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TR--PA Mid State Trail
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“Pardon the bad grammar and typos. I did not revise the document before posting.
TRóPA Mid State Trail: Penn Roosevelt S.P to R.B.Winter S.P.
Participants: spindle, no_granola
Distance: 35 miles??
Work was horrid and slow: perhaps the longest Thursday of my life. I finally asked my boss for permission to leave and jumped ship at about 3:30pm. I just couldnít take it anymore. With fall colors beginning to settle over central PA the three-hour drive went quickly and before I knew I had arrived at R B Winter State Park.
When I got to campsite #29 spindle was already there, with a fire going and some trailgaritas mixed and ready to go. I hopped out of the car and said hello and I think we were both a bit shocked, neither having ever seen the other in civilian attire before. I got over it quickly, grabbed a bottle of Chimay from the cooler, set up my tent and changed into something a little less formal. Then we sat down to dinner: a pan of lasagna and a big honkiní loaf bread (compliments of spindle). After the long day and the ride up it was nice to be fed and buzzed and relaxing by the fire. The stress of the week just melted away and before you could say ďIím drunk and happy and thereís no place else Iíd rather be unless I was on the trail.Ē ten-thousand times, it was time for bed.
I woke up to sound of raindrops beating on the tent fly. All week the weatherman had predicted rain, rain and more rain, but I refused to let that discourage my plans. The weatherman is never right anyway. Right? Wrong. The beady-eyed little doom and gloom forecasting bastard was right for a once, and on my big 4-day 8 bazillion mile trek weekend. There was nothing for it. We packed up camp, registered my car at the ranger station, dropped it in the lot and headed south.
About an hour later we arrived at Penn Roosevelt State Park and found the parking area after a bit of confusion. There was a steady drizzle promising to keep us company all day long as we unloaded the car, broke out the rain gear, strapped everything to our backs and it was on.
As is always the case with PA ridge hiking the first stretch of trail was up a good-sized hill. Nothing starts off a hike like a solid dose of cardio mayhem so up the hill we went . . . and up . . . and up . . . I thought it was never going to end but then Michelle pointed out the Pennsyltucky is only so tall . The hill did end eventually, giving way to a nice 6 mile patch of unmaintained blueberries and blowdowns.
We might as well have been on a bushwhack, which would not have been so bad in and of itself. The real issue was that the thigh-high blueberry bushes had completely swallowed the trail, and as we passed they unceremoniously dumped gallon after gallon of fresh rainwater into our boots. My gaiters stood up to the full on assault for about 30 seconds, after which they were so heavy and wet that they slid down around my ankles and refused to be held up by any means availableóeven duct tape didnít get the job done.
And if that wasnít bad enough, the constant rain turned my beloved PA rock gardens into a sloppy mess of booby traps. Where I would normally have been seen gliding swiftly from rock to rock I was now forced to navigate with the utmost care. And after a while we came across the deadliest combination of all: sections of the aforementioned blueberry infestations with rocks hidden below. One of these proved to be my nemesis and I have the monstrous welts on my shins as evidence.
Anyhow, we were trudging along and it was looking more and more like we would not meet the mileage requirements that I had set for the day. So we decided to pull up short and make camp early. We quickly set up the tent, put on dry clothes and tried to dry out, which proved to be nearly impossible on account of the continuing rain and the 150% humidity. This done, there was nothing left for it but to break out the trailgaritas and (gasp) talk! I know it sounds all easy and natural but, contrary to popular belief, I really am very shy and private. As long as Iím talking about surface goo and being facetious I can get along just fine. But for all of my 3000+ posts and 10 Yackpacker hikes how many of you really know anything personal about me? Mix up some trailgaritas and trap me in a tent and eventually Iím gonna have to either cave or wallow in silence. Needless to say, if spindle tells anyone anything Iíll have to kill her . . .
Once again the rain-splatter served as an alarm clock. I woke up with what would have been the sun and tried to get back to sleep to no avail. Michelle was still sleeping pretty soundly so I sat up a bit and evaluated the situation. There was stuff spread out everywhere and I was suddenly glad that Iíd brought this tent. Normally I would have carried my Betalight, which is downright cavernous for one and very light, but with the two of us and all of our gear trying to dry the 6lb EMS Northstar ( http://www.ems.com/products/product_detail.jsp?PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=845524441772631&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=282574488340421&fromTemplate=search%2Fresults.jsp&bmUID=1129377584459 ) was a not so much a luxury as a necessity. Although one of the zippers leaked a bit, probably as a result of the hasty set up and the fly not being aligned properly. But enough about my tent, check the link if you want to know more . . .
