Day 28 today and we are sitting in Maria's Kitchen after a fun night of hanging out and going to the river. More on that later... When we left the family campground we walked to Harper's Ferry and joined up with the Appalachian Trial for a few miles. We met an interesting Thru-Hiker named "Ragtime" who was on the AT and was doing a lot of foraging and such. We got to share a few plant uses and ideas on what to eat and what to use for medicine. We learned new things and he learned new things. It was great! From Ragtime we learned of a nice Hostel in the area that a lot of AT hikers use, so we went over to check it out. When we got there the people were really nice and it was a great facility. We were able to get a private room for really cheap and so we checked in. After we put our packs down we met two more hikers, "Eatmore" and "Sleepy." They were on track to finish the trail in like 4.5 months which is super fast!! They were young guys who were traveling ultralight. Was also met a great couple from Germany who were hiking the trail, and a brother in Christ who's trail name is "Moment." More on him in a "moment" (pun intended). We learned that most AT thru-hikers had packs that only weigh between 20 and 30 pounds. We weighed our packs and they were 40 and 60 pounds!! When we told them how much they weighed, they looked at us like we were freaking NUTS!!! Then when we picked up on of their packs, we started thinking that WE WERE nuts! So they all started giving us advice on how to scale down the weight of our packs and they all were genuinely concerned for us. Hikers are an amazing group of people. The camaraderie and sense of community they have for one another is really great. We also learned that there was an outfitter just across the river in Harper's Ferry that will help you shake down your pack and is really helpful. So we planed to go there in the morning. Now that night we talked and watched Napoleon Dynamite, we ate dinner and popcorn. After talking to "Moment" for a while, we learned that he was a believer. So we were excited because we hadn't had much fellowship on the Canal up to this point, and he was excited because he hadn't had much on the trail either. We wound up staying up until 2:00am talking about God and all the good things that He had done in our lives. It was so great!
We woke up later than usual at the hostel and ate some make-your-own pancakes. I put some chocolate chips and raisins in ours! Yum! Moment was heading to Harpers Ferry as well to meet his girlfriend who would be hiking the second half of the AT with him so we walked together. We walked over a beautiful bridge where the Potomac and Shanandoah River meet. We had one goal in mind for that town, lose some weight! So we headed to "The Outfitter at Harper's Ferry" to see what kind of weight loss program he had in mind for some quick shedding of some extra baggage! We got there and met Dave. An ex-AT hiker who was so helpful and knowledgeable about how to hike light. Since the ADT does not have many hikers and they are usually months apart this was our first chance to talk to experienced hikers. So we spent about 4 hours with our belongings spread out all over the porch at the outfitters and throwing stuff into a box and going back and forth on what to keep and what to send home. When it was all said and done we sent home a 30 pound box of stuff. Beat that Jenny Craig!! So after giving hugs to Moment and Dave we set off to the next campsite feeling like butterfly's! When we got to the camp there were 22 middle schoolers camped at the site and a small group of boy scouts. I thought, "OH NO, we are NEVER going to get any SLEEP tonight!!" We did not want to walk another five miles seeing as how the sun was almost down so we decided that we would not let a few 12 year olds intimidate us and we popped up our tent in the last little spot and quickly fell asleep. When we woke up we decided to go back to sleep and take the day off so Wednesday we slept all day in our tents in some wonderful weather that would have been great to walk in but it did just fine for sleeping as well.
We woke up Thursday and packed up our now lighter packs and scurried off to a town called Sheperdstown WV, a quaint little college town, to stock up on a couple necessary items. When we were walking through town a guy waved and pointed toward the direction of his shop. So we headed his direction and when he saw us he told us we could drop our packs down at his running shop and check out the town. Tom was his name and He was so kind and generous. He found out what we were doing and offered to pick us up down the trail a ways and he said that he would treat us to dinner and a place to stay! Then he gave us some flavored electrolyte tablets to put into our water bottles! What a great guy! He adamantly recommended we eat next door at Maria's Taqueria, which sounded perfect. We got some yummy mex/southern cal. food and met Maria. Maria is a graduate of Sheperds University who a year ago decided to open a restaurant. She sat down and talked to us for a bit and we told her some crazy stories and I think she decided we were not too bad, because she invited us to hang out with her at her house next door. So we hopped over the fence and put our packs down in her backyard and sat in her comfy patio furniture and met some of her friends who were visiting from out of town. We felt like we had known them forever so we just hung out all night. We went to the river to do a little kayaking, fishing, and swimming. Then we came back to her house and we all went back and forth on what to eat and Maria said she would cook so her and I went to the grocery store and bought dinner. We came back and Maria went at it making us a gourmet meal! It consisted of London Broil, cranberry walnut herb salad, homemade alfredo and linguini, caprese salad, and to top it all off, she made her secret family recipe for peach cobbler. Is your mouth watering yet?!
We are more and more amazed everyday at the people God is putting in our path. One of Maria's friends, Ryan, brought over a guitar and bass and we got to sit down and play some music for a while which was a real treat! Fonz was another friend of Maria's who was in town and he was also a bassist and cook. We had a great time talking about bass and musicians. We also got to meet "Gypsy Rose," another experience AT hiker who had a lot of good advice and stories for us! What a wonderful group of people! We felt like old friends and wound up hanging out until 2:00am! Wow!
God is continuing to refine and streamline us into what he wants us to be, both physically and spiritually, and we are thankful to have days like this! What an amazing journey this has been and it is just the first days! If there are any other ADT hikers reading this I highly recommend you spend some time in Shepherdstown. Especially at Maria's Taqueria and Two Rivers Treads! May joy and peace be with you for the rest of your days!!!