Daryl Warren, KTA member and volunteer hike leader (as well as 100-Mile Challenge participant and Super Hike registrant!) shared this synopsis of the hike he recently led during KTA's Spring Hiking Weekend in Wellsboro, PA (Hike #1, Mid State Trail, southbound from the Beaver Hut Parking Area at Hills Creek State Park, to U.S. Route 6 at River of Life Church).
by Daryl Warren
It was a real challenge to get all twenty-six hikers organized at the Penn Wells Hotel, into six vehicles, and shuttled out of town. The traffic at 3:00 p.m. in Wellsboro is always heavy and on Friday it seemed heavier. It took me twelve minutes to go from the hotel around the block and over to Tops parking lot to meet up with the other vehicles. By that time it was 3:20 before we got on our way toward River of Life. In the process two vehicles lost the procession and headed over to Hills Creek on their own. We left one large six-passenger van at River of Life and the remaining three vehicles drove to the designated start. However, the two "lost" vehicles were not there. We had no alternative but start the hike without them at about 4:00 p.m.
The Lakeside Trail was quite wet in spots, but nothing serious. We did not sight much water fowl on the lake. It was quite windy with waves that I believe kept the birds in sheltered unseen coves.
At mile 1.1, at the dam breast, we met up with another group of eight hikers. They were our folks, the two lost vehicles, that had parked near the HCSP office and waited there for us! They joined us for the remainder of the hike. One of those hikers was the infamous Joe Healey, who busted my chops for the rest of the hike!
Heading south away from the state park, we were now on private land at mile 1.2. I explained the courtesy expected of hikers to landowners who have given permission for the MST to traverse their property. I also explained that the Mid State Trail is a link in the Great Eastern Trail extending from Alabama to the North Country Trail in New York, essentially paralleling the Appalachian Trail to the east.
The trail now crosses three gas pipeline swaths that have been well seeded and maintained before entering a stand of wild apple trees that produced a bumper crop last fall. At mile 1.7, we crossed a branch of Hills Creek on an 8-inch "I" beam, and clambered up a steep bank that has actual steel stair steps from an old FunFul ladder from children's playground equipment.
After crossing Cobb Road at mile 1.74, we began a gradual ascent of 200 feet over a half-mile, getting a good look from above of a recently completed gas well pad about 200 yards to the west of the trail. We crossed two more gas pipelines before beginning a descent down to a very swampy area near an old beaver meadow. Bog bridging over the perrenial spring seeps had just recently been installed with the help of a boy scout troup from Knoxville, PA, so our feet remained dry. Soon we entered the farmer's pasture field through an accommodating swing gate and encountered two interesting, and, for some, unexpected events.
The first was the very playful range cows that gleefully treated our visit with a display of frivolity that was humorous to most of us, but a little startling to others who were not sure the cows were playing. After a few minutes of kicking up their heels and generally showing off, the cows got bored and went back up the hill to resumed feeding or doing whatever range cattle do. The second event was the crossing of some quite mushy, swampy, boggy pasture field, the condition of which was exacerbated by the traipsing of the cows in the mud. It was possible to keep our tootsies dry if we carefully balanced ourselves with each step on a slippery bog top.
After walking .17 miles on Orebed Road, we turned south, following a hedgerow on an ATV trail maintained by the landowner. A wet crossing at mile 4.0 of a small creek (most folks were able to step on top of the rocks) brought us then through a spruce plantation and at mile 4.25 out to our waiting vehicle at the church parking lot.