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 these crags.
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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