A Good Day For A Long Walk – It Was Assy Out…

The morning of 6 May, 2012 (that’s old school for you) was not exactly a good day for a long walk, though it was vastly better rested. The first time around, we all gathered at Will’s place and tried to spend the night there to set out early the next morning and, save for Will, all slept on couches.

Well, I guess Zach and Chris slept on couches. I cramped up and sweat my face off for about four hours on a couch.

This time, we had a more auspicious start – we all woke up individually and made our way over to Will’s place where we packed up our water and snack supplies and set out for Peters Mountain and the associated trails. Realistically, the mountains around here aren’t very tall or complicated hikes, but Peters Mountain is apparently one of the best. Our morning involved a stop at a local grocer to get more water bottles and for me to get a doughnut. That turned out to be a stupid-ass decision later on.

We go to the trail and check out the map on what was easily an incredibly assy morning. Assy here being defined as super humid. It wasn’t hot, though, so you just felt the air being really close. Completely overcast, grey sky that looked like it belonged in a Pennsylvania late autumn or winter rather than well into spring. Leaning against the map was easily the best walking stick I have ever seen – not that I know anything about walking sticks – and it seemed left there for the next lucky user, so I forged ahead with it. The other guys started talking about something, but I just started up the path, and eventually I wound up taking point and setting pace. And for some reason I set what was later dubbed a hero pace. I mean, we really charged up that thing, and it was nothing but winding switchbacks and long, dangerous tumbles off the side of the hill if you lost your footing. Plus it was covered in wet and gross and mud for most of the way up. We had to step off a couple times to let some scouts down off the mountain (down takes precedence – a rule we learned from the woodsiest super genius we know, Joe Boyd), but the pace was still pretty intense, to the point that everyone needed a minute once we got most of the way up the hill.

None, though, more than me. See, there’s a reason you don’t scarf a doughnut before you go hiking – sugar does not play well with early morning cardiovascular workouts.

Short version, I got rid of the doughnut by drinking a ton of water and just letting it work its way back up. Shortest version: I puked.

Sufficiently relieved, we pressed on, and I have to say, Peters is a huge step up from the Boyd Conservatory. Not that the BC was a bad trail – it was long and new and thus interesting, but Peters has rocky sections where a little bit of intelligent navigation is required, and a couple of large stone shelves or ridges that afford some really nice views…

Or they would, if it hadn’t been assy out.

I definitely almost died once. It was pretty cool. I thought I had my stick wedged against the rock, but it shifted and hit some moss. I manged to lose my balance away from the ridge line so I didn’t tumble down the hill for five hilarious minutes, but it went a long ways toward shaking my confidence and making me take a few other bad steps as the day wound on. Nothing as dangerous as that first one, but it was a klutzy day that resulted in a lot of laughs. I was also soaked by the end of it because of the aforementioned assiness. I have to say, I’m pretty disappointed that we’re taking off this Sunday – one of the guys we go with can’t make it, and we don’t want to leave anybody out. Plus it’s mother’s day.

We only went for about four hours that day and after turning back and calling it quits because we didn’t know where we were (we found our way out), we were all a little disappointed we didn’t press on. We scoped Peters largely as a venue for our first overnight, which I think we have planned for June. And that’s exciting, though very far off. Once Peters is little more than a long walk – and that’s the goal, to be able to handle these things with relative ease – we’re going to need to track down new and increasingly difficult bullshit, which is going to start meaning we either A.) get up before the ass crack of dawn in order to drive to our destinations or B.) start planning more Saturday-to-Sunday overnights. I personally like option B, but those are discussions for the future.

So, legitimately: fun day hikes in the greater PA area, I’d love to hear ’em.