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GAP and C&O Report

Old 07-12-18, 07:13 AM
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The youngin was going to try running the railroad tracks but changed her mind and traversed the creek instead.

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Old 07-12-18, 07:56 AM
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I did the last week in May and it was muddy and some detours then too. I don't have sturdy enough fenders and went with my Muckynutz gut fender and a rig job of a piece of flimsy plastic cut from a paint roller liner taped under my rack (which worked great). From the knees up I was pretty good. For better or worse, my tires are pretty much slicks so I did not get large globs or a lot of throw.


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Old 07-12-18, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by edthesped
The youngin was going to try running the railroad tracks but changed her mind and traversed the creek instead.

All I see is a creek and a pair of feet.
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Old 07-12-18, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by edthesped
The youngin was going to try running the railroad tracks but changed her mind and traversed the creek instead.

Dang! That's a pretty deep ravine. How far did you have to travel along the creek to find a decent place to ford it?
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Old 07-12-18, 11:52 AM
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They cleared trees and undergrowth for about 100’ to a downstream crossing. The water is about a foot deep and there are rocks to step on, but there is still a challenging drop into the creek and climb back out. Steep and muddy. I got stuck about halfway up the other side, and would have had to remove my panniers if a friendly passerby hadn’t helped me up the bank.
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Old 07-12-18, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4
Dang! That's a pretty deep ravine. How far did you have to travel along the creek to find a decent place to ford it?

When I passed through (a few days after the trail disappeared), the water there was higher and still flowing at a decent pace. Never even considered crossing the water and did the train tracks.
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Old 07-12-18, 01:55 PM
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I grew up around trains and train tracks. Crossing or traversing train tracks does not freak me out a bit and I would never think that a train would run me over.



Originally Posted by u235
When I passed through (a few days after the trail disappeared), the water there was higher and still flowing at a decent pace. Never even considered crossing the water and did the train tracks.
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Old 07-12-18, 02:02 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
I would never think that a train would run me over.
You think wrong. Takes them miles to stop. You will be a red streak down the tracks for a long way before they come to a stop.

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Old 07-12-18, 02:18 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
I would never think that a train would run me over.
Many lawyers have been able to afford beachfront property thanks to that sort of thinking. We have even had employees who have managed to get themselves struck. They don't always die, though. At least not right away. Take the case of the triple amputee we had back in the 90s. The weight of the equipment sealed his wounds so he didn't bleed out. He was found alive sometime after the accident by someone working the next trick. Don't know whatever happened to him down the road. Another "classic" was the grade crossing accident in Ohio where the driver was decapitated due to the force of the impact with his car.
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Old 07-12-18, 02:46 PM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
Many lawyers have been able to afford beachfront property thanks to that sort of thinking. We have even had employees who have managed to get themselves struck. They don't always die, though. At least not right away. Take the case of the triple amputee we had back in the 90s. The weight of the equipment sealed his wounds so he didn't bleed out. He was found alive sometime after the accident by someone working the next trick. Don't know whatever happened to him down the road. Another "classic" was the grade crossing accident in Ohio where the driver was decapitated due to the force of the impact with his car.
Not to go OT but we had an employee (where I used to work) that was cut in half so cleanly his credit cards looked like they were cut with scissors. . But at least he had an excuse as he was working the cars. The engineer misheard his command when coupling cars and he fell onto the tracks. Trains are very dangerous even for professionals.

