One of the most appealing aspects of jumping north to Harpers Ferry to continue our hike was finally immersing in history. While walking with spring was beautiful, the leafy green tunnel of the trail has a certain sameness after a while. History is writ large across the Mid-Atlantic Appalachians, although the peaks are not high.
At Gathland State Park, the War Correspondents Memorial stands tall above a collection of buildings and ruins that spoke of success and failure of a famed Civil War era author and speaker, a man who wrote up to 18,000 words a day. At Washington Monument – not the one in DC, but the one in rural Maryland erected as a thank you to a hometown hero – we climbed to the top of the stone tower to look across the farms of Maryland.
Most poignant, however, was a spot with a commemorative marker near interpretive signs for the Battle of South Mountain. Pack on, John circled the monument to read it. “30 years after their leader died here, his men got together and raised this memorial to him. Imagine that.”
At Pen Mar, the AT briefly follows an old trolley car route along the Mason-Dixon Line. We’ve found stone fences and the remains of a spring house, and know we’ll be seeing iron furnaces and old mining villages soon. It’s still a walk in the woods, but experiencing history with nature enriches our journey.