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Hiking Maryland's Appalachian Trail, Part Two

Turns out there's more than two ways to hike the 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail that runs through Maryland from the Pennsylvania line to the Potomac River.

And it figures that a group from Mensa has not only done it once, but 24 times. This weekend will mark the silver anniversary of Walk Across Maryland.The hike can be done as a one-day slog, going north to south to save on elevation. And as I wrote on Sunday, Dick Hillman, the former Annapolis mayor and avid hiker and runner, will be leading five hikes over five months to complete the journey.

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For their part, the Mensa hikers have broken the trail into three segments over three days. They use support cars to haul tents, sleeping bags and food, leaving participants to carry their own water and snacks. At various points, volunteers magically appear to shower hikers with cold drinks and popsicles.

When the caravan stops at night, hikers can set up under the stars, in a tent or in an AT shelter. Or, they can hitch a ride back to Hagerstown and rent a room in a motel. Not shabby.

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The group charges $35 per person to cover the cost of the support cars, treats and some meals. That's a bargain any way you look at it. And when you've perfected the details over 24 years, as WAM organizers have done, you know it must be a pretty smooth operation.

How do they do it? The first day is PenMar to the AT shelter near Wolfsville Road. The second day is Wolfsville Road to Turners Gap. The final day is Turners Gap to Harpers Ferry.

All the details are at the website for Harpers Ferry Books http://www.harpersferrybooks.com

They invited me to join them. An ankle sprain will keep me with my foot propped up in the air this weekend rather than on the ground. But next year is another story.

Happy 25th anniversary, WAM. Here's to 25 more!

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