The early November sun poking through the trees served as my guide while I was mountain biking at Rocky Ridge on Friday afternoon...highlighting the fallen (now flattened) leaves covering the single track. At one point, I stopped to take in the scene in front of me...it seemed to be raining leaves, the temperature was unusually warm, and the air was filled with the sweet smell of Autumn. Autumn is, by far, my favorite time to be outdoors. It doesn't matter if I'm mountain biking, hiking, or on my road bike...I love the Fall...and Fall in Pennsylvania is really kind of special.
Even as a child I loved jumping into the huge piles of leaves that my father would rake up in our back yard. I also recall that, when I was young, my mom and dad would take my brother and I to Ohiopyle State Park for hikes to see all the colors of the forest. I have no doubt that it was those trips are what grew into my love for the outdoors. I have no doubt that it was those trips with my parents that inspired my love of being outdoors. Here in South Central Pennsylvania, the foliage was at it's peak this week. We are literally only one big rain or wind storm away from all the leaves being blown off of the trees. But before that happens, I'm trying to enjoy every last minute of the Autumn colors.
During the school year, I usually try to get all my mountain and road biking in after school and reserve the weekends for hanging out with (and usually taking a hike with) my wife, Robin. This weekend was especially awesome because, my son, Alex, was home from college. Yesterday was a picture perfect day for a hike...so the three of us headed over to Michaux State Forest to take in the sights of Autumn before they disappeared. Apparently, I wasn't the only person who had this idea. In all the years I've been visiting Michaux, I've never seen the Pole Steeple trail head parking lot filled beyond capacity. Even though there was a lot of traffic on Pole Steeple yesterday, it didn't take away from the adventure of the trail or the beauty of the valley below. Actually, part of me was very encouraged that so many people were taking time out to just be outdoors.
|The sun helps to uncover the "hidden" trails at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- November 3, 2017|
|Tim got this great pic of me at Rocky Ridge County Park with the Autumn leaves in the background. -- November 3, 2017|
|Tim took this pic of me riding over the fallen leaves and down Trail #7 at Rocky Ridge County Park. The beauty of the leaves also hid the loose rocks and gravel underneath...adding an extra element to mountain biking. Caution always rules the day! -- November 3, 2017|
|Hiking around Ohiopyle State Park with my mom, dad, and brother. Left to right: Jacob Raymond, David Raymond, Kathy Raymond. -- November 1980|
One of the perks of living withing three miles of the school in which I teach is that I can be home and on my bicycle before 3:30. I'm blessed with the almost daily opportunity to unwind, get some exercise, and take in a good dose of Vitamin N. My after school bike rides aren't very long...especially now that the seasons are changing and the clocks have been turned back...but they do the trick and the York County scenery is nothing short of spectacular!
|This pumpkin stand is located on Canal Road in Manchester, Pennsylvania. I pass it often when riding my bike after school. -- October 17, 2017|
|This old bridge crossing the Conewago Creek is located between Manchester and York Haven, Pennsylvania. I often ride past it on my after school bike rides. -- October 17, 2017|
|In my opinion...one of the best photos I've ever taken. My red Roubaix resting on a tree near the Conewaga Creek. -- November 2, 2017|
|Alex took this picture of me just as I was making my way to the top of Pole Steeple Trail in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4, 2017|
|Michaux State Forest as seen from the vista on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017|
|Alex and David Raymond on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017|
|David and Robin Raymond on top of Pole Steeple. -- November 4, 2017|
Afterwards, we took a much more secluded hike through an area of the forest that I usually mountain bike in. We parked along Route 233 and hiked down towards Mountain Creek. On this short hike we didn't climb up a mountain and experience a vista with a grand view...but we were able to meander through the Mountain Laurel, walk along the rushing water of Mountain Creek, hear the sounds of nature all around us, and seemingly have the forest to ourselves for a few moments.
|Alex, Robin, and David Raymond near Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. -- November 4, 2017|
|Mountain Creek in Michaux State Forest. Notice the green Mountain Laurel lining the creek and the Autumn colors up above. -- November 4, 2017|
|In between our hikes on Saturday, Robin, Alex, and I stopped to skip rocks in Fuller Lake. -- November 4, 2017|
|The sun glistening on Fuller Lake -- November 4, 2017|
Hiking past the creek and surrounded on all sides by Mountain Laurel, I almost forgot that it was Autumn. At eye level, everything around me was green...and then I looked up. The air was crisp, the sun sky was blue, the sun was shining, and the trees high above were filled with the oranges, yellows, and reds of the season. It was a perfect Fall day in Pennsylvania...and I was loving every minute of it.
|A cherry on top of a perfect day in Michaux State Forest. After a day of hiking, Robin, Alex, and I visited the Twirly Top ice-cream stand on it's last day of operation for the season. I forgot how good the food is there! -- November 4, 2017|
Life is a journey...not a destination.
David A. Raymond -- November 5, 2017
Here's the GARMIN maps and data from the rides featured in this post...
Interested in mountain 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.
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