I went on another s24o with doc and sloth this weekend. We met up at Doc’s house and threw our bikes and camping supplies in the back of his truck for the ride down to the YHRT trailhead.
Around this time I remembered that I had forgotten my tarp poles. Not really a big deal, I assumed I could find a few sticks in the campsite to set up my tarp with.
After lunch, we had a few more miles of rail trail before turning off into the real world. I was a little nervous about this part, because I was the one who mapped out the route to the campground, and I did so without any real knowledge of the area. I just looked up the topography view on gmaps, and tried to steer us around any big hills, while simultaneously keeping us off busy roads. Luckily, I was pretty successful. We had a few hills, but nothing horrible. Traffic was also pretty minimal until we got close to the campsite.
A few miles before the campsite, we had some weather. It rained on us for maybe the last 2 miles of the ride, but once we got to our site in the “Timberdoodle Roughin’ It Area” of the campground, it had mostly stopped.
We decided to pitch our shelters before making dinner, in case it started back up again.
As I had forgotten my tarp poles, I had to make a little expedition into the woods to look for some sticks. The only sticks I could find were a little on the thin side, and a wee bit rotten, but they only had to hold a few pounds of tension, so I guessed they would serve.
After dinner, sloth poured a small vial of olive oil into his little cook pot. He lit up a second Esbit tablet when I asked him what he was up to. “popcorn!” He said. He was going to try to make popcorn over an Esbit tablet. It was the wackiest thing I had heard all day, and I was not optimistic about the odds of successful popcorn popping.
I was wrong. It did work, and the popcorn was pretty good. Luckily, Doc snapped a photo of the popcorn with the still-burning Esbit stove to document this achievement, as nobody would have believed it otherwise.
After dinner, we had some festive beverages, and a bit of conversation before turning in for the night.
About an hour after bedtime, it started raining. Hard. It rained pretty much all night long, which was kind of nice, because it chased the bugs away, and I was having some insect issues in my open tarp.
Just before dawn, I had to get up the answer the call of nature. I noticed that my tarp was much closer to my face than it was when I went to sleep. Nylon stretches when it gets wet, so the whole tarp had lost a good bit of tension and there was water pooling in some of the low spots.
As I was walking back from my trip to the potty, I briefly considered tightening things back up, but I figured we would be getting up for breakfast soon anyhow. Then, calamity struck! I tripped over one of the guylines, and one of my rotten little sticks snapped in two! The whole tarp came crashing down, dumping water all over my camping gear.
I therefore decided it was time to get up. I got my breakfast sorted out, and my camping compatriots were stirring soon thereafter. We were underway in a stiff drizzle by 8:00 or so.
We returned to Serenity Station for a second breakfast, and made the final push up the rail trail towards York.
At around the 50 mile mark, I was feeling pretty tired and lightheaded. Then I beheld a truly amazing spectacle. A penguin had waddled out onto the trail maybe 100 feet in front of us. This was very disconcerting, because penguins are not indigenous to this part of Pennsylvania. I asked my companions what manner of animal that was up ahead. They reported that it was a cat. It still looked like a penguin to me, but in a few seconds, it changed direction, and then I could see that it was, in fact, feline. A black and white feline, but a feline to be sure. I don’t know if I was just really tired, or if maybe Serenity Station puts hallucinogens in their breakfast omelets.
At any rate, we were soon back in downtown York, covering a total distance of 55 miles for the weekend.
Despite the rain, the tarp failure, and the hallucinatory penguins, it was a lovely time. I can’t wait to do it again.