First Wade of the Season in Quehanna!

It was a day that began strangely but ended up well. Despite the fact that I woke up screaming, it turned out to be a very good day indeed! We had a fine woods adventure. And better yet, I got in my first refreshing wade of the season in the creek near our back country campsite in the Quehanna Wild Area.

Early in the week, my husband asked me if I could take Wednesday off. As outdoors people, we tend to keep a close eye on the weather. And while the early part of the week featured rain followed by strong winds, Wednesday was supposed to turn sunny and nice, with blue skies. We agreed we'd like to check out the Quehanna Wild Area for what would be (for me) the first time this year.

But when Wednesday morning came, I woke up screaming, with nightmares that featured a backwards-masking Beatles tune, the words "John is dead, John is dead," and an attack by a spirit wielding a closet door. What can I say? It was apparently too much for me. My husband tells me I let out a low, mournful wail at 5:30 am that awoke both my husband and my Tabbycat.

We didn't abandon our plans for the day, however, as I'm not a delicate shrinking flower sort of girl. By just after 9, we had our daysacks and our chairs and a cooler packed in the car. After a quick hot breakfast of egg McMuffins and hash browns at the Milesburg McDonald's, we headed for the Quehanna Wild Area.

We had originally talked about a much longer hike, but we ended up simply walking in for the day to our favorite campsite in the Valley of the Elk, and wading in the creek nearby. It was quite breezy and cool in the morning, and we actually thought about putting on our wind jackets when we were sitting back in the pines.

We were listening to the Hooters on the iPod, and when they sang about 500 miles, 500 miles, it almost seemed as though a woodpecker in the tree above us was pecking along in time to the tune. The song is one of my favorite Peter, Paul, and Mary tunes; did you know that the lead singer for the Hooters has partial writing credit on it for adding the lyrics about the tanks along the (Tiananmen) square? Yeah, pretty cool!

The temperatures started to climb in the afternoon, and so we left the pines and headed down to the creek. I walked down a ways to get some pictures. When I strolled back up the creek, I discovered that my husband had moved his chair down by the creek and was already wading without me. You may see him there in the center of this photo in his red shirt - my partner in crime!

After a few more photos, I got my own chair and joined him by the water. One of the things I'd like to point out, though, is that Quehanna is home to one of the most robust poison ivy plant populations I have ever seen. It was everywhere. It always is. (If you are highly allergic, you might do best to avoid the area.)

I sat my chair down and then put my gear on my chair, so as not to place any of it on the ground atop the poison ivy. Imagine me, changing from boots to water shoes, and from hiking pants to shorts, while hanging onto the arm of the chair, trying never to let bare foot touch ground! Then the water shoes were on. Down along the bank I walked, and then suddenly I was in the cold, cold water!

You can't really see it well in this photo, but in front of my husband is a huge sandbar. And so that is where I did some of my stream walking. As soon as I stepped into it, the sand went right into my water shoes! My husband looked at me like I was a crazy woman - in the extras, you may see a photo my husband took of me (wading in the water, children) - as I strolled through the creek singing an old Johnny Cash tune about how, Oh yeah, I'm going to California . . . to get some sand IN MY SHOES!

We waded in the cold, clear water for about an hour, listening to music, enjoying the day. We snacked on tiny ham and cheese sandwiches and pretzels when we got hungry. We put the Beach Boys on and they sang to us about beaches and sunny days and good good good vibrations. And then we left the creek, ready to change back into our hiking boots.

Same process, only in reverse. Hold onto the chair, dry off the foot and leg, take off the shorts, put the hiking pants on one leg, put on the wool sock, put on the hiking boot. Repeat! And suddenly I was all booted up, standing on terra firma once again, and ready for the return hike.

We walked from there back out to the car, through the woods of the Quehanna Wild Area. You may enjoy another photo of our green Pennsylvania woods and fresh flowing waters in the extras.

All in all, it was about a six-mile day, and we were quite tired by the time we were done. I had stopped the night before on my way home from work and snagged three pepperoni pizzas. So we knew what we had to look forward to when we got home: supper already there, just waiting to be tossed into the oven, no muss, no fuss.

We arrived home happy and exhausted and refreshed, and smelling of sunshine and fresh air. It may have been a questionable beginning to the day, but we pulled it out. The rest of it was fine; very fine indeed. What a wonderful spring visit - and first wade - at the Quehanna Wild Area!

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