We finished the GAP trail and headed onward to the Montour and Panhandle trails, our gateway to West Virginia. Amenities were sparse in the early part of the trail, forcing us to stealth camp our first night in West Virginia. That’s the term for camping without a legitimate campsite. Sometimes there’s just no choice.
We skulked out of camp early the next morning and headed over the two-mile climb down to the Ohio River where we stopped at a cafe for breakfast. To our dismay, we discovered that Cafés in WV are gambling establishments with poker machines and no food. Now we know!
With not much food in our bellies, we continued down the bike path to Wheeling, WV where the absence of people immediately struck us. It felt as though we were in a post-apocalyptic town. Despite that, a rest day was in order, and Wheeling WV was the place. We booked a room in the once grand McClure Hotel where presidents have stayed. The locals told us about the town’s history over a few beers. It turns out that Wheeling was once a vibrant town before its industry fell on hard times — not an uncommon story.
After our much-needed rest day, we left Wheeling and started climbing the tough, steep hills of eastern Ohio. Did I mention more rain? The forecast called for days of rain, yet we managed to dodge most of it. Just as we rolled into our home for the night in Senecaville Lake Marina Campground, the rains moved in. Fortunately, we were nice and dry under a covered restaurant deck, enjoying dinner and beer. When it was time to pay the check, our server told us that our bill was paid! Apparently, a nearby table overheard us talking about our adventure, picked up our tab and left without saying a thing. We couldn’t even thank them.
The steep hills continued – so steep that we had to walk our bikes up the steepest portions of a few climbs. As the hills became less steep, the rain became more steady. There’s always something when you’re bike touring. As we sat in a restaurant, on the verge of hypothermia, contemplating a wet Campground, we decided to rent a small cabin at Buckeye Lake. Good call! We blasted all three heaters until the chill was gone. The weather was good for the next few days, so we put in some long days and took advantage of Ohio’s very nice state parks — Deer Creek, Caesar’s Creek and Hueston Woods. We woke up on Wednesday morning and crossed the state line into Indiana! Goodbye Ohio.