Got up early and headed straight up to the other overlook: Loyalsock Vista. Another forest road climbs quickly up to the vista which graces the cover of the DCNR pamphlet. More "Endless Mountains" region:
Across from the vista is a sign for the "rock garden." My awakening interest in geology forces me up a short trail where my mind is again blown. A 20'-ish tall cleave in a block of former ocean bottom on the top of a mountain. Walking back into the "crack" to look back out:
Looking down into the cleave from above: The little patch of healthy grass growing in the middle of a 20-foot thick piece of bedrock, in the middle of the woods, on the top of a mountain, in what must be a 1/4" of soil... another "life is ubiquitous" moment.
A section on the front of one of the slabs reveals an era of shale-y smooth stuff which interrupted the normal course of deposition here. WTF happened? Why did it start? And then why did it stop? How much time does this interruption represent?
Also: the surface appears covered in dead/ dying lychen, which is another "you've got to be kidding me, biosphere" form of life. Life infests every inch of this planet, exploits every possibility.
And here a giant, lone, motorcyclist standing, staring, transfixed by a pile of rocks for 45 minutes: life marveling at itself.
Feeling mentally washed, I followed the Canyon Vista / Cold Run Rd. back to Shanersburg Rd - all dirt, all cutting thru forest. Creation mocked me some more: I passed a hissing, arch-backed, teeth-bared something (opossum, I think) trying to threaten me off. I laughed at the thought... and within minutes stopped abruptly for a bear in the road ahead. I don't like encountering bears alone, unarmed, and with no protective cage of steel, glass, and airbags between me and them. There's little you can do but let the bear know your there... so I hissed, arched my back, bared my teeth, and beeped my tiny moto horn at him.
Riding thru the woods like this is something I'd like to do until I got bored with it. I'm not sure how long that would take. I hit all the dirt loops on the mountain, emerging again on 154 near the campsite office.
At some point I must have passed thru cell service, because I had a new text from Mark telling me he was leaving his house at 0630AM to meet me in World's End, saying he would follow 42 N from 80. It was 9:36 - he had to be close. I started towards 42 thinking I'd pass him and we could flag each other down. A multi-hour comedy of near misses and doubling-backs ensued. We'd missed each other by minutes - I headed east on 154 to catch 42 and he'd already veered off of 42 South of Eagles Mere. I was leaving the campsite to find him on 42 while he was sitting 3 miles away at the park office. I gave up and left while he waited, then he gave up and left via a different route while I doubled back.
On my double-back, I checked out the main office and swimming beach area. The mountain sheers seemingly vertically, backdropping a meander in the stream - a beautiful site worthy of state parkdom.
Here in the valley, the bedrock is different: it seems a featureless shale. This is the stuff they need to frack to release natural gas. Here, in it's natural, un-fracked state, it looks plenty porous to me.... altho this is above ground with water and roots working on it. The mountain face:
Turning in place 180 degrees, the bend in the stream, the swimming area, and the bridge that caries rt 154 across the Loyalsock Creek:
Mark and I finally made contact and arranged to meet north of Bloomsburg for lunch. Fed, fueled, and ready to roll, we took 80 across to 339 - a nice route according to Mark. His wash buffets me worse than trucks, so I was happy to leave the interstate and be back on some twisty 2-lane. A feature of riding with Mark is frequent GPS stops, turning around, and re-plotting. Mark is afflicted by a misplaced and unyielding confidence in his GPS, which results in the frequent stops, turning around, and re-plotting. A few miles into our 339 route, the road forked and we zigged instead of zagging. My GPS showed a painless 2 turn, no back-tracking route back to the highway. Mark's GPS showed an interesting gravel road that we'd have to back-track to get to.
Less than 50 yards down the gravel road, it became clear we were on some farmer's driveway. Shallow gravel gave way to two ruts, which banked 90 degrees and slid down a hill towards a farmhouse and outbuildings littered with the detritus of farms: vehicles, material handling stuff, maybe an RV and a few rusty old implements. The point is, they are someone's yard... and the "road" usually passes within feet of their front porch... which this one did.
Feeling slightly ashamed, I chugged on, ever faithful behind Mark. The two ruts turned to two wet ruts for a bit (feet were deployed, some mud was slung)... eventually the road devolved into two tracks of bent-over grass then plunged into a small patch of woods. Branches were well below face-level, so we ducked and dodged our way thru, eventually coming to the perimeter of a cornfield, which the track now led around. I knew we were close: there is no way a tractor does what we just did to get here - the farmer gets to THIS field by pulling off the ROAD. At the end of the field, we turned 90 degrees and sure enough descend down to the "out" onto 339. I pulled up alongside, shouted, "you just lost your navigating priveledges!!", and took off intending that Mark follow me and my more road-tuned, topo-less GPS. I think I heard a defensive, "my GPS said that was a ROAD!", but I was gone.
...for a few feet until I heard beeping behind me masked by an unusual sound. I'd acquired a "tail."
We got some VERY suspicious looks from a guy near the truck in the above pic, and made a quick getaway after ditching the vine in the brush across the road.
With me in the lead, I pushed as hard as I could, but I knew I was probably holding Mark back. Not seeing which way the road breaks ahead means I slow down. He reads the curves better than I do. I can go a lot faster following him because I don't have to read curves, I can read him and his brake lights.
At 54 in Mahanoy City, we switched bikes for a while. I forget how crampy and short a stock bike feels, but somehow, sitting low "in" the bike and behind a big shield inspires a lot of confidence. Mark's bike was shod with street tires; mine were wearing the Shinko 705's. Mark soon signalled to pull over and switch back, commenting that my bike was "really tall" and he was "really up in the wind." Being taller than Mark, I wanted to say "you have no idea."
We took 895 towards home, and came up the Bake Oven Knob, which I recall following Mark up some years before on an unsteady KLR, with patches of ice and snow still on the road. I hadn't been riding long and this was a first foray off-pavement on crappy tires, so I was terrified. Coming up on a dry road with DS tires and some experience, it's almost disappointing how easy this road is.
Mileage-wise, it was a fairly short trip - maybe 250 miles or so - but it was a good trip. Lots of riding variety, scenery, a riding buddy for half a day, and an adventure in a cornfield.
World's End State Park: EXPLORED.