Sunday, April 24, 2016
The 'Thousand Steps' and other brutal climbs
"Hither to Yon" - Day 7
In the vicinity of Mapleton, PA there exists a historic piece of trail. It was built in the 1930's by quarry workers who had to climb 600 feet up a steep mountain to begin every work day. The steps didn't make it easy for them, they made it less hard. Imagine starting your long day of cracking stones with this mandatory sixty-story climb.
The locals tell me there are actually 1056 steps, and they have endured well beyond the closure of the quarries to become part of the Standing Stone Trail - and a memorable part indeed. When you get to the top you can look back down at the Juniata River and Mapleton.
My seventeen and a half miles today included two other steep and extended climbs - each 1600 feet and neither with the benefit of steps for the most part, although there were plenty of rocks. Fortunately once I was up on the ridges there were some more great viewpoints. I'll show just one more.
All of the viewpoints are provided by aprons of deeply jumbled white Tuscarora Sandstone that squelches vegetation growth. It is what the quarries are there to obtain. The best of it is a mineral mix called ganigan that is used in making fire brick for furnaces. This Tuscarora Sandstone has been pre-fired. It was laid down as sediments in shallow seas back in the dawn of multi-cell life - 440-415 million years ago. Then it was buried so deeply that the earth's core furnace heated it to near the melting point and caused chemical reactions that created the ganigan. Yet through all those eons, if you search carefully, you can find surviving evidence of ripples made by currents that flowed over the surface of the sand nearly half a billion years ago. Stunning.
All that climbing and the long miles wore me out. My 67 year old body can still do the long miles, but it doesn't recover as quickly, so I planned a shorter day tomorrow and then a zero day in a motel to clean up and recover for the first time on this new journey. Tomorrow I'll try to quit early because I'll be eager to jump in the shower.
Here's the screen shot of the track of today's hike, and the proof of the brutal climbs shown by the elevation profile.
And here's the interactive GPS track with embedded photos.
Standing Stone Trail - the Thousand Steps at EveryTrail
EveryTrail - Find the best Hiking in Pennsylvania