20 Nov 2012 Bikepacking out of Ohiopyle
The Quebec Run Wild Area is a really cool system of trails to the south of Ohiopyle. I’ve been looking at some maps for a while, and figuring out a way to ride from town to the wild area on single track and double track the whole way.
So last Saturday I loaded up my pack and started the climb out of the valley.
The trail that goes into Quebec is a ten-mile piece of single track called the White Tail Trail. My plan was to ride a gravel road out of Ohiopyle, take a trail through some state gameland, hit the White Tail Trail into Quebec, watch a cyclocross race that was going on near Quebec, then camp and ride back into work the next morning.
The climb out of Ohiopyle was pretty brutal with a loaded pack. Since I was on my single speed, I couldn’t stay in the saddle. And since I had 35 pounds of camping gear on my back, it wasn’t easy to pedal out of the saddle either.
But I made it to the top and into the gamelands. A few miles in, I saw about 40 trucks parked in the woods. At that point, I realized that it was the first day of bear season, and I was wearing a woolly black shirt. The rest of the ride through the hunting zone was less than relaxing.
When I got to the entrance of the White Tail Trail off of Skyline Drive, I saw more hunters. Since I had no desire to be mistaken for an emaciated bear and shot, I decided to ride the road the rest of the way to the cross race. But at least now I know that the trail to Quebec does exist. It even has fresh blazes. I’ll just have ride it when there’s less firepower in the woods.
Buzzing along Skyline Drive wasn’t so bad:
A couple hours later, I made it to the cross race. I hung out for a while and heckled some racers. Especially my friend Rob, whose bicycle choice was a little suspect:
Then I started the long climb back up the ridge. I made it to my camping spot above Uniontown just before dark, and got a little fire going.
I knew it wasn’t going to rain, so I didn’t bring a tent. I sat next to the fire and looked out at all the bright lights a few miles below. Ate two pots of Ramen, burned up all my firewood, and drank the contents of the flask I brought along. I was hoping that I would be drunk enough to sleep all night without noticing the cold (see simulated summer.)
That worked for about two hours. Then I woke up. It was 25 degrees, and the wind was ripping across the overlook I was sleeping on. I wrapped my ground cover around myself, hoping that it would keep some heat in.
It didn’t. But it did keep some moisture in, and soaked my sleeping bag.
I drifted in and out of shivering sleep for the next few hours, then at 4:30 I decided to get up and start riding back to town. The sun was starting to rise when I got back to Skyline Drive, and it was a bright clear morning.
Pretty, but bright clear mornings are also cold mornings. I thought my fingers were going to freeze and snap off as I descended the mountain back to Ohiopyle. When I got back to town, I spent a long time thawing myself out in front of a little oil heater before I opened the store.
Overall, it was a pretty good mini-bikepacking trip, even though hunting season kept me from riding all the trails I planned on. I ended up riding 45 miles the first day, and 15 the next morning. Not a bad little adventure from the front door. Next post I’ll talk about the gear I used, and what I wished I would have used.
posted by Montana