The Weekend: October 1st and 2nd. A hike and a run.

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October 1, 2016. Mid State Trail. The rocky climb from Smith Gap in Bald Eagle State Forest.

The first weekend in October saw both some hiking and running. I hiked in Bald Eagle State Forest and then stayed closer to home the next day to run in Rothrock State Forest.

After last weekend’s introduction to Bald Eagle, I decided to return and explore some more. This time south on the Mid State Trail (MST). Parking at the Sand Mountain Trail Head on Sand Mountain Rd., I walked south on Stillhouse Hallow Rd., into Smith Gap. The road quickly became quite narrow much more trail-like than passable for a car. The Mid State Trail intersects at a gate and the Laurel Creek  before the creek spills out into Coxes Valley and eventually into the Laurel Creek Reservoir, which is part of the Lewistown Water Authority.

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October 1, 2016. Laurel Creek in Smith Gap. Bald Eagle State Forest. My hike started here.

After the gradual descent via Stillhouse Hallow Rd., the MST takes a sharp turn to the right and becomes steep and rocky. The blazes have faded in many areas and despite beginning relatively easily accessible, the trail looks like it doesn’t see much use. My Purple Lizard map shows a vista to along this section and I wanted to find it on this outing.

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October 1, 2016. Mid State Trail. Bald Eagle State Forest. The fall color hasn’t made its way to my part of Central PA yet. PA DCNR expected the fall color to peak the week of October 14th to the 24th. 

The climb to the top (which I think is Long Mountain) gains about 500 feet in less than a half mile. It’s strenuous, no doubt, and I want to return to run this section. But once on the top, the trail flattens out and is real pleasant to walk.

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October 1, 2016. Bald Eagle State Forest. The flat section.

About 3 miles or so from the trailhead is the vista. I wasn’t excepting too much of a view because of the dense fog and cloud cover. And as you can see below, I wasn’t disappointed either. There was no view today.

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October 1, 2016. Unfortunately, the cloud cover and fog obscured any view.

Although the vista was less than spectacular, I was happy to be out hiking in the forest, exploring an area that I’d not been to. Always appreciative of that.

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October 2, 2016. A bridge over Greenlee Run off Greenlee Rd. marking the start of the Sand Knob Trail and the ascent up Greenlee Mountain.

The next day, on Sunday, I decided to head out to Rothrock State Forest for a 13 mile run. I’m in a down mode regarding my running and have only been going out once a week or so. When the weather cools a bit more I’ll be out more often.

Parking off Bear Gap Rd., near Keith Spring, the plan was to head down Greenlee Rd. for about 2.5 miles before taking a right onto Sand Knob Trail and running up and over Greenlee Mountain. The run to the top of the mountain where the path crosses near the top at 1,911 feet rises 595 feet in 0.4 miles. Slopes range from 13%-43%. Pretty good climb. Keep this one in mind for Eastern States prep.

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October 2, 2016. A misty descent down Sand Knob Trail on the northwest side of Greenlee Mountain.

After coming down Greenlee Mountain, the plan was to follow Pine Swamp Trail up and over Rudy Ridge. Maybe due to little use, the trail was impossible to locate. I searched for a bit before finding a trail behind an outhouse off the road, but before long the trail disappeared and I was left to bush whack the entire ascent and descent: 0.8 miles up with a gain of 955 feet. Most of the climb was over huge rocks and thick shrubbery. I made a note to myself to please, please, update my map.

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October 2, 2016. Bush whacking up and over Rudy Ridge. Pine Swamp Trail was nowhere to be found.

I ended the run with 13.1 miles, and 2,812 feet of elevation gain. Decent climbing for a half marathon. 

Such a fun weekend to be outside. Still waiting for the fall colors!

This coming weekend, my daughter and I will be returning to Oil Creek State Park where I ran my first ultra in 2011. I haven’t been back since 2013! I’m not running, but I will be volunteering over Saturday night into Sunday morning at Aid Station 3. Come through if you’re running the 100 miler!

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