Saturday, May 22, 2010

Our Hike to Six Penny and More

I'm writing this more than a week later - between getting a nasty bit of a cold and getting a new phone system installed at work, there was just no time to document this great weekend.

We all woke pretty early, including Molly. Molly and I took a short walk around the the campground loop while coffee brewed on the stove. We grabbed showers, and enjoyed egg, cheese and sausage sandwiches on bagels. Once properly dressed and fueled up, we started our trek. Molly was ready to go, running ahead and pulling her leash taunt, trying to pulling me along. Frank lagged behind, trying to capture some close-up images of forget-me-nots and other late spring blooms on the open grassy road to the water tower, that path connected to the orange blaze of the Six Penny trail. The trail was surrounded by woodland, and narrowed and we could no longer walk even two abreast, we needed to follow one another. The trail also started to descend, and as it did, exposed more rock and loose soil. We became more careful where we placed our footfalls. All around us the forest was awakening from it's long winter slumber. Mountain Laurel blooms popping in whites and pinks, and fern fronds overtook portions of the forest floor. The twittering of birds and the rhythmic knocks of woodpeckers could be heard above. We stepped off the trail to let two-wheeled trail riders climb past us, bikes geared to overtake the steep hills. I'm still unsure if they were allowed on the six penny trail. Steep trails like these become quickly eroded by the deeply knobbed tires of mountain bikes. Part of the trail serpentined around such erosion, and berms were in place to try and divert rainwater away from the trail.
Once the trail leveled out, w could again hear road noise, and the occasional burble of the Six Penny Stream. The trail, stream and road ran parallel at this point, but each could not be seen from the other. Traces of the old picnic area could be seen - a long defunct water fountain, and a stone grill that once grilled lots of hotdogs and burgers. We passed where the Kalima (meaning laurel) Trail branched off. Here another ancient water fountain was found. Now close to the lake, we walked into the ruins of the changing room, with it's baskets for your belongings, and remnants of the boiler and other pieces of the building. No roof, no walls, and yet you could see what had once stood there.
A little further down we found the steps that led down to the lake, but the lake was no more. Just then two boxers ran forward, dragging leashes behind, but with no owner to control them. I stepped forward in front of Molly. The boxers were inquisitive and friendly, but owners should respect the rules. They could have bowled over a child quite easily. We made our way onto the old dam of Six Penny, rested and let Molly get a drink from the water we brought along. Frank and I reminisced as we listened to the bullfrogs, Kev seemed to be a bit more restless and want to explore the dam or waters. The Lake was completely overgrown with a marsh of water plants, grasses and cattails. Only a small winding stream of clear water cut thru the marsh above the dam. Below, was a fast moving small stream, gurgling over the rocks as it went under a broken foot bridge and sturdy concrete bridge connecting to the overgrown macadam road. The scent of wild roses waft thru the air, and for me, brought a much needed sense of calmness. A quiet shangri-la to gather ones thoughts. However, others in our party were restless, so we moved on to explore the road and old picnic grounds by the lake and stream. All the roadways were intact, just overgrown, as mother earth reclaimed what is hers. We hiked up to where the park road met Route 345. A small lot to park was there, with big boulders blocking vehicles from entering into the Six Penny Area. We backtracked - again seeing the galloping boxers - with their sheepish owner trailing behind. No excuse for allowing those dogs to run about on their own.
We headed up a path that led us to the Kalima trail - and after referring to our map, decided to try it. A steep climb, that didn't seem to end. Saw a heavy picnic table beside the trail, another remnant of times past. We only met up with a few older gents coming down, as we panted and perspired our way up. The scenery was beautiful, in some places rocky, in others mossy, and around another turn in the trail, covered in fern. We took a few breaks, and actually sat a bit once the trail converged again with the familiar orange blazes, and the yellow of the Horseshoe trail. Even Molly was finally slowing down. Still we climbed a bit more. The three trails together began to follow a crude wire fence with a few "no trespassing signs. Rooster crows announced a homestead beyond that fence, and any hiker I doubt would want to cross over that rusty wire to go visiting. Six Penny soon turned left, and flattened out. Molly was now no longer pulling at her lead, but was walking alongside. Soon I tucked her under my arm to giver her little legs a rest. She seemed to appreciate it. The microcosms of the trail were just as diverse here atop the hill as in the valley below, with parts of the trail supplemented with boards and pathways of native stone to pass over the marshy areas. Breaks of sunlight beyond on the trail I though were the trail back to the campground were just openings in the tree canopy. The hike was starting to feel a little long. But soon enough we entered into the trail for the water tower, and began our trek back to camp. A great hike on a beautiful day.

Lunch was a trip out to Sonic to partake of Sonic Burgers, tots, milkshakes, and limeade. We sat outside Sonic, with Molly resting at our feet, watching Planes taking off across the street at the single airstrip of Morgantown Airport. They were pulling sailplanes into the air, and releasing them right above Sonic, almost our own personal aerial ballet above us. Sonic was letting the local youth group use it's side lot and a water hose to run a car wash. And on route 23 a few feet away, was a continual parade of interesting vehicles parading by. We hopped back into the car and drove down to St. Peters Village, another place I had spent time in my childhood. Village is still quaint, but much smaller. The Village Inn is still there, and is now a four star restaurant. One thing there surly has not changed, is the huge boulders to climb in the French creek behind the storefronts and homes, left by a glacier long, long ago.
We took a leisurely ride back to the campsite on the winding St. Peters Road, onto Route 345.
After the hike, food, and stroll at St Peters, we all just sat at the site and napped, read, or...napped.

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