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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.

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