Chesapeake and Ohio Canal NHP, Maryland, 2017

Wednesday, June 7, 2017
I walked my last few miles on the Tuscarora Trail. A big Black Bear scared the living daylights out of me when he slid down from high in a tree, breaking lots of branches, and ran off up the trail. I was perhaps 50' away. I saw a Red Wing Blackbird. I've seen several Scarlet Tanagers. I resupplied in Hancock, Maryland for a week's walk to Everett, Pennsylvania. The library had good WIFI, magazines, outlets, etcetera. At the Post Office I mailed away 4 pounds 1.4 ounces of maps, guides, and gear. The pack felt substatially lighter. After laundering, though my clothes undoubtably were cleaner, they certainly didn't smell good. After all the rain on this trip, it may take more than a few washings to cure them. The forecast is for rain this afternoon, with clear weather for the following week. High temperatures start in 5 days. The Mid State Trail guidebook promises a ridge trail with often infrequent access to water. I bought a two liter bottle to replace the 1¼ liter size I've typically been carrying water in. I then headed west on the C&O Canal and Western Maryland Rail Trail towards Green Ridge State Forest and Pennsylvania's Mid State Trail. I saw many White Tail Deer, one lame / odd gait, and another a tiny fawn. There were toads, turtles, and songbirds. One thing I didn't know of had many legs and pinchers, and was 2½" long. Turkeys gobbled and frogs croaked beyond sight. A Great Blue Heron flew squawking down the Potomac River. Not much rain fell. Fireflies flew and lit about a foot above the ground.
Camp: C&O Canal Cacapon Junction Site
Miles: 15 1288
Map: PATC L, C&O Canal NPS Handout, Western Maryland Rail Trail Handout

Thursday, June 8, 2017
There were many deer, including one tiny spotted fawn. A Raccoon walked on and off the towpath until I came close. A Turkey hen sat with her ~8 chicks right on the side of the towpath until I was within 5'. She and two chicks flew off, a few ran, but a few hid by staying in place. Were it not for all the commotion, they might have been sufficiently camoflaged for me to miss them. I saw many ducks. Several 6" Turtles were calm enough for photographs without withdrawing into shells. In onepond, perhaps 100 3" turtles dove from their perches as I approached. Many types of frogs sang. A 3½' reddish rat snake stayed for pictures but left as I walked away. I could hear but not see several other large snakes as they slithered hurredly away in the grass and brush. A fresh snake skin showed great detail, and was rolled in an interesting manner. The canal structures and stones, and the Potomac River were pretty. I stopped for a great burger, soda, and ice cream in Little Orleans. The proprietor said many C&O hikers are attempting an Atlantic to Pacific Ocean walk.The old rail bed, tunnels, and bridges seemed still intact and unused all day. It would be a great addition to the CO Canal NHP or WMRT to add some or all and make both walking loops and an interpretive park explaining the canal and rail ages and the transition between them. Many books, parks, and museums do a good job of explaining either railroads or canals, but none I know of explain both, and the relations and transitions between them.
Camp: C&O Canal Sorrel Ridge Site
Miles: 21 1309
Map: C&O Canal NPS Handout, Western Maryland Rail Trail Handout

Green Ridge State Forest, Maryland, 2017

Friday, June 9, 2017
A scruffy hawk sat on the walls of the lock 62 tender's cabin ruins as Blue Jays harrassed him. I saw many deer. A 4½' Black Rat Snake was brave enough for pictures. The route through Green Ridge SF was well marked with white paint blazes and GET compass rose blazes on Carsonite posts.
Camp: Pensylvania's Mid State Trail beyond Burnt Mill Trail
Miles: 23 1332
Map: C&O Canal NPS Handout, Green Ridge State Forest, Maryland PDF print (should have printed 11x17 for greater readability), Mid State Map and Book

Mid State Trail, Pennsylvania, 2017

The Mid State Trail, at 319 miles, runs north-south across the center of Pennsylvania, mostly on public lands. In the south, it connects to the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal through Maryland's Green Ridge State Forest, while the north end connects to New York's Finger Lakes Trail System. Tin Cup gave me the book and maps. Pennsylvania has great free pdf topo and trail maps for all state lands, and these maps are also sometimes printed and free at trailhead kiosks.

Saturday, June 10, 2017
I saw an Eastern Box Turtle and some White Tail Deer. In State Game Lands 97 there were many Deer and Bear beds along the Mid State Trail. I these game lands, much of the trail was uneven and unstable rock overgrown with thorny vines.
Camp: Pensylvania's Mid State Trail Before Biddle Place
Miles: 21 1353
Map: Mid State Map and Book