Michelle woke up eventually and I broke out my MP3 Player/Radio to check the weather report. The forecast was more rain all day and highs in the upper 40s. Now we had a bit of a dilemma. Our stuff was all wet, the weather was not cooperating (and was clearly intent on pushing us to the brink of hypothermia) and we had about five miles to make up over the next two days in order to make it back to the car. We talked over our options while we were breaking camp and came up with the following scenarios:
1) Push on through the rain and cold trying to make up the five miles on slick and treacherous terrain, carrying an extra 10-15 pounds of water-weight from the soaking, risking hypothermia and being potentially miserable.
2) Head back out the way we had come, get a room for the night, dry out our stuff take a hot shower and start out again the next day.
Now I know what youíre thinking. Option number 2 is clearly the best choice, but I had only bailed on a plan once before and that due to injury. There were no injuries here and as it turns out Michelle is at least as stubborn as I am. So we were in a bit of a pickle. Neither wanted to be the weak link and head back, which was clearly the smart thing to do, but the prospect of continuing was not so appealing as, say, breaking out a barrel of monkeys.
So after we got everything packed up and we were ready to head out of camp I stepped in and made the call, and we headed back the way we had come: back through the blueberries and blowdowns and slick rocks. The rain was less than it had been the day before and we made pretty good time.
We both had some misgivings about the decision on the way out, but once we got to the hotel and got showered and had everything drying out we were both inclined to agree that the right choice had been made. As if being comfortable werenít enough, we found a local dining gem (with the help of the woman at the hotel desk) and feasted on french onion soup smothered in melted cheese, salad, baked potatoes and the best pink and bloody steak Iíve had in ages, washed down with beer/wine and followed up with some hot cocoa and cheesecake. You canít get much closer to heaven than that. So if you happen to find yourself in Lewisburg, PA stop in at The Towne Tavern . . .
I woke up to a stinky room full of dry backpacking gear. I mean there was stuff EVERYWHERE!! The only thing that hadnít quite finished drying was the boots so an attempt was made to accelerate the process (with a hairdryer) while the rest of the goods got packed away. After checking out of the hotel we stopped off at Perkins to gorge ourselves on breakfast, and then it was back to the trail.
We shuttled the cars and headed out from a ridgetop parking area in Bald Eagle State Forest. In our reassessment of the maps we opted for a relatively short overnight, a total of about 15 miles, with the intention of getting out fairly early on Monday. The night at the hotel actually worked out better than expected, since the rain had cleared up and now, although we were actually putting in lower overall mileage, we were going to end up spending four days hiking instead of three.
As we started out the weather was nearly perfect! It was in the 60ís, cool, dry and a bit overcast with periods of attempted sun. The torrential downpour of the past two days was almost nowhere in evidence. It had been so dry for so long prior to the rain that the world just soaked up all that water like a big sponge. The leaves were beginning to flicker with the flames of autumn, like kindling in a campfire just before it takes off into a blaze. Hiking weather simply doesnít get much better.
It was an uneventful day. There was some strenuous climbing involved and a couple of fairly steep descents. I had purposely selected this section of trail because it crossed over ridges rather than following them for extended periods of time. Michelle, sadist that she is, had specifically requested hills so I worked them into the trip plan.
I have to interject at this point to say that spindle is one of the toughest women I ever met. Weíre talking hockey player tough. The previous day she had slipped and fell, bringing all of her weight down directly on her left knee as it met the ground. It was a good, smashing blow, and she was clearly in pain. She got up and walked it off, but when we checked it later the knee was swollen and bruised and it made me wince just looking at it, but she hiked through it. And it was hurtiní her pretty good today, I could tell, but not a single complaint passed her lips. She wouldnít let me slow down and she kept up with the pace I set. It was an impressive performance all around.
Fortunately, it was a short day so we pulled into a campsite kind of early, which is something Iím not used to. We stopped and took off out packs. There was a little stream flowing toward us here, just on the other side of the trail, and it ended at a small mound right at the trail . . . just flowed in and disappeared. It was kind of bizarre and I really wanted to know where the water went, so we scouted around to see if we could figure it. No such luck. But I did find a better campsite about 100 yards further up, in a stand of hemlocks, beside the creek that the disappearing stream must have eventually emptied into. So we dragged our packs to the hemlock campsite and began making our camp.
Before we knew it the tent was up and our gear was situated. We had fresh water, a goodly supply of firewood and a small fire going. What do people normally do when they get into camp so early? I dunno, but we had an early dinner, mixed up a vat of trailgaritas and went to town. It seemed like the thing to do at the time. Fire, booze, good conversation: all spilled over the sunset hour and into the evening as darkness and took us . . .
Up early again, but we lazed away the morning hours sipping coffee and hot cocoa. It was the last day on the trail, with short mileage ahead. Neither one of us was inclined to rush back to the trailhead and hop in the car for a 3 hour ride home. Sure, a shower and a good meal is nice, but leaving the trail always makes my heart heavy. So we tarried, packing up slowly and wandering about beneath the hemlocks.
