Friday, October 23, 2015

Finding the Grand PA Canyon


I have desperately wanted to go see the falls at Ricketts Glenn all summer, but the Half marathon training was taking a lot of our time and energy. Back in September, I declared to Roger that we were going to see the falls at Ricketts Glenn and that was that, we would adjust our training for the long run after hiking the 7 miles, but that we will make it out to the falls. Then as we were driving up, I said “you know, we haven’t made it out to the PA Grand Canyon yet, we really need to check it out”. And he responded “Can we go now?” We were on the road already, had packed for a 7 mile hike and schedule the entire day for traveling and hiking, so after a little research on the iPhone, we decided change of plans, we are going to PA Grand Canyon. Only, we were off to the wrong place.
 
Hiking Road Trip

I can’t read and drive, it makes me very dizzy. We were on route 15 driving along Susquehanna River, going about 70 mph, with no place to stop and study the information. A quick search on Google Maps put me at Pine Creek Gorge, and gave me directions to there. We stopped at Panera on Selinsgrove to get our lunch, which would have been a great opportunity to study the route and find out where to see the Grand Canyon from. But that would have been just too easy. We followed the Google map directions and it dropped us off in the middle of NOWHERE. Really, there was nothing but mountain, road and a small water stream. We kept driving, imagining that there would be a park entrance coming up. We drove another 10 miles and nothing. We were surrounded by trees, and I had absolutely no signal on my phone for anything.

This is where Google Maps told us we were at the Grand Canyon, but it was really just the bottom of Pine Creek Gorge

 
After we kept following the trees and the road, we found a state park and pulled into the parking lot to get maps, use the bathroom and figure out where we were. I reviewed the map, and after a little head scratching, I realized that we were nowhere NEAR the Grand Canyon. We were at Little Pine State Park, and although the park looked lovely and had a lot of different hiking trails, we wanted to go to the Grand Canyon.
I took a look at the map, a connected that we had to get into another few roads to get to the Grand Canyon. By this point we had already been driving for 2.30 hours, but we knew we were at least 1 hour away. We got in the car and kept driving.
1 hour later we were at Wellsboro Pa, a beautiful small town with a feel of the fictional Stars Hallow from Gilmore Girls. We stopped there and ate, because Roger and I were both getting grumpy and tired. We also grabbed a couple of maps at the visitor center, which gave us a better idea on how to get to the best viewing point for the Grand Canyon. We had the options of seeing the Grand Canyon from Leonard Harrison State Park or Colton Point State Park. It looked to me that we would have a better view from Colton Point, so We settled on  Colton Point State Park and took off again.
About 20 minutes later, we were at the entrance of the park, used the bathroom, learned from previous hiking experience to use the first bathroom we see.
This is both, the most convenient and disappointing way to get to the best view of the PA Grand Canyon.  We drove our car up the road and trail, it goes up the hill slowly, around and around… it felt like round and round to me anyway. We drove until we saw a parking lot, and a lot of people. Then all at once, there it was. The Grand Canyon view! There were a lot of people at the viewing point, it wasn’t crowded, but people were coming in and out.
Now, let me clarify on why this was disappointing. We went there to hike, hoping to find, like we did in Flat Rock, an amazing view at the end of a long difficult hike. Instead, we got to drive, park the car and boom! There is the magnificent view. It felt like we hadn’t earned it! We walked about 100 steps from the car to the viewing point. I think I understand that this has to be accessible for many people, as it is one of the best views of PA, maybe I’ll look for a hiking trail that goes to it from the bottom to the top and feel we earned the burn.



Roger at the Gran Canyon
 


The view from up in Colton Park was truly breathtaking. It looks like a painting, a beautiful painting. Being up there was very relaxing and Zen. I was tempted to reach in and touch what in my mind looked like a painting. We took a few pictures, but nothing makes justice to the beauty of nature. We stayed there for about 10 minutes, just admiring the beauty of the Canyon.
 
Since we were there, we wanted to see if there was another point to see the Canyon, but we didn't have a map, and couldn't find a park office to get a map, so we kept driving along the road and parked the car along a hill. Where there was a wedding taking place.
 
By now it was getting late for us to start hiking, but we also didn't want to come all this way and go home having walked only 100 steps, especially after spending most of the day in the car.
 
We picked a trail we found by the parking lot, called Turkey Trail. It said it was for experienced hikers, that the trail was narrow and proper shoes were needed. We took a bottle of water each and took off.
 
We agreed at that moment, we would walk 30 minutes and turn around. The trail was nicely marked with blue patches on the trees. Although the trail was small, and winding, we didn't get lost. We came upon a small water fall, we could hear it, but couldn't see it very well.
 
A little bit after, we saw what looked like a small short cut to the next trail below where we were walking. Roger denies this, but I asked him "Should we claim down this or walk the trail to get there?" We could see the trail in front of us and below us, he said "Let's climb down". At this moment, we didn't realize how steep the climb was, so we started to climb down. I went easily, holding branches, but then realized how steep the climb was and had to sit down and drag myself down. Roger was right behind me and seemed to be struggling. He had his water on one hand and struggling with his camera on the other.
 
This is a moment we will always look back at and laugh at each other for being so dumb. I asked him, trying to help, to pass his me water. My water was in my pocket and I was going to let his water "gently" roll down to the trail, after passing it down my legs. Again, we overly estimated how steep the climb was. He passed me his water, more like rolled it to me down the hill. I went to grab it, and as I was slowly passing it to my other arm to let it down the path with more tree and tree limbs, to have something to hold it, the bottle slipped off my fingers and off it went. It missed the trail below and kept rolling, rolling, rolling and rolling. We heard it roll all the way down to the bottom of the Canyon, so far down that we heard it hit the water. This was awful! I had never littered at a state park, and now I felt like a failure, because there was no way we would be making it down to the bottom of the Canyon to collect the bottle.
Roger after climbing down the hill
 
We crawled down the steep hill and said that we will stay in the trail, no matter how long it take us to get to the other side. We laughed, for a long time. Which could have been dangerous, the trail was very small and as proven by the water bottle, very steep to the bottom. We laughed mostly at our stupidity.
After our 35 minutes of hiking went by, we turned around and went back to the car. Made another stop at the Grand Canyon view and left to go home.
Things I wish I would have known before heading to the Grand Canyon:
  1. Go to Colton Point State Park for the best view.
  2. Pack lunch, and water
  3. Be ready to not hike very long
  4. I wish We could have had more time to explore Welsboro PA. We hope to go back in the winter.

 

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