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GAP and C&O Report

Old 06-25-18, 01:19 PM
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PedalingWalrus
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GAP and C&O Report

This is somewhat late as we finished this trip almost a month ago but today I noticed that Google somehow picked up my photos and automatically created an album and a slideshow so I thought I would share it here as a mini report :

https://photos.google.com/share/AF1Q...I0NV82NGJEMVdB

We have somehow managed to plan our bike tour between two biblical flood events ;-) and with one or two exceptions managed to bike the entire trail on the original route. The last day of the tour was on the WDT trail because of flooding and trail uncertainty.

Finding the zero marker in DC was a comedy of errors with the last one had us asking at the boatyard where the zero marker is and them saying there is no such thing only to discover the zero marker was behind their building.

We took 3 days to bike GAP and 4 days to bike C&O.

The GAP was overall in better shape. C&O had more mud and was a little bit rougher around the edges but both were an amazing experience.
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Old 06-25-18, 01:48 PM
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I’ll be doing the same trip next week. Looking like the weather will allow things to dry up a bit. Glad to see the Paw Paw tunnel is open.
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Old 06-25-18, 02:05 PM
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Good to know. Nice photos. I was going to do the GAP & C&O last year, but the long mileage (for me) days that I had planned were sapping the fun out of my trip, so I just rode the GAP. Had a great time. This year it looks like I may find myself with an extra week of vacation, and if the C&O is ride-able, I may go back and do it this fall or late summer.
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Old 06-25-18, 02:08 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post
I’ll be doing the same trip next week. Looking like the weather will allow things to dry up a bit. Glad to see the Paw Paw tunnel is open.
Must of just opened. I thought I read it was closed.

A bunch of other parts of the trail are closed. Hopefully it will open up by next week. Assuming they don't get more rain!
https://www.nps.gov/choh/planyourvisit/conditions.htm
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Old 06-28-18, 12:43 PM
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I rode the GAP-C&O trails the week of June 9-15 with friends, our third time doing the route. It was much more difficult and less enjoyable than our previous trips, primarily due to on-going rains and the aftermath of flooding. We had to skip a section of the GAP due to a mudslide, requiring a difficult detour on hilly roads. That was nothing compared to the mud and downed trees we encountered on the C&O. We ended up hiring shuttles to carry us around two sections that were impassable or close to it. Even so, we encountered extensive sections with tree barriers and thick slimy mud, forcing us to stop numerous times to carry bikes over trees and clean out mud trapped between our wheels and fenders. The worst section was between Williamsport and Harpers Ferry, which included a fairly long road detour in addition to the mud and trees. When we reached our lodgings in HF, we spent 30 minutes hosing the mud off our bikes, but the wheels clogged right up again when we encountered more mud the next day. If I ever attempt to ride the C&O again, I will do a better job monitoring weather/trail reports and will cancel the trip if it’s rainy or muddy. There is nothing fun about riding in mud.
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Old 06-28-18, 02:20 PM
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Great pix! Inspirational. I've ridden and hiked sections of each portion but need to go back and ride it end-to-end.
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Old 06-28-18, 07:10 PM
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Thanks. We played bicycle bingo along tge way with sightibgs of bear, snake, bunny, turtle, trout etc etc
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Old 07-07-18, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by tarwheel View Post
I rode the GAP-C&O trails the week of June 9-15 with friends, our third time doing the route. It was much more difficult and less enjoyable than our previous trips, primarily due to on-going rains and the aftermath of flooding. We had to skip a section of the GAP due to a mudslide, requiring a difficult detour on hilly roads. That was nothing compared to the mud and downed trees we encountered on the C&O. We ended up hiring shuttles to carry us around two sections that were impassable or close to it. Even so, we encountered extensive sections with tree barriers and thick slimy mud, forcing us to stop numerous times to carry bikes over trees and clean out mud trapped between our wheels and fenders. The worst section was between Williamsport and Harpers Ferry, which included a fairly long road detour in addition to the mud and trees. When we reached our lodgings in HF, we spent 30 minutes hosing the mud off our bikes, but the wheels clogged right up again when we encountered more mud the next day. If I ever attempt to ride the C&O again, I will do a better job monitoring weather/trail reports and will cancel the trip if itís rainy or muddy. There is nothing fun about riding in mud.
Really sorry you had such a tough time. You guys are a great group. Don't beat yourself up on weather decisions. Once you cross the divide, all bets are off. That is an extremely difficult area to predict weather and it gets worse as you near the bay. My charter company manager. in Annapolis, would tell us all the time very time we picked wrong and wondered about the weather. He said it was something about the huge body of water, watersheds and the nearby mountains that throw a monkey wrench into weather reports.

