Hiking to Glen Onoko
My grandparents, Winnie & Joseph S Webb Jr. lived in East Mauch Chunk, and every Sunday we would venture from our Weissport home to visit with them.
Almost like a ritual, my dad, Loren Bisbing, and I would take frequent hikes to the Glen. We would walk from the alley at 723 North Street, out through Coal Port, down across the railroad tracks, which were all there at that time and active, across the bridge to Glen Onoko.
Sometimes we hiked up through the falls and come back down the outside pathways and other times we would hike in the opposite direction.
Over the years, we must have hiked the Glen at least 50 times, we never went when there was ice or snow or any inclement weather and always wore the proper attire.
There was little or no activity at the Glen in those days and for the most part, we never met with anyone through the entire hike. Fortunately, neither of us ever fell or was injured in any way on our hike, for in the Forties when you were at the Glen there was zero contact means available with the outside world.
Probably through my dad's persuasion, Clair Sorber, my school principal, agreed to a hike as a school outing and in the fall of 1947 my 8th grade Weissport School class hiked the Glen.
We took a picnic lunch, had a great time, and we all returned safely. Could you imagine that in today's "Lawyered-Up" society that any school administration would sanction such an outing?
Now with all of the tourism and easier access to the area, Glen Onoko has become an attraction. Lots of people hike there and have an enjoyable and safe venture however; there are always the very few who should not be there. They are not physically capable or not properly dressed or boozed-up or on drugs or all of the above but they all have their cell phones and they don't hesitate to call 911 as soon they are in trouble.
The 911 responders immediately and automatically react, pumping all of their manpower and resources into the rescue of these twerps without any concern for their own well being.
The cost of these rescues, sometime even including a helicopter ride, is astronomical and the rescued eventually just walk away while the providers are stuck.
Since it is "Hike at Your Own Risk", all those rescued individuals, or their parents in the case of minors, should be held financially responsible even to the point where wages are attached.
There is a move afoot now, where the State would take over and install safety devices in the Glen. Let's all hope that this take over never occurs because once the State has charge there is control and more control and much more control.
You could imagine the Glen only being "open" at certain times with all kinds of restrictions, rules and regulations and if the place is still deemed to be unsafe; closed forever however; we'll all be safer and left to our memories.