Trip Report: Loyalsock, Nov 2014

Posted by Brian on

It was weird but cool to be meeting up with another DC UL group heading out on a different trip from the same metro station at the same time we were on Saturday morning. I don't know that we have had that happen before in DC UL, but it was awesome to be able to wish the others a good trip as we were heading out on ours.

The drive up to the Loyalsock is a fairly long one. We finally got to the eastern end of the trail close to 1pm, where we met the shuttle to take us to our starting point. A quick shuffling of gear ensued, and we piled into the van for the drive west. Our driver entertained us with stories of the flood from a few years ago, and pointed out the farm where several cows had been washed away all the way down to the Barbours! And only one of them died. The rest were stuck in trees. I’m sure that tale will be told for years to come!

We arrived at the western terminus of the Loyalsock, grabbed our packs, and paid our driver. He had just pulled away and we had just strapped on the packs when I realized I had pulled a Hua and forgotten my cameras. Not having cell service there was nothing to do about it but start moving and hope they were either in the shuttle van or back in car.

The initial climb up the western terminus of the Loyalsock is a doozy. It isn't excessively long, but it's definitely steep and had a few stretches that were made especially challenging with the leaf coverage on the ground. We got to the top of the climb where we had a few good views, even though the weather was a bit cloudy and overcast. I finally got cell service and left a message with the shuttle folks to check for my cameras, and then we continued on for the remainder of our day with the ups and downs and occasional views.

The sun set with a few more miles for us to do, so we donned our headlamps and kept moving. We had hoped to camp with Hua and Dan from the Lehigh-Burks Backpacking Meetup, but by the time we were getting close we figured they had likely already gone to bed, and with most of the campsites we had passed along the way looking on the small side, we took the first one large enough for our group that we found, fixed dinner and headed off to bed ourselves. 10 miles for the day.

We were on the trail by 7:00 Sun morning and bumped into Dan and Hua not too long after. They gave us the heads up on the different campsites we were aiming for, which turned out to be good because the second one we likely would have aimed for turned out to be pretty much non-existent. A few miles of road walking followed. I tried commanding the sun to come out with limited success. It stayed mostly cloudy in the morning, but the sun finally made an appearance in the afternoon, highlighting a few cool sights before hitting camp. We pulled into camp around 3:30, and with a bit of daylight still left and no fires allowed in the state forest this time of the year, we sat around a cold fire circle until dusk, fixed dinner, and tried to hold out as long as we could before calling it a night. But with temps in the low 30s and already having been in camp for a few hours, we were all in bed by 6:30. 18 miles for the day.

We were up and hiking before sunrise on Monday. There was a beautiful red glow through the woods. Superman leapt over the mountain in a single bound, and we wouldn’t see him until he landed for lunch about 12 miles down the trail. The trail meandered along a beautiful stream for quite a ways in the morning, with several cool waterfalls and some pools that looked perfect for a swim if only the temperature had been warmer. Eventually we all regrouped at Worlds End State Park by mid afternoon.

We crossed over the Loyalsock Creek and were about to start the next climb when we bumped into two older ladies on their way back down. As we were talking to the first one, the second came to a leaf-covered 20* graded section of the trail that was about 10 long. Concerned about slipping in the leaves, she sat herself down and slid the rest of the way, with her friend asking her what the heck she was doing. We were amused. The first one asked us if there was a different way up, as she said there was a rockslide that completely blocked the way up ("possibly from the flooding a few years ago", she mused) and that it would take climbing gear to get up there, and that she didn't even know if a mountain goat would be able to get up it! Needless to say, when these four mountain goats got there we made it up without a problem.

The top of the plateau was level and made for quick hiking. The sun was quickly setting, so we blasted out several miles at dusk and had to don headlamps for the final mile of the day. Nick and I must have startled some turkeys that had just settled in to roost, because all of the sudden we heard something like a large tarp flapping around followed by a few bird cries. The evening was a bit warmer than the prior two nights, so it was easier to stay up a tad bit later, and made for a comfortable nights sleep. 22 miles for the day.

The next morning we moved on out by 6:30 again. A few more plateaus and Kevin stopped to fix some coffee by the lake. It was pretty windy, which sapped all the heat away from us, so once the coffee was done and packed away, we were back on the move. We crossed back over Loyalsock Creek, and did the requisite climbs up the side of the hill before heading back down to the creek again. It was pretty easy forest road walking, and for quite a ways we were warned not trespass off either side of the trail "for any purpose!"

We got back down to Loyalsock Creek at the Haystacks. The trail pleasantly hung by the creek for a few miles before doing a bit of an up and away and back up to the old forest road on the side of the hill. We finished up, and finally with some cell service again I got the voicemail from the shuttle folks that they had my cameras. Whew! I gave them a quick call, we packed up and waited a bit for them to show up and drop things off, and then were off ourselves to lunch in Dushore and the long drive home. 10 mostly easy miles for the day.

The Loyalsock is a gorgeous trail, and it was great to hike it with a good group of guys. Definitely a trip worth the drive, and I think it would be particularly grand in warm weather when one could take advantage of all the prime swimming spots!

Hua Davis posted on

[:D] did not realize forgotten of camera was that contagious. The photos taken from your cell looking as good as the camera!!! Thanks for the trip report.

Brian posted on

I need to take my own advice and attach things as I'm moving them around! [:)] I was impressed by the quality of the photos, too. These cell phone cameras keep getting better and better!