Maryland Outdoor Club
Fri, Aug 4 2006 - Backpacking on C&O Canal (View Original Event Details)

Event Organizer(s): Colin Babb
Participants:Colin Babb, Kimberly Engle, Sarah Tinney, Aimee Morris, Joe, KC Yi, John Meagher, Kathryn Bright, Jim Polfer, Deanna Shapiro

Write Up:

We arrived at the Antietam Creek campground at mile 69.7 around 8pm Friday night after encountering surprisingly little traffic on the drive there. We parked our vehicles along the road next to the campground after spending quite a bit of time trying to figure what a nearby seemingly- useless yet lovely-decorated turnaround was for. (We decided it must be for local school buses since the country road is very narrow.) We unloaded our gear, set up camp, and later discovered we had chosen a site a bit too close to the, uh, "facilities" and a little too far from the water source. It was a beautiful evening, so some of us chatted around the picnic table while others ventured off in their SUV to a store for some beverages, only to return empty-handed. The store had just closed! But upon their return they did share tales of the locals standing in the middle of the road drinking beer and smoking cigarettes, blocking traffic, and wondering why someone else might want to pass. After conversation surrounding tacky 80s songs, Seinfeld one-liners, Colin's new all-in-one hand crank flashlight, radio, and cell phone recharger, admiring John's battery-powered lantern that greatly-resembled the moon lander, and discussing the meaning the word "didactic," we decided to get some sleep so we could head out the next morning before it got too hot.

Saturday morning after a breakfast of items such as freeze-dried "huevos rancheros" (made using a brand-new backpacking stove) and cliff bars, we waited for a few more MOCers (who had to work the night before) to join us. We headed off on the trail for the 13 mile trek to the Big Woods hiker/biker campsite around 9am. We stopped for a number of breaks on the way, including Killiansburg Cave to try out a little spalunking. Kathryn enthusiatically dropped her pack and took off up to the cave to check out it, with a few others close behind. Our fearless leader Colin made a command decision regarding our next stop, as we were hem-hawing about whether or not we should stop for ice cream at the little store across the road by canal. I guess Colin had a hankering for some ice cream because we stopped and KC generously treated us all. Unfortunately one of the group came down with a nasty headache and opted to go home. One of the store owners kindly provided a ride to our stricken member's car just a few miles down the road while we continued on our journey. And then there were nine...

As we hiked along the path, the day grew warmer and our conversation inexplicably drifted to how cool and inviting the Potomac River looked. So when we finally arrived at the Big Woods campsite at mile 82.7 we dumped our packs and headed straight to the river to cool off. The river was crystal clear, rather shallow, and the perfect temperature. We sat on the rocks on the bottom in just the right way so we didn't get pulled downstream by the current, and we relaxed as the current massaged our achy muscles while the cool water covered us up to our necks. Ahh... Our one near-disaster was averted because several MOC members, while packing for the trip, decided to bring along various water purification methods even though there were water sources all along the towpath. Seems we had picked a campsite where the handle on the water pump was broken, and many of us were nearly out of water. So while some of us were still swimming Joe and KC came down to the river and began using Joe's purifying water pump to get water for us for the night and morning. Jim and the 4 women continued to swim in the river for quite some time, and we taunted the rest of men to come down and join us, but they never did. I guess "job talk" was more interesting than swimming with the ladies... :-)

After the swim we made dinner. Some of us tested out o

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