Monday, May 23, 2011
Mind the Gap
May 22: Today is my second and final day of this initial excursion off the ADT. I went to breakfast in Davis hoping to bounce my planned route off some of the locals. Instead of road-walking, most of the hike would take place on the Blackwater Canyon Trail. The people I spoke to at the Bright Inn all enthusiastically endorsed the idea as an easier and more scenic alternative to the highway. I ended up in a number of conversations about the trip and the Wounded Warrior Project with the friendly and inquisitive folks there.
Just after nine I went on my way and humped the two miles to Thomas, where the aforementioned trail begins. For awhile I felt like I was on the towpath again, with the ruins of an old coal town replacing the crumbling locks of the C&O. The area was one of the largest coal producers on earth during the its boom years of 1900-1910. The trail itself was the old rail bed that had been used to transport the excavated coal.
The natural scenery did not disappoint either. At first a large stream paralleled my path, growing ever larger as the miles passed. The water moved quickly and the rapids were punctuated on two occasions by spectacular waterfalls. About halfway thru the ten mile trail the stream had graduated to river status and dipped far below me into the chasm below, where it could be heard but rarely glimpsed. Every mile a waterfall would plunge down the mountainside to my right, crashing to the canyon below and adding to the ever-increasing volume of the river.
Animal life was surprisingly rare on today's walk, but considering the fauna here includes bears and rattlesnakes maybe that is for the best. I did see an inordinate amount of crickets, all doing their rendition of the House of Pain classic. Maybe they thought the fourth quarter of the Wisconsin game had started.
Despite the Blackwater Canyon's natural beauty there are a couple of negatives about the trail. The way is marked rather poorly in the early going and one can easily get lost and confused - signs saying dead end and road ends in fifty feet are for cars, but are worrisome to read when you are a first-timer uncertain of the way.
My biggest complaint is the trail surface, which has been laid out with a "cobble to hobble" motif using only the finest in large, sharp, and painful stones. No problem for bikers, but hikers need to wear steel plates on the bottom of their feet to protect themselves from the minefield.
I limped out of Blackwater Canyon and into Hendricks, where I rejoined the ADT. A man in the adjoining town of Hambleton whose name I did not catch was considerate enough to fill my nearly empty water bottles. Did I mention the people in West Virginia are really nice? Three miles later I was in Parsons where I dropped into CJ's Pizzeria and ate more za than any human should consider consuming. Happily bloated I waddled to Five River Campgrounds just down the road, paid for the night, put up my tent and passed out.
I did another seventeen miles today for a total of 60 or so for the last three days. Tomorrow I will be granting my feet respite and fiddling around in Parsons doing errands.
17 miles/364 total miles