Return to Bald Eagle State Forest - Victoria Day Weekend - May 2014

mortonm

Expedition Leader
Was one of the Brian's at the mid Atlantic overland festival last weekend in Huntingdon pa? Perhaps he owns a red 2dr Jk now? I met a dude there from Ontario who knew bald eagle state forest pretty well. Just wondering if its the same dude
Haha same one indeed (Bryan #1) and yes as he just said he has two red Jeeps, its a problem
 

geckoTy

Adventurer
Hey Tyler, yup that's me! Its not so much that I now own a 2dr jk, its more so that I own 2 jeeps haha. It was a pleasure too meet you this past weekend!

Bryan
Haha good deal man! I'm going to plan a trip up your way one of these days.
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
As we were sampling the fine ale courtesy of Elk Creek Cafe we took a look over the map to see what we would be planning for the next day? As we were scanning over the map in a section we had previously not visited we saw a "purple lizard" on the map (for those not familiar with Purple Lizard Maps this is a symbol used for points of interest etc) with the simple denotation "Eye of the Mountain" beside it.

This really piqued our interest as there appeared to be no trail or road to the feature, it was just in the middle of the bush a couple of miles....Interesting indeed!

A park ranger came by that night (we never got his named, but he looked like a Dave) and we asked him about it, and he said he had never heard of it before....the plot thickens.

The Eye of the Mountain looked to be about 5 miles down a drivable four wheel drive trail (Nittany Mountain Road) that we had never done before so this basically made it a lock. We would head that way int he morning and do a few geo-caches on route and find the Eye of the Mountain!

We had the requisite Canadian Bacon and eggs before we hit the road in the morning, knowing it might be a long day.

Early on we came across another nice little creek and paused for some pictures.







Nearly a soaker!

 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
The next few hours of the day are a little hazy, and without any pictures. It took us about an hour to travel down Nittany Mountain Road to where we thought the cut-off for the Eye of the Mountain was. We had a handheld GPS, and had pulled our "best guess" coordinate from the map the night before.

Nittany Mountain Road isnt anything spectacular, its bumpy and pretty straight and long, and being high up on the top of Nittany Mountain its pretty dry, there were a couple of small puddles but as in all of the Mountains its a firm rock base without any mud. The start of the road has seen some maintenance (this year) and we thought it was going to be a quick drive in but that changed pretty quick. The brush was still nicely cleared back from the road but there was a bit of wind fall and branches to move, so it was hard to make good progress. Any stock truck or SUV should make it (4WD or no) with a good set of AT tires.

After about 45 minutes we came across what appeared to be an ATV trail, pretty good shape. We looked to be about roughly north of the Eye, so we decided to grab our stuff and hike down it. Now this wasn't marked on the map, so we went prepared. We all had hiking boots and packs with a couple litres of water each and granola bars. We decided to eat and early lunch (it was 11ish) so we wouldn't have to worry about bringing that stuff with us. We were in a great mood, we thought we were going to find this pretty quick and head off the next adventure. As you can see we dont have any pictures so things didnt exactly go to plan. Part of the reason for that is because a lot of the next few hours looked very similar....trees...rocks...trees...rocks.

At this time as well we had no idea what the Eye of the Mountain was. My thought was that it was a cave of some sort "looking" into the Mountain. All we knew it that it was a couple miles South of us. As we headed into the ATV trail we noticed the thick brush near the road and we remarked how horrible that would be to bush whack though....
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
We followed the trail for about a half mile, it was easy walking and wide enough to go two abreast. All of a sudden the trail came a pretty abrupt end in a little clearing that was fairly rocky. At this point the GPS said were just over a mile away from the Eye. We all let out a collective hmmmmmmm

The prudent thing to do would have been to turn around and head back to the trucks, but we didn't drive 400 miles to darkest Pennsylvania to be prudent, so we headed out into the bush. Afterall, the map showed no trail so perhaps there wasn't one?

We were smart enough to take GPS readings at the trucks, and at the point where the trail ended. We also had a compass and knew that Nittany Mountain Trial ran due East-West and should we get lost we would just need to head North and we would eventually intersect it. There was a little creek heading down a valley from the top of the hill in the direction we were supposed to go so we followed it for awhile. It wasn't so much hiking as it was just a scree field of large rocks and small boulders. We were not keeping a very good pace, and after about an hour of hiking, we had only made another mile of progress.

