Saturday, December 31, 2011

circumnavigate the lake

December 25th generally marks the day when I pack the up the dog and bike and head east towards the homeland (Valley Forge/ Phoenixville.) This year I got the pass from the family to stay in the huntingdon area for the holiday and enjoy Christmas in my own way.

Now before I start into this, let me say that I am not the grinch and I don't hate Christmas it is just not the holiday for me. But the traffic and idea of driving three hours is absolutely horrifying. Having spent so much time on the Allegrippis Trails, Rothrock State Forest, and the areas countless miles of gravel I felt it was time to revisit an old advasary: Terrace Mountain Trail.

Last summer I was dumb enough to attempt the ride on a traditional 29er singlespeed mountain bike with 80mm of suspension. To say the least it was a pain having a bike during that hike. During the twelve hour ride around the lake I vowed never to ride the TMT again (unless with the right bike.)

For most people the Terrace Mountain Trail is simply the trail on the otherside of the lake. But know little about it really. The trail is 30 miles long and ranges from gravel roads to near vertical ascents, covering the entire length of Lake Raystown.

The Bike:
Salsa Mukluk Fatbike with Jandd Frame Bag and Knog Frog Lights for getting home in the dark.
One Bottle Cage.. regretably.
Osprey Hydration Pack

The Ride:I left the shop in Huntingdon around 9am and headed out to the trailhead on Corbins Road about six miles away. After rolling for 20 minutes I hit the yellow trussed bridge that marks the beginning of the Corbin Road climb a long grinding gravel climb that weaves for 2.5 miles up the side of terrace mountain. Corbin road is a great warm up climb as it never gets overly steep and has some great views facing south down the lake. After climbing three quarters up the mountain there is a large rock on the side of the road covered in yellow paint.

This rock apparently marks the start of the Terrace Mountain Trail at the north end. Not much of a welcome mat. Beyond the rock there is a short rough road that winds down the mountain a few hundred feet till opening into a large pad....parking lot?

Misleading Start- Off the bat I was making great time with recently cleared trails and flat rolling trail. This only lasted about two miles.
 Very peaceful meadow just off of the Hawns Road portion of the Terrace Mountain Trail.
Despite the big meat there was plenty to push over.
Very cool peninsula the trail runs down to the lake making a large sweeping turn into the hillside just beyond the red patch in the center. Plenty of briars for everyone!


Very cool bridge section just outside of Trough Creek State Park. There where some very cool bear tracks across the first bridge. Smudged pads with heavy claw marks.
Bottom of Trough Creek. this is the old road bed that connected over to the town of Aitch.

I cruised my way up the old road bed into the park. Over the bridge back to the trail. After getting to the resort It started getting dark and I stopped taking pictures and rode! An amazing trip, I am currently looking to evaluate what needs to be done to save this trail. As it is currently in horrible disrepair.  Maintenance is just the begninng this trail needs a makeover. The value of this trail to the local community, the outdoor community  and the potential for the area is amazing. 
tis the season. merry xmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Blazed and Confused

Before I start this rant:
1- Allegrippis Trails are on federal land
2- It is legal to hunt on federal land
3- I am not a hunter but undersand others do utilize hunting as a form of gathering food and a form of sport. And fully support the act of respondsible hunting fishing etc etc.
4- Hunting seasons extend year round and cannot be defined simply by a set period of dates.
5- Mountain Biking or hiking doesn't impact the safety other users directly or remotely while participating in said sport. And also does not require other users to change there activities based on actions of others. ie. closing the entire woods to any other non hunting user.
6-Mountain Biking does not generally leave game mamed or without a head in the wild.
7- I am yet to come across a individual who maintains the Allegrippis or Old Loggers trails strictly for the purpose of hunting.

I walk my bike past a group of four white males dressed in bright orange and camoflage....seemingly contradictory. I offered up a simple "hey guys hows it going." Only to be berated by this group of fellow trail users. Although not necessarily mountain bikers these guys still were using the trail as a hiking path to stalk there game....whitetail deer.

"WTF are you out here."
"You know its hunting season."
"I've been hunting these lands for 30 years!"
"The game comission closed these trails for us."
" You cant ride here."

Well instead of being my usual bull headed and blunt self as I had no big gun and no fancy orange camo vest...I kept walking (I was however wearing bright orange jersey that was designed to be legal during hunting season.) And gave them a simple "take care."

So let me set the facts straight.

Keep in mind this group of simple minded users was indeed walking on the very trail which I work to maintain both before, during, and after hunting season. I know its hard to imagine a time when hunting isn't leagal. Never had I seen any of these users at workdays, trail related meetings, or clean-up days. I did however find more shotgun casings on the trail than clif bars, gel packets, or hiking/ biking related trash combined... in just two weeks!

 The game comission (which despite being publicly funded)  has yet to offer up signage to appropriately sign the trail as an open hunting area and it is not ever maintained as a "hunting trail." And we had to go asking for appropriate signage to protect the non-hunters out hard as that is to believe.

I personally voted to close the trail for the two week deer season.....not for the safety of the rider but for the integrity of the hunt! Sort of a good neighbor policy. Only extending the welcoming arm of the Corps which opens most their gates for hunters.

Part Two:
So after riding out on the Allegrippis Trails which are open to hunting I decided that I better not interact with anymore "trail users" and decided to ride the trails in town (Huntingdon) which are closed to hunting as it is technically in a residential district.

Instead I rode out the trails I ride year round (not just during hunting season) only to find a beheaded deer carcass strewn across the trail on land that is not legal to hunt. You'd think with so much State Game Lands and Federal lands you would have enough land to "hunt/ sit and wait." Apparently not, this large buck was shot and killed only to have its head taken to the local taxidermist as a "trophy." Not only a disgrace to hunters but also to our small town.

After continuing the ride and jumping back on the roads I noticed a large black trash bag at the entrance of the game lands. Yep you guessed it more deer carcass leftovers. Awesome! So I guess its standard practice to berate other land users, dispose of blooded carcasses, trash public land, and poach whitetail.

You might have guess I'm not supporting this whole Sunday hunting scene.

Meanwhile, "recent research suggests" $850 million would be put into the PA economy if we allow Sunday hunting. Is this really the land use that we want to see? So instead of allowing the non-hunters one day a week we are going to take all of that away from all users. How many volunteer and paid hours need to be spent to clean up after each season?

So in an effort to increase mountain biking opprotunities remember:
Next time you get a flat just pitch the tube in the woods.
Next time you have a Clif bar leave the wrapper where you ate it.
Next time you park at the trail head empty your cigerrette tray and case of 22oz PBRs in the parking lot.
Next time you go ride make sure to complain to the other users why the shouldn't be there. And if they don't listen threaten them while holding a weapon.
Next time you ride do it on trails that are band to mountain bikes.
Next time you ride make sure to put obstactles in the way of other users with the intent to injure them.
And always take more from the area that you give back!

And with all of that maybe they'll extended mountain bike season into hunting season because clearly by trashing the world in which we live we gain more respect for our government.

All users have rights to the land until they abuse those rights.
It's probably less than 30% of the users but really everyone I've happened to bump into seems pissed I exist as another land user.