We woke shortly after 7:00 am on day 5 to this amazing fog covering the Potomac. It made me think of my Revolutionary War history lessons and troops sneaking across the river under the cover of fog. I understand more clearly how that happens. The fog was so thick while standing at the edge of the water you still couldn’t see it.
The clothes that we had hung by the fire the night before were still wet, so we lit the fire again to dry out the clothes and ourselves from all the dampness in the air. It was oatmeal and protein bars for breakfast and then the business of packing up the stuff. I hated to say goodbye to this amazing camping spot, but 162 miles of trail were still waiting to be seen.
At mile marker 155.2 the trail goes through the Paw Paw Tunnel,
“The canal company chose to tunnel through a mountain for 3,118 feet to save five miles of construction had they followed the river bends.”
“Even today it remains one of the world’s longest canal tunnels and was one of the greatest engineering feats of its day.”
“Over 6 million bricks were hand laid to line the tunnel. Ethnic violence broke out among the Irish, English, and German laborers. The difficulty of the job had been underestimated from the start. It was projected that construction would take two years; it took 14 years to complete the tunnel with a cost overrun of 500%.” Trail Book 11th Edition
For the next 18 miles the trail continued through the scenic area of Green Ridge State Forest. It was another beautiful afternoon for riding a bike.
Near mile marker 136 lies a connector to the Western Maryland Rail Trail and runs parallel to the C & O Canal Path 22.5 miles. The benefit to hopping over to the WMR Trail is that it is a paved trail. Dear Husband and I were very ready for a break from the “ruggedness” of the Canal Path.
“After nearly twenty years of bureaucratic and congressional wrangling, President Richard Nixon signed a bill creating the C & O Canal National Historical Park on Jan. 8, 1971, protecting the corridor and its structures.” Trail Book 11th Edition
Because the Canal Path is a national park, the area is being preserved as it once was, which means the trail has tree roots, pot holes, mud, rocks, spikey Chestnuts, Osage oranges and whatever else mother nature throws down. By riding on the Western Maryland Trail we would still be riding along the C & O Canal, just from the other side and we could take advantage of a few “smooth” miles of riding.
After 11 miles on the WMR Trail we came to the town of Hancock, MD where we decided to get a bite to eat at a restaurant, Buddy Lou’s Antiques & Eats, right along the trail. It was a unique little place with yummy food. I had a wonderful BBQ Chicken salad with avocado and corn salsa while Dear Husband enjoyed a 1/2 pound burger & chips.
With full bellies we got back onto the C & O Canal Path so that we could find another camping place. One of the benefits of the C & O area being declared a National Park is that they offer free camping areas approximately every 5 miles. Each place offers potable water from a hand pump, a port-a-john, fire ring, and picnic table. They are a great way to further enjoy the 184 mile trip.
We stopped for the night at mile marker 116, Licking Creek shortly before dark. We did a quick tent set up and climbed into bed.
220.78 miles traveled
23:21 hours of pedaling
I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.” Dorothy