There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

First Backpack of the Year into Moshannon SF

With almost summer-like weather on tap, my husband and I debated which night to go out on our first backpacking trip of the year, into Moshannon State Forest. It looked like the weather would be good for either a Tuesday night out or a Wednesday night out. 

But when Tuesday came, we had lots to do to make it happen, and we didn't feel like stressing and rushing. So we took the more laid-back approach, packing at our own pace through the day Tuesday, then on Wednesday morning, getting the last bits together, and leaving our house by mid-morning.

We had cheese sandwiches, a host of snacks, and some very nice sliced veggies with ranch dip to take along as our camping fare. Plus a bunch of drinks, each of us carrying our own small coolers inside our backpacks.

The last time we went to this campsite, we marked our way in with a plastic bag tied to a tree. On our way out, we missed the bag, bushwhacked, etc. But this time, we found the bag easily on our way in (even though it was on the ground by now) AND on our way back out at trip's end, after we re-tied it to a fallen tree. Hooray for us!

To be honest, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to do it. I've had problems with my right knee and foot for a couple of months, off and on. Some days, it's better. Other days, it's worse. But when we talked about backpacking, I started to feel uneasy. 

Not only did I have to walk several challenging miles, over hill and dale, but I had to do it TWO DAYS IN A ROW, and with 40 additional pounds on my back. I worried about making it in to the site (or maybe not even being able to do THAT!) and then being unable to make it back out. 

But here I am, telling the tale, so clearly I made it! Of the three campsites we frequent, this is the one with "middle" difficulty. Our Sproul campsite is closer, and easier. The Quehanna one is the most difficult one we typically do these days. We haven't been to the one in the Hammersley Wild Area, which I consider TOP difficulty, in several years.

The good news is that after the first mile, my stiff right knee eased up, and soon I was walking without thinking about every single step! Yay! We hiked up a hill, down a hill, down an old woods road, onto a fading deer path, and into the woods. I believe we made the trek to our site in about 45 minutes, which may be a record, I think.

I got scratched by briars on my left wrist, and bled. I found a long, white feather. ("Looks like someone has lost some plumage!" my husband offered.) I discovered a tiny, white skull in the path. Delighted, I photographed it. Put it down. Yes, I WANTED that skull, but I was afraid there might be cooties on it. Maybe some other day. I tucked it into a nook in a tree near the "trail." (And I put "trail" in quotes, because if you saw it, you would laugh! Trail, my foot!)

As we walked in, we noted a couple of trees that had fallen since we'd been there last. There were two big ones right together; three somewhat large ones crossed nearby. We couldn't POSSIBLY miss these markers on our trip back out! And then we were in our campsite, getting ready to sit down and enjoy what turned out to be an absolutely SPECTACULAR afternoon!

But with temperatures as warm as they were (64 degrees F was our high for the day), approaching local records, we were hot and toasty by the time we got there. I immediately took off my backpack and stripped off all of my clothes except my socks and sunglasses, and sat enjoying the day, in the middle of nowhere, with nobody around. "Look at Lady Godiva!" my husband laughed. (He is the one who says that if I ever write an autobiography, it'll be titled "Naked Again." He has also been calling me "LadyG" ever since this incident!)  **see addendum below

And so we sat in the middle of the woods, and enjoyed this absolutely gorgeous day, and we eventually put up our tents, which you may see above. The nice, spacious tent in the foreground is mine, with the boxy blue retro Kelty women's external frame backpack, bought from L.L. Bean for under $50 in 1987. You may see my husband's much more frugal tent in the background, and our clothesline, where some of our stuff is airing out, getting ready for the night.

I have more to tell you of this tale, but I think I'll save it for the next photo. In the meantime, here is part of our backpacking story, and a song to tide you over: Eddie Vedder, with Society, from Into the Wild.

**Addendum: My husband does not do social media. He has no Facebook, no Instagram, no Twitter, no nothing. Once in a while, I read him my stories that I write here. And so on this evening, I read him this one. He began to sputter when I got to the Lady Godiva part. Here is the marital conversation that ensued:
Husband: Who is this story for? Can the whole WORLD see it?
Me: Yes, the world can see it. Relax! I'm not SHOWING myself naked! It's just a funny story!
Husband: But you told people you were NAKED in the woods!
Me: Surely people must guess that we backpackers are *occasionally* naked in the woods!
P.S. to addendum: I would like to point out that, as I had on wool socks and sunglasses, I was NOT technically naked!

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