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Topic: Stone Tower TR< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 9:55 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

03/30/13, Stone Tower Loop: I was joined by Sixteen Penny, the Mad Hatter, the Traveling Gnome, Wooly Bully and Andre the Giant. Apparently we chose opening day of trout season to do this hike. I know we passed a minimum of 500 parked vehicles on the way to the trailhead. Although folks were still fishing in the creek above the reservoir things had thinned out enough that finding a place to park on the shoulder wasn't an issue. We got started around 10:00. We were met with a challenge almost immediately as the creek was flowing over most of the stones in the rock bridge. We all made it across each with varying degrees of success/failure. The hike through the dense hemlock forest was excellent. There were about a dozen blowdowns between the creek crossing and the turnoff to begin the steep climb but these were all "step overs". The climb to the top was as I remembered it but I was thankful it was cooler than when I did it last. The last surge up the talus slope was the hardest but we all made it in one piece to the old haul road that takes you to the first of several vestiges of the mountain's industrial history, the Stone Tower. As we hiked along we met a hiker coming from the other direction. It was none other than Hossier from the Backpacker.com forums. We chatted for a couple of minutes before moving on. I was last here in the summer of 2011. I swear the cracks in the tower have gotten wider and more stone has fallen out, further weakening the structure. I don't think it will be too long before the entire thing comes down. We took an extended break here as we talked about the coal mining industry of the late 1800s. The next three miles was an easy jaunt. We stopped for lunch when we hit the AT at the Yellow Springs ghost town. I find it a real pity that campers had wrecked the crude stone foundations of the shacks to make fire rings and stone furniture, especially where camping is supposed to be illegal. I had to find the old well that Hossier told me about to convince the group that this was indeed once a town. We quickly covered the 2.1 miles of the AT and then headed off to make the prerequisite foray to visit the General. Although it hasn't moved an inch since it's demise you can find parts of it along the trail. I sense that thoughtless hikers thought they would take a souvenir home with them only to find out that in a very few short steps that the steel valve cover of a diesel engine gets pretty heavy very quickly. (Folks, please leave the pieces of antiquity where you find them! A digital photo is much easier to carry and doesn't make a mess on the fire place mantle.) The climb back up to the crest of Stony Mountain was difficult but the real fun was to be the long, steep, unrelenting descent down its northern face. Before we proceeded we followed the yellow-blazed trail, the one I couldn't find last year out to a nice vista. For some reason, I got it in my head that the view would be to the north and west but it's not. It's looking north and east with the foremost ridges of Sharp, Second and Blue Mountains. Swatara Gap is easily distinguishable. After taking a few photos we returned to the chore at hand, getting down off of this mountain. It was not an easy task. I was in the back of the pack as usual. As we neared the bottom of the talus slope I had to climb over a fallen tree. All of a sudden I had the greatest burning sensation in my left thigh ... the mother of all Charlie horses. I had to force myself over the log. I leaned against it as I slowly stretched my leg, then tried to put weight on it. I was never so happy to see that old haul road that meant a more gradual and easy descent. We crossed the creek, this time not caring all that much if we got our feet wet as we all had a change of footwear back at the cars. When I got home I took ample amounts of vitamin I, liquid pain killer and a nice hot shower to ease the pain in my thigh. As I type this the day after I can say that I think my thigh will be OK.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 12:47 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Glad to see that you finally made it out the yellow trail to the vista. Did you come back to the Sand Spring Trail to descend, or did you attempt the continuation of the yellow blazes partway down the north side of Stony Mtn?
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 12:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I wasn't sure if the yellow trail descended or not. I had the impression that it just petered out on top. If it takes you down does it loop back to the Sand Spring Trail Creek crossing? We stayed on the Sand Spring Tr.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 1:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It does peter out but near the bottom. Not worth following on a group hike but only for St Anthony's Wilderness exploration completeness.

A more ambitious variation of what you did would be to continue down south side of Sharp Mtn on the recently recleared Yellow Spring Trail (passing the actual yellow spring if you look left at the correct time) and either walking the rail trail to the former Cold Spring station then right to the old monastery/bottling works/hotel ruins and left up the Cold Spring side trail, or more adventurously on the faded orange blazed route through the never cleared and very rocky holly forest (if you happen dimly to spy where it leaves the rail trail) to come on the hotel ruins. That would be an extra, oh, 1.5 to 2 miles and an extra ridge climb. Rail trail isn't very interesting but the Cold Spring hotel site and the two mountainside trails on south side of Sharp Mtn are.
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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 1:49 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks for the suggestion but I think I had just enough ambition to do what I did yesterday.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 4:50 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice!  That's a fun area to play in.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 6:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Nice meeting you and your group as I was heading down from the Stone Tower. After I got to the bottom of the talus slope. I realized that the climb up the blue blazed Sand Spring trail had much more snow cover up high, and must have made for a tricky descent for you and your group.

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PostIcon Posted on: Mar. 31 2013, 7:09 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Especially being the last in line. It seemed that the footprints of those going before me were slicker than looking for virgin snow or snowless places to put my feet.

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PostIcon Posted on: Apr. 30 2013, 4:29 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

I hiked this trail this past weekend. It was a lot of fun, although part of it is quite rocky. Saw "The General."



And then of course the Stone Tower itself -

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