Thursday, August 23—Cycling the GAP, Connellsville to Buena Vista

Today’s ride of about 32 miles began in Connellsville with blue skies and temperatures in the mid-50s. Dense, mostly forested land adjacent to the trail gave way to a more open area with still standing remnants of the coal and coke industries which drove the economy of the region.

Remnants of the now defunct coal and coke industry

Remnants of the now defunct coal and coke industry

This first segment of the day’s ride took us past scenic waterfalls and the 100-mile marker, also marking 100 miles cycled thus far this week.

Many serene waterfalls and creeks flowed adjacent to the trail 
Passing the 100-mile marker
Our early lunch, some 16 miles up the trail, was at Whitsett, an old coal mining town.
Lunch at Whitsett
With only one brief stop, we cycled another 10 miles to West Newton, where along the trail we saw several pieces of trail side art.

Gold bicycle alongside the trail

Passing mile marker 109

West Newton at mile marker 113
Another 3 miles took us to an ice cream place for soft serve yogurt, followed by another 3 miles to our terminus at Buena Vista. The small towns through which we pedaled were all coal mining towns reflecting poverty and lifestyles resulting from the disappearance of the coal industry. Interestingly, cycling and river-based recreation now account for a major portion of the local economy.

An “orange” waterfall resulting from iron seeping into the groundwater

After a return to LMCC, showers and naps preceded dinner and an evening program on the biodiversity of the region.

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