Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Pickin’ Up Trash on Level 52

The View from Sideling Hill Creek Aqueduct

We spend a lot of time volunteering on the C&O Canal between the Sideling Hill and Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueducts, and our little section has turned into a home-away-from-home over the past couple of years. We headed to good ol’ Level 52 with a bit of trepidation today because of the recent passing of Hurricane Irene and a relatively significant earthquake that occurred about a week earlier.

'You can't see me!'


Hero in a Half Shell...He was ready for a fight!

 

 

Fortunately, all of the local canal structures stood up the the jolt of the ‘quake, and the thirsty ground soaked up the biggest part of the recent rain. Instead of a soggy mess, we found a relatively dry towpath, and several animals were at play in the park.

 

 

 

'I wonder who was playing here?'


Kickin' Sticks

 

 

Most of the time, the hikers and bikers in the park keep things pretty clean, and today wasn’t any different. We filled two kitchen garbage bags with trash and kicked a few fallen limbs out of the way of the bicyclists.

 

 

 

A plastic bowl? This gives the expression, 'Breakfast on the go,' a whole new meaning!

Another View from Level 52

 

 

In fact, as I think back on today’s hike, I can only muster one major complaint: the gnats were out in droves, and the Deep Woods Off didn’t serve as much of a deterrent! If anybody knows of a method or product that holds these pests at bay, feel free to leave a comment!

 

 

The Bat Cave...I mean, Bat Gate!

 

 

Also, the bat gate project at the Indigo Tunnel appears to be completed. Our last post on this topic shows a large empty hole in the middle of the gate, but I’m pleased to announce that the doors have since been added. In all, it was a beautiful and satisfying day to take a hike in the C&O Canal NHP!

 

 

 

 

 

A Perfect Day!

Indigo Tunnel: Extending the WMRT

Check out the new bat gate

No, there isn’t a bright-eyed monster hiding out in the Indigo Tunnel, but these shiny orbs did have us worried for a minute or two.  Fortunately, there is a simple explanation–the lights are from contractors working on the Indigo Tunnel Bat Gate Project.    The Western Maryland Rail Trail is eventually going to be extended to Paw Paw, and the first phase is closing the Indigo Tunnel to human usage.  The tunnel is reported to be Maryland’s largest bat hibernaculum, and it houses an endangered species.  Upon closer inspection, there is a newly-constructed steel grate just inside of the portal, and doors will be positioned in the blank space in order to keep out those pesky human intruders–with the exception of biologists.  Bats are susceptible to a disease known as white-nose syndrome, and contact with people can be lethal.  At one time, the rail trail was going to go through the tunnel, but upon it’s completion, it will have a short detour on the C&O Canal Towpath in order to bypass this man-made bat cave.

 

Another Ride…

Preparing to ride the C&O as a three day trip is almost as difficult as the journey itself. It takes lots of miles of training to get ready, but we’re lucky that there’s plenty of great scenery and history to explore in the process. With that in mind, we decided to take a 40 mile (round trip) ride between Pearre Station and the Paw Paw Tunnel. The area between mile markers 137 and 156 have been described as being among the most scenic and secluded on the towpath, so let’s get started…

One of the Views from Level 52

A Strong Foundation!


In case you’ve missed the About Us page, we’re members of the C&O Canal Association, and we volunteer on what is known as Level 52, which lies between the Sideling Hill Creek and Fifteen Mile Creek Aqueducts. Here’s where we started. The usual 4.5 mile walk to Little Orleans takes a while, but on a bike it goes quickly. We decided that we felt pretty strong at that point and pressed on toward the tunnel.

Relaxing in the Sun!

A Little Color on the Trail...

'Water Fall' at the Paw Paw Tunnel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For those who haven’t heard, there’s talk of extending the Western Maryland Rail Trail from Pearre Station to Paw Paw, and the proposed route would go through two tunnels and cross the Potomac six times. We didn’t get a look at the tunnels, but it’s easy enough to spot where the trail will be crossing the river. Several high abandoned railroad bridges can be spotted from the towpath, and when everything is finished, the WMRT will–perhaps–be the premier rails-to-trails bike route in the eastern U.S.

'Peanut Butter on Toast'

All of that is in the future, but for now the C&O has plenty to offer. Fortunately, we caught the old canal bed during the wet period, and the area didn’t lack in either turtle sightings or beaver sign. Perhaps the most spectacular remnant of the recent rains is the waterfall near the Paw Paw Tunnel. It doesn’t get a whole lot better than this stretch of the canal, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing it again in June!

'King of the Road'!