A week after the end of the dreaded polar vortex of aught 19, Michelle and I loaded up in Munnin on the hunt for a frozen waterfall. The weather was heading into Spring like temps and as a planned ice climbing trip fell through we figured we go check out some other forms of polar vortex art. Wandering into the Marienville region of the Allegheny National Forest we made our way along the forest roads out into the more wild section of the area. We where seeking out Logan Falls, a small waterfall not known by many other than local folks.
Finding the unmarked trail to the falls was a bit difficult as the the turnouts, having been plowed by the local oil leasing companies as well as the roads themselves, all looked the dern same with the 12 to 14 inches of snowpack. But we found the right one on the first try. With Munnin tucked along the snow bank We grabbed a couple of hiking poles and started tromping through the calf high snow.
As we started down the hill I came across the largest coyote tracks I have ever seen. Definitely one of the hybrid species that have been migrating down from the northeast. These things are big and aggressive and are known for prowling up on humans. There’s been a few cases of attacks and I know of one confirmed death up in Cape Breton. Bears might not be the biggest problem in the eastern woods in years to come.
Anyways, I tracked the yote into the rock wall at the head of the trail. With the snow, frozen icicles and seeps plus the bluebird sky those rocks were pretty awesome...
Making our way down the slope of the holler on what we assumed was the path, there’s no official trail here, being careful of our footing and using the hiking poles to probe our steps ahead. About a mile or so we came onto the the crick and found ourselves at the top of the falls. We were a day late for a fully encased ice falls but Logan sure didn’t disappoint in the scenic department.
We mucked around for awhile and than proceeded up the hill. The going was a bit more treacherous as the increasing warmth was making the snowpack soft and slippery but we emerged back on the road intact if a bit sweaty.
As we drove past the Beaver Meadow trail system on the way up we stopped to do some more conventional hiking along the lake loop. Five miles of winter splendor, three of those miles being “Where the hell did the trail go?!” As the trail isn’t too well marked and with the snow ya can’t follow the worn ground path like in the other three seasons we got lost...errr...we utilized alternate trails a time or two but enjoyed the experience none the less...
Seven miles of snow hiking is a work out I’ll tell you and we were damn happy to hit up the Marienville Hotel for a couple of their monster cheeesburgers when we were done.
Last weekend I actually got a whole weekend free which was awesome as it was also my birthday weekend as well. Michelle made me a rhubarb pie for breakfast and than helped me load up some back country gear in her new Subaru.
Out the driveway and headed east we wound our way to the Quehanna Wild Area that sits to the south of Elk State Forest. We were seeking out a few hiking trails to wander and we planned on hanging between some trees for a night where ever we could find a good spot. Parking off from the lonely Quehanna Highway at the start of a connector trail we gathered just our day packs, and the lighter load out of hiking gear for a 5 to 6 mile hike.
The day was dry with humidity that was bearable and a pleasant, constant breeze. The connector trail started of through north slope tundraesque terrain of huckleberries and short stubby trees. Being this is rattlesnake country we kept an eye pealed for rattlers out sunning themselves in the sunny patches of the trail. Not far in the trail we came to a rock outcropping that overlooked into a steep holler. Here the trail corkscrewed itself down the rock face to Bear Run below. This section was steep and technical with loose rocks, drop offs and encroaching rhododendrons.
We followed along the cascades of Bear Run for a little over a mile before crossing that crick and heading up to the plateau above.
Here we hit the Teaberry Trail, a 4.5 mile loop that also connects with the much longer Quehanna Trail. The Quehanna is a 72 mile loop that circles the entire Wild Area and is pretty well known by the backpacking community. The Teaberry was a pleasant trail to hike and with at least 5 riparian zones. Appalachian hardwoods, hemlock hollers, north eastern alpine, Maine like scrub and meadow, and rhododendron mazes. Each turn of the trail brought new scenes to enjoy.
By the time we made it back to the Subie we had worked up a pretty good appetite and a sweat. A few subs latter and we were cruising gravel looking for a spot to camp.
We ended up heading north into the Bucktail Natural Area, checked out some vistas...
...and found a good spot to leave the softroader behind. Packs on our back we hiked a couple miles into the Bucktail Path where we found a good site to hang our hammocks for the night. I was in a Warbonnet Eldorado, Michelle in her Dutchware Chameleon.
Michelle found a good tree to turn into a recliner and than prepared my gourmet birthday dinner...Mountian House lasagne and their apple crisp.
As dusk came along we realized we really weren’t that far from a westward facing vista so we hiked on down to watch the sunset.
Settled back in camp and nestled in our hammocks the night passed quietly ...err...damn deer kept bothering us snorting and pawing at the ground...and we got a good nights rest. Up before the sun broke the ridge line we had camp broke and had hiked back to the car. We did some wandering, checked out the Bucktail Overlook west of Driftwood and eventually found a diner to chow down at. It was a good weekend.
On a side note...I’m not much for cars. Unless they are 40 years old and have big honking American V8s in them. But I am really liking this little Crosstrek. For a low buck car it is pretty sweet ride. Awesome interior, fun to scrub gravel with and is averaging 35 mpg. I dig it.
With the end of hunting season and the swirl of the holidays over, Michelle and I have taken advantage of the weak winter this year when we can. Both of our jobs have been demanding extra time from us so we try to keep our outdoor endeavors local to maximize forest time over time spent driving. One of our best hikes this year was an impromptu bushwhack around the numerous natural ponds of State Game Lands 69 in Crawford County...known locally as Black Ash.
This winter has been more rain than snow and the ground here abouts is the consistency of a damp sponge. But the lack of snow made it easier to traipse around the dozen or so ponds on this parcel of SGL.
Rolling along no winter maintenance country roads as we made our way through the lowlands of northwestern Pennsylvania...
A mile hike off the lonely back road and it’s time to circumnavigate a bunch of beaver ponds.
Michelle and I have been busy as all get out. Deemed essential, work for both of us has ramped up even more as we navigate this new work environment. Long hours and mandatory overtime are the norm. But when we can we reset in the woods or in a marsh. This time around it was a hike along the Coupler Run Loop, Moshannon State Forest.
A beautiful 6 mile hike through 5 riparian zones, along a crick and through some rock gardens. ‘Twas a grand day With not another soul to be seen...