The Adventures of Platy and the Gang


2003 Volume 15
August 23, 2003
C&O Canal-- part 2


0n 8/17 we returned to Maryland and the campground we had stayed at before going to Pennsylvania. We set up camp and I started to dump the holding tanks. The campground in Penn. didn't have a dump station and since the sites here were full hook-up we waited until we arrived. I pulled the handle to empty the black water tank and the hose started leaking. Since it normally doesn't do this, I shut it off, checked the connections and tried again. It still leaked. When checking the connection again I noticed that the hose was full. The sewer line was stopped up!!!
Now I had a 3 inch hose 5 feet long full of toilet water and no way to drain it. I was not a happy camper. After some fancy work with a bucket and by carefully removing the hose I was able to make the most of a bad situation. With bleach and the water hose I was able to clean up the small amount that spilled. We still had full tanks and no way to take a shower. The office was closed but luckily there was another open site. We were able to move and reset up. I stopped in the office on the way out the next morning and told them about the problem. The lady said it has happened before and that someone keeps filling the drain up with rocks. She said she would like to find out who. I said "Me too!!"


mud hole The next morning we dropped off the car next to the canal at lock 53 and took the RV to Williamsport to start biking. The towpath conditions can vary according to where you are. If you are near an access point where people use it often, then they maintain it. If you are traveling the entire length you find areas that are not maintained at all. We encountered several trees that had fallen across the path and hundreds of mud holes like this picture. There hadn't been a ranger or maintenance truck through some places in weeks. I guess it is too muddy for them. We talked to local people along the way who say that they report conditions to the Park but that nothing ever happens. We did see them building a new parking lot close to the headquarters office but in the 10 days we were on the path we saw one ranger and no maintenance being done by park personnel. There was a contractor repairing an aquaduct but it looked like it was an outside contract. All in all this is the worst maintained trail we have been on.
This is the website for the Park Service:

dam tree

At one of the dams we met a man from Los Angeles who had started biking in Pittsburg and was tenting in the hiker/biker campgrounds located every 5-6 miles.

The section below Williamsport has a 5 mile detour on the road because the towpath was washed out years ago and not repaired. Judy was zooming along in front of me when there was a loud bang as she blew a tire. I carry a spare tube so we stopped in someone's front yard and changed it. As I was pumping it up I noticed a bulge in the sidewall of the tire. We had no spare tire. I let out enough air to ease the bulge but she had to ride on a mostly flat tire so it wouldn't blow again. We were 15 miles into a 30 mile day so we had to go on. We made it and on the way back to the RV we stopped at 3 places before we found a store that carried her type of tire.
Brunswick We stayed for 4 days at the Brunswick City Campground. It's located between the canal and the Potomac River. We parked the RV so that we had a view out the front of the river. We actually had to drive 1/2 mile on the towpath to get to the campground. It's the only place along the entire length that cars are allowed.
Brunswick is a big railroad town. There is a railyard that at one time was the largest in the US. There is also a station for commuter trains to Washington. We had to cross all of this to get to the campground. It made for great train watching but was inconvienient if they were switching when you needed to cross. They have a railroad and canal museum in town that has a very large model train layout. It depicts the actual train line from Washington to Brunswick.

model train

This is a picture of the section showing Brunswick and the railyard.

This is their website:

We finished the canal on 8/21 but stayed one more day to do our sightseeing. On 8/23 we left for Grayson Highlands State Park in Virginia. We will meet Ken and Phyllis Weber there and do some hiking and biking and check out the wild ponies.

Return to 2003 index