Sunday, June 11, 2017
I saw many White Tail Deer. A greenish, black tailed, 2½" diameter Rattlesnake was the first venomous serpent I've seen this spring. He was lethargic, and slowly moved until his head was hidden, though I was able to photograph his tail until I got bored and left. I reached Everett by early afternoon, resupplied at a full grocer, and lunched, charged batteries, and WIFIed at a gas station. It was hot when I entered town, and hotter when I left. I was bloated and sloshing in soda when I left, and carried a gallon of water for this dry ridge section. Adding 3 fresh fruits, a quart of potato salad, and two frozen pizza burrito things, I groaned and sweated my way up Tussey Mountain. I saw a Groundhog on the way out of town. Atop the ridge, a Coyote ran down the trail towards me. When 15' away, he saw me, dug in his feet, and swerved west 45°. Another coyote a couple of seconds behind followed the first, and passed 30 yards from me, apparently never seeing or acknowledging me. The footprints of the first coyote, in damp rotting wood dust, had skidded 7".
Camp: beyond power line cut over Tussey Ridge
Miles: 14 1367
Map: Mid State Map 301-306 and Book

Monday, June 12, 2017
I saw two White Tail Deer. The day was hot, and I swam twice. I also stopped at the Old Frontier Restaurant east of Loysburg for a burger, pie and ice cream. But apparently the heat and exertion were too much. I got nauseous for 5 minutes and barfed it all up in the evening. The waitress told me another thru hiker had come through a week ago
Camp: beyond Old Henrietta Mountain Road.
Miles: 15 1382
Map: Mid State Map 301-306 and Book

Tuesday, June 13, 2017
I saw some White Tail Deer, some rabbits, and a Turkey. A 6' Black Rat Snake was first still for pictures, then put on a pretty good rattlesnake mimic show, with a nice strike poise and motion, and with his tail vibrating, and rattling dry leaves where he could feel them. I resupplied in the evening in Williamsburg for a week+, as this is the last town right on the Mid State Trail.
Camp: beyond Williamsburg
Miles: 22 1404
Map: Mid State Map 301-306 and Book

Lower Trail
The Lower Trail carries the Mid State Trail, and thus the Great Eastern Trail, north from Williamsburg. Lower is a family name which rhymes with flower. Its path along the Frankstown Branch of the Juniata River was once the route of the Pennsylvania Main Line Canal, then of the Petersburg Branch of the Pennsylvania Railroad. Historic locks, lockkeeper houses, the canal prism, rail bridges, and industrial sites can be seen from the trail. There is a pretty good handout map. At Mount Etna there is a shelter for MST or GET hikers to camp in.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017
I saw some White Tail Deer, some Turkeys, an Eastern Box Turtle, a 6" water turtle, a Woodchuck, and a Grouse hen in distress display mode. A Barree resident suggested I ascend Tussey Mountain on his road, which led by many charcoal roads and platforms.
Camp: before Brewer Trail
Miles: 18 1422
Map: Mid State Map 301-306, 307-310, and Book

Thursday, June 15, 2017
I saw some White Tail Deer and some Turkey Vultures. A Grouse hen flew 6' from me and straight away into brush, as I saw one chick fly off. Another hen did a more typical distress display. A small (2½') Black Rat Snake's front half was laying out of a rock crevice. The snake allowed me to take pictures, but was slowly creeping backwards into his crack. When done photographing, I made a slow figure 8 display with my hand, and the snake backed gracefully into the rocks. I saw people on footpath today for the first time since the hunting dog people in West Virginia. (I'm excluding road walks, towns, and the C&O and Lower bike paths.) These trails I've been on are little visited, and that makes the plants and wildlife different than on high traffic trails. Fragile rotted trees, mushrooms, animal signs, and other delicate things are undisturbed, and wild animals act differently than when they are more used to people. I passed the 1⁄3 point on the MST today, so the 27th of June is a reasonable finish date. I'm considering 4 days of side trips, possibly pushing finishing to the end of June. That gives me July and a few more days in Upstate New York...
Camp: after Musser Trail
Miles: 15 1437
Map: Mid State Map 307-310 and Book

Friday, June 16, 2017
I saw some White Tail Deer, a Turkey, a Grouse, and a bird nest, with two chicks, built into a pipe gate. It had rained heavily overnight, and heavy rain returned in the late afternoon.
Camp: before descending to US322
Miles: 20 1457
Map: Mid State Map 307-310 and Book

Saturday, June 17, 2017
The Mid State Trail had largely followed the ridge of Tussey Mountain until yesterday. Several segments were along creeks and in bottomlands today. I saw two 2' Garter Snakes, each almost and inch in diameter, thick for Garter Snakes. There was one 2½' Northern Banded Water Snake, so dusky he must be nearing shed, and one Snapping Turtle. I saw only one deer. Rain ended by early afternoon, but may be heavy from early tomorrow afternoon through Monday night. My GPS has burned through 3 pairs of NiMH AA cells since Everett. This charge life seems short, and perhaps getting shorter. The cells and charger, both Duracell, were purchased new at the start of the trip, so aren't old and haven't been through many charge cycles. I wondered about the history of a path a few feet wide west of much of the rail trail, and about some quarries in the same area. The MST has many registers. Below are 3 recent thruhikers who signed in regularly and the dates they signed near Poe Paddy Park (which I passed today).
Camp: after Penn Central rail path
Miles: 19 1476
Map: Mid State Map 307-310, and 311-316, and Book

