This morning I left Randy and Dave still packing. Learning Dave and Randy were cycling 30 miles per day made my paltry 60 km (36 miles) plan feel at least a little bit less, well, less. Partway through the day I’d pass through Hancock, with a supermarket, resolving any food concerns!
The first 30 km passed boringly by. River on one side, canal on the other, never changing. Still, I felt better than the last couple of days. Bored, but better. Over the years I’ve learned I want lunch at about 30 km. At almost exactly 30 km I passed a sign: “Fully-reconstructed fort. 100 yards.” Who am I to turn down a sign like that? Fort Frederick was constructed in 1763, and played a crucial role in the French-Indian Wars. Now? The walls have been reconstructed, but not the gate. They’re in the process of building new barracks on the interior, and prohibited wandering past the gate during the restoration. Still, a lovely backdrop for lunch.
Returning to the trail I encountered Ed, another fully-loaded cycle tourist. Ed’s cycled the C&O a number of times, and recommended the Western Maryland Rail Trail only a couple of miles down the road. The WMRT parallels the C&O on an old rail line. In a country with almost no dedicated long-distance cycle paths, here we have two running in parallel only 100 feet apart!
I thanked him and we headed our separate ways. Given my past difficulty in returning to the C&O, when I came to the turn I checked OSMAnd VERY carefully. It indeed ran right into Hancock, so I decided to give it a try. The big difference? Paved. My average speed increased to 18 kph instead of my slow 15 kph on the C&O.
After stopping in Hancock for groceries (and being sad the Subway was closed) I pushed past a hiker/biker site to get to a campground (Happy Hills, never a good sign) for Internet access and power. It was, of course, up the side of a mountain. I found no one at the office on arrival. Some wandering about found the primitive camping sites. I returned to the office to pay my registration via envelope, and settled in, all alone.