GAP Trail – Slice of Day 2 – Conclusion

Great Allegheny Passage – Operation Second Chance – Day 2

Ohiopyle PA to Cumberland MD – the trail end.

The day for most of us started very early. Communal living in Ohiopyle means someone is up making the coffee at 5:30AM – and some else wakes to the smell of that coffee. For those of us lucky enough to have breakfast in the rented homes it meant – we did not have to wander down to Falls Market for a bite to eat.

All of us Flight 1 (slower riders) and Flight 2 (rabbits) were up for the early morning photo down at the falls. Morning newscasts from the burgh indicated fog – they were right. It was foggy, damp and cool all the way up the Yough and Casselman Rivers. Sun light broke some 2 hours after we left Ohiopyle, on the western slopes along the B&O rail line – we road in morning shade on the Western Maryland rail line.

The morning light finally brightened us at Rockwood, PA in more ways than we’d count on. For me it was my epiphany, it brought home why the “alumni” rode.

The Rockwood American Legion Post 279 set up our first break of the day after climbing some 900 feet in altitude. Carbohydrates, chocolates, Gatorade – we loved it.

Paul got to the top early and was able to chat up a young vet, Dustin Tressler from Iraq who was standing off to the side of the legion members staffing the break table, all were mostly Vietnam era vets. One by one riders engaged all vets. Mary from Calgary, ever quiet at a distance, was able to listen in on the young Iraq vet’s conversation. Dustin was wearing a Purple Heart. Mary determine that what brought him here today was his need to talk through his experiences with those that would listen while the older vets who had years of experience talking through their time worked the table.

I walked up to Dustin, interrupting John, another rider, to take a picture and to ask his name. It was then I learned that had received 2 Purple Hearts for injuries received in 2003 and 2005. He was first shot in the knee and and then in his second tour injured by a road side bomb. I thanked him for his service turned and then choked up while that vet stood there waiting to chat up the next rider. Just then the older vets called out to him to join them at the table for a photo. Lisa W, was already setting up the shot and got for me was the most meaningful photo of this ride (I will get Lisa’s photo to upload to the blog). Brothers in arms, age did not matter – it was their experiences that joined them at Rockwood.

After a salute to the late Mr Sembower, a trail manager at Rockwood, it was off to Meyersdale.

The day from that point on was glorious as we saw western Pennsylvania transitioning into a colorful display of early fall foliage.

Lunch was in Meyersdale PA and my training partner in Vienna, VA who to my surprise was tracking my progress on a GPS iPhone app wrote me that I was too long in Meyersdale (G.I. Cafe) on break. Life, is one slice at time – especially in Meyersdale. I never did get that loaded hamburger.

Leaving Meyersdale next stop would be the Easter Continental Divide, altitude 2400 feet. From Ohiopyle we had rode up 1100 feet to the divide. Once over the top it was 23 miles, a downhill drop of 1900 feet to Cumberland MD.

Tonight – is laundry night with a bite to eat at the Baltimore Grill. Should you find yourself in Cumberland try the Shrimp et Toufe – laissez les bons temps rouler.

It will roll tomorrow at 7AM for 90 miles to Hagerstown MD