A Touch of Color in the Quehanna Wilds

It was originally supposed to be a backpack trip, Monday into Tuesday. But when we got up Monday morning and looked at the forecast, it was calling for rain showers to arrive in the middle of the afternoon Tuesday. And as we didn't relish the thought of getting our gear soaked while hiking back out, we decided to bag the backpacking plan, and turn Monday's outing into a day hike instead, in the Quehanna Wild Area.

By 11:30, we were walking into the wild area, with just our daysacks and our chairs. We planned to hike to some different spots than usual, but also manage to pop into our regular back-country backpacking site in the Valley of the Elk, to check things out.

How much different the hike was without heavy backpacks on. We practically romped up and down the hills and valleys; in the end, we put in about six miles for the day (and were not romping QUITE so much on the way back, I'll have to admit). That's a lot of walking, and I was glad I'd chosen to wear my sturdiest hiking boot.

Above you may see some of the colors in the woods. There were some pretty golds and oranges here and there; and, of course, lots of color in the ferns, which are everywhere. The trail was well marked and very easy to see: just follow the gold blazes!

For something different, we walked over to the little wooden bridge (see photo in extras) and out onto the main trail and through the tamaracks (those turn-coats!), which are just starting to turn golden-green; in early November, they will reach their peak color.

We even stopped - both on the way out and on the way back - at the wildlife viewing area by the shallow water impoundment. There is actually NO water in it right now, pending repairs to the dam breast. I can only imagine the disappointment of the migratory birds who travel through here, hoping for a brief rest and maybe a snack. No, there are no fish here, fellas!

But I did love the way the wildlife viewing platform looked and the way the light shone through it. And in fact, I became quite taken with it. You could even say the word obsessed. I thought about the nature of light, and my own quest to understand it. What IS light, really?

I find I can only know the light through what it does, what it touches, what it illuminates; how it caresses the world; how it shines through things. I took too many pictures of the platform, and I thought to myself, very pleased: "I have made us a house of light." You may see a photo of the platform illuminated in late day light in the extras. There now, don't you understand the light completely?  ;-)

It made me wish to have a big property, many acres, up north; and I would build little wildlife viewing platforms just like this one EVERYwhere. Just a few windows, a couple of benches, a tiny bit of roof to keep out the elements. And all of that LIGHT. Oh yes, the light, the light. . . . That's what it's all about.

What a fine, WILD way it was to spend a Monday! So our soundtrack song for a day spent in the Quehanna Wild Area is John Hiatt, with Something Wild. In fact, I recommend the entire album that this song is on, Perfectly Good Guitar.

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