In this hike I encounter rocks of interesting forms, snowy terrain, some moss, and even a bit of ice –> Sounds Fun? –> Continue to Read!
On the last weekends of January 2019, I have decided to check out one of my favorite areas in Rothrock State Forest – Rocky Ridge Natural Area. Last time I have been to this area during the winter was back in 2010, and I barely remembered that hike, which was rather short due to some unfortunate circumstances. The air temperature was in upper 20s, which in my book is perfect condition for a snowy hike. Due to icing on the roads I had to park roughly 1 mile ahead of the trailhead. The hike on the trail was only around 2 miles, but there were a lot to it. The other 3 miles came from walking on the road. The map by Purple Lizard below illustrates the hiking route. I like Purple Lizard maps for their terrain coverage and water resistance capabilities. They also have those lizard marks for points of interests, which is subjective of course, but still in my view it is a decent effort on behalf of cartographers. To my knowledge, they have fair amount of maps to choose from, and they always working on some new map. You can get their maps from www.purplelizard.com or Appalachian Outdoors store at downtown of State College, PA.
1. Driving on Martin Gap road prior hitting the state forest line was a breeze, but then it started look like this, and I had no chains.
2. The good news is that road was partially treated making it much easier to drive on.
3. Still it was risky drive due to places like this one.
4. I decide to park my car at this spot – was a very good idea as I have discovered later.
5. Treated or not treated, ice is still ice – very slippery without traction aides.
6. On we go, it is only one mile walk till the trailhead. The road looks significantly less icy, but it is not longer treated…
7. In a bit, we come upon an old furnace or leftover of chimney of sorts.
8. In roughly half a mile we arrive to creek crossing with two cabins nearby.
9. Looks like someone drove on some sort of vehicle with a tank tread here – good for them, but look at the road – untreated ice with deep mud on both sides of the road – driving here without chains is like playing Russian Roulette…
10. Finally, we are at the trail – Standing Stone awaits!
11. The snow coverage is very bare, but in our case something is better than nothing.
12. Our hike starts with crossing a picturesque creek.
13. Climb begins.
14. Roughly at s halfway through the climb the trail takes rough turn to the left and becomes less steep.
15. It is my first time seeing such big mossy rock with some snow around – looks awesome.
16. The closer we get to top of the ridge, the less snow is around – got me worried there for a moment.
17. We reach big rocks, and those are very unique to the area, as you won’t find rocky formations similar to these one in other parts of Rothrock State Forest.
18. All I can say is that this place looks very different between summer and snowy winter – totally worth in both seasons!
19. Ridge sides are rough at places but with traction aides it is a “walk in the park”.
20. To the left of the ridge through barren woods we see a power line climbing onto mighty Stone Mountain.
21. The ridge trail continues through enormous rocks, some moss, and snow – a rare case where every few feet are worth it.
22. We reach the power line at presented with Rocky Ridge vista looking west into the valley.
23. The power lines weaken the vista, but the winter landscape enhanced by the snow makes up for viewing obstacles.
24. Now, let’s look to the east – we are faced with a rough cliff of Stone Mountain – looks like that all terrain vehicle, tracks of which we came upon earlier, made it up almost halfway through the length of the power line along the mountain.
25. As we continue to move south on SST, we are greeted with a piece of art of sorts, which can be perhaps attributed solely to snowy conditions.
26. In a bit, the trail path becomes invisible and orange trail marks are our only means of following it.
27. Switchbacks never end.
28. A very interesting rocky structure – I even thought that it was landmark called “Hunter Rock”, but Purple Lizard folks told me it was not it – perhaps one day I will discover “Hunter Rock”
29. Artistic approach to photo editing on that monumental rock.
30. As we near to the part where trail will turn to the east, the large rocky formations are gone, and we are given some evergreen trees – nice.
31. That’s it – trail turns to the east, and in a bit, one can notice that the trail is well maintained.
32. Just before we get back to the road, we get to cross a small creek – it is easy crossing all around, but it feels good to have near perfect traction on wet rocks.
33. We get back to Frew road and start walking back north – just a little over 2 miles till place where car is parked.
34. Back to the parking spot – now it is time to scout the road back.
35. Going this way up was a bit worrisome, and now I will have to drive downhill here…
36. Hmm, If I hug left shoulder a bit, I should be alright…
37. Right after downhill part is over, it looks like this – that shiny ice is very slippery, but it looks like many cars used that left shoulder a lot, and so shall I.
38. Down I went with little to no trouble through hard parts, and then at that very spot where in a pic above I spotted heavily used shoulder, I have trusted in that shoulder a bit more than I should have. As a result, I got pulled into the thin layer of snow covering few inches deep mud and stuck. What can be worse? – my right wheels are in mud and might left wheels are on non-treated ice…
39. I realize that I have forgotten my snow shovel as well. Next 15 minutes we have spent digging mud with ice scrapper and playing with floor mats trying to get car in a position where it would be able to rock back and forth. Our teamwork results in getting back on the road – don’t have picture of that – did not really feel it would be a good idea to stay any longer in the middle of icy road. Still, it was a good adventure all around.