Heading home, the last three days

Except for waiting for the westbound Capitol Limited Monday, the trip was over before I went to sleep the night before.
I woke around six and laid in the tent for a little while but finally got up and started packing. It was only a few miles to the bridge across the Potomac at Harpers Ferry, and I was back in familiar territory shortly after I started riding.
The bridge, and the spiral stairway from the towpath that led to it, held a special significance. It was there, that just over a year before I had first given thought to the bike ride I was now ending due to mechanical problems. When I had last been at this spot I was (unrealized by me at the time) almost finished with what had been intended as a fill in the blanks hike of the Appalachian Trail. I had been at both ends, and I had hiked a lot of it between the two ends, but there were gaps I wanted to finish so I would be able to say I had hiked all of it. When I had last been at the Maryland end of the bridge it was late in the day and the planned stopping point was a motel where I had stayed in 1975 during an ultimately unsuccessful thru-hike attempt. The next day would be my last day on the trail for the year. On the crest of South Mountain, with knee pain, the beginnings of lower back pain, and near zero energy levels, I realized that I simply did not have what it was going to take to finish the trail.
A year later I was bailing out early again just a few miles from the same location. This time the cause was equipment failure instead of physical shortcomings. I was down a spoke on the rear wheel, but I wanted to ride the short distance of the towpath that would allow me to have covered some of the AT in 2017. Besides, it was the easiest route to the motel I where I wanted to stay.
When I got to the motel there were no vacancies, forcing me to plan B, the EconoLodge near the bridge used by the AT to cross the Shenandoah. While heading back to the towpath via the Sandy Hook road I heard the all too familiar pop of yet another spoke letting go on the rear wheel. When I was once again at the Potomac bridge I removed the panniers from the bike and waited until I saw two likely assistants. When two were spotted, I asked them if they would be kind enough to carry the panniers up the stairs while I carried the bike. Both agreed to help me out and soon I was on the West Virginia side of the river headed to the motel.
Most of the rest of the day was spent in the room. At supper time I went to a small park near the motel to cook one of the trail meals, but that was it.
The next day was spent in Harpers Ferry Historic Park. I didn’t quite feel up to taking the Maryland Heights trail, but did use the AT to get to the old section of town.
The next day, Monday, was mostly spent at the train station waiting for the west bound Amtrak.
On the train ride to Pittsburgh there were occasional glimpses of the ground I had covered in the last week or so, but not as many as I had hoped. The last recognizable location was the Salisbury trestle near Meyersdale.
Would I do it again? If I can ever get my weight way down yes. I definitely want to go back and finish the section from Harpers Ferry to D.C. I know a few things now that would make the next trip a little easier. There would be some differences in the gear taken. There is also a better grasp of what each day would entail as far as the route itself is involved. I would also go a little later in the year. But, any bike trip, short or long, is for another year. There are too many ways to enjoy being an unemployed bum to spend too much time on any given one of them.


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