Appalachian Trail: Turner’s Gap to Gathland State Park

Profile for the AT from Turner's Gap to Gathland State Park

Profile for the AT from Turner’s Gap to Gathland State Park

Recently, Candee has been charting some of our hikes along the Appalachian and Tuscarora Trails, and the accompanying graph reveal some interesting details that we have encountered along the way.  This particular hike looked pretty easy at the onset, but the hot, muggy weather was combined with a 6.1% grade that began about two miles into the hike, and the result was a fairly challenging excursion.

Heading south from Turner's Gap.  As usual, the AT had some surprises just around the corned

Heading south from Turner’s Gap. As usual, the AT had some surprises just around the corned

Heading south from Turner’s Gap, the AT looked like a smooth superhighway through the woods.  I should have known that it was too good to be true.  I do love the Appalachian Trail, but a few recent excursions on the C&O Canal had me spoiled.  Big difference! The graph above is a pretty nice outline of the trail, but it doesn’t tell the full story:  we passed a large, open field, a Civil War Monument, and a split-rail fence before the path took an uphill swing that lasted approximately 1.8 miles.  What else?  Of course there were plenty of rocks, and the long descent into Gathland required watching nearly every step.  In other words, typical AT.

About a mile into the hike, we saw this split-rail fence

About a mile into the hike, we saw this split-rail fence

In general, this hike lacked in stream crossings, overlooks, etc., but there were a few sights that kept things pretty interesting.  For starters, the sign leading into the Crampton Gap Shelter informs thru-hikers that there is a sporadic spring near the site.  We’ve hiked most of the trail locally, but I can’t pretend to know a whole lot about the water dilemma that often faces long-distance hikers.  AWOL on the Appalachian Trail, by David Miller, is a great depiction of the trials and tribulations of hiking from Georgia to Maine–particularly finding water.  In the case of Crampton Gap, it would be a good idea not to depend upon the spring.  Luckily, there is a water source close to US 40 (about 7 miles north), just down the hill from the South Mountain Inn.

Crampton Gap.  Do you know where your next drink is coming from?

Crampton Gap. Do you know where your next drink is coming from?

Probably the most interesting sign along the way was a small, wooden block nailed to a tree and emblazoned with the AT logo.  They may exist elsewhere on the trail, but this is the first we’ve seen locally (see below).  We had to get a picture of it, so I suppose the rocks weren’t the only things that stopped us in our tracks.  At the end of the day, in spite of our sweat-stained shirts and sore feet, the Appalachian Trail keeps offering up something new and unusual around every turn (or ascent!).  I think it’s the challenge that keeps us coming back for more.

This isn't your typical white blaze

This isn’t your typical white blaze

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