On the other hand this side to the divide is a bit more predictable. Just that we have been getting a very unusual. Amount of rain lately. On my trip, I just happened to talk to a cop in Chicago that was from Pittsburgh (originally).. He said the south hills got flooded out here in Pittsburgh. From the sounds of it this is the second time for those poor people. Once before I left once while I was gone.

In your defense, those are some super steep hills I don't blame you for hiring a shuttle.

I did not get a drop of rain but the reason I was in Chicago was that Amtrak missed my Pittsburgh train. Had to stay over night. It was on them thankfully. Bad news I had to comeback coach when I had a room the night before. I survived (barely ). Delta messed up my connection on the outbound too!

Crap happens. So your trip didn't go as planned. You got to spend time with a group of friends. And you will have a story to talk about for years!


For me, part of the train delay was in the Rockies. Hard to pick a more beautiful stop to be stranded. The corn field just outside of Chicago, that was the final nail in the coffin, is another matter.
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Old 07-07-18, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
Thanks. We played bicycle bingo along tge way with sightibgs of bear, snake, bunny, turtle, trout etc etc
I have been on the GAP countless times. I have never seen a bear.
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Old 07-07-18, 02:46 PM
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Canceled the PGH to DC trip due to the heat wave. Opted instead for an overnight this weekend. Nice having the luxury to pick the weather.
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Old 07-07-18, 02:53 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I have been on the GAP countless times. I have never seen a bear.
I've seen little mention of bears, and the camping areas I used did not have any bear boxes or warnings, so I assumed I was not in bear country. But on my last day of riding, at the Divide, I heard people talking on the street that went over the bike path. They were trying to catch sight of a bear that had crossed the road ahead of them. They pointed down the trail, and I spun around just quickly enough to see a large bear cross the path several yards from the underpass. Second bear I've seen in the wild.
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Old 07-08-18, 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
I've seen little mention of bears, and the camping areas I used did not have any bear boxes or warnings, so I assumed I was not in bear country. But on my last day of riding, at the Divide, I heard people talking on the street that went over the bike path. They were trying to catch sight of a bear that had crossed the road ahead of them. They pointed down the trail, and I spun around just quickly enough to see a large bear cross the path several yards from the underpass. Second bear I've seen in the wild.
It is not a huge problem but apparently there are some there. When we were riding the GAP on our big BF trip several years ago, a BF member saw one down by the river somewhere north of Connelsville. We even have them on the connecting spur, the Montour Trail near Hendersonville. But I have never seen them there either.

We are also supposed to have river otters in the Chartiers Creek just north of Clariion which is pretty incredible since Clariton was onece one of the most polluted cities in the country.
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Old 07-08-18, 07:31 PM
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Here is how it happened. 3 of us were in Brunswick on our way to White's Ferry. After we portaged our bikes over the trail closure and started towards WF the skies got supet dark , followed by torrential rain and lightning. The ride became this mad sprint attempt to avoid getting stuck on a flooded trail. As the miles went by the water depth was about 5 to 10 inches. We were drinking the rain, dodging low hanging branches and hoping there weren't any deep potholes on the flooded trail. I was leading the pack when my buddy reported a bear just dashing get immediately behind me to cross the trail. We just kept sprinting. I found out about the bear when we rejoined at the Ferry. 🙂👍


Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
I have been on the GAP countless times. I have never seen a bear.
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Old 07-08-18, 08:24 PM
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Sounds like the beginnings of a great novel.

"What one man can do another can do" has been taken so don't use that.

OK so actually it was the C&O and I have only been on it once. and it was raining of course.

