In July 2012 I visited Western Pennsylvania on vacation. Although I was four months into my recovery from surgery, I was still weak and taking a drug that made me weaker. My grand plans for a rapid return to the old me were not happening. I would fall asleep BEFORE going for a ride or hike, I had so little stamina. However, I had nature deprivation, and I had to fill the emptiness even if I had limited ability to do so.
Accordingly, I planned short hikes and rides. Nothing big, but pushing my capabilities still. My first bike ride was a mile on the Montour Trail, as I’ve written about in another post, and my second was eight miles on the Indian Creek Valley Trail. The ICVT is one of many rails to trails projects in Western Pennsylvania, all progressing at different paces in different places. The goal of the ICVT is for a 22 mile trail ending in a connection to the Great Allegheny Passage, the 150 mile trail between Pittsburgh and Cumberland. That grand vision, which includes building a bridge of the Youghiogheny River for the connection to the GAP, is many years away. The day Judy and I visited there were eight miles finished, and we rode four of them out and back.
We started from the small trailhead in the town of Indian Head, and headed north. The first stretch of trail led through farmland, but soon enough the gravel trail was shaded by trees, and we were in the woods. The trail was beautiful, lush with green, and Indian Creek splashed in the gorge below us. The day was warm, but not hot, and bugs were few.
When we reached Melcroft we were surprised to see an old railroad trestle spanning the creek. The trestle connects a parking and picnic area on the far side of Indian Creek. The ICVT website, http://www.indiancreekvalleytrail.com/, had little to say about the trestle, which struck me as odd, since bridges are a selling point for a trail. I enjoyed crossing the creek both ways, and Judy borrowed my camera and took photos of my crossing. You can clearly see my incisions from the knee replacement, and that my bike is now too small for me. I already knew in my heart I’d have to sell Roark, the bike I’d been riding for years and thousands of miles.
We turned around at the four mile mark, not because I was tired, but because I was afraid I would become tired and not be able to ride back. That was probably excessive caution on my part. I should have pushed my limits. But I didn’t want Judy to have to come fetch me, especially after she’d been carting me around all week. I should, God willing, be in Western Pennsylvania next month and will be riding the Indian Creek Valley Trail again, this time the whole completed section and on a bike that fits me. I look forward to crossing the Melcroft trestle again, and whatever else appears in my path.