Bald Eagle Ramble

For the past two years, The Sloth and I have undertaken overnight bicycle camping trips in the fall. We did the Pine Creek Rail Trail in 2008 and 2009. This year, we decided to mix things up a bit, and did our ride on the gravel forestry roads in the Bald Eagle State Forest.

I grew up a few miles from where we were riding, so I was already pretty familiar with the area. We planned a 20-ish mile loop Saturday, and a shorter loop for Sunday, with R. B. Winter State Park as our base camp.

We got kind of a late start on Saturday. It was probably around 1:00 before we started up the first climb out of the park.

It was about a 3 mile climb to the top of the first mountain. Even with my 17 inch low gear, I ended up walking some of it. At the top of the climb, there was a gorgeous view of the mountains all dressed up for fall.

My bike at the overlook

Overlook

I forgot to bring my camera, and I shot these with my cell phone, so that’s why they kind of suck.

After catching our breath at this overlook, we had about 5 miles of mostly downhill riding through the Spruce Run valley. A wild turkey ran across the road in front of us, but that was the only notable wildlife sighting.

Rolling down to Spruce Run

Then we had to slog our way up Running Gap, where I stopped to refill a water bottle out of the stream. No filtration needed. It’s nice that there’s at least one place on Earth where you can drink the water straight from the stream.

After the long ride walk through the gap, it was a long, mostly gradual uphill back to the park.

About a mile from the end, we stopped off at another overlook to take some pictures.

Overlook At R. B. Winter State Park

We rolled into the campsite just before dark, where Klinutus and my evil sister were waiting for us. They brought us some cupcakes, of which we were in dire need.

After we finished off the cupcakes, we decided that our freeze dried camping food didn’t seem very appetizing, so we drove into town and got a pizza.

By the time we got back to camp, it had gotten really cold out, and we had no firewood. So, I lit my candle lantern, so we’d at least have some light, and we sat around the picnic table and drank coffee and talked a load of bollocks until late in the evening.

The next morning it was freezing cold. Sloth emerged from his tent and discovered he had forgotten to bring anything for breakfast.

Calamity!

So, we packed up our stuff and drove into town for the manly farmer’s breakfast buffet at Ard’s farm market.

The breakfast at Ard’s is delightful, but it’s composed almost entirely of grease. With a gut full of grease, we decided to bag the 15 mile loop we had planned for the day, and drove back to Harrisburg with all due haste, before gastro-intestinal misfortune could strike us unawares.

So, only 20 miles for the weekend, but they were good, hard miles. Probably worth at least 50 rail trail miles.

Sloth has a few more pictures on his Picasa.

(For those of you reading this on the OpenStreetMap Blog aggregator, I traced the whole thing, and added the campground we stayed in to the map.)

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