#30daysofbiking – day 21 – Bike Rural Routes & Rail Trail


Sloth, Klinutus, and I did a ride organized by the Linn Conservancy yesterday.

We had a guide who told us all about the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, including some of the future plans for it. From memory:

  • Mini trail head in Vicksburg: They want to build a small parking lot / rest room in Vicksburg where the trail crosses Beaver Run Road.
  • Crossing US 11/15: Major engineering work would be required, so they are looking to possibly route trail users to the intersection of US11/15 with PA45.
  • Crossing the Susquehanna: The bridge caught on fire, and there’s a lot of work to do to fix it back up. The trail probably won’t cross the river any time soon.

The scenery was nice.



We rode down the Rail Trail to the Eastern trail head, then back to Vicksburg to talk about the new trail head they want to build there. Then, we turned down Hoffa Mill Road, to see the mill. The mill is apparently still powered by undershot water wheels.


This technology will come in handy during the zombie apocalypse.

After we checked out the mill, we completed the loop back to the Dale Walker House. Sloth and I promptly headed to Ard’s for some non-paleo dinner.

Ride Stats:

There were a lot of side roads, farm roads, and other interesting things we didn’t get to explore, but I have a feeling we will on future excursions.

I have many more photos in my Gallery, in case you are a person who likes photos.

#30daysofbiking – Day 6


For today’s installment of #30daysofbiking, I met up with Klinutus, my Evil Sister, and Der Struwwelpeter. We started and ended today’s adventure at Ard’s Farm, because they have enormous cheeseburgers, and this ride would be ending near lunch time. Ard’s built a little connector trail between their parking lot and the Buffalo Valley Rail Trail, so easy access for bicyclers.

Helpful signs ensure that you can find your way to the cheeseburgers.

Struwwelpeter Dance

I had the trail-a-bike, so I towed Der Struwwelpeter down the trail to Mifflinburg,

Towing Der StruwwelpeterHeading to Mifflinburg

Once we made it to Mifflinburg, we stopped to catch our breaths, and observe the Amish people.

Amish Buggy

Then, it was back to Ard’s for lunch. A total of 8.6 miles for the day.

9 miles

Cold Hike


Long, long ago, I mentioned that I wanted to hike all 798 miles required to earn the State Forest Trails Award.

Last weekend, I went out into the frosty mountains with Klinutus and my evil sister. It was about 16 degrees up in the snowy mountains.

I got to try out my Subaru’s AWD in the snow for the first time. It worked very nicely.

My Outback in the snow

There was a lot of rocks. I hate rocks. Especially when they’re under the snow and you can’t see them.

The trail

Because I am a very clever boy, I had a thermos full of coffee in my backpack. So, I was fully caffeinated for the hike.

Coffee Break

There are a lot of nice views on this section of the trail. Here is Klinutus contemplating endless infinities or whatever.

Klinutus contemplating endless inifities

At any rate, it was very nice, except that I twisted my ankle or something out there, and have been out of commission for the past week.

Klinutus brought along his camera tripod, so we could pose for our end-of-the-hike group photo.

Group pic

Another four miles down, only 768 left to go!

Bald Eagle s24o


The Sloth and I did our annual fall s24o this past weekend (fourth year in a row!). Somehow, we managed to pick the coldest night of the year for our camp out. It was the first time I’d been on a bike in two months. Hauling camping gear around the mountains after a long time off the bike is probably not a good idea, and my legs were shot shortly after we started.

We stopped by this covered bridge to take a picture or two.

Covered Bridge

A couple of miles later, we crossed into the State Forest.

Entering the woods

We had a big mountain to climb to get to our campsite, but it was starting to get dark. We wanted enough daylight to gather a big pile of firewood, since the forecast was for cold, cold, and more cold. I wasn’t sure we’d make it to the site before dark, so we started to look for any good site we could find.


