On Saturday morning, getting up early to setup the shuttle for this trip was quite a challenge. I am sure Michael and Jimmy felt the same way after staying up late to hear and speak about the DCUL stories out west this year. The three of us met at Sheetz, Chambersburg and here we met Roxane, this was her first backpacking trip. Back on the road, the four of us set the cars on Cowpens Road. After we checked we had the keys (ahem), we got into Roxie's car and drove to the trailhead on Fannettsburg Cabin Road. Within 5-10 minutes, Jen rolled in with Aileen, Mimi, Trevor and Liza. Pretty soon, we were all on the trail.
We started on the ridge of Tuscarora Mountain. It was partly sunny with a lot of clouds hanging around. The temperature was probably close to 50 degrees. Nice weather overall. The trail climbed gradually in the beginning and then mostly stayed flat for 3 miles. The trail was not easy to walk on though, it was very rocky in a lot of places. Also, we came across dense vegetation with thorns multiple times. It was clear that the trail here wasn't well maintained. But we made it through to the other side of PA turnpike. After regrouping, we started descending and were then reminded of how Tuscarora trail continues on paved roads sometimes. We weren't on the roads for not too long though and came to an intersection of streams. Both the streams seemed to be passing through some of the farm areas nearby - so we decided to wait for Michael, who was sweeping, to catch-up and see if there was any mention of water source in the Tuscarora Trail book. When they didn't show up for about 20-30 minutes, we decided to walk ahead and explore any water sources ahead of us. And out of the blue, we found Michael, Jen and Jimmy ahead of us at the base of climb. Apparently, they were so busy taking photos that they missed a turn and inadvertently ended up taking a shortcut. We tanked water off a nearby creek - this would be out last water point for the day and we wouldn't have any water at the ridge campsite. It was not the best water source - so we all treated it more than once. After snacking a little, we started the climb towards the ridge of Knob mountain. By DCUL standards, it was a short, easy 700 feet climb on paper. But it was a beast to climb - very steep, with loose rocks hidden behind fallen leaves, minimal switchbacks and all of that with tanked water. We soldiered on and soon enough, we were walking on the ridge which now climbed very gradually. The miles in this section came easy - the trail wasn't too bad. I came across a flat section and after consulting with Jimmy, we both agreed this seemed to be the best place to camp. Right around this time, Jimmy comes to me with a serious expression on his face and says - I've got some bad news. And I got really worried wondering what happened. He goes on to tell me how he left his car keys behind in Roxie's car. I was relieved to hear that after the serious expressions he had on his face. It would cost us an extra hour or so now to reverse the shuttle at the end. Meh. Well he did end up giving us enough ammunition for jokes throughout the trip. And so a merry campsite happened. Liza got a great fire going and soon dinners were had. People started rolling into their tents starting 7 PM to catch-up on sleep. It wasn't too cold - Jimmy's watch put the temperature at 36 degrees.
Next morning, everyone woke up at 6 and were promptly on the trail at 7. Right at the beginning, there was a nice overlook and we were treated with a pleasant sunrise. The trail went on to be rocky, not as bad as the day before, and then it was quite flat for the next few miles. The day had started a little cloudy, but over time we had completely clear skies. Really nice weather. We came upon Hemlock Road. Around here the trail started descending steeply - again over loose rocks hidden with crunchy leaves. It was difficult to keep your balance here and there were multiple slips. Fowler's Hollow Shelter seemed to be a nice place, this is where we finally had water since the day before. Right after the shelter was a really badass climb to Amberson Ridge - straight up 900 ft. gain over 0.7 miles with zero switchbacks. And not to forget the rocks. Some people were really not in a good mood when they designed this trail. There were a few more, albeit shorter and gradual, descents and climbs before we got to Spotts Road. The trail was quite pleasant to walk on here because of tall evergreen trees here. After crossing Laurel Run, we were on our last gradual climb towards Cowpens Road. Roxie, Jimmy and I reached here around 2:15 and reversed the shuttle. The whole process took some time and we got to Montezuma's around 5 PM. It was my birthday and Jimmy & Michael secretly arranged for some celebration. The sombrero was not UL, but nice - Thanks all. The food was really great. We all had a good time.
To summarize, it was a pretty good trip. I was glad no one was hurt - ankles could have easily been twisted here. We had great company too - Roxie made a very impressive DCUL debut. And this now brings us one step closer to our mission of section hiking Tuscarora trail. Only one more section to go. Boy, am I excited to complete this adventure which started just about a year ago!
Thanks for organizing a great trip! Looking forward to hiking the next section in December.
Happy B day Karan !!!! Thanks for the FUN trip report. Happy is going to do the last sections with you guys soon [:D]
Gr8 report Karan.
I should say that the water source mentoned in the trip report was--hands down--the worst water source I have ever taken from. Due to the little detour I took, I passed by the hog farm and got to meet the pigs who were pooping in the water I was about to drink. But, as they say, that's what the treatment is for. Jen and I double-treated, and I guess it will be all right. Amazing how dry some of these stretches are ... in Pennsylvania, of all places.
Thanks Hua Hua!
@ Michael - I am glad I didn't come across those pig farms. I might have opted to be dehydrated, haha..