Return to Ohiopyle, Pennsylvania

The last time I came to Ohiopyle was in 2016, during the epic KVIITM75 bike ride from Pittsburgh to the Washington DC area.  We had arrived at Ohiopyle on the second day of the ride, just in time for a late lunch stop and a detour to visit Fallingwater, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright built home.  We had arrived in town with little time to spare, and somewhat tired from the ride from Perryopolis earlier in the day.  We had picked up lunch from a restaurant near the place where we were to catch the shuttle to Fallingwater, and had decided to ride our bikes to the Ohiopyle waterfall to consume the food.  Alas, we never found the waterfall, having misunderstood directions provided to us, and having taken a path into the woods instead of into town.

But I was determined to return to Ohiopyle some day, not necessarily to look for the waterfall, but to explore the beautiful state park nearby.  The attraction of Fallingwater was actually what eventually led us to make the trip back to Ohiopyle last week.  We entered the town on a road that actually went past a busy part of town (nowhere near the trail we had biked on), and there on our left, beside the parking lot, were the waterfalls!  We spent some time walking through town before and after lunch.  Here are some pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ohiopyle Waterfall on the Youghioheny river
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Ohiopyle Waterfall
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) bike trail bridge in the distance
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Walking through town
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
The GAP bridge over the Youghiogheny
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
View of bridge from town

The B&O and the Western Maryland railroad lines used to run through Ohiopyle on the two sides of the Youghiogheny river.  The Western Maryland line has been converted to the Great Allegheny Passage.  The old B&O line is now a CSX mainline connecting the eastern seaboard to the rest of the country.  Ohiopyle is now a holiday spot with a focus on watersports and place for bike riders on the GAP to rest.  The Ohiopyle State Park is on the other side of the bridge!

Weekly Photo Challenge: H2O

This looks like a very broad category to me.  I have so many pictures that cover so many different aspects of H2O!  I remember the early morning scenes with the mist and fog over the river, reflections of the fall colors over the waters of a lake, the beauty of snow and ice of winter, the sea at sunrise or sunrise from a beach, the storms with the heavy rains and even flooding, and even the pollution of the H2O caused by humanity.  And that is not a complete list….

But this time I am going back to my recently completed bike ride from Pittsburgh, PA, to Whites Ferry in Maryland to address the theme.  It seems to be a good fit, because the ride, for the most part, took place beside rivers.  ( Read on and you might also get a short lesson in geography!) The Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) rail-trail that we followed from Pittsburgh to Cumberland, MD, essentially followed some of the tributaries of the Ohio River (which itself is a tributary of the great Mississippi that empties itself in the Gulf of Mexico).  From Cumberland onward, we rode the C&O Canal towpath which runs along the Potomac river. This river runs east, the opposite direction to the rivers we rode beside up to that point, and it empties into the Chesapeake Bay and the mighty Atlantic Ocean.  The Potomac and the Ohio and its tributaries flow into two distinct watershed areas on the two different sides of the Eastern Continental Divide and the Appalachian mountains that we rode over.

The Ohio river forms in Pittsburgh at the confluence of Monongahela and the Allegheny rivers and flows in a northwesterly direction out of the city.  We began our trip by riding upstream along the Monongahela river  (in a southeasterly direction).  We crossed the river over a former railroad bridge at one point.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We got to McKeesport, PA, where the Youghiogheny River joins the Monongahela.  From then onward it was further upstream and continuing southeasterly along the Yough. The skies were clear on the first day. We crossed under the Banning Railroad bridge.  (I found a video of this bridge in use in 2011.  I don’t know if it is still in use.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The river was extremely muddy on the morning of the second day of the ride due to overnight rain.  You can see the mud from the abandoned railroad bridge below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe sediment had cleared up by the time we crossed the Ohiopyle low bridge over the Yough into Ohiopyle, PA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Casselman River meets up with the Yough at Confluence, PA, and from that point on the GAP followed the Casselman on its way upstream. It was misty early in the day when we left Confluence.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is view of the town of Confluence from a bridge over the Casselman.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The skies had cleared by the time we got to Rockwood, PA.  The Casselman river looked more like a gentle stream at this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We crossed the Eastern Continental Divide on the GAP and descended into Cumberland, MD. The rest of the ride up to the final destination of Whites Ferry followed the C&O canal along the Potomac river. This was what the canal looked like in the area near Lock 75.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a section near Hancock.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Paw Paw tunnel burrowed under a mountain to allow the canal a more direct route  that avoided the bends in a meandering section of the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We saw many aqueducts over the canal along the way. The remains of the Licking Creek Aqueduct are shown below.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The river itself was quite peaceful for the most part.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We also saw a couple of dams that were used to supply water from the river to the canal.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And there there were some other H2O related experiences during the trip that I remember. This picture was taken on a pedestrian bridge over the Casselman river in Confluence early in the morning.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The following picture is of the house at Fallingwater built by Frank Lloyd Wright.  The house is built over a waterfall.  You can take steps down from your living room directly to the water that flowed under the house.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe red waterfall shown below is the acid mine drainage (AMD) from a former mine along a section of the GAP closer to Pittsburgh.  We did (and continue to do) a lot of damage to our environment!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We experienced H2O everywhere during our trip (and hopefully H2O is also seen in all of the pictures I selected for this blog!).  And I should not fail to mention that without large quantities of H2O to drink, we would not have survived the long hot days during our bicycle ride!