We couldn’t find anything suitable on the north side of the mountain, so we climbed (haha, we walked) over the mountain, and rode down to our site, just as the sun started to go down.

camp site

When we got to the site, we discovered that the forest spirits had blessed us with a big pile of firewood, left by some previous campers. The only downside was that the wood was soaking wet from the recent monsoons and freak snow storm.

It took a long time and an Esbit tablet, but we got a fire going.


Good thing, too. It was miserably cold. The forecast was calling for 26 degrees, but I call bullshit. I didn’t have a thermometer, but it was cold. Cold enough for stream to come off your pee. And that’s cold.

I experimented with cooking and making hot cocoa with an alcohol stove. Alcohol kind of sucks in the cold, but I eventually had a hot dinner and a big hot mug of hot chocolate. I later figured out that you need to keep the alcohol in your pocket so it stays warm.

We had the traditional bullshitting session around the campfire until it was so cold we couldn’t stand it anymore, and so we went to bed.

With the early bedtime and daylight savings time nonsense, I was awake by 4:30 the next morning. I got up and made a pot of coffee. After I finished my coffee, I got cold again, and got back in my bivy. I laid in my bivy, looking at the stars for about an hour. I saw 4 shooting stars, and thought that it was pretty nice not to be in a tent, even though my bivy and Thermarest were glazed over with a nice heavy coating of frost.


Sloth got out of his tent to go pee, and said it was cold. He went back to bed, and declared that he wasn’t coming out until the sun was out to warm thing up. I stayed in my bivy and kept on looking at the stars until the stars went away and the sky turned blue.


I decided to go have some breakfast, but my cliff bar was frozen solid. So, I made a second pot of coffee, and dunked it in the coffee to thaw it out. This actually turned out to taste wonderful, and I think I’ll keep dunking my cliff bars in coffee even when they’re not frozen from here on out.

At long last, the sun came up over the mountain, and actually started to warm things up. Sloth got out of bed to make some oatmeal, while I wandered off into the woods to dig a cat hole (this is a wild campsite without facilities).


We broke camp, loaded the bikes, and were on our way and rolling down the mountain. It was a nice long descent. I was flying down a gravelly road on over-inflated 35mm tires, and I think my brains almost got rattled out of my head.

When we made it to the bottom of the mountain, I looked down at my handlebar-mounted GPS to see how fast we were going.


GPS was no longer there! Must have rattled loose on the way down the mountain.
My legs were already beyond fried at this point, and there was no way in hell I was riding back up the mountain to look for it. I honestly would have been lucky to make it back to the car (which was less than 10 miles away). So, I had to radio for a rescue.

Klinutus and Evil sister came and picked us up, found the lost GPS, and shuttled us and our bikes back to the starting line.

Instead of the 20 miles we had planned for day two, we rode about 7, and then ate gigantic cheeseburgers.

As we exited the cheeseburger establishment, we saw a young lady eyeballing our bikes. She said her dad was a frame builder in Philly, and that she liked touring bikes because most people ride hybrids.

Sloth and I are reasonably convinced that this mystery woman’s father is Bilenky, but neither of us had the presence of mind to ask, and didn’t want to come across as strange frame builder groupies. She was impressed to learn that we camped out, and told us the official temp was around 24 degrees that night.

I think this makes the coldest night I’ve ever slept without a tent or mummy bag.

For those of you curious about gear:
I was under a JRB Mt. Rogers quilt on a Therm-a-rest neoair, inside a cabelas XPG bivy.

I was very comfortable with this setup, except for my head, because my hat kept falling off.

This was a fun trip, and we’re even considering doing a second one this year; possibly in the Tuscarora State Forest.

The Sloth has written up a more entertaining account of our adventure on his site.

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.


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.

Hiking: AT – PA325 to Horse Shoe Trail


I spent the past week battling an evil cold / flu thing. I was just starting to feel better Friday, so Saturday, Klinutus and I set out to hike the section of the AT from PA325 to Swatara Gap. The weather was supposed to be warm and pleasant.

