Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Crampton Gap to I-70

I feel like I have been in history class after today’s hike.  The monuments and memorials that started yesterday continued today.

Footbridge over I-70

I started from the north end at the footbridge over I-70.  Getting hikers across major traffic areas safely is a challenge for the ATC.  Every crossing is different.   Often there is a road which passes under or over interstates which is usually a good option for routing the trail, but that was not the case today.  There is a very nice footbridge, completely enclosed, over I-70.  Although I felt perfectly safe, it still was a bit eerie walking across such heavy traffic traveling so fast.  Once across the bridge, I was soon back in the woods where a hiker should be.

The first, and perhaps the most impressive, of today’s monuments was the Washington Monument.  No, not the one in DC, but the first completed monument to George Washington.  This stone structure was built in 1827 and restored by the CCC.  During the Civil War, it was used by the Union Army as a signal station.

The monument is located in Washington Monument State Park.  As I made my way down the hill from the Monument and through the Park, I had an eye toward hiker comforts.  The park has bathrooms and water fountains, both high on hiker comfort lists.  There were also picnic tables under shade trees.  This would be a great place for a rest or lunch break.

Old South Mountain Inn
On down the trail in Turner Gap stood the Old South Mtn Inn.  This fine old building is at least 200 years old and one of the oldest public houses on the AT.  The sign said, “several” presidents have used their services.

Dahlgren Chapel

Across the street from the Inn was a marvelous little Gothic stone church--The Dahlgren Chapel.  I’m not sure if it is used for regular Sunday services, but there was a notice on a side door saying it is available for weddings.

On the trail, but very near the corner with Old South Mtn Inn and The Dahlgren Chapel is the Dahlgren Back Pack Campground.  This small tent campground is maintained by the South Mountain State Park and has all the hiker creature comforts--flush toilets, hot showers, picnic tables, and a flat, grassy place to pitch a tent. Oh, and it’s free.

The last monument on the history tour today was Reno Monument.  This small patch of land saw heavy fighting during the Civil War at the Battle of South Mountain.  During that battle in Sept, 1862, both the Union and Confederate Generals were killed.  Today, on this plot of land is a small granite marker in honor of Gen. Samuel Garland (Confederate) and a huge monument for Gen. Reno (Union).

It seems like I spent more time taking photos and reading plaques today than hiking.  However, the trail was in good condition with only a short 2 mile stretch that was really rocky.  When I was hiking, at least I could move right on along.

That’s it for today.

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