IN THE FIELD: The Views Were Worth It

Quite a few years ago, I went on a weekend hiking trip with a few of my friends on part of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania. We started the hike in Port Clinton and headed up the mountain and east to our destination, which is an overlook named the Pinnacle. It is perched high on the top of Blue Mountain, near the Hawk Mountain Bird Sanctuary.

In our haste to go hiking in super October weather, we neglected to do prudent research about this part of the trail. A few steps from the trailhead begins an almost vertical climb up. The trail consisted of pebbles, stones, rocks, boulders, and tree roots, with a sprinkling of gravel mixed in for good measure. Looking back, it would have been better to do this part of the trail during daylight hours rather than starting at 10:00pm. The flashlights we were carrying were feeble at best and barely illuminated the treacherous path in front of us.

After about an hour and a half of slipping and sliding, numerous scrapes and falls, we made it to the crest of the mountain to set up camp and rest for the night. Finding a flat spot on the top of a mountain is a comedy of errors, so we set up right on the trail. We figured the odds of another group of hikers coming by in the middle of the night were slim.

We awoke a few hours later, emerged from our tent, and were stunned to see how we had perched ourselves on the crest of the mountain yet somehow managed to stay there all night.

After eating breakfast on that glorious Autumn morning, we strapped on our backpacks and continued on our way. Five and a half miles later we met a few hikers coming the opposite direction. We chatted about trail conditions and they told us we should have an easy day of hiking. Knowing what was ahead of them, we advised them to lace up their boots tightly and find a walking stick for balance. We suggested climbing ropes for the way down would be handy also.

A few miles later we stopped for lunch. While dining on our rations, a man ran past us on the trail with no backpacking gear. We thought that was odd. Where did he come from and how did he get there? A few minutes later, another man ran by dressed in some official looking uniform. He stopped and asked if we had seen anyone. We advised him of the direction the first man was headed. The uniformed man sped off down the trail. Where did these two people come from and why did they not appear to be tired or out of breath. We were after all on top of a mountain.

We made our second camp a few hundred yards from the Pinnacle lookout in the daylight hours, thinking it would be easier to find a level spot to put the tent. Amazingly it was. Then we gathered our camera gear and headed out to the lookout to enjoy the views and watch the variety of migrating birds soar on the updrafts.

Another oddity of this trip was seeing a few dozen people at the lookout freshly bathed and in clean clothes. They had driven up to the sanctuary and took the relaxing stroll to the pinnacle overlook. Wimps.

I don’t recall the camera settings I used for this shot, but I do know I used a zoom lens. The farm buildings you see are several miles away from the lookout. I really like the patchwork of colors and patterns created by the harvested fields and those that are still green.

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  1. October 19, 2012 at 10:35 am

    It looks like the landscape has been covered with a giant patchwork quilt!

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:21 pm

      This shot is looking east towards Allentown Pa. The patchwork quilt extends clear across the state of Pa. Google the map of Pennsylvania and you’ll see how agricultural it is here! It’s really cool looking!

  2. October 19, 2012 at 10:36 am

    I love that photo, David, but even more I really enjoyed your story. It reminds me of a hike I took several years back in the Big Bend. We were unprepared, and paid the consequences.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks Bob, The things we did when we were younger and carefree. I left a small but important part out of the story…before we started the hike, we stopped at the bar and did shots and beers…I think it was four of each. The way back down was just as treacherous 2 days later sober LOL.

  3. October 19, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    This is a beautiful landscape. I also like the patchwork look of the hills, and the little bit of red coming from those houses/barns.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:27 pm

      Pennsylvania sure is a pretty state. When you see ariel views, you really get an idea of how many farms are out there! I zoomed up on this scene quite a bit…the farmland extends for miles!

  4. October 19, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    Beautifully bucolic 🙂

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:30 pm

      Ahhh…the countryside…Once you get out of the cities there is nothing but farmland and ancient mountains…love it!!!

