Franklin the Pig was on the loose. We didn't know it when we started this hike on a section of the Horse-Shoe Trail in Lancaster County, stretching west from PA 322 to PA 501, across the lands of Edward J. Mack Scout Reservation. But there is no disputing that Franklin would prevail in the end:
Our hike began innocently enough, although we were bemused to find that a petting zoo and a Pretzel Hut restaurant occupied our trailhead when we started the hike. We had to walk through the petting zoo as we proceeded up the trail. Luckily, admission was free:
We have to admit, the petting zoo featured some pretty unusual creatures, including this gorgeous peacock:
There was also an all-white, albino peacock, a number of pigs and piglets, and some goats, one cute little kid that David tried to photograph, but his shot was photobombed by a non-socially-distant toddler. As a result, we have no baby goat photo to share with you.
But we digress. There is no doubt we were on the Horseshoe Trail, despite these distractions:
Some ways up the trail, we stopped to tie bootlaces and grab a sip of water. Kathy posed with a V-shaped tree --
-- and David found an inverted-V-tree:
This being the forest, trees were everywhere -- even this skeleton of an old Ent that probably blew down in a windstorm some 10-20 years ago:
About a mile up the trail, we encountered this group of horse riders, who were out to celebrate the birthday of one of their members. As we headed west toward PA 501, they were heading east from that trailhead. Little did we know that these happy horse riders would figure centrally in a porcine drama later in the day:
About a mile-and-a-half into our hike, we reached the height of land at Eagle Rock. Here, Kathy poses with the rock --
-- and here is Eagle Rock itself. You can tell because it's name is tatooed on its face:
The spot is called Eagle Rock Overlook because, back in the day, this is what you could see from there -- obviously an overlook with a view north across beautiful Lancaster County:
The trouble is, that the woods have grown, and our overlook has overgrown. From that same spot, we saw nothing but leafy trees and blue sky. Oh, well.
Local plant life provided some beautiful sights, such as these fallen blossoms --
-- and these beginning blooms of mountain laurel:
Our plan was to hike 6 miles, so as we reached the 3-mile mark, where we would turn around, we spotted this little glen, through which burbled a little brook. It was slightly off the trail, which allowed us to lunch in a socially distant fashion:
Having lunched, we retraced our steps. As luck would have it, we re-encountered our horseback riders just about at the same place we had met them coming the opposite direction. They were headed back to their horse trailers at the western trailhead. We greeted them and they us. But then they shouted, "A pig is following us! He's been following us all the way from the petting zoo. Can you try to get him to head back where he came from?"
Here is a photo of little porky making friends with one of the horses. This photo is courtesy of the horseback riders, who immediately posted about the experience on the Horseshoe Trail Facebook page as soon as they finished their ride. Obviously, the little feller made friends with the horses at the petting zoo and decided to take a hike with them as they left on their return ride:
The pig would not be turned back. He refused to stop, and trotted up the trail after the horses. So we resolved to tell the petting zoo's managers that we had spotted him on the trail. When we returned to our trailhead, we found a volunteer staffer, who thanked us. She told the petting zoo owner, who asked her to speed up the trail to find the pig.
Turns out the pig's name was Franklin, according to the horseback riders' FB post. They related that the petting zoo volunteer had found them back at their horse trailers and tracked down little Franklin. So the story has a happy ending.
We just wish we could have seen Franklin riding the motor bike back down the trail to the petting zoo.