In a Dos Equis commercial, the most interesting man in the world is asked about fanny packs, and his response is less than flattering: “You lost me at the word fanny.” However, when hitting the trail and volunteering on the C&O Canal, one can’t juggle two bottles of water, a saw, a small notebook, etc. Actually, the pack comes in pretty handy, and I can’t say that anybody has made fun of me yet. At least not as I’ve heard. On this particular occasion, there was a vine hanging at about eye level over the towpath. It was an easy fix. really, life is a series of easy fixes, and volunteering makes me feel pretty good at the end of the day.
I suppose the first thing that I’d like to stress is that the C&O Canal NHP is a trash free park, and every plastic bottle, candy wrapper, MRE container, and empty propane cylinder has to be carried for up to five miles and then taken home and put out on the curb with the rest of the trash.
On the other hand, Candee and I (and dozens of other volunteers) spend a lot of time in the park, and being locals, our detail allows us the opportunity to give something back. Besides, we received a good-looking free hat from the C&O Canal Association and a pin from the National Park Service. Pretty cool, huh?
Today, we ran into Chuck and Michele from Mt. Airy, Maryland, and they were having a bit of a problem. They parked at the Fifteen Mile Creek Campground and paddled downstream to Indigo Neck with their camping gear, but the Potomac River wasn’t being cooperative as they tried to paddle upstream. Finally, they had to give up and carry their gear up the towpath.
Candee and I decided that we should help, and that led to a pleasant half-hour conversation as we toted some of their gear back to their car. Like most people who enjoy outdoor recreation, we had plenty to talk about, and at the end of the line, they shared a couple of cokes with us.
There was a time a few years ago when we were biking many miles away from Hancock when one of us got a flat tire. Our handy-dandy CO2 pump failed us, but a few minutes later, a man rode up to us and offered the use of his pump. I offered him a token of my appreciation, but he answered by saying, “Pay it forward.”
We’ve had a few opportunities to do just that since, and we’ve benefited from a little help from some friends too. That’s the way it is on a rough trail that’s hard on tires–or a temperamental river that sometimes has a mind of its own.
Know what though? After a second look, that fanny pack does look pretty ridiculous, and I’m thinking that the Dos Equis guy might have a point.
Oh, well. At the end of the day we picked up two bags of garbage and removed several hanging snags from the trees. At the end of the trail, we were surprised to see that the improvements being made at the Fifteen Mile Creek Campground have reached a standstill. I’ve since heard that it’s a joint project of the NPS and the State of Maryland, and at the moment money is pretty tight. Hopefully, the funds will be available soon.
Most people work pretty hard and deserve a bit of recreation when the weekend comes. Anyway, at the end of the day we were able to look back on a good walk. We met some interesting people and contributed to the greater good of the C&O Canal. Mission accomplished.