Experimental music, photography, and adventures

Archive for February, 2009

Ride around Huntsville Reservoir

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

It’s been far too long since I wrote something here. I’ve done some rides, but most of them have not been particularly noteworthy. The last really good ride I did was back on February 8, when I rode around Huntsville Reservoir. Here is a map of the route


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It was a surprisingly warm day, with highs reaching into the 40s or so, and sunny. There was still a bit of snow on the ground, but I heard it melting around me throughout the ride, dripping persistently.

I started by riding up Bunker Hill Road. This long climb gets more difficult as the winter wears on and I fall further out of shape. It’s slow going for a couple of miles, but the next two miles were downhill. It was invigorating, and would have been thrilling if I hadn’t had to worry so much about traction on the wet, sandy road.

Unfortunately once I hit Sutton Road, I had a couple more miles of climbing to do. The elevation change was nothing like Bunker Hill Road, but it was plenty challenging. I enjoyed some beautiful views of snowy fields and neighboring mountains. I rode through here once before, when I rode to Harvey’s Lake, but it looked much different on this ride, with all the snow.

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Sutton Road

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Field and mountains

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Curving climb

Eventually, I reached some rolling hills, which were a nice break from the sustained climbing, but every time I built up some momentum, the road immediately turned back uphill. It was a little discouraging.

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Wet road

From this point, it really didn’t take too long to reach Huntsville Reservoir. I had planned a route around it, and I hoped that the roads circumnavigating the lake would be fairly flat. At first, they were. The lake was still frozen over, except for some surface melting that made for some interesting patterns and reflections as the road skirted the water’s edge.

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The dam

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Reflections

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Huntsville Reservoir Panorama

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My bicycle

The riding wasn’t easy for long. As I crested the top of a rather large hill, I had a surprise; the pavement ended. Normally, I embrace riding on unpaved roads, but the dirt road was greasy and soft. I prefer not to get the Trucker this dirty, but it handled these conditions with aplomb. I was very impressed.

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Dirt road

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View at a power line right-of-way

I soon changed my tune. I reached a “Road Not Maintained” sign, and at that point the mud ended and the snow began. The road was just covered in icy/slushy snow. I tried riding on this surface, but I had a difficult time retaining any kind of traction. If it had been flat, it would have been more doable, but I went downhill for a while and then had some climbing to do. I just could not get enough traction, and ended up walking the bike for a while.

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Road Not Maintained

It was so quiet and peaceful and beautiful in those woods that I really didn’t mind walking. In fact the scenery was quite nice, with a few glimpses of the lake, and a small stream.

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Snowy woods

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Traction was very poor

The unmaintained road didn’t last very long; soon, I reached pavement and saw a big climb up ahead. As I approached it I got distracted by some more great views of the lake and lost my momentum. But the climb turned out not to be as bad as it looked.

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Big climb

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Huntsville Reservoir again

After some rolling hills and even a farm or two (there aren’t many around here), I reached PA Route 118, which was a bit busier than most roads I ride on, but there was a nice wide shoulder and it ended up being quiet pleasant.

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Farm

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PA 118

I followed the side of the lake to complete my trip around it. After a little climbing, I enjoyed a nice, fast (albeit wet) descent toward the town of Huntsville.

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Wet descent

In fact, the next 2.5 miles or were almost entirely downhill. It was wonderful to let loose and let gravity do most of the work for a while. I certainly didn’t break any speed records, but I really enjoyed myself. In particular, Huntsville Road between Huntsville and Chase was a fantastic, long, curvy (but not too much), flowing descent. I will definitely have to ride that section again.

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Huntsville Road

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Barn

Once I reached Chase, I knew I had a big climb ahead, up Larksville Mountain. It’s not as long as the Bunker Hill climb, and the elevation gain is a lot less from this side of the mountain, but it is steep for quite some time. Some switchbacks help, but it is brutal any way you look at it. The first time I rode in that area I saw a pickup truck drive up this road and by the time it reached the top, there was smoke pouring out from under the hood. Needless to say, I wasn’t expecting to do too well on this climb, especially this late in the ride, but I did a lot better than I thought I would.

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Climbing up Larksville Mountain

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Dirt road

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Looking back at the undulating road

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Looking back at the valley below

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Looking back again

The grade eased up, but there was still some more climbing. Soon it turned downhill and then leveled out for a few minutes before plunging some 900 feet back to the Wyoming Valley. I’ve ridden this way a few times and I knew it would be a steep, winding decent. The sand on the road did not instill confidence, but I kept my speed down and all was fine.

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Looking toward Wyoming Valley

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Almost home

I loved this ride — but next time I head out that way, I want to go to Harvey’s Lake and ride all the way around it. I got some tips about some other dirt roads out in that direction, and I’m looking forward to checking them out.

One coin, two sides

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

It’s been gorgeous this week, especially today. It’s in the 60s right now.

Unfortunately, I have been so swamped with work that I’ve been unable to take advantage of it. I am thankful that I have so much business right now, but I could really use a slow day so I can get outside!

There’s rain, and more cold weather in the forecast, so I think I’ve mostly missed my opportunity during this freakish warm spell in February. We did get out last weekend (hopefully I can write about that soon), but I’ve worked pretty much non-stop since then.

Shades of Death

Saturday, February 7th, 2009

Back on January 25, Sarah and I hiked the Shades of Death trail at Hickory Run State Park. It’s hard to believe it was that long ago; I’ve really fallen behind here.

We used snowshoes, but in this case we could have gone without. There was snow, but it wasn’t very deep, and there were a few narrow sections where the snowshoes actually made it harder. On the other hand, the added traction from the crampons was much appreciated during some icy parts.

This was a truly beautiful hike — the trail followed a stream, which was frozen over in some parts, and passed some impressive rock formations and waterfalls. It started snowing on our way back.

We may have turned around too early: we thought the trail ended when we reached a blocked-off bridge. But looking at the map again, I think the trail may have continued past the bridge. We probably could have found a way around. Oh well.

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Sand Spring Run

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Ice

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Waterfall, with some weird blue ice at the base

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Rob, enjoying himself

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Small waterfall – the woods were green with massive quantities of rhododendron

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The trail goes through a crevice in the rock

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Sarah

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A layer of ice, suspended above the creek

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Snowy rocks and creek

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Me — dig the new glasses?

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The creek again

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Looking down from above the waterfall

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The creek, lined with pines


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