Evan and I have three days off together, in a row. This is a rare occasion. We had originally planned to go on a touring trip on our tandem, but the week snuck up on us and we failed to make some important arrangements, like finding someone who would take care of our very needy dog while we were away, or purchasing cold weather camping gear that both of us currently lack (my sleeping pad has had a leak in it for way too long now, and I’m officially fed up after trying to patch it numerous times, and Evan doesn’t have a warm sleeping bag).
So we formulated a new plan. We wouldn’t go anywhere overnight, but we’d go do three good long(er) rides that at least one of us hadn’t done before.
For the first day of our adventure, we decided to hit up our friend Jody and see if he’d give us a tour of Black Mo, his home turf. It’s about an hour north of us, but we never really knew a whole lot about the trails up there, and we’ve never gone to explore much. He was happy to put together a loop for us to give us a feel for the area.
Moshannon State Forest, which includes Black Moshannon State Park (Black Mo), contains an extensive network of snowmobile trails, which get groomed in the winter and then packed down by all the sled use. Jody has raved about the fat biking opportunities this area provides, but we didn’t get the chance to check it out one of the few times we had snow this past winter. It’s definitely on the short list for next year though.
We started the ride with a few miles of gravel, then jumped on the grassy doubletrack of the snowmobile trails. There is singletrack around here, but most of it is pretty dispersed. Jody has been working to change that and start linking up all the little trail networks into one larger network.
We rode casually, stopping a lot and soaking up the sun and warmth. It was a beautiful day. Our loop took us past the Rattlesnake Fire Tower, which I remember coming to a few times when I was in college to watch the sunset and hang out. Jody said that the tower lives up to its name—there’s snakes all over up here, and in the summer, it’s not uncommon to see one while out on a ride.
We descended down to a stream, and jumped on some singletrack for a while. It was tight and twisty but flowy—and a ton of fun! I started having too much fun and did a little jump off a hump in the trail. Evan saw me and said that I should do it again for a photo. So I got a little more speed, and just as I started to go airborne, I saw that I was probably in a collision course with a small tree. I freaked out, and I’m not entirely sure what happened next but I landed in the dirt, shoulder first. I haven’t had a good crash like that in a long time, so I guess I was due for one.
The singletrack took us back into the State Park, where we wound through the trees next to the lake before popping out on the road again. Our friend Brandon, who had come along, needed to get going, so he took the short way back to the parking lot, while we started up Ski Slope Trail for the final climb. At the top, Jody told us about coming to this ski slope as a kid and trying snowboarding for the first time, when the sport was brand new. There used to be a rope lift serving the hill, but it was taken out in the mid 80s, so it became a ski down, then walk back up deal. Or catch a ride with a snowmobile.
From here, it was all downhill to the car, and a really fun one at that. Such a great way to end a ride.