Our family set out in September with out new camper and our adaptive bicycle, (and a whole lot more!), determined to enjoy places along the way where we could explore trails with out adaptive bike. It was a journey in and of itself to simply get the tools in place and find a camper that was not only available, but which our truck was able to transport. (Weight becomes an important concern when towing anything). It was a learning curve, and for sure, these first days, we were at the bottom of it!
Good thing my husband was/is creative, adaptable, resourceful, and determined to make this trip work. My own goal, with my mobility challenges, was to get there and back without injury. Perhaps a small goal, but there you have it. Camper life is not designed with mobility challenges in mind, but we made it work.
Our bicycle breaks apart in two pieces using S&S couplings and fits into the back of our truck. Almost everything else we brought was tucked into carefully labelled boxes that fit between the two parts of the bike. We packed for both warm and cold, wet and dry weather, and from late September to early November, we encountered all sorts of weather. Virtually everything we brought we used at some time or another.
Our first stop of several days was Pine Creek Gorge, a destination we had heard about on a previous trip to Pennsylvania. We checked in to an RV park, and began learning the ropes. Every spot had both electricity and running water, as well as a picnic table. Modern campers can be like tiny houses, with running water, a kitchen, full (tiny) bathroom, bed and seating with a table. We chose Pettecoat Junction in Cedar Run, PA primarily because this RV park abuts the 62 mile long Pine Creek Gorge rail trail.
On the rail trail heading north we met few others in late September. We traveled seventeen miles, thirty-five miles round trip, almost to the northern terminus of the trail, and into the official “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” area. The “creek” (what anywhere else would be called a river) flowed alongside the rail trail basically the entire trail. After a few miles we saw no roads–this is truly a rather remote part of the mountains of Pennsylvania.
Along the way we enjoyed multiple waterfalls making their way to the creek. The soundscape of the cascading water, along with the quiet, made for sweet time pedaling along the trail.
Returning the same way we’d come, we spotted rattlesnake rock, a short path off the rail trail to an intriguing rock outcrop that jutted into the creek. After spending most of the day on a bike seat, it was wonderful to get off to stretch our legs and explore off the main trail.
The following day we headed south another ten miles on the same rail trail, and found lots more people, more parking areas, trail access points, and mosquitos! We also endured a serious tire blowout. Thankfully my husband is also the bike mechanic, and had brought all the tools needed to replace the destroyed tube and tire. Other than getting grease on clothes, mosquito bites were the worse consequence. Lesson learned (it was a lucky thing we had included both tube and tire on this outing)–we now bring along not only replacement tubes, we also bring along a replacement tire whenever when we head out on our bicycle, in addition to all the equipment we need to be sure I can maintain a safe temperature and avoid a health crisis.
Our ultimate goal (other than seeing grandchildren in Tennessee by around November 1) was to ride our bike along the Glenwood Canyon, Colorado rail trail. After enjoying our several days in the Pine Creek Gorge, we headed out, aiming for Colorado. As it turned out, we had a few unplanned adventures along the way. Those will be for another post. Till then, Happy trails!
Marjorie Turner Hollman is a writer who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, More Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and editor of Easy Walks and Paddles in the Ten Mile River Watershed, and Finding Easy Walks Wherever You Are. Her memoir, the backstory of Easy Walks, is My liturgy of Easy Walks: Finding the Sacred in everyday (and some very strange) Places.
She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional, and national publications for the past 20+ years, has helped numerous families to save their stories, and has recorded multiple veterans oral histories, now housed at the Library of Congress.