Monday, July 24, 2017


 Taking a hike on our wedding anniversary has become a super cool tradition for Robin and I.  Last year, we found ourselves exploring the waterfalls in Dupont State Forest, North Carolina.  The year before that we explored Grand Bahama Island.  Heck, I even proposed to her after hiking to the top of Tumbling Run in Michaux State Forest.  I love that we both enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and that we take time to make life-long memories.

With Rainbow Falls providing an excellent backdrop...Robin and I pose for a picture on our 4th anniversary -- July 21, 2017

Exploring High Falls in Dupont State Forest, N.C. on our 3rd anniversary -- July 21, 2016

Exploring Grand Bahama Island on our 2nd wedding anniversary -- July 21, 2015

Last week, on our anniversary, Robin and I experienced the awe-inspiring sights of Watkins Glen State Park in New York.  I've been to New York City a few times...Cooperstown with my son a few years ago...but, until last week, I had never been to the Finger Lakes region of the state.  I had seen commercials on tv for the area...but what Robin and I saw while treking through the park was much more than either of us expected.  Honestly...I expected a destination hike.  You know...walk down a trail and check out a waterfall.  What we experienced was nothing short of breathtaking.  

Robin and I began our hike in Watkins Glen State park by descending Couch's Staircase -- July 21, 2017

Merging onto Gorge Trail from Couch's Staircase -- July 21, 2017

Glen Creek in Watkins Glen State Park seen from Point Lookout -- July 21, 2017

Walking along Gorge Trail, Robin and I soon realized that this wasn't going to be an ordinary hike! -- July 21, 2017

Waking towards Cascade Cavern -- July 21, 2017

Inside the Spiral Tunnel -- July 21, 2017

The view of Glen Creek coming out of the Spiral Tunnel -- July 21, 2017

Passing under the Suspension Bridge.  Robin and I crossed the bridge as we left Indian Trail and began making our way back to the parking area -- July 21, 2017

Glen Cathedral -- July 21, 2017

Making our way towards Rainbow Falls -- July 21, 2017

Reaching out to touch the water of Rainbow Falls -- July 21, 2017

Gorge Trail above Rainbow Falls -- July 21, 2017

The top of Jacob's Ladder.  After a brief stop at the rest area, Robin and I took Indian Trail back to the parking area -- July 21, 2017

Indian Trail....because it runs the ridge above the creek it is less populated.  The trail does get a little more rough towards the bottom -- July 21, 2017

David and Robin Raymond in Watkins Glen State Park -- July 21, 2017

With a little guidance from a park ranger near the parking area, Robin and I, map in hand, headed towards Couch's Staircase which lead us straight to Gorge Trail.  As Robin and I walked upstream on Gorge Trail it quickly became obvious to us both that this wouldn't be an ordinary hike and that we weren't just going to see one or two waterfalls.  Over thousands of years, Glen Creek has eroded a nearly 2 mile gorge which descends 400 feet through the park winding us past nineteen waterfalls...each different and spectacular in its own unique way.  The path cut by Glen Creek led us into a Spiral Tunnel, under waterfalls, and through Glen Cathedral...all of which seemingly transported us to some mystical place.  I had never experienced anything like it.  At the end of Gorge Trail we climbed the steps Jacob's Ladder and then back Indian Trail towards the parking area.  The sounds and sights of the Glen Creek making it's way toward the town of Watkins Glenn provided the perfect backdrop for Robin and I as we celebrated our anniversary.  To say that the trails in Watkins Glen State Park are gorgeous doesn't seem to do them justice....but I can't think of a more perfect adjective.  So yeah...this year our anniversary hike was not just was gorgeous.

Yep...all trails do lead to ice cream.  Robin and I stopped the Glen Dairy Bar near Watkins Glen State Park.  The potions were huge...and I mean HUGE!  Nothing like a triple layer orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream cone!  -- July 21, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- July 24, 2017

Robin and I at the top of Tumbling Run in Michaux State Forest.  I had just proposed and she had just made me the happiest man alive -- June 24, 2012

Interested in hiking Watkins Glenn or other parks I've been to?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.  
Also, be sure to check out HIGHPEAKSHIKING.COM!

