There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

Girl, Camping

Rated PG for red girly laundry and scenes of mild peril!

With a week of mild weather coming up, my husband and I decided to complete the third part of our usual camping trifecta. Our first backpacking trip was to Quehanna. The second was to Sproul. And our third, embarked upon on this day, was into Moshannon State Forest.

This is the place where we go far into the back-country, and typically tie a Walmart bag to a strategic tree on the way in, so that we can find the trail back out when we want to leave. Guess who didn't find the bag this time. Oh, just go ahead and guess! And guess who ALMOST ended up stuck in the back-country, all by her lonesome? Yes, yours truly, backpacker girl. ;-)

We ate a hearty breakfast, made sandwiches for the trip, packed up our gear and the coolers and then the car. We drove to a parking lot not far from the Allegheny Front Trail, strapped our gear onto our packs, and entered the stooped position of the backpacker. What was I actually thinking? Wow. That's a heavy pack. Why do we even DO this?

Did I mention the Allegheny Front Trail? Yes? Well, we didn't take that one. In fact, we didn't take ANY marked trail. We followed an abandoned logging road down the hill and around the trees and into the back-country. It turns into a deer path and then pretty much no path at all. That's where we tie the Walmart bag. Within less than an hour, we were in our campsite, setting up. The weather was sunny and nice, and the trees were lit with gold all around us.

Of course, I put my tent up right away, and the afternoon sun lit it beautifully and made it seem so inviting. You may note a red clothing item in the trees. Let me explain: It's good practice during any sort of hunting season to make sure you are visible by wearing or hanging near you a brightly colored item. Typically, it is blaze orange, but in a pinch, some other bright shade will do. ;-)

We spent a peaceful afternoon enjoying the foliage and the views and the music and our books. I even managed to get Big Agnes (my green sleeping pad - not yet blown up or visible in this shot) inflated in 15 minutes, which may be a personal record.

Five little Dancing Girls came along, and Tiny Tiger and the Moose. And Alex the Alligator and Little Bear. What a party it was at our back-country site in the woods! And then, to add to all of that, we enjoyed a fine moon show. As night fell, the moonlight even lit up the inside of my tent, almost exactly the way the sun had in the afternoon. It was truly magical.

It seemed like the temperature was dropping, but then it stopped, and in fact, it warmed up a little overnight, which was strange indeed. The moon stayed with us for about half the night, but was gone by around 3 a.m.

In the morning, we hung out and packed up our gear, slowly. By around noon, we were ready to go. I sat down on the log in our campsite that I like to sit on, one last time. I looked across the woods. It almost seemed that I could see the white Walmart bag, glowing in the afternoon sun. How hard could it be?

But when we got our packs on and traipsed across the hillside, there was no white Walmart bag. None. All the trees looked the same! We split up. My husband walked uphill, while I walked downhill. And I kept walking. And kept walking.

Eventually, I realized I was probably heading in too low. I also realized that I had not heard or seen my husband for a while. Suddenly, it dawned upon me that the worst-case scenario might not be just not finding our marker. It might be getting hopelessly lost in the woods!!!

So I did an about-face, and started walking back UP the hill. I began to holler out for my husband. I also had a whistle in my camera bag, which was going to be my next strategy. I wasn't really worried, but maybe I was a little concerned. But I knew in my heart of hearts this great truth: my husband will always come for me!

I had all of my camping gear with me, but not much liquid left: about a half a bottled water and a few ounces of diet orange soda. There are no water sources on the hill nearby that I'm aware of. I had a few snack bars left, maybe a piece of candy or two. I was not provisioned for another night in the woods. Let alone another night ALONE in the woods.

Well, guess what: my hero didn't ride in on a white horse, but he did find a way out of those woods, and then he left his backpack on the other side, and came back and got me, and led me out. I am at home typing this tale, even as I speak, so it's clear (thanks to my husband) I made it safely home!

I'm sure there's good stuff I left out - and I'll add more as I think of it - but that's the meat and bones of my woods and waters tale. So I share it with a warning: when you head out on a backwoods adventure, some adventures may contain WAY MORE adventure than others! So be ye warned!

Now, the ground that we camp on out there is rocky - in fact, it seems like they may have trucked in even MORE rocks since we've been there - and so one of the silly things I did was to dance around my campsite, singing this song. I'll let Dolly P. sing it for us: here she is with Rocky Top.

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