Starting when Brandon was about five years old, I made a point to go camping with him at least once during the summer, just the two of us. We did this continously up until his sixteenth year, when the scheduling for it couldn't be managed around summer school, and scout activities. The first few years we did "car camping" in various state parks around Ohio, but in 1996 and 1997 we went backpacking in the Cranberry Wilderness area of the Monongahela National Forest in West Virginia. It's beautiful, peaceful and fairly unpopulated there. The trail runs along the Cranberry river in south east West Virginia, through maple and Sycamore forests. The river is shallow enough that it can be waded fairly easily, and the camping on the side of the river opposite the trail is pretty much completely private.
Wild life is plentiful and easily observable. During the 1997 trip at least once each day our camp was visited by small groups of deer. They were sufficiently tame that Brandon was able to stalk up within about 3 meters from one of them, once. Squirrels and chipmunks were also plentiful, almost to the point of being nuisances, and it was necessary to "bear bag" the food and trash when we weren't cooking. We didn't see any bears, but there were plenty of signs of their presence.
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures from either of these trips. Something has happened to the film both times we went there. The first year it got dropped in the river, and the second year the film processor lost it. If I were superstitious I'd think my camera was cursed. (By the way, the camera itself survived the dunking in the river, one of the advantages of a cheap, lightweight plastic camera.)
Brandon got his Eagle Rank in 2000, and is no longer offically in Scouts, but I've contiuned with some backpacking since then by myself. I've enjoyed camping along the Glade Creek backpacking trail in the New River Gorge area of West Virgina, and I also go down the Zaleski backpacking trail in southern Ohio, ocassionally, and I tried the Hickory Creek Trail in the Allegany National Forest in Pennsylvania as well. Here are a few pictures of some of these trips. I've had better luck with my camera since 1999.
Here's what I look like after hiking most of a hot summer day. Click on the picture for an enlargement. The Zaleski Back Pack trail in southern Ohio has specific campsites deignated along it, and you're not supposed to camp along the trail otherwise. I'd assumed, that since the campsite was only about 6 miles from the trail head, I'd get there in just a couple of hours. WRONG! There was a lot of climbing up and down along the trail, and I totally underestimated how much my pack and the hills would slow me down. It took me a good five hours to get to the campsite.
Here's my camp setup on that trip. The tent is one that my mom made for me from a Frostline kit back in about 1980. This campout was probably it's last trip. Over the year's it had given me may a night's shelter, but it had been put up wet once and forgotten. I did a lot of work on it to remove the shreds of the polyurethane coating that was pealing off, and to then recoat the fabric, but it never really was quite weather tight afterwards. I still have this tent, and it's still usable if you don't expect much of any rain, but I've since replaced it.
This is the Zaleski backpacking trail again, but now it's November of 2002. Most of the leaves were gone by this time, but there was still plenty of color.
Here's a picture of my new tent (a Sierra Designs Meteor Light) at Zaleski in November 2002. You might notice that the walking stick leaning up next to the tree is a different one than the one that I'm holding in the first picture above. Therein lies a story...
Here's a stream along the Hickory Creek Wilderness Trail in the Allegany National Forest in noth western Pennsylvania. I did this trip in April of 2003, and the maple and oak trees in that part of the country were still pretty much bare. It was drizzling rain in the morning, but by the time I took this picture, it was starting to clear up.
Here's a view of the path along the Hickory Creek Trail. Most of the time the trail is obvious here, and there are some painted blazes along it, but the trail markings are no longer maintained. Occasionally fallen trees make the trail hard to find, so a map and compass are essential here.
A few links to camping and backpacking sites are here.
This section is still under construction.
There'll be more to see
just over the next ridge.
Send Me Mail