His 'n Hers Campsites in Sproul State Forest

When we looked at the weekend forecast a few days ago, it indicated that Monday's weather would be "delightful." Yes, the forecast actually used that word! Sunday looked like a peach too, so we decided to pack up our gear and head out into the woods for our second backpack of the season, into Sproul State Forest.

My husband originally wanted to go to the Hammersley Wild Area, but I told him no; it was too far, too much, and the water would be too high. Yes, I still shiver when I think about crossing the creek at the Hammersley two springs ago, and nearly falling in. (You may read about that adventure here and here.)

There was also the fact that if we had wanted to go far, we should have packed up on Saturday night, and we just didn't have the energy for that. We'd spent a portion of Friday driving and visiting family. And Saturday was a work-like-a-horse day, in which I raked, did laundry, and caulked the trunk of my car. No energy remained for packing by nightfall, as I was tired and sore and could barely crawl at that point.

So Sunday morning found us cooking a nice hot breakfast and packing up our gear in a leisurely fashion. By noon we were gone, and by early afternoon, we found ourselves in Sproul State Forest, packing up to head into the woods for our second backpack of the year.

The temperature was much more springlike, which is how we prefer it, with highs in the mid-50s during the day, and an overnight low of about 37 when we were out. Much better than that round of too-hot weather we had last weekend for our first backpack into Quehanna.

That was when we realized that two important pieces of gear hadn't made it into the car: my hiking boots, and my husband's tent poles. There was some speculation as to where those two items actually were: most likely in the garage at home. But the tent poles, well, my husband hadn't seen them since last weekend's Quehanna adventure. Might they still be at our back-country site in the Quehanna wilds?

Fortunately for me, I had worn a decent, sturdy pair of hiking shoes. Also fortunately for me, the Sproul backpack trip is our shortest walk in. So while the shoes I had weren't exactly preferable (not enough ankle support), they would do. My husband had the rest of his tent and decided to pack it in anyway, even without the poles.

I am a girl who likes to get the work out of the way right away. So as soon as we got there, I laid out my ground sheet and put up my tent, feeling mighty glad indeed that I HAD a tent with poles and stakes and everything. At the point where I have the blankets and the pads and the sleeping bag and everything else inside, it feels like playing house: very fun indeed!

The picture above shows the point in setting up our campsite where my husband thought he might just sleep on the ground overnight on a tarp. If things got rough, he said, he might join me in my tent (which is technically a 3-man tent, but hey, only if they are TINY, very friendly, good-smelling, mannerly individuals).

And we recalled, with some amusement, that in the early days when we first started going out, neither of us owned a tent, and we slept on the ground all the time! If there was chance of rain, we might hang a tarp over our heads. We had ground sheets and pads and bags. But tents? No, they didn't come along until several years later.

I also recalled, somewhat less fondly, the perils of sleeping on the ground without a tent. For instance, that time in Quehanna that the porcupine chewed up my favorite L.L. Bean boots - that had been sitting RIGHT BY MY HEAD when the chewing happened.

Yes, I wrote them a note and told them all about the porcupine damage, and I may have even sent them back the boots to prove it, and L.L. Bean sent me a check, as they no longer stocked that variety of boot, much to my chagrin.

And also that time in Black Moshannon, when a mouse ran across my sleeping bag right after I'd crawled into it. My husband swears I actually levitated, with my sleeping bag rising several inches off the ground, and with me not touching ground at any point. And of course, we won't even talk about spiders. We do love spiders, but no, NOT in our sleeping bags!

So in the end, after some fond and not-so-fond reminiscing, my husband decided to put his tent up after all. (See *Note below.) He had some string in his pack, and he took the shoelaces out of his big boots and used those too. The biggest string he strung from tree to tree on the left there, above the site where his gear sits. He hung the tent from the string.

The shoe laces, he tied to the main string, and used them to pull the tent out a bit. Strangely enough, he became very excited, and actually seemed to enjoy the challenge of figuring out how to do all of the usual tasks without having quite ALL of the gear needed. In the end, we opened up the tent and I tucked his gear inside. Not bad!

Also, we did pretty well on food. On football Saturdays, the local Boy Scout troop sells hoagies at a little church/daycare spot just about two miles from our house. So Saturday morning, my husband had ridden his bike up and picked us up three Italian hoagies at $6 apiece.

No, it's not quite football season yet, but it WAS the day of the PSU Blue and White Game. Two of the sandwiches we ate on Saturday, and one we saved to take along on Sunday. So we had hoagie bites whenever we wanted. That was nice. For once, I didn't have to make our sandwiches.

I may make it sound like backpacking is hard work, and takes lots of planning. And that can be sort of true, at least some of the time. You need to know what you're doing to make it into the woods and safely back out in one piece. But that isn't the whole story.

A lot of the time, we sit relaxing on our chairs in the sun (yes, for such a short hike we take our actual fold-up bag chairs), and enjoying the quiet of the deep, wild Pennsylvania woods. So with our "work" behind us, that is just what we did: enjoy.

Stay tuned for day two's adventures tomorrow, which include NEWT FONDLING! :-)

Let's let the soundtrack song to accompany this photo of our his 'n hers campsites be about two. Here are the Indigo Girls, with the Power of Two.

*Note: My husband also wishes to thank his pal and sidekick Little Bear, who attempted to fashion tent poles out of twigs he found in the forest. Alas, they were a bit too small to do the trick, but we'd like to give a shout-out to Little Bear, thanking him for his heroic effort!

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