Day 1 West Hill State Forest 14 miles: I was dropped off at the trailhead around 1PM. It was a promising start: trail signs and markers for this section of the North Country Scenic Trail. Even a mowed treadway! The route was well blazed and well maintined all day long. The trail though, didn't seem too well used as I noticed a very soft treadway beneath my feet. I made it thru my first two towns, ate some food, and continued on.
Day 2 State Forest 24 miles: Did a whole lot of road walking today. Some of the roads were okay, some were not. All in all, good day with a bunch of miles too!
Day 3 Tioga Heritage Campground 20 miles: Well I got town food 3 days in a row. Tonight's dinner was potato chips and chocolate bars. Not great, but not bad either. I've got a warm fire burning here at my free campsite too! Its needed after a long day of walking roads and trails. Road walking is fast but painful. When this route is actually a trail it is usually lightly used and well blazed. No snakes yet!
Day 4 Hills Creek State Park 16 miles:
Woke up to a beautiful, chilly morning. Had some coffee and some food before packing up and moving out. Walked more roads today, but got some trails in too. There are great trails up here, its just tough to find them. If the mid state trail wasn't blazed as nicely as it is I would be getting lost quite regularly. This route also follows all kinds of roads. Today I walked along several miles of grass covered road. Mowed and very soft on the feet. I'm excited to get thru the next two days to Blackwell. It appears as if most of the road walking will be over by then. I'm also listening to a fracking drill that is running on the mountain opposite me.
Day 5 Rattlesnake Run 24 miles: It felt like rain when I woke up. It then began raining and storming a few hours later. This weather continued all day long. All that I could do was put up my umbrella and put back some miles walking on multiple roads. It did become a bit monotonous, but walking in a steady rhythm can become meditative as well, so it went pretty well.
Day 6 Ashworth Hollow 18 miles: Woke up damp and chilly. Took a while to warm up. Great hiking today except for all of the gas companies cables, workers, and drills. Its a bummer- its every where. I got to Blackwell around 3 PM ,the motel is shut down but the place across the street, Miller's, is nice. I got a turkey sandwich, snickers, chips, tea, water, and a large ice cream cone! Walked a few more miles to the great camping spot (pictured above) on a point above the merging of two creeks below me. Nice fire but its going out soon as I'm tired and need to get some sleep. The fire helped to dry out what didn't dry during my lunch break earlier in the day!
Day 7 South of Little Pine State Park 23 miles: Woke up this morning in a very cold fog but still got at it quickly. It stayed cool all morning and the trail was just awesome. A lot of natural and wild areas, good trail, and great weather. I walked about seven miles in the morning before taking my first break. Saw some maintainers who chatted with me for a few minutes and gave me a fresh peach! I listened to more drilling work for a few hours while walking in the afternoon, witnessed trash and equipment left in the forest from gas field workers, and walked aside seismic testing equipment that was laid along the treadway. I also saw a few workers just as I had dropped down out of the woods and into Little Pine State Park. Made a stop at Happy Acres for dinner, 2 beers, ice cream and resupplies. While walking thru the state park I stopped for a quick shower and fresh water. The I walked a little bit further, and called it a day. Listened to four owls calling to each other later in the evening.
Day 8 Rt 44 at Pine Creek 15 miles: Ended my trip at Ramsey today. In my eyes, the gas industry has destroyed the 'wild backcountry' of north central PA. I had come out on this trip to disengage from society for a bit- only to find myself walking through loud construction zones for a lot of my time. At the start of the 900 foot climb up Houselander Mtn I found plastic trash bags and a hard hat left in a waterway. At the top of the mountain were three new and/or recently upgraded forest roads. One of these, Ramsey Rd., must be almost 50 yards wide! I also walked by one drilling pad, and another drill pad that was currently in use. Cables and equipment were also strewn on the trail. I had had enough. I knew that the next 15 mile section to Woolrich would just be more of what I had seen in the last week, and there would be a section of road walking after that. In addition, I have previously hiked from Rt 44 the whole way to Alexandria and I decided to keep those good memories of fun backcountry hiking, rather than spoil them by walking thru the gas industry construction. So I walked a few miles down the road to a local restaurant and waited for a ride home.