Day five GAP/C&O

I was back on the trail this morning around 7:40. It would have been nice to get started a little earlier but the town of Meyersdale is built on a hillside. A steep hillside. It was necessary to push the bike four or five blocks from the B&B where I stayed. I was also slowed down a little bit admiring the restored Victorian houses along the way.
The first goal of the day was to cross the Eastern Continental Divide. I had read a few accounts that indicated it was a noticeable if not steep climb from Meyersdale. To quote Mr. Scrooge, bah, humbug! Maybe the last fifty feet or so required a little extra effort, but the rest of it seemed almost level. The east side of the divide on the other hand…..
After crossing the Eastern Continental Divide, the word for the day was downhill. Really downhill. Wind rushing in your ears and stationary object appearing as a blur without having to pedal, downhill. Making Cumberland (about thirty miles) before noon even with a few breaks thrown in downhill.
One of the breaks, a very brief one, was to snap a picture of a monument marking the Mason Dixon line. I thought of the ferry operator in Josey Whales and wondered if I should start singing Dixie just to be on the safe side.
Watching the mile markers go from double digits to single digits felt great. Seeing the disk marking mile zero of the Great Allegheny Passage felt even better
While in Cumberland, I had intended to visit a wood turner I had chatted with online but I couldn’t locate his shop. That shot maybe 45 minutes. I stopped at a small shop for a quick bite to eat, and headed toward the start of the C&O Tow Path.
The tow path is different from the GAP. Instead of following a succession of rivers that are often far below the trail, the tow path runs alongside the old C&O canal. Unlike the Whitewater canal that is part of the local history in the part of Indiana where I live, large portions of the C&O still hold water. And that water is home to an abundance of wildlife. In the small amount covered so far I have some good photos of ducks on a log and a Great Blue Herron that almost acted like it was posing for me.
By the end of the day I had covered over fifty miles. The stopping place was a hiker/biker campground run by the NPS. I had passed at least three others before stopping here. There is a two story house nearby that was once the residence of the man who would operate the locks in front of the house. The camping area is across the canal and uphill of the house. Just as I was starting to get the cooking gear out it started to sprinkle. I quickly shoved everything I had out back into the panniers and made a beeline for the covered porch of the house. Good decision. In a few minutes it was no longer sprinkling. It was pouring. I took the foam pad (the only piece of gear that isn’t IN something) off the bike, flopped it down on the porch, and, using my helmet with my gloves on top for padding as a pillow, took a nap until it stopped raining. I was tempted to spend the night there but decided mosquito free sleep trumped not having to pack a tent in the morning.
It will be another night when I will have trains reminding me all night that civilization is never too far away.


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