I’d first learned of the Thousand Steps on the Standing Stone Trail from my friend Dan Glass. Dan, as you might recall, wrote the longest post I’ve ever published at A Taste For The Woods, and perhaps the best written. (Yes, it hurts a little to write those words.) You can read his hymn to the Standing Stone Trail here:
So the next stop on the way to World’s End was the Thousand Steps, just ten miles from Raystown Lake, outside Huntingdon on Rt. 22. I pulled into the unassuming and unmarked roadside pulloff, grabbed the hiking poles and my trail runners, and set off.
Once past the entrance I climbed past a waterfall and into a glen seeming miles away from the world. Route 22 and its traffic disappeared as I entered the woods. Within a minute I understood some of what Dan felt about the trail. And I hadn’t even reached the steps yet.
The name Thousand Steps isn’t fancy, its fact. The stone stairs were created decades ago so workers at a quarry could reach the mountaintop. And there are more of them, as you have to hike up approach stairs to get to them. I’d already decided I didn’t have enough time to complete the trail today, so I decided to have fun. One bit of fun was my tribute to Dan and his wearing plaid shorts on a strenuous hike instead of technical clothing like a ‘real’ hiker. I’ve kidded Dan about hiking with a tablecloth on his lower half often enough that I felt I owed him something….
I spent an hour at the Steps, mainly photographing the trail instead of getting serious hiking in. There are trails I need to do with other people if only so I don’t become discouraged from the difficulty, and the Standing Stone Trail and steps were one of them. My visit ended on a side trail with a near panic after meeting this local resident.
I backed away from the reptile and turned around. As I headed back to the trailhead, I ran into other hikers. One of them saw the above photo and identified it as a rattlesnake missing its rattle. I’ve since learned it was a harmless rat snake, but hearing “rattler” was enough. I’d be back and do the Thousand Steps another time, when I had all day and a friend or three. I’d spent an hour in the Garden and seen the Snake. It was time to go to World’s End…..