The weatherman was somewhat misinformed. We found the trail covered in a sheet of ice. It took us all morning to slip and slide our way to the top of the mountain, and then it started to pour icy rain on us.

The snow started to melt into a steamy, icy fog, and ice-covered tree limbs were crashing to the ground all over the place.

Steamy Snow

After a bit of calculations, it became obvious that we were not going to make it to Swatara Gap without some night hiking, and I really hate night hiking, especially on ice-covered rocks.

We bagged the hike, and walked back down the mountain. It’s probably a good thing, because I’m sick as a dog again, and I probably would be worse off if I had spent the night under a tarp sleeping on the snow.

Hiking: Hawk Mountain Sanctuary


Last weekend, Klinutus and my evil sister decided they wanted to hike around the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, although I rather grossly underestimated the difficulty of some of the trails.

They were a tad rocky for my taste.


The trail they call the Skyline Trail, is really not a hiking trail at all. It’s almost entirely rock scrambling. I do not enjoy rock scrambling very much, especially when I was thinking we were just going for a leisurely walk in the woods.


It was not long before the hills rang out the obscene echoes of my shouted complaining.


After what seemed like an eternity clinging to the rocks, we were rewarded with a nice view.


The View

Klinutus and Evil Sister take in the view

In any event, I survived, and actually had a good time. Strange how that works; even if you’re miserable out there, you always remember it as having been fun — once you get home.

More pictures in the Gallery, if you like pictures.

Backpacking: West Canada Lake Wilderness


This past weekend, I went with my Evil Sister and Klinutus to backpack around the West Canada Lake Wilderness in the Adirondacks.

We left immediately after work on Thursday night, as it’s a 9 hour drive from Harrisburg. We finally got to the trailhead at 3:00AM Friday morning. There was a clear sky and no light pollution there, so I flopped my bivy down right next to the car, and stared off into space and time until I fell asleep.

After a few hours, but before the sun came up, I had an intestinal emergency. I fumbled through my pack for my flashlight and poop shovel and ran off into the forest to dig a hole and unburden myself.

A few hours later, I awoke to the morning sun, which revealed a perfectly good outhouse right across the parking lot. Doh!

As a public service, I have included this outhouse on the map, so that others needn’t poop into holes in the ground.

At first light, we hiked down the French Louis trail, where we encountered a filthy looking backpacker who informed us that we were the first people he’d seen in 3 days.

We were not very far into the woods, when we came upon this little fellow. I nearly sewered him with my trekking pole before my sister alerted me to his presence. It was still pretty cold outside, and he was a little slow trying to hop off into the woods. This is how I was able to get my camera right up close for a picture.

There are these little Adirondack lean-to shelters all over the place. Many of them are built right on a lake, so you have unbelievable views in them. A couple of them had cooking implements hanging from them, so you don’t have to bring your own, if you don’t mind cooking with unclean pots of indeterminate origin.

We found one of these shelters unoccupied Friday afternoon and claimed it for ourselves. It had quite a view.

Beaver HouseSaturday morning, we futzed around in camp until quite late making breakfast and coffee and looking at the view. When we finally did get underway, we found that beavers had constructed a dam, which caused a detour of the trail, forcing us to hike around the beaver pond.

Klinutus dances the monkey dance
The extra walking did not dampen Klinutus’ spirits, as evidenced by his insane butt-monkey dance on the bridge over a stream crossing.

We had perfect weather for the whole endeavor. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, day or night.


Extreme Pano

Saturday night, all the lean-tos were full, so we found another spot with a nice view of the lake. Klinutus built a fire, we had dinner, watched the sun go down, and slept out under the stars.

Klinutus Builds a Fire

Sunset from Saturday Night's campsite

Sunday morning we had a fairly easy 5 mile walk back to the car, where we saw (but did not photograph) a beaver and two grouse.

It was a wondrous trip, even though my legs are so sore I can barely walk a day and half after I got off the trail.

There’s a few more pictures in my Gallery, in case all these pictures didn’t do it for you.