Friday, May 4, 2012

On the Knife Edge

The weather today (Thursday April 26th) cooperated just enough.  Rain had been forecast, then retracted from the forecast.  It ended up cloudy, chilly, raw, breezy, and virtually rain-free.  So it was not a bad day for visiting the Appalachian Trail.

I covered the trail between Allentown Shelter and Bake Oven Knob Road.  It should be called Easy Bake Oven, because the trail from there south to just before Bear Rocks (which are bare rocks) is ridiculously easy woods road - flat, level, wide, smooth.  Same goes for the section from Allentown Shelter to the power line crossing north of PA 309 - plain-out easy walking.

This stood in sharp contrast to that middle section.  As soon as you pass the power line and plunge back into the woods northbound there's 0.15 miles of big rocks to negotiate.  Then it gets easier for a while and then 0.2 miles before you reach Knife Edge the big stuff with tough footing returns and lasts for a total of 0.7 miles.

The centerpiece, of course, is Knife Edge itself, which is a short traverse of the rocky ridge line.  Frankly, I've walked sharper knife-edged ridges on the AT, and definitely longer stretches of high exposed rock (Firescald Knob comes to mind), but the views were nice when you stood still and the rock challenging when you were moving forward.

It's always fun to traverse a section like this the second time - when you know what's coming.  You can really savor it.  Yes, you savor it the first time through also, with that sort of "bring it on" adrenaline mentality - you're savoring the surprises.  On the way back, you 'taste' it more, rub it between your fingers, see it with wider vision, and let it sing.  You use your senses more and your endocrine system less.

Quickly after Bear Rocks the thrill ride ends.  Rocksylvania becomes Flatsylvania.  Nowhere, in any of the Appalachian Trail that I've covered from here to Springer, is there so much truly easy trail.  As I posted more than a week ago:  Rocksylvania gets all the press, Flatsylvania not so much - and it should.

I've yet to finish Pennsylvania, so the jury is still out, but the contrast of ankle-wrenching boot-killing rock and pansy-ass flats is what stands out in my mind so far.  What's missing, almost entirely, are the climbs.  In some strange perverted way I miss the climbs.  I can see the northern New England peaks eying me with a devilish grin and a beckoning finger - "Come play with us, dear hiker.  We'll show you some climbs."  And I'm sure when I'm there I'll be longing for good old Pennsylvania.  So I guess I better enjoy it while I'm here.


Here's the knife-straight route I walked today, and a link to more photos:

AT Day 106 - Knife Edge at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Pennsylvania


  1. Really enjoying your posts! Thanks for sharing the journey with us, PJ!

  2. Now this is the kind of description they need in the guide books!
    Great writing.