As part of my continuing quest to hike all 798 miles of the Pennsylvania State Forest Hiking Trails System, I drove out to the Tuscarora State Forest to pick up where I left off on the Tuscarora Trail.
My plan was to hike from Cowpens Road to Fenton Knob, and then turn around and hike back to the car.
The trailhead parking on Cowpen’s Road is next to a very nice overlook, so I stopped to take in the scenery.
The hike started on top of the mountain, so the first two miles or so were a gentle downhill to a small stream called Laurel Run. I stopped here to top off my water bottles.
The subsequent climb was ridiculous. Forward progress meant picking my way through a jumble of boulders, straight up the steep face of Sherman’s mountain. Also, the rocks were covered in slippery leaves, so it was one step forward, and half a step sliding backwards. Progress was slow.
Once I made it up on top, the trail followed the ridge line of Sherman’s mountain for a little while. I stopped for a rest near the site of an old fire tower before descending into the next valley.
By the time I arrived in the next valley, I was running low on water. I was disappointed to find a muddy swamp instead of a nice clear mountain stream. The only drinking water was full of frogs and tadpoles. Not a problem; I had my water filter, and so I pumped a fresh liter of swamp water, and stopped for a while to eat trail mix and contemplate the universe.
At this point, I had been walking for several hours and had not seen any other people. It was wonderful.
I didn’t make very much headway with my philosophical musings, so I strapped on my pack and continued hiking. After a quick up-and-down over a smaller ridge, I started the climb up to Fenton Knob.
This climb was almost comical. It was steeper, rockier, and leafier than Sherman’s Mountain. It was ridiculous.
After a great deal of grumbling and stumbling, cursing and complaining, I made it to the top!
Now, all I had to do was turn around, and walk back to my car. This meant descending the steep mountainside that I had just scrambled up, which is even trickier. I fell more than once, and ended up scooting part of the way down on my butt. I’m sure it looked silly, but better to look like a buffoon than to run the risk of turning an ankle in the middle of the woods all by my lonesome.
By the time I scooted my way back down to Laurel Run, I was in dire need of refreshment, so I fired up the ESBIT stove, and made a gigantic pot of coffee. Then I sat next to a little cascade in the stream, drank my coffee, and engaged in additional philosophical introspection.
I made a little video of the scene.
Isn’t it lovely?
After consuming a large quantity of coffee (and a considerable number of candy bars), my spirits were much improved. I walked the rest of the way back to the car without incident.
Here is a map of my adventure. (I GPS logged the whole thing for the greater glory of OpenStreetMap.)