So, I guess doing the Black Forest Trail Dumbass version last year wasn't enough. Which is why, I present to you, the Super Dumbass (aka "Can of Whoopass") version.
Despite the rush hour traffic on Friday, Ben, Kylie and I left Grosvenor fairly on time. Ben has recently moved to the DC area from Austin, TX. And this was going to be his first DCUL trip. What a way to start! We stopped on the way for a quick dinner (Sheetz!). It was 10:45 PM when we finally reached the parking lot. I set the mothballs around the car and at 11 PM, we set foot on the trail going CCW. The latest forecast had indicated that some rains were on the way and with temps lingering around 40 degrees, I made the decision to camp just as we walked over a mile. As soon as we set up, it drizzled lightly and rained harder later in the night.
Up at 6:15, on the trail at 7! It was a bit tricky to pack our wet tents in 40 degree temps. We did warm up eventually as the trail climbed further. We came across a beautiful overlook with clouds beneath us and the colorful trees in the backdrop.
The trail climbed to the top of the plateau where we enjoyed some views and spotted many deers on our way (or maybe it was the same deer trying to cross us multiple times).
We went down the steep descent of Red Run - it was steeper and rockier than I remembered. I slipped a couple of times here - it was really treacherous footing. We crossed Slate Run on the Bridge. It appeared that fall colors were just slightly past peak, but the old forest roads still looked beautiful. We missed a turn and ended up hiking an extra half a mile. Another climb took us to the top of a plateau.
Here we did a lot of flat walking. The sun had thus far tried to duck in and out of the clouds. When it seemed like the sun was going to shine for a little bit, we stopped to dry our gear and have a lunch break. We decided to move on when the cloud cover seemed dense and dark and right then, we saw little drops of *hail* coming on. What? The temps seemed to drop suddenly and we were are worried if it was going to snow soon or not. With some luck, it stopped *hailing*. We crossed PA-44 and started descending by crossing many, many streams. The sun lingered out again, so we took our wet gear out again for drying. This time we got it fairly dry, but weirdly, again the little *hail* started falling and stopped soon after. The weather seemed to be having a hard time deciding what to do. Or it was just pranking us repeatedly and saying "gotcha". Ben said it right - the weather was really controlling our moods. We crossed Line Branch and started climbing. Once on top, we crossed PA-44 again, now we were on its East side We made good progress here, taking very few breaks. There were a few nice overlooks out here and we enjoyed the fall colors.
Down we steeply descended to Callahan Run - our campsite last year. We took a quick break here and then proceeded to do the steep climb to the top. There was a nice overlook at the top with a view of pine creek coiling - but it was pretty dark when we got there, so I couldn't take a photo. We put on our headlamps and descended to our campsite - Naval Run. It was a tiring 30-mile day. We were surprised to see a large group of college kids not far from where we camped. We had dinners and were soon off to sleep at 8:30. The noise from the kids didn't matter then as we were tired, but they really annoyed us by getting up at 5 in the morning and going on with their chit-chat.
Up at 6:15 (although we couldn't sleep well after 5 because the annoying kids decided to wake up early for some reason and just wouldn't stop talking loud) and on the trail at 7. It didn't drop to 26ish degrees the night before - it felt like the temps were just above freezing in fact. The first climb also warmed us up, although it was still cold when we got to the top. Down we went to Little Slate Run (just like last year, we missed that Virgin Hemlocks area again shown on the map. Anyone knows where this is?) and took a break. Another climb, a gradual one now, and around this time, the sun started showing up. Such a big difference the sun can make - especially on cold trips. We passed some overlooks on the way.
Few miles later, we were on top of the final steep descent. We took our time going this one - I christened it "KneeBreaker" on our way down. And then the pleasant flat miles along slate run to the cars. Victory!
As we started the drive back, we saw some snowflakes coming down and just the weather had been, they stopped. Ha. We halted at Bullfrog for food and beer and then got home at a decent time : 7 PM.
Ben and Kylie - Thanks for joining me on this trip! And a happy welcome to our group, Ben. I had a really good time out there. The weather could have been nicer, but the fall colors and the views made it up for me!
Next year - BFT day hike?
Day-hike? No..... I ain't no CandyAss... :P
Backpack? Maybee.....I am dreaming about a one-day 42 miler backpacking sufferfest on the BFT..
It briefly snowed on us the third weekend of April on the BFT a couple years ago, so hey-- ya never know.
If you like the fall colors and cloud-filled gorges around these parts, check out Loyalsock in October (or else maybe in springtime). At a cool 59 miles I think it would make an excellent light day hike for you. ;-)
hey hey.. I ain't no Beast or Feast Mode :P
Hm... I have several times wondered if the BFT would go down in a day. And strangely, I never made it to Loyalsock.