Atlantic to Pacific Journal

    

June 2, 2006 - Washington D.C.

This voyage has begun! It is getting late so this first entry will be very short. I will just give a quick synopsis of what has happened so far.

First I need to thank the following: Elizabeth Harr-Bricksin (Heather Willcoxon's cousin) for receiving my gear here in the Washington D.C. area, Jeff Foster Trucking for shipping my gear (Thanks Jon Foster), and Balance Bar for the grant to make this all possible. I especially want to thank Jennifer Moore of Balance Bar for coordinating everything for me. Finally, thanks to my wife, LuAnn for supporting me once again. Hello to my children Dean, Eric, and Heidi; and to the grandkids, too: Devin, Drake, Liv, Rory, Lily Ryan, and Ryah Marie.

I finally was able to start at around 4:00 P.M. today with the help of Jeff Thompson who has been so kind to shuttle me around. I started just west of Washington D.C. at Swains Lock. Today was spent portaging along the river for two reasons. First, I wanted to test my bike and trailer system. Second, after reading a sign that said, "57 people have died in this area in last 10 years", even I had enough sense to go around the rapids rather than paddle through them. All in all the day went well and Jeff Thompson met me 17 miles up the river where I made camp and the two of us went to dinner in Leesburg. Leesburg is also a town that I biked through when I made my perimeter ride of the USA in 2004.

All in all it was a good day. Looking forward to tomorrow, which will start with at least the first half of the day paddling and most likely end with more portaging around rapids in the afternoon.

Sunday, June 04, 2006 - Harpers Ferry, WV

Good night's sleep under the pitter and patter of rain, which became quite a bit more than a pitter and patter!!! The thunderstorms made me wonder what was the river was going to be like in the morning.
My wonders were correct. In the morning the water was up with the current much faster with a strong west wind in my face. Started the day by biking and met some very nice people along the way. Ran into a Boy Scout group which was out in their first overnight camping experience. Took a picture with the group and had a nice chat with the young men. They were very excited by what I was doing.
I continued on my way and found an area where the river seemed to be quite calm. I put in to paddle for as long as I could. It turned out that calm water was not very calm and was flowing very strongly in the wrong direction. Between the swift current and the wind in my face, I made maybe 3-4 miles in about 2 and 1/2 to 3 hours. During that time I found that my knee had stiffened quite a bit. Between the knee, the fast current and the many rapids, it was time to get biking again, which I did for the rest of the day.
For those who are not aware of this, I should explain this knee problem. Due to an old injury and pretty much wearing it out during the last 500 miles of the PCT, I finally figured I should do something about it, which I did on May 1. I had a right half knee joint replacement. Recovery has been coming along good. In fact, maybe a little bit better than the doctors anticipated. And I feel it's strong enough for me to be out here. The biking is definitely good for it. And with the combination of paddling and biking, by the time I get to the Ohio River, I'm expecting it will no longer be a concern.
So back to my day,,, I made camp near Harpers Ferry, WV, a famous Civil War site and it is where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers come together. All in all, it was a good day and I met many nice people. Both the Potomac and the towpath have been very scenic and should continue to get even better as I head west. I'm also very pleased with my biking and portaging setup. This combination of paddling and portaging is what will make it possible to make it to the Ohio. I will definitely paddle as much as it can, but it is also very enjoyable to bike and portage. So far,,,I'm as happy as a clam in the Potomac!

Monday, June 05, 2006 - Orleans, WV

This will be just a quick update. When I get to Cumberland, I will be able to fill in the gaps and write more.
Now camped just outside of Orleans. Today was spent paddling just for a short period of time. Yesterday I was able to paddle on fairly calm water, but today I had to fight lots of rapids. The problem is that I can't get out where the rapids are due to the high banks, so today there was a lot more biking than canoeing. All told, I did probably about 5-6 miles of paddling today and 30-35 miles of biking.
It was tough going upstream through those rapids today - so much so that I snapped one of my paddles in half! Thanks to ZRE, I had a spare. From now on to Cumberland is going to be mostly (maybe all) biking and portaging as there are rapids from here on and the high banks make it impossible to get out and go around.
I learned something very critical yesterday. I am going to have to ship the canoe from Cumberland to the Ohio River - I will put into the Ohio either at Parkersburg, WV or Pittsburgh, PA. I met a policeman who told me there is no way I can bike the route to Parkersburg towing the canoe. He said it is dangerous enough with just a bike but it would be both illegal and an accident waiting to happen if I had the canoe with me.
So, the bottom line is that I need help from anyone who is reading this who might know somebody who could help me get the canoe from Cumberland to the Ohio. I should be in Cumberland no later than this Wednesday June 7. If you can help me get my canoe to the Ohio, please leave a comment here and let me know how to contact you. The ideal situation would be to get to Parkersburg, VA but Pittsburgh, PA is an alternative that I am also considering.
Let me know if you can help! Thanks!

