All of the rain seemed to scare people off of the trail in central and northern Virginia, so it was getting a bit lonely.
It was really nice heading into Harpers Ferry and having people I know come out to the trail to meet and support me. My parents spent a week acting as trail angels and feeding me, and I was finally far enough north that friends could come visit me.
I was afraid that leaving Harpers Ferry I’d end up having a bit of culture shock or withdrawal as I went back to hiking by myself. I said goodbye to everyone and I hiked up to the next shelter.
I was the only one at shelter. I cooked my dinner and started settling in to bed, and still didn’t run into any other hikers. At around 8pm, I heard a noise, and 14 kids rolled into the shelter. They were a group that I’d seen a few nights before (one of the kids was wearing a purple top hat with a yellow ribbon around it and an American flag as a cape… He was pretty distinctive) and they were settling in at the shelter for the night.
Despite the large number of kids, they were surprisingly quiet and well behaved. A bunch of them settled in to a game of magic, while others wrote in their journals. I was incredibly amused because I hadn’t seen anyone play Magic in a long time!
Later, they started a campfire and cooked hot dogs over the fire and shared them with me. I chatted with them as they cooked and sang songs, and found out that they were from a local Quaker camp. All of them had been going to the camp since they were 9 yrs old, and the 10 day backpacking trip they were on was essentially their graduation from the camp.
Even though the folks I knew from home had headed out, I definitely wasn’t lonely.