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  1. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by LDog View Post
    It's a cool section. The rocks got there cause the glacier stopped there and dumped the last of the rocks it carried down from Canada. Erratics they are. Erratics cause they are not products of the original geology. As you go north you'll see these erratics getting bigger. By NY they're as big as boulders. Glaciers reformed the whole north country, and you get to walk thru it, and see what they did

    No section is inherently bad or good. They is what they is. And whatever you bring to it. And how you choose to react to them. I preferred to find it fun. Stepping on, over and around them is like dancing. Dancing with Mother Earth.

    Real mountain folk dance with their mothers ...
    These are the tidbits I like hearing, they really make the romantic notion of hiking in the wilderness worth the time/effort. I appreciate your input and will think about this when I'm dancing with mother Earth. Rock on!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    Indeed, but after a while it becomes tedious and you just want it to end. Crossing into NJ is such a relief.

    BTW, I call it the "the three step rock hop bop". A dance with a broken rhythm.
    As a musician/drummer (cue the drummer jokes!), I truly appreciate both the dance title and your description of it. Good laughs!

    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    It can be a little bumpy, but the view...
    Although this is a really tame piece of trail until it goes over that cliff.
    Attachment 46108

    Then there are climbs like this which are fun:
    Attachment 46109
    That first pic!! WOWWWWW! and the same to the second, but with a different tone. I will think of it as a new challenge that I do not get to experience down here in flat, Southern Louisiana.

  2. #62
    Some days, it's not worth chewing through the restraints.
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    I was going to say something about your own attitude being the only reason the trail could be called "bad", but LDog said it best... go dance with Mother Rock.

  3. #63
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    I just finished three days of section hikes in PA yesterday. As many have said the rocks are really not that bad. I consider PA one of the easiest states I have hiked on the AT. I hiked Ecksville to Port Clinton SB on Monday Feb 3 and it was perfect. I had the Pinnacle to myself for a half hour in the sunshine. I would consider that section the easiest in the state that I have hiked. (I hiked the Northern 100 miles up to this point). I was in short sleeves by the end, in Feb, in PA!

    I also hiked 183 to Port Clinton NB on Saturday. This section is relatively easy, but has lots of smallish rocks perfect for tripping. Only one view on the whole section, so save this one for a bad weather day if you are a section hiker like me. The drop into Port Clinton is as steep as anything in the Whites, but much shorter.

    Lastly, I hiked 183 to 501 SB with my 9 year old son. This 9.3 mile section has the hardest rocks of the three sections but also several nice views. You can hear the roar of I-78 pretty much the whole way. Guthooks has the section mislabeled for a few miles, follow the blazes (obviously!).

    Another tip, the hiker parking lot for Port Clinton is accessible only from 61 Southbound. The blue blaze back to it from the trail is tricky to find. After leaving the town, the AT North follows an old road for a while then veers into the woods for about 0.1 then back to the old road. The blue blaze to the parking lot is found during that little section where the AT is next to the river. Not a big deal, but it would be nice if there was a sign. You cannot park anymore at Blue Mountain Road and 61. Guthooks shows a photo of cars parked there, but now, large boulders have been places along the side of the road.

  4. #64

    Default Rocksylvania

    PA ate my Zamberlan boots....and is well on it's way to munching the soles off my Lowa replacements. Susquahana to DWG is pretty rocky - and Lehigh Gap can be like walking on Mars... More than the rocks, hikers need to stay aware of the critters, rattlesnakes and copperheads that hide under them. No matter - I love hiking in PA - it's close, it's accessible, the southern PA shelters up to Boiling Springs are amazing and hikers "on the bubble" are humbled by the time y'all get to us.
    Last edited by NJHiker; 02-10-2020 at 07:55. Reason: correct a typo
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  5. #65
    Clueless Weekender Another Kevin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ethesis View Post
    so, how do the rocks compare to the rocks in Maine or New Hampshire?
    that is all I really want to know as I get ready to head back out this year.
    If you're accustomed to the Whites or the Mahoosucs, you wonder what people talking about the Pennsylvania Rocks are going on about. The Pennsylvania Rocks are, uhm, rockier than anything you see prior to that going NOBO. But a New England hiker will tell you, "get used to it. There's lots more of this Up North."

