For the long weekend, we decided to meet up with our old friends D&J (well, half-old / half-new) and camp on the Quehanna Trail in Elk County. We drove up Friday night and stayed over at their house, enjoying some homebrewed stout we brought along, with the great conversation and (literally) thousands of books. We determined it had been 5 years since we’d seen those guys, and over 10 years since the last time we backpacked together. How does that happen? We used to go all the time, back in the “Marauders” days – in fact, that’s how Al & I first met, on a Marauders backpacking trip. Now, understand, our version of backpacking isn’t 20-mile days trying to get from point A to point B. We usually go a couple/few miles from point A, set up camp, and relax for 2 days, exploring our surroundings, and eating and talking – then hike back to point A.
So, for this trip, we parked at Parker Dam State Park, hiked about 2.5 miles, and found a lovely spot in a hemlock grove beside Laurel Run. Hemlock stands are the best in my opinion, because if they’re old enough, they’re clear of underbrush and the branches are high enough to not be in your way, and the ground is nice and soft. Of course, you have to put up with hemlock needles falling into your coffee, but they taste pretty good anyway. Also you have to walk a bit to get good firewood, but usually not far.
This was the first trip for our new little tent – we were very pleased.
We had a nice lunch of miscellaneous munchies, which included some homemade Pinot Grigio. A bottle of wine has been our luxury/heavy item of choice lately…
Then we went for a walk, and saw some great northern Pennsylvania flora… (there were at least a couple dozen sundews, which was very cool, since they’re not that common). And the berries were delicious; somehow the bears missed that bunch of bushes.
As usual, foil dinners that night, with veggies from the farm. I forgot the potatoes this time (pretty much the mainstay of any foil dinner), but still there was chunks of spaghetti squash (the one that was not the watermelon), onions, carrots, lots of tomatoes, and basil and prosciutto to top it off. Went well with the bottle of homemade Chiraz. Yumsk!
Some previous visitor had constructed the elaborate fire pit you see here.
And to top it off, a lovely peach sunset!
D&J had to hike back out after breakfast on Sunday, because D was scheduled to present a blacksmithing/storytelling program at the Woodhick festival, which we hiked out for too in the afternoon. Then we hiked back in to camp and cooked pasta sauce with tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and basil. It was a little tricky only having one pot… we cooked the sauce first till it cooked down, and then poured it into the Ziploc bag the veggies were in. Then we boiled the water for the spaghetti in the same pot. By that time D&J were back from the festival, so they helped with the pasta-cooking operation.
We were a little surprised at the lack of wildlife spotting – I had hoped for an elk, since they’ve become more common there since being re-introduced a number of years ago, but no such luck. We didn’t even hear any owls. We saw deer tracks, and bear sign, but otherwise nothing but one Cooper’s hawk, and a few chipmunks (but I do like the photo I took, despite it’s being only a chippy).
But this is my favorite shot, taken Monday morning through the breakfast campfire smoke:
This weekend completely cleared my head 🙂