There seems to be an acute case of Pennsylvania-fever afflicting DCULers this season: Standing Stone, Black Forest, Lost Turkey, and now a multi-group trip to the AFT. Only through the long summers of the mid-Atlantic can we feel so impoverished by warm, sunny days that we need to greet halfway the northerly fall weather. And if there ever was a deliverance from that itch for fall, it was provided by the AFT this weekend.
Six of us at Forest Glen at 5, with plans of meeting Stan at Grosvener and Lisa at the trailhead. In part, no doubt, to the holiday weekend, traffic was especially rough. We did not arrive at the western parking lot until 10:30. Equipped with our headlamps, we sped northbound on the trail (counterclockwise) for about 2.5 miles. Alex was out front, hoping to stumble into the campsite that he had in mind. Alas, that campsite was not meant to be. Instead, around 11:30, the group consented to a flat-ish part of the trail to set up their tents. Fortunately, the only thing that washed over us that night was the pale glow of the full moon.
We all more than survived our first cooler night on the trail. The same cannot be said of Shane’s x-lite air mattress, lamentably. It popped in the night on the pokey underbrush that was practically unavoidable given where we spent the night. It seems the rest of us just got lucky. Despite the setback, Shane agreed to carry on knowing we could work together as a team towards a solution. Soon after we left camp, we stumbled upon a lovely campsite with plentiful water access. Go figure.
The only rain we experienced all weekend was a sprinkling in the mid-morning on Saturday. Most of us didn’t even feel the need to put on a rain shell. At some point we reached a modern hunting lodge, situated on an ideal landing high off the Moshannon Creek. Afterwards, the group stretched their legs on a flat, grassy ridge. The spur trails to the alleged vistas along this northern ridge must have been well hidden, because no one seemed to have found them.
The Red Moshannon Creek is a truly tragic example of industrial pollution. It haunted us, bereft of life and tarnished with rust-red decay. When our anti-industrial frustrations were flowing as red as the creek, someone alluded to Tolkien and the enchanted forests of C.S. Lewis. I was reminded of Lewis’ The Future of Forestry:
How will the legend of the age of treesFeel, when the last tree falls in England?When the concrete spreads and the town conquersThe country’s heart; when contraceptiveTarmac’s laid where farm has faded,Tramline flows where slept a hamlet,And shop-fronts, blazing without a stop fromDover to Wrath, have glazed us over?Simplest tales will then bewilderThe questioning children, “What was a chestnut?Say what it means to climb a Beanstalk,Tell me, grandfather, what an elm is.What was Autumn? They never taught us.”Then, told by teachers how once from mouldCame growing creatures of lower natureAble to live and die, though neitherBeast nor man, and around them wreathingExcellent clothing, breathing sunlight—Half understanding, their ill-acquaintedFancy will tint their wonder-paintingsTrees as men walking, wood-romancesOf goblins stalking in silky green,Of milk-sheen froth upon the lace of hawthorn’sCollar, pallor in the face of birchgirl.So shall a homeless time, though dimlyCatch from afar (for soul is watchfull)A sight of tree-delighted Eden.