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Sunday, August 5, 2018

TROPICAL TRAILS (or...TWO DAYS IN A ROW IN MICHAUX)

Matt, Tim, and I were taking a short breather after finishing one of my favorite rock gardens (near the intersection of Piney Mountain and Slate Roads) in Michaux State Forest when I made a comment about how beautiful the forest was at that moment.  The green of the mountain was totally engulfed in the heavy white clouds that had settled over us.  In all of the years I've been mountain biking in Michaux, I have never ridden it in conditions in which Tim, Matt, and I found ourselves riding in last week...and yeah, it was a blast!

Making a splash in Michaux!  Photo by Tim Sindlinger -- July 31, 2018

For two straight weeks, Central Pennsylvania has been ground zero for more continuous rain than I've ever seen.  The forest, usually bone dry this time of year, was turned into a tropical rain forest...the creeks and streams were raging, the white clouds hung low over the forest, and the air was thick.  The whole experience was very surreal...and just as beautiful.  Matt, Tim, and I didn't ride far last Tuesday...just over 11 miles of crazy rock gardens and single track near Pine Grove Furnace...but the miles we did ride were tough, wet, sloppy, and extremely fun!  

  
Great to have Matt (far right) join Tim and I for a Tuesday ride in Michaux!  You can see the clouds handing in the trees behind us! -- July 31, 2018


Matt and Tim completing one of the "extremely unusual for this time of year" stream crossings during our ride on Tuesday. -- July 31, 2018


Enjoying a day of tropical mountain biking in Michaux State Forest.  Slate Road engulfed in a tropical haze...the sign marks the boundary between Cumberland and Adams Counties.  -- July 31, 2018

The fun didn't end after our tropical ride on Tuesday.  Wednesday morning I headed back to Michaux (with my son, Alex, his girlfriend, Emma, my step-daughter, Blythe, and my partner in crime at NMS, Mike Graham) for, what I knew by then, would be a wet and tropical hike up to the rocks on top of Tumbling Run.  A day of hiking in Michaux isn't complete, though, without first stopping to climb Pole Steeple.  This was, after all, Mike's first trip to the forest and he needed to get the full experience!  Because of it's location, I knew that Pole Steeple wouldn't be wet...but I was surprised that the clouds I had ridden through 24 hours earlier had lifted.  The early morning sun guided us up the first section of the the trail...and then as we usually do, we headed off the marked trail and climbed the crevice in the rock face that leads to the Pole Steeple vista.  The view...as always...was spectacular!

Early morning sun shining on the beginning of the trail leading up to the Pole Steeple vista. -- August 1, 2018

Early morning, August sun shining though the canopy in Michaux State Forest. -- August 1, 2018

Blythe, Emma, and Alex walking ahead of Mike Graham and I on our final climb up Pole Steeple. -- August 1, 2018

Alex and David Raymond on the Pole Steeple vista. -- August 1, 2018

Pole Steeple vista in Michaux State Forest.  Left to right:  Blythe Arnold-Scott and Emma Sadowski (front)...Mike Graham, David Raymond, and Alex Raymond (back). -- August 1, 2018

Our feet stayed dry on Pole Steeple...but there was NO chance of that as we began our ascent up Tumbling Run.  The first obstacle on our journey was Mountain Creek.  I just figured it would be a lost cause trying to stay dry...so I just plunged knee deep through the water.  In all the years that I've been hiking this trail, I have never seen the water coming off of the mountain as high, or move as fast, as it was.  The low hanging clouds from the day before were replaced with low hanging rhododendron and mountain laurel.  The rushing water of Tumbling Run guided us up the mountain to the rock vista at the top...where the breeze was a refreshing change from the humid air that had settled in the valley below.  

Our first obstacle on our climb up Tumbling Run was crossing the extremely swollen Mountain Creek.  Alex made it over the logs easily. -- August 1, 2018

Assisting Emma and Blythe across Mountain  Creek. -- August 1, 2018

The extremely wet month of July has raised the water levels at Tumbling Run higher than I've ever seen them.  The water cascading down the mountain was so beautiful! -- August 1, 2018

Mike Graham taking some pics of the beauty all around us.  -- August 1, 2018

No way for Mike and Alex to avoid getting wet here...the trail was completely submerged under the swollen creek. -- August 1, 2018

The pool of water below this waterfall marks the halfway point up the mountain. -- August 1, 2018

Once the feet are wet, it really doesn't matter how you get to the top of the  mountain!  Mike Graham and Dave Raymond. -- August 1, 2018

Mike Graham at the summit of Tumbling Run. -- August 1, 2018

Bythe Arnold-Scott at the summit of Tumbling Run. -- August 1, 2018

Alex Raymond and Emma Sadowski at the summit of Tumbling Run. -- August 1, 2018

Group pic before descending down Tumbling Run. -- Alex Raymond, Emma Sadowski, Blythe Arnold-Scott, Dave Raymond, and Mike Graham. -- August 1, 2018

Dave Raymond at the top of Tumbling Run.  Two days in a row in Michaux put a huge smile on my face. -- August 1, 2018

Two days in a row in Michaux...(man, that brings a smile to my face).  I can't help but wonder if the trails will be as tropical next week as they were last Tuesday.  Regardless, I know that it will be beautiful (as always)...and so much fun.


