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Antietam Battlefield and Trail Detour: The great coffee mission, a day of detours, and our first injury

Antietam Battlefield and Trail Detour: The great coffee mission, a day of detours, and our first injury

46 miles (74 km) – Total so far: 114 miles (183 km)

Today was a day made for bicycling! The weather was a glorious 70 degrees with a soft wind. The jackets came off and we even got to wear shorts today. What a difference the weather makes. Yesterday I was whining about being exhausted after 30 miles. Today we biked 46 miles and I feel great.

We started the day with a do-it-yourself breakfast of oatmeal, breakfast bars, juice, and coffee in the hostel kitchenette at The Town Inn. The bikes had to go back down the steps at the end of the bridge from Harpers Ferry. This time we kept all the bags on the bikes and took one at a time down the stairs with Craig holding the front of the bike and me holding the back. It was difficult but a lot quicker than taking everything off the bikes again.

About a mile into our ride this morning we met Walt and Mike who are also cycling the C&O as they were pulling out of the hiker/biker camp where they spent the night. We cycled along with them for the next 14 miles and enjoyed sharing our stories as we rode along. It certainly made the first 14 miles fly by.

I noticed that Mike kept riding faster and faster. Turns out he was on a mission. To get coffee. There just aren’t a lot of coffee houses along the trail (there’s nothing along the trail really at all) so it was a questionable mission. But he had heard from someone that there was a café up ahead so we pedaled on in support of his quest.

Eventually we came to a road that paralleled the trail so we crossed over to the road and asked an older gentleman who was driving by if there was anyplace nearby where coffee could be aquired. The prospects were dour according to his reply. But there was a McDonalds somewhere across the river and the only way to get there was up a road rising up in front of us at 47 degrees and twisting up into the sky far above to the bridge. Our support of Mike’s coffee mission at this point was waning. But Mike’s wasn’t waning in the least. We said our goodbyes, took goodbye pictures of each other and the last I saw of Mike, he was charging up that hill at 15 mph. Now that is a guy who REALLY likes his coffee!

Our next adventure was to leave the trail at mile 76.6 and cycle on the roads to see the Antietam Battlefield area. We enjoyed an amazing lunch of sandwiches and cream of crab soup (superb!) at Captain Benders Tavern in Sharpsburg (a tiny quaint old town) and then stopped for supplies at the little market.

The battlefield was interesting. Sobering. So many people died there. Now it is just rolling fields with memorial statues in various locations. It was a nice ride through the sunshine on smooth pavement. We had to climb some steep hills to get there but were greatly rewarding with some screaming downhills on the way back to the trail.

It was a day of detours. At mile 80 we had to leave the trail again for a six mile detour around an area where the trail has caved in. That detour was not quite so much fun. Besides the fact that we didn’t take this detour by choice, there were a lot of killer hills and one section had a lot of traffic with no shoulder. Craig wanted me to mention that he biked the worst hill coming up from the trail but I had to walk. I’m a wuss.

The low point of my day also happened on this detour. We were on the last section of the detour on a narrow country road and a huge dumptruck came barreling by. I got off the road to get out of his way. That wasn’t so bad so we kept going.

A while later I felt something warm and wet on my leg and I looked down to see that the front of my shin and the top of my shoe were covered in blood. I had gouged the front of my leg on my pedal when the truck went by and I hadn’t even felt it. And yet again my amazing superhero husband came to the rescue, whipped out his first aid kit and handed me the perfect sized bandage for my wound. While I was applying my bandage my bike fell over and scraped me up even more. Definitely the low point.

But things got much better after that. We got back to the trail and only had 11 miles to get to our camp. We still felt strong and good and cranked out the rest of the miles to the very nice Jordan Junction hiker/biker campground.