 

 

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 3

This was a day of amazing experiences, riding about 60 miles from Confluence in Pennsylvania to Cumberland in Maryland.

It was still misty and cloudy outside when we started our ride from Parker House after breakfast at Sisters’ Cafe in what remains of downtown Confluence.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA The mist cleared and we were soon riding under clear skies.  This is a view of the Casselman river from one of the bridges we crossed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This is the Pinkerton tunnel, opened only last year.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe stopped in Rockwood, PA for ice cream.  The surroundings are beginning to change. We had been riding in the woods beside rivers.  From now on it was farm land.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a random shot of a touch me not flower.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA We met some interesting people. Jim, in his 60s, was into extreme outdoor exercise.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is what you do to take care of the pain in the butt.  We took a few “butt breaks”.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe have left the woods and are the riding past farms and fields at this point.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Crossing the Salisbury viaduct with the Casselman river below us.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALunch place in Meyersdale, PA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese two gentlemen are friends from back in the Vietnam war days in the army.  They have amazing stories.  They do a lot of riding all over the world.  Really remarkable ordinary folks!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing another interesting viaduct.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACalf with an interesting face.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore rest stops (butt breaks) before continuing the ride.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Eastern Continental Divide!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA(Click on the picture below to open it.)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe are about to enter the 3300 foot long Savage Tunnel that opened in 2004.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAView on the other side of the tunnel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were crossing the Mason Dixon line into Maryland.  It was all downhill (in a good way!) from then on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe went through a few tunnels.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter Frostburg, MD, we continued careening down the hill beside railroad tracks. There is usually a tourist train that runs between Cumberland and Frostburg during the summer, but the line looked like it was in a state of disuse.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then we were in Cumberland at the start (end?) of the Great Allegheny Passage!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture was contributed by Ramgopal from his camera since I was not carrying mine.  We ended to evening with dinner at the Baltimore Street Grill.  It was Koushik’s birthday present to Shankar.

IMG_1770

And now it is onward to the C&O canal towpath!

The 2016 KVIITM75 Bike Ride – Day 2

Typing this early in the morning before daybreak.  Everybody is asleep (I think), and Parker House is quiet, expect for the whistle of the freight train in the distance.  This is Confluence, PA, where the Cassleman river meets up with the Yough.  This is my blog for the ride from Perryopolis to Confluence.

