The Allegheny Front Trail, (AFT), is my favorite local trail. For me, it’s slightly closer than Dolly Sods and offers a longer drier loop on a well maintained trail. I was delighted to see a roster of familiar friends and club members that were new to me signed up for a trip over a weekend with prime fall foliage.
The regrouping at the campsite went off without a hitch. Everyone was ready to go slightly early. Alex and Bradley had camped down trail, but showed up to the regroup site on-time. After introductions, I went over the basics of the AFT for those who hadn’t been there. For example, I explained DJ’s joke about the Red Moshannon so that no one would drink from the Red Moshannon unless absolutely necessary.
I noted that we were going to wing it for the intended campsite but hoped to get the first site after the trail turns off the Red Moshannan when going counter-clockwise. I was asked about how far it was, looked down at the Cramer map, saw the numbers 5 and 25 for the intended spot based on Rattlesnake road and announced that it was a full 30. I then explained that it’s fairly cruiser terrain so it goes by quickly. And I recalled being quite tired when we did it in the snow in the spring. Logan seemed a bit surprised at the mileage but willing to give it a go. Bradley seemed excited about doing high mileage.
The group re-grouped briefly at the first overlook which was socked in by fog. After confirming that the campsite was likely high 20’s or a full 30 mi away, Alex, Bradley, Alexander, Logan and Yvette hiked off at a quick pace and we didn’t see them again on the trip. It was lunch time before I pulled out the map a second time and realized my error. The correct computation is 5 + (42 – 25) = 23mi, which is what was posted to Meetup. Holly, Steve and I ended up hiking together for the rest of the trip.
On the upside, hopefully everyone enjoyed hiking their own hike. I’ll hopefully catch up with some of the new folks on some trip in the future.
Probably due to some light rain, we saw very few other people on the trail. We heard some voices when we were coming up to the intended campsite at 23mi in, but it turned out to be the first other people we saw on the trail on Saturday that had taken the intended campsite. Since we were running out of daylight and energy, we camped about a third of a mile further down trail. The folks at our intended campsite noted that the group ahead of us had passed by an hour and forty minutes earlier intending to do another seven miles, so there was no way we were going to catch them.
I was encouraged to see Steve try some dehydrated meals. On our recent two week trip to Idaho, he packed ramen or mashed potatoes for every night of backpacking food. So he was very insistent on us dropping into town to eat a meal at a restaurant. By the end of the trip, he was dumping an entire bottle of Tabasco into his mashed potatoes. I’m aware of some thru hikers doing things like this to save money, but it seems harsh to me. My hope is that if he eats better on the trail, he won’t be as insistent on getting to town for food.
On the way back to MD, I got a take out BBQ brisket sandwich from Boulevard BBQ in Burnham, PA since we weren’t going through Altuna. I was carpooling with Steve who had decided to wait until he got home to eat, so he let me know that it took 20 minutes to get the take-out sandwich by the time it was done. He seemed to give me a bit of an evil eye while I described how I thought it was quite good BBQ brisket. While normally a foodie, Steve didn’t seem too interested in my description of the how I liked the slightly sweet sauce. Nor was he interested in the hot sauce options which were more his style. In any case, I personally recommend eating before driving four hours after hiking nineteen miles. (State College has lots of options too.)
-Andrew L (Camel)