The big question for today: Should I hike all the way from the Paw Paw Campground to Cumberland, a roughly 30-mile (48.3 km) trek, or stop a few miles/kilometers short and tack them onto tomorrow? I decided to take it hour by hour.
The bike shop near the Fairfield Inn runs a shuttle service, but the earliest they’d shuttle me back to Paw Paw was 8:30, with a 9 a.m. arrival. So I hit the trail shortly after 9 a.m. It had rained last night, although not stormed, and was gray and cooler out, yet humid. But I was slackpacking, so I was really excited to be carrying minimal weight.
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Striking Out for Cumberland
As soon as I started hiking, I began clicking off 18:30-minute miles. It just felt so great to walk with such a light pack. I had cell service all day, so I was able to listen to some podcasts and an audio book (“The Book Thief”), which made the day fly by.
At one point, a man named Dan biked past with a “Canal Patrol” vest on (or some such language). He then promptly turned around and said I matched the description of a woman who had been asking for help getting off the trail yesterday. Yep, that was me!
Apparently people in the cycling group yesterday did mention my plight to an NPS ranger, who then touched base with Dan, who also runs the Bikepath Bed and Bath in Paw Paw. It was so awesome to see how many people were trying to help me!
Inching Closer to Town
Dan and I chatted for some time. He gave me some tips for lightening my pack, like taking your deodorant stick out of the container (the deodorant rests on a plastic pad) and tossing that in a baggie to save space and weight. Definitely trying that!
The scenery today was interesting. In some parts, the Potomac disappeared from view and there were vast fields to my left. I saw several lock houses, most of which suddenly featured porches. If I had hiked on yesterday, I could have set up my tent on the porch and out of the rain. (But not regretting coming to the hotel early AT ALL!)
Around 3 or 4 p.m., I made the decision to soldier on into Cumberland. The forecast tomorrow is for rain all day, so why add miles in the rain if I was feeling OK? And so onward I marched.
Back in the Motel
I made it back around 6:30 p.m., which was pretty good. And a milestone: I finished the 184.5-mile (296.9 km) C&O Canal Towpath! Woot, woot!
Then I threw in some laundry, ate dinner and am packing up the items I’ll have Bill the Uber driver from Frostburg pick up tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how it goes, as tomorrow is an uphill march all day – and supposedly in the rain. Thank goodness I’ll have a light pack!
Today’s Miles: 28.8 (46.4 km)
PHT Miles to Date: 565.7 (910.4 km)
PHT Miles to Go: =184.3 (296.6 km)