We hiked this section on December 12, 2009.
Total hike time: 3 hours 30 minutes
We drove to Port Clinton in the morning to meet Rock Star. We met in Port Clinton and shuttled to the Hamburg Reservoir Road. This was the last day of hunting season and the hunters were out in full force. The parking lot was full and there was a game warden checking everyone out.
It was a beautiful day to hike! There was barely any wind and the sun was shining.
We hiked the .4 miles to the AT, and met a bunch of hunters coming down the AT. They were all very friendly, and even one group had a cart they were rolling behind them. When Python asked if they had seen anything on the trail today, they said they only saw a fox.
The hike started off nice and flat and then we came to a spring (Minnehanna Spring) and we ascended the mountain and got our heart rates up.
We crossed many little streams and some pretty nice stealth campsites.
We passed the Pocohontas Spring, which was running very good, and we also passed a blue blaze trail that leads to Camp Olivet, which is a kids camp we passed on the road coming to the trail head.
We started climbing again and the trail was rocky but we came to some overviews that looked out over the valley. We could see the Hamburg Reservoir and some of the larger building out near I-78.
We started our descent into Port Clinton on switchbacks which were hard on the feet and calves.
The trail comes off the mountain and then turns to the left on a side road off of Rt 61. The trail was hard to follow as it was not marked with white blazes so we had to look around to see which way the trail went. Python found where the trail crosses under an over pass of Rt 61, and then we followed an old path next to the Schuylkill River. There were a lot of places were it looked like shanty town near the river and I bet it could be a place where homeless people hang out or people party. Trash and make shift shelters.
Hamburg Reservoir to Pulpit Rock (12/13/09 – 1.9 miles)
The day started early as we wanted to beat the rain. Python and Dirigo got to the trailhead just after sun up and started the hike. Our plan was to do a loop from the Hamburg Reservoir to Pulpit Rock over to the Pinnacle and then down a blue blaze trail to fill in this section. We hiked the .4 miles to the AT and checked out the sign and remains of the Windsor Furnace, which was a brick lined pig-iron works.
An old engine lies in the woods and we couldn't get close enough to get a good picture.
We crossed a bridge on a dirt road crossing Furnace Creek. At .2 miles was a blue blaze trail to the Windsor Furnace Shelter. We walked up the trail and the privy was before the shelter. We noticed smoke coming from near the shelter, and saw 2 guys cooking. We approached the shelter and spoke to the 2 guys and noticed about 50 beer cans and bottles all over the place. One of the guys was drinking a beer, and it was about 7:45 am. They told us they had camped out that night and one of the men started hiking at Wind Gap and said he thought he would be going to GA. He was the one drinking the beer. He said that he was taking a zero day, as it was cold and going to be a nasty day. Dirigo went to get the register out of the shelter and almost stepped on a guy who was sleeping. He was part of the 3 man group. The other 2 guys came to hang out with the guy who was hiking on the trail.
When we left the shelter, the guys told us the climb up to the Pulpit was nasty. Dirigo was not looking forward to that climb.
The AT begins a very slow climb up Blue Mountain. It started to drizzle as we got to the first blue blazed trail, which leads to the Blue Rocks Trail and the Blue Rocks Campground. We took off our fleece and put on our winter, waterproof jackets.
The ascent started to get steep and then the rocks started to get slippery. As we were almost to the top, Python went to steady herself on a rocky section. First her feet started to slide sideways and then her gloves just slid when she tried to grip the rocks. We had absolutely no traction on the rocks!
The ground and the landscape around us was freezing up. As we scrambled over the boulders to get to Pulpit rock it started raining, sleeting harder.
The view from Pulpit Rock was nothing. Fog, fog and more fog.
Dirigo went over to check it out and noticed there was a privy there also. She went to use the privy and the ice had built up that she couldn't even get the door open. Not a good sign!!!!
A man came hiking up and we spoke to him but he barely spoke back. At this point it was sleeting and this guy was dressed in a lightweight jacket and jeans. He started north on the trail and we followed behind, and then the rocks kept getting slipperier and iced over.
We got to a place on the trail right after the Pulpit that was a gravel road, with a radio tower and we both stopped and we couldn't get good footing. Dirigo and Python agreed they needed to get off the mountain, as the ice was getting worse. We both looked at the map and noticed the road leading from the Astronomical park and radio tower led back to Windsor Furnace and the bridge they crossed on the AT, so we decided to take that early exit. The road was steep and very icy so we could not walk on the road without falling down so we walked in the snow on the side of the road. In some places we had to really dig in with our boots cause it was so icy. The road led 1.1 miles straight down.
We could get very good views of the Hamburg Reservoir and the sluice way that ran into Furnace Creek. Once off the road, Dirigo stepped on to the bridge and down she went. Python asked if it was slippery? What gave you the first clue? The bridge was one sheet of ice. Python hung on tight to the sides and skated over to the other side. Once on the other side, we both started feeling very cold. Python was going to take of her jacket and put on her fleece but since it was raining hard and we were almost to the car, Dirigo suggested that she just wait. The trip down to the car seemed very long as we were afraid of falling, and Dirigo had gotten very cold. Her fingers were starting to feel numb. We reached the car in a very hard drizzle, and took off our cold clothes and sat in the car while it got warm. Dirigo's hands were so cold that they took over an hour to warm up.
A nice hike, but not a nice day for a hike