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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