Here is where the issues start to begin, our GPS reading for the Eye was just a rough guess off the map so at best it was likely a mile or two off from the target. We were hoping that it would be something easy to spot, but then again we had no idea what we were looking for. We continued down the mountain to around the elevation the map showed the Eye. It was still really rocky but at least there was very little underbrush, and being spring the visibility through the trees was still quite good.

After another hour of trekking and searching it was still more and more of the same (part of the reason we have no pictures). We decided that it was turning into a fruitless search, and obivously we had used the wrong trail (if there even was one!) and that we should head back to the trucks. We had a couple of options, take the two hour long hike back through the rock fields, or head due north to the road (only about a third of the distance). It was quick moving for awhile, but we had forgotten about the thick underbrush, and that quickly came into play. It was almost impossible to walk in a straight line and we were bushwhacking most of the way. It took us another 90 minutes to get back to the road, by this time we were all pretty tired and pretty grumpy.

It was at this point that we started discovering ticks.... In the end this was and still is called "Tick Day". Between the four of us we easily pulled out over 40 ticks from all over our bodies, about 5-6 of those already starting to dig in. At one point we had four dudes in the middle of the brush standing in the road down to our boxers checking each other over like apes....what a site that would have been to roll up on.

After we made sure all the ticks were gone, we got to talking about the next plan. I didn't really feel like I wanted to give up on the search for the Eye, but I could tell some of the others were pretty tired and ready to call it quits. I suggested we continue further down Nittany Mountain Road just to see what was down there, secretly hoping that we would come upon another trail and find the Eye.
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
After another 10 minutes of driving, we came across another trail, this one marked with blue blazes. This HAS to be it! Right?....Right?

After some convincing i grabbed one of our walkie talkies and went on a little reconnaissance down the trail to see how far it went. After 100m it will still a hiking trail (although no well used) with blue blazes (some fairly faded, but highly visible).

I returned and convince the guys to take a short walk down this trail and see where it lead. The further we went, it was more of the same blue blazes. After about 20 minutes of walking there was not intermittent blaze orange tape with the faded blue blazes and even some in between the mark the trail better! I was starting to get excited, this HAS to be it. We followed this for another 10 minutes and there was no longer a trail, more rocks again, but still the orange tape, although now the blue blazes were all but gone. Another 10 minutes and the orange tape was now gone as well....

It appears that someone had tired to flag out the trail again, knowing the blue blazes died, but was unable to go any further. We hadn't brought our GPS and weren't prepared (or willing) to go back into the bush once more. We decided to turn around and head back out. The day was not done, but I still felt at a loss, I wish we had found the Eye, no matter how amazing or boring. It was a goal that we hadn't met, and I couldn't help feeling a little regret.

Rest assured, I WILL be back to find the eye in the near future, it has to be done. We ended up doing a Google search after we got back, and you can see a clearing in the trees, with a stand of trees in the middle, that looks like an eye, perhaps it is only a coincidental clearing, but I still feel the need to complete the mission.

On our way back to Poe Valley, we stopped and took in some of the nice views, the picturesque mountains and countryside. We just had the one night left and then it was back to Canada, back to reality, so we enjoyed every moment of the fading sun.









 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
Sunday night we just made a nice fire, and had some pasta and had a few drinks and just relaxed. Here are a few more pics from around the cabin site.

We each also took advantage of a nice long hot hollywood shower to clean off the dirt from the day and make sure there were no other tickets hanging around..

Not sure what we are looking at?



Tick Heaven!







I like this one a lot







 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
Post Shower, Clean! Enjyoing some American Doritos





Pretty good Fire



Big Fire! The Fire ring was really tall and allowed us to get quite the inferno going in that thing, plus last night so we had some wood to use up!

 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
The next morning before we headed home we decided to do Poe Valley Road one more time to get those nice sunny vista pictures













 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
And that is all she wrote for that trip, sad to go home but glad we had a great time and made the best of a 4 day weekend in the forever beautiful Pennsylvania Wilds

 
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