Mountain Thunder

This is a trip I’ve thought about taking for quite a while, so when Donna called to ask it I’d like to do it this past weekend I jumped at the chance. Who wouldn’t want to take a train ride and bicycle in the cool mountain air of Western Maryland? And do some Geocaching along the way. Wow, a Triple Delight (sorry Chinese restaurants, this is the real thing!)

Starting early in the morning to load bicycles, but when I checked the GPS I found that I had left it turned on the day before when I was giving an intro to Geocaching, so new batteries were added to the list of things to do somewhere along the trip. We arrived in Cumberland, MD with plenty of time to spare. We unloaded the bikes, and got them onto the baggage car for transport to Frostburg about 18 rail/trail miles away, and a few hundred feet higher. The grade actually is about a 2.5% grade. I had ridden it once before – both ways – and i can tell you that from Frostburg to Cumberland is way easier than the other way ’round.

Batteries were in very short supply at the shops in the train station in Cumberland so the prospect of Caching on the way down dimmed a bit, but I was sure I could find some in Frostburg (yes I did).

Promptly at 11:00 the train started it’s run, with a live (not recorded) narration done by a native of the area. The weather that was forecast to be in the 70s slowly turned lots warmer, so staying in the air conditioned cars was the best choice. I spent a few minutes in the baggage car (or should it be called the Bicycle Car) where we had open sides. Smoke, Soot, Cinders, and hot air was constantly flowing so when we came to the Brush Tunnel (914′ long) everyone headed for closed cars.

After unloading the bicycles in Frostburg I headed across the street where Mountain Thunder, the pet name for the engine, a Baldwin 2-8-0 built in 1916 ) was on the electric driven turntable getting ready for the return trip.

Donna and I had a quick lunch then started our ride while the temperature started rising. probably into the high 80s if not into the low 90s. On the way we found 6 caches. The bike ride from Frostburg to Cumberland is about 16 miles (so says my GPS) and all of it is downhill. It is easy to maintain a speed over 12mph and at most times approach 16 or more, this is without really working.

All in all, this was a good break from Kayaking, and any uphill bicycling and a way to find a few caches without having to bushwhack into the forest.


About Mike

I'm an avid bicyclist, that also enjoys Kayaking, Nature Photography, Cross Country Skiing and Geocaching. There's nothing more boring than sitting indoors in "good" weather.
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