Sleeping by the roadside wasn’t the greatest thing ever done. Glad we woke up without incident. We were right by the railroad tracks which created some exciting wakeup calls.
We headed to Shickshinny to find the two nearest climbing areas: Table Rock, which has a three star rating according to Rock & Road Atlas and Five Finger (aka Macacongua).
We tried Table Rock first.
We asked locals, went to a park headquarters and called a couple of county recreation departments. No one had any idea of any climbing in the area. The directions we got from our atlas were worthless.
After about 45 minutes of searching, we decided to try Five Finger area. The directions to this “climbing” area were much more straightforward and we found the trailhead easily. The only problem was that the trailhead led to five different areas and we didn’t know which we were supposed to take. As we drove into the area, we noticed a family outside their house so we stopped to ask them if they knew about any climbing there. The woman said she had seen groups coming in to climb, but never saw anyone in the area actually climbing, so she wasn’t sure where they did it.
The man though for a minute and said, “Yeah. I think I know a place where you can climb. Let me grab the dog and my girls and we’ll take you up there.
So we headed up. It ended up being his little dog, Dusty, his daughter, Christina and son, Matt. We hiked up through the trail system which was categorized by colors- we were on the orange trail. We listened to Joe, our guide, tell stories about hunting, the local coal mining industry as well as insights into the politics of the area. Joe told us if we wanted a house in the mountains, this was the place to do it. He bought his 4,300 square foot house for $15,000 six years ago.
As we talked, we climbed up some steep and shale-strewn paths that I worried about coming back down. There were a few areas where we were content to stop and try out but Joe had another area in mind. As we went a long it became apparent that we weren’t going in a direction that climbers had gone though we were still climbing in elevation. The trail ended and we were bushwhacking through vines that wrapped themselves around our ankles and dug their thorns into our exposed legs. Branches hung low and too close together for Steve and his crashpad to follow through. So many times Joe would retrace and show us another way in. I wasn’t sure ho to stop this needless hiking without seeming rude and saying we were good where we were. So we kept on hiking.
We ended at a nice little cliff that overlooked the Five Finger Mountain valley below. The cliff was crumbly, segmented and covered in trees. Not exactly a climber’s dream. But we thanked him anyway as he left.
We waited around a while until we knew he was gone and then found our way back through the brush. We tried out a web and moss covered boulder but it was too blank to get any foothold on, so we called it a day and headed out, saying bye to Joe on the way past his house. We ended up in Lake George, New York and are camping at a pullout near a garden for free.