On day 2 of our hiking weekend in Blackwell, we decided to climb to the top of Gillespie Point on the Mid State Trail. The forecast was calling for rain, but when we left camp, it looked like the sun was trying to break through the clouds. After a sweaty climb up the Pennsylvania Matterhorn, a slight rain fell to keep us cool. Soon the rain became heavier and we had quite a wet experience as we finished out our hike down from Gillespie Point.
|N 41° 33.40'
W 77° 22.94'
|Near Blackwell PA
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To reach the trailhead you simply follow route PA414, coming from either the north or the south. From the south, take the PA44 exit off of US220. After 12.3 miles you will bear right onto PA414 and then stay on this road for another 24.8 miles until you reach the town of Blackwell. After just entering the town of Blackwell you will see a small parking are just off to your right. This parking area is used by people canoeing Pine Creek as well as hikers of the Mid State and Bohen Trails. If you are coming from the North I would suggest route US15 to the Liberty/PA414 exit. From this exit, just stay on PA414, through the town of Morris, for 15.6 miles.
Our after work hiking group had spent the weekend in Blackwell, camping just out side of the town proper. On our first day here in the Pine Creek Valley, we hiked up the Bohen Trail and circled back to Blackwell on the West Rim Trail and the Pine Creek Rail-Trails. On our second day we decided to do the short but steep climb to the top of Gillespie Point, just south of Blackwell.
I had done this hike twice before, following the Mid State Trail south out of the town of Blackwell and climbing the Matterhorn of Pennsylvania, but that had been a number of years ago. I was pleasantly surprised to see that not much had changed. The trail wasn't rerouted, the climb was still steep, and the views at the top were still breathtaking.
When we started our hike from our base camp, it looked as if the sun may pop out for a bit. There was a forecast for rain later in the day, but we were hoping, and encouraged, that we would get our hike in before the rains appeared. We walked the paved roads south out of town and after a short walk on Big Run Road, we were on the trail beginning our climb up the mountainside.
The climb was as steep as I remembered and being the oldest in the group, I was soon by myself bringing up the rear. The sun soon disappeared and it seemed as if the humidity started to climb as well. I was sweating but not cooling off.
The rest of the crew awaited me after the initial, long ascent, where the trail makes a sharp turn to the left. It was at this point in the hike that a slight breeze picked up and it felt refreshing. The remainder of the climb to the summit was not as strenuous, but it did have a steep part or two along the way. Suffice to say that when I reached the summit, after a short, steep climb, I was hot and tired. To my delight a light rain began to fall and I was quickly cooled by the refreshing mist.
After spending a few minutes at the vista taking in the views and allowing the heart beat to slow down, we continued on our way. As we were about to turn our backs on the vista, you could see a gray wall in the distance. The rains were coming and we were only half way through the hike.
The rain picked up a bit less than a thousand feet from the vista, as we began our descent down the backside of the mountain. Still, the cool rain felt refreshing and i wasn't minding it that much. As we continued our gradual descent, the rain began to pick up. With the summer foliage over head, we were shielded from the heavy rain, to start.
At about two miles into our hike, and just after crossing an intermittent stream, the trail made a sharp right to follow the southern bank of the stream. It was about this time that the skies opened up. The forest canopy wasn't holding anything back now and we were soon soaked.
The rain fell and we hiked. At 2.4 miles we came upon Big Run Road. Turning right here we began the long, wet hike back to town and to (we hoped) a dry camp. It was about 3.3 miles into our hike, as we were walking down the road that I came upon a realization. Up to that point I did not think I could get any wetter. I found out that I was wrong. It was here that I felt the water in my boots. Soon, with every step, water would slosh out of the top of my boots: a downfall of having Goretex water proof boots, they keep the water in as well as keep the water out.
After a little over 2 hours of hiking, with over an hour of it in the rain, we were back to our base camp. Luckily the rain had slacked off quite a bit and we were able to get into some slightly drier clothes. We quickly said our goodbyes, hopped into our dry vehicles, and called it a day.