Sunday, May 15, 2011
Fifteen miles to Hancock, fifteen miles to a shower and pizza. After forty eight hours of Slim Jims and granola just the word pizza was enough to quicken our gait.
In between us and our destiny of gooey pie goodness lay Fort Frederick, an outpost that had played a role in three wars. Originally designed as a defense against hostile Indians during the French and Indian War, the stockade had later housed British prisoners during the Revolution, and was used to protect the nearby railroad during the Civil War.
Our history lesson for the day behind us, Swagman and I passed along the side of Big Pool, a small lake that had been incorporated into the canal. Wildlife was abundant here. We saw a great horned owl as well as innumerable turtles. One of the largest of the turtles sat down in the middle of the towpath and allowed us a photo. What we saw less than another mile down really surprised us. This time our way was blocked by a fifteen pound carp, still breathing!
The fish was several feet onto the path and there was a six foot embankment. The thing had clearly been moved there, but there was no teeth or claw marks evident. Ron, our bunkmate later that night suggested a fisherman had abandoned his catch as too heavy to carry, but we had seen no one walking in the area. Other possibilities: carp breeding with snakeheads or Bad News Bears 2. We made Hancock around 4:30 and moved into the "chicken coop," a bunkhouse behind the C&O bicycle shop. After a hot shower and half a pizza consumed in about two minutes I felt whole again.
Note: I later discovered that Asian carp do have the ability to jump such heights. If they live in the canal that is likely what we saw.
15 miles/232 total miles