Everybody warned us about the rocks in Pennsylvania. They told us that our mileage would drop, that our ankles would twist, that our feet would know more agony than they’d ever known before, and that it would be miserable.
With those warnings in mind we started hiking in Pennsylvania and it wasn’t that bad… Each day passed and we wondered if we’d come to the dreaded rocks yet, or if the worst was yet to come.
In my opinion, the trail started getting significantly rockier just south of Duncannon, but didn’t get obnoxiously rocky until just south of Palmerton. All in all I didn’t think that the rocks on their own were all that bad… Just occasionally tiresome.
What no one had bothered to mention to us was that the rocky trail in Pennsylvania came with rattlers and copperheads hiding amongst the rocks. It was the rattlers more than the rocks that we wished people had warned us about.
The stretch of trail with the highest density of rattlers so far was just north of Duncannon (after the second shelter). I call that part of the trail the snake pit. There were snakes between the rocks in the trail, there were snakes in the brush beside the trail, and there were snakes at the overlooks.
I stopped at one of the overlooks with Caveman, Bomber, and Bluebird to rest. Bomber was about to sit and hang his legs over the rocks when he remembered the snake pit reputation of this section of trail and looked at the ledge below… Sure enough, two rattlers were coiled up down there and just waking with the warmth of the sun.
Everyday since then I’ve heard reports of rattler and copperhead encounters, mostly rattlers. The thing we worry about is not seeing them and accidentally stepping on them, or within their striking range. Though we’ve all seen them in and beside the trail, (some rattling, some not) I’ve only heard one story (from Caveman) of a rattler actually lunging at a hiker and even then the snake didn’t bite.
I’m looking forward to less snake infested terrain, or at least terrain where the snakes are more easily spotted. As long as I know where the are they don’t worry me… It’s just when they are hidden amongst Pennsylvania’s infamous rocks that they are worrying.