After a stressful night of gusting winds and the potential of in coming snow, I woke up completely unscathed and safe. However, it did snow during the night, but not very much. There was just a light dusting on the ground, and luckily it wasn’t anything to inhibit travel. Despite the relatively good weather that morning, it was a chilling 27°F, so I opted to spend the morning in a local coffee house called Trailhead Coffee. Yes, I know, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, but they’re kind of the perfect place to spend hours writing and working without feeling like you’re not supposed to be there. Plus, coffee is a necessity, especially when it’s so cold outside. While I was doing a bit of work I ended up talking to an elderly Russian man named Victor who gave me some pointers on which trails to hit and what time of day was best for certain hikes. It actually turned out to be a pretty nice morning.
Once it had warmed up to a toasty 30°F and the sun popped out a bit, I decided to make my way into Blackwater Falls State Park (which was free) just down the road. Almost as soon as I crossed the border into the state park I started to see groups of deer everywhere that weren’t shy at all. The park was pretty sparse due to the cold weather, but that was perfectly fine with me. I made the short walk down the boardwalk to the main falls, and with all the rain they had had recently, it was flowing pretty heavily. The color of the water was a deep amber, and it looked almost like tea. At first I thought that was because of the rain washing down sediment, but apparently it was due to the release of tannins from decomposing vegetation, and the river is always that color.
Now that I had seen the main attraction of Blackwater Falls, I decided to explore the park a bit more. There were tons of stunning overlooks that showed off the gorgeous river below as well as the bountiful fall colors. At the very back of the park past one of their ski lodges was a trail called Lindy Point which had been suggested to me by Victor. The trail was only about a third of a mile one way, so the walk was very short and easy. Once I made it to Lindy Point, though, I was absolutely stunned. I would have easily hiked 10 miles for a view like that. You could see for miles around you, and the view of the gorge was incredible. It’s definitely the kind of place you would want to watch the sunset as most of the view is of the west, but alas, it was about 2pm. That’s alright, though, because I had plenty of other things to occupy me for the rest of the day.
Before coming to the park I had wanted to hike to Elakala Falls. According to Alltrails it was about a 5.4 mile hike. Considering it was so cold, I got all geared up to make the trek because I didn’t want to be unprepared. I packed extra clothes, water, food, and some lights just in case. I started off on the hike, and after about a quarter of a mile I started hearing water. Right at the bottom of the ravine was the waterfall. Turns out I only had to hike about a half mile to get to the falls instead of the planned 5.4. I’m not gonna lie, I was a bit relieved. Even though I was wearing two pairs of socks and hiking boots my toes were numb from the cold, but I was going to hike the five miles anyway. I’m glad I didn’t have to, though. I believe the 5.4 milesYeah must have been from the trail head of a different hike that also went there, but I’m certainly alright with not having to walk that far in the cold.
Once I finished exploring Blackfalls to my satisfaction, I decided I would move on to my next stop: Seneca Rocks. It was only about a half hour away, and it was about 4:00pm. The hike to the top of the rocks was only supposed to be about three miles round trip, so I figured I could make that with plenty of time to watch the sunset. When I arrived, the temperature was around 40°F because it was much lower in altitude than my previous location. That made the hike so much more enjoyable. However, the hike was still quite steep. It was about 1.5 miles to the top of the mountain all uphill, but that just meant that I would get to go downhill the whole way back, so I was alright with that.
Finally I made it to the top, and I had about 30 minutes until the sun set completely. The view was absolutely stunning. It overlooked the entire valley below, and the leaves were extraordinarily vibrant. I climbed my way up to a good spot on the rocks to sit and watch the sun go down. Instead of taking pictures, I wanted to get a time-lapse. It’s not every day that you get to watch the sunset on a gorgeous fall day from the top of a mountain. So I took off one of my hiking boots and used it in place of a tri-pod (sometimes you just gotta make do). Then I just sat and watched. It was the most incredible thing when the sun got right on the horizon, because I could actually SEE the sun moving. Breathtaking. Once the sun made its final decent behind the mountains, I decided it was time to head back down because I didn’t want to be caught in the dark. I stopped the time-lapse only to notice that my phone had 1% battery left. It had lasted just barely long enough for me to catch the whole thing on video.
The hike back down the mountain went by very quickly since I wasn’t out of breath the whole time. Now that the sun was down, it was about time for me to find somewhere to settle down for the night. How about that Walmart I was going to go to the night before? It was actually on the way to where I was headed next, so it worked out perfectly. It was still a bit early in the night when I arrived there, so I drove around the town a bit and explored. There wasn’t a ton to see, so I mostly just ended up sitting in my car in a Sheetz parking lot, which is a huge gas station chain in this part of the country, and eating my dinner. It was a fine end to a long day, though.