    Note that I avoided "bad" or "worse" there. Think of it as a playground equipment for grownups to climb on.

    Even the Catskill Crud, which comes from more or less the same geologic formation, has the Poconos beat. Typical piece of Catskills trail:
    Typical section of trail by Kevin Kenny, on Flickr

    Less typical, but it happens:
    Rock scramble by Kevin Kenny, on Flickr
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  6. #66

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    "Originally Posted by LDog

    The rocks got there cause the glacier stopped there and dumped the last of the rocks it carried down from Canada. Erratics they are."



    Uh, sorry but that's incorrect. The devil's racecourse rock fields in Pennsylvania are periglacial artifacts, assembled very slowly at a time when the process of ice spalling from outcrops was at a maximum. This happens in the zone below the elevation, or at lower latitude, than the ice sheet. The rocks in Penn could represent hundreds of thousands of years of accumulation. But no they were not brought south by the ice. They are locally derived.

    The funny thing that I've noticed in Penn is that you often can't find the source outcrops at the heads of the racecourses! Apparently the physical decomposition was extremely effective, probably because it went on for so long. Bedrock is present at depth of course. Probably many of these racecourses had ice cores, like Rocky Mountain ice glaciers. There is sometimes evidence of downhill transport of these large detrital rock masses, which occurs by processes similar to glacier movement. There are many studies of periglacial rock streams in the geomorphology literature. It's not a contentious subject.

    The ice sheet stopped at the Delaware Water Gap, at which point NOBOs notice that there are no more devils racecourses, and you suddenly see huge erratics the size of cars embedded in a matrix of clay and sand.

    Or, did I misunderstand your statement?
    Last edited by RockDoc; 02-12-2020 at 21:39.

  7. #67
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    I thru hiked in 2018. My opinion, and of those I crossed PA with, was that the reputation is way overblown. I was expecting 200 miles of rocks. It was really a mile or two here and there. And zero elevation change.

    Sent from my SM-G965U using Tapatalk

  8. #68

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    I just purchased my Amtrak ticket yesterday to bring me into Harpers Ferry in early June!!! Now I have something to look forward to =]
    I've also been checking out the thread about alternate options across the Potomac River on the MARC train. I'll be doing that if the walking option is still not figured out by then.

  9. #69

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    Having hiked the A.T. in Pennsylvania all my life, I can tell you that most of the Trail is not pleasant . There are some short sections without rocks,but not many.My domain is about 50 miles each side of Hamburg. Lots of rattlesnakes and copperheads to boot. If the Trail dont kill you here,the snakes will

  10. #70
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    I agree with the posts on attitude and the general concept of being able to embrace the suck when you perceive it to suck. But for me the determinant is simple- if a 68yo. small man can hump a 45lb pack over the rocks in trail runners for fun and enjoy it, how can that be bad or even hard? I have seen the same thing with the Roller Coaster and other "difficult" areas, some small group of people give it a bad rep that others embrace like they need to protect people by warning them. Exiting the Roller Coaster and seeing the warning sign I had to laugh at the whole idea of the sign.

