~*~ Hickory Creek Trail in ANF ~*~
Mileage: 12-13 total miles
Friday, I bolted out of work ASAP and went to pick up my toy for the weekend, a
Chevy Silverado 4x4 Off Road Truck (woo hoo!). The three guys working there
were dumbfounded that people actually backpack in the cold weather and stood in
awe as I loaded all of my gear into the truck. Then, as I loaded up
made my way to
, we heard voices coming from the parking
lot. I opened the tent and peered out to see
forest was absolutely amazing from the first step until the last. Saturday was
a beautiful day and the freshly fallen snow made for amazing scenery. The giant
Hemlocks made you feel so small and I notice that snow always makes things seem
so serene and so silent. Hickory Creek Trail is like no other trail that I have
been on in PA. It is relatively flat with little to no rocks OR roots to
maneuver over or around. There are a few blowdowns here and there but that is
too be expected. The new snow made for a nice cushion as we walked. Although
the blazes were difficult to find at times, we were fortunate to be able to
passed one group of 6 from
weather held up beautifully as we made our way through the forest. The sky was
blue and the sun was shining, which made everything glisten. We saw a plethora
of deer tracks all over the place but not once did we see a deer. I imagine we
were too loud has we talked and laughed our way through ANF. There was one
fairly brutal steep uphill climb about half way in. In hindsight, it wasn’t
much, but when you’ve been hiking on flat terrain for 3 miles, the slightest
hill seems like a mountain. When we reached the top, we all sat down for a
decent break. It was here that
Steve and John wandered into camp about an hour later and quickly set up their tent and joined us around the “fire-in-the-making”. Once the fire was going, we all went about our business of making dinner. Steve, the vegetarian, had even brought Mountain House beef stew! Brad whipped up some sautéed mushrooms and chocolate fondue with strawberries (that we all dipped into). I made some Allegheny Noodles (how appropriate). John was pretty secretive so I’m still not quite sure what he was cooking on his little Pocket Rocket. As we finished up dinner and cleaned up a bit, the fire finally started to come to life. It was then we saw the two stragglers. Just at dusk, in a dramatic, yet fashionably late style, Woody and Mike came rolling into camp on snowshoes. They were just in time for the warmth of the fire and the libations that were sure to be shared. We hooted and hollered and welcomed them to our group.
Woody and Mike set up there tent and began their dinners as the rest of us struck up conversation around the fire. Turns out Chuck was afraid we would all be drinking and partying all night. We talked about trail names, gear, what we do for a living, past experience on the trail, and a million other things. Steve blessed us with several jokes, though he didn’t tell one every time he said “that reminds me of a joke”. It wasn’t too long before we all retired for the night.
I think it was around 7:30am when I woke up. I heard Woody and Mike milling around, as well as Chuck. When I got out of my tent, Woody and Mike were already geared up with their snowshoes and packs and ready to head out! Early risers! John took it upon himself to pelt Steve’s tent with snowballs in an attempt to get his butt out of bed. It was 9am before that happened, and 10am before we were on the trail.
was snowing fairly hard but the hiking wasn’t to bad because
We didn’t see John and Steve again for the rest of the hike out. My knee was starting to give me a little trouble again but I didn’t want to stop. I’d rather death march and stay with someone than drop behind and be on my own. After over an hour of trekking, we caught up with Woody and Mike. Woody’s ankle was giving him a lot of trouble so he was slow going on the snowshoes. I felt bad but knew that there wasn’t much I could do, and that the trailhead was not too far off. We clamored on with me in the lead, setting a comfortable pace for my own knee problems. I was rather happy to see the trailhead register and the Hemlock Forest, knowing that it was only another half mile or so to the truck.
As we came out of the forest, Chuck was just removing his gear and getting ready to head out. Shortly, Woody and Mike came out as well. I made some hot cocoa and shared with anyone that wanted it while the truck warmed up to provide some comfort from the chill. I decided to head into town and pick up some things. It really had started snowing hard and the roads were pretty nasty at times. When we got back, neither Steve nor John had returned. It was another hour before they showed up and I was really worried. Had my knee not been hurting, I would have been backtracking to find them already. We all chatted for awhile and decided to go get some food!
I said, the roads were terrible. We stopped in a little town for more fried
food than I’ve ever seen in my life, not to mention a couple of beers (for
those not driving). I was so stuffed by the time we left…I couldn’t see
straight. We caravanned back to
All in all, it was a great trip. It was wonderful to meet Steve, Woody, Mike and Chuck, as well as John…who we had passed on the AT back in January. I look forward to going back to Hickory Creek sometime, preferably in the fall when the elks are bugling.
“That reminds me of a joke…”
“I think my hose is frozen”
“Can I have a cigarette?”
“There’s a bush” (yeah…a twig with 4 leaves on it)
those Big Boy YakTraks or the