Sunday, May 29, 2011
Michael Landon vs. Angus Young
May 29: The highway is the best way to get where you are going in a hurry, right? The same truth applies to hikers. I needed to chop a few miles off the top to get to Paul and Sharon's territory before they are swamped by an incoming pack of relatives.
In order to make that happen we collaborated on a plan which sent me onto Highway 50 for eleven miles, through the heart of Clarksburg and beyond.
The first couple of miles were simple, with a large shoulder to ease my mind a bit. As I hit downtown Clarksburg my safety net shrunk and I was much closer to cars going seventy five miles an hour than I would like to be. Luckily the nerves did result in an adrenaline rush and I came as close to running as someone hidden under a backpack looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame can manage.
The dangerous bit passed quickly and I was soon enjoying the company of my good friend the shoulder. Pancaked along much of the walking surface were various forms of roadkill. I'm not going to miss the putrid rotting stench of animal corpses once I get back into the country and away from busy roads. For some reason I enjoy the odor of honeysuckle just a touch more.
Shortly after the noon hour I was relieved to see the road sign that meant my freedom: Wolf Summit. Here I departed the highway and entered the much-anticipated North Bend Rail Trail. A former Baltimore and Ohio rail bed has been turned into a trail stretching from Wolf Summit to Parkersburg, seventy one miles away.
Only four miles down the path was my rendezvous point with Sharon and Paul. I reveled in the quiet space, away from the screaming engines of trucks and automobiles. In two miles I reached the first railroad tunnel. The cool breeze emanating from within was delightful amid the mid-day heat. Strangely, I seem to have misplaced my flashlight, so traveling through the one thousand foot plus tunnel was somewhat challenging in the middle section. I made it through without falling on my rear yet again and met up with Sharon and Paul in Bristol (good luck trying to find that speck on any map).
On the ride to their house the couple showed me a library just off trail as well as a route to one of the gas stations next to the NBRT. They also regaled me with tales about the 1950 flood, which devastated Smithburg, resulting in numerous fatalities. The covered bridge there was also destroyed and swept downstream where it acted as a dam until the remnants were removed.
We arrived in their beautiful home and I almost fell asleep the moment I entered the guest bedroom and lay on the comfortable mattress. I have to stay strong though, Sharon is cooking spareribs and I am pretty excited about eating them.
Paul raises cattle for beef and Sharon is a retired middle school math teacher who still helps out with some of the math programs from time-to-time. I'm going to have to leave now, I can smell those spareribs - clearly I have better things to do than to talk to you.
P.S.: Sharon prepared a veritable Noah's Ark of food: sweet potatoes, salad with greens from their garden, spareribs, pasta salad, watermelon, applesauce, German chocolate cake, potatoes...I think you get the idea. All of it was a treat for my tongue. After the feast they took me out to a couple places of historical interest I will be visiting - I will brief you upon what I learned as the trail takes me to those spots in the coming days.
Miles today: 17, for a total of 452.