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from a few of the hikes featured in this post:

Wednesday, July 12, 2017


When I was a child, my parents often would take my brother and I to the water slides at Raystown Lake.  It was always something I looked forward to.  As an adult, I usually make the 2+ hour drive back to Raystown...not for the water slides (I'm not even sure if they are still there)...but to ride the Allegrippis Trail system on the northwest side of the lake.

Dave Raymond riding along Hydo Loop near Raystown Lake -- July 11, 2017

The most important thing I've learned on my four trips to ride Allegrippis is that...with more than thirty miles of trails, created as a series of stacked loops in a collaborative between the Army Corps of of Engineers and the International Mounain Bike Association, and designed specifically for mountain's super easy to get carried away!  Tim found this out first hand when, while riding Ray's Revenge, his tires kicked out from underneath him shooting him a few feet down the embankment.  It's not for a lack of warning...there are signs everywhere cautioning the rider...but I'll admit that as my bike rolled along I found myself easing off of the brakes and allowing the terrain to carry my bike along the perfectly laid out trails.  So...with a smile growing on my face, the trees flying past me, the trail passing underneath my bike, and an appropriate amount of caution in the back of my mind...I allowed myself to get a little carried away.  That's what riding is all about.

"CAUTION DIPS" warns riders on Ridge Trail -- July 11, 2017

Dave Raymond, Tim Sindlinger, Glenn Medice taking a break on Ridge Trail just above Raystown Lake -- July 11, 2017

Tim Sindlinger (front) and Glenn Medice riding Hydo Loop -- July 11, 2017

A few miles out of our way...but a stop at Eat N Treats is a must after riding the Allegrippis Trails.  Glenn Medice at the window picking up his post ride ice-cream -- July 11, 2017

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- July 12, 2017
For more about the Allegrippis Trails be sure to check out my post GET A GRIP.

My father pointing my brother Jake (left) and I in the right direct while riding the water slides at Raystown Lake way back in 1986.

Here's the GARMIN map and stats from my ride on the Allegrippis Trails near Raystown Lake with Tim and Glenn...

Friday, July 7, 2017


Mark and I pushed our ride time back to 9AM yesterday with the hope of hitting a small, rain-free window of time during what was predicted to be a soggy day.  We even decided to change our destination and headed towards Michaux State Forest.  As we got off of the exit ramp of Interstate 81, I noticed a sign for Colonel Denning State Park...pointing in the opposite direction of our destination. Turning to Mark, I asked if there was any riding there.  With no hesitation, and with the rain coming down, Mark turned his car away from Michaux.  It was the beginning of one heck of a day.

I love this pic of Mark...riding in the clouds somewhere on Bower Mountain Road -- July 6, 2017

Colonel Denning State Park is located in Doubling Gap (named for the turn in Blue Mountain as it doubles back on itself)...adjacent to Tuscarora State Forest.  Mark and I used the parking area at Colonel Denning as our starting point...but we spent the bulk of our day mountain biking the miles and miles of fire road in Tuscarora State Forest. In near tropical conditions we turned pedals for almost 30 miles and climbed nearly 4,000 feet.  All along the mountain roads the clouds and fog and rain created surreal views of the forest.  Our ride found us exploring an old CCC Camp, admiring (from a distance) a three foot rattle snake, checking out Doubling Gap Overlook, walking out and into the clouds which engulfed Horsehead Rocks, observing construction of the Keystone Pipeline, and stopping at Dead Man's Curve to paying respects to a CCC working who was killed while helping to construct the very road we were riding on.  For Mark and I, it was the perfect ride on a rainy and humid summer day.  Mark said it best while we were looking at the rattle snake just feet away from Doubling Gap Overlook..."What a day we're having!"  Nothing I could say would have described it better.

