We’d planned on getting to Leonard Harris State Park by dawn, to take pictures of the mist rising in the canyon, but that wasn’t in the cards. As usual, it had been raining all night, and was quite dark and damp. This might kill most people’s hiking plans, but that’s the preferred weather for waterfall photography, so even though we slept in a little past sunrise, we were still up and out quite early. After a quick breakfast and some coffee, we packed our gear and water and headed out. All we had to stop for was some chicken for lunch. We arrived at Leonard Harris by 8am. The weather had at least dried up a bit, but it was still quite cloudy and overcast. We enjoyed some time just checking out the canyon from the many different lookouts. What a beautiful sight the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon is. The river below, which is fueled by snow and rain only, was ripping through the canyon. I SO wanted to be in a kayak, but I don’t have the skills for that kind of movement. It’s normally a class 2-3 river, but at this point, it was easily a four. Not for me. Maybe in a few years, I’ll be ready for that. :)
We found the entrance to the Turkey Trail and took a deep sigh, as we contemplated the hike before us. It says it’s a 1 ¾ mile LOOP, but I’m not too sure about that. I’d say it was easily a mile and a half just one way. Regardless, the going down is beautiful and kinda easy. The decline is pretty steep, and you feel it in your shins as you descend. The painful part, is KNOWING what it’s going to be like on the way back. :( Still, with what we knew was ahead of us, we took that deep breath and began the descent.
Within a short while, we saw the first waterfall. As a waterfall geek, I’ve seen a lot of breathtaking ones. The pictures I’d seen of this one, hadn’t really impressed me much. I imagine that the pictures I’d been able to see had been taken during regular flow. On this particular Tuesday morning, we were not looking at regular flow for late May. We had been suffering WEEKS of torrential rains, so this river/runoff was moving at FULL THROTTLE. She was GORGEOUS. I set up the tripod for the first of many times through the day, and was in my glory, as I captured shot after shot of the first waterfall that I could get a clear shot at. I’m not the best climber yet, so I stayed on the trail at this point. Going off-trail to get closer, would be suicide for me. The steep decline to the water was nothing but soggy mud. No tree roots to grab hold of or any secure rocks, just mud. We sat on the bench for a bit and enjoyed the sights and then proceeded down the trail.
The hike is one gorgeous waterfall after another. I couldn’t get shots of some, because of the mud, but as we got further down the trail, I finally was able to get my waders on, and get right in the water for some decent compositions. Carol was taking video of the waterfalls and the trail as we would stop almost every ten minutes for another fall. It was second to only Rickett’s Glen, in my opinion, for sheer beauty and number of falls. Sadly it’s not a constant flow. I’ve heard that it turns to a trickle within the next few weeks. :(
After a three hour descent, we finally arrived in the canyon itself. We were exhausted, but so exhilarated at the beauty of what we’d just experienced. We looked around for a nice place to have lunch, and found a nice, big, flat rock along the river to set up. Another beautiful hour or so was spent here, enjoying our lunch and conversating about how gorgeous the place is, and how much we’re going to love it here. Oh, and as we set up for lunch, the clouds parted, and a long forgotten stranger finally showed up. We’d not seen the sun in nearly two weeks, and here he finally was, making the day beautiful. Luckily, I’d already gotten about two hundred waterfall pics, so I wasn’t cursing his arrival. :P
We finished eating, packed it all back up and decided it might be best to just call in for an emergency rescue, rather than risk the potential heart attacks we were sure to suffer by climbing back UP the Turkey Trail. Oh wait… that was just what I SUGGESTED to Carol. She told me to grow a set, and pushed me, kicking and screaming, all the way back up the ridiculously steep Turkey Trail. ? We took many breaks and talked to some other people who were trying to survive the hike. After about two hours, we finally made it out without any scrapes, or need for artificial respiration. A MIRACLE I tell you. ? We headed straight to the water machine to purchase some more bottles of water, as we’d kicked ours halfway up the trail. I pounded two full bottles in about three chugs. I was quite parched. Then I stole Carol’s bottle as well. ? We then headed to another lookout and just relaxed a bit, enjoying the scenery some more.
WHAT A DAY!!! Enjoy the pics. :)