Bill and Laurie Foot’s 1997 bike/hike on the ADT – Chapter 9

Here We Go Again — The Send Off

March 25, Tuesday
How can we describe it? It was a media event. At the eastern terminus of the ADT at Cape Henlopen, Delaware we were joined by Reese Lukei, the National ADT Coordinator and his wife, Melinda, Delaware Congressman, Mike Castle, a sponsor of the American Discovery Trails legislation, and his aide, Christine Nolt. Also, Susan Moerschel with Delaware state parks and several officials from Cape Henlopen State Park were there. Jim Ippolito, the Delaware ADT Coordinator, Art Hehn, ALDHA member, assorted other trail enthusiasts, our children and niece plus TV crews, reporters, and photographers. We felt like the Clintons with all this attention. Jack Gellerstedt, our friend from Lynchburg, will be travelling with us for the first 5 days of the trip. It was great to get all their support and hopefully add to the public’s knowledge of the ADT.

All the hoopla resulted in our departure time being after 11 am. The day was cloudy with a high in the 50’s. The route was mercifully level with mostly paved roads with very few cars. Jim Ippolito, Larry Wunderland, and Reese rode with us to Milton with Melinda carrying our panniers and sagging us. (Sagging is the biker’s equivalent of slackpacking for hikers.) What a terrific way to start. Reese and Melinda then sagged for us the rest of the day.

We ended the day at the shelter built especially for the ADT by Billy Staples, for an Eagle Scout project, at Tuckahoe State Park in Maryland. Then, what a surprise. At the shelter with us the first night, was a former A.T. thru-hiker, Bill Pyles, who had started on the ADT in Delaware three days ago. Also, Bob Fletcher, the ADT Coordinator for eastern Maryland stopped by. Lots of good trail talk, the satisfaction of a 63 mile day accomplished and a new shelter. Life is good. We’ll see how long this honeymoon lasts!

Every day that we remember to record them, we will post our daily statistics taken from the computer on Bill’s bike.

63,9 miles, 12.9 mph, 4 hours 56 min seat time

March 26, Wednesday
We started the day with rain and a flat tire. After 4 attempts at applying a patch, Bill finally got one to stick. There are still some things about biking that we need to perfect. So much for the short-lived honeymoon. Although the rain cleared by our 9 am start, we battled fierce headwinds all day long. The trail was flat and paved, again on seldom travelled roads. But with winds 20 to 25 miles per hour, we had a hard time making progress. We stopped in Queenstown for donuts and snacks. After lunch in Stevensville, we made arrangements with a worker at the Queen Anne’s County Parks Maintenance garage to get taken across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge. Bikes and pedestrians are not allowed on the bridge. Later, we walked our bikes across the Severn River bridge into Annapolis, where we rode through the US Naval Academy and took a quick tour of the downtown area. Riding out of town at 4:30 pm in heavy traffic, we realized we had neither the time nor energy to reach Bowie, our planned destination for the day, to visit with Harry Cyphers, the Maryland ADT coordinator. So we opted for the Econolodge where we were met by our A.T. pal, Ted “Tinfoot” Rogers. Ted took us out to a terrific dinner at Lewnes’ restaurant, gave us a better tour of the naval academy, and we inspected a sailboat that Ted trains midshipmen on as a volunteer instructor.

We have been watching the comet Hale-Bopp and are excited about its brightness and tail. So, on our second day of biking we made only 38 miles and are thoroughly exhausted.

38.6 miles, 8.4 mph, 4 hrs 34 min seat time

March 27,Thursday
If yesterday’s headwinds were terrible, today’s weather was outstanding. On the trail by 7:20, we easily reached Bowie by 8:50 and met Harry and his wife, Joan, and Morris Warren, and a local reporter. We did a short interview and had some pictures taken. We then rode on to Greenbelt and lunched at the American Legion Hall, where we talked with another reporter.