Giving my bike a chance to rest after climbing Elk Hill Road -- July 6, 2017

Riding up Bower Mountain Road...seemingly above the clouds -- July 6, 2017

Not being able to see beyond the clouds as I stepped out onto Horsehead Rocks was very eerie -- July 6, 2017

The only thing to see at Doubling Gap Overlook was the rattle snake just a few feet behind us -- July 6, 2017

In 1934, CCC worker Henry Hamerski was accidentally killed when he was run over by a bulldozer while constructing the road.  His body has since been relocated closer to his family in Latrobe, PA -- July 6, 2017

Site of CCC Camp S-55-PA -- July 6, 2017

Mark Lentz and David Raymond pausing before our last descent of the day...2 miles down Elk Hill Road.  It really was an amazing day -- July 6, 2017

Life is a journey...not a  destination.

David A. Raymond -- July 7, 2017

Colonel Denning State Park is named for William Denning...a Revolutionary War Sergeant (no one knows who unofficially gave him the title of Colonel) who manufactured wrought iron cannons for the Continental Army.  William Denning is buried nearby in the Big Spring Presbyterian Church cemetery in Newville, Pennsylvania.  Unfortunately, none of his cannons are still in existence -- July 6, 2017

Here's the GARMIN map and stats from our amazing ride in Tuscarora State Forest:

Friday, June 23, 2017


Just a little less than a month ago I said goodbye to another group of history students.  My parting, end-of-the-school-year advice changes from year to year...but this year it seemed very relevant and well received.  I basically just reminded my students that they only have one life to live.  I asked them to make a commitment over the summer to go outside and watch life through their own eyes...not someone else's life through a screen.  I asked them to go outside and create their own story...don't sit and binge watch someone else's story on Netflix.  Just days after school let out I was completely stoked when I crossed paths with one of my students (on his bicycle) while I was riding Rocky Ridge with Chris Keller.  Personally, I love when parents of my students tag me in photos of super cool places they visit over summer break.  After a year of seemingly non-stop testing (tests, by the way, most adults would have trouble passing) it's great to see kids outside learning, making their own adventures, and living life through their own eyes.


While riding Rocky Ridge County Park with Chris Keller I ran into one of my former students who was on his bike enjoying the park -- May 31, 2017

#NoChildLeftInside applies to my own son, Alex.  He never got into mountain biking...but he loves the outdoors, loves to ride my old road bike, and loves to go for hikes with me.  This pic was taken in Michaux State Forest last summer. -- June 22, 2016

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- June 23, 2017

Be sure to check out H.R.882  - No Child Left Inside Act of 2015 introduced by Representative John P. Sarbanes, D-Md.  The goal of the bill is to provide meaningful outdoor education experiences for students across the country. It's been referred to the sub committee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education and then was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 11, 2015.  Call your local representative to support it.

My brother and I had the notion of #NoChildLeftInside firmly embedded within us by our mother and father. This picture was taken in  Ohiopyle State Park .  Jacob and David Raymond -- November 1980

Here are the GARMIN maps and stats from my ride with Chris at Rocky Ridge and my hike with Alex in Tumbling Run:

Wednesday, June 21, 2017


Visiting Ohiopyle State Park is a tradition that spans generations in my family...and I'm so happy to be able to keep the tradition alive.  It's quite possibly one of the most beautiful State Parks in Pennsylvania.  There's no doubt in my mind that it is probably the most unique of our State Parks.  The beauty and uniqueness of Ohiopyle can be observed around every corner, between every rock, over every rapid, and on every trail.  

After the riding up the most obnoxious hill ever...I took time to take in the view from just outside of Kentuck Campgrounds in Ohiopyle State Park -- June 15, 2017

Thursday morning I was relaxing on the banks of the Youghiogheny River when I decided to stretch my legs, take a walk, and check out the visitor center located near the main falls which makes up the heart of the town.  As I toured the visitor center my attention drifted towards a t-shirt with the words ADVICE FROM OHIOPYLE followed by seven short sentences meant to help you experience and appreciate your time in Ohiopyle.  I think these seven sentences are relevant, not just for Ohiopyle, but anywhere you are on the planet.


It's not hard to find nature in Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania.  The state park contains more than 20,000 acres of rugged forest...with the Youghiogheny River running through the heart of the park.

