In September I took time off to camp, hike, and ride in Tioga and Elk Counties. I needed to be away from the city and in touch with nature. One of the best experiences from the eight days I was in the woods was riding a portion of the Clarion/Little Toby Trail. The rail trail starts in Ridgway and runs along the Clarion River until the confluence with the Little Toby Creek, when it turns and tracks along the smaller stream to the town of Brockway. It had been on my short list of trails to ride for years.

My friend Judy and I stated from the Brockway trailhead and rode six miles to the swinging bridge over Little Toby Creek.   The trail surface was crushed stone, as is common on Western PA rail trails, and appeared to be well-maintained. The scenery wasn’t mountainous, but it was pretty, with the leaves beginning to change from green to the riot of fall.

 I don’t know how long the wire and wood swinging bridge has hung over Little Toby Creek, but it appears to be well-used. I tested it, but first getting to the bridge tested me. The short walk down from the trail was steeper than I was used to, and then there was this step…. (The rest of the photos in this blog post are by Judy, who is a better photographer than I am.)

It took me about five minutes to figure out a way up that step. I finally saw no way but to tackle it as I normally would – which meant applying my entire body weight on one foot – and through one knee. And guess what? It worked. My muscles in my left leg and back got a workout, but I got up the step. 
Now to cross the Little Toby. Did I mention I have a fear of heights?

The far side of the bridge has an overgrown picnic area and what looks like bushwacked hiking trails. I didn’t explore them. Perhaps another day. So Judy and I crossed again. Feel free to imagine whatever metaphors you see in my journey across the bridge.

We called it a day at this point.  My stamina was a lot less than before I was operated on, and I was afraid riding further down the trail would mean I’d not have the strength to get back. The ride back to the car in Brockway was slow but uneventful. I was tired, but glad I’d been out.