Unfortunately, that is not a euphemism for visiting an Argentinian lover. Rather, a small section of the tow path is part of the Appalachian Trail. It is only about a mile or so going east from Harpers Ferry. The first hiker I saw I thought was lost. The second hiker I saw actually was lost. She thought she had passed her turn off the tow path. I whipped out my map of the canal and we were able to find where she needed to turn. She hadn’t passed it yet.

The storms yesterday must have been stronger than I thought. On the way to Harpers Ferry, there was a tree that had been blown down across the whole path. The only way across was to carry everything over the tree or try to go into the woods and go around the tree. It looked like it went pretty far into the woods, so I had to unload my bike and carry everything across bit by bit.

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My bike is in there somewhere. At first I thought I might be able to just lift the whole thing over.

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I don't know what this building is, but it's kind of impressive.

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Wild flowers growing from the railroad wall.
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Wild flowers have taken over this lock.
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Rapids just downstream from Harpers Ferry.
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"That's the canal?" Someone asked when I pointed it out.

At Harpers Ferry, there is a foot bridge that crosses the river into the town. On the canal side, there are steps leading up to it. I wanted to go into town, but didn’t really want to haul my bike up the steps and didn’t want to leave everything on the canal side. I looked for another way across, a ferry maybe, but that was the only way. Then I saw two young women bringing their bikes down the stairs. They weren’t as loaded as I was, but it gave me hope that I could make it. I started the long process of hauling my bike up the steps. It wasn’t so bad, just slow. About half way, I realized I would have more trouble coming down because controlling the bike would be harder. I ended up unloading everything again and making a few trips up and down the stairs to get back onto the path. On the bright side, after all this riding, stairs are pretty easy to climb.

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Steps leading up to the foot path, which runs along one of the rail lines.
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John Brown and his men were penned down in this building during their failed slave revolt.
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Harpers Ferry.

In Harpers Ferry, I decided to find a convenience store to get a few supplies for the night. On the way back, I climbed a small hill next to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy’s office. There were several hikers resting on the front porch. One yelled words of encouragement, then said, “I think we have the easier work.” I replied, “I don’t know, there’s always the downhill.”

By the time I started riding again, it was 4:00, so I only road about 15 more miles before finding someplace to camp.

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A colorful little friend along the path.

I learned a little about the history of the canal. In the early 19th century, there was a race between old technology, the canal, and new technology, the railway, to connect the Chesapeake Bay to the Ohio Valley. Both the canal and railway reached Harpers Ferry at the same time. While the railway was embroiled in land disputes, the canal pushed forward. The railway decided to cross the river at Harpers Ferry and follow the south side to avoid the land disputes. The railway ended up reaching Cumberland several years before the canal. By the time the canal reached Cumberland, the railway had already reached the Ohio Valley, and the company building the canal stopped. The railway was quicker and cheaper for transporting goods, so the canal never really made money, though it continued to operate into the 1920’s.

I crossed a few canal bridges today. They are areas where the canal goes over something, usually another body of water. The one pictured below crossed Antietam Creek four miles downstream from where the battle occurred. The canal was used to bring supplies to the battle and take wounded away. 23,000 Americans died in the battle. I can’t wrap my mind around it. If that many died in one battle today, imagine the outrage.

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I passed a family riding eastbound today. Mother, father and son, who looked to be about 7 or 8, were all riding bikes. A toddler was in a seat behind the dad. What a great family vacation.

One thought on “Hiking the Ol’ Appalachian Trail (June 22)

  1. I had to enlarge the photo of the fallen trees before I found your bike. I’m surprised you could get it out of there. Your dry bed canals are like a lot of creeks in Kansas and eastern Colorado. I wonder if the canal beds can flood like the creeks do when there are heavy rains.

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