|A bit of wading through high brush in spots but oh! the butterflies!|
There's some of road-walking in this section but less now that the trail has been moved to field edges and pasture boundaries across some beautiful farmland. A lot of this was overgrown but long pants, bug spray, and hiking poles (to thrash a path through nettle and thistle) made it doable. I counted eleven species of butterflies in these sections and saw more monarchs than I have anywhere in years.
|Eastern Box Turtle|
I helped a Box Turtle across a twisty road where cars seemed suddenly appear and zoom past without any regard for a hiker much less a turtle. I got a few confused, darting glances from drivers as I jogged across the road and slipped around a pasture fence with the scooped-up turtle. I walked him waaaay across a field and placed him just inside the woody edge far from the road. One less box turtle casualty this year. I really wish people would slow down - everywhere.
|HST trail markers are a mix of real horseshoes, posts, and paint blazes|
I'd sprayed my legs, socks, and boots with Deep Woods Off in preparation for ticks and mosquitoes, but still pulled two traveling ticks off my pants leg. They didn't look too well, tho' - I really doused my pants with that stuff. What I wasn't prepared for were the hundreds of orb weaver spider webs that, along with their owners (really laid back spiders - they don't bite), I carried on my hat, backpack, hiking poles, clothes, and face (yes, my face). I began using my poles to wave ahead of me and clear webs but I missed a bunch trying to use my poles for actual hiking uphill and that added more webs to my wearable spider silk collection.
|Haying season is well underway.|
The HST is about 140 miles long with the north terminus at the AT above Harrisburg to Valley Forge National Park at the southern end but add in a few side trails to visit historic towns and sights, and you can add another 25 miles to the HST section hike adventure. As far as long distance trails go, the HST wasn't designed to serve well as a thru-hike. There just aren't enough places to camp to make it feasible (and legal) but I know a few who have done it. Most have "stealth camped" in parks after dark and been up and gone before the park opens the next day. Not my cup of tea, tho' so I'm happy with day hikes.
|Coventry Ice Cream Parlor in Coventry - YUM!|
The river has been up with all the rain this season so I found a notice on a trail pole that crossings are at your own risk. Had I been with others I would have considered going down to the river and take a look to see if it was lower than chest high (!!) but a detour was provided, and I was solo, so I took it. More road walking into the sweet little crossroad village of Conventry and LO! the best ice cream parlor and lunch spot! I wandered in thirsty and hungry and had the best sandwich, chips, two sodas and an ice cream. It was exactly what I needed when I needed it. And, as a bonus, the wait staff found my spider web collection to be really interesting and were not at all bothered by it.
|Horses had already passed through Warwick County Park section - no spider webs!|
The road walk continued through the village and down across French Creek on a road bridge. I found the trail again at one end of Warwick County Park. I've hiked here before and it was just as beautiful as the first time. The old woods roads serve as trails. They are wide and well cared for. An oriole and redstart sang from the edge of the river just out of sight from the trail. After a few miles the HST comes into the main park area and I was able to refill my water bottle at the bottle station at the park office. I'd only seen one other hiker the whole day so far so it was nice to see lots of people enjoying the day outside.
|HST follows an old road in Warwick County Park|
Another few miles and I came into the French Creek valley approaching Saint Peters Village. The HST passes through a rich geological area and I slowed way down to admire the diabase creek boulders and outcroppings of sedimentary gravels and sandstone that slant upwards along the carved-out banks. These layered beds are Triassic in origin and not far from here have been found to contain dinosaur trackways. I hiked up a steep rise of frost-shattered talus to find the trail junction with the HST and the blue-blazed side trail that leads into Saint Peters where my car was parked at 15 miles from my start.
|Triassic sedimentary beds rise out of French Creek among more recent igneous intrusions - now a boulder field.|