So, an interesting confluence of events led to just me, Stephen, Dy, and Jen heading out to do this trail. Was this influenced by the fact that this was the first time Jen and I have tried to lead a trip from Baltimore? Perhaps. Hard to say. What I can say is that people missed a lovely little 27-mile jaunt along the Allegheny Plateau.
As anticipated, getting to the trailhead was the toughest part. Jen and I met Dy just south of Harrisburg at 7pm and made it to the trailhead at about 10:15pm. My GPS led us astray in the car. Thank goodness Dy managed to figure it out from the backseat. I am reminded to always have paper back up, even for driving. I had turned off my brain and was just following the line on the GPS, and it took us to a cornfield. No good. Anyway, that was the only drama for the trip, thankfully enough.
We met Stephen at the Ellenton Ridge Trailhead, geared up, and walked about 0.5 miles in, setting up camp around 11pm. We figured any farther and we'd have contour lines. This ended up being a good decision as our intended site a mile farther was occupied. Coyotes sang to us as we drifted off. I always love that.
Saturday morning, we started off clockwise on the loop, passing sleeping traditional backpackers in the ghost town of Masten. The weather was really rather cold for August (40-50s in the morning, up to about 70 in the afternoon) and, as we dipped in and out of the hollows, it was clear we were in for a treat.
I must say that OLP is really a rather easy trail, yet it has quite a lot of scenic appeal, including views from Sullivan Mountain and Sharptop, as well as some lovely runs. All in all, it gives you a great taste for hiking in northern PA, without making you work too hard for it.
We lunched at Sharp Top. We then dropped down (through a forest of stinging nettle) to Pleasant Run, where I hopped in a swimming hole. Probably the toughest--and most Pennsylvanian--climb was up Long Run. We rested on the rocks at Sullivan Mountain. Then on to Buck Run and Doe Run.
At Doe Run, we were at 19 miles for the day. Everyone was game to continue, but it seemed irrational to go on when we had done what I planned and we had such a nice spot, including a brand-new shelter and firewood already cut up. I called it (but promoted Dy and Stephen). Secretly, I don't think anyone wanted to leave this spot. Campfire. Whisky for Jen and me. Lots of sleep.
Sunday morning, we were on the trail at 7am, first for the descent down into Rock Run, which has to be one of the most beautiful backcountry rivers in Pennsylvania. The confluence there is amazing, with a good site and a deep swimming pool. We photographed the waterworks, and then knocked out the steady climb back to the plateau ... Wasn't long at all till we reached the cars, just after 10am.
Bull Frog Brewery and Little League on TV. Then, the drive home. Jen and I made it back by 3pm.
Thanks to everyone for doing this! It was a fun, relaxing weekend. If OLP were a little closer to us, I'm sure DC UL would do it a lot more often. It's a wonderful trail, especially for people who not yet explored PA fully.