June 5 - 3 Miles East of Williamsport to 3 Miles West of Little Orleans

It rained much of the night, but is nice now. Ate breakfast and loaded up the bike trailer and was off for another day of mainly pedaling. (Although did get to put into the water for a short time above dam number 5.)

Not a real exciting day. Met many nice people along the way and will post pictures when I get a chance. (Probably in a week or so.) Just east of Hancock I was able to switch over to what is called the Maryland Trail. It is a paved bike trail that parallels the C & O trail for about 20 miles. This was a very welcome change. Made much better time than I could on the graveled C & O.

If you are wondering what it's like to pull a bike canoe trailer loaded with a 17' canoe and gear, well it's like pulling a child in a wagon with the bike wheels on gravel and the trailer wheels following along through grass. Gets to you after awhile!

Stopped at Little Orleans for a beverage and found the two guys and lady I'd met outside Shepardstown. Their plans were to stay at a little resort in this small town of a pub and old gas station. I biked on to the next campground where I came upon a youth group of 7 teens and two adult men leaders.

They invited me to stay with them, which I did. I had a great time. The teens were excited about what I was doing and asked a million questions. Just had a great time chatting with them. (They will be finishing their trip tomorrow in Little Orleans)

June 6 - 3 Miles West of Little Orleans to 4 Miles East of Cumberland, MD

Another day of mostly pedaling! Rapids are everywhere and the banks are too steep for me with my bad knee to climb up and boat ramps are all but gone now. I expected a lot of bike portaging along this leg, but not this much. Although I must say I've had fun along the tow path meeting a number of great people and interesting sites.

Today I biked through a half mile tunnel that cut off a number of miles when they built the canal. This canal was to link the Atlantic at Washington D.C. to the Ohio River in Pittsburgh, PA, but stopped at Cumberland, MD for a number of reasons. One being finances and the other - it became obsolete before it was finished. The railroad came through, I believe 7 years before it was done! I guess the government spent money wisely back then too. Maybe they were thinking ahead, that someday a guy with a canoe could use it to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Made camp 4 miles from Cumberland, mainly because I'm too cheap to go all the way into town and get a motel! Plus, I figured I'd spend the night under the stars and try and figure out how to get to the Ohio!

June 7 - Cumberland to Gaylord, WV

Bad choice of camp spots! Just across the tow path was a train yard and I swear they were running all night long! Although it did give me time to think about plans for getting to the Ohio.

For the last day or so I'd ask people along the way what they thought was the best way to get to the Ohio. I told them I was thinking of shipping everything to Parkersburg, WV and then riding my bike the 170 or so miles to Parkersburg. They would look at my bike and would say, "Maybe you should think about going to Pittsburgh. You can get on the Alleghany River once you get over the divide and there also is a bike path all the way to Pittsburgh." Most felt this was the better and easier route. They all said going to Parkersburg on a bike by way of Highway 50 would be very tough.

So, this morning I made my decision. I'm going to Parkersburg! Plans are to get to town and rent a car and drive my gear to Parkersburg and then come back and ride my bike over.

I was able to get a rental car (last one of 4 they had). I took the freeway over to Clarksburg and then was able to take Highway 50 into Parkersburg. (50 became 4 lanes in Clarksburg). This took about 6 hours. I hid my gear in the woods behind a group of motels about three miles from Parkersburg. Turned around and went back to Cumberland. This took about 6 or maybe 6 and half hours.

By around 3:30 I was pedaling. This little bike is great. I was climbing the mountain road as well, if not better than I could with the Cannondale bike I used when I did my perimeter ride. Ride was tough but not that tough. Once on top of the first grade there where many miles of very nice rolling hill riding. Countryside was beautiful. Reminded me a lot of home. Especially around the area where my mother grew up - Prairie Farm, WI.

