Cumberland Gap

Waxing Gibbous Moon

When I reached the Schoolhouse Kitchen in Oldtown yesterday, I was quite burned out. My gear was wet. My legs were weak. My mind was fuzzy. I was feeling very much like a frumpy senior citizen – I wanted to rest and there was no place legal to do it.

Then my new best friend Rita came to the rescue. She offered to drive me 10 miles to Cumberland where I could rent a room and rehabilitate myself. She was going there anyway and she refused my offer of gas money. There is a place reserved in trail angel heaven for Rita whenever she is ready to go.

All I had to do was figure out a ride back to Oldtown for this morning with a full stomach and a dry kit. That’s where the Cumberland Gap comes in.

Cumberland is a fairly large town for these parts. It is also the terminus of two great trails – the C&O Canal Towpath and the Great Allegheny Passage which goes all the way to Pittsburg.


The downtown area is experiencing a rebirth of sorts with a pedestrian mall and some nice public art.


But I failed to conjure up a reciprocal Rita, if you will. I couldn’t find a ride back to Oldtown and I did not want to walk the 17.5 miles east on the Towpath to get me there. One of my cardinal rules: don’t look back.

So I turned around and started to walk toward Keyser WV, 21 miles away. Keyser is 24 miles from Oldtown using the ADT route. The three-mile difference is basically a wash in terms of mileage. But clearly there is a “gap” in my coast to coast walk now. I don’t know if there really is such a thing as a “purist” in the hiking world but, full disclosure, you heard it here first, I am not one. I am stubborn, but I’m not a fool. Stay flexible. Flow. The touring strollerist abides.

After about 10 miles on Hwy 220, I found the Diplomat Inn, another floozy trap of a cheap motel where I am flopping tonight. I will do a double nero to get to Keyser tomorrow, then zero there to recharge my batteries for the six-day surge over the mountains to Clarksburg. My goal is to reach Parkersburg, on the West Virginia/Ohio border, in two weeks, but that might be a stretch. We shall see.

Highlight from today? I stopped to eat at a BBQ stand in Cresaptown, answered all the questions regarding Reach Across America and what I am trying to do, and received a delicious lunch on the house. Feeling humble and grateful.

Peace, Love, Brisket, and Floozy Traps,

3 thoughts on “Cumberland Gap

  1. Lovely Rita…thank heavens she showed up…”Oh, lovely Rita meter maid
    Where would I be without you?” Feeling guilty sitting here in the comforts of my home in sunny San Juan but confident in your flexibility and stubbornness to muster up and carry on. Happy trails.


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