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.)

Klinutus’ Bachelor Party

See this shady character? This is Klinutus.

Klinutus is a shady fucker

You see, Klinutus asked my evil sister to marry him a while back. As it turns out, my evil sister has highly questionable taste in men, and so she said yes.

Since there’s going to be a wedding, there has to be a bachelor party.

My evil sister forbade employment of the traditional bachelor party accouterments, like strippers and whatnot, so we had to make other arrangements.

It was decided that we would undertake an overnight whitewater canoe / camping adventure instead. So, we loaded up our canoes, tents, moonshine, etc. and headed to the north end of the Pine Creek Gorge.

I was still hopeful that someone had secretly arranged for strippers to meet us someplace along the water, so I wore my sexiest outfit.

My sexiest outfit

I was traveling light, since I was in a kayak, but the other six fellows had canoes loaded to the gunwales with camping gear and booze. I sat patiently waiting for them to get everything loaded before we hit the water.

Waiting to get started

By my estimate, about half of the participants were already thoroughly intoxicated by the time we got underway. The first rapid swamped two of the three canoes.

Dumping water out of a swamped canoe

As the day went on, the paddlers got drunker, and more canoes filled with water. At one point, Klinutus even had to throw a rescue line to retrieve a reveler from a watery tomb.

At long last, we arrived at our campsite for the evening. I was feeling quite smug by this point, because I had managed not to fall out of my boat all day. I waited by the shore for the others to unload their canoes. Then, I popped my skirt, and got out of my kayak, only to find myself swimming in water well over my head. Evidently I was not as close to shore as I thought.

Soggy and cold, we made camp, rigging our tarps with canoe paddles.

Klinutus' rig

We stayed at the Hoffman camping area, which was quite lovely, as it’s only accessible by canoe or bicycle. It’s a nice open field, and we had the whole thing to ourselves.

Hoffman Camping Area

There’s very little light pollution in this part of the state, and it was a clear night in an open field, so the stars were out in full force. Everyone seemed to enjoy the view.

Drunken stargazers

That is, when they weren’t busy tending to the campfire.

Campfire

There was much deep and insightful conversation about various and sundry topics around the campfire before everyone went to bed.

The following morning, it took people an astoundingly long time to get back underway. We didn’t launch the boats until almost 11:00.

The water wasn’t nearly as choppy in this section, and we were able to float along and enjoy the scenery for another 10 miles until we got to the take-out.

Floating along Pine Creek

Floating along Pine Creek

Floating along Pine Creek

It was quite a lovely time, even without strippers. Amazingly, nobody drowned, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves.

There are a bazillion more pictures here and here, if you want to see more.