Williamsport to Cumberland on the C&O

Adventure time, c’mon grab your friends,
we’ll go to very distant lands.
With Anna the dog and Kelly the human,
the fun will never end, it’s adventure time!

Adventure Time indeed! Bears, severe weather, hail storms, 3,100 ft long tunnels…adventures abound! Not always the type of adventure I would want, I could do without the hail storms or the severe heat warnings, but overall it’s been of the good.

First off, the bear. There happened to be a large straight section of the trail and when I turned the corner onto it I saw the black bear ambling along on the trail towards us. I stopped and made lots of noise, hoping to let it know that Anna and I were there and get it to run away into the woods. But no, he just kept moseying on down the trail, stopping now and then to sniff a leaf or bush or something. After making a bit more noises and whistling with no results I decided to turn around and head for the spot about two miles back that joined up with the road.

Apparently when I babbled about meeting black bears along the trail my family thought it was the ramblings of paranoia. Oh silly family.

And no, I did not get any pictures of the bear. I was too busy focusing on not completely freaking out, keeping calm so Anna didn’t freak, and walking noisily back the way we came. There was no time for backwards picture taking. If only life were a video game, where you can just hit Z+Screencap and bam! You’ve got yourself a picture.

Other than the bear encounter, I think the most exciting or fun part of the walk so far has been the Paw Paw Tunnel.

As you get closer to the tunnel the trail narrows and cuts closer into the mountain, eventually turning into a boardwalk right up to the tunnel. Then you enter the tunnel, which was blissfully cool and damp. After hiking up hill in the sun and heat the tunnel is a very welcome change. I was a little worried that Anna would be nervous about entering the tunnel, but she had no reservations and lead the charge.

The tunnel has just one narrow walk way with a railing along the canal-side, and no lights. It’s intensely dark in there, and I am very happy I have a light attached to my cart as the floor is full of bumps and puddles.

It was just a very cool thing to walk through, and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re ever in the western Maryland area.

I’ve met so many really friendly people along the way. My camping neighbors in McCoys Ferry.

The park ranger who I saw two days in a row, and who gave me the life saving trip to stay at the C&O Bicycle bunkhouse. (Otherwise I’m pretty sure my tent would have been destroyed that night.)

Susie in Hancock, who gave me her phone number and told me to call if I couldn’t find a place to stay that night.

Dennis, at C&O Bicycle where we stayed in the Bunkhouse for the night, and who let us hang out in the shop while the crazy hail flew.

Jeremy and family, who were very kind to let me set up tent on their lawn for the night. And who, when hearing about the possibility of another severe thunder storm, opened up their shed for emergency shelter for Anna and me. (Which was also a chicken coop, something that Anna delighted in.)

And Becky and Brian, who invited me into their campsite last night to hang around the fire and chat, and then back for a luxurious camp breakfast of pancakes and toast. And who gave Anna and I a ride into Cumberland so we didn’t have to walk in this excessive heat today.

And so many other people who are friendly and helpful and just generally awesome.

Tomorrow I finish the C&O Canal and hop onto the Great Allegheny Passage, which will take me up into PA towards Pittsburgh. I’m a little nervous, since the GAP is designed more for biking than hiking and so there’s no handy water pumps and camp spots every five miles. Also, the weather people are calling for “dangerous heat” for the next couple of days and I’m a little worried about Anna. Right now I’m planning on getting up early and trying to get as much walking in before the sun fully heats up the day. I’ve got a good 16 miles before there’s anywhere to stay.

To check out more pictures head on over here.

And for more day to day updates follow me on Facebook at Adventure Awaits and Twitter @_Ameranth (though for some reason it’s easier for my phone to connect to Facebook than to Twitter, so FB might get more updates).

Not sure when I’ll have internet access next, and phone reception has been very spotty, so who knows when I’ll update again. Wish me luck along the GAP, and if you’re in the area feel free to come and hike with me for a bit!