I was really looking forward to be back on the Mid State Trail. It had been a while and my absence from the last section made me miss it even more.
It was midnight when everyone finally reached Woolrich Shelter on Friday night. Some chomped down sandwiches in few minutes. We all were asleep in the shelter around 12:30.
The next day, the shuttle team - U-turn, Sven the Swedish and I - set out to leave cars at the end point, while the rest - that's Shuttle, B~~~~, Faceplant and Storm - started on the MST. The drive to Blackwell, our end point, was adorned with vibrant fall colors surrounded by beautiful mist. It took us over 2 hours to set the shuttle and by the time we got started, it was around 10 AM. We donned our gear, added our orange vests on top and set foot on the trail. It was sunny and bright out when we started.
Quickly, the MST led us out of the town, into the woods and then onto a climb. We were in the Tiadaghton State Forest. Upon reaching the top of the flat ridge, we all witnessed a porcupine which climbed high on a tree - right in front of us. Too bad, I didn't take a video. We marched on and steeply descended to Gamble Run. Here we took a short lunch break.
Feeling well fed, we started on a steep climb. A family of 5 asked U-turn how to get the restrooms unlocked at Woolrich Park - after all, U-turn had the magic key ;). The trail hit the top of the ridge and started descending steeply downwards again. We noticed how the MST climbs and descents were becoming more steep and relentless as there were no switchbacks. Reaching the bottom, we paralleled Pine Creek for a while. The trail passed through some nice campgrounds. And then we all caught up with the group ahead. Together we walked across a bridge and over Pine Creek into the town of Ramsey. Our third large climb of the day was daunting, but in the end we were all victorious. At the top, were beautiful fall colors.
Some of us checked out a view, while others tried to be cautious after seeing a rattlesnake. All of us rolled in at the campsite at Ramsey Run around 6:30 PM with 17ish miles under the belt. The campsite was a manageable one, but the camaraderie made it a lot more cheery. Dinners, Whiskey, Sven's DJing - it was bedtime. The night was a little chilly.
We woke up to see much condensation in the tents. The morning fog made the colors look even more attractive. On the trail, we gradually climbed towards a plateau. At the top, we caught a glimpse of the clouds beneath us. We then descended sharply to a road, making headway north towards Little Pine State Park. Here, we learnt about Happy Acres restaurant offering breakfast buffet. To hungry backpackers, this sounded like heaven. We all had a sumptuous meal - some of us more so. Climbing a steep hill after a full stomach was not easy, but we were atop. Ideas were floated around how to brew homemade beer. Down pesto trail up we went and then up love run trail. I know, the names did sound exotic. Another steep climb later, we felt happy that most of the climbs of the day were behind us. It was supposed to be gentle rolling from here and gentle rolling it was. With a bonus of more fall colors. We saw flowers with sparkling red, orange and yellow colors.
Often, we saw pines. We regrouped and then marched. Irina called out how she played a big role in controlling the weather conditions. Sven the Swedish christened her with an apt trail name - 'Storm'. The streams seemed dry, so we tanked up a couple of miles before the campsite. We prayed that the *possible large campsite* be good and it was better - it was fantastic and gigantic, all to ourselves. We had open grounds in front of us, beautiful fall colors and the setting sun shining upon us. It was very relaxing after a 20 mile day.
As the darkness came in, we realized that we could clearly see the Milky Way in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was a very pleasant surprise. U-turn, Shuttle, Faceplant and I chose to cowboy camp and got to enjoy the stars and the shooting stars even more.
The next morning we were all woken up by Sven the Swedish's legendary wake-up call. On the trail, we came across a narrow overlook with clouds below us.
We dropped down to Brown's Fork and followed 4x4 forest roads for a while before sharply turning in the woods. The colors seemed optimal despite the trail covered with lots of leaves.
A final fairly steep ascent led us to Gillespie Point. We were offered a fine view of Pine Creek coiling around fall tree colors on one side and Blackwell town on the other.
The last descent went by swiftly and we reached the cars. It was the end of a beautiful section.
We reversed the car shuttle and stopped at Bullfrog Brewery on our way back enjoying a fabulous, fitting meal. It was time to say goodbyes!
6 sections done (only U-turn and B~~~~ have done all of them, others have some catching-up to do). One final section remains. Memorial Day will really be memorial!
To sum this up - this trip was just perfect! What a way to be back into backpacking from a long absence (erm.. that's three weeks) ;)
Thanks for the excellent trip report, B.A. I'm going to share with the MST people!
thank you for report , ah , the trip was pure pleasure , I called this Red carpet of Hollywood in a hiking world ! I barely could remember that I even ever got to hike on trail decorated by golden pine needles with splash of red leaves, soft and majesty ! The bright blue sky and stunning fall's colors of the woods complete the paradise picture !
Thanks Irina and Michael!