Loving Life on the C&O Canal Trail
In the early hours of my overnight, I stopped to watch the family coming my way. The young woman was smiling with two sleepy toddlers sitting in child bicycle seats somehow attached behind the seat of her bicycle. Trailing behind was a large bicycle trailer that appeared to be filled with everything, maybe even the kitchen sink. We were on the C&O Canal Trail several miles west of Harpers Ferry. She told me that she and her husband started in Pittsburg and had been travelling 11 days. I wished her a good trip and went on my way down the trail. Amazing! I thought. I don't know many women interested in bicycle travel and definitely not with two toddlers in tow. But she appeared to be enjoying life.
I was enjoying life too. I set off from Point of Rocks, Maryland, about 11:30 AM on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend 2010 for an overnight bicycle trip heading west on the C&O Canal Trail. It was a beautiful, sunny weekend with high temperatures in the mid 70s. I stopped ten miles in to enjoy a beer in Harpers Ferry and visit the small Lewis and Clark museum. I rode for miles along the trail in peaceful solitude under the new spring canopy of shady foliage along the Potomac River. Late in the afternoon when I was feeling tired, I entered one of the many primitive camp sites on the trail. I found two hikers asleep on the picnic table benches. One of them stirred after a moment and gladly agreed to share their camp site with me. Later, two more bike travelers arrived both warmly greeted by the others. We had a great evening gathered around the campsite picnic table getting to know each other and sharing stories of our lives and adventures.
After a great night’s sleep I awoke to one biker quietly packing up and heading back out. After he rolled out I got up and packed up. The hikers and other biker were still snoring in their tents. I rolled out going back the way I came munching on a Cliff bar but looking forward to breakfast in a café in Shepherdstown that was recommended the day before when I stopped at a convenience store there.
On my way out, I came upon a trailside camp site bustling with activity, a dog was barking and small children were scampering about. There was the woman I saw the day before and her husband cleaning and packing up. I slowed down to say hello. As I did, the young woman looked up with that big, bright, loving life smile, and enthusiastically waved across the chaos to me. I smiled and waved back grateful for the nice little trip I was having.
Tip for this adventure: Stop in Harpers Ferry. From the C&O Canal Trail there are bike racks to park and lock your bike. Then take the footbridge over the river which is a great picture spot. There are lots of little restaurants, cafes, bars, and ice cream parlors. Visit any of the many little museums or just read the historical markers.