Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Tales From the Trail - Day 3

Day 3 (Tuesday) found our group of riders traveling from Shepherdstown,WVA (Mile Marker 72) to Hancock MD (Mile Marker 124), a distance of forty (40) miles. Again the weather gods smiled on them with a sunny day and temperatures in the high 70s to low 80s. This leg saw the first minor cracks in the group. One rider had a funny noise coming from her bike and another is experiencing a sore knee. Luckily Hancock has a bike shop for the first problem and a pharmacy for the second. The girl with the problematic knee will test it out on the ride from Hancock to the end of the C&O Canal Trail today to see if it will hold out or force her to drop out.
During the ride on Day 3 the group passed Barrons Store and Museum. This is the country store from which Ann and I rescued Daughter#2 and a friend who were riding the C&O Trail from Cumberland to Georgetown before thunderstorms drowned them out back in May. The couple who own the store gave them shelter (the store was technically closed) and gave them some tea to warm them up until we could get there. You can read about it here. I hope they stopped to say hello.
Along the canal at various places are feeder dams for the locks. That is WVA on the far bank and the building actually houses a working electric generator. As a reminder, these pictures (and most of the facts) come from the Virtual Tour of the C&O Canal Trail at
As beautiful as the Trail is, it has been ravaged by storms over the years, which have taken their toll. This is what greets travels at Mile Marker 86.
The Trail here has been completely washed away. I don't believe there are any plans to try and restore it. Travelers are rerouted via a detour around this section.
After returning to the Trail, the group got to see this old Mill complete with a paddle wheel. It's known as McMahon's Mill.
A common companion to the C&O Canal are various railroads. Once a upon a time the Canal and railroads were competitors. The railroads were the overall winner, but along the trail are remnants of abandon tracks and bridges. This bridge was used to raise the tracks over the canal. It was replaced with the truss bridge in the background, which is still in use.
The group did not pull off the trail for lunch as they had the day before in Harper's Ferry. Instead they brought along lunch and ate on the Trail, which according to Daughter#2 consisted of bagel and hummus. Doesn't sound all that great for lunch but they also had some power bars and what not to sustain them. Another view of the Trail somewhere between Mile Marker 100 and 106. What a way to spend a day.
According to Daughter#2, the highlight of this leg was visiting Fort Frederick (Mile Marker 112). Built in 1756, its original purpose was to protect the area and settlers during the French and Indian War. The Fort has been restored to its original appearance and future plans call for re building the Officer Quarters. The barracks are already rebuilt and often staffed by re-enacters. I assume that's primarily on weekends and holidays. Daughter#2 didn't mention seeing any.

After Fort Frederick, our weary band of bikers arrived in Hancock, MD. Daughter#2's biggest complaint so far is getting off the Trail. Every exit requires a steep climb on already exhausted legs. Hancock does have a bike shop that I assume caters mostly to Trail riders.

The Group had marked out the Hancock Town Tavern as a possible eating place for diner, but I forgot to ask Daughter#2 if it fact they ate there. Their resting place was Americas Best Value Inn in Hancock. It did not rate high on her list.

Tomorrow they bike the last 63 miles of the C&O Canal Trail and finish up in Cumberland, MD. There they will pick up the Cumberland and Pittsburgh Trail - The Great Allegheny Passage.

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