The shuttle driver arrived right on time and BR and I were soon back on the trail. The climb back up to the ridge line was a struggle with my pack full of food, but the humidity level had dropped considerably making things a lot more comfortable. Soon we were cruising along the ridge towards a popular day-use area around Windsor Furnace Park, another remnant of Pennsylvania’s early iron industry. We kept seeing what looked like broken black glass on the trail and finally determined that it must have been some byproduct of the smelting operation.
The trail in this area was like a gravel road as we began our only big climb of the day, 850 feet towards Pulpit Rock. It wouldn’t be Pennsylvania without rocks and we encountered a pretty good rock scramble before reaching the summit. Once we reached the top of the climb, we joined about a dozen day hikers in enjoying the view while we ate lunch.
The summit is also shared by the Pulpit Rock Astronomical Park. We met the park’s caretaker and chatted with him for a while and learned the the park belongs to the 250+ members of an astronomical club. They have nine telescopes with the largest being a refractor with a 40 inch mirror. I would have loved to have looked through that at night!
About two miles past Pulpit Rock, we arrived at the Pinnacle. The Pinnacle is another large outcropping of rocks that provides a panoramic view of the valley below and there was quite a crowd there. We explored the Pinnacle for quite a while, watching the large birds soaring in the updraft.
Walking along with BR is like walking with one of the Car Talk guys. His stories are hilarious and non-stop. In what seemed like no time at all, we had covered over 24 miles and were approaching the Eckville Shelter which is located right on Hawk Mountain Road and comes complete with a shower, spigot water, a caretaker, and a flush toilet. BR can sometimes be a rather peculiar guy and decided that, despite having all the comforts of home, that he wanted nothing to do with a shelter on a road. So he continued on to hang his hammock down in the wooded valley while I headed for the shelter.
Truth be told, I had no intention of sleeping in the shelter either but they had a beautiful grassy camping area across the street with a couple of tent pads and a picnic table. There was only one other tent there and it belonged to a guy who had only hiked 9 miles to the shelter to do a gear check. He was a 28 year veteran high school social studies teacher who was anticipating hiking sections of the A.T. during his summer breaks and wanted to ensure he had the right gear. He was headed in the right direction but I told him that he might want to consider ditching the two pound bear canister.
After setting up my tent, I returned to the table at shelter area and discovered that Sunrise, First Aid, and Hawaii had arrived. There was also a section hiker named Big Wave who was a charter boat captain from St Thomas V.I. Just let that one sink in for a minute. We spent the remaining daylight visiting, swapping stories, and laughing.
When I finally returned to my tent, there were bunnies hopping in the grass and a deer munching on a bush at the edge of camping area. And as it started to get darker, the fireflies came out. Time to cue the Disney music.