It was the best of hikes, and then it was…

This is a novel interpretation of Leave No Trace.


I’m getting ahead of myself in my fury. Better to calm down and start at the beginning.

Off of Pennsylvania Route 23, about four miles west of the intersection with Route 100, is St. Peter’s Road. Turn right and drive up the hill about a quarter mile and you enter St. Peter’s Village. The “town” is a small memory of the 19th century, with historic buildings headed by the Inn At St. Peter’s. The brick sidewalk offers a nice stroll, and if you want to see the town from above, you can walk or drive up to the site of the abandoned quarry. That’s where I went for this afternoon photograph of the Inn.

But while going up is nice, walking along the sidewalk and looking down is better. I don’t know if the stones that block French Creek behind St. Peter’s Village were put there by man or by nature, but they force the creek to travel among them for a tenth of a mile. Between the descent French Creek makes as it rushes down the hill and the boulders it encounters in the way miniature waterfalls are created. In high water its a spectacle. In low water its just wonderful.

And to give you some perspective on both the size of the boulders, and how popular this area is…..

A popular challenge among the braver visitors is to cross French Creek on the rocks and not get your feet wet. I’ve visited here a dozen times over the years and I’ve never failed to see people attempting the crossing. Earlier this year a man left in an ambulance after falling on the rocks. It’s not the first time, nor the last.

In the photo above, if you look behind the young man standing on the boulder, you’ll see graffiti. Unfortunately this is a constant at St. Peter’s. Technically the wooded land behind the village is State Game Land 43. As I’ve said before, State Game Land isn’t the same as park land. Its not “groomed” and there’s no effort at preventing graffiti and trash from piling up. A small trash can at the entrance to the SGL is always overflowing, and as you cross the crumbling concrete bridge over the creek you see trash and tagging everywhere. The rocks extend into the woods past the creek, and in places it seems not a stone remains untagged.

In an effort to get some mileage in and get away from the defacement, I headed up one of the blue blazed hiking trails, turning into the woods on the yellow blazed Horse-Shoe Trail. I’d recently attended a trail dedication event for the HST, and I wanted to see what it was like as it passed through the game lands. As I trod on the typical Rocksylvania scree, I saw a campsite to the left. And I saw the trashed fire ring in the first photo. Even a full mile from the parking lot the trashing continued. And as I walked along the HST I saw some rocks had been painted on, although far fewer than downhill.

I continued a bit, and finished with nearly three miles of hiking, but my heart wasn’t in it. I just don’t understand why people would deface nature. I’ll leave arguments about the value of graffiti in urban areas for another forum; this isn’t A Taste For The City. I’ll still come to St. Peter’s, but I’ll have to keep focused on the untagged rocks, and the creek, and the parts of the woods unpolluted.