Quehanna Wild Area: Last Light
It rained on Thursday, and into the overnight. Friday morning arrived, damp, with clearing skies, as my husband and I set out for our third backpack of fall. We'd talked about heading to the Hammersley Wild Area, the largest roadless tract of woods in Pennsylvania.
But somehow it just seemed too far to drive, so we decided to go to a favorite back-country site in the Quehanna Wild Area instead. There were warnings that there might be a frost, bringing the end of the growing season. But we weren't afraid.
Friday morning found us packing our gear into my husband's Chevy Impala, and we were gone early enough that we had time to stop for breakfast at Burger King. A breakfast sandwich and a coffee and those adorable tiny, round hash browns for each of us. Oh yes, and a hot cup of joe to go.
We arrived at the parking lot well before noon, quite pleased with ourselves. There was just one other vehicle in the parking lot with us, and a dude got out with a daysack and wandered around. We crossed paths with him just once, and my husband said something about how he guessed we'd run into him again; a thought which I dismissed out of hand. We arrived in our back-country site by about 12:30. Plenty of time left to enjoy the day!
We did the usual stuff. Sat around and listened to music. I read my book, but not very much. We set up our tents by mid-afternoon; for once, my husband started putting his up before I did. We were sitting there relaxing when, around 4 pm, the same dude (or so we thought - who can tell?) wandered right up in front of our campsite!
My husband went out and spoke to him, and learned these things: that the guy was from Ohio, that he was spending two nights out backpacking, that he'd been coming to Quehanna for 20 or more years. And that he had thought he would spend the night at our site!!! (And I do mean "our site." No, the Quehanna Wild Area isn't a "public campground"; it's a wilderness, and my husband and I MADE the campsite we use, clearing it all out with plenty of hard work.)
Anyway, that just wasn't happening, and eventually the dude went off in another direction in search of his own site. When he left, I said to my husband, "Can you believe it? All the way from Ohio so he could come RIGHT HERE and camp right next to us! What are the odds?" And then my husband told me more. He said the dude had mentioned that, a few years back, he'd found an elk horn in this area.
Well, THAT really got my blood boiling! Because guess who is the girl who FOUND that elk horn? Why yes, that girl was me! Read the story of me finding the elk horn here and here, and then realizing on our next visit that it was GONE. At least, I know how that particular mystery ended, and what is that worth? Also, here's a bit of wisdom, learned the hard way: if you value your elk horn, TAKE IT WITH YOU.
As the day drew to a close, and the temperature dropped, I put on all of the clothes I had with me. The very last sunlight of the day streamed straight down the Valley of the Elk and lit up the tops of the tamaracks, turning them bright yellow! You may see the last light in the Quehanna Wild Area in the photo above.
The soundtrack song is Lily Kershaw, with The Last Light.