The day began with a run up to the shower facility at Outflow Campground, and I began to get a little perplexed by what I was seeing…. RV after RV decked out to look like traveling houses with folding picnic table setups, intricate wind chimes, elaborate awnings, and welcome signs outside the “front door” with the owners’ last names.
More than a few had satellite dishes for TVs. Satellite dishes!
Maybe it’s because of the journey I’m on but I don’t really understand all this. It’s like people go through great financial and temporal efforts to get out into nature and then proceed to inoculate themselves from it with the distractions they came from at their permanent homes. It made me think of the self sufficiency I’ve chosen to embrace with months on my bike and the things I carry on it, and how different my experience is from whatever these RVers are doing.
But then it was back on the trail towards Ohiopyle for a more substantial breakfast.
The ten miles to town made me feel all the fatigue building up in my body over the last few days and made me a bit nervous about the 70 miles past Ohiopyle to Pittsburgh. I was determined to make it into town in a day, but it felt like a daunting task.
I kinda came up short in photos of Ohiopyle, but it was a delightful little hippie/hillbilly rafting town. I only stayed long enough for breakfast at the general store and to appreciate the views from the bridges north over the Youghiogheny River:
And the trail kept on… and on and on. While in far better condition, easier to ride on, and arguably more beautiful, the GAP trail is more isolating than the C&O, with longer stretches between towns. It was peaceful but it also made me more aware of the lonliness I’ve been feeling on the tour.
I eventually made it to Connellsville after 17 miles and found a place to get some pasta.
I ordered some penne then sat down to charge my devices. Outlets wouldn’t work though. So I asked where the restroom was, and they said they didn’t have one because it was under construction.
10 frustrated minutes later I asked how much longer for the food, and they said the water had to start boiling and it would take 30 more minutes. This didn’t sit well with me. I demanded my money back so I could leave, which I got. I wish this place put more effort into functioning properly than their rabid Pittsburgh sports fandom, which they clearly wanted to showcase:
It was just foreshadowing for what I would be subjected to in Pittsburgh proper.
And then the trail again. I finally decided to take a picture of one of the many benches along the trail, because they curiously face away from it. Sometimes they face a nice hillside waterfall, but a fair amount face nothing. To wit:
They always made me laugh to myself. As did this sign:
One issue I was dealing with was fear of not having enough water. I sweat a fair bit in general but with the endless hours on a 100 pound bike with temperatures in the 80s I was drinking quite a lot, but didn’t have a lot of options to refill. Which is why the sign accompanying this well made me sad:
I eventually made it to a convenience storeless bit of civilization…
And found a house with a bunch of old refrigerators outside full of Gatorade and snacks for trail users. There was no one manning the operation but a friendly little dog. I took a Gatorade and beef jerky and left a couple bucks. I guess the honor system prevailed.
Back on the trail I found a curious bit of local heritage regarding a brewery across the Youghiogheny:
From 1881 to when, now?
I had to check out what the denizens of the trail so wanted to show off:
I wasn’t really blown away by the glimpse of an old window through the thick flora, but I certainly had a laughing fit.
As the day wore on and the trail neared its terminus it joined regular roads for a piece. It was my first time in real roads in days and I was surprised to be slightly disoriented by it.
This also marked the beginning of the industrial expanses outside Pittsburgh. I was too worn down to fully embrace it though. To say I was feeling the miles is an understatement.
The industrial yards morphed into the built environment in quick succession as I passed through Duquesne.
And then I was into Pittsburgh. My host for the night, Marie, lived in the East End, meaning the endpoint of the GAP had to wait until the following morning. I had to power through the short, steep bursts of elevation that Pittsburgh is known for to make it there, and when I finally did I took a fast shower to wash off the trail grime. Marie took me to a bar with delicious burgers for dinner, which miraculously carried Czechvar (Budvar, the original Czech Budweiser), giving me a welcome taste of my days in the Czech Republic. The Penguins were playing Tampa Bay in game 7 of the NHL playoffs with the winner going to the Stanely Cup finals. The bar was packed with a very loud, rowdy bunch of fans, and I knew I was in Pittsburgh. This is a sports town if there ever was one, and my senses were inundated with the rabid locals. I can’t say I really understand this. It was just as bewildering as seeing the RV portable satellite dishes 14 hours previous. But the Penguins won, and boy, were they a happy bunch of drinkers. And smokers too… Apparently smoking in bars is allowed in certain places here.
Back at the apartment I crashed hard on the couch with five days and 300 miles on trails behind me. I was too tired to reflect too much on it but there would be time for that in the following two days off the bike in downtown Pittsburgh.