Ohiopyle State Park provides the quietest morning yet. Fewer angry chirping birds even. And some light fog. Peaceful as fuck in the morning. And the evening before too. We have the ridiculous climb to the highest campsite to thanks. Meanwhile down below, the party of RVs and yurts goes late into the night and likely restarts early too. I’m good.
The morning commences with the typical: jetboiled coffee and oatmeal. Packing up. Pooping. We’ve got this down to a science now. The process is precise. None of this feels mundane, quite the opposite really. Then, down the hill we go. Harrowing in its own right, but much less physically exhausting. Back on the trail, I’m needed on a Slow Roll call — revolution back in the homeskillet has the previous generation a bit shook. Ain’t no such things as half way crooks. Chad rolls on out; Kara and I discuss non-profit issues with corporate lawyers in the middle of the woods. Gladly, Slow Roll’s office is and likely always will be the bicycle. Take that zoom.
After a productive conversation, we finally get moving further along the GAP. The trail is gorgeous. Shoutout to J Dilla, Kool and Together, and Blondie on the playlist. There is a wonderful array of people out riding. Young and old. Day-riders and long haulers. Kitted out MAMILs and borderline obese moms. It’s feel absolutely energizing to see how many folks are getting active and being outside. I’ve been told bicycling surged 3000% during 2020 and is still climbing this year. Here in this trail, it’s a lot more people than last year. Four or five times the amount. And thats about the only futile comparison on my mind as we merrily roll into Connellsville.
This little town is the definition of a bike trail town. Kickstand Kitchen is the name of the cafe around the corner from the bike shop, called Bikes Unlimited. Population 7,411 and there’s more miles of separated bicycle facility here than in Buffalo. They really know their market here. Go where the dollars are. The shop is closed but the cafe is open. We dip in for coffee and lunch.
Folgers coffee. That’s what they have. Snobs turn their nose up, I’m enjoying it right now. This is why I’m an addict and not a connoisseur. I’m also loving the AC in here. The kid at the counter says to have as much as I want. The coffee thermos which he just placed on the carafe bar, not the AC. Though I imagine I can have as much of that as I want as well. I’m inside and happy to be wearing my last truly clean shirt. After this everything is all mixed up a bit, making a more or less degree of cleanliness situation. Beyond this moment it’s smell me if you dare.
A few more lovely miles up and we hit the famous refrigerator on the trail. It is quite literally a refrigerator on the trail. And yet also so much more. A family run farm fresh cafe of sorts. Outdoor seating. I think there’s also a B&B as well. Really a superb experience. We grab a couple Body Armors (also not paying me to say their brand) and chat with the woman who runs the operation. Last year I met her husband, she tells me her son makes a better egg sandwich than hubby does. Both of them tell me I gotta come back in August for corn. great spot. Chad offers how remarkable he finds the resources all along the trail, “you can’t swing a dead cat around without hitting a bike shop”. I can’t make this shit up, and would be too tired to if I could.
Cedar Creek hiker/biker site is nothing short of astonishing. Kara says “amaze-balls”, though that could have been just the dip in the river we manifested before my hammock becomes a gawd. Like G. O. D., gawd. I’m into full on relaxation status quite quickly. Hanging there, I’m using my belly as a cup holder for coffee and almonds and beef jerky. We’ve got daylight to burn like my man Al B Sure is in effect mode.
Hours later and the sun is setting as cyclist after cyclist cruises by our laundry hanging in the gentle breeze, freshly “washed” in the Youghiogheny River. Kara and Chad and I, enjoying the extended off-bike tranquility, sit around chatting for hours. They’ve got camp chairs; I’ve got my hammock. We realize it’s now dark and we’re sitting around a fire but there’s no fire. We’re too tired to make that happen, and eventually peel off one by one into our tents (Kara into her camping hammock) for another slumber under the stars.