Walk, don’t run

Posted by | Filed under Pennsylvania | Jul 23, 2011 | Comments Off on Walk, don’t run

I spent last night at the darkest place east of the Mississippi, Cherry Springs State Park in Pennsylvania. It is the best place in the East to stargaze and to see the Milky Way. Unfortunately, the blue sky during the day turned into a very gray sky by the time the sun set; so much for a final gaze at the stars. People had come all the way from the Philadelphia area to take photos and see the Milky Way for the first time. I hope they have more luck tonight; however, the forecast this morning wasn’t great.
Today, I headed south on highways 44 and 144, both lead through the mountains, yes mountains. At 2,400’ they qualify as mountains. The drive took me thru beautiful Clinton and Union counties. I just wish the roads would have been a little less bumpy and just a bit wider. I had to keep my eyes glued to the road and could only enjoy part of this great scenery. This area must be spectacular in the fall with all the leaves changing colors.
I followed some tiny roads south of I-80 to get to highway 192 east to the R.B. Winter State Park. The park has a lake and a swimming beach, just what you need in this kind of weather. I had my reservations about a state park on the weekend, but figured for one night it would be OK. Well, within minutes of getting to the campground I was certain that I would not spend the night here, not even one. The parking lots were filled with cars, people walking around in swimsuits, the beach was packed, I guess you get the picture. I had no interest to be subjected to crowds and the noise that comes with it. I’ll have plenty of that when I am back in NYC. I headed for the park office and asked if there are any dispersed campsites in the adjacent state forest where I could stay overnight. These are primitive campsites, no water or electricity and they are free. All you need is a permit issued by the bureau of forestry. After a little research the very nice park employee had me on the phone with the forestry folks and they faxed over a permit. I am staying in the woods about two miles from the commotion, wonderful.

The way I like it - quiet, no neighbors

It was too early to call it a day and I decided to go for a little walk in my “neighborhood”. Usually, when you hear noise in the woods it comes from squirrels chasing each other or from a deer. I don’t know why, but when I heard a noise I looked for a stick as protection, not that it would have really helped. I kept on walking until I came around the bend and saw a black bear less than fifty yards away on the trail. I very carefully walked backwards until I couldn’t see the bear anymore and than walked at a steady pace in the opposite direction. No, I didn’t stick around long enough to take a picture. I like an adventure, but I am not stupid. After that almost encounter I was even more alert to the noises around me and I was glad to be back at my camper.
It is going to be a wonderful dark and quiet night, just the bear and I. Good night.

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