Our hike begins with the 'blue trail' from the parking lot to the AT. The guidebook simply says (the parking lot) "connects to the A.T via a blue blazed trail" and "blue blazed trail on west leads 100 yards to parking area." Notably absent is the word that best describes this trail STEEP.
|Looking back up the|
blue blazed trail after
descending from the parking lot.
At the bottom we turned left on to the AT. The trail climbs slowly back to Route 61 and passes under the road. Once on the other side we crossed Blue Mountain Road and a big wooden AT sing that I should have taken a photo of but didn't. From here the trail climbs steeply 900-1000 feet in the first 1.5 miles. I was disappointed in my inability to speak smoothly on the way up but my breathing returned to normal pretty quickly after we reached the ridge and I felt better.
As is typical for PA we did a lot of rock and boulder balancing across the ridge. The breezes were nice up there. There were some intermittent views of the town and the river below but the humidity and dense leaf cover did not make for great photos. You'll just have to take my word for it.
Unfortunately as we started to descend off the ridge and and the vegetation got thicker the humidity rose and the bugs were almost unbearable. I alternated between glasses on and off. For awhile it seemed the glasses were keeping the bugs out of my eyes but then they got smart and went around and got caught between the glasses and my face. Then one went up my nose and set the left side of my face into contortions. My nose itched and my eye watered. As annoying as all that was, it was still a great hike even though I still feel like bugs are trying to get in my ears.
We say two springs - Pocohontas and Minnehaha - both were flowing although the guidebook said Minnehaha is unreliable. (By the way I read the guidebook last night not while hiking). A deer darted across our path down the mountainside. Its buddy watched us walk by with some suspicion.
And we saw a snake. My first hiking snake. To be clear WE were hiking IT was slithering.
And of course we did exactly what you are not supposed to do. Stop and take a photo of it. We heard it first as it tried to slither away from us. Then it stopped and had just started to turn around when we left. Not sure what kind it is. I tried to look at photos on the Internet but it's too hard to tell what kind of markings this one has. It did not appear to be any of the venomous ones. :)
Shortly after the snake sighting we stopped to snack a bit and then finished the hike down into Windsor Furnace.
It was a hot, humid, mostly cloudy day and a great hike. I failed in hydration though and I'm still trying to recover. The headache is starting to get to me. :( I used my trekking poles today which helped on the climbs and the rocky sections, And on one of the descents they kept me upright when my foot slipped out from under me. The poles also kept my hands from swelling. Not having my hands free though made it awkward to reach for the hydration tube. I must fight the awkwardness and do it anyway. Lessons learned. :)
Keep Smiling and Keep Moving