April 30 - Ricketts Glen State Park, PA - Hiking "Falls Trail"

I decided to visit the other park that Cathy suggested, Ricketts Glen. It's about 20 miles West of Frances Slocum S.P. It is best known for its hiking trails and waterfalls. I hiked about a five mile trail. It's usually a full loop, but some hikers were hurt on one section last year, it is closed for repair as a result. So it was a down and back kind of deal which was fine for two reasons, I knew that as far as I walked I was going to have to rewalk, and it gave me a chance to spy the good photo ops on my way in so I could take the pictures I wanted on the way out. I left for the hike at about a quarter to three in the afternoon, later than I would usually leave on a hike on an unfamiliar trail. I took a small backpack containing all I would probably need to survive in the woods for a few days....I believe in preparedness. The pack contained a fleece, rain jacket, three power bars, and a liter of water. It didn't look like it was going to rain, it wasn't cold, and I wasn't hungry...that's why I took the rain gear, fleece, and power bars....I drank the water.

I parked at a trail head which required me to navigate a different trail for about a half a mile to hook up with the "Falls Trail". The "signage" in the park was poor to say the least. It wasn't for a lack of signs, there were signs all over the place, they just weren't very clear, or descriptive, or an arrow would be pointing right, I mean right smack dab in the V of a fork in the trail so I wasn't sure which way to go. As I began I took a gamble with such a sign and walked about 20 minutes before deciding I was going the wrong way and that I should turn around. I was contemplating turning around the whole time I was walking, but if I turned around and I was on the right trail I'd have to retrace my steps, if I was wrong I'd end up in the middle of a 12 mile trail I didn't want to be on. Crazy mind games the forest plays on you in that situation. It was kind of creepy, but worth it in the end. I came upon a deer on the side of the trail, I approached slowly with the camera and another put its head up from behind a log. They let me get within about 20 yards before they disappeared into the woods, their camouflage is incredible late in the day with long shadows. They are no doubt seriously overpopulated in this area and are probably considered pests by locals, but when you just kind of come upon them in the woods they're pretty cool. I couldn't get them both in the same frame, below the one is about to bolt.

The map I got at the ranger station was as poor as the signs. I like to think I have an idea of what I'm doing when it comes to reading maps and navigating trails, this place seemed to uneccesarily complicated. Only the very beginning of the trail was like a dirt road as seen in the deer picture. It was classified as "very difficult" by the map and the ranger I talked to. I'll have to give it credit, it wasn't easy. Some of it was steep and really wet, drainage water everywhere. Again, we can thank the glaciers for the rocks here. Strewn about the woods, big ones, little ones, some have trees attempting to eek out a meager existence on them, almost like a bonsai tree.

Once on the right trail (I think) I had been walking for about ten minutes and no waterfalls. A family approached me coming the other direction on the trail and before I could ask them, they asked me.
"Are the falls that way?" the father asked.
"Uh, I was hoping you were going to tell me the falls were that way" I replied.
So dad says, "Awe we should have taken the other fork in the trail back there, we weren't sure which way to go."
I pulled out the map to take a look, to ask them where they parked and entered the trail.
"Oh, a map. Where'd you get a map?" the mother asked.
Can you believe that? This guy takes his wife and two little girls into the woods after 3:00 with no map (or clue in general it would appear)? I guess I interrupted the Darwinian process on that trail. They turned around and we were all back on the right track. The falls weren't far away. I spent about three hours on the trail, the evening light was good for pictures.


A deer bounding across the trail.


A 94 foot waterfall along the trail.

A brook through the woods.
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Interesting reflections in the water.
 
Almost like a Bonsai tree...surviving on a rock.
 
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