Thursday, May 19, 2011

No More Wine and Roses

May 18: The days of regularly staying in hotels is over and so to the ease of finding a camping area on the C&O. I have entered West Virginia and logistical difficulties have already reared their ugly head.
When I left Oldtown, Maryland at noon yesterday I had the vague idea I would stay somewhere in Fort Ashby, only twelve miles away. If you have read yesterday's post you know I successfully made it there. Unfortunately, the town has no hotels, hostels, or campgrounds (yes I did already know that). My attempts to look sad, cold, and miserable did not engender any offers to stay in someone's backyard and I could find no one at the local churches. There was no choice but to move on and look for somewhere to put my tent up for the evening.
As dusk fell I walked down the road looking for a spot, but everywhere were signs threatening trespassers with a slow painful death, so I kept moving. Dark fell and I inched along with my flashlight unable to find a safe spot. Eventually I grew so tired I plopped down in the grass a few feet off the road to try to gain a couple hours of sleep.
The rain was not interested in my plans, falling in sheets and disturbing any chance I had at rest. One of the few cars to go by stopped, thinking I was dead by the side of the road. Finding I was alive and kicking, he moved on. I thought it might be a good idea for me to do so as well. Call me impatient, but I got tired of people wondering if I was dead after only once.
An hour or so later I discovered what appeared to be an abandoned property. The rain had let up so I pulled out my sleeping bag and lay down. Still worried about the legal repercussions of staying on the property, I was loathe to set up the tent. Rain came again before long and my bag and I were soon soaked. I began to shiver so much the fear of hypothermia became too real to ignore. Regardless of the hour and my fatigue, I had to keep moving to stay warm.
I limped on, managing to see my next turns in the dark thanks to my flashlight and the well-marked roads (well-marked by the ADT not the state of West Virginia). By about five o'clock I gratefully reached a church and hopped onto the porch to dry out and rest for an hour.
I still had nine miles to go before Keyser, where I could get a hotel and escape the rains, so I got up shortly after dawn. I shuffled slowly along, my last socks had gotten wet and my feet were shredded. After three hours I finally made Highway 46 and had only a couple of miles left into Keyser. Not surprisingly at this point (and something I'll just have to get used to as I am entering, you know, the mountains) the first mile was straight uphill.
After a seemingly interminable time, I finally arrived in the city of Keyser and stopped for lunch. I had planned to ask the waitress to call a taxi for me so I could get to the hotel, but when the time came I realized there were 50 people in the restaurant and she was the only one serving them. I gave up on the idea (too easily I know) and instead hobbled the last two miles or so to the Keyser Inn, where I will be staying tomorrow night as well. I've rarely been more tired in my life and besides, my feet aren't really willing to go and I can't do this trip without them despite my brain's attempt to ignore their constant pleas.
I walked 18 more miles since I spoke with you last and a total of 30 between when I left Oldtown at noon yesterday and when I arrived in the Inn at two today.

18 miles/305 total miles


Beth Murphy at CofC said...

Take a day off for rest so you can continue!

Anonymous said...

Hang in there bro!

I'd look for some shoe inserts at the local drug store.

Anonymous said...

That's quite an epic tale! Reminds me of an all night hike I did in winter in Illinois many many years ago.

Love, Dad