Category Archives: Walk in the woods

On the Rocks at Trough Creek State Park

If you like rocks, you’ll love Pennsylvania.  I swear half of the state is made up of rocks, especially judging from the back (and front, and side) yard of our property in Fulton County.  Some of these rocks are more famous and picaresque than the ones in our yard, however.

Case in point, Trough Creek State Park, home of Balanced Rock.  My husband and I hiked up to this geological phenomenon this past weekend, after a false start.  Clue, if you go:  take a RIGHT after Rainbow Falls, not a left.  The trail map is not very helpful, and there is no sign directing you to said Rock.  Since you can’t see the Rock for the trees, so to speak, you just have to go on faith.

Once you find it, after a steep (and rocky) climb, the Rock does not disappoint.  It is a sizable formation that appears to be teetering precariously over the edge of the cliff, although it has been like that for centuries and presumably will be for centuries more.  As impressive as it is, though, the Rock has not made it to the ten most famous balancing rocks in the world, I am sad to report. Nor does it have a cool legend behind it like this rock in Finland.

We took photos of the rock and then retreated to hike along the Ledge Trail, which connects eventually, after much rock hopping and dodging, to the Rhododendron Trail (lots more rocks, but also huge rhododendrons that must be amazing during the spring bloom) and back over the wobbly suspension bridge near where we entered.  This bridge put me in mind of the Q’eswachaka suspension bridge, a model of which Peruvian participants built at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in 2016 (though that was a lot cooler).

Even if I make it to Peru and that bridge some day, I don’t think I would muster the courage to walk across it.  So, this Pennsylvania suspension bridge, maybe built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, was the next best thing.  If you fell off this one, you would only tumble into the (rocky) creek below and get scraped up, instead of plunging to certain death in an Andean river gorge.

And, so, to coin a phrase, Trough Creek State Park (and most of the rest of Pennsylvania) Really Rocks.

 

 

Tracking a Ghostly Trail

The paths of old railroad tracks trace history, and since some of them have now been turned into walking tracks like the Lower (rhymes with “flower”) Trail in central Pennsylvania, you can take a stroll through the past.  The interpretation is spotty (there are a few signs, and a sort of helpful brochure), so much is left to the imagination. Industry and settlements once thrived along here — now there is just an overgrown ditch where  the canal preceded the railroad, and the graceful arches of the stone bridge are mossy and almost obscured.  It is hard to believe that this track once carried countless people and tons of goods aboard panting steam trains.  On a Tuesday early afternoon, it is so quiet that you can almost hear the ghosts whispering, until a distant chainsaw growls or a lone cycler whizzes by.  We walked part of the trail along which “the remains” of a stone company town were supposed to be evident.  As you can see by the photo above, “evident” is a relative term.  We wanted there to be more than one blank-eyed roofless grey building blending in with the forest so badly that we thought we saw several, only to discover from another angle that it was just more trees and gray underbrush playing with our fantasy.  (Mood music from Twin Peaks rose in my mind.)  Despite the  occasional creepiness, the Lower Trail is a pleasant place to spend a couple of hours.  To catch the mood, I am going to attempt my very first audio clip of one of the babbling brooks along the trail, under the stone bridge.  Close your eyes and think calm, if slightly disturbing, thoughts of the spirits that must inhabit these woods, and of structures that have melted into the forest so completely that only their shadows remain.

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