Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for November, 2008

Harvey’s Lake

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

Note: I have fallen way behind in my blog posts. I started this post sometime last week, about my ride Sunday 11/23. Between Thanksgiving, riding, and a hike, I have not had time to document my exploits. Hopefully, I can catch up soon.

I planned to ride to Harvey’s Lake, ride around the lake, and ride home. This would be a total of about 35 miles, which I figured was plenty given the increased effort required for riding in the mountains, and the fact that it was about 30 degrees. I figured I could do this ride in about 2 1/2 hours.

Boy, was I off target! I severely underestimated the amount of climbing I’d encounter — over 2800 feet, in what ended up being 27 miles of riding. This was my slowest road ride in a long time; never before have I ridden 27 miles and been gone nearly 3 hours.

I headed out a little behind schedule, and grabbed a light on my way out the door. I used my new GPS to navigate this route. I’ll probably do a full post on the GPS’s capabilities later; suffice it to say that it worked quite well. Here is a Google map with the route. Click on the map pins, each one is a photo. You can zoom and navigate the map, and see each photo associated with its location on the map.

View Larger Map

The ride started on familiar territory: I took the Back Mountain Trail to Trucksville, then rode on some new roads. I saw some interesting plants with red buds on them along the way. Maybe someone can help me identify these.

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Red buds

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Bud closeup

The trail is about 2 1/2 miles of gradual climbing, in this direction. But I was far from finished climbing. For quite a while, all I did was climb. It was slow going, but I have learned not to attack the climbs too vigorously; I have to pace myself.

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Oak Street in Trucksville

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Sutton Road

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Scenery alongside Sutton Road

As I rode ever so slowly uphill on Sutton Road, I saw probably 10 deer cross the road and graze on a lawn by a bend in the road ahead of me. By the time I approached they had been watching me come their way for a few minutes, and they ran off into the woods. I hoped for a better glimpse of them, but I was moving slowly to begin with, and the road got a lot steeper once I reached the bend.

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Curve in the road, with some deer toward the top of the photo (not really visible)

I made it past that steep climb, expecting some respite, but I didn’t get it. The grade let up a bit, but it felt like I had been climbing for ages at this point; in fact, looking back on it, the first seven miles of this ride were almost entirely climbing. It’s a mostly-gradual way to climb about 600 feet, but it wore me down quite a bit. Eventually I did get to ride downhill, briefly, then back up. I went through a few rolling hills, which were a welcome change from the constant climbing.

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Finally, about to go downhill, momentarily

Before long I reached Huntsville, and rode by the very beautiful Huntsville Reservoir. It’s a very interesting lake, shaped like a bit like an oak leaf, with several inlets branching off in different directions. The road follows edge of the lake for a while, and it’s a lovely ride.

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Huntsville Reservoir

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Looking back, whence I came

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Riding on lake’s edge

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Mansion by Huntsville Reservoir

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Another view of the lake, with several inlets visible

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GPS and bicycle computer

Somewhere between Huntsville and Idetown, I saw some pretty scenes, the first a view from near a golf course, the second a cool old barn.

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Idetown-Huntsville Road panorama

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Barn

Eventually, after some more significant climbing, I reached PA Route 415, which would take me to Harvey’s Lake. I had some great views of layered mountains and a blistering descent for about a mile that had tears streaming from my eyes from the blast of cold air.

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Descending on PA Route 415

When I reached the bottom of the hill (still at 1200 feet!) I was at Harvey’s Lake. I had planned to ride around the lake, but it was already nearly 4:00, and I knew I’d run out of light if I did so. I did stop to rest by the lake and look around a bit. As I took some photos, another cyclist rode up and started loading her bicycle in her minivan. I assume she drove to the lake, then rode around it. I was pleased to see another cyclist, since I have seen so few around here.

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The Trucker by Harvey’s Lake


Harvey’s Lake Panorama

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Pier

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Boat

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Icicles

The lake was beautiful, and I wished I had time to ride around it. Alas, I had to head back. I was unsure how my GPS would handle my skipping part of the route, but once I headed back toward home, it simply continued to navigate from my current position. Nice. I had a big climb up Carpenter Road. It wasn’t overly steep at any time, but it was slow going. I stopped to look back at a couple of points during the climb — the view just kept getting better.

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Climbing Carpenter Road

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View of Harvey’s Lake, looking back a little bit into the climb

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The view, looking back from near the top of the hill

At the top of the hill was the highest elevation of the whole ride, 1514 feet, and Sgarlat Lake, which appeared to be on private property. Part of the lake was frozen over, and there was a thin layer of snow on top of the ice, so there was a strange white band across the lake. Interestingly, TopoFusion lists this as Scarlat Lake, while Google Maps doesn’t have a label for the lake, but lists the road by the lake as Scarlet Lake. I wonder what’s up with the discrepancy.

