It has been several weeks of non-stop merriment, fun and frivolity and that's just about enough for these country mice. We consulted our mentors and after a while and fifteen miles of forest roads found our Heart’s Content.
The campground has 26 spaces among 100 year old trees adjacent to a virgin forest that rivals any we have seen in the Eastern US. We came by different paths but met Rick and Carole here. They are the Zen Masters of finding a tranquil place and settling in, but this was just a one night stand for them. We visited a little and put Patty to sleep, a long series of rejuvenating naps. We spent a week, adding a day or two at a time, thinking we should “get busy” , then “Nah.”
It is hard to describe the awe we feel walking among these giants; certainly our photos can’t do justice. We estimate some at over 160 feet, thirteen feet at a man’s chest seems average. White Pines and Beech, some standing dead from yet another pest, but many thriving. One recently fallen, so tall it crossed the trail twice.
Twins, one bending 10 degrees to reach the light, the other nearly 20 to find life.
A huge Pine twined with a Beech at the ground growing skyward together.
We walked the trail several times in both directions and found new wonders every few feet. Off trail it would be a matter of months to know the secret places.
This whole area is so under used that a few squeals from a gaggle of eighth grade girls in the picnic area seemed sacrilegious; we never met another person in the grove. During the week, the campground seldom had more than three sites occupied.
The Allegheny National Forest in Western Pennsylvania and reaching North into New York has a lot of varied attractions.
The Kinzua Bridgewas once considered the Eighth Wonder of the World. For over a century coal, timber and oil moved over one of the highest railroad bridges in the world. Then, in
2003, a tornado severed the span leaving only tangled wreckage in the gorge and two short spans reaching into the emptiness. Patty had to see this!
We drove thirty miles, focused on the huge storm cell approaching from the North, remembering the rain gear we had left behind at camp. The squall caught us halfway out the span sporting our church umbrellas. We looked like a couple of geriatric Mary Poppins heading out for a base jump. We retreated, the first blow passed and we explored the "skyway" until the rain began in earnest.
Farnsworth Trout Clubbegan as a CCC fish hatchery providing stock for streams revitalized by the corps. We visited because we are big fans of CCC stonework and always awed by the long term beauty these boys brought to lands ravaged by logging and fire.
In the seventies the Farnsworth Trout club brought the hatchery back into production, assisting the state's efforts to improve fishing opportunities in the National Forest. They preserved the original CCC structures and even have a nice two bedroom cottage available for a secluded vacation among a couple thousand trout.
Jakes RocksPennsylvania Appalachian Trail hikers
moan about the rocks -- a couple hundred miles of sharp football size rocks. That is East of here. Around this part of the Alleghenies, rocks are celebrities. Jakes Rocks are convoluted capstones on a high ridge overlooking the Allegheny Reservoir. They are a favorite family picnic grounds recommended warmly by locals. We did a quick tour in the rain, again Mary Poppins style...
...until the trail ended abruptly at the ultimate "Whoa Buddy."