September 29: Matamoras to Easton 60.3 miles
We awoke to a dark sky, wet ground and wind. It had stormed all night, but we had hoped for it to be clear by sunrise -- no such luck. The days are getting shorter now, so we weren't going to start until after 8am and a hearty breakfast. Peeking out the hotel after the meal drew the same conclusion from everyone. No rain now, but heavy clouds in the west, so on with the rain gear, booties and all.
No more than a mile down the road the clouds began to open and drop their moisture drop by drop onto us. At first it was a mere sprinkle, but within minutes it was a full blown downpour. Once again we drew strange looks from the people driving by splashing us with puddle water -- one could almost read their minds -- "Are those women nuts? It is pouring rain out. Don't they realize that?" Of course we realize it -- and just grin and bear it!!
The route this morning took us through the Delaware Water Gap National Park. The street was lined with dense forests and streams on both sides. The forest floor was thickly covered in yellow and red leaves that were steadily falling in the rain. The sights were probably spectacular in the sunlight, however, in rain they became muted. It was also difficult to fully enjoy the scenery when trying to blink the water away, avoid the splashes, and stay steady on course against the wind. All in all, though, it was a treat.
The route said to veer left onto Community Drive -- a minor road within the park -- a sign said "Closed for the Winter" -- doesn't stop us -- veer left it is up onto the leave covered road that lead up back into the woods away from the main road. Quiet and peaceful it was with no traffic, of course -- it is closed! The road ended back on a main artery and we were off again on the country roads.
As the morning turned to afternoon, the rain started to break up with the sun attempting to penetrate and warm the air. One thing to note about rain and riding -- spring rains are gentle, summer ones are warm, fall ones are cold and penetrating, winter ones, well, that is called snow!
Lunch was found in a small general store deep in a valley in the Pocono's. We were just downhill from the Swanee Ski Area. A quick change to drier and less heavy clothes and off we go again. The National Park and the roads that followed rolled through the countryside. For every down there was a corresponding up, but never anything too difficult to labor through. After lunch we came to a fork in the road and had to make a choice of staying literally on our route or take a "short cut:" to the next town and reach the routing. Decision was easy on the spot where we stood. To our right was a steep incline, to our left a decent -- left it is!! Ha, never take the "easy" way. Within one mile we were on a hill to the heavens. It rose for over two miles and always at over 10 degree grade. All of us were going no faster than three miles an hour for the full length. We had already tested and proven that when a bike goes under three miles an hour it falls over, so one's option is to walk. This hill almost took us down!
At the top was the Appalachian Trail crossing. A young woman and her son were there -- with car -- and asked if we were going to hike. We couldn't even breath at this point so the thought of hiking was not met with enthusiasm.
For every long uphill there is a corresponding downhill and this mountain wasn't going to challenge that law. Down, down we went at great speed and enjoyment. We sailed into the small town of Bangor in a quarter of the time it took us to climb to the summit. But now we were still off route and with much discussion roads were picked and directions given and fingers crossed. Easton was only ten miles away by the way the crow flies and we wanted the most direct but safe biking route.
Success -- Hampton Inn in Easton and everyone is here!! Dinner tonight at Appleby's and then to bed early. Tomorrow we ride into the suburbs of Philadelphia.
Note: Due to the rain in the morning and the chill in the afternoon, only two pictures were taken. It was at the summit after the long climb, so may be slightly out of focus due to the rapid heart beat shaking the hands.
Peg Arriving at the Summit! Note the Angle of the Road Behind Her!!!