Snow and Scenery on the LHT
Red patiently waiting for me to click the shutter
(pictures will enlarge when clicked)
Early… very early on Saturday morning as I took the dog for his walk after I returned from work, I looked up in the sky just as a meteor encountered our planet’s atmosphere. I watched as it flared up and then disappeared under the constellation of Orion. I knew that it was going to be a good day!
Returning home I went to bed for a nap before I got up for our 6AM departure time. I watched the sky lightened up and the brightest stars disappear as I took Red for a walk before I loaded him into the back of the car. The clouds reflected the rising sun as it got closer to the horizon. Ann Marie and I were near New Stanton before we finally saw it shining above the hills.
The game plan was to park at the Pa. State Game Commission parking lot on Maple Summit Road, about 11 miles away from Ohiopyle. (“as the trail goes”) We were going to head south towards the start of the Laurel Highlands Trail. Starting out at mile 11.2 we would go until we got to the overlooks at mile 7.6. The trail has markers at each mile to let us know where we were, starting at Ohiopyle and ending up near Johnstown at mile 70.
As we got closer to our parking spot we saw more and more cars parked along the sides of the roads. The hunters were out in force, the parking lots in the game lands all had cars in them. We weren’t too concerned, we would be on a known trail and we had our orange safety vests and hat.
There was snow on the ground but there were also plenty of spots where the leaves were showing through. The trail itself was covered and we could see the footprints of what we assumed were two hunters who had used the path before us. After a mile or so the path was covered with unbroken snow. The temperatures were in the 30’s but we weren’t cold. I had brought gloves but never put them on.
Ann Marie heading into some rock outcrops
The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is littered with rock outcrops. We passed one a short distance in that was covered with icicles and had a spring flowing over its edge. A bit later we threaded in between rocks and climbed over a few as the path took us past a nice variety of landscapes.
Red and I crossing Little Glade Run
We crossed Little Glade Run on a bridge made from a split log. Ice dangled in the stream hanging off tree limbs that perched above the water. We saw 2 hunters off a bit in the woods. We waved and continued on. I’m sure they saw us, Red’s barking made sure of it.
Coming to the first overlook we stopped for a quick reconnaissance of the rocks. A couple things kept us from climbing up them to see the view, one of which was leaving the dog behind. The rocks are filled with passageways and steps to make them easy climbs, a great place to explore! The second overlook wasn’t far away so we continued on. The wind got a bit stronger here as we walked along the edge of the valley causing us to zip up our jackets.
Looking into the Youghiogheny River valley
It didn’t seem to take us long to get to the second overlook where we tied the dog to a tree and then went out onto the rocks to view the valley below us. We could just see the river with Sugar Loaf Knob sitting prominently above it. The geography was colored in different shades of grey and blue, making it look like a painting.
AMB knows how to pack a lunch!
I gave Red a bowl of food as Ann Marie unpacked our lunch. We had a couple nice ham and cheese sandwiches on sour dough bread. A couple Oreos and a bottle of wine! We sat with our backs to the view with our hoods pulled up to keep warm. Red stood on a rock and watched us eat.
Sort of makes you wonder doesn’t it? Walk 3 ½ miles through the snow to sit on cold rocks to eat our lunch on a cold day. Not only that but to sit with our backs against the view! Sounds rather silly, but you know what? We enjoyed every minute of it!
One of the things I enjoy about hiking is the sounds. They can be so refreshing. Our hike was mostly quiet. We heard the crunch of the snow as we walked. There were some birds chirping here and there and there was an occasional, far off in the distance, sounds of trains. Their whistles sounding as they passed through Ohiopyle and then the rumble of the engines passing far below us in the valley sounded almost magical.
Going through more boulders
We didn’t stay at the overlook long. We recapped the wine bottle and packed our trash and headed back. It wasn’t long before we were unzipping our jackets as we warmed up again.
As so many hikes go, the final mile seemed to be the longest. We ran into a mild rain but it didn’t cause us any problems. Between that and the warming temperatures the snow was disappearing from the trail.
On our way home, coming down off the hill
Back home we found out that we had missed a freezing rain. We had avoided the icy roads and the resulting accidents, in fact we didn’t even know it had happened.
The sun hadn’t been with us for long, it disappeared behind thick grey clouds on our first mile. BUT, we did see as nice sunrise and I saw a nice bright falling star before that! (Red missed it) The hike turned out great, we saw lots of nice scenery and got a good workout. My shower felt extra good that evening. It was a good day and a good hike!
Our route, in and out