On Your Left

Bicycles, Travel, and Photography

Tunnels

On the C&O and GAP there are a number of tunnels. The Paw Paw Tunnel is a 3100 foot tunnel near Paw Paw, WV. The tunnel contains the C&O Canal plus a 10foot wide walkway next to the tunnel. At 3100 feet long, it is quite dark and riders have to walk bikes through the tunnel.

On the GAP there are several more tunnels of various lengths: Brush, Borden, Pinkerton, Savage. Pinkerton is currently closed and there is a very nice detour over/around the area. These tunnels have paved surfaces and some have lights and can be ridden, albeit slowly.

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Wildflowers

Along both the C&O and the GAP there were many wildflowers of various varieties and color. Given the date (early September), I was surprised to see so many colors; often thinking that wild flowers are more prevalent in the spring.

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Wildlife

While cycling the C&O/GAP from Washington DC to Pittsburgh we paid attention to the various creatures we encountered along the way. The most prevalent were deer, who often appeared along the trail and ran away as we got closer.

Other than one very late afternoon, when a rider was concerned that an object running toward us was a bear, we were safe during all encounters. The “bear” ended up being a female jogger wearing dark clothing and sunglasses.

Besides deer, there were a few rats running around the path near the hotel in Washington DC; fish somehow living in the canal; beaver swimming in the canal; a wood chuck; ground hogs once we approached the area near Puxatawney PA, assorted spiders; birds; and wasps building a rather substantial nest. And yes there was a dog or wolf howling at the full moon the night we stayed in lockhouse 49.

The “creature” in the first 3 photos was near Great Falls, MD. I suppose it is some sort of unidentified slug. If you know what it is, please let me know.

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Lockhouses

The locks on the C&O Canal were managed by a lock master. The lock master was provided lodging along the canal. Several of the lock houses have been re-furbished and are available for nightly rentals. We were able to stay on night in Lockhouse 49 (the red brick building) near “4 Locks”. Each lockhouse differs in their furnishings; lockhouse 49 is set up like the end of the 19th century. It does have electricity but a port-a-potty and an outdoor faucet provide toilet and water. Lockhouse 49 is not close to any town or services.

For this trip, a service picked up and delivered our bags from one night to the next. We were able to collect some food from a 7-11 in Harper’s Ferry and have dinner delivered to Lockhouse 49 along with our bags. Without services, dinner consisted of apples, bananas, chips, cookies, beef jerky, and assorted other non-perishable items.

The indoor photos are of lockhouse 49.

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C&O Canal

The C&O Canal was built in the 1800s and abandoned in 1920s. The canal is 184.5 miles long with 75 locks along the way to raise the water level. While cycling is on a mostly flat path, there were hills all around. The grade was less than 2% for the entire C&O Canal Tow Path.

Parts of the canal still have water and signs of life, although no-one fishing there was intending on eat any catch. We heard that pollutants were often let into the canal and river to avoid flooding other areas.

I asked a park ranger about the depth of the canal. He said the canal is up to 5 feet deep and has between 5 and 10 feet of “muck” under the water. I certainly wasn’t inspired to wade in!

Other parts of the canal are algae filled or are simply empty of water. The various locks range from fully operational to decayed and only partially visible.

Riding the canal tow path (heading west) meant that the canal was the right and the Potomac River was on the left.

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GAP Trail

In September 2014, I rode the Grand Allegheny Passage from Cumberland MD to Pittsburgh PA. The C&O Canal ended in Cumberland and the GAP started as the C&O finished. The GAP is 150 miles of crushed limestone. After riding on the C&O, the surface of the GAP was different, hard crushed limestone compared to the dirt of the C&O. Parts of the GAP are former rail road beds, or parallel existing rail road beds. Other sections run through state parks and are quite beautiful.

Cycling from Cumberland MD to Pittsburgh was a 3 day trip:
Cumberland to Rockwood, Rockwood to Connellsville, and Connellsville to Homestead. Homestead is just 9 miles from downtown Pittsburgh where the trail ends.

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C&O Canal Tow Path

In early September 2014 I rode my bicycle from Washington DC to Cumberland MD on the C&O Canal. That was followed by riding from Cumberland MD to Pittsburgh PA on the Grand Allegheny Passage (GAP). The C&O Canal is a National Park. The canal itself was used to transport goods from 1831 until 1924. This first set of photos capture essence of the C&O Tow path, 184.5 miles of hard packed dirt and rocks, with potholes and water. Justice William O Douglas first recognized the beauty and value of having the abandoned canal become a place to hike. The C&O Canal preservation began in 1954, became a national park in 1971, and today is used for hiking, running, and cycling.

Cycling from Washington DC to Cumberland was a 4 day trip.
Washington DC to Harpers Ferry WV, Harpers Ferry to 4 Locks, 4 Locks to Little Orleans, and Little Orleans to Cumberland.

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Crane Foundation continued

At the Crane Foundation, I found myself attracted to taking photos of flowers too.

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International Crane Foundation

I visited the International Crane Foundation on July 28th, 2013. If you are ever in Baraboo Wisconsin, I recommend a visit. They have about 20 species of cranes from around the world. These magnificent birds are fantastic and easily photographed.

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Rudbeckia hirta

Black-eyed Susan’s are quite plentiful this year and look great in my garden.

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