Thursday, August 20, 2009

Trail Journal: Maryland Heights

Trail: Maryland Heights (Overlook Cliff Trail), Harper's Ferry National Historic Park
Date: August 15, 2009
Distance: 2.8 miles
Time: 2.5 hours
Elevation gain: about 1000', plus a 300' decent that you have to hike back up
Weather: 90 degrees, 60% humidity, sunny

Take a moment to assemble the above facts, and what you have resembles some sort of death march rather than a leisurely Saturday hike. (Except for the guy who was running the trail; clearly he was an android.) I'm not being dramatic when I say this was one of the most brutal hikes of my life. The terrain was so steep that I was leaning forward as I walked uphill. Apparently these people have never heard of switchbacks.

The upside was that I was not dragging a 9,000lb cannon nor wearing a wool uniform, which is what the Union Civil War soldiers did when building the naval battery on this mountain. Kudos, guys. How unfortunate that air conditioning was not invented in your lifetimes.

To get to the trailhead, you hike part of the Appalachian Trail, which isn't as cool as it seems when you realize that the trail is just a railroad bridge across a river filled with hundreds of drunken college students in inner tubes.

The whole point of this hike to reach the overlook, where you see:

At this point, I wasn't even all that impressed. I had drank a liter of water and didn't ever have to use the bathroom because of the intense sweat situation. The sun was beating down, and my view was being blocked by more college students (although thankfully these ones were not intoxicated.)

After making it back to the town of Harper's Ferry, we went into the John Brown museum. I didn't look at anything though, just sat in the lobby where the air was the coolest. I was obviously beat and cranky by this point, so we didn't look at any more of the the exhibits. History and extreme physical exertion do not mix.

I thought I was tough, but I can't handle August. All hiking is hereby postponed until October.


Heather J. said...

forget the hiking - you need to CAMP in Harper's Ferry! that was my family's go-to destination for many years and I love it. the view from the edge of the river is wonderful, esp. the place we camped (which isn't really a campsite but which no one ever evicted us from) - the inner tube people get out upstream so they never bother you at all. plus you can walk/swim across the river from MD to West VA - what fun! :)

Kristin J said...

I love your candor. Thanks for the laugh! See you soon.

petunialu said...

College students. I feel your pain! My neighborhood is swelling with them at the moment- mostly the intoxicated ones- and surprisingly a lot of them after midnight on weekdays.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Baltimore for several years and my parents lived there for 20. August is NEVER good most anywhere on the northern hemisphere of the planet, especially the Baltimore environs. In our house, August was known as The Month of Pits! Hiking is definitely out for anyone with an iota of self preservation. :) However, fall will reveal herself in splendid beauty and I think you will find the hike and view in Ocotber worthy of your effort. Here's to Mr. Carrier and his wonderful invention, AC. :) MizB

Artie Twosheds said...

Waited til Nov, STILL 70F. And just as steep. Whew.

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