30 May 2014 French Creek State Park

Chase and I headed out without a GPS and map.  We were armed  just with printed directions. This trip was quite a few firsts for Chase.  It was his first time as the dedicated co-pilot, as well as navigating without technology.   As it turns out, the printed directions were total crap.  This endeavor would be a trial by fire.  It took quite a bit of concentration to follow them, and three times of me checking  my phone to reach our destination.  After an hour or so drive, Chase, Roland, and I parked at the boat dock and set out.

The trail immediately scaled uphill, snaking back and forth as we climbed. We gained 250ft of elevation over a mile and a half before it leveled out a bit.  After a brief flat respite of  about 2 miles, we found out why PA was called “Rockslyvania.”   We started to climb in elevation again, and found the trail became quite rocky and treacherous .   The next 50 ft of gain  was like trying to walk on a cobble stone street in the middle of the woods.   We all started to feel it now.   Our muscles were straining and our ankles were feeling the soreness.  Between that and the hot stale muggy air, we had our work cut out for us.

Every so often, I would ask Chase where we were.   As a Scout, he will be learning orienteering , and I thought this was a great way to get him started reading maps.  It also served as a close placement of our location in case one of us got injured.  He asked a question which was smarter than it appeared to be, “Why do you stop and talk with everyone on the way?”  I explained “Chase bud, I do that so they remember us.  If we get lost or worse, when asked if they had seen us, they could say with out a doubt they talked with us roughly so long ago.”  In an instant it became clear to him, you could see it wash over his face.  Everything had a purpose, everything we did was deliberate and it either provided for us or protected us.  We rested a while. Roland took this opportunity to lie down and drink his water.  The trail continued up hill, just as rocky as before.  When we finally happened upon the road, our options were left or right.  To the right, the trail continued up hill, which was the wrong direction.   So we went left, looking for a trail head.   We descended about 100 ft from our 900 ft elevation, which meant we missed the trail.  Where was it? As we backtracked up the steep hill, we spotted a young couple coming out of the woods. As with everyone we passed, we struck up a conversation.   We showed them where our trail popped out and where theirs ended.  No wonder we missed it.  This trail head was so unused, that we mistook it for a game trail. We didn’t get 50 ft into it before it was evident it was going to suck.

The trail was no more than two feet wide was overgrown with branches and fallen trees. Did I mention the rocks?  It looked like a cobbled street with stones the size of your head.  80 ft of elevation over about 200-300 yards and Roland was having trouble.  Chase and I were both on all fours, attempting to traverse this trail.   Then, Chase remembered something the young couple had said that we had both dismissed earlier.  When we were chatting with them, they wanted to know how rocky it was.  Chase recalled their reply of “Oh great, more rocks.”  We couldnt help but laugh.  No wonder they weren’t thrilled. This really was tough, trying not to break an ankle.  When we had finally reached the summit, we stopped to have lunch and rest.  This trail kicked our asses.

Believe it or not, the way down was quite uneventful, until we met Candace.  She was walking her dog, and saw us first.  She quickly tried to leash her dog, but it was too late. He was gone, running full bore at us.  I yelled to her not to worry, that Roland was friendly.  As luck would have it, as soon as Roland and her dog met, they started to play, right there.  We chatted for a short time about the trail, and each other, like two old friends.  As we parted ways,  Chase asked “Why were you flirty with her? Do you flirt with everyone?” I responded only with “She was cute, right?” He nodded, and I replied “Why not? You never know. Maybe we’ll go out, and I’ll run into her”  Chase replied with “She’s engaged!”  With my usual wit, I half jokingly replied with “I fail to see how that involves me.”  I laughed as Chase called me an ass.  Maybe I am an ass, but she was cute.  Really cute, and our dogs were already friends.




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