Day 77: West Newton to Confluence, PA (November 14)

There was a light drizzle leaving in the morning. Not cold but a little chill to start.

The surface of the trail is compacted chip stone. Due to the rain last night it seems a couple miles an hour slower than yesterday when dry. Still able to go about 10 mph. There are also a lot of wet leaves on the trail but they seem pretty stable and I haven’t felt any slipping.

There are little towns every five to ten miles along the route. Most have a look they were started 100 years or so ago when this corridor was heavily used judging by the style of houses.

In Connellville, I liked the Appalachian trail type huts to the northwest of type for cyclists and hikers. I ate lunch at the NY Pizza & Pasta next to the big grocery store. I had looked at the services map of the town by the bike path when coming into town, and checked out a few other places first. Despite the “open” signs on the sidewalk everything else looked closed. They might only open when lots of people come through — April to September.

Leaving Connellville the trail enters a gorge where the river narrows and becomes more wild with rapids and rocks. The low angle sun on the steeper valley, remnants of fall color, and the river created a beautiful place to ride for almost 30 miles. There were no houses or other signs of settlement in this stretch. Most if this run is inside the Ohiopyle State Park so no towns, other people on the trail and no mobile reception. It was almost, but not quite, a wilderness. The CSX tracks on the other side occasionally rumbled with a train and the horns sounded down the valley at distant towns.

Past Ohiopyle were coke ovens for processing coal into coke used in steel mills. At the time the area boasted on of the highest number of millionaires in the country including the Fricks who named many art museums. Now all that remains are a few remnant company towns and nearly overgrown, brick coke ovens.

Arriving in Confluence shortly before dark I found that all the B&B’s and restaurants had closed for the winter. There was only a bar and a pizza place open. I had a steak and cheese sub at the pizza place. I decided to camp in the Overflow State Park camp ground despite it being closed. The bathrooms were open which is all that mattered to me.

I camped out underneath the picnic pavilion which not only was near the bathrooms, but was covered protecting me from the forecast rain.

Start: West Newton, PA
End: Confluence, PA
Today’s mileage: 63.9 miles
Total miles so far: 3168 miles
Average speed: 10.2 mph
Max speed: 19 mph
Travel time: (08:15 to 16:00) 7.75 hours
Total travel time: 387.25 hours
Weather: drizzle, partly cloudy, 50-70 F

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