The Hiawatha Bike trail is a bucket experience. (One to experience before you kick the bucket.) FIFTEEN miles of old train tracks turned bike heaven winds through soaring mountains, crosses suspended train tressles, burrows under dozens of tunnels and crosses state lines.
There is magic in whizing past such landscape without a roof, on your own power.
The first tunnel is 1 1/2 miles of 40 degree wet, pitch darkness. Bike lights or headlamps are required. Creeks run along either side of the tunnel, accidents are common (we watched 3), if you are downed, you could get hypothermia before the rangers could make it in for you.
Although I had a headlamp, it barely provided enough light for a small circle in front of me. I was stiff with uncomfort as I wobbled uncertainly through the tunnel. We had not gone far when I heard a terrified whimper from Little Mother behind me. "Mom! my light's gone out!"
"Come right behind me. Stay with me." I commanded. She whimpered, I checked every minute, "Are you with me?" After what seemed like forever, when we saw a light in the distance. When we emerged, Ladybug and Little Mother clamored on my lap. "That was horrible Mom. I was frozen and so scared." We did not dare tell them that when the shuttle brought us back, we would have to travel the tunnel again.
Greg, Deonne, Alex, Josh, Cody, and Megan joined us on our adventure. Deonne and I often rode side by side, talking, sharing the beauty, and enjoying each others company.
Alex and Little mother have been inseperable. She serves and looks up to him, while he takes excellent care of her, waits while she uses the bathroom, or picks her up when she falls.
Briz and Sunshine were connected - literally. And no one felt prouder of their pedaling and achievement than chorteling little Sunshine.
The trail was complete with ice water at strategic locations, tame chipmunks, stalagtites from the tunnels, and a healthy dose of terror. We stopped for lunch, drinks, and fun.
When we arrived, tired yet pleased to the beginning tunnel, I took my tag along and ran for a head start. I led the group into the pitch black. Little Mother confidently stated, "I'm not afraid this time. I've got my mom right here and Alex has my back." Well, I WAS afraid. The entire group was following my lead and I felt the responsibility. I longed to look ahead, but saw nothing but blackness that caused me to swerve. I focused on the small spot of light just ahead of me for that second, trusting it would be enough. Then as I moved forward, I had just enough light to get through that second. When I finally emerged with my group safe into the light, my relief was echoed in the sign, "Congratulations! You've made it to the end of the Hiawatha Trail."