Well, like usual I wanted to get as far as I could. Ended up riding with my head lamp on and it was raining.

Oh yes, I did prepare!

Note:
(I did not have a place to carry gear on this bike, like a tent or sleeping bag, so what I did was buy a little backpack. Also bought an eight by eight light tarp which I would use for a tent and put as much warm clothing as I had in the pack, along with some food. )

Ended up that I did not have to camp in the rain. A guy came along and gave me a lift to a motel just down the road. Very nice! See, by planning ahead and camping outside Cumberland yesterday, I figured I coud afford this night in a motel. Besides, it's raining!

Biking went well, although my knee is quite swollen, will need to ice it!

June 8 - Mountains of WV to Parkersburg by Bike

Feel good this morning. Knee is a whole lot better. Off and pedaling at around 6:00A.M. and hoping to make it to Parkersburg by late afternoon. Weather is good and very little wind.

Funny how when you wonder how things are going to go when you're not sure you made the right decision. Well this has been a good decision. Riding in this mountain country is beautiful and definitely not as difficult as people made it out to be. Maybe they were just being nice and not saying, "You're too old to be riding a little bike across the mountain." One of my faults, I guess, is when I hear the word "can't" I usually try!

I arrived in Parkersburg around 3:00. From Clarksburg to Parkersburg it was mainly downhill and my little bike just flew. Must say I did get a lot of funny looks from the cars going by. I was wondering what they were thinking. I'm sure they were wondering who the idiot was riding that little bike!

I brought my gear over to Belpre, OH to Dave's Marine by pedaling the 3 miles to the Ohio River. Lots of strange looks from passing cars and pedestrians as I worked my way down main street Parkersburg!

Dave is very nice and said he'd keep my gear safe until I planned to go on, which I'm thinking will be in a couple of days. I need to rest a little and get the swelling down in my knee.

Back to the motel and rest.

June 9 - Parkersburg Library

I got up this morning feeling a whole lot better than I thought. Knee swelling is way down. Even did a bunch of situps and push ups.

Just got a call from the local TV station. I'm meeting them at 1:00 P.M. at Dave's Marine.

Remember yesterday when I said I was planning on resting for a couple of days? Well, maybe the next town. It gets boring sitting around (trail friends know what I'm talking about). So after doing these entries and meeting with the TV station I will lazily work my way down river and set up camp early!

While I'm sitting in the library I was surprised to see Art Hilley at another computer. Art was one of the leaders of the youth group I met just west of Little Orleans. He works for Pressley Ridge. Nice to see him again. He thanked me for taking the time to talk with his group. They all were excited to get home and check out my website.

Time to get some supplies and rest a little before we tackle the Ohio!

June 9 - Parkersburg - More Thanks

In my June 2 post, I mentioned special thanks to the people that have helped me out.
I also want to thank all the people I've met so far. Thanks for taking the time
to talk and letting me take a picture. I hope they will be up in a couple of
weeks. Although I need a favor, if you could send me a comment or email
me at: bearhoff44@yahoo.com. I will attach your name and a comment to
your picture. (I'm bad with names and I erased the names I had on the little
recorder I'm carrying!)

A very good trip so far and looking ahead to the Ohio and really seeing what my Kruger Canoe can do in water. It wasn't bad on land!!!

Note: My website is still a work in progress. In a couple of weeks it will be cleaned up, pictures added and more friendly to use.

I'M OFF FOR THE NEXT LEG.

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The generosity of these companies contributed to making a successful adventure...

Balance Bar

The Atlantic to Pacific Journey was greatly helped by a generous grant from Balance Bar.

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Jeff Foster Trucking

Jeff Foster Trucking, Inc. provides national top quality transportation services.  The corporate office is located in Superior, WI.

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ZRE Racing Equipment

"Faster, Lighter, Stronger, Better" high performance canoe paddles from Zaveral Racing Equipment.

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Bass Pro Shops

World's Leading Supplier of Premium Outdoor Gear

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Very Special Thanks

Rich Designs of Superior WI for my "Atlantic to Pacific" decal!!!

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Spectators 

A great place owned by my friend Pat Paquette.