The Daily News
Thank you to the conscientious person who found my driver’s license and returned it to Westwood Lane! My license got there well before I did. One of my neighbors said people came in a purple Dodge, did not speak fluent English, and were worried about coming into our neighborhood. They explained that they had found my license on Thousand Steps and wanted to return it. I suppose they may have felt intimidated, since our neighbors watch out for each others’ homes and make sure there are no unwanted visitors, neither people nor animals. One night last fall I had a trailer pull up the lane with a sick goat bleating painfully. The goat was loud enough that it woke up one neighbor. Startled from a sound sleep, he told his wife, “John’s in trouble! A bear has him!” He ran out the door barefoot, saw us treating the goat, said “Hi,” and went back to bed. I’m sure if it were actually a bear mauling me that the bear would have received a thumping that it wouldn’t forget.
How my license ended up on Thousand Steps is a little longer story: Cindy and I have been out hiking on trails, like a lot of other people. Standing Stone Trail (SST) is long, although almost all of it is within Huntingdon County. A lot of SST is lightly traveled; all that we have seen is well maintained. I thought we would take a short hike from Big Valley Pike over the ridge, descend on Thousand Steps, and hike from there along the SST to the VA clinic on U.S. 22. It would help if I took the time to read a topo map. We started by climbing for over 3 miles to the top of Jack’s Mountain. We were surprised to see people living near the top. The top of the mountain was cloud covered so we couldn’t see very far ahead. The trail continued along the top for 2 miles, making me wonder if we had missed a turn. We did finally meet a couple hiking the other direction, who assured us that we were on the right trail. On the south side of Jack’s Mountain we could hear trains in the distance, running along the Juniata. After a lot of switchbacks through mountain laurel we emerged from the fog into the sunshine and to the top of Thousand Steps. By then I was beat and kept sitting down to snack or drink. Then I would have to jump up to catch up to Cindy, so the driver’s license apparently fell out on one of my rest stops. Our “short” hike ended up being close to 10 miles. After that jaunt, we needed to stop by the office while Cindy attended to a hospitalized patient, making it home well after my license was returned, but before I ever realized it was missing.
Thousand Steps was too crowded to maintain good “social distance”. Most of the Standing Stone Trail will have few hikers. Remember, Fresh air is Safe air as long as you are six feet apart. And check for ticks!
Thankful for helpful hikers and neighbors
John E. Brockett