I borrowed Di's backpack and Barbara brought a tent that they bought awhile ago. We packed up what we thought we would need an headed up to Potter County on Thurs after work. The hike was scheduled for 5:30 AM Friday morning. We met Frank at his cabin for some tea and muffins, packed up the cars and headed to the trail head. Connie drove one of the cars so that we could drop Frank's '84 Volvo station wagon at the end and she could shuttle the 3 of us and our gear to the start. (The Volvo will come back into the picture later). Off we went into the woods at about 9:30 AM! Notice the smiles.
|Donut Hole Trail - Start|
Frank planned the hike for June 21st - the Summer Solstice - which turned out to be absolutely perfect. We had great weather and lots of sunshine which makes camping especially nice. As with all long hikes or excursions, the first part of the hike was filled with talk and hopes of seeing some wildlife or whatever. The beginning of the hike was quite pleasant and not that strenuous which gave us all time to get used to the 30 pound backpacks (Frank's was much heavier for reasons that will be revealed later). Oh, and Roxy went along with us too. She quickly fell into step and understood that she should just keep up with us and stay on the trail - good dog.
Day 1 wore on. We heard a ton of birds including Black-throated Green warblers but didn't see many since we were mostly looking down at the trail. This part of the trail had a few nice sections that went along a pipeline cut out of the woods. We made an effort to see a few birds there. Barbara saw a Coyote but I was too far behind her at that point to see it before it skulked away.
|Linda and Roxy birding the DHT|
|Barbara leading the pack|
|Frank listening for warblers|
We took a few breaks and stopped for lunch which was quite nice - cheese and baguet, grapes, etc. As we were leaving the lunch spot, I looked up into a nearby tree and spotted a metal coffee cup hanging from a rope. You know we weren't leaving without it, so Frank and I hoisted Barbara up and she was able to grab it. It is now proudly displayed at Frank's cabin!
The Donut Hole Trail is not exactly what we called "maintained". It's basically a deer trail that someone from the forest service walks maybe once a year with a chain saw and cuts through some (only some) of the logs that have fallen across the path. In some cases, he ( I am assuming it's a guy) doesn't even cut through the logs but rather reroutes the trail uphill and around the obstacle. We had a heck of a time following the trail at the end of Day 1 when it zig zagged across a stream about 20 times instead of just staying on the same side but we eventually made it to the pre-determined campsite at about 7 PM. Let's do the math here - we hiked 10 miles in 10 hours. How many miles per hour did we hike? That's right kids - a whopping 1 mile per hour!
We were pretty tired, but not exhausted. Unfortunately, none of us remembered to take photos of our campsite or the food or the BEER, that's right BEER, Frank brought us 4 cans of Yuengling BEER. That man is a hero! He lugged 4 cans of beer and a pint of Rye Whiskey along with all of the dehydrated pre-packaged dinner meals including Beef Stroganoff. Did I mention the BEER? We popped those cans into the stream to get them nice and cold. Canned Yeungling never tasted better. Imagine how much lighter Frank's pack was on Day 2 after getting rid of the BEER and food. My pack lightened up a bit too since I was carrying the breakfast muffins, trailmix, etc. Frank also gained much admiration for bringing the water filter which allowed us to make drinking water as we went along rather than carrying it for 2 days. Here is a photo of me "making water".
|Linda Making Water|
"I see a cabin" Barbara exclaimed after about 2 hours of grueling downhill hiking through slippery rocks and up around detoured trail. "I see it too". And then, the most wonderful words in the English language - "Is that the Volvo?" Yes, yes, it was the Volvo. We were actually happy to see an '84 Volvo sitting across the street from the cabin. Can you imagine the looks we got from the people at the cabin as we staggered out of the woods dripping with sweat.
|Exhausted at the DHT sign|