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Sunday, June 24, 2018

HOME AWAY FROM HOME, Pt. 2 (DOWN TO THE RIVER)

In 1754, frustrated with the tediously slow progress of his men as they hacked their way westward through the Appalachian Mountains to capture Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh), Colonel George Washington broke off from the main group and, along with a handful of men, began exploring the Youghiogheny River as a possible water route through the mountains.  The group made it as far as present day Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania where, legend has it, Colonel Washington stood on a rock overlooking a 40 foot waterfall and decided to abandon the plan when he came to the realization that the rapids of the Youghiogheny would not be a viable means of transporting men and artillery westward.  It's this very waterfall, and system of rapids, that makes the Youghiogheny River the focal point of any visit to Ohiopyle State Park.


My son, Alex, and I standing on the west bank of the Youghiogheny River...possibly the same rock that George Washington stood on in 1754. -- June 20, 2018

My parents first brought me to Ohiopyle State Park when I was a child.  Now it's become the place that my son, Alex, and I have chosen for our annual "guys camping trip."  Alex and I both look forward to our yearly excursion to Ohiopyle.  We treat ourselves to a week of nature, a week of adventure, and a week of bonding.  This year, Alex's best bud, Devin, came along with us...he is, after all, part of the family.  We were also blessed by visits from my college roommate, Chris "Rainman" Lowe, and my partner in crime at NMS, Mike Graham.  On any given day that we are camping at Ohiopyle...no matter what activity we choose to do:  hiking, rafting, exploring, or mountain biking...the river is the center piece of it all.  

Alex took this pic of me on our last day at Ohiopyle.  The Youghiogheny River was running incredibly high from the torrential rains that hit the area last week. -- June 22, 2018

Our agenda for the week was simple...fun and adventure (with a relaxation and good food added in for good measure).   I brought my mountain bike with me again this year.  I really got the itch to explore more of the park after I mountain biked there last summer for the first time in nearly ten years.  On this trip, I managed two rides...the first was on the Great Allegheny Passage...an incredibly scenic ride for people of all skill levels.   My second ride of the week was a mud-fest ride for the ages which included Sugarloaf, McCune, and Baughman Trails.  We also managed to hike a lot more this year.  On Wednesday, Mike Graham joined Alex, Devin, and I as we explored and hiked Beech Trail.  We also explored the Ferncliff Penninsula which led us to the west bank of the Youghiogheny River and right to the big waterfall.  But, it's the white water rafting that we all look forward to the most.   I  first took Alex white water rafting in 2010 and it's become one of our favorite thinigs to do together.  This particular trip was probably my favorite ever...the river was high and fast, our guide was excellent, and the weather was beautiful...which made for a very exciting experience.

On the first evening in Ohiopyle, I snuck out for a ride on the Great Allegheny Passage...one of the most visually stimulating and scenic trails you can ride a bike on. -- June 18, 2018

One of the high points of the week is our rafting trip on the Youghiogheny River.  George Washington might have had better luck on this river if he had Cliff from White Water Adventures as his guide. Left to right:  Devin Seiger, Alex Raymond, Chris Lowe, Dave Raymond, and Cliff the White Water Guide. -- June 19, 2018

After an afternoon of white water rafting, we took a hike down through Cucumber Falls.   My son, Alex Raymond, exploring the Cucumber Falls area. -- June 19, 2018

Cucumber Falls in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 19, 2018

Exploring BEHIND Cucumber Falls.  Left to Right:  Dave Raymond, Chris Lowe, Mike Graham, Alex Raymond, and Devin Seiger. -- June 19, 2018

The trail at Cucumber Falls leads down to the river.  It's one of our favorite spots to skip rocks and just hand out.  Left to Right:  Alex Raymond, Dave Raymond, Devin Seiger, Chris Lowe, and Mike Graham. -- June 19, 2018

A hot and humid, but beautiful, hike on Beech Trail in Ohiopyle State Park.  Left to Right:  Alex Raymond, Devin Seiger, Mike Graham, and Dave Raymond.  -- June 20, 2018

