I have a detailed trip report elsewhere in the blog for this same tour that I took in 2016, which remains my favorite off-road trip to date. In contrast, I didn’t have nearly as much good to say about the first time I took it in 2012, which was colored by my inexperience, bike problems, and poor weather. But recently, browsing through my photos brought back a number of good memories and, at this point 8 years later, I remembered more of the good times and have mostly forgotten the negative details.
For completeness, I decided that I should do a look-back post on it. Unfortunately, I have forgotten nearly all the names and details of the other riders, as well as the exact identification of many of the locations. So this will be more of a photo-essay with a few comments thrown in, but I did take more time to get some good photos than I tended to do on later trips when I was in more of a hurry.
Day 1 – June 10, 2012: New Boston to Ohiopyle
The 6-day trip doesn’t start at the actual beginning of the Great Allegheny Passage trail, but instead in the small town of New Boston, at the start of the more rural and interesting parts of the trail. This was my first trip to Ohiopyle and I stayed at one of the only hotels in town, then was up early to start the 50-mile first leg of the journey.
The normal overnight spot in Ohiopyle is the Trillium Lodge, located up in the Laurel Highlands and owned by Wilderness Voyageurs. However, on this night it had been rented out by a private party and we were instead given rooms in town at the same hotel that I had stayed in the night before. If I had known about this change beforehand, I wouldn’t have bothered moving out of my room this same morning!
An outdoor buffet-style dinner was prepared for us in a pavilion at Voyageurs HQ and afterward we were free to wander around town (ice cream and other goodies easy to come by) and turn in for the night.
Day 2 – June 11: Ohiopyle to Frostburg, MD
The second day was another 50+ mile trek along the GAP trail, ending at the town of Frostburg a little way past the Eastern Continental Divide. We followed a couple of different rivers most of the way with a number of nice stopping points and things to see along the way.
Unfortunately, after we got to the hotel, we heard that one of our number had fallen inside the Big Savage Tunnel and had broken her wrist. The crew had handled the situation and she was on her way home to Pittsburgh, but surprisingly she rejoined a couple days later — not riding — so she could enjoy the rest of the tour with her group of friends.
The Hotel Gunter is truly a unique, funky place and is described in more detail with photos in my 2012 story. That evening, the guides drove us to a local restaurant for a provided dinner. Ominously, it was raining the whole time, which didn’t look promising for the next day’s very long ride onto the C&O Canal trail.
Day 3 – June 12: Frostburg to Hancock, MD
This was scheduled as the longest day of the tour: 70+ miles simply due to a lack of other options along the route. It started with a long downhill run to Cumberland, MD and the start of the C&O Canal Towpath trail, with a light drizzle still hanging around after the previous night’s rain. As we found out, this did not bode well for conditions along the C&O, which were simply one dirty puddle after another with few options to avoid them.
Our lodging for the night was in the Colonial Inn, which is some distance off the trail in Berkeley Springs, WV. It was the nicest place we had stayed so far, and I felt bad about having to wash off all of my muddy riding gear in the bathtub and hoped that all the grit went down the drain.