Monday, December 19, 2016

Day 15: More off-trail wanderings

July 19: In theory, I could just roll out of bed, pack up my stroller, and immediately hit the trail. But... That's not what I was going to do. I was going to take another off-trail detour now that Amanda was here with a rental car.

Two days earlier, I had been given a map of the Great Allegheny Passage from a couple of trail angels, and I noticed a couple of points of interest listed close to the trail that I hadn't known were so close to the trail. I didn't exactly do a whole lot of research before starting this hike, which is why I could be so surprised that Flight 93 crashed nearby and.... I'd be passing less than 10 miles (as the crow flies) away from the Pennsylvania high point!

Amanda at the top of Mount David, the highest point in Pennsylvania.
Mount Davis, a part of Negro Mountain and rises an unassuming 3,213 ft (979 m) above sea level. In the grand scheme of things, it's not a particularly noteworthy mountain in any sense--except for the small, coincidental fact that it's the high point in Pennsylvania. Had a British court ruled that the Maryland/Pennsylvania border was just a few miles further north, Pennsylvania would have had to select a different high point because this peak would have ended up in Maryland, and the summit would have been completely unnoteworthy because Maryland already had a higher peak.

Of course, when I realized that I would be walking just a few miles from the Pennsylvania high point, it occurred to me that Maryland isn't especially large, and most of the mountains seem to be in the western part of the state where I'd been traveling since leaving Washington. How close had I been to the Maryland state high point? Turns out, I wasn't really all that far from that location either, but according to Google it was about a 1 1/2 hour drive away from our current location in Confluence. I didn't really want to drive that far out of our way to hit that high point. It's fun to hit points, but it's not really a life goal for me to hit them all. Maybe I'll hit it another time.

But Davis Mountain.... we were already in the closest town one could be to the Pennsylvania high point! It would be criminal not to do a quick visit!

Although the mountain peak wasn't far, the drive would take nearly a half hour on the narrow, windy roads that lead to the top. Yes, that's right--we didn't even have to hike the top. We could just drive it.

Well, almost.... there was a parking lot maybe a quarter-mile away from the summit where we parked, then walked to the actual summit within about 10 minutes or so. The summit was covered with trees and a thick canopy of leaves that would have blocked the views except for a lookout tower that rose 50 feet above the ground level poking out above the canopy.

Looking around, it wasn't even at all obvious that we were at a high point. Some of the mountains we could see looked like they might have been higher--and they very well might have been since the Maryland border was less than 5 miles away. The mountains in Maryland--clearly visible from our vantage point--could have been higher.

We didn't linger very long--there wasn't really anything else to see or do--so we headed back to the car and back to Confluence.

Out of Confluence, the trail would now be following
the Youghiogheny River--much to my disappointment....
Confluence is named such because that's where three rivers merge into one. Laural Hill Creek merged into the Casselman River, and about a thousand feet beyond that, the Casselman River--much to my distress--merged into the Youghiogheny River. I was distressed because the trail would now follow the Youghiogheny River, which I knew I'd have to spell correctly for this blog over and over again for days on end. Ugh! More work.... Casselman was easy for me to spell. Youghiogheny.... not so much! I couldn't even be sure how to pronounce Youghiogheny. I could sound it out, but I'm sure it would turn out very wrong. Why couldn't they build trails to avoid geographic locations that I'd have trouble spelling or pronouncing?

Before I hit the trail, Amanda needed to fill up the car with gas and we drove to a gas station that our GPS pointed us at... but it was a smoldering ruins of ash. Well, okay, it wasn't smoldering anymore, but the gas station had clearly burned down at some point. According to our GPS, it was the only gas station in town. Well, shoot....

Amanda would have to drive somewhere back to the main highway and get gas instead, but in the meantime, she dropped me off in town for me to continue my hiking.

With Amanda nearby, I wanted to take a small day pack with me and ditch the stroller, but Amanda wouldn't let me. I'd pushed it all this way, she told me, and readers for my blog expected me to push it down every inch of the trail. No, she wouldn't let me ditch the stroller.

But still, I didn't have to push all of my gear in it! I still filled up my day pack with water and snacks and left the rest of my gear with Amanda. I was slackpacking! With a stroller! Slackstrolling? Hmm... I was in uncharted territory. I needed to start inventing new words.

