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Trek along canal continues

April 25, 2004|By PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Cottonless socks and shoes that are too big are two tips hikers trekking the C&O Canal on Saturday said have saved their feet during their commemorative hike in honor of Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas' efforts 50 years ago to save the towpath on which they walked.

Moleskins for blister repair, water for hydration and candy are dropped off by bike patrols to ease the pain felt by the 68 members of the C&O Canal Association, who on Saturday marked their seventh day of walking in honor of Douglas' efforts in 1954 to save the canal from being paved and turned into a highway.

The hikers began their 184.5-mile hike in Cumberland, Md., on April 18 and will end their trip May 1 in Georgetown in Washington, D.C.

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Passing by Dam No. 5 near Clear Spring Saturday, walkers stopped off at the stone barrier between the dam and the path to take in the warm April air.

"The blisters and the foot aches are numbing, but the spirit and the conversation makes us soar," said an energized Stacey FitzSimmons of Chevy Chase, Md.

FitzSimmons, 53, said she is the fifth youngest in the group of walkers, whose ages range from 38 to 90. She said the average age of women on the walk is 61 and the average age of men is 66.

Keeping their spirits up, walkers joked about their hiking trip by comparing the number of blisters on their feet.

"How many people are losing toenails?" FitzSimmons asked her friends, taking a break by the dam. She said that she's on the verge of losing one of hers.

"'These are the times that try men's (soles),'" chimed Gill Hill, 68, of Washington.

Hill said that the group talks and sings and "sometimes curses the weather and our feet."

Gary Petrichick, of Belmont, N.Y., said he's 661â

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