There are two trails that connect Pittsburgh and Washington D.C., the first of those is the Greater Allegheny Passage. The G.A.P. trail is 150 miles of crushed limestone. It's an rails to trail project that slowly climbs up the eastern continental divide. It's amazing.
The trail begins at the point of confluence in Pittsburgh, and within an hour takes you into a tunnel of trees along the river. Then for 75 miles the trail is slightly uphill. Not uphill enough to be tough but just enough to notice.
Our second day on the trail was Jeff's 26th birthday. We were all on our best behavior. It was an unspoken agreement that no one would be passive aggressive on someone's birthday. It was a great day! We were on the road by 9:20 am and I quickly learned this is a precious time to ride. The magic hour. The dew was lifting off of the earth in a mist as the warming sun rays cut through the canopy above illuminating the leaves to a vibrant emerald. The air was cool as we rode and the sun occasionally broke through and warmed our skin. The trail lead us along the river, the air smelled of fishing. The smell of fishing to me is a styrofoam cup full of dirt and worms. I haven't fished with worms for 20 years. This was the time of day that you miss while at work, sleeping or living in the city. This was something to be cherished. The sun soon overpowered the cool air and the moment was gone but the memory will last.
On the third day we missed the magic hour but found spectacularly cheap breakfast in a small trail town. It was the earliest I have ever ordered pie. It was cherry. We reached the Eastern Continental Divide and rode 25 miles downhill into Maryland for some muffins before starting the second trail.
Beautiful is too vague of word to describe our time on this trail. The tall spacious trees that let you look deep into the forest and the tall bridges with gushing rivers below, this was worth the wait.