Day eight C&O

Day eight started a lot earlier than planned.
A LOT earlier.
I’m not sure if I was already awake or the first sounds of what was about to happen woke me. What I do know, is that I was wide awake when the sound of a large tree crashing to the ground was heard.
Once awake, I needed to leave the tent for a minute anyway, so I decided to see if I could find the tree that had just fallen. Doing so was easier than I liked.
The tree had fallen right across the bare area where I first thought of setting up the tent. Had I not decided on a higher and grassier location, there is a very good chance I would have been killed. At the very least, I could have been seriously injured.
The tree hadn’t fallen during some violent windstorm. Far from it. There was not enough wind to even rustle the leaves. For about half an hour I laid in my tent and thought about that. I also thought of all the trees within falling and flattening like pancake range of my tent. Not normally one to be bothered by little things that go bump in the night, I found myself plenty bothered by big things that go crash in the night. A little after 1:30 I got up and started packing. If a tree was going to fall on me, it was my wish to at least present the challenge of a moving target.
The campground was well below the level of the towpath, and there were some stone steps that had to be negotiated to get back to the trail. Once headed in the right direction I hopped on the bike and headed for the next waypoint, Shepherdstown. It didn’t take too long to discover that walking was easier, or at least safer, than trying to dodge puddles and soft spots riding by headlight. Shortly after passing the Ferry Hill visitors center the headlight decided it had had enough. At that point, I laid the bike on its side, and, using the helmet for a pillow, laid down on the path to nap until daybreak.
When I woke up it was light enough to see. It didn’t take too long to make it to Shepherdstown. Once there, with phone service available, I checked for Amtrak tickets from Harpers Ferry to Pittsburgh. There wouldn’t be any for several days so I decided to try plan B, rent a vehicle. Without going into all the gory details, that didn’t work out too well either. I spent hours at an upscale hotel that was spread out over several acres waiting for a call back from the rental agency until I finally called them. There was no chance of getting anything before Monday. By then, there would be space on Amtrak.
And so it was that I found myself back on the towpath with a wobbly rear wheel heading for Harpers Ferry. Stopping point for the night was the Huckleberry Hill campsite just short of Harpers Ferry. After checking trees in the area with an unusually critical eye, a spot for the tent was chosen and everything was set for the last night.


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