SLB Photography

John P. Saylor Trail

Gallitzin State Forest
Gallitzin State Forest

There is something missing. I’ve been in a funk lately. I knew I wanted to go somewhere new. But where? Everytime I picked out the place it was way to far to drive to make it a day trip. I knew that I couldn’t do a three hour drive late in the day. Finally it hit me, why not go to Gallitzin State Forest and find the John P. Saylor trail? I packed up my gear and headed out. It was a short hour and a half later and I pulled into Babcock Picnic Area. This is the official beginning of the John P. Saylor Trail. It was cloudy and dark and threatened rain early on. This was fine by me. That’s what I came for. Dark, deep woods. Shortly after leaving the parking area I hear a stream. The first thing I noticed was the water was a deep shade of red. I wonder why the water is this way? I suspect from the old hardwood forest of cherry, maple and beech. Though I’ve never seen a stream that color before. Shortly after I came to a road crossing and the wolf rocks area. The trail became very rocky here and I was sad to see it was defaced heavily by graffiti. I was making my way toward Wolf Rocks when I hear voices behind me. I say two people in the distance but continued to make my way. They caught up to me and from behind I hear “ Hey there Boss” I turned to say hello. Although painfully because I desperately wanted to be alone. The next thing they ask is “Hey are you a photographer?” “Yes, I said” “Are you going to take my picture?” “Nope” I said. Those have to be the worst things to hear as a photographer. At least for me. I mean I’m carrying a 20lbs pack in the middle of the woods. Sometimes people are good in photo’s, you know for scale and things. I tend to like mine tried and true landscapes. They meant well and I coincidently found myself two guides. A little small take is made before we introduce ourselves. Nick and Aiden guided me to Wolf Rocks and helped me climb up. They seemed like cool guys. Aiden asked “Hey do you want to play roots and rocks?” “No” I said. Geez, I’m sure I sounded old and cranky. Which well, I guess I was. I didn’t want to talk to anyone. I was to stuck in my head or well to stuck in something. My head was as cloudy as the sky. I guess it was all I could do to not think. I had hoped that a walk in the woods would do me good, clear my head. Although I had an interesting experience and I can’t wait to go back. I was just fighting something else. Something that I’ve been fighting recently. Maybe that’s why I wanted a deep, dark trek into some place unknown?

It was awfully windy atop Wolf Rocks. One wrong move on the wet rocks and I’m sure I would’ve been in a crevasse 50 or more feet below. There used to be a view but the trees have since grown so tall that it’s obstructed. I really found the shapes in the rocks interesting but the area was so vandalized with graffiti that I didn’t make a photo here. I climbed back down to see if I could make my way through the maze that the rocks have carved out. I did not. I climbed back up to the top of the rocks to make a picture of the rock formations and the blooming mountain laurel. Just then it started to rain and rain hard. I was out in the open atop the rocks that I figured there was no way I’m pulling out my camera. By this point I said my goodbye’s to Nick and Aiden. They headed back the way we just came and I headed the other. I wanted to make it to the side connector trail that led to the bog area. It wasn’t far and a short scramble down the rocky boulder strewn trail I found the bog trail. I turned left went maybe a quarter way up the trail when rain started to come down so hard that I took shelter. I decided to put the rain gear on the pack and make my way back to the car. I made the return trek alone and mostly in the rain. I slowly walked along trying to stay on roots and rocks. The trail was absolutely soaked and sometimes my foot would sink if I was not careful. I did not want to ruin the trail so I took care where I was going. The unseasonal heavy rains for days on end made the creek swell to it’s banks and create many little waterfalls. It mostly rained but sometimes the sun would throw some rays to the forest floor. Mostly though it was just the greens and reds from the trees, ferns, and moss. I sat and listened to the water and the birds. I tried to think. I wanted to listen for counsel as I get time and time again. But I couldn’t, something is missing. I walked along and sure enough there was my car right in the spot I had left it.

Deep, dark woods that’s what I wanted today.

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