facebook twitter pinterest email

The Great Allegheny Passage to Husky Haven in Rockwood, PA: Big Savage Tunnel, the Eastern Continental Divide and conversations on the trail

The Great Allegheny Passage to Husky Haven in Rockwood, PA: Big Savage Tunnel, the Eastern Continental Divide and conversations on the trail

51 miles (82 km) – Total so far: 258 miles (415 km)

Back on the trail again. Another day of perfect weather and beautiful scenery. And now we’re on the Great Allegheny Passage which is MUCH smoother! There are three of us now. Our St. Louis cycling friend, Gerry, has joined us.

We started the morning with breakfast at McDonalds down the street from our hotel. I haven’t eaten at McDonalds in decades; I really don’t eat fast food at all. And I confess that I have a rather low opinion of McDonalds. So I was very surprised by how delicious the breakfast burrito was. I think I might change my mind about Mickey D’s. Maybe.

Then we all said goodbye to Gerry’s wife, Debbie, who will be visiting her family in Pennsylvania while we’re biking the GAP trail. She’ll come meet us at the end of the trail and drive us back to our car in D.C. this Thursday.

And we were off. Two days ago, it took us over an hour to slog up the six mile hill to our hotel but this morning we zipped down to the trail in about 20 minutes. Riding on the GAP after a week on the C&O is so easy and smooth. This was the main reason Craig and I chose to cycle from D.C. to Pittsburgh rather than the other way around even though we would be climbing uphill much of the way. We knew the C&O would be tougher to cycle and wanted to get the hard part over with first. Many might disagree with our reasoning but we feel that it was the right decision for us. Now we can stop worrying about the weather and trail conditions and just enjoy the rest of the ride.

Speaking of uphills, we had a LOT of uphill climbing to do this morning, 25 miles of uphill to the top of the pass. It’s not a steep grade at all, between 1%-2%, but 25 miles is a loooong way to pedal uphill. It took us almost four hours to do it. Of course we took a lot of breaks on the way and stopped to talk to a lot of people. Still it was a slog and we were elated to finally reach the top at the Eastern Continental Divide. It’s all downhill from here, baby!

We saw a lot of neat stuff on the way up, most notably the Big Savage Tunnel, which is half a mile long straight through the middle of the mountain. We’ve read so much about this tunnel and it was exciting to finally experience it. Cool air met us as we approached the southern end of the tunnel. The temperature in the tunnel is much colder than it is outside. It has only recently been renovated and is in excellent condition and well lit inside. Sailing through it on our bikes was really fun. And unlike our Paw Paw Tunnel experience, we had the whole thing to ourselves today.

The scenery here is spectacular. We are finally seeing autumn colors and the leaves are on fire with glowing reds, oranges and yellow. From our vantage point high on the pass we could often see miles and miles of tree covered mountains all aflame in their fall shades. Absolutely stunning.

We stopped in Frostburg, cycled up the switchback trail to the train station and had a snack break at the café up there. At the Mason-Dixon Line, we had a long fascinating conversation with a Mennonite minister and his wife who were on a day ride. In the tiny town of Deal, we stopped for a porta-potty break and met Mr. Harry Beal, a delightfully interesting 80 year old man who was one of the first Navy Seals. He was wearing his Navy Seal ring to prove it. I just had to snap his picture along with my own Navy Seal husband. We also stopped in Meyersdale to talk to another group of day cyclists. It was a day full of conversations.

We reached our campground, Husky Haven, in Rockwood around 5:00 and biked over to Rockwood to check in at the office. This has to be the neatest, nicest landscaped, best serviced campground I’ve ever seen in my life. Sure each campground site has the usual picnic table, firepit and grill but I’m amazed by all the little extras. Each site has its own covered and extravagantly stocked woodpile complete with kindling, two long sticks to stir the fire and tree stump stools around the fire pit. The porta-potty has SOFT toilet paper! The showers are immaculate and you not only get a private shower but an entire private bathroom with toilet, sink, bench and mirror. They’ve also got a room for the campers with a pool table, computer and electronic charging station.

Unfortunately their internet is currently down. The entire town seems to be devoid of cell service and the cell ‘booster’ in the camp office wouldn’t work with my iPhone tether. SOOO I couldn’t check email or do any website work and I got another bonafide vacation day. My second one so far!