Turns out, pushing the stroller without all of my gear was an absolute delight! It was much easier to turn and control, and I found myself often pushing it with just one hand allowing me to switch off when the palm of one hand started getting sore. I constantly needed to use both hands to push the stroller when it was fully loaded down.

I made good time. The weather was once again hot and humid, but at least no threat of rain dampened my spirits.

For the night, I had two options I could hit: Ohiopyle a mere 11 miles away, or Connellsville a more ambitious 27 miles away. I was getting a bit of a late start due to the Mount Davis detour so 27 miles seemed a bit of a stretch, and I settled for Ohiopyle. A nice, easy and leisurely 11 miles. Less than four hours of walking--eer, I mean slackstrolling....

The day's walking was uneventful, with lots of views overlooking the Youghiogheny River. Often times, I could see rafters floating down the river which looked like a lot of fun. Next time, I'd have to bring a packraft and raft downstream instead of walk. =)

I'd be "slackstrolling" today!
I arrived into Ohiopyle by around 2:30 in the afternoon--still relatively early in the day! Amanda was already in town waiting for me--after having filled up the tank with gas--and we immediately drove to another nearby famous landmark a few miles away: Fallingwater.

Fallingwater, as I suspect most of you probably already know, is one of Frank Lloyd Wrights most famous buildings that he had built over a waterfall. Amanda had wanted to visit the location for eons. It had never really been on my "must see" list, but since it was--quite literally--just a few miles from the trail and with Amanda providing a car to get us there, sure--why not?! =)

I did complain about the $27 per person cost, though. What did they think they were--Disneyland?! I paid it grudgingly and told Amanda that she better enjoy the afternoon there because it was likely we'd never go again--even if we for some reason ever found ourselves in Ohiopyle again. =)

The building is incredible--I'll say that for it. Photos weren't allowed on the tour so you won't see any of the interior in this blog (although it's easy enough to see interior photos online). The tour guides were rather bland, just-the-facts boring. At least ours was. She was nice and certainly knew the history of the building well enough, but she just told us facts. No jokes or puns or anything to make us laugh or keep our short attention spans focused. I whispered to Amanda, "They really need to get Wassa in here to liven up these guides. It could be SO much better!"

After we left, we headed back to Ohiopyle for the night. I called a few of the hotels in and around the town, but the cheapest rates we could find were over $100/night which I thought was a little steep. I paid a lot less than that at the Riverside Edge B&B the night before. It might be prime tourist season in July, but Amanda and I were the only people at the B&B last night (it was a weekday, after all) so the area didn't seem over-filled with tourists.

Instead, we drove down to the campground at Ohiopyle State Park and paid $25 for a campsite. Which still seemed like a lot of money for a tent site--especially considering I'd been camping for free the whole time up until this point--but it was still a lot better than $100 or more for the night.

I wanted to get online so after setting up camp, we went back into town to find somewhere to eat dinner that had a wi-fi connection where we quickly learned that nowhere in town had a wi-fi connection. What the hell?! Seriously?! It's 2016 people! Wake up!

We wound up eating at the Paddler's Pizza where Amanda ordered a white pizza for herself and I ate an Italian sub and an ice cream sandwich for desert.

Then we headed back to camp for the night and quickly hit the sack. Another day was done!

Mural on a bridge support
The trail is used by bicyclists more than hikers, and I'd often see these strange contraptions along the trail which are somehow used for fixing bikes. (Don't ask me how--I don't know!)

Go, stroller! Go!

I saw lots of rafters in the Youghiogheny River. *nodding*
Amanda was already waiting for me in Ohiopyle when I arrived--with a full tank of gas to boot!
Perhaps Frank Lloyd Wright's most famous creation: Fallingwater.
Named that, of course, because it was built over an actual waterfall! Very cool place. *nodding*
Outfitters in Ohiopyle
Amanda with her "white" pizza. =)


Anonymous said...

The locals just call the river 'the Yough' (yock)

-di and her guy

clueless said...

I think Fallingwater actually lives up to the hype. I thought it was incredible.

Johannah said...

I googled Youghiogheny and there is a YouTube pronunciation: yahk-o-Gain-ee