Monday, November 02, 2009

Big Ride on the Rail Trail

The morning after we arrived at the park, we got up and Carole cooked us one of her great campsite breakfasts: pancakes, bacon, coffee, orange juice, etc. After that, we got our bikes ready and headed out for the North Bend Rail Trail.

Carole and I love these bike trails. There are a number of them around the nation, now. They're placed over railroad rights of way when the various rail lines no longer have an interest in the routes. Instead of allowing them to lie fallow, the grades are engineered for biking, hiking, and horseback riding. This gives a great boost to many local economies around these trails. We especially enjoy them because most of them have very easy grades and are fun to bike in either direction, since the "uphills" are so slight.

We had a short connector from our campsite to the main trail. This was about a one-mile easy cruise over an old road used now for park maintenance and for hiking/biking. In short order we were on the trail and soon passing through the first of three tunnels. Our goal was to bike five miles north to Ellenboro, find a restaurant to eat lunch, and then bike back to camp.

This was an oil well on state park property just before the intersection with the North Bend Rail Trail. This is a non-working display for historical purposes only. However, it's quite indicative of the small wells that even today dot the forests and roads all around the area surrounding the park.

An abandoned bridge span just across the trail from the oil well display.

Our view at the oil well.

This was our first tunnel: The Bonds Creek Tunnel. In 1956 there was a bad railway accident here when the engine jumped the track and plunged into Bonds Creek. The conductor and one engineer were killed. Forty-five passengers were injured.


This kind of view is to be had all along the route.

This was a slot canyon carved into the hillside. I reckon it came very close to being a tunnel. What was interesting was that passing through this narrow enclosure was quite cold. The walls had held in the cool air from the previous evening.

An abandoned church activity center along the rail trail. The church itself seems to be active, but I guess they don't have enough young members to keep up the playgrounds. Alas.

This was weird. In the playground was a storage building. It was locked, but someone had pried some boards loose from one of the walls. I looked inside and spotted these skulls. I can't imagine why a church playground needs bleached cattle skulls.

This was at a spot along the trail just before entering Ellenboro. It's called "Hobo Rock" and spring. Someone apparently carved out this bowl in the stone under a huge rocky overhang. The water from a clear spring collects here and it seems perfect for plunging your face into and drinking deeply.

A foot bridge right at the Ellenboro town limits.

We rode our bikes about a half-mile up WV 16 to this little restaurant for lunch. The food was pretty good and the service was friendly at "The Log Cabin". Recommended.

This is the bridge over the highway at Ellenboro, WV. This was actually the only "steep" part of the rail trail that we encountered.

Why you should never sleep under rocky overhangs. The roof of this one had collapsed. Anyone trying to sleep under it would have been, at the very least, upset.

At one of our rest stops I looked up into the pure cobalt sky to watch these four buzzards circling far above.

This is right before the intersection where we would head back to camp. We stopped here to rest again and think about what we were going to do to waste the rest of our day.

Praise the invention of the ten-second camera timer!

We head back to camp, passing through the last tunnel before the trail connector.

Damn! It was dark in there!

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