There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Into the October Woods We Go!

The autumn foliage show around here is finally getting mighty fine, and my husband and I decided to head out on our third backpack trip of fall. It had rained pretty heavily on Tuesday and I was concerned that the ground would be soaked, but it really wasn't that overly wet in the woods of Moshannon State Forest, up above Black Moshannon, where we ended up.

We weren't in any sort of all-fired hurry, so we took our time getting packed up on Tuesday morning. I even made a fancy chef salad that I planned to eat in the deep woods as my dinner! Yes, a backpacker is self-contained: what you have in the woods is only what you take with you, so plan well!

Before noon, we were in the car. By one we were leaving the car. Before two we were in our campsite in the forest, which looks an awful lot like this, except with much more gold in the trees now, as you can see in my photo above. It was like an autumn tapestry.

There was one unfortunate development we hadn't anticipated, and that was that someone was logging in the woods, somewhere in the vicinity of the campsite that we refer to as Rattlesnake #3. (Rattlesnake #1 was a campsite destroyed by timbering years ago, and the one we visited this time is Rattlesnake #2, all of them named for their proximity to Rattlesnake Pike, which is a local name for route 504.)

The sound of trees being cut down is one of my least favorite sounds in the world, but there was really nothing we could do about it except turn the music up, which we did! The tree murderers were at their work until 7 pm (well after darkness fell), when there was suddenly the sound of silence, which was much appreciated by us backpackers, to be sure! (Their arrival back on site well before first light the next morning was far LESS appreciated, let me tell you.)

But other than that, we had a good time. And we once again employed the white Walmart bag of navigation approach. We walked down our old logging road onto the deer trail which petered out not far from camp. My husband tied a white bag to a bent tree, and we would once again use that marker to find our way back out.

Our high temperature on Wednesday was 55 degrees F. The overnight low in the woods was 34, which was a few degrees colder than the forecast had called for! I thought about my Mexican sunflowers on the deck back home, and hoped they were OK. (They were.)

A friend has asked me about whether creatures bother us when we are in the woods, and so I want to address that question. My husband and I set up a campsite with two tents, and multiple lanterns which we leave on all night. I think all of this dissuades the local wildlife. So, besides the occasional deer snorting, things are usually pretty tame.

(Back in the days when we sometimes camped out by sleeping on the ground without a tent, however, I did once have a porcupine come by and eat my boots overnight! L.L. Bean refunded my money, but boy did I sure miss those good boots!)

Although - all bets are off in the Quehanna Wild Area, where in the September and October months, you might hear lots of bugling of elk and howling of coyotes overnight. And in fact, when we've camped there during that time of year, we've sometimes had to put in earplugs to get some shut-eye, against the endless all-night tangoing of the elk and coyotes.

So this was the story of Day 1 of 2 spent in the woods. (Day 2 can be found here.) Let's let our soundtrack song for this day celebrate the sound we waited all afternoon for. Here is Disturbed, with a dark and moody take on a Simon and Garfunkel favorite, The Sound of Silence.

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