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Sgarlat Lake

A bit of snow lined the road as I started the descent on the other side of the hill. While the first half of this ride was mostly climbing, the second half was mostly downhill. I sure enjoyed the easy riding for a while. There were a few climbs, but nothing too difficult.

I found Stredney Road, a gravel road I’d like to explore sometime. In fact TopoFusion shows Harvey Lookout Tower on Chestnut Ridge; I should find out of there’s a way to get to it. There’s no obvious access point in either Google Maps or TopoFusion.

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Snow-lined road

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Stredney Road

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Easy Riding

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Farm scene

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Descending toward Dallas, PA

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St. Mary’s Byzantine Catholic Cemetery

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More great downhill

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Misericordia University

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Church and cemetery

At some point I got turned around. I failed to follow the GPS properly, but I could tell I was headed in the right basic direction, just parallel to the road I was supposed to be on. I kept going and gradually worked my way back over. And it was getting fairly dark, but I had lights. No worries. I was getting a bit chilly as the sun set, but I knew I wouldn’t be out too much longer.

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Dusk scene

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Steep downhill

Soon I made my way back to the Back Mountain Trail. From here, it was a routine ride. It was good to be back on familiar ground, now that it was almost completely dark.

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Back Mountain Trail

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Car on 309, taken from the Back Mountain Trail

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Back in town, and getting darker still

I couldn’t believe this ride was only 27 miles; it felt a lot longer, and I was gone for over 2 1/2 hours. I had guessed I would be able to complete the entire ride, including the loop around Harvey’s Lake, in about that time. I’m still not used to what these mountains do to my ride times. On the other hand, I was in no hurry; I just wish I could have ridden a bit further (even if my legs begged to differ, with all that climbing).

Indian Trail at Big Pocono State Park

Monday, November 24th, 2008

On Saturday, Sarah and I hiked at Big Pocono State Park. It was cold, with the high temperature for the day in the 20s, and quite windy — with gusts to about 30 mph. We felt every bit of it, too, as the park is at the very top of Camelback Mountain, and that is where we parked, completely exposed at around 2100 feet. The wind was so strong that it kept blowing the trunk closed as we tried to get ready for our hike. The road going to the trailhead was closed, so we parked in the main lot, I snapped a few photos of the views, and we started our hike.

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Panoramic view to the north

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View to the south

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The Delaware Water Gap is visible in the distance

This hike was also a gear test for my new GPS. I had one previously, but at some point it stopped working, and it never worked very well on my bicycle. The new GPS, a Garmin eTrex Venture, worked incredibly well. It gets a much stronger signal and seems to be more accurate than my old GPS. This will allow me to do some cool things like geotagging my photos, and posting maps of our activities. For example, see this hike on motionbased.com, or this interactive Google map:

View Larger Map

I have a lot to learn about that stuff, but I think it will make for some interesting ways of presenting photos combined with maps. Another fun way to look at it is in Google Earth. Here’s an example.


Google Earth view

Since this hike starts at the top of the mountain, there’s nowhere to go but down. It started with a smooth, gradual hike down the side of the mountain, and once we got away from the mountaintop and into the woods, we weren’t as exposed to the wind. Eventually we warmed up from the physical activity, but for the first 15 minutes or so we were quite cold.

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Easy hiking through birch trees

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You can see how cold Sarah felt

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Snowy moss

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Me

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Sky

The trail got perpetually rockier as we hiked. After a while, we reached the edge of a cliff, which the trail followed, quite close to the edge. This afforded us some great views of Tannersville below us in a large valley, with the Delaware Water Gap and New Jersey in the distance.

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Rocky trail

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Panoramic view — worth viewing large

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Unidentified building

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Big rocks, part of the trail

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Delaware Water Gap

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Sarah

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Precipitous trail

The trail turned back away from the edge, and now it was time for some climbing. The rock-to-trail quotient increased further. It was slow going, but we were having a lot of fun. The sun was getting low in the sky, the trees throwing long shadows, and we enjoyed the quiet and beautiful hike back up the mountain.

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Hiking into the sun

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The trail climbed this rock wall. If you look closely you can see an orange blaze on a rock.

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More rocks

We reached the connector trail that went back to the car, but we hadn’t had enough. We looked at the map and figured out a way to extend our hike by about another mile. It looked like it would be mostly flat, but there was still significant climbing ahead of us. In a way this was preferable as the more we climbed, the warmer we felt. And as the sun followed its downward trajectory the sky took on new hues.

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Climbing

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Looking back at Sarah, and the elevation we’d gained

We reached a power line right-of-way, and peering down we had a great view of the valley below us to the south. There was a small lake that appears to have been Mountain Spring Lake, and another, Trout Lake, behind it, and the whole scene was illuminated by nearly-sidewise rays of sunlight. I fought my way through a bush to get a good shot.

