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Lehigh Gorge biking

Yet another summer weekend in NYC and this time, we plan a biking trip. Our first options are the Poconos mountains (NYC’s most popular weekend getaway) and the Hudson valley. A simple search reveals the Lehigh Gorge trail in the Poconos and being lazy, we pick that option as there are quite a few bike rental shops. My friends have been there many times. This also lists among the top 50 rides(check Northeast) in the US. We start at 9.45am and Jim Thorpe (a historic town) is our destination to rent the bikes. I first thought that it is the name of a man before realizing it is the town‘s name with an interesting story behind the name. Well, it’s even got a tagline to it – History Adventure Inspiring – whoa! We drive through I78 when my friend tells me of some one’s comment about the highways – “Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.” My other friend has chosen our breakfast destination, the Waffle House (surprisingly missing in NY, NY) at Allentown in the State of Independence (PA still welcomes you with that sign). He is quite focused on the food before the biking. I eat my first waffle there. It is just another pancake. I have a hearty breakfast.  We take the Penna turnpike and we hit Jim Thorpe at 1.30pm. The views are beautiful as we pass the Lehigh tunnel under the famed Blue Mountain.

We sign waiver forms and rent the bikes. The shuttle takes us to the top of the trail, White Haven for the 25 mile ride. The bike and the shuttle cost us $40 each. The shop selects the bike seeing our height. We banter with the driver about game options in the area. He tells us that there is an interesting race on the route, the Weatherly Hillclimb. Maybe, next time we should plan to see it. He also did tell us that the I80 was heavily backed up because of the Pocono Race. This is a happening area, most definitely. He tries to pull a lame joke on us that we have passed the 25 mile point and we will have to do the 50 mile trip 🙂 A charming girl tells us about the trail, its delights and its hazards. We start at 2.15 pm and we have 5+ hours to make our way down before the shop closes at 8pm. The Lehigh river is on our right initially and we quickly cross over a road and the river now is on our right. We slowly make our way. Supposedly, there could be bears and possibly snakes. We see a lot of rafts and kayaks, who are enjoying their white water adventures (Grade 3 stuff). Since it is downhill and the gradient is very gentle (rail road), it is quite pleasant. The predicted thunderstorm thankfully stayed away. There are a lot of stops – mile markers and trails that lead down to the river.  I climb down one and it is steep indeed. Very soon, the rail track appears on the other side of the river. We keep going. There is a ‘Locks’ map and all of us walk to the river, where we take a few snaps.

We pass a small waterfall and we cross the midway point Rockport, which is just another point. A few rafters are done here. At the next halt, we spot a rock that sits high on the gorge and offers a splendid view of the rafters. We wave to them. We cross a bridge and the rail track also crosses the river. We pass the tracks. From now, the trail is between the river and the rail. We have almost done 15 miles and our legs start to pain. We decide not to stop any further and finish off the ride faster. Off we pedal and touch Glen Onoko. I spot the Falls trail and force the others to join me on the hike. The hike is a little tricky and the falls is not as pretty as its picture is. Nevertheless, we see a photo shoot near the falls in bikinis. This makes our day 🙂 We cross another bridge and decide not to walk to the bridge view. My friends tell me last time they had to bike on the road from here, but this year they have connected Jim Thorpe also by trail. We bike across a spectacular bridge and soon reach downtown Jim Thorpe at 6.15pm. Yay, we made it in 4 hours. We take a short walk in the town before we start back to I80. We cross the World’s largest general store shortly.We dine at a Turkish place in Stroudsburg and make it back on I80 through the Delaware water gap. That is two weekends of activity after such a long lull. May the force be with us this summer!

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