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Remember: On Ancient Rock: Bake Oven Knob (and a clean up?)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

On Ancient Rock: Bake Oven Knob (and a clean up?)

We reached the parking lot at the top of the mountain with the sun beginning to set.

It is incredible how one class (Environmental Geology) can change your perspective on something so drastically. I have never been so fascinated by what I was walking on before here at the Knob. I knew I was standing on Silurian era Tuscarora quartzite. This rock is between 400 and 430 million years old and formed somewhere on the shores of the ancient Iapetus Ocean.

The fading sunlight glinted on the quartz in the rocks as I walked the Appalachian Trail, completely mystified. In the age of smartphones and planned obsolesce, in is quite a thing to be standing on something so old and comparably everlasting.

The path grows rockier until reaching the outcrop that at about 1600 feet is the tallest point in Lehigh County. No matter the amount of visits I take here, the view will always be breathtaking. In a glimpse, the entirety of what I call home, the Lehigh Valley is visible. Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton all shrunk by the mountains around them.

Here, on the outcrop, my friends and I intended on waiting for nightfall. I had never been to Bake Oven Knob at night. As we took our seats and waited for the show to begin, a large group of what appeared to be teenagers arrived on the outcrop. In the silence of the ancient mountain, the conversation seemed loud, out of place, irreverent. They spoke of alcohol, drug use, stupidity. I could hear an owl in the distance. I think I even heard a coyote. I couldn’t be sure though, mostly I heard the teenagers.

Looking around, on the Silurian quartzite were countless shards of broken green beer bottle glass, empty cigarette packs, plastic water bottles, empty bags of junk food; human waste. The incredibly unbalanced and unsustainable existence that most of our species lives never seemed so out of place, so wrong, as it did on these rocks.

Bryan, Amanda and CJ joined me on the north lookout, seeking the quiet that the mountain usually offers. Here, with our eyes fixed to the beginnings of the Pocono Mountains we watched the light of day shrink across the sky, behind a distant wind farm and eventually to an orange glow just about the distant mountaintops with night erasing its luminescence seemingly by miles, between eye blinks.

Just as the ancient silence once again became noticeable, a bumbling individual asked me if I desired a shot. I declined. I was heading back over to the southern look out to see the human world turn its lights on against the dark sky. The kids had circled themselves around a fire and were surprisingly quiet now. As twilight ended, the stars appeared en masse. Orion, The Big Dipper, a New Moon, planets, distant galaxies; the infinite universe became visible and standing on this quartzite looking to the heavens, my spit of time had its insignificance reaffirmed.

I could hear the cry of a coyote now, clearly. Night had taken over completely, and Bryan Amanda CJ and I needed to head back to the parking lot right away. We were very well prepared and my brother, an Eagle Scout, made sure we had a flashlight.

Actually, we were in the complete opposite situation and we slowly walked back the rocky and now extremely treacherous path very gingerly, hoping to avoid a quartzite smash to the skull. The stars were bright though, through the trees. I kept my eye to them, rather than focusing on the stupidity I was engaged in.

Bake Oven Knob is an incredible and unique treasure for all of us living here in the Valley and for the countless number of hikers that pass through our neck of the woods during their journey on the Appalachian Trail. The Knob should not be in the mess it is in. I propose that in the month of May, as the second event sponsored by Remember in 2010, we carpool on up there and do a litter pick-up.

Who’s in?

I’ll announce a date next month if I can get a large enough group interested. Let’s do it!


Blogger Katie Bee said...

I'm in for litter pick-up and hiking, can you make the date in early may? That's when I'll be back.

Also, Bucky, EagleScoutFail.

March 18, 2010 at 10:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post Mr. Kleiner. You really do great work! I must comment that I didn't notice any blacktop paving, and yet you and your companions managed to find your way up the mountain. SAVE THE WILD PLACES --- PROTECT THE PARKS.; Keep up the good work sir.

March 18, 2010 at 2:11 PM  
Anonymous Abby said...

I'll help clean up human waste! I would love to! As long as I get one free piggy back ride up on your back.

March 23, 2010 at 1:12 PM  

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