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The Old Loggers Path Took Wilbur’s Sole


Bobo Uzala
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It was the third time I had hiked the thirty mile OLP in the past 3 months and on this occasion my friend Wilbur decided to join in on the fun. It was a great hike with perfect weather and we were having a wild time until fate struck as swift as a bolt of lightning. From behind, Wilbur yelled, “Bobo hold up” and in an instant - that was that. Halfway through the hike and our trip was over. Wilbur had lost his sole to the Old Logger’s Path.

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I wouldn't necessarily hike the same trail that many times in a row, but I was kind of gear testing my new Gregory Baltoro 75. I didn’t think there would be any problem because my last two Gregory packs were large reliable load monsters and of excellent fit. On the first hike, I was in adjustment hell – constantly pulling straps, adjusting the hipbelt, moving the sternum strap, zip, clip, hoist, zip zip. I almost threw the pack in a trash bin, but instead took a detour to REI. My torso length was measured and I was informed that I should have purchased a medium backpack. It wasn’t that I did not believe them; however my last two packs were large, so I scratched my head and walked out with a new medium pack. The second trip was just about as bad as the first. Sure, there was a honeymoon period of about two miles and then adjustment hell set in again.

They say the third time’s a charm and I was about to find out. With compliments to Laura at REI, the medium Baltoro was now fitted with large shoulder straps and hip belt. As buddies do, Wilbur first declined an offer to hit the trail and then called me the day before the trip, “Hey, are you still going?” Since Wilbur had not been on the trail in eons, I scrambled to find enough gear to outfit the both of us, which wasn’t really that hard since I probably have enough gear for a small army.

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We arrived at the trailhead the night before the hike and had a good dinner and a nice fire. Late in the evening, we retired to the bed of my truck, tarped down and stuffed with extra pads and pillows. Not so late a start, we packed up and had a cup of joe for the road. Wilbur was hiking like a champ and you wouldn’t have known he’d been out of action for so long. Miles of relaxing old rail grades and I was taking in the smells and sights of the Pennsylvania summertime, “ahh! feats on the ground!”

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We had reached the jewel of the Old Loggers Path. Rock Run is a magnificent stream where rocks, boulders and ledges have been smoothed and rounded from the perpetual influence of water. This is where the Yellow Dog Run waterfall tumbles leisurely and gracefully into Rock Run. Rock Run is also at the epicenter of Fracking controversy in the Endless Mountains- and a whole different story.

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The trail continued with three miles of up and then several miles of heavenly hiking on paths surrounded by stands of fern and covered with pine needles. Wilbur was in fine shape and the Baltoro was performing nicely. Atop Sullivan Mountain, we treaded lightly amongst four coiled rattlesnakes. We kept on trucking and rested for the night alongside a slow run, commenced to lightening our loads. As night fell, Wilbur thought he spotted a mountain lion on two occasions. Interesting, he didn’t know that was my power animal.

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Hat and long sleeves and day two was another chilly morning. Rare for a summer day but we weren’t complaining. Underway and I’m feeling that sublime strength that comes from being insignificantly lighter. Four miles in and the sole on Wilbur’s left boot began flapping at the front but was soon fixed with some lashing and a spare shoelace. It was a day of clear skies and crispness, and today we were heading for some views.

While enjoying easy breathing on the downhill, I heard the ill-fated call of the Wilbur, only to find him holding the sole of his right boot into the air. “Uhm, This is not gonna work”. Wilbur retied his shoelaces and cut the longer free ends. I pulled out my rope. There was nothing we could do but laugh hysterically at our fix-it job.

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We were almost down to the road and campsites were on the other side. “Can you make it down to the campsite and fix it there”, I called. But it was no good, the sole just kept slipping and we had forgotten to bring the hot glue and tack gun. Wilbur hobbled down to the road and we begrudgingly pulled our packs off at a campsite. Options were considered. My foot’s a size 12.5 and he’s a size 9, so my extra boots in the truck definitely wouldn’t fit. Hike in sneakers for the last thirteen miles? Better not. Wear Crocs? No way! Defected and dejected, our fate was decided by one lost soul.

Yet Wilbur pulled the bottle of Wild Turkey from his pack, took a long swallow and yelled up to the trees, “I’ll be back damnit! With, uhh… a new pair of boots!”. We laughed, “whatta busted trip! The thrill of victory and the agony of ‘de feat”. But sometimes, it’s the goofy happenstance that makes a trip memorable and worthwhile, just try not to let the trail take your Sole!

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Edited by Bobo Uzala
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Aaron Zagrodnick

Great report and really enjoyed the photos! Looks like a beautiful area. Having gear break down on the trail always makes things tough.

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