Spring in Winter

This last week has been pretty amazing, with temperatures ranging from the 50’s to 73 degrees today! Just when it seemed like the ice and snow wouldn’t stop, we are treated to 7 glorious days in February!

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I know the cold weather will eventually come back, but this little teaser is just the thing that could help shake out those cobwebs and get you ready for a year full of adventures!

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Do something nice for someone, when no one else is looking.

 

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Winter Legs, Hawks Nest and Windervals

I guess Punxsutawney Phil was wrong. A couple weeks ago, the world’s most famous rodent saw his shadow, indicating 6 more weeks of winter. This weekend and the weather for the next 10 days indicate otherwise. With temperatures reaching the 60’s the last two days, I had to fit in a couple rides. Saturday was an off road, gravel and slush adventure. For Sunday, Eric and I planned a road ride on gravel bikes with knobby tires, to compensate for all the dirt and gravel on the roadway as well as the melting ice and snow.

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Port Jervis Bridge

 

We pedaled out of Action Bikes and Outdoor, towards Matamoras on Rt. 209/6. Once through Westfall Township, we turned left on Mountain Avenue to Delaware Drive and over the Port Jervis Bridge. Turning left into the West End neighborhood, we rode along the river and up to Rt. 97. We turned right and rode up to Skyline Drive. As we attempted to climb up to Point Peter, we were stopped about 3/4 of the way up by a gate that was blocking the unplowed, snow filled road.

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Looking to get some more climbing in, we adjusted our route and descended back to Rt. 97 and headed up to the Hawks Nest. You can’t beat the view from any of the roadside pull offs. However, there was a bit more traffic than expected and a lot more motorcycles than cars. The motor bikes were riding up and over the hills and turning around and doing it all over again, while their buddies took video of them popping wheelies.

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Not sure this is the smartest thing on a road with so many blind corners and hills. We rode over and down to the other side. After another mile or so, we pedaled up a Shortell Road (a hard packed dirt surface) for half a mile until we were again turned around by a pile of snow this time, blocking off the unplowed road.

We decided to ride back over the Hawks Nest, also known as the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway. We stopped at the very . . top for a Clif bar and a photo op. To escape the Evil Knievels of the world, we sped down Rt. 97 and back into the West End neighborhood. The ride on Mountain Avenue and back up Rt. 209/6 were met with a horrendous head wind. Gusts were almost blowing us backward.

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If this were simply a spring teaser, I’ll take it. But, if this is a sign of things to come, I’ll take it and run or pedal. Either way, I’ll welcome it!

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here

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Appalachian Trail Adventure

Winter has hit the northeast. On Thursday, Mother Nature dropped nearly a foot of snow on us. Easily the largest snowfall in the area this winter. A bikepacking trip was planned for this past weekend, but with back roads and trails too deeply covered, TC shifted his focus to an overnight backpacking adventure. With Will and myself enlisted, TC mapped out the trip and made sure we would be rewarded at the end of the day’s hike.

This was to be my first multi day hike and it showed. I started out the day by driving off from home with my hat and gloves on the roof of the car. They ended up on my driveway. Apparently it seems I dramatically over packed. Well, I over dressed as well, but shed some clothes and added them to my bulging backpack.

We departed on Saturday morning from Fairview Lake near Stillwater, NJ and snowshoed up a long hill on the Appalachian Trail. The higher we got, the deeper the snow. When we arrived on top, we were rewarded with a walk along the ridge and treated to astonishing views.

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We climbed and descended for the better part of 5 1/2 hours. About three-quarters of the way through the eight mile hike, we shed the snowshoes. As we got closer to the cabin, we passed some day hikers, that really packed the snow down enabling us to pick up the pace.

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Saturday Lunch Break

The last half mile was a downhill hike that took us over countless rocks and snow drifts. We landed on Camp Road and walked about 1000 feet to the Mohican Outdoor Center, our home away from home for the night. Now, we knew we were staying in a cabin. What we did not know was that the Mohican staff were preparing a meal for another group and invited us over to the dining hall for a gourmet feast.img_0220

Stomachs full, we retired to our cabin. We were going to need a good nights sleep as the weather forecast for Sunday was a mix of snow, sleet and rain.