Tim, Matt, and I went for ice cream at Mountain Creek Campground after our ride on Tuesday...but on Wednesday, I took Mike, Alex, Emma, and Blythe to Mr. Ed's Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium.  After getting sugar highs on candy, we took a walk through Mr. Ed's enchanted forest.  Mike was searching for the ever elusive Big Foot...he didn't have much luck. -- August 1, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- August 5, 2018


Today we dropped Alex off for the start of his sophomore year in college.  I'm proud of you son...and always remember the ADVICE FROM A MOUNTAIN.  Love you! -- August 5, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from our two amazing days of mountain biking and hiking in Michaux State Forest.  

Happy riding and happy hiking!








Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOUR TRUE NATUREGUNG HO BIKESPENNSYLVANIA DCNR, and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Thursday, July 12, 2018

IT IS BEAUTIFUL BACK HERE

I could hear Ben's voice behind me as I was navigating down one of my favorite trails in Michaux State Forest.  Tim had a flat and we needed to stop.  Of all the places in the forest where Tim could possibly had flatted...he chose one of the most beautiful.  The trail isn't identified on the official map of the forest and I'm not sure if it has an official name...but it's an absolute jewel of a trail to ride.  It's been nearly two years (and one back surgery) ago since I'd last been on it...and I was loving every second of it!  After hearing Ben call out, I walked my bike back to the sight of Tim and Ben on top of a huge boulder...Tim's bike turned upside-down...working to fix Tim's flat.  I had never paused here...and why would I?  The trail, in this particular section of the forest skirts the boundary of Tumbling Run Game Preserve, weaves in and out of tall pines, flows past an endless sea of green ferns, and rolls over...and around...boulders the size of my pick up truck...it's literally "mountain biking heaven!"   Realizing that they had the tire situation under control I just stood there and gawked at my surroundings.  I can remember saying out loud..."It's beautiful back here!"

Taking a pause on one of my favorite trails in Michaux so Tim could fix his flat. -- July 10, 2018

This was Ben's first ride with us.  He's a former student of mine who now works at Gung Ho Bikes.  I've been helping out in the shop this summer and it's been really fun to work along side of him.   When I realized that we both had Tuesday off, and that we were both planning on mountain biking, I invited him to join Tim and I on our ride in Michaux.  I was under strict orders from Jay (our boss at Gung Ho) to make sure that Ben was "puking and crying and taught a good lesson about old men and cycling."  I was to bring him back to the shop hurting...but not so much that he couldn't work!  Our ride was front loaded with climbing and included Tom's Run, Dynamite Shack, a stop at the ruins of Camp Michaux (a WWII Interrogation Camp), a ton of super fun single track, and ultimately ended with an amazing ride on top of Grave Ridge...one of the most technical rides in the forest.  I probably wasn't as hard on Ben as Jay would have liked me to have been...but I wanted him to want to ride with us again!

Yep...there's still a dynamite shack on Dynamite Shack Trail. -- July 10, 2018

Our bikes leaning against the remains of the fountain that once stood at the entrance of Camp Michaux. -- July 10, 2018

Ben Kelly getting an "8th grade history lesson" at the ruins of Camp Mixchaux.  Some things just don't change.  -- July 10, 2018

I backtracked a few feet to find Tim and Ben on top of a huge boulder fixing Tim's flat. -- July 10, 2018

The green ferns that populate this section of the forest are so super cool. -- July 10, 2018

After helping to fix Tim's flat, Ben had no issue riding over the rock that I chose to ride around. -- July 10, 2018

I love navigating the white pines of this section of Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018

Tim Sindlinger taking on a super cool log build up in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018

Ben Kelly taking a break along Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018

The Rhododendron is in full bloom along Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10,  2018

A view, from Grave Ridge, of the ridge that makes up Tumbling Run  Game Preserve. -- July 10, 2018

Riding the rocks on Grave Ridge in Michaux State Forest. -- July 10, 2018

Everything about our ride on Tuesday was amazing...the crystal blue skies, the breeze was cool, dry, with the scent of pine trees, and the Rhododendron was in full bloom.  It was super cool to watch Ben ride over boulders that I choose to ride around and see Tim navigate log build-ups that continue to make me nervous since my surgeries.  As for me...I have this "risk/reward" thing going on:  I don't take as many risks as I use to...and the reward is that I get to keep mountain biking.  After all...it's really beautiful back there.


Yep...Tim couldn't have picked a more beautiful section of the forest to have a flat.  Left to Right:  Ben Kelly, Tim Sindlinger, Dave Raymond. -- July 10, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- July 12, 2108


Ben's reward for a the day...post-ride ice cream at Mountain Creek Campground paid for by his 8th grade history teacher.  Yeah...I was easier on him than Jay wanted me to be! -- July 10, 2018


Here is the GARMIN map and data from our amazing day of mountain biking in Michaux State Forest.  

