I woke up today with 4 screaming girls that spent the night with Sam. I know you are thinking what I was thinking, time to go ride.
I knew a small group was riding the Finger Lakes Trail near Letchworth, so I joined them, on my cross bike (FAIL, that was a theme for the weekend)
So my recovery Sunday was a nearly 3 hour, singletrack, root filled ride… OK I admit it, I had fun and a huge blister on my hand!
What a day.
After doing my chores, I headed for Buffalo (a little south of it) for my first cyclocross race of the season. I finished in the top 20 (ok only 20 started my class) but I was about 15th (give or take a spot, I didn’t see results)
I decided to take the long way home and search for some remote waterfalls. The first was the Cascades of Attica, a 2006 web entry said it was on private property, but the owner lets you view it. There was an added note about ropes to get to the bottom of the falls. Well there were no ropes and as I started down the gorge, the sides were all rotting leaves and loose soil. I started sliding (butt, back and slide) and didn’t stop till I was 40 feet down. Well I might as well slide to the bottom and take the picture. Well this was one of those times I was a little worried about my choices.
I wore running shoes not hiking boots. FAIL
I didn’t tell anyone where I was going. FAIL
I didn’t bring a communications device (whistle or cell phone) FAIL
My backpack only contained camera gear. FAIL
Coming up was tough. No traction, and my legs were sore and tired from the race. I finally found a rotting fallen tree and used the knots were the limbs were to pull myself up.
Next I headed toward Warsaw Falls, which you park in a town park for the trail head. This also is listed as a “wild” waterfall and there is no trail to the falls, just a mile or so up the creek bed. Well I started up and and wasn’t happy with my footwear (see above) and it was getting dark in the woods… the sun would set in an hour or so…
I didn’t pack a light. FAIL
So I tried around and headed home.
Sunday morning and we were up before 7am again, after spotting another bull, we decided to search for an old secret nuclear site inside the Quehanna Wild Area.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace “made funding accessible to anyone who had the imagination, if not the ability, to harness the atom’s power for peaceful purposes”. Under the new program, the airplane manufacturer Curtiss-Wright Corporation sought a large isolated area in central Pennsylvania “for the development of nuclear-powered jet engines and to conduct research in nucleonics, metallurgy, ultrasonics, electronics, chemicals and plastics”. In June 1955, George M. Leader, the Governor of Pennsylvania, signed legislation that authorized the construction of a research facility at Quehanna. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania sold Curtiss-Wright 8,597 acres for $181,250. Curtiss-Wright controlled 51,193 acres in a regular 16-sided polygon, which was easier to fence than a circular area.
Curtiss-Wright built three facilities on its land. The first was a nuclear research center with a nuclear reactor and six shielded radiation containment chambers for handling radioactive isotopes, referred to as hot cells, at the end of Reactor Road. The second was for jet engine trials and had two test cells with bunkers just north of Quehanna Highway. Curtiss-Wright left in 1960, after which a succession of tenants further contaminated the nuclear reactor facility and its hot cells with radioactive isotopes, including strontium-90 and cobalt-60.
Great fun, driving forest roads and a muddy drive home.
A quick weekend trip to look for Pennsylvania’s wild elk herd near Benezette.
The native elk disappeared by 1867 but the current herd are the descendants of 177 Rocky Mountain elk introduced between 1913 and 1926.
We were very lucky and starting at 7am saw over 50 elk. Me and a couple of friends tracked down a game trail and saw several active bulls and cows and heard lots of bugling. As the sun was getting low one young bull walked up a hill and into the tree line where we were “hiding” passing us 20 feet away.