Location: Washington, DC
Not Bad and I woke up around 6:00am to catch the train to Washington, DC. I only slept a few minutes last night by the river. My muscles tightened quickly in the hour that I lied down, but the bleeding patches on my hips didn’t scab. It was still dark when we left the banks of the cold Potomac and walked up the hill to the nearby train station. I couldn’t fasten my waist strap because of the burns on my hips. The wounds stung in the cold air and as the stiff seams of my sweaty shirt scratched them.
Dawn just did break when we reached the train station, and I bought a newspaper to pass the time on the hour long train ride to DC. There were several commuters waiting for the train when we arrived, and by the time the train left, there were several dozen people going to DC for work that morning. Before the train left, Bonefish showed up. He had camped in a park somewhere inside Harper’s Ferry. He didn’t sleep well either because the park was well lit and he could see people looking at him from their homes as he rested on the park bench. He is going to DC for the weekend to visit his sister, with whom he had started that Appalachian Trail. She had planned to thru-hike and he only intended to hike with her through the 100 mile wilderness to Monson, ME. When she dropped off the trail in Maine, he decided he would complete a thru-hike.
The train ride to DC passed quickly. We squeezed into a row of three seats. I’m sure our smell repulsed most everyone around us. The rest of the passengers were in business suits and going to work with coffee mugs and briefcases. Our packs were too big to be stored, so we crammed them in our foot space so we wouldn’t be charged for an additional seat. When we reached DC, we let everyone else exit the train car before we did. When I stepped off the train, I was caught in a mob of people moving in one direction. I shuffled along with them with my pack strapped to my back and couldn’t stop to let Not Bad and Bonefish catch up. I couldn’t look over my shoulder and around my pack to see where my companions were. People asked me questions as I was moving with the herd, but I kept looking for a way out. I stepped behind a column in the middle of the station and waited there as the crowd flowed around the column like strong current around a pylon.
After being pestered by two guys looking for donations, I found Not Bad and Bonefish and we went to stand in line for a taxi. Bonefish took a cab to his sister’s place and Not Bad and I went to Katie’s. The erratic and aggressive driving shook the nerves of Not Bad and me as the driver slammed on brakes behind cars and accelerated quickly out of stoplights. After being so long on the trail, I have developed a fear of speeding in cars. Many thru-hikers prefer the backseat when riding in a car because in the front seat you feel like you are traveling at warp speed. I dug my nails into the grimy vinyl on the door all the way to Katie’s.
We rested well at Katie’s townhouse in Georgetown this afternoon. I took a much needed shower, washed my clothes, and applied burn cream to my wounded hips. Katie returned from work in the evening, and Not Bad and I mustered what strength we had to head to the bars that night. I could only drink a few beers. We met Brian Fleischhauer and Kevin Gregory in Georgetown. It was great to see everyone, but after a 38 mile day into Harper’s Ferry and so little sleep, Not Bad and I returned to the townhouse early to get some rest.