We set up camp, biked back to the office area to hit the showers and biked into town for some delicious pizza. By the time we returned to camp it was after dark and we all went straight to bed so we didn’t even get to break into that stocked firewood pile for a campfire. I’m disappointed about that. Someone left a large cooler of water for us at our campsite while we were away. This place rocks!

As I sit here in my tent writing in my journal on my computer, five trains have gone by. They are very close and loud. Dogs are barking everywhere. And some sort of ear piercingly loud siren has gone off twice. We don’t know what it is. It sounds like the tornado sirens we have in St. Louis but there is no bad weather. Disconcerting. It is a beautiful campground but rather noisy. Signing off for the night. Hope I can get some sleep.

Three Surley Long Haul Truckers all in a row, ready for the trail!

Three Surley Long Haul Truckers all in a row, ready for the trail!

Mickey D's for breakfast in the morning. Goodbye for now to Debbie, Gerry's wife. We'll see Debbie again when she picks us up at the end of the trail.

Mickey D’s for breakfast in the morning. Goodbye for now to Debbie, Gerry’s wife. We’ll see Debbie again when she picks us up at the end of the trail.

Finally on on the Great Allegheny Passage. The canal of the C&O has now been replaced by the railroad tracks.

Finally on on the Great Allegheny Passage. The canal of the C&O has now been replaced by the railroad tracks.

On the trail

On the trail

What more can I add to this picture? Spectacular.

What more can I add to this picture? Spectacular.

Lots of tunnels today.

Lots of tunnels today.

Another tunnel

Another tunnel

Trailside art.

Trailside art.

Don't think we'll be in any danger of exceeding the speed limit. We were still climbing at this time.

Don’t think we’ll be in any danger of exceeding the speed limit. We were still climbing at this time.

Gorgeous morning light on the trail.

Gorgeous morning light on the trail.

So pretty!

So pretty!

Just hanging out by the fence as usual

Just hanging out by the fence as usual

Snack time at the cafe in Frostburg.

Snack time at the cafe in Frostburg.

And another tunnel...

And another tunnel…

I just love these tunnels!

I just love these tunnels!

Come to the light!

Come to the light!

Glorious!

Glorious!

Had a fascinating discussion with this Menonite pastor and his wife who recently moved to Pennsylvania from Minnesota. He was also a Surly Long Haul Trucker enthusiast. So we lined them all up to for the Mason Dixon Line Surly Brigade!

Had a fascinating discussion with this Menonite pastor and his wife who recently moved to Pennsylvania from Minnesota. He was also a Surly Long Haul Trucker enthusiast. So we lined them all up to for the Mason Dixon Line Surly Brigade!

Inside the Big Savage Tunnel. Such a fun tunnel to fly through on our bikes.

Inside the Big Savage Tunnel. Such a fun tunnel to fly through on our bikes.

Big Savage Tunnel.

Big Savage Tunnel.

See that REALLY steep section on the left side? We just pedaled up that side!

See that REALLY steep section on the left side? We just pedaled up that side!

YAY no more climbing!!!!!

YAY no more climbing!!!!!

Trailside lunch on the north side of the summit. It's all downhill now!

Trailside lunch on the north side of the summit. It’s all downhill now!

Lots of neat bridges today.

Lots of neat bridges today.

We were greatly honored to meet Harry Beal. He was one of the very first Navy Seals. He and his peers are legends. Thank you for your service, Mr. Beal.

We were greatly honored to meet Harry Beal. He was one of the very first Navy Seals. He and his peers are legends. Thank you for your service, Mr. Beal.

Gorgeous!

Gorgeous!

Fantastic!

Fantastic!

Magnificent!

Magnificent!

Break time by the bridge

Another neat bridge

Break time by the bridge

Break time by the bridge

Stupendous!

Stupendous!

Stopping in Meyersdale to chat with some day cyclists.

Stopping in Meyersdale to chat with some day cyclists.

The longest, highest bridge I have ever seen in my life.

The longest, highest bridge I have ever seen in my life.

Just hanging out again

Just hanging out again

Stopping to take in the amazing view

Stopping to take in the amazing view

Little old cemetry by the trail.

Little old cemetry by the trail.

Interesting white wooly worm at our campsite.

Interesting white wooly worm at our campsite.

Husky Haven Campground

Husky Haven Campground

Husky Haven was the neatest little campground!

Husky Haven was the neatest little campground!

Setting up camp

Setting up camp

<<– PREVIOUS

NEXT –>> 

 

Got somethin' to say? Leave a comment!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: