Monday, July 18, 2005

On the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Tow Path

So, insanity not withstanding, I've been training this summer to run in the St. George Marathon in southwestern Utah this fall. Once a week I do a long run/walk and I've been doing this on the C&O Canal Tow Path, which is just across the river from Virginia and the District of Columbia on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. It's a beautiful, historic path that once served as an interstate waterway between the Chesapeake Bay and Ohio River in the mid-19th century.

On Sunday, my run took me to Widewater, just above Angler's Inn and right below the Great Falls Visitors Center. Along the way, I saw 35 geese, 8 blue herons, 4 white tailed deer, and one beaver, as well as a bunch of frogs in various states of growth and a host of spiders. (Incidentally, the tow path, which is surrounded by water on two sides--the fast-moving river and the slow-flowing canal--is devoid of Asian Tiger Mosquitoes and, hence, free from the annoyance and pain of being eaten alive by these netherworldly beasts whose sting can leave a bruise and inflict West Nile virus.)

I was a good hour into my run before I ran into another human being, which was particularly nice. And the views at Widewater were breathtaking. The canal opens up into this extra large pond that features rock outcrop islands with trees and foilage. The banks are lined with all manner of deciduous varieties that in the Fall will explode into a phalanx of colors to rival any fireworks display. The area is tranquil and has an underlying oriental characteristic that is reminiscent of fine Chinese or Japanese wood cuts and water colors. It made the pain of running in the heat and humidity worth every tortured step!

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