Pennsylvania: Mt. Davis (3,213 feet)
When an Amish man looks at you like you are making things hard on yourself, it’s time to stop and re-evaluate. That was only the first of several times we mistakenly made things more difficult than they needed to be during our summit of Mt. Davis. The first thing to note about finding the highpoint in Pennsylvania is this: follow the directions from summitpost.com, not google maps or mapquest. The second thing to note is that the boulder near the big rusty tower is the highpoint.
We summited Mt. Davis the Saturday after Thanksgiving just after the area had been hit by a snow storm. We had gotten off to a bad start with Pennsylvania when we got lost on some snowy dirt roads, and had to ask an Amish family for directions. Barking dogs began circling the cars as we tried to figure out where we’d gone wrong. We were a bit nervous when several Amish boys came out of their barn carrying pitchforks in a Children of the Corn way. But, to their credit, they turned out to be super friendly and helpful in directing us to the peak.
What we didn’t realize at the time was that there’s a perfectly good paved road you can take as long as you ignore google maps and mapquest. Luckily our husbands throw caution to the wind when it comes to driving snow covered dirt roads in the backwoods of Pennsylvania when it’s getting dark and cell coverage is non-existent. Props to them for getting us up and back safely.
On memory alone, we followed a series of cryptic directions from the Amish family on a series of unmarked roads from one “Y” to another, racing the sun. From reading summitpost descriptions, we were under the impression that we were supposed to follow a trail that would take us about a mile up a gradual incline to the summit. Having arrived via the dirt roads, however, we landed about 25 yards from the summit. As we leapt out of the car, our husbands were shouting at us to hurry up, the sun was minutes from setting, and the area was all under snow, so there was no chance of seeing a USGS marker. Instead of taking 30 seconds to look at the sign directing us to the high point, we took off to get away from our husbands’ drill sergeant screams. The first site we hit on was the rusty tower, which we’ve determined is the high point. The day could have ended there with a snapped picture and us returning immediately to our warm cars.
Instead of being satisfied with that, we wandered around in the frozen forest for 45 minutes as the gunshots of local hunters rang out around us. We were just too stubborn to believe that the rusty tower less than 100 feet from the place we had parked was the highpoint. We found the “Highpoint Trail” and wandered on that for awhile, then on our return trip, we took another one marked “Mt. Davis Trail,” all of which were wrong.
Meanwhile, two high pointing brothers had pulled into the parking lot 20 minutes after us, snapped their requisite photos, and left 20 minutes before we returned to the car. Understandably, our husbands were starting to get cranky.
Our husbands got even grumpier because, while the two of us were traipsing around needlessly, they were forced to give our 3 and 4 year old daughters lessons on the proper way to pee in the woods. We made it back to the car at dusk, followed by an equally scary ride down the mountain. Along the way, we saluted the dark Amish house in thanks for their help with this late day high point. Probably not a sentence normally written about Mt. Davis, but luckily, we all survived.
Things to Know:
- Follow Summitpost’s directions. But, if you end up in front of an Amish house, they’re friendly and helpful.
- The boulder near the tower is the HP.
- Restaurants in the area are scarce between MD’s HP and Davis, though we were able to find fast food about a half an hour away.
- Didn’t see bathrooms at the summit area, but we didn’t look all that hard either.