Recent Through Hikers
Kathy June 2 2016 Great Eastern Trail Southbound
Brad P April 16 2017 Mid State Trail Northbound
Kyle June 10 2017 Mid State Trail Northbound

Sunday, June 18, 2017
I saw frogs, toads, a 2' x ¾" Garter Snake, and a 3'+ x 3"- greenish Rattlesnake. My left Merrell Moab Ventilator 12 Boot, after 542 hard miles, often soaked from rain, and on much thorny vine covered jagged and loose rock, has started to delaminate between the upper and sole below the ball of the foot. 542 miles is a very short life for this type of boot (usually 900+) - this hike is very tough. The trail has sometimes been on old narrow guage logging railroads for the past couple of days. I've seen no extant ties, but occasionally I can see bars of different vegetaion types clearly showing where the ties used to be. The Mid State Trail maps are quite good. Lables are clear, topo lines are clear, separated, and readable, and most side trails are shown and labled. The map strips are oriented to maximize trail and public land coverege, not to north. I often find this distracting.
Camp: before RB Winter Park
Miles: 19 1495
Map: Mid State Map 311-316, and Book

Monday, June 19, 2017
I saw a few each frogs and White Tail Deer. A 4½' Rat Snake was black on the back half, but had a pattern of dark red 1" patches separated by a beige grid with a line width just over ¼" in some areas of his front. He never changed his posture, but did rattle his tail in the dry leaves, faced towards me, and flicked his toungue. A Black Bear strolling in a relaxed gait down the trail towards me, in sight for several seconds, turned a quick 180° and bolted when he had figured out what I was. There were many bear boundary trees with bark and wood chewed off at my head level, and a bear scat today. I sawsome Cardinals, and a few Huckleberries were ripe.
Camp: After Great Island Indian Path
Miles: 23 1518
Map: Mid State Map 311-316, and Book

Tuesday, June 20, 2017
A White Tail Deer ran away from me off to the right of the trail, saw something scary, and ran left across the trail 50 yards ahead of me, barking over a dozen times. Deer don't bark often, and only when scared. I've never heard more than one or two barks. I wonder what she saw? I had been rationing food since yesterday, and walked into McElhattan without a single crumb left. So I tucked into eggs, sausages, potatoes, and toast with great relish. While resupplying in McElhattan, I saw a big Woodchuck. Several locals were very helpful in explaining all the local shoe and boot sellers: none in Jersey Shore, several in Lockport, though the outfitter once there has closed, and Woolrich sells Merrell. I visited the crubling bridge abutments for the historic Pennsylvania Canal. Much of the nearby canal prism has been removed to flatten fields and yards in the area, but parts remain. Some blocks likely from a canal structure are now a retaining wall at a local house. I walked to Woolrich Village and visited the nice MST hiker camping shelter in the park. The store stocked Moabs, but not Ventilators and not wide sizes. Close enough: I bought size 12. The old boots had started to delaminate at the toe as well as under the ball of the foot and the sole would probably have completely separated from the upper from the toe back to the arch of the foot within a day or two of hiking. The new boots were much stiffer and taller in the heel: I must have broken many seams and crushed the heel padding in the old pair. I heard a wolf style howl, and no reply. After a half hour came another lonley call. Finaly, a third call elicited Coyote style responses from two widely separated groups.
Camp: beyond Coudersport Pike / Big Spring Road
Miles: 16 1534
Map: Mid State Map 311-316, and Book

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I descended Gamble Run and the Pine Creek Rail Trail until I found a ride into Jersey Shore. Deer prints in the flat crushed stone bike path showed splayed toes and dewclaws; probably a lame deer. I resupplied in Jersey Shore for a week+. The amount of food seemed normal, but the bill and the pack both seemed heavy. I headed north on the Pine Creek Rail Trail. I saw paired woodpeckers flitting together from tree to tree, Cardinals, and Red Wing Blackbirds. There were several deer, including a spotted fawn. I one 4x4 post, a woodpecker had chipped away over a cubic inch of healthy wood to eat bugs in a 3⁄8" dimeter tunnel 2" long. The bugs had in turn excavated these tunnels to live or reproduce in. That's a lot of energy to spend for the bug and the bird. Mulberries, Blackberries, and cherries were ripe, and tiny green grapes are forming on vines. I saw a 12" and a 16" Garter Snake, both just under ½" diameter. The shorter had a red tongue base and black forks. There were two trees across the trail which had been sawn through and the trail cleared. Half inch black ants were excavating tunnels in the logs, and dropping wood dust from the tunnel ends in the log face. The dust accumulates in piles at the base of the log face. Other half inch ants remove the dust adjacent to the log face, leaving a groove. Quarter inch ants crawl about on the wood dust pile. I saw these same activities a few days ago, and within the past few years. There were many frogs along Ramsey Run and its forks. A deer or bear walked by my camp, breaking many sticks in the dark.
Camp: on ascent from Ramsey Run
Miles: 17 1551
Map: Mid State Map 311-316, and Book

Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I stopped at the Happy Acres Resort by Little Pine State Park for ice cream and lunch.
Miles: 1551
Map: Mid State Map 311-316, and Book