Even though I don’t work for colleges and universities anymore, I still get that anxious, start of school feeling this time of year. It’s also the time of year when all I want to do is purchase brand new school supplies. Not that I have a need for them. I’m still using school supplies that were purchased in the late 90s. Not joking.
Let’s reminisce…….. Do you remember the feel of a brand new No.2 Pencil in your hand? Eraser fully intact.? A fresh clean school agenda that you received in homeroom? A syllabus for all those classes you were so eager to dive right into? The honeymoon period of school always lasted into Columbus Day weekend for me.
This year there would be no school. However, there would be an epic bike ride.
Enter my Mom, Judi Warner.
My Mom loves to ride her bike. She has a few goals including biking across Europe, the East Coast Greenway, and the entire D&L Trail. I have been her wing-woman for the D&L Trail, and hope to complete the East Coast Greenway with her at some point during our lives. I think we both need to be retired for that. We are only 25 years apart. Could you imagine two senior citizens biking this? Me in my 50s, and my Mom in her 70s. LOL-Let’s hope we both keep ourselves in good enough shape for that dream to come true.
We decided to put those on hold and tackle another trail that had been on both of our bucket lists: The McDade Trail in Delaware Water Gap National Park.
At this point in time during the year, Zach only had a few hiking weekends left. My Mom and I decided to have our biking plans coincide with Zach’s hiking plans. In fact, on this part of the trail, Zach was literally hiking on the ridge across the Delaware River from us. It was very surprising that he didn’t hear the echo across the river valley of my potty mouth as my Mom and I biked the McDade Trail. More to come on that.
On the morning of September 1st, my Dad dropped my Mom and I off at Milford Beach to start our 31 mile trek. In talking to some people who had biked the McDade Trail, many of them said that it “wasn’t a big deal.” With each of us being so active, we thought that biking the 31 miles wouldn’t be a big deal either.
After the stop in Milford Beach, my Dad dropped Zach off at Millbrook Road in Hardwick, New Jersey. His plan was to hike 12.1 miles to River Road in Columbia, New Jersey. Zach thought that we would each finish our journeys at the same time. He was right about that. However the trails to get us there, would prove to be two very different experiences….
Catfish tower is only 60 feet tall, but is at an elevation of 1,555 feet. It was built in 1922 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is still used today as an active fire tower. It is one of 800 active fire towers in the United States.
While Zach was climbing towers and looking at cairns (man-made piles of rocks), we were across the river biking our asses off. The McDade trail started off mild, with few hills, and very prairie-like. By the time we were at Dingman’s Campground, we were exhausted. It was only about 9 miles from the start, but the hills we started to experience were unbelievable. At one point in time, we must of missed the sign where this part of the trail was only for walkers. We found ourselves pushing our bikes up gigantic boulders on a very narrow path on the bank of the Delaware. We thought we had been through it all when we stopped at Dingman’s Campground for a break. Little did we know we were just getting started.
The entire McDade trail is dirt and gravel. It has some very steep hills. Some of them were so steep that we had to walk our bikes down. The trails that we normally ride are old railroad beds with slight grades.
What walks down, must walk up. This is the McDade Trail theme. We found ourselves at the bottom of these steep hills only to walk back up another steep hill. Thinking back, I don’t remember biking a lot. Just walking up steep hills, swearing like a sailor, and a lot of pain.
Even at the bitter end of the bike ride, just when we thought we were home free with hills, we encountered another gigantic hill that we had to walk our bikes up. We took the North to South route of the McDade Trail. For anyone thinking of doing this, let me just say this: start from the South, work your way North, and you are out of your frickin’ mind!
Zach called me just as we were in the middle of climbing the last steep hill to the pickup point. He had just finished and was in the truck with my Dad coming to get us. After a 20 minute delay because of a bit of confusion with the pickup point, we finally got picked up.
It was great to spend the day with my Mom. Glad the McDade trail is off the bucket list, and we now have the D&L Trail to look forward to for years to come.