Seventh Leg – 40 Miles on the C&O Canal for Mother’s Day

We made about 40 miles up the C&O Canal towpath today.

I woke early to the sound of rain on the tent fly, which was expected. I checked the radar on my phone to look for a gap on the rain that would let us make breakfast and break camp. There was a bit of gap in an hour, and I boiled water for instant oats and hot cocoa while Robin packed up our tent and Justin roused himself.
The first part of today’s ride was a slow slog through a steady cold rain on a muddy, soft trail. My bike stopped shifting into high gear, but that hardly mattered because I didn’t need it. Our first landmark was going to be Fort Frederick, where the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail starts.

After over two hours of pedaling though the lush green – but cold – wilderness, we reached Fort Frederick and headed up the road to the fort restoration. We entered a bit of a time warp. After traveling through the deserted forest for hours in rotten weather at about the speed of a trotting horse, we reached the restored Wort’s General store, an outpost from the 18th Century frontier, with a sign offering hot coffee and a chance to warm up. We took advantage of both, as well as an ahistorical outlet for charging my phone, I also bought a miniature American flag as an ensign for my bike.
We dawdled at the fort restoration, standing in front of the barracks fire while the period interpreters, hungry for some visitors on a rainy Mother’s Day, regaled us with stories of life during the French-Indian war. We hoped the rain would stop before we had to set out again, but it didn’t.

Our next destination was Hancock, and a Mother’s Day lunch at a real restaurant. After a couple for false detours into truck stops, we found Buddy Lou’s Antique Shop and Restaurant. They were very nice and made space for us even without reservations. I now know that an order of crab fries will feed a family of four. Robin found a footstool she liked at the antique shop part of the place, so I piled that on the back of my bike along with the tent and the guitar.

It was still drizzling when we left Buddy Lou’s at 3:30, but we made quick work of the next twenty miles to the Fifteen Mile Aqueduct drive-in campsite, where Danielle met us with the dogs and a brand new camp dining shelter. We were the only people a the campground, so we changed sites to one with a better view of the Potomac and had a leisurely evening and dinner. Tomorrow promises more rain and a many more miles of riding – we are aiming for Frostburg, 63 miles away and well up through the Cumberland Gap.


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