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Looking toward Mountain Spring Lake

A short while later I discovered that my efforts to find this clear view were not necessary. We found a vista, complete with a rock on which to sit, or stand. I stood atop this rock and gazed down on the land below, the lakes, the Delaware Water Gap in the distance, and who knows what, beyond that. I watched as the clouds caught the sunlight and refracted it erratically. I took a deep breath, drinking in this crisp mountain air, and held my wife close to me. It doesn’t get any better than this, peering out over the land in our new home, with my beautiful wife. When we lived in Indiana, we grew to feel a sense of ownership of the land. We were familiar with every twist and turn of many roads, the topography of the land, and many of the sights and sounds. I knew, standing here, that soon we’d feel the same way about this place. But more importantly, that we would discover this new land together.

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Taking in the view

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Panoramic image of the view (view large)

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An even better view, if you ask me

We had a little hiking left, but we were almost back. It wasn’t the longest hike we’ve done, or easiest, or the most challenging, but it was quite beautiful, and even more memorable.

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Sunlight

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Solitary tree

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Back in the parking lot; one last look to the north before heading out

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Sarah again. If she ever runs for office, maybe she can use this shot.

Back Mountain Trail extension

Friday, November 21st, 2008

After reading that they had extended the Back Mountain Trail, I decided to go check it out. It was a chilly day, around 30 degrees, with winds gusting to around 30 mph, and a few snow flurries falling. I was riding mostly uphill, and into the wind, and I had a tougher time with it than I expected.

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Riding toward the trailhead

As I rode up and away from the city, and the Wyoming Valley in which it’s situated, I looked back and I could see dense but isolated clouds of snow falling on parts of the city. I wish I had gotten a photo, it was quite a sight. Flurries continued to fall all around me but aside from a few patches of snow here and there, the trail was clear.

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Back Mountain Trail

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The most accumulation I saw on the whole ride

I made good time, despite the wind and constant uphill riding. I reached the end of the part I had ridden before, and tried to find where the trail went. I knew it’d have to cross Carverton Road, but I was unsure where it went. Eventually I discovered that to get to the new section, you have to ride toward 309 on Carverton. The trail picks up right at the corner.

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The beginning of the new section of trail

The trail parallels the road fairly closely for a while, so there is a lot of road noise, and it’s not as scenic as the older part of the trail, in this section. It’s also at roughly the same level as the road, whereas the older section is mostly significantly higher than the highway, to the point where you often can’t even see it. Still, I was happy to see this new section. It follows a creek for a bit that’s very pretty. And, looking back toward the valley you get a nice mountain view.

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“A Walk In Progress”

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Looking back

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Creek

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A view of the Exxon station

I really don’t mind that the whole trail isn’t scenic. It’s still a way of getting to the Back Mountain area without dealing with traffic. In fact, I like that first and foremost, it’s a trail that takes you somewhere.

One thing took me by surprise, though. There is quite a steep climb at one point — steep enough that I walked it. Now, I rarely walk any hill; that said, if I had had knobby tires, I would’ve ridden up. But I was on the Trucker, which has mostly-slick tires. This climb is not a huge concern, although I think it could be problematic even trying to walk it during the winter. I don’t know if there’s any way they could have avoided this, but for a family-friendly trail I’d say it’s a bit difficult.

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Unexpected steep climb

At the top of the climb, the trail goes away and the ride becomes a marked bicycle route on residential streets. This is fine. In fact, I wish there were more roads around here that were signed as bicycle routes. Those signs can serve as a good reminder for motorists that bicycles use the road, too.

I followed the signs, which stayed on relatively low-traffic streets. I could have easily taken off and gone exploring these streets; at some point, I’ll have to do just that. It’d be a lot of fun. I guess I was in Shavertown at this point.

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Fun-looking road

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Riding

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Run-down building

After following the signs for a bit, I found myself back on the trail, which now followed a creek, passed a pond, and went into a wooded area. The trail ended soon after that, and I wished it went further — the scenery was just starting to get really nice again.

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Creek

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Pond

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Woods. If you look closely, you can see some snowflakes falling

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Trail

Supposedly, this trail will go through to Lower Demunds Road sometime in the spring. And then further, after that; the ultimate goal is to have the trail go all the way to Ricketts Glenn State Park, which would be amazing.

I turned around to ride back and now had a tailwind and a downhill ride almost the whole way home. Now the pedalling came much easier, and it was a hell of a fun ride.

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Sky

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Trail, Exxon, mountains

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Another steep part — trailhead by Carverton Road. Hopefully they’ll do something about this.

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Construction — the crane was moving at the time. I have seen this from above, see it in the lower-left here.

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Trail

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Almost home

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