When i was on tour in Italy we had to cross non signal protected crossings a couple of times. My buddy would just cross and not look. I yelled at him telling him he needs to look. He told me he would be able to hear the train. I told him that if you hear it, it will likely be too late. He still didn't listen.
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Old 07-12-18, 04:04 PM
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Nice...but I still trust my judgement and experience. Got a pretty good track record...no pun intended 🙂
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Old 07-13-18, 01:59 AM
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Nice photos, thanks PedalingWalrus. DC area had such an astounding stretch of rainy weather in late spring I was wondering how the C&O/GAP riders managed things. I wish the C&O trail could be fixed up & paved since it's so vulnerable to rain damage. Wouldn't look as rustic but then the C&O wasn't built as a nature trail anyway. Last fall I drove to Cumberland to check out trailhead & facilities for a GAP trip & was surprised to see how nice it was including a free parking lot for GAP users.
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Old 07-13-18, 08:54 AM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan
Nice photos, thanks PedalingWalrus. DC area had such an astounding stretch of rainy weather in late spring I was wondering how the C&O/GAP riders managed things. I wish the C&O trail could be fixed up & paved since it's so vulnerable to rain damage. Wouldn't look as rustic but then the C&O wasn't built as a nature trail anyway. Last fall I drove to Cumberland to check out trailhead & facilities for a GAP trip & was surprised to see how nice it was including a free parking lot for GAP users.
The towpath is maintained and improved on a regular basis. Sometimes it takes a while to fix the trouble spots, many years in some cases, but that is part of the charm. IIRC, it took around 20 years to fully repair the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes flooding in the Widewater section near Great Falls. Paving would destroy the historical character of the towpath. It is a National Park, not a rail trail that is paved over. The organic nature of the towpath makes it far more interesting to ride, than for example, the GAP.

Also, the free parking area in Cumberland is for both the GAP and C&O users. Originally for the C&O, in fact.
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Old 07-13-18, 08:59 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus
What did it look like once you got to the top? Did you need to walk on the actual ties, or was there sufficient room to walk safely along side? Just curious.

Where I grew up, my friends and I walked to school (yes, it was uphill in both directions) and crossed a high pedestrian trestle over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. Sometimes, we'd just cross the tracks and walk on the access road that followed along side of the tracks. Used to wave at the engineers when we did that. 'Course, that was a long time ago and...
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Old 07-13-18, 09:23 AM
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About 50 yards walk on the railroad ties or on the side. Enough straightaway to see the train in the distance or to be alerted once the railroad tracks start sizzling

Originally Posted by Altair 4
What did it look like once you got to the top? Did you need to walk on the actual ties, or was there sufficient room to walk safely along side? Just curious.

Where I grew up, my friends and I walked to school (yes, it was uphill in both directions) and crossed a high pedestrian trestle over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. Sometimes, we'd just cross the tracks and walk on the access road that followed along side of the tracks. Used to wave at the engineers when we did that. 'Course, that was a long time ago and... https://youtu.be/r0H6u9TgjIA
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Old 07-13-18, 09:25 AM
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Originally Posted by Altair 4
What did it look like once you got to the top? Did you need to walk on the actual ties, or was there sufficient room to walk safely along side? Just curious.

Where I grew up, my friends and I walked to school (yes, it was uphill in both directions) and crossed a high pedestrian trestle over the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks. Sometimes, we'd just cross the tracks and walk on the access road that followed along side of the tracks. Used to wave at the engineers when we did that. 'Course, that was a long time ago and... https://youtu.be/r0H6u9TgjIA

That area of tracks seems to be some type of switching area or a holding section. There is a wide open area up there once you climb, some railroad related stock laying around, some small buildings etc... Not sure what others did. Me and some random other dude that got there at the same time helped each other and we walked over the two sets of tracks to the trackside road, left the bikes there and walked down that road 100 ft doing recon for a good spot to cross back over. PLENTY of room up there to get out of the way of any oncoming trains.

Google map link if you want to browse around yourself.. The red line below was recorded ride data and a little off but you get the idea.


Last edited by u235; 07-13-18 at 10:13 AM.
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Old 07-13-18, 10:28 AM
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Originally Posted by alan s


The towpath is maintained and improved on a regular basis. Sometimes it takes a while to fix the trouble spots, many years in some cases, but that is part of the charm. IIRC, it took around 20 years to fully repair the damage caused by Hurricane Agnes flooding in the Widewater section near Great Falls. Paving would destroy the historical character of the towpath. It is a National Park, not a rail trail that is paved over. The organic nature of the towpath makes it far more interesting to ride, than for example, the GAP.

Also, the free parking area in Cumberland is for both the GAP and C&O users. Originally for the C&O, in fact.



