Until this weekend.
Finally, nothing planned prior, and the last weekend before mom and I head out west on the road trip, so even though it was raining at home on Saturday morning, we waited until the precipitation was minimal, then loaded up the Lightning and headed out.
|A little spider in the arbor vitae, weathering the rain|
|The neighbor's ridiculously huge sunflower, loving the rain|
We were using Waze for our directions, mainly because I downloaded the Schwarzenegger Terminator voice, and Pat just wants to hear the "Get down!" any time there's a car on the side of the road or whatever. Anyway, it took us out I-70 until Hancock, then instead of taking I-68 towards Cumberland, the directions had us take US522 to Berkeley Springs, then WV-9 to Paw Paw.
|WV-9 is fun, twisting and turning along the Cacapon River, until you get behind someone slow.|
|Our tent, and the only other individual camper for the evening|
So, after setting up the tent, Pat immediately went off to fish. I followed him down the path to the river just to see what it looked like there.
|Upstream from the campsite|
|Downstream, where Pat was fishing|
|The campsite is just west of here.|
|The western entrance looms large. The eastern opening is barely visible.|
|It's not really this bright|
|I saw this partway through the tunnel|
|Getting closer to the other side|
|The tunnel is just over 3100ft long, the longest structure on the towpath|
I jumped back on my bike and proceeded to find the first of several locks!
|Lock 64, or as the sign says, "Lock 64 2/3"|
|The locks were completed in 1850, concurrent with the completion of the tunnel, but for some reason still have 1910 stamped. Maybe a repair?|
|There were tons of painted turtles, sliders and cooters on the logs between miles 155 and 153.|
|Lock 63 1/3|
|Another view of Lock 63 1/3|
There's a hiker-biker campground (Sorrel Ridge) right around mile 154, and that's where lock 62 (and the remains of a lockmaster's house) are. But, there were a lot of people already there when I came through, so I didn't stop at first. I figured I'd stop on the way back, so I pushed on to 153.
|Lock 61, looking upstream|
|Looking downstream from lock 61|
Just past lock 61 was the mile marker.
I turned around then. It turns out that the next lock isn't for another three and a half miles, so I probably made a good decision.
|Unlike most of the houses I've seen, this one has what appears to be a concrete foundation|
|Back to the tunnel|
|Abandoned railroad bridge just west of the campground|
|Obligatory mile marker|
|Walter White camps in western Maryland?|
There is a waste weir near there, too. It's in a lot better shape than most of the ones I've seen previously.
|Waste weir and spillway at 156.6|
|Sun's getting low.|
|Little catepillar on the tent door when we woke up|
In the end, I decided to walk down to the Tunnel Hill Trail, which is a two mile trail that goes up and over Sorrel Ridge. It is the trail that many of the tunnel laborers used to get to their job site, and in fact, there are interpretative guides on the ridge that show where their shanty town and school were located. There were two sites on the ridge where laborers actually dug shafts down in order to speed up the construction of the tunnel. So, instead of just digging from the two ends, there was also digging in the middle.
|This is a Division Superintendent's house, similar to a lockmaster's residence. Paw Paw Campground is in the backyard|
|Raspberries along the towpath|
|Flowers along the Tunnel Hill Trail|
|Looking down on the western opening to the tunnel from the trail|
|Eastern Fence Lizard|
I rounded a switchback in the trail, and heard something scurrying through the leaves. The glimpse I'd caught in my peripheral vision showed me it was something small. I stopped, looked, and saw a little eastern fence lizard, about five inches from nose to tail. She looked around at me, then I moved on.
|Glancing over her shoulder|
|Overlooking part of the Paw Paw Bends of the Potomac River|
|Heading towards the highwater mark,|
|There were quite a variety of mushrooms along the trail|
As I approached the flat area where the shanty town had been located, it dawned on me that there was a flaw in my plan to finish the trail and come back via the tunnel.
I didn't have a flashlight with me.
|No flashlight in the tunnel? Whiskey might be a good option.|
Imagine my surprise to see that my phone had blown up while crossing Sorrel Ridge. Evidently, I'd had service at the top of the hill, and received a ton of notifications. The moment to check them had passed, however, so I cleared the notifications list, saw that the flashlight worked, and continued on my way.
|Delicate lichens covered a lot of things at the crest of the ridge and on down to the eastern trailhead|
|Lichens and moss mixed|
|Flower at the trailhead|
|Heading back up the trail to the tunnel|
|Little flower in the shale|
|The shale slabs are still prone to breaking apart. Here, the rust of iron in the rock is evident.|
It was definitely hotter in the ravine area of the canal, but upon approaching the tunnel entrance, the temperature began to drop. It was very comfortable inside the tunnel, especially after the hike.
One thing I was trying to find was a marker for mile 155. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be along the boardwalk leading to the east opening, or if it was inside the tunnel itself. While I subsequently learned that 155 should be along the boardwalk, I did find many more of the survey markers.
|The light at the end of the tunnel.|
|The towpath is very uneven and at times treacherous through the tunnel.|
|The "bumper" kept boats from damaging the brick|
|Survey marker outside the western opening|
|Hoosier Bear checks out the Division Superintendent's house|
Though, he did have a funny fallfish story that I wish he had video to go with. Evidently, at one point where he was wading, there was a squarish stone nearby. He said it looked like the remnants of something manmade. Anyway, while he was casting from that spot, he saw a fish approaching, and he identified it as a fallfish. Inside of being scared by Pat's presence, the fallfish then proceeded to the stone and started rubbing up against it. All I could think of was when a horse is shedding and rubs against a post to help with the itchiness of the shedding hair. I just wish he'd gotten video. It sounded hilarious.
So, now we're home and prepping for my road trip and Pat's babysitting of the spaz dog. This is simultaneously going to be the longest week and the shortest week ever.