For now, I've finished my combined stint on the on the GREAT Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal (lagoon?), having headed south from Harper's Ferry. I truly enjoyed my time on those two paths, and if you enjoy riding a bike away from cars and off sealed surfaces, you owe it to yourself, and the people who made the efforts to realize these national treasures, to go ride them. I've heard of similar long riverside trails in other parts of the world, but it is wonderful to know we actually manage the same here in the car-centric USA.
Right now, I don't have time to detail my full time on the trail, but I'll list some highlights as they occur to me:
1) The Paw Paw Tunnel. Not as long as the longest on the Allegheny, but has the attraction, for me, of being unlit. I like the dark. Actually, I love the dark. Sometimes I think I have the opposite of seasonal affective disorder, as there is just too much damn sunlight in summer. Anyhow, I rode half way into the 3,000+ foot long tunnel, shut off the light, and enjoy the serenity of walking the remaining half in the dark. Every so often, I like to let my other sense overshadow the dominance of sight.
2) Sticking to the paw paw theme: paw paws! I discovered this fruit on my last night of trailside camping above Dam #4, a campsite I shared with a Girl Scout troop out of Columbia, MD. These robust young gals were hiking for two days and carrying more on their backs than I ever attempt. Miss Pricilla welcomed this lone traveler into the fold and they even fed me smores! I hope I earned my biker-guy-who-eats-weird-fruit-out-of-the-woods merit badge.
3) A quick hello to Tom for keeping me company with tales and other repartee on our ever-so-fast decent into Cumberland at the end of the Allegheny.
4) Dust! It didn't seem that dusty, but it quickly became apparent that any attempt to keep the chain lubricated would be fruitless. Who knew a day later I'd be passing time under a bridge to let the rain subside.
5) A cave: Last day on the trail, I managed to spot a cave entrance tucked into the cliffs that so often line the C&O canal. I ventured about 200 feet in until I decided an utter lack of proper equipment meant I should appreciate it at that. Starting to narrow, it still continued as far as my light would shine. The quiet was desert impressive.
6) I love the buildings along the canal. Simple structures with dimensions and proportions that are just right. Todays home builders could learn a lot here, and maybe, just maybe, stop pasting on all those extra fake gables! Please, pretty please?
Thank you again gals.
So, in Harper's Ferry, I turned south on rt340 for just under 60 miles before finding a nice secluded place to camp on state land above the Shenandoah River. It was a peaceful night despite some random nearby semi-automatic firing in the wee hours (I try not to overthink such things) and finding bear scat on my walk into the woods, which had me hanging my food up high.
Is this a great sign or what?
The halo of light was a lucky coincidence.
I think: hanging gardens.
It's a Jeep thing, or so I'm told