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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

No jazz in Little Orleans

Yesterday was quite a change up from the texture of the trails I have become accustom to. Changing from the GAP to the C&O trail was like going from the Autobon to Bob's Bottom Hollow Cattle Farm Access Road. It was rough, bumpy, uneven and coarse. It has fallen trees, hanging branches, exposed tree roots and tremendous mud holes. Some mud holes were so deep the water went up to the axles. Squirrly Shirley would get skewed cattywonkus on the drive throughs, leaving me hanging in the balance, bracing for a plunge. About 500 feet out of the Paw Paw I blew a tire on some sharp stones.

The scenery was interesting though. I'm riding along the great Potomac now. I have passed more than a dozen locks. Some of the locks, and lock keepers houses, have been restored and some are just a ruin of what they once were. In the late 1800's these locks were part of a state of the art water transportation engineering system.

As I pedal my bicycle I feel like I am riding a horse, at about a trotter pace, on my way to the next canal town. I can't imagine walking a mule tugging a heavy boat full of peoples furniture, upriver, from Washington DC to Cumberland Maryland. This is the historical trail I am riding on now; the tow path used by men and mules to move boats uphill. It is a humbling experience. This is nothing when you imagine how they built it and the hard lifestyle the lived back then.

When I arrived in Little Oleans there was no Mardi Gras parade. There are no smoky jazz clubs or fine restaurants. There are three houses and a general store which is closed. There is a pump in the campground wich has no handle.

Now I am starting to appreciate the decisions to pack my bike like I was going on a remote backpacking trip. I have dehydrated food, fuel and cooking utensils. At first, I almost eliminated this due to the extra weight. I thought romantically, "well, I am traveling to small towns and inns, with cafe's and bakeries." Plenty of places to get food and water. Fat chance! More like gas stations and dry well pumps .

Regrettably, I did not bring my back backer water purification system, but I was able to use my special powers of persuasion to procure two small bottles of ice cold 2021 vintage Aquafina from some canoists hauling their boats ot of the river. I gave one of them to this charming black women, who was camping next to me, who also did not have any water. She has backpacked, to here, by herself, for two weeks, from from Georgetown, 130 miles away.

I used some of my water to make dehydrated beef stroganoff. Not in the mood for jambalaya.

At dusk I walked down to the boat ramp and met a young fisherman and his wife. We discussed his dream of catching this illusive, big ole 16 Inch Musky that he was sure was still in this pool since spring. He was using a dead sunfish as bait which I thought was a little large but, then again, who am I? I've never seen the size if this fish.

It was very quiet and the river was completely still, reflecting the surrounding mountains and sky in a near perfect mirror image. I looked around in awe and said to myself "it is a great day to be alive and well on the planet earth."

Happy Birthday Peggy.

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