Experimental music, photography, and adventures


Monday, June 1st, 2009

On Saturday, I did a ride I’ve been thinking about for a while. I put together a route that took me north to Center Moreland, where I knew I could get more water, then northeast to Falls, across the Susquehanna River, and back down along the east bank of the river. One advantage to this route was that the roads by the river looked pretty flat.

As it turned out, they were, but one of the other main roads I took was also relatively flat for many miles. And I took the Back Mountain Trail to get out of the valley. The end result was a ride with NO monstrous climbs — the largest single climb was around 300 feet — and most of the climbing I did have to do was very gradual. The ride ended up being 44 miles and around 3000 feet of climbing. I can’t believe that’s “flat” to me now.

Here’s the map:

View Falls 05/30/2009 in a larger map

And elevation profile:

Falls ride profile

Sarah had taken our digital point & shoot camera to a conference in New York City, so I decided to take our Holga, a lofi film camera. I’ve been wanting to do some more film photography anyway, so this was fine with me. The Holga gives very unpredictable results — sometimes the shots turn out great, and sometimes they’re terrible. You have a certain level of control, but a lot of it’s up to chance. My first roll of film turned out better than the second; I discovered that with our Holga, even if it’s sunny, it’s best to use 400 speed film. That’s useful knowledge for the future. I also learned that in order to avoid motion blur, I have to stop completely and hold the camera as steady as possible. The Holga’s single shutter speed is slower than I realized.

I decided early in the ride that I was going to take my time. It had been a while since I had done a ride this length, and I didn’t want to wear myself out too early in the ride. That, and it was just a gorgeous day to be out riding — I wanted to enjoy every minute of it.

I started out on the Back Mountain Trail, which is a scenic and enjoyable way to begin a ride.

R1- 3

R1- 7
Back Mountain Trail

Unfortunately, I reached a point where the trail was blocked off. I explored on foot and discovered that part of the trail by a waterfall had washed out during one of our recent rains. Some construction vehicles were present, but no workers. I explored further (encountering a snake in the process!) and determined that I could walk through with my bike. I did, and didn’t encounter any further problems on the trail.

R1- 5

R1- 8
Another part of the Back Mountain Trail

The trail took me up to Shavertown, and I turned off it to head away from town. I wasn’t sure how Lower Demunds Road would be here, and I was a little worried there would be some traffic. My concerns turned out to be unfounded and I enjoyed some scenic and easy riding on this road for several miles. During this time, I actually climbed quite a bit, but it was gradual and a long flat section made it not seem too bad.


A marshy area

Fun road

The road topped out at about 1375 feet and then I enjoyed a short but fun descent. I stopped in Center Moreland to get some beverages and a snack, and then headed out on back roads where I knew I would have a long descent toward the river.

Looking back

The descent was simply incredible, the road dropped about 600 feet over the course of more than three twisty miles. The road started out fairly open and became narrower and densely wooded. It followed a creek for some time and passed at least one waterfall.


R1- 1
Narrow, curvy road

I got on PA Route 92, which was a bit busier than the roads I had been on, but still rather quiet. I crossed the Susquehanna River and enjoyed views of the river and the mountains, some surrounding mountains have sheer rock faces that are quite impressive. I also stopped in the town of Falls to check out the Buttermilk Creek Falls for which I can only assume the town is known.

Note: you can tell I changed rolls of film, things were considerably worse on the second (ISO 200) roll. Though I like the lofi effects in some cases.

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River and mountains

R1- 5
Susquehanna River

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Buttermilk Falls

The falls again

Now I turned south and spent quite a while on Narrows Road. This was a one-lane road, paved for a while, but soon the pavement gave way to a gravel/dirt surface with many potholes, most of which were holding water. It was fairly smooth aside from the potholes, for the most part. For miles, the road paralleled the river, some railroad tracks, and the base of the mountains. It was very enjoyable riding, with only one climb to speak of. The scenery was mostly nice, but there was a disturbing amount of trash strewn about the side of the road. Sad.

The riding was very easy, aside from dodging potholes. Wonderfully easy. I don’t shirk away from a challenge, but this is the first long ride I’ve done around here where half of it wasn’t a death slog. It’s funny, this was easy riding on a bicycle, but I would never drive my car on this road. The potholes would just kill the suspension.

Narrows Road. The film didn’t advance properly here.

Botched and/or eerie shot of my bicycle

The road was flanked with wildflowers, in places

Gravel road

Mountain, road, tracks

At some point, the pavement returned.

Shadows on the mountain ahead


At this point, I ran out of film. This was fine, as I was almost back to town anyway. I rode into Duyea, going under a cool one-lane underpass. I was on Main Street in Duryea and Pittston for a while, which was mostly not too busy, thankfully. I crossed the Susquehanna again on US Route 11, which had a sidewalk on the bridge. Finally, I returned home via Susqehanna Avenue and the West Side Trail.

I enjoyed this ride very much. It’s great that I have a longer route with a reasonable amount of climbing. I hope to do a longer, more difficult ride at some point, but this was an excellent change of pace.

4 Responses to “Falls”

  1. Kevin Says:

    I love the Holga pictures. I’ve got a Diana F+ that I like to monkey with but I’ve never taken it on a ride. I really don’t think it’ll take the vibration but what the heck it’ll be fun playing with it on the bike.

  2. furiousBall Says:

    I actually really love the blurry shots, very cool

  3. Jon Grinder Says:

    I sort of envy you for being in a new area and getting to explore new routes on a constant basis. I’ve been in the Denver area for so long now (wow, 17 years went by so quickly!) that, even if I haven’t bicycled a route, I’ve driven or motorcycled it. I’m to the point where I have to drive somewhere to ride a new, unexplored route. (And I just refuse to do that as a normal thing.)

    By the way, I vote on “eerie” for the picture of your bike.

  4. John Says:

    I’m really starting to get excited about my ride out there next month. I may even try some of those mountains you call flat.

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