Peter Hungerford snaps a shot of the Mickelson Trail in South dakota during his trip this summer.
Tell Us ...
In August, we asked you to tell us about your favorite rail-trail highlights from the summer season. You might notice a little mischief in these responses!
Betsy Bartos — Malvern, Pa.
My highlight this summer happened on a beastly hot, muggy, July morning on the Schuylkill River Trail in Pennsylvania, just west of Philadelphia. I was riding my bike along the Schuylkill River when I noticed what appeared to be a large branch on the trail some distance ahead. Since the trail was out in the open, no overhanging trees, I was curious as to how the branch came to be there. Keeping my eye on it as I approached, I noticed one side of the "branch" rise up. I instantly realized it was, in fact, a snake.
As I rode past, he slithered off the trail into the grass. I was astonished at his size, estimating him to be approximately six- to seven-feet long, and one to one-and-a-half inches in diameter. Being such a hot morning, though, I'm sure he was enjoying the warmth of the sun on the pavement.
Sometime later, on my return trip, I was riding under the cover of some trees and overhanging bushes. The trail had the expected leaves and twigs you might see littering the path. You either ride around them or, if insignificant, over them. Ahead on the trail was a relatively small twig, about seven inches, roughly the size of a pencil. I made the decision to ride over the "twig," and as I passed over it, I looked down and was quite startled to see that I had just rolled over another snake. On this trail, which I ride with some regularity, you get used to groundhogs and chipmunks scooting out across your path, but this was a new wildlife interaction for me. As a spin instructor, I've entertained my classes with this story a number of times, and the common question is whether or not the snake I ran over survived. What do you think?
Peter Hungerford — Tillamook, Ore.
My most memorable experience this season was on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota. We started in Rocheford and went to the Edgemont end, then to the Deadwood end, then finished in Rocheford again, where we'd left the car. The Mickelson is a day-use area, but we bandit-camped with our trailer full of gear as we always do. The cops were onto us in the morning of day two and watched us closely for the duration of the trip. The fact that they never busted us makes this trip the highlight of my summer (so far).
Becky Stepp — Detroit, Mich.
My brother realizing he could view the drive-in movies at the Pontiac Silverdome from the Clinton River Trail in Pontiac, Mich., was one of my favorite moments this summer. Too funny!