Laurel Highlands Camp and Hike
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The Laurel Highlands Trail, PA miles 31-18 Camp and Hike Trip took place the
weekend of September 11-12, 1999. Participants were myself, Charlie Johnson,
Doug Knowles and his 3 nephews Josh, Mic and Alex, Bill Isham and his wife
Chris and Dawn Reed, our newest Rag Tag Ranger. Total crew of 9. For this
hike we decided to try "slack packing" instead of carrying heavy backpacks,
having seen this done alot on the AT earlier this year by thru hikers.
After some "problems" with the directions, I picked up Charlie around 11am on
Saturday, the 11th. The plan was to drive to Kooser State Park, PA early to
be sure that we got some good camping
At left, our campsite at Kooser State Park, PA.
By Mike Calabrese
spots for the night. The weather was perfect! Sunny and highs in the upper
70's low 80's. We took US219 north and were supposed to go west on PA 31 to
the campground. However, they opened up a new US219 bypass around Somerset,
PA and, unfortionately, PA 31 went over the bypass but there was no access to
it. So we drove to US 30 and took a number of back roads back down to PA31
and the park.
Once at the park we set up the tents, ate, relaxed, did some hiking around the
Our first section hike of the LHT ocured in July, 1997 and covered miles 18-0.
park, and waited for the others. I was amazed that the park was just about
empty when we got there, and would only get about 25% full by dark. I thought
that with this being the first somewhat cool weekend since May, people would
be here in droves. I hiked the Kincora Trail to Kooser Lake and then walked
back along the park road for a 3 mile loop. Charlie walked the ski trails up
to a local ski resort and then came back down again.
First Doug showed up with his 3 nephews Josh, 14, Mic, 7 and Alex, 5. We were
amazed that Alex, as young as he was, was going on this hike. He would
At right, Group photo before the hike.
By Mike Calabrese
himself ready later on. Next Bill & Chris came in after biking the
Highlands Trail. Then Dawn arrived after doing the same that day.
We started a fire, ate and spent the evening conversing. During the
conversation we found out that Dawn has done alot of backpacking, so we look
forward to hiking with her again in the future. We then retired around 11.
The next morning we got up around 6:30am and ate, packed up and headed out by
8ish. We shuttled cars to the 18 mile mark of the LHT around PA653, then
returned to PA31 to start the hike south. It took about an hour to shuttle
the cars, so we didn't start the hike until about 9:45.
The trail itself was fairly easy to hike, compared to miles 18-0 which we
hiked 2 years ago. There were minimal elevation changes. We did go through
the highest point on the trail and passed through Seven Springs Ski Resort.
The forest was green having received much needed rain lately. Doug, Mic and
Alex dropped back soon after we started. We hiked about 6.5 miles and stopped
at the Grindle Ridge Shelters for a break, some water and some lunch. We were
amazed how the majority of the stream beds were dry, so we were glad that
there was water at the shelter. Again, the shelter area was well designed
and the rest rooms were clean. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania takes good
care of this trail.
We waited for Doug, Mic and Alex for about and hour but they didn't
At left, scenic view near milepost 21.
By Mike Calabrese
show. We were concerned and even sent Josh hiking back a mile to look for
them. When he returned empty handed and a hiker that passed us said that he
didn't see them, we got concerned. All of the "what if's" started going
through my mind. We did the next 4 miles of trail, which were very nice to
hike on, stopped at an overlook with some great views and then took off again.
Lo and behold, who did we see ahead of us at the 20 mile mark but Doug, Mic
and Alex. They passed us while we were waiting at the shelter. We were
relieved. We hiked the last couple of miles, passed an old cemetary and got
to our cars. It was about 5:30pm.
Alex, Mic and Josh all did an excellent job keeping up with and even ahead of
us. We were also glad that Dawn joined us as she was very interesting and a
We then shuttled the cars back and went and ate dinner at the Oakhurst Tea
Room on PA31 west of Somerset, PA. Excellent smoregesboard. We then said our
goodbyes. This was an excellent hike. It was refreshing to do this one with
a light pack. I can't wait until we do miles 31-45, which will be a
backpacking trip, either next year or the year after!
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