Monday, May 4, 2009

Hills like white elephants (only much, much bigger)

Biking the last 2 days has been a challenge. The chilly rain has been unrelenting, but I've been trying to celebrate the way that the moisture seems to make the foliage more vibrant and draws a different variety of wildlife out into the open. Like the otter I saw earlier today. At least it looked like an otter's backside scampering away. It was too foggy and rainy to be sure.

While I did enjoy many things about the C & O trail, especially all of the historical tidbits, I have to admit that the quality of the trail itself was inconsistent. Once we made it onto the Allegheny Passage, I couldn't help but marvel at how much more well kept things are here in PA. It was almost like biking in a different country. (As we crossed the Mason-Dixon line yesterday afternoon, Ollie couldn't resist pointing out that we almost *could* have been in a different country. She's still holding on to a little confederate money, honey - in this economy, you never know.) The campsites, too, were much nicer. Probably because you have to pay $20 and scale a medium-sized mountain to get to them, they are relatively unspoiled.

After biking 30 miles in a downpour, I was looking forward to pitching my tent, peeling off the damp bike gear, and making some hot soup. But first it seems I needed to go through the litany of swear words I knew in every language I could summon as I dragged a fully loaded Ollie about 1/4 mile up the gravel suicide slope. (Who knew I remembered any Italian or Arabic?) It was not one of my finer moments.

I never did find the campsite. At least not until the next morning, when the ranger approached the waterlogged tent I had pitched just off the trail in a fit of frustration and impending darkness. Like something out of a movie, I had given up hope just about 100 yards short (still uphill, mind you) of the campsite. Everything inside and outside of the tent was soaked and I couldn't find the lighter for the stove. So today, after slogging through another 30 soggy miles - this time with plastic bags over my socks, which conveniently trapped the cold water that dripped through the small gap between my socks and rain pants directly next to my feet for 5 hours - I decided it was time to dip into the small discretionary fund I had allotted for the trip to rent a room for the night and order a pizza. I had to drag Ollie up another big hill (the one in the photo is from about half way up, right about where I coughed up my left lung), but at least it was paved. How's that for a little perspective?

And so, dear readers, I should sign off. After a hot bath, an episode of the Simpsons, and most of a medium pizza, I'm getting a little drowsy....
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry


  1. Isn't a simple hotel nice after a few days on the road? Keep it up. Sounds like you're doing fine. Tough sometimes, but that makes the easy days all the more sweet!


  2. Little friend, sounds like quite a soggy struggle. I'm proud of you though. I would have given up after the first *hill*. Glad you got out of the rain for a bit. Talk soon, Feliss

  3. Silly Ollie, Confederate money won't do her any good in Maryland. As a Border State, they decided not to secede from the Union (the Federal troops helped MD make that decision).

    Sorry my home state of PA has given you such a wet welcome.

  4. The Simpsons always make me feel better, too.

  5. I love all the Hemingway references on this site (and all the actual content too).


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