Unfortunate UPDATE!!!!!!!!! Live from Gantz on the trail!!
So I made it 160 miles in 8 days walking from the N terminus of the GET to PA Rt 44 at Pine Creek. I decided to go home by car from there:
From Day 1, the first fifteen miles of trail on the Crystal Hills Trail was beautiful, the second 20 miles of trail was all road walking. Nice roads though (and real food). From here to the PA border (another ten miles) was mixed paved, gravel, and dirt road walking.
By day four I had made it into PA. While walking around Cowanesque Lake I became caught up in a terrific thunderstorm. I was able to get a few hundred yards away from the lake to sit on a bench under a grove of young trees. Unfortunately this bench was metal, and when a bolt of lightning hit the ground between myself and the lake, I put down my umbrella and squatted in the woods for the remainder of the storm. Needless to say I was a bit nervous, soaking wet, and a little angry at the hail, but I was exposing myself to nature’s furry and loving it! Later that night I stayed at an RV camp for free. The campground owner told me that many of his summer residents this year are field workers and laborers for the pipeline systems being built by the natural gas industry. While noting that they were good people, the owner mentioned that they are not campers and will not be welcome back next summer.
More mixed road and trail walking the following day. Now I began walking past fracking drills set up on private lands. One private land section of trail was closed because of drilling, so I road walked around it. I spent the evening near Hills Creek State Park on a sunday night and was kept up because of a fracking drill located on the next mountain over. Very loud.
On day 6 I met 6 gas drill field workers. They were laying cables, seismic testing hardware, and lithium ion batteries along the trail. Even though I was able to spend more time on trails rather than roads, many of these miles were loud with construction of drills and new roadways.
The trail was truly gorgegous on day 7. I was walking near the east rim of the southern mouth PA grand canyon. I met a trail maintance crew of three doing great work keeping the trail open from rhododendron encroachment. I also scored a peach from one guy! Once again though, I often found myself walking along a trail filled with cables, noticing trash and gear along the trailway, and dealing with the noise pollution from construction in the mountains.
My last day was filled with more of the same. One new forest roadway is 50 yards wide. I also encountered a mountain top spring with some really gross looking oil like substance running out of it. It almost looked similar to acid mine drainage, although I’m not away of any past mining in that area. Also noted, was construction of a new roadway and bridge about 200 yards uphill from this spring, and a hydro fracking drilling located about a mile away.
I knew that I may encounter scenes like this, but I didn’t expect them to occur so frequently. Many folks had told me that this would be the last summer to enjoy the woods of North Central PA, and unfortunately I believe that last summer was in fact the summer of 2010.
On the upside, I was able to walk 160 miles in 8 days and I did enjoy being in place that I had never visited before. I saw many beautiful waterfalls (which I got some good photos of), checked out several PA state parks, saw one other hiker (who hiked with me for an hour), and was able to keep myself warm, comfortable, and safe very limited gear. I also experienced first hand the on-the-ground impacts of the natural gas drilling industry in my home state of PA. In addition, I have previously hiked the section of trail from where I left the trail at PA Rt 44 on this trip, south another 140 miles to Alexandria PA. So technically, I’ve now walked the northern 300 miles of the GET!
I am still scheduled to have a week or two off from work, so I will re evaluate my vacation here and hopefully get into some more fun next week after the hurricane passes us!
Thanks for your support, I’ll keep you in touch about future plans!