I hate not accomplishing what I set out to do. I especially hate it when its something that should be within my abilities. And nothing irked me as much as not hiking all the way to the North Lookout at Hawk Mountain, the internationally known raptor conservancy.

Friends told me the North Lookout, which is where the Hawk Mountain volunteers conduct the annual raptor counts during the fall migration, was a do not miss view. “Its easy. Much easier than The Pinnacle, which is across the valley.” Since I’d heard The Pinnacle was amazing and the two overlooks faced each other, I figured Hawk Mountain’s North Lookout had to pretty impressive. Photos on the Internet showed it to be the case. So I put the trail on my short list for hiking.

I first tried to hike to the North Lookout in 2010. I was stunned by the view from the South Lookout, which is only 200 yards from the entrance to the trails. I’m reproducing that photo here, so you might experience what I did three years ago. The light was magical…..

But I didn’t get to the North Lookout that trip, because as the trail became rockier my knees hurt more and my confidence grew less. So I turned around and walked back to my car, defeat on my shoulders. By 2011 my knees had become so bad that I gave up hiking, and part of my soul died when I did.

In 2012, fresh after a bilateral knee replacement, I tried again. I got no further than I did in 2010. I turned back. It was too soon after surgery. I still had the stiff-legged walk of a marionette, and a dropped foot from the straightening of my right leg. At times when I put down my right foot I’d be surprised where it landed. Not a good trait for a hike on rocks. And it didn’t help my weight had soared due to the long recovery from surgery.

By April of this year I was ready again. My dropped foot condition was largely resolved. My weight was dropping like, well,  a stone. And my confidence was back. I met my friends Dodson and Chris and we headed out.

The South Lookout, of course, wasn’t difficult to reach. And neither were the next few. But then the rocks began to increase in number and size, and soon enough this was the trail.

The climbing increased, and eventually we reached a set of stone steps to the Lookout.

I climbed them. Not with grace, because I found them challenging in places. But I climbed them. 

Then it was a matter of crossing the rocks at the Lookout. On the edge was one of the most scenic views in Pennsylvania. I just had to pick my way through some rocks.

And in a few minutes I’d done it. I grabbed the rail to steady myself, and drank in the view.

Not quite an epic hike. People of all ages do this hike every day. But sometimes it feels good to do what everybody else does.