Backpacking Allegheny National Recreation Area

I didn’t see any fireworks on the 4th of July or any of the surrounding days, because I was deep in the wilderness. Deep is a relative term meaning: I was far enough away from any roads that I couldn’t hear trucks drive by while I was trying to sleep, although I could hear the obnoxious music of the dorks on the boat illegally camped about a quarter of a mile away.

Here is the requisite starting out backpacking picture.

This is a fungus. How weird is that?

We saw evidence in several places that the trees have very shallow roots. I guess there’s never much wind in the interior of the forest, and it rains all the time so the roots don’t have to go deep for water.

The day was pretty warm, but not unbearable. Just hot enough that we were soaked with sweat, but not so hot that we wanted to die. We hiked about four miles without seeing another soul on the trail until we found a stream that ran into the reservoir and hiked up it a ways to find a good camping spot. Once there, Ken proceed to build us a firepit out of rocks from the stream, ignoring my comment that I hoped none of them blew up from the expanding water. Sure enough, once he got the fire going there was a huge bang and the fire exploded. Luckily the rock was very shale-esque, so it split along cleavage lines and didn’t have the chance to build up a lot of energy to expel via shrapnel to our body parts. Hopefully Ken learned his lesson that I do know what I’m talking about occasionally, especially on the subject of camping and backpacking, which I’ve done way more than him. So there.

The next day we tried to hike up to a viewpoint, but ran out of water by time we were halfway there and decided that the quantity of trees made it highly unlikely that there would be anything viewable from the viewpoint anyway and turned back to go swimming. I found a mushroom to view instead.

The water made for absolutely delightful swimming, and the clay made for great face paint.

Reservoirs are pretty. And Pittsburgh doesn’t flood anymore. How handy. At the visitor center they had pretty amazing pictures of Pittsburgh completely underwater.

Water snake! Other notable wildlife included the porcupine who was snuffling along the tent right by my ear in the middle of the night. He ran across the camp when I turned the flashlight on him and I wish I would have been awake enough to take a picture. He was a big guy.

On Monday we got up late, packed up camp, and hiked back out as it got hotter and hotter and hotter. When we reached the car it was around 93 degrees and humid. I was happy to get there, but Ken seems a bit disgruntled. As I mentioned before, by time we got back to Cleveland, I was more than a bit disgruntled.

It was a good first backpacking trip, except that the water filter got really clogged by the silt and it took forever to pump the water on the last day. We definitely want to go back, maybe to a different part of the National Forest and bring some friends who’ve never been backpacking before. Maybe we could even spot a car and do a one-way trip then.


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July 2010
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