Adam’s Appalachian Trail hike stopped at Wind Gap, PA, so after our overnight at Route 309, I drove my friend back to the place he’d stopped a couple of months before. It was a sweltering day, and I had an overstuffed car, so for fifteen minutes I turned myself into a trail angel, getting rid of excess backpacking food and water I’d been carrying. The toaster pastries were grabbed from me so quickly I feared losing fingers. The backpacker rice pudding went with one through hiker, the ramen with another. A section hiker took the biggest water bottle. I enjoyed helping the AT hikers, because as of that weekend I was one of them. I even had a trail name. “Hi, I’m Dances With Bears.”
Wind Gap is ninety minutes from my home. It was Sunday, and I returned to the working world on Monday. I could drive home, unpack, shower, rest. I’d had a full vacation, but I felt something was missing. As I sat in the car sucking down water on this hot summer day I thought about why I felt there was more to do.
I wasn’t aware of the reason until recently. On looking back on my previous trips, each one ended on a high note of some kind. 2008 I finished my Pittsburgh to DC bike ride on a rear wheel falling apart and threatening to end the trip before I reached my destination. In 2009 my two week bike tour ended with reaching the PA border. 2010 was a weekend bike tour finishing my first Westsylvania trip. 2011 was my only hike in a year before I headed to surgery. 2013 was the Ravens Horn.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but I needed a high note. And without consciously thinking of it, I found one. And it was unfinished business.
The Appalachian Trail in PA passes several overlooks – Pole Steeple, Kimmel, and others. One is Bake Oven Knob, near Route 100. I’d attempted to hike up to Bake Oven Knob in 2012,, but I was too stiff after knee replacement to reach the vista. I joked at the time that it wasn’t “EZ Bake Oven Knob”, but I was disappointed I didn’t complete the hike. Especially since its not very long or very high. Its less than a half mile to the vistas.
I reached Bake Oven Knob late in the day. Fortunately this was the summer solstice, and I had plenty of daylight. I headed up the trail from the Game Commission parking lot.
The Appalachian Trail to Bake Oven Knob has four stages in the half mile to the overlooks. The first stage is flat and dirt surface. The second is climbing and dirt. Third is slight climbing and some rocks. And the final is…..
This is where I turned back in 2012. Now, I began to pick my way among the rocks. The climbing was moderate, and I had little trouble making progress. I used my poles for all they were worth, and soon enough I was looking south of the ridgeline.
After spending about ten minutes at this vista, I crossed 300 feet to the other side of the ridge to see the northward view. I spent only a couple minutes there, as the view wasn’t impressive, being very overgrown. I headed out of the rocks and back to the car. Once there, I hiked another mile on the AT south, simply to add to my mileage for the day. I headed home very sweaty, very hungry, and very tired, but I felt my trip was complete. I had my high note.