Roaming the Allegheny Highlands

Passport to Nature

Under wide purple skies and a rising moon, we set off from the Dan Ingalls Overlook on Warm Springs Mountain.

The ridge trail was a well-lit avenue. Up on the rocks, though, the moon still hovered so low that our trail dwindled to tracks.

The next morning, a winter storm threatened to cut short the last day (our first) of the Highland Maple Festival.

We parked among maple trees bleeding sap into silver pails and set off down a steep trail to the sugar camp.

We wanted to catch traditional syrup cooking in progress — to smell the wood smoke, feel the heat from glowing coals and inhale the aroma of boiling sap.

Proprietor Ronnie Moyers explained the syrup-making process, from collecting sap to hours spent boiling and stirring “the water.”

Snow was sticking to the golden grass of Fair Lawn Farm as we pulled up outside a cabin leaking smoke.

Tim Duff explained how disastrous it would be to burn a batch. You'd ruin a pan that’s cooked syrup for well over a century, and a uniquely vile stench would pervade the valley.

“Events like the maple festival provide economic means for people to keep their land as large working farms and woodlands.”

“I advise you to stock up on syrup for the road,” my attorney said.

Monday dawned with fear and loathing: It was the day we had to tear ourselves from this Christmas card scenery. Read story


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