I woke in the morning and packed as the guys did. They headed south, and I north. My energy levels now transitioned, I made short work of the few miles to Cumberland.
With a solid Internet connection for the first time in days, and no need to conserve power, I worked on my options for home. The train Sunday meant two more nights either camping or in a hotel. While there’s a certain poetic ending to traveling the length of the canal by train, a car rental would get me home two days earlier.
After some back and forth between Enterprise and Hertz (including some bait-and-switch on the part of Enterprise), I rented a car from Hertz one-way to Reagan Air. The rental place on the other side of town, I cycled at least a few miles of the Great Allegheny (paved at least that far) on my way to Hertz. I drove back to DC, passing in a couple of hours what had taken me days to cycle.
While Noé offered to pick me up at the airport, his place was only 10 or so miles from Reagan. The only remaining excitement (and a sign of how little excitement the last few days have had that it even registers) was navigational. I had configured OSMAnd to prefer unpaved track when routing. While I had needed little navigational help on the C&O, the route tracking helped determine accurate distances on the C&O. Configured that way, OSMAnd routed me into the middle of a community college, the path forward a long flight of stairs. Forward rather than back, I carried the bike up, but changed the settings. The rest of my ride was uneventful, as was the drive back home.
Being gone for a week feels both long and short. Oddly sad and disappointing.