Half Way To Glory at the Headquarters

Summer time has recently begun and it is rolling onward, day by day. Springer Mountain has been void of traditional Northbound thru hikers for quite a while. They are all further up trail by now and many of them have just passed or are soon going to reach the halfway point of their journey; The Appalachian Trail Conservancy‘s Headquarters.

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This infamous building is actually the “mental” halfway point of a thru hike of the AT. It is actually a few more days to the real halfway point as far as milage is concerned. But the tiny historic town of Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia is a more receptive place to bask in the glory of a feat many never experience. This is popular place for hikers to receive visitors. Many take a day or two off to recollect themselves for the second half of their hike.

Walking into the ATC’s Headquarters is an incredible feeling for thru hikers. It is a place that 100% expects you and is waiting for you when you come strolling up. You sling your pack off as you walk into the historic building and are washed over with everything Appalachian Trail. You greet the friendly faces before you and head straight for the hiker photos. A growing book of Polaroids photos shows the face of all the hikers who have come before you. You flip through the pages in delight as you see friends you met months ago or maybe just days ago.

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A typical book of photos at the ATC Headquarters, as photographed by Robert Sutherland.

Then it is your turn. You stand in front of the second most iconic sign on the Appalachian Trail (after the Katahdin sign, of course) and have your picture taken.

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Mountain Crossings employee Carlie “Rainbow Braid” at the headquarters in Harper’s Ferry.

Besides the warm fuzzies that come with an incredible achievement like backpacking 1,000+ miles, visiting the ATC Headquarters is an incredible treat for anyone who loves the AT, backpacking, the outdoors or history. The history of the AT itself is greatly celebrated there but those who are keen on that topic will quickly be side tracked by the quaint town of Harper’s Ferry. It is a place steeped in American history, particularly Civil War history.

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Harper’s Ferry sits at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers and after walking through the city and over the bridge, hikers are in Maryland and continue to walk the C & O Canal for quite some time. The Harper’s Ferry experience is a special one, whether for a hiker, or a family member of a hiker or someone who is simply visiting a new, cool town!

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