It proved to be far more than rocks and Amish.
Because we took a more northerly route, we traveled through the round-top mountains of Pennsylvania. There simply isn't that much room for rolling farmfields. Those that we did see, were planted against the sides of steep hills, mostly good for grazing cows. We pulled off at a little town called Brookville to stretch our legs and marveled at how it made use of the strip of flat land in between the mountains for its mainstreet and all of its side streets seemed to go straight up or straight down....a good number of which were cobblestone. The storefronts lining the main street were two- and three-story, flat-faced, each sitting flush against the next, like a town out of the old West. Most all of the practical stores were dusty and shuttered, whereas those that were open were filled with trinkets from the past...antique store after consignment shop. The next exit up from Brookville was home to a Wal-Mart and all the accompanying big-box stores. No more need for the family owned businesses. However, we did take the time to peruse one of these store-front time capsules, and found a number of fellow patrons therein, all clad in camo, including the shopowner. Oh...there was a functioning taxidermy shop in town...that's one thing Wal-Mart hasn't figured out yet.
|A Botanical Hike on the Finger Lakes Trail presentation at the Keystone Trails Association annual gathering|
Relaxed and renewed from our time at the conference we headed for the Wilds. This is a 2 million acre patch of mountainous land in the center of Pennsylvania that is home to wild elk, the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, industrial megaliths of time gone by, and pristine woods that at this time of year are a radiant collage of orange, yellow, scarlet red, bronzes and browns.
|Kinzua Bridge Skywalk|
|View of destroyed Kinzua bridge|
|A-frame outside Wellsboro|
|Pennsylvania Grand Canyon|
|Pine Creek falls|
|Pine Creek with rock cairns|
As for the plant life of this gorge, I was surprised to see many plants that I associate with either more northerly mountains of New York or taller mountains of North Carolina, such as Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum), Foam Flower (Tiarella cordifolia), Wild Aniseroot (Osmorhiza spp.), and Wild Ginger (Asarum spp.). The Eastern Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis) were also so healthy here that we barely recognized them. We are used to seeing Eastern Hemlocks wrought by the effects of the Wooly Adelgid, with needles of a dusky green and bare branches. But here their boughs were heavy with white banded needles that shown vibrant green.
|Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum)|
|Wild Ginger (Asarum spp.)|
When we finally crested the mountain for Scranton and plunged into the spiderweb of interstates, big box stores of every kind, flurry of cars and changing lights, and stopped at a Starbucks for some coffee, our senses felt overwhelmed and agitated. Indeed its all relative, and once you've unplugged it's all the harder to plug back in. Good to know that the Wilds are not far away and maybe... a whole lot closer than I thought.
|Pennsylvania Grand Canyon|