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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

Flight 93 Memorial

Yesterday, I accomplished the first milestone of the 911 memorial trail; riding to the flight 93 memorial site. It was the hardest day yet, as I had to leave the peaceful comfort of the quiet tree lined trail and enter back into the world of loud, obnoxios smoke belching deisal trucks, booming car audio systems and jake breaking tractor trailers. They seem to give me wide berth when they see my American flag waiving off the back of my bike, but I still don't like the noise and I looked forward to getting on the back roads, which offered some sense of relief and spectacular beauty also. Unfortunately I had to travel the roadways because the 911 trail extension from Garrett is incomplete, as confirmed with the locals.

This took me on a 51 mile detour off the trail right into the thick of the highlands. To get from Rockwood to the memorial, and back, I climbed a total of 3692 feet riding up and down mountain terrain. Well let me be clear, about a quarter of that was actully walking and pushing the stubborn mule.

Each time I thought I had reached the crest of a ridge, the road kept goin up.. Even on the return trip you would think it was all downhill, but it was not. This is because I am getting closer to the eastern continental divide. The land keeps rising as the trail goes east.

The flight 93 memorial is very stark and abstract. A narrow gap between two massive concrete walls sights the crashing planes direction. A dark gray granite sidewalk plots the flight path of the plane and a giant boulder marks the physical impact. Surrounding the impact area are memorials to the deceased. In the museum you can listen to recordings of the passengers. it is a very moving and solemn experience to visit this memorial.

Upon leaving I asked two park rangers about the 911trail extension for the site. Neither of them knew about it, even when I showed them the highlighted route on the map they gave me. A gift shop concessionaire was kind enough to direct me to an unauthorized maintenance at the lower end of the park which provided me access to some safe roads to Meyersdale.

Today I am camping in front of the the Maple Syrup Festival stage. Not sure where I will end up tonight. Probably Cumberland. All I know is I really need to do some laundry.

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