[Today’s report is from Vince because Paul was “otherwise engaged” most of the afternoon.]
I began the day armed with a printed copy of a Penn Pilot image showing a suspicious line paralleling Thickhead Mtn. Road, basically at the northeast end of the mountain between the two sharp curves in the road. I parked at the gate just above where Bechtol Rd splits off and began hiking up TMR. At the location where the known railroad comes out onto the road, I noticed that the ledge for the tail track is visible for a short distance on the opposite side of the road and slightly below it. Did we notice this on previous trips to this spot? Can’t recall.
Continuing up TMR, I chose a spot about halfway between the two curves and went crashing up the side of the mountain through heavy mountain laurel. If there was anything to the lines noticed on the Penn Pilot image, it should have been readily apparent shortly after leaving the road. Nothing. Not even a patch of talus. Continuing to the top of the mountain, I aimed for the bare concrete slab visible from the air on the southeast corner of the mountain top. There’s nothing here now, but heavy cables lying in the brush seem to indicate there was once a tower of some sort here. Following the access road out, I soon regained TMR.
I chose to hike TMR down towards our previously-named “Grand Jct” atop Thickhead Mtn. When I got about where I thought I had on previous visits, I turned around and headed back for the northeast face of the mountain to close the gap on TMR. About that time, I got a call from Paul that he was headed out to join me and we arranged to meet along Boal Gap road, which would allow me to hike all the way out the top of the ridge at the northeast extremity of Thickhead Mtn. and then get Paul to return me to my truck. By doing this, surely I would have to intersect where the railroad must have curved around the end of the mountain, right?
Well, after a long hike down through relatively open forest (i.e. hard to miss railroad grades) and after doing my best to skirt around private lands, I had very little to show for it. The only promising lead came right at the end where the private camp road comes out onto Boal Gap Road about a 1/2 mile above the junction with Krise Valley Road. Here, there’s an earthy ledge that seems to go for a ways on the south side of the stream. It’s level enough and the curves are gentle enough but there are no rocks or tie cribs immediately visible and it’s quite narrow. Nonetheless, it’s not at all unlike some known grades we’ve seen on very earthy hill sides in pine forests. The first bit of this appears to be on a patch of public land, so further investigation seems warranted.
Paul’s addition: After arriving at Boal Gap Rd, I explored a bit along the stream. The slight route we previously observed continues parallel to the stream. Nowhere is it entirely clear that it is or is not former railroad. In fact, it greatly resembles the “earthy ledge” Vince mentions above. I found an (obviously popular) horse trail in this area which angles steeply up the hillside and which might have originated as a log slide. It intersects a couple of paths a ways up the hill, but they seem likely to have been constructed as fire breaks or logging roads. Basically: nada.
- daily contributions: 0 miles
- survey total: 25.59 miles