Since the canal follows the river, it also follows all the twists and turns, and there are many. I feel like I ride and ride and ride, but only make a short distance further from the coast.
The weather forecasts have been a mess. It wasn’t supposed to rain last night, but it rained all night. There were supposed to be scattered showers all afternoon. Other than a few sprinkles around noon, it was dry. I guess it is better for the rain to come when I am in my tent rather than on my bike.
After getting supplies in Hagerstown outside Williamsport, I was back on the trail shortly after noon and feeling pretty good about being able to still put in a long day. With all the rain over the past few days, however, the mud has gotten worse. By 3:30, I was almost ready to call it a day. Fighting the mud is not only about getting wet and dirty, but constantly trying to navigate the large puddles is mentally taxing. The mud slows the rolling of the wheels, draining my physical energy. Just as the debate in my head about whether to stop or where to stop was leaning toward sooner rather than later, I saw the sign. The sign said Western Maryland Rail Trail. The rail trail was a short distance from the canal and basically follows the same route for about 22 miles. It is all paved, no mud! When I got on the rail trail, my speed immediately jumped by three to four miles per hour. The difference was amazing. It really saved my day and I was able to make some good progress.
One thing I have been having trouble finding is fuel for my camp stove. It is a small alcohol stove. I usually use Heet in a yellow bottle, which I thought would be available in just about any gas station. Few have had it. Even Target didn’t have any. I can also use denatured alcohol. If I can’t find Heet soon, I may need to find a hardware store and try to get some denatured alcohol. In a pinch, I can use Heet in a red bottle, which I have been able to find, or rubbing alcohol with a high enough concentration. Those options end up leaving a lot of soot on everything, though, so I have been avoiding them.