C&Ohhhhh Crap! My Feet Hurt! Canal

A couple of years ago I was hiking on the C&O Canal up by Shepherdstown, WV when I crossed paths with a woman who had hiked up from Harper’s Ferry.  I had never thought about hiking to Shepherdstown from Harper’s Ferry.  Since then I hadn’t really ever stopped thinking about it.  I mean, it would be really neat to walk to Shepherdstown and have a great lunch, wouldn’t it?  Well, wouldn’t it??? I finally got the chance to find out! And a few hiking pals willingly agreed to come along. 🙂

We met at the C&O Canal across the river from Shepherdstown, then shuttled to Harper’s Ferry.  Thanks to hiker pal Thelma we were sporting a national park pass and did not have to pay to park at the train station in Harper’s Ferry!  This was a good sign, as were the sunny skies, warm sun and bathrooms in the train station. 🙂

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We left our hiking poles in the car, joking about how tough this flat hike would be.  Queen V commented on the “strenuous” elevation gain as we walked up the ramp to the railroad bridge that crosses the river to the canal.  Crossing the railroad bridge, we descended the spiral staircase down to the canal and headed north to Shepherdstown.
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Chatting lightheartedly, we walked briskly and the miles flew by.  At the first campground hiker pal L promptly tried out a “chair” she found.  Dargans Bend at mile 64.9 called us in for a quick break and stretch, then we were off again! Still all smiles!
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The Potomac River was moving fast in the other direction. Small white capped waves bullied their way south, made ever stronger by the recent heavy rains and melting snow. As beautiful as the river was, after so many miles, it made me feel as if on a treadmill.  Walking, ever walking, were we getting closer?  Except for the small brown mile markers that counted  down the miles, there was no way of knowing.

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Thanks to Thelma for this pic!

 

Near mile marker 65 Queen V and I explored some old limestone kilns and soon after I was pulled off the towpath once again to explore a cave with Anna Marie!
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Then we stomped on to Antietam Creek campground.  Arriving at the campground, it was time to sit down and get off our feet!  That flat walking was taking its toll on all of us.  While we sat there at the campground I kind of drifted off into thoughts like, “I should’ve brought another pair of socks…I hope these sore spots on my feet aren’t blisters…shin splints? No not even thinking about that.” then I looked to the blue, blue sky and caught a glimpse of … is that a…yes, oh, then out loud I exclaimed “hey look!!! an Eagle!!”
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It soared majestically overhead, circling higher and higher, then moved on regardless of how hard we willed it to come and roost in the trees nearby.
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It was now time for us to move on as well, not too much more now!  We can do this! We passed mile marker 71, then 72.  Wait, wasn’t that supposed to be the last one!  We had come almost 13 miles.  My steps were slow now.  Just one foot in front of the other.  It was getting harder. My legs were stiff, and the threat of shin splints was ever greater.  No, no, no! That will not happen!  I took my head out of the pain and focused on the cold beer and taco salad that would be waiting for me in Shepherdstown.
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It worked…I slogged that last mile with dignity (as excruciating as it was to lift each foot and put it down on that blasted hard packed gravel covered canal). Arriving at the car I was definitely ready for comfort and cursed my lack of forethought in leaving my flip flops back in Harper’s Ferry.  I fell into Queen V’s brand new car, feeling slightly guilty at leaving mud on the passenger side floor mat.  But then we were moving.  Oh the pleasure of a car after a long, long, walk!

Hike on!

Snowy Hike up to Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Well, an unexpected 12 inches of snow! I was excited! Finally, a snowstorm that didn’t end in the dreaded wintry mix, a snowstorm that exceeded expectation, so off we went to play…WHEEEEEEEEEE!!!! 🙂

I headed down 340 towards Harper’s Ferry, and thought briefly about going down towards Shenandoah National Park…but then Weverton came into site as I rounded a corner.  I pulled off into the commuter lot, grabbed my pack and Sidekick Pauli…we were off!

Yay, someone had broken trail before us! Boooo…the plows had come by piling up the snow at the edge of road next to the trail.  It must have been 4 feet high! I started to climb over the the snow bank and promptly sunk into my knees, lovely way to start a hike.  😉 Sidekick Pauli didn’t seem to mind and jumped like a jack rabbit through the pile up of hard packed snow.

Winter on the  Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

Winter on the Appalachian Trail up to Weverton Cliffs

I noticed snowshoe prints alongside the trail…brilliant! I was wearing microspikes and glad of them…but the snowshoes would be a perfect choice for this soft, fluffy stuff.  Sidekick Pauli did well with her four on the floor sticking her nose in the air sniffing her way up the snowy trail.

Steep! and great winter views!

Steep! and great winter views!

This trail has its fair share of rocks and step ups, but not today.  The blue skies and snowy trail made for a lovely walk. Steep as usual, but without the toe stubbing spots and ankle turner opportunities.   The temperatures were also delightfully mild and I actually found myself wishing I hadn’t opted for the heavy weight long underwear!

I posted a pic of the trail sign to Instagram… GroundBird Gear posted back at me stating they had broken trail the day before…in snowshoes!!! Well, now I know who made those prints I was admiring! 🙂

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We stopped at the top to share a PB&J and some cheese (Sidekick Pauli’s favorite hiking snack). The views were amazing and we had the sunny overlook to ourselves for quite awhile today. Nice!

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Sidekick Pauli enjoying a break at Weverton Cliffs, Maryland

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background.  I can see Spring from here!

Weverton Cliffs with the Potomac River in the background. I can see Spring from here!

Hike On-it’s almost Spring! 😀