I awoke to noise coming from Afon’s campsite. A bit of surprise given he’d had told me the night before he’d be sleeping in. He hadn’t been to sleep yet!
I headed out, another long day of river, path, canal. Ugg. The C&O lives up to the reports of a remote cycle path. It’s shady, and pretty. And neverendingly, unchangingly boring. Any aspirations I might have had for hiking the AT probably died today. When the highlights of the day include, “I saw a woodpecker” or “I found a cave in the limestone that went back 10′”. Sigh.
The C&O does cross other waterways. To keep the river barges moving, a number of aqueducts were built over the existing waterway. Most of the aqueducts have fallen in disrepair, but a few remain.
Passing through Point-of-Rocks I learned of the race against the railroad to develop the canal. In Point-of-Rocks, there’s a vertical cliff that became a point of contention for right-of-way at the face of the cliff. The C&O Canal won a protracted legal battle, almost bankrupting the company. Yet that victory was hollow, as the abandoned canal next to a still busy rail line clearly indicates who won that war.
I’d picked a campground/hostel to spent the night. Learning from my earlier experience, I carefully left the trail at a point well in advance to route myself to the hostel. That part of the plan worked, although straight up. By the time I arrived at the hostel, I was beat. And it had just closed for the season.
I had really wanted the hostel, as both campgrounds in Harper’s Ferry were 5 km out of the way (in, of course, different directions). Oh well. I was tired. Really tired. The first few days of a tour are rough, and I was right on schedule. I returned to the towpath and headed for the crossing over the river. Tired enough I didn’t realize I rejoined the towpath about 100m past the crossing. It was another couple of km before I realized my error. But I had to go back.
Returning, I discovered the crossing an old rail bridge repurposed as a footbridge. With a long spiral staircase for access. Up I climbed, carrying my bicycle.
Arriving in Harper’s Ferry I moved at a crawl. I reviewed both campgrounds on-line, picking the one listing Wi-Fi and more resources. Oh so tired. Before heading their direction I called the campground of choice to confirm I’d have a place to stay. Only to realize a couple km outside of town that the campground was up the side of a mountain. A mountain I just couldn’t climb. It was either walk my bike up the highway, or head to the other campground along the river. Back I went. Again.
Reviewing the GPS, two routes led to the campground on the river. One back through (and up over) town, the other a trail along the river. I don’t know if the other option was better, but I chose … poorly. That battered little trail of loose gravel was definitely not the worst I’ve ever cycled (that would be the Ćiro Trail near Mostar, Bosnia) but still unpleasant.
Upon arrival I couldn’t find the campground office, so I called their number. Telling them I was at the campground, I paid for the site over the phone, only to be instructed to come to their office, some 10 minutes “down the road” (which was certainly UP the road) to pick up associated paperwork. When I told them I could do without it, she said that perhaps she could drop off the parking pass. I pointed out that I could probably do without it as well (bicycle!), and she relented.
Rivers Rider Campground in Harper’s Ferry cost more than I’ve ever paid for a campsite. For a campsite that was bare dirt. The bathhouse up a steep remote hill, with hot/lukewarm/ice cold water depending on the moment. When I found Wi-Fi I called for the password, only to be told there should be no password. I might have to wander around a bit to find the best signal for a different SSID, with it being best near the bathhouse. I pointed out I was standing next to the bathhouse at the time. 1 star.
With access remote, towns and food have been hard to come by. Tomorrow I’m headed to a 7-11 in town, first back down that trail, and then up into town, adding some 10 km to my day.But, in addition on the inarguable problem of running out of food, my charging cable for my phone has failed, Not that I specifically need the GPS function, as I just keep going “that way”.
The campground staff warned that a rail line crossed nearby. They neglected to mention the trains run non-stop, with an adjacent crossing – every train blew its whistle. All night.
92 km today.