Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Beneath the dam

Overlook along the trail

Entrance to Connellsville

Rail bridge near Ohiopyle> I walked on this years ago when it had no railing and had broken boards

View from the bridge. If it were the weekend, the river would be full of rafters

Ohiopyle Falls

Another bridge into Ohiopyle for bikes
Campsite in Confluence: Outflow

The Yough early in the morning

The earthen dam that we camped below. With all the rain we had, hopefully it would hold . Otherwise, we'd be swept away. There were signs warning fly fishermen that river levels could change suddenly as they released water behind the dam.

Second day of riding: Whitsett (elev 795) to Confluence(elev 1332) 42 miles

This was the part of the trail that I  had been most interested in. I have camped at least 4 times in Ohiopyle to go white water rafting starting in 1981 when I was one week pregnant with Josh. Josh the blastocyst exerted so many hormones that I was overcome with a deep somnolence for the duration. The railroad bridge over the Yough at that time looked very scary as it lacked a railing and is about 400 feet off the river. It also had broken boards. However, to get back to our campsite would have involved at least 3 miles of walking so across the bridge we went. Fourteen years or so later, I noticed the bridge was repaired and part of a bike trail. Wouldn't it be cool to take this trail? Looking at a map, there is about 26 miles of trail miles between Connellsville, the big city, and Confluence with Ohiopyle somewhere in the middle. For most of the time, we ride on the edge of a gorge which at one point is 1400 feet deep. Very pretty. But as it turned out, I didn't need to worry about the logistics when I heard there was an organized ride. Sign me up!!!!

I started early this time in the cool air. I briefly considered doing yoga with Rash Sister but balked at doing downward facing dog on cement. Somewhere between Connellsville and Ohiopyle, we climbed to 1500 feet according to those equipped with altimeters (really). No wonder I was dragging. But the scenery was beautiful. I stopped in familiar Ohiopyle for lunch at the Firefly run by Jamaicans (!?!) and walked around town to see the waterfalls. Just as I was leaving Ohiopyle, the sky turned black and it thundered (but no lightning). Should I stay or should I go? It is 12 miles (by trail) to Confluence (and uphill!) with no shelter in between. Off Rash Sister and I went like mad to beat the rain, which we did. Later trail riders weren't so lucky. Rain was expected in Confluence too so the truck was not unloaded until the threat had passed.

We were to eat in downtown Confluence about 1-2 miles away. Dinner was awful with some sort of mystery meat and not real mashed potatoes. Good thing I had a good lunch not that long ago in Ohiopyle. I went up to the Confluence welcoming tent asking where a convenience store was that I could buy a beer (never mind that alcohol is prohibited in state park campgrounds, which the Outflow campground was). That would be no where. I forgot that beer is only sold in state stores, which Confluence lacked.

But fortunately Lucky Dog was on the way back just a half mile from the campground. I did get a drink there. It was a neat bar. The owner converts the fry oil to fuel for his car. And the place is just covered with dog portraits. The next night I brought a crowd with me to eat dinner. I was not the only non-fan of mystery meat. When I got out, I met a woman in tears. She was lost and not for the first time that day. She was trying to find the place for dinner. When I said it was a mile away, she became even more upset. Her husband said he would pay me to take them there as they really were not up to any more wrong turns. I wouldn't do that (I get extra woozy combining drinking and bicycling) but I did give them a map. What I didn't tell them was that they would be better off just eating at the Lucky Dog but maybe they like mystery  meat served in a steamy room.

It was funny how many people refused to bike to town. They had biked enough for the day but they were willing to walk 3 miles round trip. I met a woman who lives near a mail stop for the Appalachian Trail. A through walker is committed to hiking 2000 miles but often they balk at walking a few miles to town. When she is feeling especially benevolent, she picks them up to deliver them to town.

I slept well that night and extra bonus, I didn't need to get up early the next day to pack.

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