Sunday was a nice clear day. A little warm at first, so I took off my beanie and gloves and continued. There's a NPS C&O Canal museum just outside Hancock, MD I wanted to check out, however, like so many things on the trail it was closed for winter. As I reached the town of Hancock it became a little chilly and I went to put my gloves back on. No!!! I was devastated to find that one of my gloves had fallen out. Fortunately there is a bike shop in Hancock, right on the trail, surely they sell gloves. I head across the canal and towards the bike shop. Closed for winter. I became so frustrated. With no other choice, I march on.
I reached cacapon junction campsite. A lovely campsite. I ate an entire box of Kraft macaroni & cheese by the fire.
The next morning was a little slow going. I had a slight case of the Mondays if you will.
I love that the scenery around me is changing. More mountains and cliffs, so beautiful. I passed an old cement mine that used the canal to transport goods. I'm often passing ruins of old buildings, which I find fascinating.
The temperature on Monday was warm and glorious. We took our lunch break at Fifteen Mile Creek where there are rope swings, I bet in the summer this place is awesome! I saw a sign that said "food this way" and followed it to a small canoe rental place. Sadly closed for winter. I settled on my packet of tuna fish, one mayo packet, one spicy mustard packet. The sun felt so nice Brown and I layed out and a short siesta. After our break I put my head phones in and jammed to the next campsite.
Stickpile Hill Campsite! Finally! It was a long day. I was so happy to see that there was already chopped firewood in the fire pit. However, this site sandwiched between two mountains must have had all of its snow cover melt that day because there was not one dry spot anywhere. In some spots very muddy. For dinner I had mashed potatoes and gravy. Then layed on the picnic table and stared at the stars. Beautiful, bright and clear.
I turned in for the night and discovered that my thermarest prolite had sprung a leak. Ugh. Cold, wet ground beneath me, it was a miserable night. I barely got any sleep, between shivering and tossing and turning it was a terrible nights rest.
I was excited for the next day. Tuesday, I knew I was going to get to Paw Paw Tunnel. I have been looking forward to this for most of the trip so far. It did not disappoint!
Leading up to the tunnel, water cascades off the cliffs around you. So beautiful. The tunnel is 3,100 feet long. It was at least 10 degrees colder inside and pitch black in the center. All you could see is the light at the end of the tunnel. I switched on my head lamp and saw bats within arms reach!
This tunnel turned my day around. Definitely the best part of the trip thus far. I took my lunch break at the Paw Paw campground and stripped down to my bathing suit and soaked up the sun. Side note readers: I'm a Floridian through and through. The town of Paw Paw is just over the Potomac River, I headed into town hoping to get enough cell phone reception to call my niece and wish her a happy birthday. Sadly, no luck. While in Paw Paw I stopped at the gas station picked up and scarfed down an ice cream sandwich and brought back to the campground a bag of Utz baby back rib flavored chips (bbq), pecan pin wheels and duct tape.
Still sore from the night before, I decided to call it a half day and stay at the Paw Paw campground. I tried using the duct tape to fix my mattress. Nope. While my mattress was still unable to stay inflated at least the ground was dry and soft. I roasted the pecan pin wheels over the fire, mmm.
I was pretty sure a rain storm was on the way, without cell reception, I didn't know what to expect. I packed up early and headed out. It rained on and off varying from drizzle to downpour. I made it to Potomac Forks Campsite, where fortunately the old lock master house had a covered porch. I ate my tuna packet lunch and rested briefly waiting for the rain to lighten up. When it did, we got moving.
Two miles later I reached Oldtown, MD. While not the end of the C&O Canal, it is the end of the American Discovery Trail in Maryland. Here I said goodbye to Maryland and crossed the Potomac River into West Virginia.
A major difference between the two states already is elevation. The trail in Maryland was flat, here, not so much. Also, there isn't a trail, I'm on country roads, no sidewalk. Walking on the side of the road with cars zipping by is a little scary. I continued my walk, not sure how far I was going to go, as there aren't campsites here as there were on the C&O. Camping would mean either trespassing or walking down a never ending driveway to ask a homeowner if I could camp in their yard/field.
As I was walking an older angel pulled up in his Geo Tracker and asked how far I was headed. Not too sure, I said the next town I was supposed to hit, Fort Ashby, hoping it was on his way. It was, he was headed there to do some fishing. I jumped in, Brown jumped on my lap and we sped off into town. After talking to the man, he informed me of the storm moving through that evening. Thank goodness for that, I would never have known. He dropped me off in town and I went to Subway to charge my phone and check for reception. I scarfed down a foot long and Brown had a 6 inch turkey sub.
Charged up I checked the weather, a low of 9 with wind gusts up to 30 mph, thunderstorms then snow were supposed to hit the area. I needed a room for the night. Sadly the only hotel in Fort Ashby had burned down. Ironic because it was adjacent to the fire department. Anyway next closest hotel was 14 miles away in Keyser, WV. Ugh. It was 4:30 and I had already been walking since 8am. (Minus the 10 minute ride from my angel friend).
Well, staying put and complaining to myself wouldn't get me out of the storm, so I get moving. I had three hours until temperatures were expected to drop and six hours of walking after that to get to Keyser.
I passed a cow pasture alongside the road. Brown went right up to the fence and the cows approached to say hi. Brown gave them some kisses but we had to keep moving. The cows followed us for as long as their fence would allow. Walking to Keyser, the wind had picked up. In some places stopping me in my tracks, it reminded me of hurricanes in south Florida.
Tired, sore, blistered, chafed, I encountered another angel. Corey. He and his wife saw me walking along WV-46 and thought I could use a lift. He dropped her off and came back for me! He gave me a lift the rest of the way into Keyser.
In all, not including my two rides, I walked 24 miles yesterday. While it never snowed, I'm happy to be out of the elements. I smelled awful and my hands had so much dirt embedded in them it took two bars of soap to get them clean.
I'm taking a day off to grab my mail, do laundry, attempt to collect on my lifetime warranty of my thermarest and relax.
Sorry for the delay and thank you for reading.
"And I will sleep out in the glade just by the giant tree
Just to be closer when my spirit's pulled away
I left a nervous little boy out on the trail today
He's just a mortal to the shouting cavalcade"