Taking in the view at Baughman Rocks Overlook before morning mountain bike ride in the Sugarloaf area of the park -- June 13, 2017

Taking things literally...nothing is more refreshing than immersing yourself in the Youghiogheny River after a morning of mountain biking in Ohiopyle -- June 13, 2017


The most relaxing part of my week in Ohiopyle came on Thursday.  After breakfast, I packed up my chair, a cooler, and a good book and headed to the falls area.  Two complete (and uninterrupted) hours of reading with nothing but the sound of the Youghiogheny raging just feet away.

Ohiopyle's name comes from "Ohiopehelle."  A combination of Native American words which translate to: "white, frothy water."  The main falls are all the indication you need that this translation is correct -- June 15, 2017

The spot I chose, just above the falls, to relax near the river and read -- June 15, 2017


You don't have to be on a mountain bike or a raft to enjoy and cherish the wilderness that makes up Ohiopyle.  Midway through our week, I took a nerdy hiking trip with Alex and Devin.  We trekked through an obscure part of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield (just a few miles from Ohiopyle) to see the spot of George Washington's first military encounter...Jumonville Glen.  It's remote, beautiful, and seemingly untouched since young Mr. Washington was there!

Pausing to take in some nerdy history at Jumonville Rocks...part of the Fort Necessity National Battlefield -- June 14, 2017

Alex and I took our first camping trip together back in 2009 when he was 10 years old.  It's become an annual event.  Last week, however, was the first time we had hiked down to Jumonville Rocks since that first trip -- June 14, 2017


After years of sleeping in tents and on the ground...I now opt for a little more creature comforts.  The mini-cabins in the Hickory loop of Kentuck Campgrounds are a perfect home away from home!

Relaxing by the fire and reading a nerdy history book -- June 13, 2017

Alex and I have been camping together since he was ten years old.  It's nice to get away and spend time with him -- June 13, 2017


I've never been one to want to ride "rail trail"...but the mind blowing beauty of the Great Allegheny Passage just took me completely by surprise.  So much so that I had Alex bring his new Go Pro and drone down to the river gorge to get some amazing video.  I will, no doubt, ride this rail trail again.  Can't wait to bring my wife, Robin, here! 

Pausing on the Great Allegheny Passage directly above the Youghiogheny River -- June 13, 2017


Nothing says "finding inspiration around every turn" like a mountain bike trip down (and yes...up) Baughman Trail.  I was able to get out on the trails twice last week.  Riding Sugarloaf and Baughman Trail on Tuesday...and then back to Baughman on Thursday.  The same rocks that line the river in the valley below can be found lining the trails up above.  

Alex took this shot of me as I navigated the final section of Baughman Trail -- June 15, 2017

I'll admit that I was pretty proud of myself for navigating the nearly 800 foot descent of the 2 mile long Baughman Trail.  Alex let me borrow his Go Pro and stabilizer for the ride.  The video I managed to get is amazing. -- June 15, 2017


It's impossible to go to Ohiopyle and not go white water rafting.  I ALWAYS choose White Water Adventure to guide our trip.  They are safe, reliable, and extremely friendly.  Our trip down the lower Yough was super fun because (being the middle of the work week) it only included two rafts.  Our guide, Seth, was great to hang with...and it was awesome to have my step-daughter, Mia, join us for the ride!

Rafting the lower Yough with White Water Adventures.  Left to right:  Alex Raymond, David Raymond, Mia Arnold-Scott, Devin Seiger, and "tour guide" Seth -- June 15, 2017

This amazing video of our week was created by my son Alex Raymond.  Check out his work on YouTube.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, these seven "observations" aren't my own creation.  I really did get the inspiration from a t-shirt in hanging in the Ohiopyle Visitor Center.  It doesn't matter what or who inspires just matters that you are inspired to get out and enjoy the nature and beauty that surrounds all of us.  I'm glad I saw the shirt.

The t-shirt design is credited to Your True Nature.  Check out their website:

Life is a journey...not a destination.

David A. Raymond June 21, 2017

My first trip down the lower Yough with White Water Adventures. helmets in 1995!
Front to back:  Jason Cole, David Raymond, Sean Turner, Beau Henderson, Jacob Raymond

Here are the GARMIN maps and stats from my rides and hikes featured in this post...