Monday, January 14, 2019

Closer to Home - Mt Davis, Pennsylvania

Some high points aren't as spectacular as Colorado's or Maine's.  Even still, the trip there and who I go with are important to the story.

When I was just a child, growing up in Connecticut, even before my family moved to Florida when I was just 8 years old, we used to hike Sleepy Giant State Park.  It wasn't a difficult hike, after all my 7 year old self, and my sister at 5 years old were able to do the hike without difficulty.  With this in mind, I thought the best person to accompany me to the Pennsylvania's high point in September of 2018 would be my 8 year old cousin Teddy, who also lives in Pittsburgh.


Mt Davis sits in the South-Western part of the state, and about an hour and a half South East of the major city (and my home) Pittsburgh.  The peak sits in Forbes State Forest, and is part of a mountain ridge that runs south into Maryland.  In fact, from the observation tower on the peak you can look all the way into Maryland.

It also lies very close to my favorite outdoors location:  Ohiopyle.

When I was given the all clear to return to work / resume physical activities following my illness, one of the first things I did with my mom, her husband, and my now-ex wife was to go white water rafting down the Lower Youghiogheny River.  I went previously as part of a fire department team building event, and my mom wanted to explore that area more.

But this was more than a year prior.  Now I had a rare full weekend off, so I was going to head down to that area for multiple days.  Just to hike around, and not to go rafting though.  The first day with Veronica, a woman I had been dating for a little more than 2 months.

Weather was delightful for our trip out.  We had decided to hike to Cucumber Falls, a location that roughly corresponded to where the rafting picture above had been taken.  It had been raining quite a bit the week prior, and because of this the river was extremely high.  Our hiking path along the river was actually washed out in several spots due to the river height.

Still, we were able to cut through an alternative trail and reach Cucumber Falls without much difficulty.  It was a short hike on relatively flat terrain, but a fun one.

We explored a bit more of the trails and the town itself, and called it a day.  I'd head out the next day for the high point with my cousin Teddy, and my uncle Dave, Teddy's father.

Mt Davis - Teddy's First Highpoint

We started relatively early in the day, close to 9am.  While we could have driven directly to the high point itself, we decided to park outside a picnic area to the North of the high point, and hike a short trail in towards it.

I took the time to explain trail blazes to Teddy on the way in, asking him to keep an eye on the blazes to make sure we stayed on the trail (though the trails throughout the trip were very well kept, we were in no danger of being lost).

After only about a half a mile we arrived at the high point.  There were quite a few plaques to read about the history of the area, as well as an observation tower rising about 50' off the ground and above the trees.

Looking out from the tower you could see into Maryland, and over to Confluence, the town just up the river from Ohiopyle.

There was a well-put-together topographical map, carved in metal, on the observation tower that you could use to determine what you were looking at.

Also near the map was a plaque explaining how looking out to the horizon gave a false sense that you weren't at the highest point in the area (as I saw on my Colorado trip), due to how the human mind processes the horizon.  Essentially, your mind will divide your field of view into "sky" and "land" and regardless of where this land is to your actual orientation, you perceive the intersection of sky and land as above you.

As the hike to the high point was fairly short, we decided to hike the other trails in the park as well.  We wound up doing about a 2.5 mile hike that looped us back around to the car, down from the high point, and then back up a fire break trail.

All in all, a good way for me to get out for a bit with Teddy and Dave.

I still wasn't done for the year though, there were another two very close high points that I wanted to make it to, within 1 hour from one another:  Maryland and West Virginia.

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