Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Winter's Arrival: A Cold Hike on the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail

Sunday was cold. As in, breathtakingly, huddled under a rock, no breaks cold. We hiked on the Appalachian Trail from the Old Forge Picnic Area outside of Waynesboro, Pennsylvania to Caledonia State Park, about 11 miles. We started out from Old Forge Picnic Area somewhat sheltered from the wind. It is a relatively gentle climb to that point, which was welcome, given the cold. I love Tumbling Run shelter.  It is one of the nicer shelters out there, which two actual sleeping shelters and a nice, covered picnic table. The table even has metal plates on it to protect it from stoves. The best part of the shelter, however is this:
 One of the shelters is designated for snorers.
And the other is reserved for non-snorers. I don't know how strictly it is enforced, but I love the thought behind it.

We debated having lunch at the shelter, but decided to push on to Chimney Rocks. The climb up to Chimney Rocks was steep enough that I actually had to shed a layer on the way up. As soon as we arrived at the top of the ridge, however, the full force of the wind blasted us. Instead of having lunch with a view, we found a sheltered nook under a large boulder. We were out of the wind, but since we weren't moving, the cold quickly set in. Before long, everyone was packing up so we could get moving. 
I climbed up onto the rocks and braved the wind for a quick picture. This the view from Chimney Rocks.

From there, we hiked north to Caledonia State Park. It is an easy walk and there were some interesting rock formations, but no more views. 
A gravel road crossing south of PA Route 233.

The Appalachian Trail keeps to the ridge top in this area, so we were in the wind most of the time. In some sense, the toughest part was the last three miles:  All downhill and straight into the wind. It was just cold and we weren't working hard enough to fight it off completely. We were all pretty happy when we reached the car! It was a pretty hike and literally saw no one else out hiking (wonder why!).

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