June 18 & 19 2022
This weekend, I embarked on the second of my training rides for the GAP/C and O trail ride coming up in July. I chose the Pine Creek Trail for my longest ever two day ride. This would in total be about 127 miles of riding with my bike fully loaded like it will be during my 6 day ride, somewhere in the range of 35-40 lbs of extra gear on the bike.
The Pine Creek trail is a point to point rail line trail with crushed limestone/rock that is 65 miles in length from Jersey Shore, Pa in the South to Wellsboro, Pa in the North.
According to readily available information throughout the internet, the Pine Creek Trail
is based off of “The Native American Pine Creek Path followed Pine Creek from Jersey Shore to Ansonia and beyond. The earliest industry in the region was logging. In the years between 1820 and 1883, trees were floated down the creek to sawmills in Jersey Shore and Williamsport. In 1883, the Jersey Shore, Pine Creek and Buffalo Railway opened. Sawmills were constructed in several communities along the creek, and finished products were carried out by train. Coal mining was another important industry, and coal was also shipped along the railroad.
After a series of reorganizations, the railroad along Pine Creek became a part of the New York Central Railroad and eventually Conrail. Freight and passenger service continued until 1988, when Conrail ended rail service. The tracks were removed, and the first section of the Pine Creek Rail Trail opened in 1996. The trail opened in stages with the most recent section (from Ansonia to just north of Wellsboro) being completed in 2007. The trail is operated by the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
In 2001, an article in the USA Today newspaper named the Pine Creek Rail Trail one of “10 great places to take a bike tour” in the world. It was one of only five places in the continental United States on the list, which was compiled by Patricia Vance, author of bicycle touring guides. The article cited the “Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania” as “idyllic in fall” and mentioned the “gorge with views of the cliffs and mixed hardwood forest”.
During the Great Depression, the Civilian Conservation Corps built numerous roads, bridges, and trails through the area. Evidence of their work is still visible and is commemorated with a sign near the Darling Run trail access area.
Day 1 – I spent the night at Happy Acres Campground and drove up to Jeresey Shore getting there early and getting underway. It was blustery and cold for most of the day with sun coming out late in the afternoon as I got to Ansonia. I made it up to the Wellsboro trailhead and backtracked the 9.5 miles to Ansonia to stay at the Coach Stop Inn and Hotel. Traveling with all this weight was a new expeirence but I was able to maintain a speed of about 11 mph. I need to remember to bring my brown lense sunglasses for the lower light conditions of riding under a canopy but also needing sunglassess. Nutrition and hydration worked wonders. After some himming and hawing, I decided to go with nutella and tortillas instead of screwing around with tuna salad. I just could not get it to come together calorie wise with the tuna and weight wise the Nutella packs more calories. For my 6 day ride, I will also add in some cheese and sausage. The true highlight of this morning was the stare down I had with a young fox. I was probably around 100 feet from it and we just watched each other for about 5 minutes.
Day 2 – up at 0600 and out of the hotel by 0700. It was cold this morning and again blustery. There was some sketchy Type III fun going on as I left the hotel and the sun was in my eyes and the eyes of several logging trucks that passed me on Route 6. Thankfully, I only had about 1.6 miles of road riding before getting back on the trail.
I had 56 miles ahead of me and given the 71.8 I did yesterday, I felt great. Going back to Jersey Shore was largely “downhill”, so my pace at times was about 12-13 mph. I would see lots of deer and I took more time this morning to read the historical placcards and scheme and plot how I couldget my family to do this kind of stuff with me. Forgoing nutella and tortillas, I stopped at The Waterville Tavern for lunch before getting after the lat 10 miles to Jersey Shore, arriving there around 1300. Coming back into Jersey Shore had me reminiscing about my 2015 Call of the Wilds Marathon where it was 98 degrees with a real feel of 106.
In sum, it was a successful adventure. I learned a lot about bike packing and feel that I am adequately ready for the GAP/C and O. Now it is time to spend the next two weeks second guessing all my decisions and over thinking all of my equipment.