We spent a relaxing Memorial Day weekend in the woods along the Allegheny River just north of Kennerdell. The map above shows our hike in on Saturday morning in yellow (about 2 miles), and a red X around where we decided to camp. We were on a little bluff overlooking the River Trail, with a nice view of the river through the trees, but not very visible from the trail. I think only one of the passersby spotted our camp all weekend.
We spent a little time down at the river Saturday, but the riverbank just there was pretty muddy, so no really good place to sit and read. Did spot a yellow frog where a little stream emptied into the river. We mostly just relaxed Saturday afternoon and evening, and made up our own call for the Pens/Canes playoff game, since there was no cell service down in the river valley. The foil dinners were especially good this time… portabellas, fresh asparagus, onion, fresh tomato, prosciutto. Oh, and a bottle of homemade Cabernet Sauvignon. Excellent! There was a lot of foxfire right near our campfire later that night, but I couldn’t get my camera to take a picture of it, just too dark.
There was a pretty heavy thunderstorm Sunday morning around sunrise, and our new tent fared very well; not a single leak! It stopped raining in time for breakfast, and then was nice all weekend after that. We brought along our Italian stovetop coffee maker, so we were able to have espresso with our pop tarts 🙂 I found this pretty little orchid in the undergrowth back of our campsite, still moist from the rain.
And here’s an early morning video from our campsite. There were many many birds singing, which unfortunately you can’t hear very well, but you get an idea of our site, anyway.
Later in the morning, we took a hike (marked in green on the map). As usual in this part of the world, we passed lots of old oil paraphernalia, relics of the oil heyday (for those who may not know, the first oil well was drilled in Titusville PA, just north of where we were, and the woods all around there and Oil City were full of oil wells for years; there still are a good many small ones running).
We scoped out a good campsite near Witherup Island, so we’re going to keep that in mind for the big campout we’re trying to organize for the end of June. It featured lots of flat area under hemlocks, and a steep descent to a nice pebbly riverbank, so we could do some wading. After we climbed to the top of the hill, I was able to check my cell messages, and learned from the kids’ texts that the Penguins had won handily, and that part of our make-believe call had come true (I had allowed the Canes to score first, but I thought the Pens would then win 3-2; that was the score at one point, but then the Pens scored 3 more after that; must’ve been fun to watch!). We saw this tree growing around a rock along the Fisherman Cove Trail.
Dinner Sunday was tuna-noodles with leftover portabellas and canned peas, which worked pretty well, and I tried something new with a cheesy-garlic biscuit mix formed into one large biscuit and cooked in the skillet. It worked pretty well, though needed to be flatter. After dinner, we saw an osprey catch a fish from the river, which was very cool!
Monday morning we packed up after breakfast, and decided to hike back the long way (the pink line on the map, about 5 miles total), because we wanted to see more of the river, and also wanted to hike along the ridge on the Window Trail. Also, every bit of hiking is good training for the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, which is less than 4 weeks away now! We had to finish putting out two campfires as we passed empty campsites along the trail, which is just ridiculous, a whole river-ful of water being right at hand they could have easily used…I guess that’s what happens when sites are too accessible.
Part of the Rock Oak Trail goes past a deer exclosure, which is kind of interesting, so I took a picture. I think it’s areas that have either been logged or had burned, and the State Forestry Dept fences it in to keep deer from overbrowsing the new little trees and undergrowth. To the right is the exclosure, to the left is where the deer have been allowed to browse.
Other than all this, we just mostly sat around and looked at the river (and I read “Night and Day” by Virginia Woolf, which I really liked, despite its un-Woolf-iness; I really enjoyed the characters). It being the holiday weekend, there were LOTS of motor boats and canoe flotillas, and lots of groups of campers making a good deal of noise downriver, but otherwise very relaxing. No decisions needed to be made, no work needed to be done…