Day 20:

Leonard Harrison State Park, PA

After a couple of days of rest, I was finally ready to hit the road again and dig into something new. When I woke up there was about a half inch of snow on the ground, and the high for the day was only supposed to be 30⁰F. This didn’t stop me, though, so I headed toward Leonard Harrison State Park, or more commonly referred to as the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. The whole drive there was gorgeous as everything was covered in snow. When I got there, however, it was absolutely freezing. It was 25⁰F, and there a very strong wind coming out of the north. Lucky for me, though, there was a trail out in the woods that was out of the wind and actually led to an even better overlook. So after making the short trek to see the gorge, I decided it was about time to head out or I might end up with frost bite.

Leonard Harrison State Park, PA

Not too terribly far away was Cherry Springs State Park. It’s deemed as a National Dark Sky Park, so it’s perfect for stargazing, and it would be the second dark sky park that I’ve visited on this trip after the Obed. After the light snow the night before, the sky had cleared up beautifully, so that would make for a gorgeous night sky. On my drive there, I passed Lyman Run State Park, so I figured I had plenty of time to kill before it got dark, so I ventured into the park. Because of the cold, it was very empty, but I was alright with that. I took the opportunity to eat some lunch and re-organize my bed. It tends to get scrunched up after a few days, and I don’t want to try and fix it in really populated places, so this was the perfect time to fix it. Once my chores were done, I decided to hit one of the trails in the park. The sun was starting to go down, so I picked one of the shorter trails. Despite the cold air, the snow made for some stunning scenery, and the hike was really enjoyable.

Lyman Run State Park, PA

Where I was at was lacking in overnight parking opportunities, so I decided to call the Susquehannock State Forest office, which is where both the Cherry Springs and Lyman Run State Parks are located, to see if they had anywhere that they would allow overnight parking. I was in luck. There was a camping opportunity just down the road from Cherry Springs State Park, so I was issued a permit to stay there for the night for free. Before heading to Cherry Springs to see the stars, I decided to scope out my camp site for the night while it was still light out. I didn’t love the looks of it, honestly. It was down a gravel road that had ruts in it that had filled with water and frozen over, and there was a good bit of snow on the ground still. My concern is that I would be able to get my car in there, but that I wouldn’t be able to get out in the morning, and since there was no cell signal in the area, I didn’t want to risk it. I wouldn’t have had any problem with it if not for the freezing weather. I figured it would just be easier to head a little ways away and stay at a Walmart for the night.

Lyman Run State Park, PA

After making this determination, I decided to head on over to Cherry Springs State Park. It was already very dark, and it was only about 6pm. It was about 17⁰F outside at this point, and the area was pretty sparse. The moon was a bit too bright to be able to see the stars too well, but it was definitely still a beautiful sight. Nothing anymore spectacular than I had seen before, but it’s definitely nice if you’re used to a lot of light pollution. After hanging around there for a bit, I decided I would go ahead and make the drive to Walmart.

Lyman Run State Park, PA

Winter was coming earlier than normal. There was a snowstorm expected to hit New England in the next couple of days, and I wasn’t really prepared for that. The temperatures were frigid, and it was getting progressively colder in my car at night. At this point I was starting to question whether I should keep heading north, or if I should turn around here. I decided to talk to Joseph and my parents about it and get their thoughts. I think they all agreed: heading north would be risky. The roads were getting icier, and without the proper equipment I could be stuck for a while. I think my decision was made for me when it dropped below freezing in my car that night. I had a hard time staying warm, and I woke up to frost on the inside of my windows and the water in my cup being frozen. This trip isn’t about me trying to prove anything to anyone or myself. It’s for me to enjoy and have a good time. So I decided I would head into New York the next day and then turn around and finish the southern bound portion of my trip.

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