by Jody Phillips
For the second year in a row, wintry weather arrived in the Laurel Highlands of western Pennsylvania just in time for KTA’s Spring Hiking Weekend. Unlike the sudden snowstorm that hit the hills above Wellsboro the second weekend of April last year—dropping 4 to 5 inches of soft snow on the hiking trails—this year’s storm was predicted a week in advance. It also featured the dreaded “wintry mix” so prevalent in spring storms.
But we were prepared. We brought gaiters, waterproof boots, mittens, wool caps, and sweaters, along with a spirit of adventure. On Friday, most trails were wet, and light sleet was steadily making them wetter—turning them into rivulets and big puddles. It was a rather mild 38 degrees, however, and the skies began clearing by midafternoon. Our fairly flat 4-mile hike was to the Wolf Rocks Overlook in Forbes State Forest, and although fog and light mist obscured the view of the Linn Run Valley and Chestnut Ridge, it was still a nice vista and good hike.
That evening, after a large potluck dinner—20 or more hot and cold dishes—prepared by other hikers, we enjoyed an interesting talk on “frog months” given by a member of the Audubon Society. The sunset that evening was beautiful, promising a sunny day for Saturday’s hiking.
Saturday dawned crisp, clear, and cold with bright blue skies and a light breeze. We were hoping the dirt road up to the parking lot at the start of our hike would be dry, and it was—but it was dry ice! After a delay from a truck stuck on the road (causing one of our cars to also get stuck), we managed to reach the starting point of our trek, and off we went.
Morning temperatures in the low 30s kept the trails from turning into creeks. The scenery was spectacular as we followed the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail up to the Seven Springs Mountain Resort ski area, across the north face of the summit. There, we encountered some pretty hefty drifts. Then we went up and down through the woods back to our cars. We expended a lot of energy trudging through the 3 to 4 inches of snow on the narrow trail, so we appreciated the hearty lunches we’d brought along.
The hike ended up being almost a mile longer than we originally planned because of the change in the parking lot location. As a result, we were tired, hungry, and a little sore when we returned to camp. Hot showers and dinner were welcome that evening, and we all slept soundly that night. After dinner, we were especially interested in the program presented on the future of state parks and a survey coming out about methods of funding them.
We arose Sunday morning ready for another day of hiking. However, our 5-person carpooling group decided unanimously that we didn’t really want to trudge through more snow. After a hearty breakfast, we packed up and headed east for our 200-mile trip back to the Reading area.
About an hour’s drive from camp, we stopped at Shawnee State Park and strolled for a few miles around a lovely lake, wearing sweatshirts, lightweight slacks, and sneakers and not using hiking poles. We ate our KTA trail lunches at a dry picnic table and looked at some of the pictures we had taken, remembering all the fun we had had the past 2 days and looking forward to sharing them with our other Berks Community Hiking Club friends.
Check out Jody's photos from the weekend HERE.