Day 80 – Saturday, May 28: Harper’s Ferry, WV to Washington DC, Zero Day, 1022.5 total AT miles.

I woke at 2:30am to laughter and “get up, Cool Dad” coming from outside my tent. I was groggy and confused. I recognized the voices instantly and saw three smiling faces – Savage and Black Santa had finally arrived, and they found Who Dat who decided to hike in with them.

They were exhausted and immediately set up their tents and passed out. I fell back asleep as well, but not before checking my phone. I originally fell asleep at 6:30pm – at 8:00pm McDoubles made it to HF and went straight to a pizza place. He was now tenting near us.

I woke for the second time at 7:00am having slept 12 hours on the night. I felt great! I was about to take the train to DC. It hadn’t even dawned on me that we’d be making this trip over Memorial Day Weekend until Black Santa mentioned it as we were packing up.

Who Dat decided to cowboy camp last night (sleeping under the stars with no tent). Savage relayed that he got eaten alive by bugs and left to seek shelter at around 5:00am. While the three of us were packing, McDoubles walked over. He was all smiles, happy to be heading to DC as well.

The four of us suited up and hiked over to the ATC office so they could get their photos taken as well – I decided to head back to the post office to check on my missing package. It wasn’t there, but Black Santa’s were. He got a new tent in the mail – the one he was getting for me hadn’t arrived.

I had been planning on visiting an REI in DC to return the Quarter Dome 2 and buy new camp shoes – I lost one somewhere in or near Front Royal. Without my new tent I’d have no real business making the side trip to REI. Black Santa knew how much I disliked my tent and offered to let me use his old Big Agnes until I got my new one. What a relief – problem solved.

After purchasing our tickets online, the four of us made our way downtown. Savage was excited as well, but for different reasons. Later in the afternoon, her mother and grandmother were to arrive and spend the night with her near HF. While she wouldn’t be coming to DC with us, at least she was about to spend some quality time off trail.

I ate a quick breakfast in the diner and made my way to the Amtrak station. Black Santa and McDoubles were already there – in minutes the train pulled up and the three of us boarded.

It was a short ride, only about an hour and a half. While on board, I used my app to find a hotel – ended up getting a great deal at the Hilton in DuPont Circle (good job, Cool Dad). The three of us exited the train at 1:00pm and walked into Union Station – we had arrived!

First things first, I wanted to walk over to the White House and get a picture with my pack on before checking in. Black Santa and McDoubles thought it a cool idea as well and the three of us set off.

We made our way through the busy crowds – our packs really made us stand out. It took some time, but we fought our way to the front and got our pictures.

While we were heading towards the hotel, I ran across a squirrel essentially begging for food. I pulled out a granola bar and shared a snack with him – he even let me pet him. Pretty cool!

We checked in to the hotel at 3:00 and found our room wasn’t ready yet. I chatted with the manager, explaining we had just gotten off the AT and that this was a special occasion for us. Not a problem – he ended up upgrading us to a suite! I left my dirty laundry with the guys and headed back outside (pack in tow) to catch a cab to the REI in Rockville.

Two hours later, I was back at the hotel and getting hungry. I had already eaten nearly all of the Dot’s Pretzels and was ready for a hearty meal. We settled on Chinese – I ran next door to sample some East Coast oysters from a gastropub. The oysters were great – having worked in an oyster house in Seattle, I’ve been trying to find them on the menu in every town I stop.

After dinner, we decided it best to go to bed early so we could hit the streets first thing in the morning.

Breakfast: chicken sandwich and Cajun fries

Lunch: 3/4 of a bag of Dot’s Pretzels

Dinner: seaweed salad, pork spareribs, chicken wings, 6 Virginica oysters from southern Massachusetts.

Author: Chris Kummer

Hey y'all - Cool Dad here. Ever since I was a little kid, I wanted to thru-hike the AT. It remained a nagging thought for nearly a decade - then it got loud enough to warrant my attention. So I quit my unfulfilling job(s) in Seattle and commenced hiking north from Springer in the spring of 2016. And I'm exceedingly thankful I did. The people I met, the things I saw, the gross foods I ate - not a day goes by without fondly remembering life on the trail. If you've already thru-hiked a long trail, you know exactly what I'm talking about. If you're thinking about tackling a long-distance hike, do it. Do it now. I'm probably gonna do it again...

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