The Great Allegheny Passage – Day 2

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Day 2 on the Great Allegheny Passage Trail

Day two began a ride through ledges of rock with the forest life abounding above that. 20 miles east of Ohiopyle was very similar to the 20 miles into it the day before. We began by 11, having enjoyed a healthy breakfast and awaiting the long train that bisected town and our trail.

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The morning hurried through. At some stretches we rode two by two, right behind one another to play name games and to sweat away the miles. We were going ahead and behind other groups doing similar trips, as we caught up at bike repair shops for air, or they passed us while we ate a snack.

We paused at Pinkerton Tunnel for blasting construction, took in the view of the river below from the shade, and rode a detour around it once we were cleared.

A rest in Markleton lead us with lulling sounds to the most intimate forest stream. We crawled down the bank, careful on the soft floor of fallen needles and growing mushrooms, to step out on a rock.

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The trail was about to become more scenic as we approached, happily, the continental divide – the literal high point of our trip.

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Here we are, 23 miles to go, since climbing for the past 125 miles to the top of the Continental Divide. We were overjoyed! Check out the climb in this graphic below.

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Going at the highest speed of 18mph, down down down, was such a relief. It gave us all a second wind, and 23 miles into Cumberland didn’t look difficult at all. We stopped to take pictures at the Mason Dixon, state line. Old iron bridges, and small wooden ones lead us over quick streams. We emerged from a long dark tunnel, going ahead on trust not to run into the dark walls or something worse. It felt like a dream biking through darkness, you relied on a safe intuition to get you to the light at the end. We began to parallel the scenic railway in Frostburg. Humid fields exhausting steamy soil left us in a romantic fog, gleaming at sundown. Rolling hills, and small towns built into them were apart of the entire pastoral view and experience.

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We arrived in Cumberland at sunset. Many walkers, runners and bikers were along the trial. We held our hands high crossing beneath the marking between the G.A.P. and the C&O Canal Towpath trail to D.C. From here the next morning we bid farewell to my brother and his girlfriend! I need to share their digital images to view what the trail looks like from this Cumberland point. What they experienced was a mix of history, ruin, tunnels and great company at campsites.

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Where shall we go on our next trip? I think Phil and I will do the C&O Towpath at some point!

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The Great Allegheny Passage – Bike Trip 2012

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Two days, 142 Miles – The GAP Trail – The Great Allegheny Passage

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Starting in the steel-side Pittsburgh, we began our Monday morning at mile marker 139. The cool day with the bright sun, and three days worth of our belongings on our bikes, made us feel free and unencumbered. My brother and his girlfriend would continue on through storms and high waters to get to D.C. by Friday to catch a train! Phil and I took half of a week to stop our bike trip in Cumberland, Maryland.

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We started out by crisscrossing railroad tracks, biking up to old bridges traveling over rivers, and came to the small working town of McKeesport where the trail weaved through the industrial town.

The recent rain had made a few places muddy, and we drove down one truckers alley-road before claiming the rest of the trail for bikes only.

We tried to break every 15 miles to stand away from our bikes, and grab a snack.

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We ate in Smithton for lunch, with 40 miles of the trail behind us at this point. Most things in town were closed except for this smoky bar where we were carded to verify that we were 18 !?

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By mid-afternoon, we had passed the quaint town of Boston and most of the 1950’s vinyl homes that were open to the trail. Connellsville was a town we passed through with beautiful community flower gardens, colorful in the median plantings that separated the bike trail from the car traffic.

We’d gone into the forest climb before Ohiopyle and it was now us, the trail and the river.

The trail, at this point, was also referred to as the Youghiogheny River Trail and was a difficult last 20 miles to finish up to our campsite for the night.

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Ah, but so worth it once we’d set up camp a quarter mile higher than the trail, trekked back down, and walked 1/2 a mile into town to enjoy a lovely dinner on a back porch. The sun was setting, we laughed and ate merrily having completed a long 68 miles of biking for the day.

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