  5. October 19, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    So beautiful, I can die to watch this view from there… Thank you dear David, have a nice weekend, love, nia

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm

      Yes t is quite a view from up there! On a clear day you can see for 20 miles or more! It’s a great place to sit and let time go by. Have a great weekend too Nia!

  6. October 19, 2012 at 2:29 pm

    adventure begins where planning fails – sort of applies here, doesn’t it ? 🙂

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      That’s a great line Abu! I shall borrow that if I may. And yes it does apply here. See answer to Bob’s comment LOL

  7. October 19, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    I love green and yellow ochre shandes!
    🙂 I like it!

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm

      I really like the colors of the fields…some are harvested, some are winter wheat, and some are fallow. And I like how the farmers plow the fields to the contours of the land. It makes really neat patterns!

  8. October 20, 2012 at 7:40 am

    wimps. that’s funny. Beautiful patchwork quilt below you.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm

      We took the easy way to get there LOL Wink wink. The last two weeks I have been scouting for some more elevated vantage points to capture the patterns in the farmlands around here. The hard part is finding a place to park the truck!

  9. October 20, 2012 at 7:42 am

    And like that clump of farm building s right on the power spot of thirds. nicely done.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm

      Thanks Jane, everything just fell into place with this shot. No filters, enhancements or manipulation. It just looked right in the viewfinder.

  10. October 20, 2012 at 8:01 am

    At least you can say you climbed it the proper way! I love the view – vivid colours of the farmhouses dropped into the patchwork quilt of the fields.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm

      And what a climb it was…see above answer to Bob’s comment…that kinda explains things…It sure is a great view from up there and worth the effort, even though there is an easier way by car.

  11. October 20, 2012 at 12:05 pm

    I love the story but I love this image even more. It’s something quite different from you isn’t it, David? I like it very much.

    • October 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm

      Thanks Meanderer, it was a fun adventure…see above comment answer to Bob. (The younger days) This is different from what you folks have seen from me…for several years now, I haven’t had much of an opportunity for taking what I normally shoot (scenics)It’s been several years since we had a holiday/vacation…but you be seeing more soon. I recently took on a part time delivery driving job and I get to see a lot more of the countryside than of late. Glad you liked this one…and I may just look through the archives to see what else I can find.

  12. October 21, 2012 at 7:54 pm

    Great photo. The Pinnacle is a favorite place for my husband and daughter to hike when she comes home from grad school. Beautiful views of the countryside.

    • October 22, 2012 at 8:56 am

      Thanks Mary, the story is from many years ago, the photo is more recent. It is a super area to hike and enjoy the great outdoors! We have met some great folks out there on the trail!

  13. October 22, 2012 at 5:32 am

    It looks like something one would paint and then say “it’s unrealistic” beautiful…

  14. October 22, 2012 at 8:57 am

    Thanks BD, it’s an amazing place to get a great view of the countryside. At times, all you can hear is the wind and the call of birds of prey.

  15. October 23, 2012 at 5:56 pm

    Great landscape shot!

    • October 25, 2012 at 9:11 am

      Thanks Fergie, it sure is a heck of a view from up there!

  16. October 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

    Interesting account, David. Didn’t know PA also had a “Port Clinton.”

    • October 26, 2012 at 8:29 am

      That’s funny “interesting account”! The story is from the days when I was young and stupid (20+years ago). The photo was taken sometime between then and now on one of many later visits. Port Clinton was an old railroad station from the era of the Pennsylvania Railroad coal hauling days. The town straddles the Schuylkill river and is a stop over point for folks on the Appalachian Trail.

  17. October 29, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    What a great hiking story! Love the photo too!

    • October 31, 2012 at 9:04 am

      The story is from many moons ago when we were in our mid twenties. It was a really fun adventure…tiring but fun! I wonder where the photos are from the Canadian fishing trip we all went on together…funny stories for sure and the breakfast photos are amazing. I’ve gotta find them!

  18. November 20, 2012 at 5:42 am

    what a beautiful landscape!!!

    • November 20, 2012 at 9:29 am

      This is pretty much what it looks like around here. Agriculture is huge in Pennsylvania!

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