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  • Writer's picturePatrick Baechle

The Ghost Town Trail

Like the start of any day when you are leaving for a long trip, you run around like crazy trying to extinguish any remaining smoldering fires; second guessing and replacing half the things you packed and then putting the original items back, and then kissing your wife goodbye at 9am only to have her show up at lunch to say "Are you still here ?"

So I got a late start and I am climbing up the Allegheny mountains thinking about how I am lugging every conceivable piece of survival gear for every conceivable situation and then it dawns on me. After a few phone calls I was able to arrange a special delivery of one of the most important pieces of survival gear required in the 21st century. My dear friend John Trimble took some time out of his day to deliver to me, at the crest of the mountain, that one thing that completely slipped my mind. "My wallet!"

So today I rode from Hollidaysburg to Blairsville. The hard part was climbing the mountains. It was hot and muggy and the dissonant whine of the coal trucks climbing up behind me was starting to fray my nerves. Getting used to the gravity and balance of this heavy load, combined with the steep grade was quite a learning experience. I find, in these situations, the best thing to do is to hum the Itsy Bitsy Spider song.

By the time I got to Ebensbug, I had had enough of the traffic an noise. But my anxiety changed almost immedialy as I turned onto the Ghost Town Trail. Within a matter of few minutes I felt an overwhelming sense of piece an calm. The sense of change was dramatic. I am now on a flat trail. There is a tree canopy protecting me from the hot sun. The sound of the tires on the gravel surface was very soothing and there was quiet peace. I felt that I had entered the world of tree therapy. I got a second wind and I started to roll.

For the next four hours I zoomed down this trail. It is awesome. I expected a muddy, rutted, two track, but it was an excellent, smooth, well packed stone dust path, well maintIned, free of ruts and washouts. It was a bicycle freeway. I was cookin. My bike was amazing. Even though It was fully loaded it was as smooth and comfortable to ride. My friend Betsy said when it was loaded it would be like a Cadillac and she was right! It has a certain amount of spring to it that I never experienced. So this is what a touring bike feels like.

The Ghost Town Trail skirts along Blacklick Creek. Today the creek was running strong due to recent rains and the sound of the rapids was pleasing. There are not a lot of attractions along the way but there are few iron furnaces to make note of. I was impressed with Eliza furnace. We have many Furnaces in Blair County but I never saw one restored with metal combustion flues above like this one.

Toward the end of the day I started to pick up speed. I became a locomotive barreling down the old Pennsyvania Railroad bed at breakneck speed. Mostly because it was starting to get dark and I needed to find a place to stay. Well, then maybe because I thought it was darker than it was because I was wearing. Sunglasses. OK. OK. I was afraid the ghosts were going to catch me.

On the road again.


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