A steep drop to a creek.
And up a stone step trail.
I lost the trail after reaching the summit of Wenepoykin Hill where it intersects with the Skyline Trail. I saw my first day hiker there and without thinking followed him down the same same path. Not seeing a blue blaze on the descent, and none shortly after, I realized I had taken the Skyline Trail down Wenepoykin. I was still about a mile from the western terminus of the trail and running out of time so I decided to backtrack up the Skyline Trail, pick up the Cross Fells Trail where a left it and return to my car.
Smooth rock slap trail ahead.
A smoother section of trail.
The blue-blazed Cross Fells Trail.
On the return I stopped and talked briefly to another hiker coming towards me from the opposite direction. He told me there was a single lady slipper on the side of the trail just around the bend. Being too concerned with making time had caused me to miss it on my way out. I walked slowly around the bend trying to find the lady slipper among the brown leaves littering the forest floor. Not only did I find it, I also saw two more set back from the trail. It was a reminder that it's not always about making miles. Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy the nature around us is just as important.
A gentle reminder to slow down or risk missing the forest's hidden gems.