Hiking, mountain climbing, kayaking and sightseeing will all be part of a five-week biking trip that starts on Monday for four Corry residents.
Dale Henderson, the Rev. Skip Davis, Curtis Taylor and Jon Vernam plan to travel 1,200 miles from Jasper, Alberta, Canada, to Grand Teton, Wyoming, on what they are calling a trip of a lifetime through the Rocky Mountains.
"Each day there is going to be something exciting and beautiful," Henderson said. "That's one of the cool things about this trip that will prevent us from getting homesick. There is a new adventure coming every day."
Henderson, who has been on nine multiple-day biking trips with Davis over the past 10 years, has served as lead coordinator and planner of the upcoming trip. And, he said this will be their longest excursion, with the second longest being a 444-mile bike trip from Nashville, Tennessee, to New Orleans, Louisiana.
"This trip will last 31 days until Aug. 7," Henderson said. "Twenty-nine of those days will be in the Rocky Mountains. Of those 29 days, we will be biking for 18, with an average of about 65 miles a day. Some days we will do 90 miles, some days we will do 35. So, it's a 65-mile average."
There is an intense stretch of biking that will last about 12 days in a row as the men travel from Glacier National Park in Montana to a portion of Yellowstone National Park located in Wyoming.
This will be Taylor's third biking trip with the group and Vernam, who is Henderson's cousin, will serve as the supply and gear (SAG) driver, meaning he will drive a vehicle with a trailer in tow and follow the three bikers during the 1,200-mile journey. Vernam will also take part in some of the extra activities that the group has planned.
"We are going to visit six national parks — Jasper, Banff, Waterton, Glacier, Yellowstone and Grand Teton," Henderson said. "And, each of those parks has a plethora of highlights, so we will really be only scratching the surface."
The men will participate in 10 hikes, each between five and seven miles long. There will also be opportunities for kayaking, mountain climbing and rafting.
The Corry residents will be camping in tents for 15 days, with the remainder of nights being spent between cabins, and bed and breakfast establishments.
"I'm looking forward to the experience and the accomplishment," said Henderson, who retired as a math teacher from the Corry Area School District in 2015. "There are going to be so many awesome things."
Davis, who serves as a pastor for St. Thomas and St. Elizabeth Catholic churches in Corry and St. Teresa Catholic Church in Union City, said he is excited to be involved in this once in a lifetime experience.
"I like the fact that I am going to do this and I am going to enjoy the camaraderie," said Davis, who also added weekend Masses will continue as normal while he is away, with minor disturbances to some weekly scheduled activities.
Henderson and Davis have known each other since they both graduated from Corry Area High School — Henderson in 1976 and Davis in 1975 — but became closer friends and began sharing their passion for biking over the course of the past 10 years.
Curtis grew up across the street from Henderson and is a longtime family friend.
The men chose to travel across the northern tier of the U.S. for this trip because of it taking place during the summer months.
"I hate that we are missing such a big chunck of the summertime here, but you weigh that against the experience and it's worth it," Henderson said.
The group will set off on Monday by vehicle and make a 36-hour drive to Jasper, which is located in the Canadian province of Alberta, above the states of Washington and Montana. Once they arrive, Henderson, Davis and Taylor will get on their bikes and begin traveling south from Jasper to Montana and then into Wyoming. Vernam will follow behind in the SAG vehicle.
The group will arrive at their final destination of Grand Teton, Wyoming, on Aug. 5. At that point they will jump back into the SAG vehicle and head home. They plan to do some sightseeing in South Dakota on their trip back home, with an expected arrival date of Aug. 7 to be back in Corry.
"If you had asked me 15 years ago if I would be doing a trip like this, I would have said, 'No way,'" said Davis, who said he began getting into physical fitness through some triathlons and serving as a SAG driver for Henderson about 10 years ago. "But, I enjoy biking and this will be a big accomplishment for me."
Henderson, who has participated in several triathlons and biking trips, said the men have been maintaining their biking schedules all year long — indoor and outdoor — to prepare for this trip.
"Sometimes on the weekends we try to get in a 70-miler," he said. "During the week the rides are shorter, about 20 to 25 miles. We just try to be consistent."
The men agreed this will be the longest they have been away from home and will miss family members and friends. They plan to document the trip through photographing and journaling in an effort to share parts of the experience when they arrive home.
"We ask that everyone continues to pray for us back here to be safe and to have a good time," Davis said.