It was another awesome weekend of backpacking! Headed out on Saturday morning for a 2.5 hour drive to the Black Moshannon State Forest in central PA – just north of State College (home of Penn State University). Met the rest of the group at the ranger station where we all signed in. It was a smaller group this time – just 6 of us. Four women, Mike, and my dog, Charlie.
Headed out on the trail to the tune of 90+ degrees and sunny skies. We knew it was sunny because we could cleary see the sun. That sounds pretty stupid but normally when hiking in the woods at this time of year, you’d be under full canopy of the trees. Apparently, this area was being hit hard by gypsy moths. There were so few leaves that it looked kind of like spring when things are still budding out. So we hiked under little shade most of the weekend which made for a warm Saturday but wasn’t a problem on Sunday or Monday because it was either overcast or raining.
We did 10 miles each day. Saturday’s and Monday’s hikes were extremely tame as there was very little elevation change. Sunday’s hike was an ankle buster over all the classic PA rocks. There were also a few moderately steep ups and downs although they didn’t last long.
Spent the first night in a blueberry bush field along a stream. Had a cushiony bed but no fire to toast the 10 oz bag of marshmallows that I lugged along. Everything was dry and the fire ring was overgrown with grass.
The second night’s camp was in a cozy little hemlock grove beside a stream. We got into camp about 3:30, just after it had started drizzling. We immediately started setting up our tents. By the time we were finished with setting up camp and filtering water, etc. it was raining in earnest so we all retreated without a word into our tents. I took a nice hour long nap and woke up to a break in the rain. I heard a couple of the others chatting as they started making their suppers so I grabbed my food bag and joined them in the common area. As I started laying out my fixings of tuna, pepperoni, mayo, and pita bread, the rain started picking up again. Not having full rain gear along, only my jacket, I quickly gobbled down supper. Giving up on the idea of having a toasty fire, I passed the marshmallow bag around forcing marshmallows into everyone’s hands. I was NOT going to carry these back home!
Charlie and I headed back into the tent wet and chilly. It was only 7pm. I didn’t bring a book along so I read the fire warning and care tags on my tent. Very intellectually stimulating stuff. Finally fell asleep to the sound of rain on my tent fly around 9pm. Woke up refreshed and ready to attack the trail at 7am! I made up for the sleep deficit I had been operating under for the past couple weeks!
The hike out on Sunday was really fun. We had all chatted over the weekend and gotten to know each other. So here’s a little bit about us:
Catherine was our trail maintenance crew. She cleared the path of sticks and debris. For some reason we couldn’t get her to clear all those PA rocks off the trail for us though.
Mike was our hike leader and tour guide, giving us the “packs off” and “packs on” signs and turning our attention to the various plants along the trail.
Ellen was our manager but didn’t want to hear about our problems, refusing to answer her phone.
Diane was our therapist and counselor we needed to talk to because Ellen wouldn’t solve our problems.
Charlie was our entertainment for the weekend.
Unfortunately, I totally forgot to take my camera. That’s what happens when you pack at the last minute the night before the trip. :-\ But if anyone from the group would be willing to send some pictures I would love to post them here with the review.
It’s back to the grind for two more weeks until another backpacking weekend on the Quehanna Trail. See you then!
The pictures above are courtesy of Mike. The pictures below are from Dianne. Thanks Mike and Dianne!!!