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We woke about 6:30am, to pellets of ice hitting the cabin. A good breakfast and a pot of coffee and we were fully recharged and ready to take on the weather. With covers over our packs and rain gear on, we headed out the door and onto the trail at 9:30am. Again, the day started out with a climb. We opted to forgo  the snowshoes and make up as much time as possible to get through the storm. img_0211

Getting up the hill was not a problem. We climbed rather quickly. When we reached the higher elevations, the snow came down heavy and the wind was blowing extremely hard, making it difficult to see. Pushing through 18-20 inches of snow slowed us down considerably. I started to fall behind. My shoulders and hips were sore. As I plodded forward, I was lucky that TC and Will kept and eye out for trail markers. We reached Sunfish Pond and took a short rest about halfway through the 9 mile day.

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Will’s pack was covered in ice

We moved on and navigated the rocky terrain around the lake. After another climb, we descended a few miles down a rather well packed trail, along a beautiful creek, all the way to the parking area along RT. 80.

Although the terrain was a little rough, due to the snow and ice, I’m interested to see how it will be during the spring or summer. I’m sure I will find out, as this may have been my first overnight backpacking adventure, but it certainly will not be my last.

The Climb Before the Storm

What a beautiful day. 51 degrees in February. With the impending snow storm on the horizon, today was one of those days that if you have a window, you had to go out and ride. I wanted to change things up a bit, so I took the Van Dessel WTF on a stroll over Cummins Hill. A 28 pound bike with 29X 2.1 inch tires should provide quite a challenge on  the same hills that I normally climb on my sub 17 pound road bike.

I left Action Bikes and Outdoor and pedaled down Rt. 209/6 towards Matamoras. Once I navigated the school traffic and lights, I veered left onto Mountain Avenue and cut across to Delaware Drive for a windy stint along the river.

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A brief stop to take a photo of a garage that was painted to look like a farm scene, then back down Delaware Drive, cautiously to prepare for the climb.  The first set of hills take you off the river and away from the commercial river companies’ launch sites. The initial climb, although not very long, gives the rider a little insight of what’s about to come. The roadway twists, turns and goes skyward for about 3.5 miles. Once you summit this section, you drop down pretty quickly. Be sure to feather the brakes and glance to the right, as you do not want to miss the incredible views of the Delaware River from about mid way down the hill.

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At the bottom, you cross the train tracks and arrive in the tiny town of Mill Rift, PA. This little berg has so many cool nooks and crannies. Check out the frozen water wheel and covered bridge that are among the amazing things to see.

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After site seeing in Mill Rift, the longer section of hills comes up on you without notice. Incline after leg burning incline, the road seems to never stop going upward. Every time you think you’ve crested the top of a hill, you look up to see the road go higher. When you finally reach the top, you really have to be careful, as the descent is steep and dangerous. This is one paved road that requires your full attention. Although the road is lightly travelled, cars and pickup trucks can come up on you in a hurry.

At the bottom, a right hand turn puts you back on Rt. 209/6 and the cool down into Milford is just what the doctor ordered!

This is a difficult route that should be done on a road bike. Helmets should always be worn, especially when you plan on descending a hill like this.

What’s Playing (what am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – The Pretenders – Brass in Pocket

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Little Bit of Everything

I had a window on Saturday. I got out from Action Bikes and Outdoor in the heart of Milford at 3pm. It was chilly, but the sun was out and I’ll take 35 degrees in February anytime. Not knowing what to expect, I took the Van Dessel WTF, just in case the roads and trails had snow.

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I winded my way through Milford and dropped down Metz Road past the Metz Icehouse and into Milford Beach where I jumped on the Mcdade Trail. I was surprised how dry the surface was. Very little snow. img_0188

I pedaled past Raymondskill Road onto the single track to where the trail drops down the wooden steps. A quick hike up the side of the hill put me over the guardrail and on Rt. 209. From there, I jumped onto Zimmerman Road, rode up and around the old horse trails and back out on 209. Another 1/4 mile and I was back on Zimmerman and climbing up to the Zimmerman Farm (I detailed Marie Zimmerman’s farm and home in a couple of previous posts)

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Zimmerman Farm

After a quick photo op, I pedaled through the farm, past the house and down the trail and back out to Rt. 209. Crossing over Rt. 739, I shot down the McDade extension, over the wooden bridge and back around to 209 for a few miles before jumping back on the Mcdade Trail. As I got back to Milford Beach, the sun just started to set over the Delaware River.

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Sunset over the Delaware River

img_0191Although I long for warmer days, I’ll take 35 in February anytime!!

What’s Playing (What am I listening to while writing or what’s dancing around in my head while riding) Today – Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show – The Cover of the Rolling Stoneimg_0187