The day started with a train waking me up along with rain smacking my tent at the campground at Calico Rocks. I ate a quick peanut butter and bread breakfast and started packing up with dozens of mosquitoes swarming around my head. I felt good starting back up on the towpath given that it seemed to have dried up a bit, but the dryness and good feelings wouldn’t last as the day wore on.
I rode over some old aqueducts, and the sun finally shining brought a contented smile to my face.
Turns out this is the home of Harper’s Ferry National Historic Park, kind of a living museum not unlike Williamsburg, VA. I only stayed long enough to devour some pasta from Cannonball Deli, which was outstanding. Not that they had to try too hard; I’m perpetually starved.
On my way out of town I saw a fun little bit of signage:
I kept trudging through the muck and whatever peace of mind I had started to gradually fade away. I took the next picture because I thought it was cool, but little did I know it was a bit of foreshadowing for the high water levels upriver…
The well water has been a lifesaver on this trail, but I earn the iodine cocktail I get out of them. I have to pump the lever quit a bit to get the water.
The day was wearing thin, along with my patience for the damp, soft, slow, muddy trail when I realized I wouldn’t make my intended destination of Hancock, MD. I had heard of Williamsport being a nice town right off the canal, and with 12 miles to make it there, I decided to make it my stop for the night.
But around mile 88 I was unable to keep moving north. Apparently this part of Maryland has gotten 18 days of rain in the month of May (and today is just the 23rd). While I’ve definitely been suffering the effects of it, I couldn’t keep going on the towpath. I even walked ahead on the trail a bit to see if it cleared up, and it didn’t.
So I looked on Google Maps and found an easy enough way to make it to Williamsport through back roads. I saw the world’s corniest helicopter…
After some delicious ice cream downtown I reluctantly got a hotel room at the Red Roof Inn. The $60 price tag stung, but I needed a dry place to sleep and a shower. I ended up doing laundry as well, which is fantastic, since my riding clothes are caked in wet, heavy mud.
So I’m now packing up in the hotel and about to hit the Waffle House for a breakfast sure to keep me moving for a good portion of the day, which will be a day on back roads. I’m done with the C&O. It has been absolutely brutal and ultimately unnavigable. I heard about an easy way to take route 40 that will take me to a paved rail trail just past Hancock, and that’s what I’m going to take much of the day in order to make up for lost time.
Spirits are a little higher with this news. It would have been satisfying in a torturous way to make it the whole way on the towpath, but at this point I have no problem abandoning it for better riding on my way to Cumberland. I’m hoping to make it there in decent time with a long couple days in the saddle, and crossing my fingers for a smooth decent into Pittsburgh over a couple days.
But before that I have to play frisbee with Jasmine, the sweetest labradoodle staying in the room next to me, who LOVES bringing me her frisbee.