Monday, June 17, 2013

Allegheny River Trail, August 2010 - Part Two

I woke up early and had a cold breakfast of trail mix while the canoe group left.

Once they were down the Allegheny, I got ready for my ride. I packed and spent ten minutes hunting for a place I could change other than the cramped portable toilets. No such luck - already there was heavy trail and river traffic and there were no blind spots at the campground. Next time change for riding BEFORE taking down the tent. 

My two companions showed up as I was finishing loading my trailer. Judy came first, tipping over her trike thanks to a careless stop on a slope. Troy showed up five minutes later and took this photo while I was loading up.

Off we went south on the Allegheny River Trail. Again I felt wobbly, but as the miles rolled on I gained control of the heavy bike. I had trouble keeping up with Troy, who is very fit and a strong rider. There's something to be said for being a farmer; all that labor keeps you in condition. In addition to his farm,Troy is also a moderator on the Yahoo group for the Great Allegheny Passage and other trail groups, which is where I met him. He's since this trip taken up acting, and has appeared in several films. His jokes about being a hobbit are partly due to his appetite, and partly from his "there and back again" trips on the GAP and C & O.

After a few miles, we reached the intersection of the Allegheny River Trail and Sandy Creek Trail. Judy, who had gotten up before 6 that morning to drive up here, volunteered to stay 'below' with our gear while we rode the trail. As she pulled into the shade, we unhitched and walked up the stairs to the Sandy Creek Trail. The stairs connecting the two trails are horrible, and Troy helped me get my bike up and down. 

I'd already begun to sour on the Allegheny River Trail, but Sandy Creek was a delight, with seven bridges, including a massive span over the Allegheny, and a tunnel to play on. Aside from the awkward climb up to the trail, and one short uphill near the river, the trail was flat, paved, and beautiful. Sandy Creek reminds me of the Casselman River coming down into Confluence - rocky and wild. The water level was very low, however, and the stream would be more impressive had it been fuller.

After 14 miles 'upstairs', we went back down to the patient Judy, and continued south to our campsite north of Emlenton. The ART continued to Indian God Rock, a massive stone with Native American carvings. Unfortunately the rock has been extensively defaced since it was discovered two centuries ago. Troy scrambled down to the rock itself while Judy and I remained up on the trail at the overlook. 

Indian God Rock, combined with the heat, induced some of my silliness: 

"You know God spelled backwards is Dog?"

"Yes" said Judy.

"Indian God Rock was impressive, but I'm looking forward to seeing Indian Dog Rock. It has carvings of poodles wearing wampum beads and feathered headress."

"Neil, do you need more water? Would you like to stop and rest in the shade?"

As I mentioned above, I'd begun to like the ART less and less as I rode it. True, it was paved. But there were no services - no towns, stores, restrooms - anywhere along the trail. There was a half-mile detour onto a gravel road that included two hill climbs. And there were the tunnels. The first one, Kennerdell, was three thousand feet long and lit only by reflectors. I quickly discovered my lighting wasn't enough, and I walked the distance. Even then I became a little disoriented in the tunnel. 

Once through the tunnel, the search for the campsite began. I had been told there was a site south of the tunnel. We kept going, and still no site. Then I spotted a table and fire ring. We pulled over and set up camp. The Boy Scout troop I'd camped with the night before floated by on the Allegheny, but decided not to stop here. 

We settled in for the night shortly after seeing our first bald eagle over the river, and just as the drizzling rain set in.

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A Taste For The Woods: Allegheny River Trail, August 2010 - Part Two

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Allegheny River Trail, August 2010 - Part Two