Question: Did you pay for the bear to ride the ferry? Their cupboards are bear you know? ;:0
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Old 07-09-18, 09:53 AM
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Outstanding photos! They brought back a lot of memories and also showed a lot of the continuous improvements that have been made along the trail. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-09-18, 11:33 AM
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Thank You!

Originally Posted by Altair 4 View Post
Outstanding photos! They brought back a lot of memories and also showed a lot of the continuous improvements that have been made along the trail. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 07-09-18, 11:36 AM
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Rode out and back from home this weekend. Trail is in great condition out to Harpers Ferry except for the washout at Mile 53 near Brunswick. Not easy to get around. Tried both ways. Through the dry canal/along the RR tracks and fording the stream closer to the river. Neither option is easy. I managed to do both without removing panniers, but did get a little assist on the fording route getting up the steep mud bank from a hiker. Either way you go, be prepared for a difficult detour until it is fixed.
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Old 07-09-18, 11:46 AM
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We portaged via the railroad tracks but that is probably illegal :-)




Originally Posted by alan s View Post
Rode out and back from home this weekend. Trail is in great condition out to Harpers Ferry except for the washout at Mile 53 near Brunswick. Not easy to get around. Tried both ways. Through the dry canal/along the RR tracks and fording the stream closer to the river. Neither option is easy. I managed to do both without removing panniers, but did get a little assist on the fording route getting up the steep mud bank from a hiker. Either way you go, be prepared for a difficult detour until it is fixed.
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Old 07-09-18, 11:52 AM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
We portaged via the railroad tracks but that is probably illegal :-)
Plus you could get hit by a train, which would suck, basically. Of the two options, the train tracks turned out to be slightly easier. Donít see why the NPS canít span the gap with a temporary bridge.
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Old 07-09-18, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by alan s View Post


Plus you could get hit by a train, which would suck, basically. Of the two options, the train tracks turned out to be slightly easier. Donít see why the NPS canít span the gap with a temporary bridge.
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Old 07-09-18, 12:40 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
It’s only a 100% grade made of loose rocks
with train tracks above your head. What could possibly go wrong? OTOH, fording the stream and trying to get up the muddy banks was no picnic.

And did I mention the welcoming committee made up of dozens of blood thirsty mosquitos?




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Old 07-09-18, 01:27 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
We portaged via the railroad tracks but that is probably illegal :-)
Grrrrrr. It is.
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Old 07-09-18, 02:26 PM
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Originally Posted by PedalingWalrus View Post
We portaged via the railroad tracks but that is probably illegal :-)
They were busting people on a bike path hear in Hazelwood. There are two paths separated bu a train track. Really dumb. People were getting around it my crossing then following the tracks for a couple hundred yards.

When the path from Pittsburgh was still unfinished, people were using the tracks to get to Sandcastle. Don't know if anyone was busted or killed.
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Old 07-10-18, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Rob_E View Post
Second bear I've seen in the wild.
Fun, isn't it? I have seen a total of 6 that I can recall while out on tour, although not all of them while actually pedaling. Three of those sightings took place during my last 2 week+ trips, including the one last month. Saw another one during a day ride in NJ a few years ago.
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Old 07-10-18, 07:47 AM
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Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
Fun, isn't it? I have seen a total of 6 that I can recall while out on tour, although not all of them while actually pedaling. Three of those sightings took place during my last 2 week+ trips, including the one last month. Saw another one during a day ride in NJ a few years ago.
The one on the GAP was kind of fun. I was eating a cream puff and brewing some coffee when it was pointed out to me, and that point I decided that I would have rather he been a little further away, and I not be standing there holding a delicious pastry. If you've ever tried to make water boil faster with your mind, it doesn't work.

The other one made for a fun story afterwards, but didn't strike me as fun at the time. He seemed to take an undue interest in me and my tent, and my initial attempts to scare him off just seemed to make him more curious, and start heading my way. He eventually detoured into the woods, but he didn't seem particularly alarmed by hand waving, shouting, and loud noises. I may not be able make water boil faster with my mind, but it turns out, if properly motivated, I can break camp, pack up, and be on the road about 5 times faster than my unmotivated time.
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