C&O Canal Towpath, MD – DC
Mar 10-11, 2018
1128’s March trip was chosen by the PCL to be a bicycling trip. Now we all love bicycling but early March was asking the Scouting gods for a bit much as temps and weather could be very nice or down right nasty. As luck would have it the day time temps were perfect for a ride along the C&O canal whilst the over nite temps treated all the scouts with temps of 25F thereby earning many the Polar Bear badge or another snowflake.
The trip was a hybrid car camping trip as logistically we had to move 40 bikes, gear, patrol kits, scouts and scouters to the start from Andrew Chapel and from the finish to Andrew Chapel as well as to the camping location. In addition, in order to ensure a pleasant experience for all, mandatory bike safety checks were held with help from The Bike Lane service van and bikes@vienna. A good number of scouts bought new bikes as their current bike was simply too small. The rental truck was loaded Friday nite with gear and bikes allowing a quick departure Saturday morning.
Saturday morning we took head count and headed north to White’s Ferry – a short boat ride across the Potomac to the ride start at Mile 35 on the historic C&O canal. The patrols were staged and sent out every 5-10 minutes. The first day’s mileage was to be 24 miles ending at Marsden Camp ground just down river of Great Falls. All the patrols arrived around the same time, 2pm, meaning they spent about 4-5 hours in the saddle. The truck arrived and just like the landing of D-Day, gear and food were delivered to the campsite. Water however was an issue as NPS hadn’t turned on the faucets yet so an ASM and some Scouts went in search of water, finally finding some at a local fire station. Fortunately and unfortunately, embers were still hot from the previous site occupants. It made for a quick start to our fire but was certainly a dangerous thing to do on the part of someone. Dinner was made and the rest of the evening was spent around the fire to keep warm as it was going to be a cold nite.
Sunday morning came around with frost on tents and backpacks. A quick hot meal was had, camp was broken down, gear delivered to the truck and patrols set out on the final 11 miles to Georgetown. Patrols all arrived within 20 minutes of each other and began the trek across the Key bridge and the awaiting truck. Bikes were loaded up and everyone headed back to Andrew Chapel.
A successful trip was had with a flat tire being the only mechanical. A few adjustments were made on the trail but nothing major. The weather was perfect for riding and we avoided bad weather on the previous and following weekends, but May is still a better time to hold a bike trip.
Thanks to Mr Wolfe for all the logistics with the van and all the ASMs and parents who joined in on a great bike ride.