Monday, July 10, 2017

Day 6 2017

I have to tell you, I could get used to this high level living. After a wonderful night of sleep I get the bike all packed up and then get called in for breakfast. Bill has made an egg dish of a puffy pastry that is hollowed out and filled with eggs and crab meat and cheese. A fresh bowl of cut up fruit and seasoned potatoes to go with. And then he gives us each two bran muffins to take down the trail. What a stay I have had!!
I continue down the Western Maryland Rail trail. It runs about ten miles south of Hancock before it merges again with the towpath.
 I am just zipping along and come upon this small graveyard. Many of the stones were unmarked without names or dates. There were two or three that were marked with a name and had Civil War dates with them. They did not say if they were soldiers or not. So interesting. There was no plaque or fence or sign of who took care of this sacred place.
Back on the towpath I was enjoying the first morning without any layers except a t-shirt. I knew it was going to get warm today but that is OK with me!! Riding the towpath was different than GAP. GAP is so well maintained that you can cruise along and look around knowing your footing is not changing. On the towpath you have to pay attention to what you are doing. There are rocks and tree roots and dips and water holes. I found it to be so much more interesting. I felt like I was a real bike rider, engaged with my ride and the trail. Now, it was not hard riding like single track, just interesting and attention holding.

The locks and the houses had history to them. Many of the locks were just the stonework of the lock left. A few of them were almost completely overgrown and being reclaimed by the forest. And then, there were some that the lockhouse was renovated and restored and the area around the lock was mowed and maintained.
This was an interesting series of locks. The area and former town was called Four Locks. There were four locks in a very short distance, maybe 300 yards. There was a thriving town here of 8 to 10,000 people but it all went away when the canal closed down. This always amazes me. That a town can just dry up and cease. It was the same thing in Colorado up around Fremont pass and Leadville. Because of gold and silver the population was over 50,000 people but none of it remains except an EPA superfund cleanup site.

Today there were a few more views of the Potomac river, which I like.
Stonework on this lock was beautiful with this aquaduct built in.
I then roll up on a very interesting section of the towpath. This part of the Potomac features limestone cliffs that come right down to the river. The engineers and surveyors knew they could not blast out miles of solid rock to continue the canal so they did the next best thing and built a dam across the river and created the Big Pool. They hacked and blasted out enough of the cliff to have a towpath alongside the river and floated the boats up the river as this part of the canal. The Park service has built a nice hanging concrete path in place here so the towpath can continue through here!! There is a lock at each end of this section to move the boats from canal to river and back.

Bear with me now because I took a lot of pictures through this section. Notice the house on stilts that was raised and lowered depending on the flood waters that would rage through at times. The dams were not built to hold back extra large volumes of water, just enough to have the freight boats be able to negotiate.

I roll into the town of Williamsport for some lunch and find my friends John and Theresa sitting at a little cafe. I enjoy a very delish BLT and some fresh iced water bottles to head back down the trail.
There was an area here that had a few B&B's right close to the trail and somebody has taken an interest in mowing the canal. Here the canal looked like it could be part of a golf course!!

Another bridge for my friend Richard that I passed under
I reached my destination to the Antietam Creek primitive campsite and get set up. I enjoy this evening because I made camp by 5:00 and had a lot of time before dark for once on this trip. I fixed up a dinner of peanut butter on a flat bread and a Mountain House beef stroganoff dinner. I got to visiting with the guy next to me. His name was also Jim and he was getting to the end of a cross country bicycle ride. He was from Florida. His last year has been interesting. He retired and then got divorced. He gave (his words!) his house to his wife and kept his sailboat which he lived on until it was destroyed by a tropical storm. He rode the Amtrak to Seattle from Florida, bought a bike and started off on a ride back to Florida. I could have listened to his stories all night!! Made my ride seem pretty non-eventful. HaHa!!
Good campsite!! Close to the river and no Trains!! I slept well.
Until next time!!
Thanks for reading!!


  1. Great Pics Jim your trip continues to inspire looks like a blast, staying in one of the lock houses would be cool.

    1. I agree Ryan, next time I ride the towpath I will plan on a night in one of the lock houses. In the back of my head I am already brewing up a trip back. Ride Amtrak with my bike out of Denver to Chicago and then on the train to Pittsburgh. Jump off there for a re-do of this trip. Ride all the back on Amtrak from DC to Denver. Plan on a month long so to have time to explore much of the history that I missed because of time limitations. Falling Waters, Antietam Battlefield, all the things in DC. It would be epic.

  2. Am enjoying reading. Quite the adventure. I was just thinking how your rides make mine seem non-eventful lol. We rode a loop using the rail-to-trail and the tow path. We parked in Hancock. I remember the cemetery. We also visited that old fort.

    1. Yes, Fort Frederick. Another historical site I missed. I get these trips all planned up with time issues to get from point A to B in a certain amount of time to fit in with vacation and travel time. I really can not wait for an open ended time tour.

  3. Very interesting comments. History is my hobby ( one of many). That trail is absolutely beautiful. And sometimes you get to meet interesting people...with a good story.