This is an article for anyone who loves the outdoors, and is interested in an amazing way to see the State of Maryland.
Our Troupe2Cali trip began as a thru hike on The American Discovery Trail. The ADT starts in Delaware and ends in California. We jumped on at Point of Rocks, Lock 29 along the C & O Canal for our trip. In seven days, we walked 70 miles with 50lbs on our back.
How difficult is the C & O?
Not. At. All!! The majority of the trail is flat level, or slightly downhill (if headed west). It only started getting steep towards our last two days trekking. Other than that, it is mostly paved, with plenty of space for two lane hikers/bikers.
Where did we sleep?
We actually did half and half lodging and camping. However, the C & O had plenty of HBO’s within very close distance for safe sleeping. There were often other campers as well, so we were rarely alone. While camping, we often slept Army style, with one of us facing the others’ feet. This allowed for more space and comfort. We also had a small USB desk fan that we hung from the top of the tent to cool us off. All in all, it wasn’t that bad.
How did we eat?
In preparation for the trip, we packed a lot of snacks from home. The day of the trip, we were lucky to have some burgers leftover that my cousin Matias gave us. Our first night we stayed at a campground and got hot dogs from the local store. Our second night we made Mac and cheese on the grill with our pot. The third night we walked to a Burger King up the street. The fourth night we had leftover cheeseburgers and granola. The fifth night we had a pizza. The sixth day was a rest day for us so we carb loaded. We went to the local store and got fruit, milk, and pasta for dinner. We also restocked on food for the rest of the trip. The seventh night we bought some eggs from the local store and made scrambled eggs with rice. We had that with toast, and it was delicious. The next morning we had poached eggs for breakfast. The eighth night we boiled hot dogs in water. We made things work with what we had. There were a few times we wished we had more food, but we were always fine.
How did we keep our electronics charged?
We actually had a numerous amount of power sources. We each carried a BioLite 5 solar panel on our packs. They could each get our phone to about 80% charge. We also had a solar powered radio and camp lantern. Both of those ALSO doubled as power banks. On top of all of these, we each had actual power banks. We usually charged these at campgrounds with bath houses, or when we did lodging. This may seem excessive, but we had a lot of things we needed charged. Two phones, two watches, two AirPods, two headlamps, a GoPro, an iPad, and the USB fan we keep running all night. Yikes!
How did we do it?
Determination, trust, & a positive attitude. Making jokes, singing to our favorite songs, makes you forget that your body is killing you. We were lucky to share supplies, so we could share the weight as well. For example, one of us carries the tent and the other takes the stove.
What did we see?
Along the C & O, the possibilities are endless. There are many Locks and Lock Houses. These were often family operated, and an important feature of the canal. We passed by a number of aqueducts as well. It was really cool to see the ones of different towns. The flora and fauna are incredible. From caves, to deer, to groundhogs, to dragonflies. There’s a little bit of everything on the C & O.
Why did we stop trekking?
As COVID worsened, campgrounds started shutting back down. Our journey along the C & O was coming to a close, and we were no longer going to be in areas near civilization. The cities we could pass through had comments all over Google saying things such as “if you’re not white don’t come to this town”. Not wanting to take risks, we decided to continue our Troupe2Cali through bus tour instead. Luckily, we were already prepared while trekking with plenty of hand sanitizer and face masks.
Would we do it again?
In a heartbeat. There is something so special oak about connecting with the forest. You learn to speak the language of the trees, the wildlife acknowledges you and dances around you. The people are kinder then I’ve ever seen. The C & O Canal is the perfect mix of history and natural beauty.