Restek Ramblers' Ramblings

This blog catalogs the after work hikes done by the Restek Ramblers.

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20
Jun

A Steep Climb and a Thunderstorm in Rothrock State Forest

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For our tenth hike, the Restek Ramblers headed back into Rothrock State Forest. We were in Galbraith Gap for a climb to the top of Little Flat to see the fire tower and take in one of the Bear Meadow Vistas.

Our hike would take us up Spruce Gap Trail, quite a challenge of a climb, across little flat, and then down Old Laurel Run Trail. We would cross over on the Two Bridges Trail before retracing our steps back to the trailhead.

We started the hike by leaving the parking area at Galbraith Gap. We hiked on the newly blazed Chutes Trail before meeting up with the Spruce Gap Trail. The Spruce Gap Trail was a bit of a challenge. It was quite steep in places and we had to take a number of breaks on our way to the top. As we got closer to the top we could see the sky getting darker as well as thunder in the distance. A look at the radar early showed a storm that looked to be heading to our north.

Once on Little Flat, the weather took a turn for the worse as the winds picked up. I was a little concerned about being on the highest point in southern Centre County during a thunderstorm, so we skipped the Bear Meadows Vista and made for the fire tower on Little Flat. Once at the fire tower clearing we started walking down the gravel access road. The wind was really blowing and the sounds of thunder were getting closer. I was hoping we could cut down off the top of the ridge onto Old Laurel Run Trail before the storm hit. Unfortunately we were a bit slow.

About 500 feet from the turn off to the Old Laurel Run Road, the storm hit us. It started raining cats and dogs, with the wind blowing fiercely. There was lighting strikes, but none seemed too close. We hurriedly turned off onto Old Laurel Run Road and scampered down the trail, now swollen with flowing water. After ten minutes of hiking down what seemed to be a mountain stream instead of a trail, the rains stopped. We were all soaked, but aside for being wet, we managed to make it through the thunder storm without any other incidents.

Once we reached the bottom of Old Laurel Run Trail we turned right onto Three Bridges Trail. Everyone was drenched and just wanted to get back to the cars. Soon we were back on Spruce Gap Trail and we retraced our steps back to the trailhead. It was an interesting hike and experience, but I think we will try to avoid being on top of a mountain during any future hikes.

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