Ahhh, day 4 in the books! Only 2 more til we reach D.C. and get to rest a little bit! Today started out way better. We headed to Cafe Mark for breakfast around 6:30, then hit the bike shop before heading out on the trail. We had now finished the GAP part of the trail and were starting the C&O Canal Towpath trail. It’s exactly what it sounds like…the towpath next to the canal.
The path was better than I expected, but still a bit rough. The grade is mostly flat, but the uneven ground seems to make my body tire faster. We were also constantly dodging muddy holes, tree roots and rocks sticking out and other debris. Brian and I actually started to make a game of it. One of us would be the leader while the other followed. And the leader had to yell out left, right or center to keep the other from hitting whatever little obstacle was ahead (mostly muddy puddles). There are lots of campgrounds and old lock and dams along the way, where we took most of our breaks
(including lunch), which was packed sandwiches from the breakfast joint.
We did have one extra cool element to the trail today and that was the Paw Paw Tunnel. The pathway through it is narrow and very uneven…and there is no lighting, so you are supposed to walk your bikes through instead of riding. Which we did of course, bc I didn’t want to fall into the canal! Haha. The tunnel was much cooler than the temp outside and there were several spots where the ceiling was dripping.
After this, I don’t have much to comment on. The trail remained rough and it was a lot of the same beautiful scenery around us. Lucky for us the forecast was wrong and there were no storms just a few sprinkles. We did get some relief from the C&O, because for a few miles there is a PAVED trail that runs parallel to it, the Western Maryland trail. We took that into Hancock where we are staying for the night. My experience of the town has not been that impressive so far, other than we were able to clean the mud off our bikes and do a little laundry. Haha!
- The remoteness of the trail gave a greater feel of wilderness. You saw far fewer bikers due to the rustic state of the trail.
- The Paw Paw tunnel was impressive and the walk through a bit treacherous.
- The Wester Maryland paved trail provided so much needs relief from the muddy gravel ruts of the C&O.
- The water pumps during this stretch of the canal seemed as though they were broken about 50% of time. We were concious about conserving water.
- The hotel (Amrica’s Beet Value Inn) was pretty nice except for the climb at the end of the day up from the tail to get there.
- The easily accessible dining options were spotty. We learned that you can’t rely on businesses on these trial towns to be open too late even on the weekends.
- Probably the most remote portion of the both trails. It’s quite beautiful and provides a nice challenge beyond typical trail riding.