I once again skipped south a little on my generally northward journey, to fill in the gap I left between sections 4 and 6. Lock Haven to Blackwell, heading north this time.
MikeVW and I met Thursday night and did the shuttle thing. It was supposed to start raining early that night, so we got a move on when we hit the trail, so we didn't get all our stuff soaked the first night out.
The trail followed soggy woods roads, but we couldn't see much in the dark. It did look like the later part of the stretch had been logged, so maybe it wasn't a bad thing we crossed through in the dark. We were then dumped out on a paved road for a walk through the town of Woolrich. We went straight down a quiet main street, on a sidewalk lit by street lights. An odd hiking sensation. There were even some pretty nice houses along the way.
We diverted into a city park, where we came to the shelter we had been aiming for. Really convenient on a rainy night. There was some road noise, but that's what ear plugs are for.
It was raining in the morning when we woke up, and we sat there looking at it for a while. We were only looking to do 20 miles today, and with rain I just keep walking the entire day, so we sat in the shelter for a bit watching the rain until there was a small lull. Then we packed up, and the rain had luckily stopped by the time we were ready to head out, around 8.
We left town, and did what you always do leaving town. Climb. We were crossing the Allegheny Front, so it was a bit of a climb. It was misty and occasionally sprinkled on us, but the climb took us up into the clouds where we blindly meandered for a bit before heading downhill to the Pine Creek rail trail where we came to some shelters, which gave us a dry place to take our first break of the day. It didn't rain too much while we were walking, but it was a wet walk none the less.
Hiking on, we crossed a river on a rail trestle from the rail trail, and then headed straight uphill, the MST way, and back into the clouds. Wandered around for a bit, and crossed the same gas road at least 4 times before we headed down to Little Pine Creek, and followed its shore for a bit.
Wintergreen berries were everywhere in this section of trail (and big at that), so we had our fill throughout the weekend.
After tramping through bush for a bit in the area we wanted to camp for the night, we found a nice campsite in pines with a good fire ring. It hadn't rained for a while in the afternoon, so we got wood and ended up having a good fire, given how wet the wood was. I got all my stuff dry, though I wasn't sure if it would last long tomorrow. Off to bed to the drone of the road on the opposite side of the creek.
Hit the trail earlier on Saturday, and soon came to Little Pine State Park where we made use of the facilities among a field of RVs. We left the trail to take a look at the large dam at the lake, and Mike made a new friend by walking through someone's site.
Hiking on, we climbed straight uphill once again, but were treated to some cool wind shaped rock formations on the spine of the ridge we were ascending. There were even some 20 foot tall spines of rock which were out of place but interesting.
After we got to the top of the climb, we dropped straight down, and then turned around and went back up. But then we stayed high for the rest of the day, and meandered around. Lots of nice streams with cool cascades and waterfalls.
We ended the day at a nice spot at the confluence of 3 streams, and a nice waterfall. Too good to pass up, and we didn't need to go further, because it would have made Sunday too short. We gathered a Yeti size pile of firewood, and did our best to burn it, but had to accept only going through about 2/3 of it. Big fire though.
First thing Sunday, we had to ford 2 of the streams we camped by. Never pleasant, but we made it through. About knee high.
A lot more good cascades and waterfalls today, and 2 more fords later in the day. After the second ford, Mike announced that that was our last stream crossing for the day. About 20 feet down the trail, we had to re-cross one of the streams we just forded. Then climbing the next mountain we crossed 5 more streams. Mike said these didn't count though since we didn't have to ford them. So I dubbed him Doesn't Count, since he didn't have a trail name yet (or MikeDC).
At the top of the last mountain, we had probably the best view I've seen in PA, where we could look straight down 3 different 1,000 foot gorges, including Pine Creek Gorge (PA's “Grand Canyon”). The sight was truly phenomenal, and we spent some time up top, and even found a geocache. It was cold and windy though, and a few snow flakes floated by, so we regrettably decided to descend to our car (which we could see).
I had taught Mike how to run downhill this weekend, and we ended up running half way down the last mountain. Then it was just a short walk back to the car.
To end the trip, we at at the fantastic Bullfrog Brewery in Williamsport, and both had Chubbels and burgers. A great way to cap off the weekend.
32.99 miles to go for my MST hike.
Great write-up! I would like, of course, to add to the list of things I learned from you this weekend:
1. A pack towel has way too many uses not to be an essential part of a gear list.
2. Discipline doesn't just mean gutting out the miles according to a schedule. Wait out the rain, or study the stream to find the best crossing.
3. Sometimes it's ok to get your feet wet (especially if it means keeping your boots dry)
4. If you can bear being a little cold, layering turns out to be a formality (never hiked in just a rain jacket before!)
5. Thinking ahead can save you from undue work (being considerate of water resupplies and campgrounds in this case)
But seriously, learning to run down hills was probably the coolest part.
Running downhill is the best. (I actually think it's the safest also.)