On Saturday May 3 at ten AM a group of eleven hikers and one dog from all over Pennsylvania gathered at Laurel Lake in Pine Grove Furnace State Park for a hike up to Pole Steeple. The cliffs towering 700 feet over the lake are a popular hike for many visitors to the park, but this hike was relatively early in the season and the trails weren’t crowded.
While the outdoors is for everyone, no two people are the same, and we had hikers of different levels of experience on the trail. “Hike your own hike” was the rule, but while we broke into groups of different paces we met up again frequently. Our pace was relaxed, as there was so much to see on and off the trail. The four hours for the four mile hike seemed to speed by, even if we didn’t.
As for the trails themselves, the climb to Pole Steeple was the usual mix of rocks, roots, and dirt that make up a PA hiking experience. As part of the loop we used the Appalachian Trail to get back to the road and the parking lot, and its clear the winter was hard on the AT. There was a lot of erosion and in at least one spot a fast moving stream formed across the trail. The only hikers who finished with dry socks were the hikers who didn’t wear them.
The hike raised $320 for HIKE For Mental Health and introduced some of the group to the beauty of a stretch of the AT and the great view from atop Pole Steeple. As a first time hike leader and HFMH volunteer I’m pleased with both results.
Thank you, Neil. And thanks to all the hikers and their supporters on this hike for being part of our 14 in ’14 program, our drive to hold hikes in fourteen states in 2014. Through our hikes, we raise awareness about the stigma that surrounds mental illness and we help to raise funds for break-through research into new treatments and understandings of depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other major mental illnesses. And of course we also give a portion back to help maintain wilderness trails.
Neil, thanks for helping put Pennsylvania on the HIKE for Mental Health map.