Happy riding!






Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOUR TRUE NATURE, GUNG HO BIKES, PENNSYLVANIA DCNR, and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Monday, July 2, 2018

HOME AWAY FROM HOME, Pt. 3 (SHARING THE LOVE)

With a huge smile on her face and a look of amazement in her eyes, my 12 year old neice, Jackie, explored the area around Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park.  Jackie had never been to a place like this and she was absolutely loving it. My wife, Robin, and I had a camping trip planned (my third in the past five weeks) for the last weekend of June.  This also coincided with when our nieces, Jackie & Sophie, and my nephew, Isaac, would be visiting from Arizona.  So...instead of just the two of us...Robin and I thought we'd share our love of camping and nature with the kids.


My niece, Jackie Raymond, taking in the beauty of Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 30, 2018


It's been quite a while since I've been camping with kids...so this time around there were no ambitious hikes planned, no white water rafting trips down the Youghiogheny, and no mountain biking involved.  Instead, Robin and I packed a few games, a frisbee, and a ton of great camping food...hamburgers, hotdogs, sausages, and all the fixins for Smores and mountain pies! This isn't to say we didn't go hiking and exploring...Robin and I just kept things a little bit more "kid friendly."  The kids loved exploring the natural beauty of Cucumber Falls.  We managed to climb behind and around the waterfall before hiking through Cucumber Run and eventually down to the Youghiogheny River...my favorite spot to skip rocks.  From here, the kids had a great view of the rafters and kayakers making their way down the river.  We also walked out to the gorge on the Great Allegheny Passage and hiked a section of Ferncliff Penninsula....both gave amazing views of the Youghiogheny River as it makes its way through the park.


Aunt Robin and Sophie Raymond enjoying dinner next to the campfire. -- June 29, 2018


My nephew, Isaac, roasting a marshmallow for his smore. -- June 29, 2018


Uncle Dave and Jackie relaxing near the campfire.  Jackie was a HUGE help this weekend...helping me load and unload all of the firewood.  -- June 30, 2018


Sophie Raymond throwing frisbee with Uncle Dave. -- June 30, 2018


Sophie holding my "camping stone." - June  30, 2018


Isaac Raymond playing washers at the campsite.  -- June 30, 2018


Evening dinner around the campfire.  Left to Right:  Isaac, Robin, David, Sophie, and Jackie Raymond. -- June 30, 2018


Jackie was especially eager to go explore Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 30, 2018


Jackie Raymond sitting near the natural waterslide at Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 30, 2018


The natural waterslide at Ohiopyle State Park was runnign pretty high this past weekend.  -- June 30, 2018


Taking a break after exploring Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park.  Left to Right:  Sophie, Jackie, Isaac, Robin, and David Raymond.  -- June 30, 2018


My niece, Sophie Raymond, exploring the area around Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 30, 2018


Skipping rocks in the Youghiogheny with Jackie and Sophie. -- June 30, 2018


Jackie Raymond relaxing on the banks of the Youghiogheny River in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 30, 2018


Jackie Raymond enjoying the view of the big waterfall at Ohiopyle State Park. -- July 1, 2018


My nephew, Isaac Raymond, above the Great Gorge on the Great Allegheny Passage in Ohiopyle State Park. -- July 1, 2018


Baughman Rock Overlook was the last stop on our way our of Ohiopyle State Park on Sunday afternoon.  Jackie Raymond looking at the amazing view of the Pennsylvania Laurel Highlands. -- July 1, 2018


Robin took this pic of me, Sophie, Isaac, and Jackie at Baughman Rock Overlook on our way out of Ohiopyle. -- July 1, 2018


So, for the second time in two weeks, site 198 at the Kentuck Campgrounds in Ohiopyle State Park was my "home away from home."  Robin, Alex, and I are already planning on coming back next year.  There's one more person who's also excited to come back next summer...my niece, Jackie.  She was completely taken with the beauty and the area and can't wait to come back next year to do some "big kid" stuff with Uncle Dave and her cousin, Alex.  In particular,  I promised her a rafting trip on the lower Yough and she can't wait to experience the natural waterslide with her cousin, Alex.  She'll do great...and I can't wait to share these experiences with her.

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday!  Be sure to spend it doing things you love with the people you love.

No camping trip is complete without ice cream!   My favorite ice cream in Ohiopyle is a the Falls Market.  Left to Right:  Sophie (front), Jackie, David, Robin, and Isaac Raymond. -- July 1, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.





Our camping trip to Ohiopyle with Jackie, Sophie, and Isaac wouldn't have been nearly as successful as it was if it wasn't for all the hard work and help that my amazing wife, Robin, gives me.  I love this lady! -- July 1, 2018


Here are the GARMIN maps and data from our "kid friendly" adventures in Ohiopyle State Park last week.  Happy exploring!







Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOUR TRUE NATUREPA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION  and WHITE WATER ADVENTURES.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin