November 18 (13.5 miles, 6 hours) AT PA Sections 1-6
We decided to do the 2-car self-shuttle on this route, so our pre-dawn excursion began at 5:30. After a bit of wandering in search of our starting location, and a few unkind exchanges between us about navigational skills, we hit the trail at 9:30. Walking northbound from Rt. 645, the first 2 miles were a pleasant walk in the leafless woods, with just one rocky section. We passed the Fisher Overlook that provided a sweeping view of the valley beyond. A nice egalitarian touch in Pennsylvania is to name shelters, overlooks, and other features after real people who donated their time, talent and labor to enhancing the AT. In this case, a rather weathered sign commemorates Bob Fisher’s half century of service, what a nice legacy. The Potomac Appalachian Trail Club newsletter noted that in 2015, 6,827 Volunteers contributed a staggering 272,477 hours of service.
The rocks picked up after crossing Rt. 501, but they weren’t too bad except for one boulder-strewn overlook. We lunched at the shower steps overlook, and nervously glanced at our map at the ominous sounding boulder field noted ahead. With 7 or so miles under our belt, we were tired enough to rue the thought of a difficult trek. Miraculously, the AT skirted around the boulder field. So we had some up and down walking, but nothing too strenuous.
From there the trail passed a beautiful winding stream bordered by small hemlocks, moss, and ferns. It was nice to see patches of green, in the otherwise monochromatic brown of the winter forest. Then it was a long by gentile climb to the ridge top. The trail was lined with green mountain laurel and rhododendron. You could see the light green buds with rose-colored tips adorning the branches. The top of the ridge was boggy in spots and there were several small black ponds.
We were on the lookout for a historical monument marking the site of a French and Indian War fort. We kept scanning the woods looking for evidence of the structure. We thought we missed it until we crossed paths with the only person we encountered all day. He pointed that the monument was just ahead. As we stopped to inspect it, we marveled how much the scene had changed. In 1755 Fort Dietrich Snyder was an outpost on the frontier.