Elevation Profile of Trail
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Our first snow of the season came on October 25th and I sat in my office that morning longing to get outside. I decided to take a hike up Mount Nittany at lunch. We used to do this hike quite often in the spring, as the trailhead is only about 2 miles from where I work, and you can usually hike to the top in 20 minutes and come back down in 15 minutes. This allowed you to fit a nice, invigorating hike into your lunch hour with a little time to spare to take in the view from atop of Mount Nittany.
The trailhead for this trail is very easy to find. It is located at the end of Mount Nittany Road. You turn onto Mount Nittany Road in the village of Lemont coming off of Pike Street. In order to get to Lemont, you need to head towards State College. There are numerous road signs for State College on the major highways, be it I99, I80, US322, PA45, or PA26. Ultimately you will want to get on route PA26. I would suggest finding your way to the US322/PA26 intersection. At the intersection you will need to take PA26 north (East College Avenue) for 0.7 miles where you will encounter a traffic light. Bear right at the light and you are on Pike Street. Drive for another 0.6 miles on Pike Street and you will enter the town of Lemont with Mount Nittany Road on your left.
Let me start by saying that I have done some, not-so-intelligent things in my life. The list isn't real long (luckily) but I did add another entry to it today. Though the wet snow clinging to the trees looked inviting and inspired me to take a hike in the woods, the fact of the matter was that it was dangerous to be in the woods under these conditions.
As there were still leaves on the trees, the wet snow that fell heavily at times today, was causing the limbs of most trees to sag under the heavy weight. While driving to the trailhead I counted about 10 limbs laying on the side or across a portion of the road. As I mentioned earlier, I only had to drive about 2 miles, so to have that many limbs down in such a short distance should have got my attention.
But as it was I parked my car at the trailhead and began hiking up the mountain. Not more than 3 minutes into my hike I heard a crash coming from somewhere behind me. I turned to see what it was, but couldn't see anything, so I continued on. As I hiked further along the trail I saw a few small branches laying in the middle or along the edge of the trail. Occasionally some snow would drift down in front of me as it fell from the branches above.
Five minutes into my hike and I here another crash in the woods on up the mountain side. This time I was able to catch a glimpse of leaves and snow falling to the ground some hundred feet away. At this point I became aware that the trees were being bowed over from the weight of the wet snow.
I continued my hike up the mountain and as the further up the mountain side I climbed, the more frequent the sounds of limbs crashing to the ground became. At one point I heard a very loud crack directly behind me at a switchback in the trail. I looked up to see some snow drifting down from the top of a tall oak tree. I didn't see any limbs falling or breaking off, but the loud crack sounded very ominous.
At about a half mile into the hike, with only another 500 feet or so to go until I reached the summit of the mountain, I saw a rather large sized limb fall onto the trail about 70 feet in front of me. The sound it made as it broke lose and came crashing to the ground instilled some common sense in me. I decided that it was just a little too dangerous to be in the woods at this point in time. Looking up into the tree canpoy above, every tree limb and branch looked like it would break away and fall to the ground at any minute. Add to that the fact that I was hearing limbs falling some where in the woods about once every minute helped make up my mind as well.
I must have looked like a frightened animal coming down off the mountain. I was hiking down at a pretty good pace and coming to a halt in the middle of the trail everytime I heard a snap or a crack. I would look above me and then all around to see if something was about to fall. Luckily I was back to the trailhead and safely in my car without an incident.
I kind of hesitated in putting this hike on the web. It wasn't much of a day hike, only being a mile in length. But it was my first 'snow' hike of the year and the pace of the climb and descent made it to be a refreshing and aerobic hike, with an elevation gain of 500 feet in 0.5 miles. I'd like to try hiking up Mount Nittany again this winter, but I think I'll wait until the snow has stopped falling, the sun is out, and most importantly, that all of the leaves are off the trees.blog comments powered by Disqus