Thursday, September 25, 2008

Day 3, September 21, 2008: 80 miles Frostburg, MD to Hancock,MD

We started out on a chilly morning, with the mist hanging over the mountains. We avoided yesterday's gravel switchbacks getting back to the trail by taking town roads. It was a bit confusing, but a nice coast down to the trailhead. A short distance outside Frostburg the trail began to parallel a working railroad track. I hoped all morning that we would see a train on that track but it never happened. Since we had no real breakfast before beginning the day's ride, we planned to stop at Cumberland, MD for a real breakfast. We could really tell that we were going downhill--what a nice ride!

We had a long tunnel before getting to Cumberland, and I took a photo of everyone else just before entering it--notice that the trail shares the tunnel with the working railroad. The trail was great fun--we had the railroad track and the river to look at, and an occasional telegraph pole to remind us of the history of the rail system.

When we arrived at Cumberland we could see a little restaurant off the trail, but there was a chain across the path from the trail. It stated "Private Property-No Trespassing", so we went on another mile before we got off the trail and circled back to the restaurant on surface streets. After a very good breakfast we got back on the trail, ducking under the chain and sign, just like everyone else does (according to the locals that we asked).

In Cumberland we reached the end of the Allegheny River Trail system and entered the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Trail. We found it a little rougher than the previous trail, but the scenery was great. We had the old C & O canal on our left and the Potomac River on our right. We passed many old locks and aqueducts, the homes where the locktenders and their families lived, and an old cement works from the 1800s. There were turtles sunning themselves on half-submerged logs, great blue herons, and Fred saw a bald eagle circling high above a pond.

We knew ahead of time that there would be no place to stop for lunch, so Doris went to the grocery and got sandwich makings, cookies, chips and drinks for us, which saved the day! She brought our lunch to a park at Paw Paw, just before the Paw Paw tunnel (3,118 feet long), and about 45 miles into our day's ride.

It was a very long day--we all decided that 80 miles was too long on dirty dusty trail. At Hancock, Fred and I arrived first and I asked a passerby for directions to the Super 8 Motel where we were staying. Of course it was through town and up a hill, so we ate the rest of my trail mix and waited for the rest of the group before heading up. Charlie went to do laundry while the rest of us took a break. We had a very nice dinner at a bakery/restaurant in town, and got back just in time for Charlie to rescue his laundry from the trash bag! (Laundromat was closing and the cleaning lady tossed all that was left behind).

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