About a month or so ago, Meg and I went for a hike with a few friends at the Lehigh Gap. We took the AT on the western end of a ridge line and looped back on a blue blaze trail on the eastern side of the mountain. The overall length of our trip was only about seven or eight miles, but the difference between the two sides of the mountain made if feel like we journeyed across two completely different regions.
While we were on the AT, we were tucked into the conifers and the ground on either side of the trail was pretty thick with ferns, brush, mountain laurels, and other kinds of vegetation. When we crossed the ridge, almost all of the trees and other plant life were gone. And the wind, holy shit was there a lot of wind.
A gentleman I work with, who does a great deal hiking in the area, told me about this spot and gave me the low down on the strangeness of the place. Apparently, east of the Lehigh Gap there used to be a zinc plant that bellowed clouds of sulfur dioxide which eventually burnt out the whole side of the mountain (The Lorax anyone?). If you want to read more about what happened, check out this pdf.
Now I'm not completely familiar with the area so I don't know how windy it typically is, but we were completely exposed and it was amazing. We often found ourselves stopping, when the wind got exceptionally strong, to stand facing it with our arms stretched out with the half-childish hope that we could use it to fly. I know that may sound a little hokey, but the experience was very raw and exhilarating.
Sadly, we knew the experience had come at the price of some dirty fuckers doing some dirty things, but the zinc plant is now long gone and efforts of reclamation are beginning to show. So if any of you all find yourself in the Carbon County area, make the time to take a hike.