I went on a brief camping trip with a friend one summer near Shepherdstown, WVA and of course, this being the year 2020, it didn't go as planned. A group of intoxicated youth were yelling and screaming until at least 4 a.m. on Monday night, ruining what we hoped would be a peaceful respite. So my friend Tom and I pulled up stakes early the next day and decided to get a hike in on our way home. Maryland Heights, the well-worn, usually crowded overlook across the river from Harpers Ferry, was our intended destination. But again, this being 2020, it didn't go as planned. Local officials had eliminated the parking near the trail heads, so in desperation, I went on Google and randomly found another hiking destination nearby called Weverton Cliffs, a steep climb along the famed Appalachian Trail. I vaguely recalled this overlook from a trip back in 1987 with my Dad and Uncle Frank.
This is where things get supernatural. After about a one-mile climb, we came to the overlook high above the Potomac River. I shared with Tom some of my memories of that special hike back in 1987. Uncle Frank had read about the Appalachian Trail for years, and the AT had achieved a somewhat mythic status in his imagination. When he came to the States from England on vacation, the AT was on his shortlist, so we drove out to Gathland State Park and hiked to Weverton (6 miles each way). Frank was amazed with the view at the top, the same view Tom and I enjoyed on this hike. I asked Tom to take my photo, thinking it would be good to have for Nature Worx. I sat down on a rock and Tom took this very good shot. Fast forward to later that night when I get home and decide to hunt through some old photo albums (remember them?!) and I find this photo from 1987. I almost lost my breath when I saw this shot of the three of us on the same rock in almost the EXACT same spot I was sitting. My seating and arm position are almost identical as well! (The pine tree in the background is new --- in the past 33 years). So, was this pure coincidence? I think not. I was drawn to this trail, this place and this very rock by something mystical and profound. The spirits of Dad and Frank were alive in the air that day, and called me to have a seat next to them and enjoy the view one more time. Here's to you two! I miss you immensely, and as I type this through tears, I will carry you in my heart during my travels, and hope to be with you somewhere down the trail, to enjoy the view together again.