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Archive for the 'Spring' Category

More hiking at Beltzville State Park

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

On Saturday, Sarah and I went for another hike at Beltzville State Park. We have hiked there a couple of times before, and even did this same exact hike back in January. It’s one of our favorite places to hike in this area because the scenery is great, and there are quite a few different trails, each of which is unique in some way.

Needless to say, things look a lot different in June than they did in January. I was hoping the rhododendron would be in bloom, but we seem to have missed our opportunity to see that at this location. Alas. Still, it was a gorgeous hike, and it was wonderful to spend a good portion of the day hiking with my wife.

View Beltzville Hike 06/06/2009 in a larger map

I didn’t take as many photos as I normally do. Here are a few of them.
















Moon Lake mountain biking

Saturday, May 30th, 2009

It’s been too long since I wrote anything here. We’ve had a lot of rain, although I have done some riding when it hasn’t been raining.

Last week, I went mountain biking at Moon Lake. I love mountain biking in general, but I haven’t done much of it since moving to Pennsylvania. So, I decided another trip to Moon Lake was in order (the trails were covered in snow last time I rode there).

Unfortunately, this ride confirmed what I had already begun to feel: I don’t enjoy mountain biking as much here in Pennsylvania as I did in Indiana. Most of the trails are just too rocky to be much fun. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy myself, but the suffering-to-fun ratio was a bit less than favorable. The trails weren’t as technical as those on Moosic Mountain, but there were still enough rocky sections that I had some trouble.

Part of the problem was, despite the fact that a lot of the trail intersections had signs, I got hopelessly lost again. There was a lot of mud, even though it hadn’t rained for a couple of days. I figured these trails would drain well, but I was wrong.

Big Blue trail

Rocky trail

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Trail flanked by ferns


More rocks


Rocky trail

More ferns


I expect mountain biking will be relegated to the back seat, and I”ll continue doing more road biking and riding on gravel/dirt roads. These more-technical trails don’t do much for me. That said, riding on the trails was a nice change of pace. I also tried something I’d never done before: listening to music while riding. I must say, I really enjoyed it until I started sweating too much and my earbuds would no longer stay in place. I have another pair of earbuds that will probably work better.

Some quick post-work mixed terrain

Sunday, May 3rd, 2009

On Friday, I finished my projects a bit early and went for a bike ride. I wanted to try a different way of climbing Larksville Mountain. In the past, I’ve ridden up Larksville Mountain Road, but this is an extremely difficult way to go. It’s both steep and long — it seems like it’s never going to end. Every time I’ve ridden it, I’ve had to stop at least three times along the way. Looking the terrain map on Google Maps, it appeared to me that Washington Avenue might be a little longer, and seemed to climb up in a gorge carved by Brown’s Creek. This seemed like it might be easier, so I decided to try it. Here’s a map of the options.

View Mountain Road vs. Washington Ave in a larger map

Now, don’t get me wrong, I knew this would be a tough climb. There is simply no easy way to climb 600-800 vertical feet. But Washington Avenue had several advantages. Even though I had to ride further to reach the base of the mountain, I would get some of the climbing out of the way during this time. And the ride to the mountain was quite enjoyable. Furthermore, Washington Ave. topped out at about 1400 feet, versus 1500 for Mountain Rd.

A climb in Edwardsville

Looking at the mountain I was about to climb
. It looks unassuming from here, but … not so much.

Church St.

One of many trails I spotted alongside the road. These warrant further exploration

It was a long, hard climb. I still had to stop a couple of times. It had rained most of the day, so it was very humid and I was dripping with sweat. It was grueling riding, and at a few points I wondered why I was doing this. But I keep telling myself that if I keep climbing these crazy roads, I’ll get in better shape quickly, and then it won’t seem so bad. We’ll see if that holds true or not.

Beginning the climb

Steep switchback

Looking back at the switchback



Looking back toward the valley

Curvy climbing

Eventually, I reached the top. To be honest, I wasn’t sure that this way (Washington Ave) was easier than Mountain Rd. But then I did the Mountain Rd. climb the next day and now there is no doubt in my mind: Washington Ave. is easier. More on that ride later.

I made my way over to Steele Road for some nice gravel riding. I had ridden on this road before, but I was going in the opposite direction that time. The road was still wet and a little greasy from the rain we had earlier. Just enough to turn my tires red from the gravel, and get things a little dirty. Traction was still good and the surface was solid. It was relatively flat, easy riding for a while. I took my time and enjoyed the scenery.

Steele Road





I stopped at a power line right-of-way to enjoy the view. It’s so great to see everything getting green.

The Trucker, with Bunker Hill (an adjacent mountain) in the background

The Trucker

The descent ahead. Wyoming Valley, where I came from, is visible in the distance.

From here, I had an insane descent down Corby St., a rough, paved road down the mountain. It was fun, but I had to ride the brakes the whole way. I think I will need some better brakes, or at least better pads, for the Trucker. I really have to squeeze the brakes hard on downhills like this.

Trees and clouds

Small, abandoned house

The trucker by some yellow flowers

Corby St.

The descent was over all too quickly. I had a little climbing to do, and then another descent on a short, steep road, from which I got a nice overhead view of some churches in our neighborhood. It’s interesting to see them from above.

Myrtle / Periwinkle. I’ve been seeing a lot of this.

Wyoming Valley, including some churches near us

It was a lovely ride. The climb was gruelling, but overall I was gone less than an hour and a half. It’s cool to be able to catch some nice views and some mixed terrain in a relatively short ride.

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