  11. #71
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    The fact that most thru hikers go through PA during the most hot and humid part of the year makes it seem that much worse. The heat/humidity was worse then the rocks for me and I remember thinking about the difference in perception it would be going through spring or fall with a nice cool breeze.
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  12. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by LazyLightning View Post
    The fact that most thru hikers go through PA during the most hot and humid part of the year makes it seem that much worse. The heat/humidity was worse then the rocks for me and I remember thinking about the difference in perception it would be going through spring or fall with a nice cool breeze.
    Having hiked PA in May/June and having hiked PA in April/May, the April/May trips have been much more pleasant, despite the rain. You know it's hot when the rocks sweat! Or when the NOWA weather forecast advises against strenuous outdoor activity and you got 20 miles to do. You had best start before dawn on a day like that.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  13. #73

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    There are a lot of rocks on most all good hiking trails in the world.
    So, I am thankful that I grew up near Port Clinton PA and was in a good boy scout troop that got us out on the trail at least once a year.
    So, I was weaned on those rocks and now, when I'm hiking in far away places and there is a trail with lots of rocks. I feel right at home and enjoy rock hopping.
    So, quit whining folks. Enjoy the rocks, because if you like hiking, you're going to find rocks most everywhere you go.
    Just got back from NZ last week. Lots of rocks.
    Last year, Kunglseden trail (Sweden) Lots of rocks.
    Year before that Tasmania. Guess what? Rocks there too.

    PA rocks: Not so bad in comparison.
    Now Nepal? I think that's where rocks were invented.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

  14. #74
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    It isn't like the PA rocks are actual obstacles compared to some of the bigger boulders, slabs, ledges, etc., further north. Rather, for me anyway, the worst of it is all those small ones in the middle of the trail that stick up just enough --- 4" - 8" like little pyramids or the flat ones set on edge. All just waiting to stub your toe, trip you or make you stumble or roll an ankle. And falling on one of those pointy SOB's could definitely do some damage to ribs, head, etc. Many of us also tend to let our "guard" down on flatter terrain. When you slip and fall down a slope, you tend to fall and slide rather than impact. On flat ground you fall and come to an abrupt stop - on something - and hopefully it isn't one of those pointy rocks. I think back to my worst falls skiing, and they were often on flatter terrain. Yeah, I may have been distracted by some "scenery" and not focused on the ski trail , which isn't as common a problem on the AT. It just takes some getting used to, and you often can't get a pace going and just motor along on cruise control, because you have to pay closer attention than normal to foot placement in many stretches. Every section of trail has something different to offer. In PA, it's the rocks.
    Last edited by 4eyedbuzzard; 02-24-2020 at 19:05.

  15. #75
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    Good luck with your hike. I finished PA last spring. The thing about the rocks to me was that they slowed you down. If you are aiming for a shelter or campsite and suddenly you have to slow down to half speed for several miles, it can affect your plans. Hurrying is not a good idea. I took a spill on the rocks above Palmerton on a section and ended up getting off trail because of the gash in my knee.

    If I was starting in HF in June, I think I would go south and see how far I got in three weeks. SNP was quite nice, as was a lot of Virginia.
    "Waning Gibbous" would be a great trail name.

  16. #76
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    Sorry... I did not read all posts. I hope my info is not repeated..

    I sectioned PA in two parts after completing SNP and MD. I come from flat-land Michigan (well, we do have sand dunes, but those don't count).

    I had had heard stories about PA's RX, and I was seriously fearful. Well, my friend and I (seriously overweight at the time but had put time in climbing steps to get in shape), thought the 1st half of PA was a walk in the park. Our milage was 12-24 a day (but realize, we were up at dawn and walking, sometimes, to dusk).

    The following year, we went back. ***: Our @$$'s were kicked. (actually, our feet were!). The northern part has many more rocks, and those rocks appear to be spiked to poke into your feet to inflect pain. I cannot describe it! Plan on those rocks being like nails poking up into your shoes!

  17. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by shelb View Post
    The following year, we went back. ***: Our @$$'s were kicked. (actually, our feet were!). The northern part has many more rocks, and those rocks appear to be spiked to poke into your feet to inflect pain. I cannot describe it! Plan on those rocks being like nails poking up into your shoes!
    Hikers who insist on wearing wimpy trail runners suffer the most.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  18. #78
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    how bad you ask? there is an average of 10 hiker skeletons per mile littering the trail + it only takes mice about a year to chew the bones - draw your own conclusions

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