Having fun while hiking Beech Trail in Ohiopyle State Park.  Left to Right:  Mike Graham, Alex Raymond, David Raymond, and Devin Seiger. -- June 20, 2018

After hiking Beech Trail, we explored the Ferncliff Penninsula.  The trail leads you down the west bank of the Youghiogheny River and to the big waterfall.  You can see the main observation decks on the other side of the river. -- June 20, 2018

Mountain biking McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 21,  2018

McCune Trail in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 21, 2018

The stream behind my bike isn't a stream at all...it's Baughman Trail.  Even the trails became "rivers" after the heavy thunderstorms on Wednesday evening.  -- June 21, 2018

Alex took this pic of me as I came off of Baughman Trail into the town of Ohiopyle.  What an absolute mud-fest of a ride! -- June 21, 2018

Typically, when we camp in Ohiopyle State Park, our mornings and early afternoon are full of adventure...but the evenings are reserved for relaxation, good conversation around the fire,  and amazing camp food.  I'll admit, that as I've gotten older (and after multiple surgeries), it's harder for me to relax in tent.  I now go out of my way to reserve one of the small cabins in the campgrounds on the ridge above the river which offer a lot more comfort and a little bit more peace of mind when the inevitable summer thunderstorm rolls through the area.  The cabin and the campsite literally become our "home away from home" for the week.

Unloading wood for our evening campfire. --  June 21, 2018

One of our favorite campfire meals...beef and potato soup.  -- June 21, 2018

Breakfast consists of some Hungry Jack pancakes...the way my grandpap George Morosky made them for me when I was a kid. -- June 19, 2018

It's not breakfast without bacon and coffee! -- June 19, 2018

A little rain doesn't dampen our spirits at the campside.  We just moved the grill to the porch and continued on! -- June 20, 2018

Evening dinner aound the campfire.  As a thank you, we invited our rafting guide, Cliff, to come have dinner with us. Left to Right:  Chris Lowe, Mike Graham, Alex Raymond, David Raymond, Devin Seiger, and Cliff the White Water Guide. -- June 19, 2018

Packing up at the end of the week is bitter sweet.  I really hate to leave a place that I love so much and I really enjoy the time with my son...but I also miss my home, my bed, and most of all, my wife.  Alex and I have already decided to continue our tradition come back next year at the same time.   I'm so blessed to have a son who has some of the same passions that I have.  I'm even more blessed knowing that he enjoys spending this time with me.  The one thing that made packing up this year a little easier is knowing that, not only will he and I be back next year, but my wife and I will be camping at the same site in less than a week.  So...for at least one more weekend this summer...Ohiopyle State Park will be my "home away from home" one more time.


Alex and David Raymond.  Our last stop in the State Park before heading home...Baughman Rock Overlook provides a brilliant view of Pennsylvania's Laurel Highlands. -- June 22, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.




Yep...I stopped at the General Store in Ohiopyle for ice cream before I even finished my mud-fest mountain bike ride.  Still another 3 miles up the ridge to the campsite...but I just couldn't wait! -- June 21, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from all of our adventures in Ohiopyle State Park last week.  Happy rafting, hiking, biking, and 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

3 comments:

Michael Bruce Herncane said...

A wonderful piece all around, David. Strong writing, terrific pictures, and it really made me jealous not to be out on the trail like you and your son. Having some physical problems that would be very like cured or lessened if I'd lose some significant weight. Fifteen down, probably 50 to go. Lol. Anyway, if I get my weight to close where I want it, I might break the bike out! At the very least start hiking again sometime this summer. Weather it's doing outdoor sports or whatever, it's great doing things with your kid son now that he's a man. Great job.

Cliff The Guide said...

You guys killed it! Glad I got a chance to share some of your trip with you.

Unknown said...

Pennsylvania Parks and Forests Foundation -
Thanks for sharing the photographs and details. Looks like a great trip!