Bikepacking – What I Packed

I have had a lot of people ask what I brought with me on my bikepacking trip so I figured I’d put together a quick list.  The following items are what my nephew and I brought for our overnight trip.

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First Bikepacking Trip!

I have been TRYING all summer to take my nephew on a camping trip, but it just hadn’t been working out and has been extremely hot lately.  I have also been wanting to try bikepacking for a while so I decided to see if my nephew would be able to come on a short trip with me – win win right?!  🙂

In case you don’t know what bikepacking is, it is like backpacking except you load up all your camping gear in panniers (bags that attach to your bike) so you don’t have to carry it on your back….which I probably should have explained to my sister because she mentioned she was trying to fit his sleeping bag into his backpacking bag.  I had to laugh at the image of my nephew riding his new bike down the trail with his giant backpacking pack on his back.  I reassured my sister that I would be carrying everything on my bike and he could just focus on riding his.  🙂

I decided to take him on the York Heritage Rail Trail – which is a trail I have ridden a few times before.  The plan was to park at Glatfelters Station Parking Lot around mile 13 and then we would bike Indian Rock Campground which is right off the trail around mile 18, camp overnight, then bike back the next day.  This seemed like a reasonable distance to go for an 8 year old on a new bike and myself hauling all the gear – and it is a FLAT trail which is a plus!

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Centralia’s Graffiti Highway

On the way back from my camping trip to Watkins Glen we stopped off in Centralia, PA –  this is a whole town that was evacuated due to a fire that started in the Coal Mine below.  The fire has been burning since 1962.  Some people didn’t want to leave, but eventually most of them were forced out.  I am always surprised at how many people come to see this — well — area of nothing but shrubs, weeds and cemeteries – there was even a person selling hotdogs at a stand on the side of the main road (that’s a new one).

You can wander around the abandoned roads and hope to see smoke that still escapes from the cracks in the pavement and dirt to this day, although to be honest each time I go there, there is less and less smoke visible.  We didn’t see any on this hot summer day.  I am going to go back in the winter because supposedly you can see it better then so I’ll talk more about the town in that post.

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Old stone fence in Centralia, PA

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Camping and Trails At Watkins Glen

I can not say enough great things about this campground and State Park – I love it here.  This trip was not the first and certainly won’t be the last time I will visit.  The campsites are large with a picnic table, fire ring and room to park your car.  There are flush toilets, warm showers and electric in the bath house.

I brought my friend Cathy with – this was her first camping trip and she LOVED it.  We were driving up right after work so I called and told them we would most likely get there late.  They told us that wouldn’t be a problem, just to set up when we got there and check in in the morning.  We ended up arriving at 9:30 which meant unfortunately it was dark.  Setting up the condo (as my tent is lovingly nicknamed) in the dark is a pain – actually setting up the condo in the day time is sort of a pain because it’s so huge and old.  As we were putting it together we noticed one of the tent poles was missing the hollow metal end that fits into the peg attached to the tent – bummer!  We couldn’t find it anywhere so we ended up rigging that side of the tent up with extra stakes and the ring attached to the tent that the stakes go through and trying to jam the pole in the hard ground – hey it worked – even if it was a bit lop sided!

 

it held!

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Watkins Glen State Park

Watkins Glen State Park is one of my favorite places to visit.  The campgrounds are wonderful, bathrooms are clean with flush toilets and running water, and the hiking trails are great.  The best trail is called the Gorge Trail and is the one that everyone comes to hike.  The trail is carved right into sides of the gorge and goes up over 800 steps over about a mile and a half.  It goes over, under and through 19 waterfalls along the way.  Although the waterfalls weren’t flowing as much as I have seen in the past, it was still an extremely beautiful place to visit!

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Capital Area Greenbelt Trail

Kevin and I set out to do the entire 20 mile Capital Area Greenbelt trail which creates a loop around the city of Harrisburg, PA.  I was excited to check this trail out because I was considering doing this trail as the yearly group ride that I organize instead of the Lehigh Gorge Trail which is the one we have always done.  I am really glad I checked this trail out prior to taking an entire group of people.  There were some fairly steep hills and lots of road riding which some people who come are very uncomfortable with.

We parked at City Island and took the walker/biker bridge across to the start of the trail.  The first few miles were completely flat and followed the Susquehanna River.  There was a lot of artwork, painted dinosaurs and a cow  – I HAD to stop and get a quick picture of the Triceratops that was across the street because they are my personal favorite dinosaur – FYI.  🙂

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The Fair-Weather Highpointer

First, let me start this post by saying I GOT TO MEET THE SUMMIT CHICKS!!! I GOT TO MEET THE SUMMIT CHICKS!!!!  🙂

Let me backtrack:  I have been using the Summit Chicks’ blog for quite some time as a reference for my own high pointing road trips.  I was so surprised and excited when they contacted me shortly after I started my blog and asked if I would want to hike a highpoint with them – ummm YES!!!!  🙂  They found me because I left a comment for another blogger who was starting out highpointing and I suggested she check out their blog.  After chatting back and forth we decided Katahdin in Maine would be the peak we would go after – how exciting!  The Summit Chicks (Raina and Jill) put together the whole trip – it was in the works for MONTHS because you have to snag a campsite about 4 mths ahead of time for Baxter State Park.  They have a ton of crazy rules and the girls did a lot of research to figure out what would be the best option to hike Katahdin.

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Mount Mansfield Strike 2

Kevin and I got up early to pack the final things we would need for our trip and put them in the truck.  We gave Willow (my cat) her insulin shot and set out for Stowe, VT to try to hike Mt Mansfield before they closed the toll road at 5- I knew we would be cutting it close and my heart sunk when I punched the address into the GPS and saw the estimated arrival time was 3:30- that was over an hour what my phone GPS said!! “We’re not gonna make it” I said – it takes approx 20 mins to drive up the toll road – plus let’s say 2 hrs to hike and enjoy the views and then 20 mins to drive back down- the website says all cars must start driving down by 4:45 at the latest because the gate closes at 5.  This did not give us enough time.  Kevin said his GPS the time always goes down as he drives.  We figured we would give it a try and see if we made it- I wanted to be there by 2 to be safe but knew that just wasn’t possible.  On the long drive I started looking for options for plan B.

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Cycling to the Wildflower Patch

I joined a cycling club a few weeks ago which I LOVE – I have met so many awesome people, although I have to admit I was worried that on my hybrid I wouldn’t be able to keep up.  Turns out I had no problems (and they gave me a 20% off coupon to a bike shop which includes bikes—-could we see a road bike in my future??  Probably yes! 🙂 WAHOO!)  Anyway – I have done a few rides with this group – the problem?  There is no time to stop to take pictures and too much beautiful scenery along the way! LOL!!  I knew an upcoming ride was going to go right by this awesome wildflower patch that everyone has been buzzing about lately, but I couldn’t bear it if I couldn’t stop to take a picture – or 100 – so I decided to bike there myself before the group ride.  I talked my mom into going along so we picked a spot that was fairly close by to park and cycle there.  Now you can just drive up and park in the grass, but what’s the fun in that??  🙂

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