Currently I’m feeling pretty good. I’m at another Airbnb place, having enjoyed a hot shower to wash away the cold toes of the day. However, due to the weather, I’ve repeatedly questioned why exactly I’m doing this. Probably my level of motivation would remain more constant if I were riding through the sunny weather I generally expect of May. As it is, my mental process vacillates between “this is moronic. Where’s the nearest bus back to Philly?” And “it can’t possibly rain and be in the 50s every single day for the first half of May…even if that’s what the forecast says. You have to push on!”
I guess a hardened backpacker should be used to these conditions – but I’m sure glad I have the option to stay indoors every other night and let my stuff dry out for once.
Rain aside, my route has been very scenic and well-suited for bike touring – even the parts that were suggested on the fly by Google Maps. It occurs to me that there should be an easily-searchable database of touring routes for people in my situation who aren’t following Adventure Cycling maps or the like. But I digress. The only bad part of the route so far has been some roads near Allentown that either lacked shoulders completely, or were the kind of six-lane “stroads” that have been the bane of American city planning for decades.
I have been on bike trails for much of the way and should be back on one more tomorrow. I took the Schuylkill River Trail out of Philly and the Perkiomen Trail from there until it’s end. Then I connected to the Delaware and Lehigh trail, which actually begins in Trenton, and rode it to its end in Mountain Top. I noticed that the maps at each trailhead kiosk aspirationally showed the trail extending a number of miles beyond where it actually does. This seems like a good way to jinx the construction of those future sections. While I understand the desire to keep the maps from becoming outdated quite so soon, I can’t condone such behavior. It reminds me of when some French people kept telling me to put a “grotto accommodation” on a map of the Judean desert, which grotto was and remains a tiny overhang with the guano scraped out of it; the plans to spend 30,000€ somehow turning it into a guesthouse are as phantasmal as the Palestinian State that patch of desert is supposed to inhabit. It’s for the best, too. It was a stupid idea to build something there in the first place, and of course my refusal to draw the thing on the map is vindicated.
Sorry, I’m rambling again. These posts are going to be streams of consciousness, since the screen of a phone is not exactly cut out for editing and word processing.
Speaking of acccommodation, the Delaware and Lehigh trail is sorely lacking. It really needs what the C&O trail has – primitive campsites every ten miles or so. I wound up.camping illegally on state game lands, as there didn’t seem to be any state forest tracts nearby, where such things are permitted. Luckily the trail I’ll be on tomorrow does have designated campsites. How exciting!
In any case, I’m almost at the northern edge of the Ridge and Valley province, and I’ve managed to cross the Appalachians without climbing over a single one. By following river gorges and natural passes, the trail brings you to 1800 feet elevation at a 1% grade the whole time. Winding up through the Lehigh Gorge past zinc-poisoned Palmerton, kitschy Jim Thorpe and miles of isolated state park wilds sure beats hauling your tired butt up steep mountain after steep mountain over who knows how many ridges. And starting tomorrow I’ll follow one more stream up into the Allegheny Plateau – so close to flat, easy Midwestern riding for the next thousand miles.
I’m reading a book by John McPhee about the American shad, an obscure enough topic. I learned that the Schuylkill was especially plentiful in that already-numerous fish to the point where William Penn and Ben Franklin advertised the river as such. Who knew that dam by the Art Museum could have such effects on things upstream?
Anyway, despite the roller coaster, I’m pretty confident that barring major injuries, I can complete this trip. The weather even looks better in the latest forecast!
My gadget to transfer photos from my camera to my phone works! So here are a batch of the nicest – it’s been a scenic ride even with the bleak weather.