We finally broke camp around 10:30 and started hiking out. The pace was slow and of course we began going up hill. Michelleís knee was clearly much stiffer than it had been the day before and she began to fall back a bit. I got yelled at for slowing down so I switched up my hiking style to allow for more frequent stops. In this manner we eventually made our way back to R B Winter State Park. We stopped to take some pictures at the dam and watched a couple of Columbus Day fly fishermen casting at nothing, then tramped back up to the parking lot, shuttled to spindleís car and headed into town for some pizza.
What I learned:
It sucks being REALLY wet.
Itís ok to bail . . . and sometimes itís even good.
Less f**king around, more hiking.
ďKnock on rock.Ē is the proper phrase in Pennsyltucky since rocks are more readily available than wood.
spindle is pretty tough.
spindle is not so tough as she thinks ;)
Blueberries are evil.
My shoulder is not going to last much longer.
Quick and Dirty Gear Reviews:
Marmot Driclime Windshirt: Simply awesome. The only thing I wore that did not totally wet out. It kept me dry and comfortable on the level easy stretches, the cool periods of dead stop and the uphill cardio bonanzas. I donít know why it took me so long to get one.
Jetboil French Press: Best coffee I ever made on the trail. Clean up is a bit sloppy but you canít have it all.
“Nice pictures and trip report. Sounds like you made the right call and still got some good hiking in. It was a rough weekend to be out backpacking since we had record breaking rains. That's hard to backpack in especially when it gets cold after the rain.”
“It was a necesssary decision. But I don't have to like it. ;)
An excellent weekend overall.
Here's my pics:http://community.webshots.com/album/474517975KuKsDY”
“She's all talk. She liked the decision just fine once she was showered and warm and dry, sitting in the restaurant, sipping her wine and gorging herself on prime rib :-)
How's the hip?”
“Great TR. That trail is on my list. It was wise to adjust your hike. Some of the best trips I was on this year were a result of
"improvising" when weather turned to #&%!$z!
It usually ends up with better food and less injury. Good job.
Oh yea, define "trailgaritas". As in the recipe.
last edited: 10/16/05 8:25:01 AM”
“What a couple of pansies. Bailing out because a little bit of rain.
“My hip is doing better, not perfect, but better. I was wondering how both of you were doing when I saw the radar on TV last weekend and there was so much rain being pumped up from that storm. State College had I think 3.5 inches in 24 hours alone and there was more to come. I was thinking to myself "if they are out hiking in this that's going to be one trip report I can't wait to read". I used the rainy weather to make myself a new sleeping bag. Now I have to get out and try it.”
Spindle's Trailgarita Recipe and FU Kim
“According to our resident trailgarita expert:
'12oz tequila of choice, 12oz water, 8 packets of Holland House powdered margarita mix. Shake vigorously in Nalgene.
Although we usually round up on the tequila part. ;)'
Bite me and suck up the wayward bits with a straw.”
“I was thinking about you guys Friday night. Where did you end up camping? Good thing I wasn't out there in the rain trying to find you Little Poe Creek. Next time you're up this way I will definitely have to give your my number so you don't have to go through that again. So you ended up in Lewisburg? That's like at the end of PA192/PA45!!! You should have stayed in State College, or Lewistown, or any number of smaller, but closer towns.
I'm glad you guys got to get some hiking in. I did the West Rim Trail this weekend, with rain all day Thursday and Friday, but nothing like what you had to put up with.
By the way, good trail report and nice pics.”
“RichB, that rain was something else. And even stuff that stayed dry felt wet with the humidity. Just nasty. And yes, warm, fed, liquor'd up, and dry improves the mood greatly. ;)
PAHikes, we were thinking about you too in the "I hope he didn't try it", "Nah he couldn't have in this" vein. Glad you didn't head out. We ended up camping about 5 miles shy of Little Poe Creek,,I think.
It must have been Lewistown we ended up in. Right down 15, a couple miles south from where you turn for R.B.Winter SP. Great little town, excellent restaurant!
Are your WRT pics up yet?
And here's my What I Learned contribution:
It's ok to eat chocolate for breakfast.
Less f***ing around more hiking!
It really sucks being completely drenched.
The Demon Rocks are in cahoots with the Evil Blueberries. Slippery f***ing rocks!!
Backpackers can trash a hotel room while sober.
Sometimes the Gods hear you and provide.
It bugs waitresses when you seat yourself.
Making happy noises over nearly raw meat freaks them out.
Tequila can make bear bagging a competitive sport.
Anything said while drunk doesn't count!!
On trail, the silshelter becomes the pull-out couch.
No_granola can be such a woman sometimes...
...but he's always a gentleman. (and denies it) :p”
“The humidity is nasty. Dry gear just absorbs the moisture right from the air and nothing dries out when the humidity is high.”
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