After lunch, we rode through Greenbelt Park and then the Anacostic River Greenway. After riding through several miles of lightly travelled Washington DC city streets, we arrived at the northern entrance to Rock Creek Park. The ride throught the park was great. Temps were in the 70’s and there were dozens of bikers and walkers on the trails. A detour at Pennsylvania Avenue led us to the mall which was packed with sun worshippers and tourists. We rode around the reflecting pool and Washington Monument, saw the Korean War Memorial, took pictures of the cherry trees which were at their peak and ate some ice cream.

We then found a bike path which took us in front of the Kennedy Center and then to the C&O Canal towpath. The towpath was in great shape and we rode to Lock 10 where we met our daughter, Chrissy, and her boyfriend, David. We ate dinner at Boston Market, enjoyed our shower at David’s house, and even did some laundry.

63 miles, 9.7 mph

March 28, Friday
Chrissy and David dropped us off at Lock 10 and we resumed where we had left off on Thursday. We headed west and the trail was level and smooth until we arrived at an area known as Widewater. The signs had indicated a detour for bikes, but we had learned that it was passable, although we would have to push our bikes through part of it. It was very rough and rocky for 2 to 3 hundred feet and we carried the bikes over some places. But, the views were impressive and worth the effort.

Next, we cycled on to Great Falls, where extensive rock cliffs and raging waters presented a real challenge to the original canal builders. At Seneca, we took a quick trip off the trail to Poole’s general store where we stocked up on snacks and enjoyed the old timey atmosphere. The C&O Canal includes designated campsites spaced 5 to 8 miles apart, which are attractive and have outhouses, picnic tables, and water pumps. The water pumps were not yet turned on for the season and the campsites and officially not open until April 15.

The trail was rough for about 10 miles throughout the day, which slowed our progress. The weather was perfect and in the 70’s. We decided to call it quits for the day at Harpers Ferry instead of riding on to our intended destination at Shepherdstown. We stayed with A.T. friends, Bob and Dorlyn Williams. Jack made arrangements to meet his wife tomorrow at Williamsport, where he will leave the trail. We have really enjoyed his company for the first five days of our trip. He really earned his trail name of “Easy Rider”.

56 miles, 9.2 mph, 6 hours seat time

March 29, Saturday
Although rain had been predicted for last night and this morning, it did not materialize. We decided to leave early to beat the rain and eat breakfast at Betty’s Restaurant in Shepherdstown. The towpath seems smoother than east of Harpers Ferry and was often bordered by high limestone cliffs. After breakfast, and back on the trail, the skies suddenly darkened, the winds picked up, and it started to sprinkle. Taking refuge under the porch of a local sporting club, we learned that hailstorms and lightning had hit neighboring areas but had missed us.

The towpath is closed at Dam No. 4 and a 4 1/2 mile detour on roads is necessary. Returning to the towpath, we encountered a few places where we had to walk our bikes due to eroded trail, but it mostly smooth. We stopped in Williamsport where Jan met Jack and we all stayed at a motel before each going our respective ways.

45.6 miles, 9.8 mph, 4 hours, 36 min seat time

March 30, Easter Sunday
After saying goodbye to Jan and Jack, we continued west on the towpath. The trail and weather were beautiful. The farther west we travelled, the more remote we felt. We saw occasional cyclists in the afternoon including one family group and one scout group who were biking the length of the canal eastward. We stopped in Weaver’s Restaurant in Hancock for some pastries and pie and later ate lunch at the campsite at Cacapon Junction. We passed fishermen at Fort Fwederick and in the afternoon saw hundreds of turtles lining the logs in the canal looking like bathers around a pool. The mountains of West Virginia began to loom over us, reminding us that these days of level trail and easy riding would soon be coming to an end.

Near the end of the day, we entered the Paw Paw Tunnel, a 3,118 foot long tunnel constructed for the canal with the towpath alongside. We walked our bikes and used flashlights through the tunnel. What an engineering marvel of its day! With rain predicted, we headed for a B&B in Paw Paw, WV and a day of rest. Bill is showing beginning signs of a cold.

60 miles, 9.7 mph, 6 hours, 13 min seat time

© Copyright, William & Laurel Foot, 1997, Lynchburg, VA.
The Happy Feet

IndexNext Chapter