Smith Knob & Painter Run

Smith Knob & Painter Run, Loyalsock State Forest (4/7/2014)

This was the second hike we did during our five-day stay in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. The weather forecast for today had rain arriving in the afternoon. When we woke up the sky was filled with dark clouds, but the future radar showed bands of rain arriving at around noon. With only a few dry hours to hike we decided to do the closest hike in the book Hiking the Endless Mountains (2nd edition). That happened to be hike #56 ("Sharp Top Vista") which, according to author Jeff Mitchell, had "one of the most astonishing vistas in Pennsylvania". It was close, it wasn't very long, and time was not on our side. So we headed to Pleasant Stream Road intent on following it 7 miles to the small parking area just after crossing over Short Run. But the road became impassable at around half-way, shortly after it turned from concrete to dirt. The "road" was more a narrow, gully-ridden trail (more narrow than a typical woods road) with no room for turning around. I ended up having to back out about 0.1 mile after heading in and that was enough for me. So plan B had us head to Smith's Knob, also in Loyalsock, 45 minutes away (Pennsylvania is a big state)!

By the time we got to the trailhead it started spritzing (at least two hours ahead of schedule). When we began the steep ascent up Smith's Knob it started raining steadily, making the steep ascent very slippery. At the top of Smith's Knob the winds picked up to at least 25 MPH and it started hailing. And it all came from the direction of the viewpoints. I think I wiped my camera dry 50 times during the remainder of the hike and the photos were still speckled with blurry water dots. The descent down Smith's Knob was dangerous with the wind, hail and rain. It was one of the steepest descents we've done, and in the middle of a hail storm! We breathed a sigh of relief when we finally got to Painter Run which we followed all the way back to the park road. The trail here was unmarked and very slippery in the rain. We also had to cross it on slippery, widely spaced rocks. Suffice it to say, this was one of the more memorable hikes we've done. As Mitchell says, this is a "classic hike", filled with beauty. But the weather prevented us from enjoying it completely. Once it started raining it never stopped.

Total distance hiked today was 5.6 miles in 3.5 hours.

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