Cycling, hiking, camping, etc — now back in southern Indiana. Words and photos.

Archive for the 'Holiday' Category

Hiking the Ganoga View trail at Ricketts Glen

Tuesday, July 7th, 2009

On Independence Day, Sarah and I decided to go hiking at Ricketts Glen, a nearby state park. While the park is best known for its Falls Trail, with over 20 named waterfalls, and that trail is on our list of things to do before we leave PA, we chose to put together a loop with the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail and the Ganoga View Trail. Here’s a map of our hike.


View Ganoga View trail at Ricketts Glen 07/04/2009 in a larger map

The park was quite busy. I’ve only been there a few times before, but this was the busiest I’ve seen it. Not surprising, I suppose, given the holiday. Fortunately, the trails we chose had relatively few people on them.

We started out on the Old Beaver Dam Road Trail, which as its name suggests is an old fire road. The scenery was maily ferns, various hardwoods and pine trees, and the wide trail. There was a fair amount of mud, as well, but hiking was mostly easy.

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After a while, we saw a side trail with a sign saying 0.3 miles to the Falls Trail, and a view of Ganoga Falls. Despite the fact that we were largely avoiding the Falls Trail, we decided it couldn’t hurt to go check it out. The trail dropped a couple hundred feet rather steeply. The Falls Trail was very busy, as we expected, but the waterfall was impressive. My photos don’t really do it justice, apparently Ganoga Falls is the highest waterfall there, at 94 feet. We did not make the trek down to the bottom of the falls. We’ll go back sometime and hike the Falls Trail in its entirety.

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We made our way back up and got on the Ganoga View trail. The trail was grassy and a bit overgrown in places. I wore shorts, but that might not have been the best choice, given all the brush we had to walk through. We crossed a few streams and saw lots of mountain laurel, much of it in bloom.

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Sarah asked me to sit on a rock so she could take my picture. As I sat there, on a rock, surrounded by ferns, I noticed wild blueberries growing all around. Only some of them were ripe, but those that were ripe were quite delicious. A great find.

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This trail was a little more difficult than the old fire road; it was a bit rocky and was somewhat overgrown. And we were climbing for quite a while. But overall, it wasn’t terribly strenuous. There weren’t really any mountain views, but there might be during the winter. Still, it was a very beautiful hike through the woods. Some even denser ferns nearly enveloped the trail.

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We hiked about 4.6 miles. It was a great way to celebrate the holiday, and we managed to avoid the crowds that were on the Falls Trail. I look forward to going back and hiking that sometime. It’s long and difficult, so that will be a different experience altogether. But with 22 waterfalls, it should be worth it.

Christmas Hike 2008

Sunday, December 28th, 2008

Last year, Sarah and I hiked at McCormick’s Creek State Park, in southern Indiana, with my family. That day was unusually warm, at 47 degrees — I wore a sweater, for a hike on Christmas day!

Well, it looks like the Christmas hike is becoming a tradition. This year was a lot different, as it was just Sarah and me, and here in NE Pennsylvania, we had snow and ice to contend with. We both were (and still are) sick, but it was great to get out anyway.

We went down to Nescopeck State Park, where mom and I hiked when she came to help us move in. Sarah and I had never been there together. We decided to hike the Creekside Trail, and now that we have done a little snowshoeing, we felt confident enough to bring the dog with us.

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Rob

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Sarah

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Snowshoes

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Wide trail, mountains

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Creek

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Another view of the creek

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Rob, running alongside the creek

The trail was wide and easy for a while. It had snowed, warmed up, and then re-froze, so there was a fairly thick layer of ice on top of the remaining snow. It was very slick, but no real problem with our snowshoes. The crampons dig into the ice and have a very strong grip.

There was one thing we hadn’t counted on, though, that caused us some problems: with all the melting snow came some flooding. Parts of the trail were underwater, and we had to find a way to cross the water where it wasn’t too wide.

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Flooding

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A thin layer of ice hovered above the water

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Wide creek

Sarah found a good way to cross flooding in a couple of different places. She was a really good sport about it. We managed to step over/through the water without getting wet.

We reached a point where we were ostensibly supposed to continue in the direction we had been heading. However, the arrow pointing to the Creek Side Loop in that direction had been painted over, and there was no trail visible. We had to instead head back on the Fern Trail.

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What happened to the trail on the left?

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Another view of the creek

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The icy/muddy/slushy Fern Trail

At one point as we hiked, Rob was clearly watching some kind of animal. Eventually a rabbit jumped up and Rob took chase. He didn’t catch it, but it was good to see Rob acting like more of a dog (he normally just lays on the couch).

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Rob, stalking a rabbit

Shortly thereafter, we saw some tracks that I can only assume were bear tracks, unless there was some kind of bow-legged guy with weird boots hiking there previously. Can anyone confirm this?

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Bear tracks, maybe?

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Fern Trail

After a while, the Fern Trail reconnected with the Creekside Trail, and we headed back toward the car.

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Creek

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Sarah and Rob

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Another creek

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Back at the car

We really enjoyed our hike, despite the flooding problems and disappearing trail. I hope we can keep the Christmas hike tradition alive, as it’s a great way to celebrate the holiday and spend some quality time together.

Thanksgiving Ride 2008

Monday, December 1st, 2008

The past couple of years I’ve gone riding on Thanksgiving, before the festivities. In the past, I’ve gone mountain biking with my Indiana riding buddy Dave, but since we are now in Pennsylvania, that wasn’t an option. I chose instead to go for a brief road ride. I rode a familiar route, up Bunker Hill/Dug Road to Carverton Road, and rode by Francis Slocum Lake, then took 8th Street back down to the valley. I stopped by the lake to take a few extra photos. The ride was uneventful until near the end, so I’m not going to write much.

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Riding under 309

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Road/topo map on the GPS

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Looking back at the valley below

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Power lines

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Mountains by Carverton Road

As I rode, I found the Frances Slocum State Park mountain bike trailhead on Carverton Road and stopped to look at the trail map. I found a curious sticker, pictured below. After I got home I found the Wyoming Valley Mountain Bike Association’s site, which seems to be related. With a slogan like “Your Fortune Is Pain,” I am understandably intrigued.

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Sticker found by the Frances Slocum State Park mountain bike trailhead

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Dire warning

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The Trucker by Frances Slocum Lake

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Frances Slocum Lake

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Panoramic shot showing the horseshoe shape of the lake

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Me, by Frances Slocum Lake

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Descending on Carverton Road

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Industrial building

Once I got back in the valley, things got a little interesting. I sometimes ride on Shoemaker Ave, which becomes Main Street in Swoyersville. This is a two-lane, low-traffic road that seems like it should be a good place to ride. Cars can see far ahead so they know when it’s safe to pass. Speed limits are only 35 mph.

But this is where I always seem to encounter the most aggressive drivers. It makes no sense: there’s plenty of room for them to pass me, but often someone will honk at me as they pass. For no apparent reason. It was worse than usual on Thanksgiving, for some reason, as 4 or 5 people honked at me, one motioning toward the shoulder, as if to say I should ride there. Well, the shoulder is chock-full of debris, potholes, and puddles, and sometimes suddenly disappears. It’s not a safe place to ride.

I don’t know what it is about holidays, but I always seem to encounter aggressive drivers. Easter Sunday in 2007 comes to mind, and now this. It’s really frustrating; I’d think people would be laid back, having the day off and no time crunch to get to wherever they’re going. Sadly, it doesn’t seem to play out that way.

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Typical stretch of Shoemaker Road

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Heading home

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