I decided to take a quick run up Mount Nittany. It's just so convenient, since I know the trail so well, and I don't have to think about a route, how long it'll take, etc.
The photos I've included come from previous hikes, since I didn't bring my camera on this one. Also, for more information on hiking Mount Nittany, see the Mount Nittany page... Click this link for photos of Mount Nittany.
OK...to the hike!
My previous record to the top was 18 minutes, accomplished some months ago, and way back in the days before my rotator cuff repair took me out of commission. Well, today I got to the top in 17 minutes. Parenthetically, I got down the hill in 12 minutes, so I can't see getting up it any faster than that, as a theoretical max.
While the forecast called for rain, the day started out beautifully, and there were some lovely pink flowers whose name I don not know. Frankly, with all the times I've hiked this hill, I never saw them before. I'll have to look up the species, but this was probably the 'prettiest' hike I've made on Mount Nittany.
I made it to the top, having only stopped about three times for no more than about 20 seconds. My pack weighed in at about 15 pounds, but about eight of that was from water/propel. I was really happy about my time, and I'm sure I can best it in the coming months as I get stronger.
I took the white trail to the Mike Lynch Vista (to the right as you get to the top) but didn't stop on account of the tourists clogging it up. I then took the blue trail to the Oak Hall/Boalsburg Vista, where I paused long enough to check out the scene. I decided to press on to what I call the "hammerhead" of the blue trail. It's hard to describe unless you look at a map, but it's pretty obvious. About halfway there, it started to rain, and I quickly grabbed my poncho, something I rarely hike without. I thought about all the people who got stuck in the rain and had it ruin their hike. My saying is that there's no bad weather, just bad gear. Would I have preferred sunshine? Sure, but with my mil-spec poncho, I was just fine.
After getting to a little pile of rocks at the Hammerhead, I sat down for a quick snack. Yes, it was raining, but it wasn't so bad. I did wish I had brought my canteen for some hot coffee or tea, though. I had thought about it, but didn't want it to slow me down. The rain made it a touch chilly, and it would have hit the spot.
I pushed on through the blue trail to the Bellefonte/Rockview Vista, then took the white trail back to the trailhead where I started, stopping a bit at the other two vistas, including Nittany Cliffs, which was stunning with its combination of rocks and the no-name flowering bushes. I wish I had brought my camera, but it would just have slowed me down and probably gotten ruined by the rain.
I've gotten into considerably better shape, recently, than I have been in the last six or seven years or so, and I'm now to the point where merely walking along the trail doesn't give me so much of a workout. I'll either have to find more challenging trails with more hills or carry heavier loads, which wouldn't be so good on my aging knees. Still, I'm quite happy with the fact that I now feel confident that I can go backpacking this summer without struggling to get to a campsite by dark...now if I can only find some partners.
One thought about Mount Nittany:
Why the hell don't they double blaze the sections where the blue and white trails run concurrent?
I can't tell you how many times I've seen a tenderfoot staring at their map, then staring down the trail, wondering where the blue trail went. This surely must leave a sour taste in the mouths of some people who might otherwise enjoy hiking. Between that and the failure of folks to bring water, it must keep a lot of people away from this enjoyable sport/hobby. Now, for my own selfish purposes, I want to keep the number of hikers small, so I can have more solitude, but on the other hand, I want people to get out and enjoy themselves.
Two things would greatly enhance the hiking experience for newcomers.
One: This goes out to the Mount Nittany Conservancy--add blue blazes to the sections where it runs concurrent with the white trail. This is standard practice, just like highway signs that list both roadways, such as US220 and Interstate 80.
Two: Advise people to bring water. When people fail to bring water, it ruins the entire experience.