I was feeling pretty good about today’s trip to Frostburg. First, yesterday’s long hike had gone well, with one exception. I’m starting to feel some pains in my right leg that are reminiscent of the leg issues I had on the Natchez Trace earlier this year. I sure hope I can keep the issue (shin splints/minor stress fracture) at bay.
Second, today’s hike was short: just 16 miles (25.8 km). And third, I’d hired a guy to shuttle the bulk of my bags forward so I could slackpack. It’s not nearly as hot as it’s been, but the hike today was all uphill and I want to conserve my energy.
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Striking Out for Frostburg
The day dawned gray and humid. The Great Allegheny Passage, or GAP, begins right behind my motel, the utmost in convenience. There is a visitor center here, which was closed, but there is a fun sculpture of a boy with a mule, in a nod to the canal heritage. There are also all kinds of cool murals painted all over the area that tell the city’s history.
The trail immediately wound uphill, although it soon flattened out. That is, we were going up all day, but so gradually that it was hard to tell. Yes!
Some cyclists told me the GAP is better for biking, as the crushed gravel path is finer than the C&O’s and it’s wide – no two-track trails. Sure enough, that was the case. It’s easier on feet, too.
The trail is now winding upwards, so I enjoyed some beautiful, sweeping vistas. A rail line paralleled the trail much of the way to Frostburg, and I saw some fun sights. First, a festively decorated engine tootled past. I wish I’d taken a photo! A few hours later, several people pedaled past atop an old rail line on these bike contraptions that look sort of like handcars. A couple I’d met yesterday had told me about them. They look like a blast! Finally, some kind of tourist train rolled past, with all of the passengers waving festively at me. It was fun.
Now, Frostburg is near the Eastern Continental Divide. When I reached town, I had to climb this switchback trail festooned with statues to get to my lodging, the Frostburg Trail Inn. My various backpack contents were already there. I’d booked a campsite weeks back, but switched to a private room. I’ll have three days of camping in the next few days and I needed another pampering day!
I’m now dining at The Toasted Goat, a chic local establishment. Frostburg is a college town, plus enjoys tourism from the GAP, so it’s a cool place. Historically, it was a stagecoach stop along something call the National Road. Built between 1811 and 1837, it connected the Potomac and Ohio Rivers and was the first major improved highway in the U.S. Seems like it must have replaced the Natchez Trace. Interesting!
Today’s Miles: 16 (25.8 km)
PHT Miles to Date: 581.7 (936.2 km)
PHT Miles to Go: =168.3 (270.9 km)