2012 Bike Sojourn – Day 5 45 miles from Little Orleans to Cumberland MD

Today was another very hot day: high 90s and heat index over 100. I rode with Jim again today and we got out very early to beat the heat.

Last night was super hot and difficult to sleep, but I did eek out a few good hours of sleep.

We wound past Bill’s place and got right to the ride on the towpath, bidding a nice farewell to Little Orleans.

The first hi light of today’s ride was going through the Paw Paw tunnel. You can see a picture of me standing atop the entrance.

This amazing structure was tunneled through a mountain to allow the canal to go through and save several miles of going around. It was estimated that it was going to take 2 years to tunnel it out, but it ended up taking 14 years to create this amazing tunnel! The tunnel is only wide enough for one barge and mule, so if two barges needed to pass, they had to be agreeable to take turns … which wasn’t always the case and could jam up boat traffic.

The tunnel is over 3,100 feet long (!) and lined with a brick archway. I’d guess millions of bricks are in that structure. We had to dismount and walk our bikes along the mule path inside the tunnel, navigating by headlight. Without a light source, it is pitch black. One other nice part: it was nice and cool inside – a great break from the heat!

Most of the rest of the ride was beautiful and uneventful. Many miles of countryside and spectacular views. The shady lengths were nice, and the sun was very toasty.

The second hi light was that we arrived in Cumberland MD at lunchtime. This means we are more than half way done at 185 miles! It also means that we say goodbye to the C&O canal and begin riding on the Great Allegheny Passage: a rail-trail that runs all the way into Pittsburgh. I’m told that the surface is much better than the C&O, so I am looking forward to that.

One more great surprise was awaiting me in Cumberland. After the last two days of miserable heat for camping, I asked Stephanie to try to get me a hotel room. She delivered! A clean, air-conditioned, great room at the Fairfield Inn greeted me and really lifted my spirits! Thanks Steph!!!! I washed my clothes and myself, and loaded up on food. I’m SOOO looking forward to a real bed tonight.

Tomorrow is the most difficult day: 62 miles, including a climb up to the Eastern Continental Divide at around 2,000 feet of climb.

My back is still a bit sore, but not terrible. Some Alleve and rest tonight should help.

– Dc. Matt








2012 Bike Sojourn – Day 4 42 miles from Williamsport MD to Little Orleans

2012 Bike Sojourn – Day 4
42 miles from Williamsport MD to Little Orleans

It was super hot today – upper 90s. Heat index near 100. I broke camp very early and joined up with Jim, a guy I met yesterday. We got out before breakfast was served to try to avoid the worst of the heat. This proved to be a very good strategy.

By 9:30, we had already arrived in Hancock MD about 2 hours ahead of schedule and had a huge breakfast at a diner we found called “The Potomac Grill”. The cool, air-conditioned restaurant was a welcome sight and the food was excellent. After breakfast/brunch, we scooted out and promptly got back to the trail.

The C&O path is heavily canopied with trees, so it helped to keep me cool. A few miles in, we arrived at Fort Fredrick and wandered around. The downside to our ‘leave extra early’ strategy was that the Fort was still closed when we arrived. So we just looked a bit and stretched our legs.

After departing the fort, we were able to join the Western Maryland Rail Trail for about 22 miles, which parallels the C&O path … but is paved! Those miles went pretty easily. The conditions on the path were a much welcomed break from the bumpy forest C&O path, but it wasn’t quite as nicely canopied, so it was a bit more hot.

A few miles later, we arrived at Little Orleans, MD. Very hot. Very sweaty. I had consumed about three quarts of Gatorade already and have drunk a fourth while sitting down.

Little Orleans is a very tiny town. I am sitting at “Bill’s”, a (the only?) local place that appears to be somewhat famous on the C&O path. People come and put dollar bills on the ceiling and stock up on everything from food, beer, worms, and local news. It has a character all its own. And it is the only place along the towpath for 20 miles in either direction! I gave Bill a dollar to post on the ceiling with my name on it, so look for it there.

As I sit here cooling off, I am really not looking forward to heading to the camp sight and setting up camp in 97 degree weather. Perhaps another bottle of water here at Bill’s would be a better idea.

Aside from the Fort, there weren’t many tourist spots along the way. Lots of pretty scenery, but not much to write about.

My upper back started hurting from where I stressed it unloading bags from the truck on Sunday. As I write this, it feels pretty sore.

I don’t have any cell signal, so I’ll post my blog and pictures later. By the time you are reading this, I’m already a day or two ahead.

Until then, keep praying for cooler weather and that my back feels better soon.

Peace & Blessings!
– Dc. Matt