail for cross country walkers and very close to the appellation trail. When he saw my cart, he asked, “you are walking across America aren’t you”. He seemed to know a lot about the area and let me know it wasn’t worth going into this town, I should keep walking to the next town of Harper’s Ferry, it was much larger and easier to navigate and It would only take us about 3 hours to walk there. Initially I really didn’t want to walk with him for 3 hours, but I remembered that this is just the sort of thing I need to say yes to, so, I did.

Gary was a smoker, and the site of his cigarette to me was like freedom. I asked if he could spare one, and then I felt like we weren’t hiking, we were just hanging. Gary and I walked, he told me about himself and how he just kind of trained hopped around. He gave me advice about the upcoming parts of the trail, and finally it seemed like things were looking up.

As we neared Harper’s Ferry Gary warned me about the the long winding stair case that led to the bridge to get you to town, and he wondered how I would get my cart there. Then he had a plan, a friend of his lived in the town, and had a pickup truck, he pulled out his flip phone (should have been my first clue) and gave her call. She was okay with us using her truck, but she needed $20 for gas.

I actually didn’t have any cash left on my at this point except in my super secret hiding place. My super secret hiding place was in small water proof bag sewed to the inside of my cart lining. Inside the bag was a small weathered bible my Memaw had given me, she gave it with several $20’s stuck throughout. So when we approached the beautiful town, I pulled my cart to the side, took $20 from my secret stash, and I waited for Gary to return with his “friends” truck.

Meanwhile, a guy named Dan I had met before the walk, because he to was a comedian who had walked across America lived nearby. When he found I was in Harper’s Ferry he decided to come hang out with me and keep me company. I told him that I was about Gary and it was as if as the words of the story were coming out of my mouth I realized…. Gary wasn’t coming back. I waited for 3 hours, he never returned.

Somehow I was glad for Gary, even though he squeezed me for $20. The 3 hours we walked together went by so fast, and I was actually for the first time in days enjoying myself. I would have given him the $20 if would have asked. And then in hind site, I learned a pretty valuable lesson, don’t put your guard down.

So there I was, like a kid waiting on a shitty parent to show at their baseball game, just waiting, luckily Dan did show up, we packed my cart in his car, and he drove me up to the hiker hostel in town. Dan was great. He had been exactly where I was, trying to walk across America, and it took him three attempts before he completed it. I told him I had fantasied about quitting and he said, not now, not like this. But if you do quit at some point, don’t ever look back, be strong on your decisions. Dan gave me food, clothes, homemade beer, and great company. I felt renewed, and set back on the trail after two nights at the hostel, with clean clothes, and high spirits.

Jessica:     It is Sunday.  Mother’s Day.  And I have officially been gone from New York for a month.  This is one month today that I left, and started my walk.
    I’m in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia.  When I got here, I was feeling pretty low.  Had that rough night at the campsite.  I met this guy Gary.  He made me feel a lot better.  Then he stole 20 bucks from me.  It’s okay.  I’m not upset about it, Gary.
01:09:59.07    Um, I did not film him, but I’m glad I didn’t, because maybe he would have stolen my camera.  So I think it’s a sign.
    Harpers’ Ferry’s been amazing.  I’ve met a bunch of hikers.  This is where the Appalachian Trail and the American Discovery Trail, which is what I’m on right now, meet.
    So I’ve been hanging out with all of these Appalachian Trail hikers, and they're going through a completely different experience than I’m going through.  
01:10:31.06    But, they’ve given me some steam to carry on.  I’ve only walked 150 miles so far, and that ain’t shit, so… Today, I’m going to Shepherdstown, West Virginia.  I’ve only got, like, 11 miles and I’m gonna do it like that.  [Snaps fingers]
    I’m feeling good.
    Feeling good.  [Gives thumbs up sign]