John Brown's body may be "a 'mouldring in the grave", but what about yours? Are you sitting on a couch right now? Maybe in a cushy desk chair eating something from the snack machine down the hall? Perhaps you haven't had any exercise in a week... a month... since the last e2Hons Noderhike. Maybe even worse, you've weaseled out of every single one of the Noderhikes before.
Are you enchained to a lack of fresh air and self-exertion? One hundred and forty seven years ago, John Brown led a raid on Harper's Ferry and its Federal armory. His plan was to cause a slave revolt, conduct guerrilla warfare throughout the Virginia countryside, and eventually win the freedom of slaves throughout the nation. Nearly a century and a half later, e2Hons will declare freedom of a different kind, as we take the scenic bluffs of Maryland Heights, a short segment of the Appalachian Trail, the conflux of the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers, and the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal in a Noderhike through the Harper's Ferry National Historical Park. The leaves will be changing colours, the autumn breeze will be crisp, and the afternoon will be gorgeous. Declare your freedom from a wasted Saturday afternoon and join the insurgency against the Beltway smog and NoVa haze.
Volunteers of the Republic (and those pondering at the enlistment headquarters):
Yellow Bellied Deserters:
When is the hike?
1200, Saturday 14 October 2006. After the last noderhike, it seems unanimous: "rooster's crow" start times aren't as popular as a little sleeping in on a Saturday.
How do I get there?
From Baltimore: Take I-70 west toward Frederick, Maryland until exit 52 onto U.S. Route 340 (Charles Town and Leesburg). Continue south/west on U.S. Route 340 to Harpers Ferry. Cross the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, then take the second right on Union Street, turn right onto Washington Street, turn right onto Washington Street, turn right onto Storer College Place, one more right onto Filmore Street then left into the park's parking lot.
From Washington: Go north into Maryland on I-495
Exit onto I-270 (from left lane of I-495) toward Frederick, Maryland, then take exit 52 and follow directions as above.
Either way, driving time (assuming non-rush hour traffic) is about 90 minutes.
What should I bring?
Like e2Hons noderhikes before, you're going to want to bring the right stuff for a day of hiking and dinner later that evening. Put on some sunscreen in the morning. Wear a pair of sturdy hiking boots or trail runners with well fitting socks. If you're buying a pair of hikers for this nodermeet, break them in for at least a week prior. Blisters suck, and we can only fireman's carry you about a kilometer or two at most. Bring a hat, sunglasses, a jacket in case the weather shifts, and enough water and a small snack for an afternoon of hiking. You might want to bring a pair of hiking poles or a walking stick for the initial steep trail sections leading to Maryland Heights, especially if you have a bad back or knees as the extra support helps relieve stress on sore joints. But don't fear; the steep section is early and short lived and the view from the bluffs overlooking Harper's Ferry are worth every foot of elevation gain.
You will need to bring some petty cash as well. The National Park Service charges a small fee per car load to help pay for upkeep of the park and historical sites as well as to encourage car pooling (which helps keep the park from being swamped by motor vehicles during peak seasons). Prices for entry during the 2006 season are $6.00 per car (which is good for three days) or $4.00 per person arriving on foot, bicycle or motorcycle. Also, plan on a dinner after the hike where we will exaggerate our excursion into an epic trek and just generally enjoy good company and tasty food.
However, there are some things you shouldn't even think about bringing. Whipping out your Blackberry, mobile phone, GPS unit, or FRS radio is a really bad idea. The outside world can wait: nothing will ruin our outdoors campaign for independence from the urban stranglehold like your electronic ball and chain. Are you thinking about which Louis Vuitton handbag full of beauty products to bring? We think you're more beautiful with a fine patina of granite dust, climber's chalk and sweat. A rucksack full of camping gear? You don't need it. In a past incarnation, I was a sherpa. Pack light and move fast. There are things to see, metres to gain, and trail to cover.
Where can I get more information?
The park's official website is at http://www.nps.gov/hafe/index.htm. Maps of the park, an overview of the facilities and links to the history surrounding the town are all there. Of course, if you had any other questions, you could always /msg Matthew as well.