This one is a mile outside of the town of Williamsport and people use the trail for fitness. There were people everywhere running, biking, walking their dogs. We set up camp and I charged up my computer at the picnic table and Craig hooked up his hammock. While I was sitting at my computer a father and son team biked into the campground and the son biked right up to my table, sat down and started eating his trailmix. Timmy was probably about 8 years old and was quite entertaining. We had a fun talk for about 30 minutes about all kinds of subjects. He and his dad were out for a five mile bike ride and heading back to Williamsport. I gave him and his dad my card with my website address, so Timmy, if you’re reading this, it was really nice to meet you! I’m sure you’ll get to go to Washington D.C. to meet your friend some day!

Mike, half of our traveling companion team from this morning, just pulled into the campground and Walt’s on the way. Should be an interesting evening! Mike purchased some instant coffee today so tomorrow will be much better for him 🙂

I’ll try to get some pics up tonight but it’s getting late and my computer is running out of juice. Check back tomorrow if you don’t see any pics here now. Thanks!!

This shot, of the two train trestles coming out of the Harpers Ferry tunnel, is the shot that EVERYONE takes. So I took it too with a twist of course. I added Craig's Long Haul Trucker to the composition.

This shot, of the two train trestles coming out of the Harpers Ferry tunnel, is the shot that EVERYONE takes. So I took it too with a twist of course. I added Craig’s Long Haul Trucker to the composition.

Morning on the trail

Morning on the trail

Walt and Mike, our morning riding companions.

Walt and Mike, our morning riding companions.

Parks services does a terrific job of maintaining the trail. We ran across lots of teams mowing, working on the lockhouses, fixing bridges and resurfacing the trail. This team was cleaning up a tree that had fallen.

Parks services does a terrific job of maintaining the trail. We ran across lots of teams mowing, working on the lockhouses, fixing bridges and resurfacing the trail. This team was cleaning up a tree that had fallen.

Break time on the trail

Break time on the trail

Coffee? Coffee???

Coffee? Coffee???

Looking for COFFEEEE!!!!

Looking for COFFEEEE!!!!

Can you tell me where I can find some coffee? PLEASE!!!!

Can you tell me where I can find some coffee? PLEASE!!!!

Slightly rough section of the trail

Slightly rough section of the trail

Craig's bike playing hide and seek

Craig’s bike playing hide and seek

Along the river

Along the river

So pretty...

So pretty…

On the way to Antietam Battlefield

On the way to Antietam Battlefield

Lunch in Sharpsburg.

Lunch in Sharpsburg.

We had the BEST lunch here.

We had the BEST lunch here.

One of the monuments in Antietam

One of the monuments in Antietam

Ellen, I know you're reading. This barn is for YOU!

Memorial and stone wall

Hanging out by the bridge

Hanging out by the bridge

This sign marks the six mile detour around the area that has caved in.

This sign marks the six mile detour around the area that has caved in.

Lots of hills on the detour. This would be fun to zoom down. Unfortunately we just had to cycle UP this hill.

Lots of hills on the detour. This would be fun to zoom down. Unfortunately we just had to cycle UP this hill.

On the detour.

On the detour.

Neat looking town of Williamsport.

Neat looking town of Williamsport.

Filling up our water bottles at one of the hiker/biker camps.

Filling up our water bottles at one of the hiker/biker camps.

Along the trail

Along the trail

Craig sitting on a tree overhanging the river right next to our camp.

Craig sitting on a tree overhanging the river right next to our camp.

We are very comfortable at night with our inflated ExPed mattresses and pillows and thick down sleeping bags.

We are very comfortable at night with our inflated ExPed mattresses and pillows and thick down sleeping bags.

Jordan Junction was a beautiful camp.

Jordan Junction was a beautiful camp.

AAAAHHHHHHH! Just because we're camping doesn't mean we're roughing it.

AAAAHHHHHHH! Just because we’re camping doesn’t mean we’re roughing it.

I'm doing website work in the middle of the wilderness!

I’m doing website work in the middle of the wilderness!

Timmy entertained us at the campground.

Timmy entertained us at the campground.

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