Leave the C&O as is (except for routine replacing missing bridges and washouts). It is unique. Paved routes are literally everywhere, relatively smooth rail trails are not everywhere but still around. There are large sections of paved trail parallel to the C&O around Hancock. Nice but I'm glad they left the C&O in tact around it.
/soap-box mode/
My experience with paved over trails.. Most are cheap quick jobs and within a few years they become mine fields of 45 degree 3 inch high root bumps that are far worse to pass over than anything I've ever seen on a limestone/gravel path, even for people who it was originally intended for like strollers and walkers. I wonder how many people on foot twist an ankle or face plant in the autumn when the hazards are covered with leaves.

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Old 07-13-18, 09:39 PM
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Originally Posted by u235
Leave the C&O as is (except for routine replacing missing bridges and washouts). It is unique. Paved routes are literally everywhere, relatively smooth rail trails are not everywhere but still around. There are large sections of paved trail parallel to the C&O around Hancock. Nice but I'm glad they left the C&O in tact around it.
/soap-box mode/
My experience with paved over trails.. Most are cheap quick jobs and within a few years they become mine fields of 45 degree 3 inch high root bumps that are far worse to pass over than anything I've ever seen on a limestone/gravel path, even for people who it was originally intended for like strollers and walkers. I wonder how many people on foot twist an ankle or face plant in the autumn when the hazards are covered with leaves.

Unpaved is better for hikers & to pave properly would cost a fortune. OTOH it would be sweet to be able to cruise smoothly all the way from DC to Pittsburgh. Very few hikers, I imagine, do the whole C&O let alone combined with GAP. I don't backpack but for this region I'd prefer Shenandoah etc trails. Gravel C&O is more in keeping with the original look but IMO a paved path would be more in the original spirit of it being a practical transportation corridor.
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Old 07-15-18, 04:07 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
All I see is a creek and a pair of feet.
Sorry, I only have what she sent me... That was where the trail was washed out and her feet after crossing the stream. She said crossing the creek was easy and the picture of her feet was taken right after she crossed. She's old enough that I can't, won't, tell her what to do but still young enough that I required a check in from her before and after the crossing if she were running the tracks... She sent me those to let me know she was okay and that she opted to cross the creek rather than run the tracks.
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Old 07-15-18, 04:10 PM
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Originally Posted by DropBarFan
Unpaved is better for hikers & to pave properly would cost a fortune. OTOH it would be sweet to be able to cruise smoothly all the way from DC to Pittsburgh. Very few hikers, I imagine, do the whole C&O let alone combined with GAP. I don't backpack but for this region I'd prefer Shenandoah etc trails. Gravel C&O is more in keeping with the original look but IMO a paved path would be more in the original spirit of it being a practical transportation corridor.
The only part I would really love to see paved is the section from the Big Savage tunnel in to Cumberland. 21 miles downhill on pavement would be sweet.
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Old 07-15-18, 05:54 PM
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If you quote - please don't repost the photos - - - thanks.
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Old 07-15-18, 06:20 PM
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Originally Posted by edthesped
Sorry, I only have what she sent me... That was where the trail was washed out and her feet after crossing the stream. She said crossing the creek was easy and the picture of her feet was taken right after she crossed. She's old enough that I can't, won't, tell her what to do but still young enough that I required a check in from her before and after the crossing if she were running the tracks... She sent me those to let me know she was okay and that she opted to cross the creek rather than run the tracks.
Oh I thought you saw a bear or something crossing the creek.
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Old 07-15-18, 09:50 PM
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Cruised the GAP C&O last summer 2018 in late June no problems but mother nature doesn’t play fair. Reminds me of some old margarine commercial when I was a kid 1970s about it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature
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Old 07-16-18, 05:52 AM
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Originally Posted by u235
That area of tracks seems to be some type of switching area or a holding section.
It's a lead to CSXT's Brunswick Yard. I'll let their police know what's going on when I get to work.
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Old 07-16-18, 08:36 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz
It's a lead to CSXT's Brunswick Yard. I'll let their police know what's going on when I get to work.
See if you can get CSX to bring in a temporary bridge for the towpath over the culvert. Good PR and all. And it will keep the scofflaws off the tracks.
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