Sunday, January 8, 2012

Wandering to the top of High Knob Vista....

Friday evening we loaded up Otter and some hiking gear and headed to Gakky and Pappy's house.  We spent the night there and as the sun was coming up on Saturday morning, Scott, Otter and I headed to Sullivan County to hike from the Hillsgrove Ranger Station to High Knob Overlook/Vista.  

The day began a bit on the chilly side and gradually warmed, but the sun never touches some parts of the mountains in Sullivan County this time of year and we had some great chances to see winter landscapes.  

The trail is a 2.5 mile trek from the ranger station to the vista.  The initial ascent is a mile long and steep.  Through some beautiful white pine and thick mountain laurel it levels out.  The final climb is through some old hardwoods and just shy of an "all fours scramble" for the last 100 yards. 

The hike to the summit was uneventful.  When we got to the vista there were two guys in a car taking pictures. Another guy showed up while we were eating our lunch.  We saw no one on the trails other than a hunter at the trail head who was not too thrilled to see us waltz past him with a dog.  Did we ruin his day?  

The jaunt back to the car was new trail for me.  We tied together a small piece of the Loyalsock Trail, Old Bark Trail and then Dry Run Road back to the Ranger Station. 

Our first surprise was a bunch of deer parts and guts a poacher must have thrown over the guardrail along the road as we started our descent on the Loyalsock Trail.  I have hiked a few sections of the Loyalsock Trail and have never been disappointed.  The Alpine Club of Williamsport does a fabulous job maintaining this trail.  

We left the LT for the Old Bark Trail.  The beginning of the trail was a bit concerning as we had to navigate through several blowdowns and the blazes were difficult to locate.  We took turns standing at the last blaze until the other one found the next blaze.  There were times when we had to let Otter off the leash to move from one of us to the other because the terrain was just too touch to navigate with him on a leash.  He was in his element and obeyed like a pro each time.  

Old Bark Trail led us back to Dry Run Road and I was afraid we would be disappointed having to hike a road for a few miles but I couldn't have been more wrong.  The sun didn't shine into that valley often and the creek was winter wonderful!  The waterfalls were running rapidly and roaring like ocean waves.  

We spent quite a bit of time at Dry Run Falls because Scott took his glasses off and then forgot to pick them up.  So ... we were looking for silver-framed, wire rimmed glasses on a cloudy day in the snow and leaf cover.  We did find them and moved on.  

Since we made such good time on the trail we went for a little drive on the way home, going through Hillsgrove, Forksville, Worlds End State Park and Eagles Mere, through Tivoli and Picture Rocks and then back on 180 to Norry.  

Alas... we got back to Gakky and Pappy's house and they weren't home!  But no worries... I knew the code to get in with their keyless remote for their garage.  EXCEPT... the battery was dead.  No worries again!! Gakky has a cell phone....  EXCEPT... she doesn't turn it on unless she is making a call.  So...

We headed to Sunbury, picked up subs at Marlins and took them to the Marina to eat.  

Everything turned out fine and Gakky and Pappy were soon home.  We worked on cleaning out Gakky and Pappy's fridge of delicious desserts and slept a sound sleep. 

The sun was just barely coming over the mountain when we began hiking at 8:30.

The sun was soon high enough and strong enough to create shadows.  I would like this rock formation to be my living room wall when we remodel someday. 

Otter and Scott patiently waited for me.  I was busy meandering and taking pictures. 

Occasionally we saw pockets of snow like this. 

The mountain laurel started to get thick....

then prohibited side-by-side hiking.

The vista.  You can see seven counties from this summit.

The village of Hillsgove is in the center of this photo.

Even though it got warmer as the day went on, the wind made it rather crisp at the vista.

Instead of an out-and-back, we hiked a loop, connecting trails.  We were fortunate to be able to include a piece of the Loyalsock Trail.  It is absolutely beautiful no matter what time of year I have been on this trail!

Scott tested Otter's response to one of us falling on the trail.  Sad to say, Otter really didn't care.  He kept his nose to the ground and just wanted to move forward. 

A few minutes of rest on the LT. Otter has no patience for these photo sessions.  He wants to get moving and keep moving.

Otter at Dry Run Falls.  

Dry Run Falls.

How could I pass up a photo with a dog at "Old Bark Trail"?!

Back at the van.  We all had a snack before heading home.

Otter pulled Scott's clothes out of the open suitcase and proceeded to attempt to curl up in it to sleep on the way home.

When we got back to Gakky's she had hot apple pie, hot tea and ice cream for us!...  Eventually

One very, very tired dog.
Otter sleeping with Gakky on the couch.

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