As the last two days, I got breakfast from the hotel's self-serve breakfast room. Then I finished packing, and left the hotel at 9:30 with what felt like my heaviest pack ever.
It was a beautiful day out, as I made my way back down the AT to lower Harpers Ferry, and then crossed the footbridge across the Potomac into Maryland. (I was distracted by a few things when I got to the Maryland side of the river, and forgot to take a photo at the border.) This is the 85th day of my hike; that's 85 days since I've last been in my home state of Maryland, the longest ever I've been out of state.
The hike along the towpath was perfect for a heavy pack: 2.5 miles of flat and level ground (though it wasn't as soft as the forest floor). Beyond the towpath was a somewhat steep climb up South Mountain, which the trail will stay on into Pennsylvania.
Around lunchtime, the trail passed through the Gathland State Park, with the War Correspondents Memorial. There was trail magic there, put on by "Blue Moon", with hot dogs, drinks, chips, fruit, and some other food. (Thanks again!)
My plan for the day was 12.2 miles to the Dahlgren Backpack Campground, shortly before Boonsboro, MD. At lunch, it was mentioned that pizza could be ordered for delivery to a nearby parking lot, making it all the more important I get there.
At my last break, at the head of the side trail to the Rocky Run Shelters, I saw an old diamond AT trail marker. There can't be many of those still left on the trail.
I got to the campground around 5:30ish, called for pizza, and set up my tent. About an hour later, it arrived. I ordered a large (14") deep dish pizza with pineapple, sausage, and green pepper. And that's what I got, except it was even bigger than I was anticipating. It was so thick, that despite being very delicious, I was only able to eat half of it. I had to give the other half away.
I spent a large portion of the evening chatting with Slider (NOBO 1996), who was doing a short section hike on the anniversary of his thru-hike. I don't know how much the trail has changed since he hiked, but I'm feeling a little less intimidated about the rocky sections in PA now.