When dinosaurs were taking
over the Earth and the Atlantic Ocean was young, the "newly
formed" Appalachian Mountains were already old. To say that
they had been born three-hundred million years before when
North America plowed into Africa and animal life was just
crawling out of the oceans would also be an misstatement as by
that time they had already been tectonically born and
erosionally worn down three times.
Yet, for their great age, it is geologically recent events that
give the mountains their unique Pennsylvanian character. The ice
sheets of the last ice age didn't get quite this far south but
their effect was profound. The harsh cycle of freeze and thaw
across the Pennsylvania tundra broke up the Appalachians into
jagged, oddly angled fields of rocks and left huge blocks that seem
as if dropped from the sky.
But, as anyone who has hiked long distances on the Laurel
Highlands or Appalachian Trail or gone after caches such as Brush
Mountain (GC281C) can attest, there is a price to be paid for that
history. Pennsylvania ridges are where boots go to die. Several of
my boots and countless others have given their lives over the years
in faithful service to their bipedal masters and their ghosts haunt
This cache is near a location where the earth has cracked open
and the trail designers took great delight in guiding the trail
through the formation rather than around it. When I first hiked the
Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, these rock mazes reminded me of the
Dunharrow in "The Lord of the Rings" where Aragorn called upon the
ghosts of the men of the mountains to fulfill their oaths to serve
the king of Gondor.
Laurel Ridge Webcam
From the Donegal exit of the Pennsylvania Turnpike, follow Rt 31
East to Jones Mill. Turn South on Rt. 381/711 at Sarnelli's Market
and then left at the T-intersection at Normalville. It will just be
a short distance to another left onto Rt. 653. The parking area is
near the crest of Laurel Ridge (N39 57.276 W79 22.096).
You may be able to shorten your 8 mile hike by scouting a few
back roads (Pletcher Rd, T316) but you'll probably need a 4x4, they
may be gated, there are no parking areas at the trail crossings and
besides, your boots want to fulfill their oaths.
Find more info about this section of the LHHT at: http://www.localhikes.com/HikeData.ASP?ID=5347
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