- Nate Gernert
GAP and C&O Ride
This past September there was a group of 7 of us that rode from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. I am a little partial to this trail since I grew up fairly close to it and get to ride a short portion of it every Summer. This is a 335 mile continuous off road trail (rail-to-trails) that runs the entire way between the two cities. This summer provided a few challenges with the record rainfall along almost the entire trail. We managed to have great weather the entire way, unless you factor in the high humidity and temps above 90 each day. Everyone that we saw along the trail told us that this was about the only week they had all summer without rain. The trail from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, Maryland is an old railroad bed and it is a smooth surface that drains very well. The views are incredible as we followed a river through the industrial landscape of Pittsburgh. We crossed many old railroad bridges over other active railroad tracks and also rivers. We passed an active steel mill and even an amusement park and water park. The first day is highlighted by leaving the bustle of an active city behind and entering the countryside of Southwestern PA. We camped our way across the trail with the exception of seeking some air conditioning in Harpers Ferry. Many thanks went out to my in-laws for bringing us an amazing lunch on our first day on the trail, and for the rest stop on the way back to Indiana after finishing up our ride.
Along the C&O Canal Towpath, the trail is definitely more remote with only passing through a town about once a day. And even those towns you have to leave the trail to find. The trail conditions also got a lot more muddy and wet. There is a section where one of the original viaducts had washed out in the storms of this past Spring. It is pretty incredible to think about once you see first hand the size of the stones used to build these huge structures. The trail is rich with history and very large turtles. (I wish I had a picture to back this up, but take my word for it. This thing was HUGE!!) We ended our ride back in the bustle of a large city. We had some time at the end to explore some of the sites and monuments that dot the landscape of our nation's capitol city.
We learned many lessons along the way of God's love, His provision, His beautiful creation and the protection that He provided. The discussions that are had on the trail and around the meal tables are always great. It was once again an amazing time to deepen our relationship with Christ. It should never surprise me, but it is always great to see how God shows that He is in control of the plans and details. No matter how much I may stress about weather, conditions or anything like that, God has His plan. His plan is always perfect no matter what happens.