We left the hotel at Perryopolis early.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe following picture is taken on the road that we biked from the town back to the Yough river. The tunnel takes you to the bridge across the river. We did not cross, but took the road that you can barely make out on the right before the tunnel. This took us to the trail head.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then it was time to ride once again!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere had been a spectacular storm late the previous night that we had observed from the front of our hotel rooms. Fortunately, the trail was not too wet. This was the only place where a tree had fallen across the trail.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis chap is trying to get down from the trail to the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is an abandoned railroad bridge across the river that we encountered. It appeared to be falling apart.  You had to watch where you were stepping.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACrossing a gorge on a trail bridge. The GAP trail that we have been riding is a rail trail which was built where the railroad tracks once used to run.  This bridge would have been carrying train traffic in the past.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
A picture opportunity.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere was steady freight train traffic on the other side of the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe section of the trail that we covered today was just amazing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Yough river seen from one of the trail bridges just outside of Ohiopyle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne of the bridges over the Yough carrying the trail into Ohiopyle.  The river meanders in a U-shaped loop in this section, and there are two bridges over the river.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAt Fallingwater, PA.  This house was built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the the 1930s.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe house is spectacular, both inside and outside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese are the folks in Ohiopyle who provided us with the shuttle to Fallingwater.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was quite late in the afternoon after the trip to Fallingwater, and had another 10 miles to ride to Confluence.  We were hungry and got a snack to eat at a waterfall.  We never found the waterfall, and ended up eating in the woods.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe made a few rest stops during the ride, including this one betwen Ohiopyle and Confluence.  The bike being examined was making some strange noise.  We will try to get it checked out in Cumberland, our destination for tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is Parker House, the place we are staying in Confluence. It is a beautiful place with lot of space.  We are getting ready to go out for dinner.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe crew was famished!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was dark by the time we left the Lucky Dog Cafe.  The sky was spectacular (due to the absence of light pollution) and folks were identifying the stars and the planets.  We walked back to Parker House using the faint light from a smartphone to show us the way through the dark streets of Confluence.  Went to bed after a night-cap.  Goodnight from Confluence, PA.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The Great Allegheny Passage (10/24/2009)

As I get ready to bike the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal between Pittsburgh and the Washington DC area with my high-school friends at the end of the month, I am reminded of this letter that I wrote in the year 2009.

Many of you have been reading about my experiences on the C&O canal for the last few years, and you might still not get a sense as to why this has become a part of my life.  Truth of the matter is that most folks who live in this area are not even aware of the existence of this jewel in our backyard.  The C&O canal is just not a major topic of conversation in these parts.  But there is also another small dedicated group of people that is aware of this resource, and there are news-groups on the Internet where people like me visit to share stories and get information.

I have only traveled about 125 miles along the canal so far, and the towpath eventually ends at Cumberland, MD, at mile 184.5.  Beyond the C&O canal, to the northwest, lies the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP), and a trail that runs all the way up McKeesport, PA, the place where Mona did her residency a while back. The combination of the GAP and the C&O canal runs over 300 miles from McKeesport (near Pittsburgh) to Washington, DC.  There are many people who walk and bike these trails for recreation these days, and the experience is awesome.  There are villages, rivers, mountains, canals, railroads, bridges, viaducts, locks, aqueducts and tunnels to see.  There is Nature. There is even a sense of history on the trails, with the stories of the civil war battles along the Potomac, and the stories of the little old towns that used to exist in the early days of the country, and a way of life that has almost completely disappeared.

I have never biked the trail for any long distance, and when I read the stories of people who have gone through the experience of doing the entire stretch I feel inspired.  I am having a hard time describing why one feels this way.  It is not that one is doing something that is important and will make a difference to humanity.  I think this could be the purest form of entertainment and adventure. You experience nature in an unadulterated form, at your own pace, and without the benefit of any sort of motorized assistance.  These days you do not even have to rough it out on the trail during the nights, since there are little towns with little bed-and-breakfast facilities and restaurants along the way.  It appears that the popularity of the trail could be reviving some of the old villages in a little way.

Will I get a chance to ride the entire trail myself?  I do not know, but it would not take much for something to tip the scales and for me to make up my mind to set out on my bike one fine day.  Of course, it is not that simple.  One has to be prepared.  You have to carry supplies when doing such a trip.  You have to be ready to face the unexpected.  But if somebody out there wants to share the experience with me, I am ready to set out on this adventure!  Any takers?

The link below is to an article written about the GAP in The New York Times.

http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/10/23/travel/escapes/23passage.html?emc=eta1

Side story – Early this year, I got an e-mail from the President of the Allegheny Trail Alliance asking if they could use one of my pictures in the 2009 trailbook.  I said yes.  I had a hard time finding my picture when the trailbook came out.  It ended up in black and white in a tiny format in a corner of a page.  But that was good enough for me. One of my pictures has now been published!

Postscript: It is hard to believe, but many years later I am about to embark on the trip I talked about in 2009.  I have to thank my good friend Koushik (who is riding with me) for motivating me to get off my butt and finally do something about it.

Also, I was approached once again this year to donate a few of my pictures to the 2016 edition of the trailbook for the GAP.  A couple of my pictures appear in the guide.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA