As you may know from previous posts, my son was married last fall. As some of you may also know, once your child is married, you don’t see them as much as you once did. I was missing my son more than usual so I asked my daughter-in-law if I could borrow her husband for a weekend. My son, Carl is a hard worker and has many commitments. I am grateful for the time I get to spend with him.
Carl was born with a natural affinity for the outdoors, animals and nature.
And video games, philosophy and history, etc. etc. Well I scooped up the chance to take him to my most recent favorite place, Allegany State Park.
There are some trails on the Allegany 18 Challenge that intimidate me because the trails may be steep or long. I was glad to have his company on the trail I chose for us, Beehunter Trail. Beehunter Trail is about 6.5 miles long, is steep in sections and one of the longer trails in the challenge. We decided to walk the loop backwards starting at the bike trail near the Beehunter cabin road.
We packed my day pack with waters and our rain gear and some snacks. The trail began with a steep section. Steep for me, anyway. Carl ran up the hill easily. He was encouraging and helpful; guiding me and leading the way. I enjoyed hiking with him, knowing how capable and strong he is.
The temperature was in the 80s during our hike and we finally found a pretty spot to stop and have a snack. The bugs were atrocious and the Deet we applied had little effect on them.
We checked to see how much further to the end and we estimated we were half way there. Suddenly, the sky began to thicken with clouds and the wind picked up. There was thunder in the distance. We quickly put our rain gear on. Me, my Marmot rain jacket; he, a big green poncho.
Then the thunder and lightening started.
I think we made record pace getting off that mountain! The lightening was so close and the thunder was deafening! I was wearing my “waterproof” Keen boots. Well, the water got in and couldn’t get out. My feet were sloshing in my boots. I wish I were wearing my Altra trail runners. Carl stayed pretty dry in his poncho. Luckily my day pack was under his poncho staying dry. One good thing about the rain is that the bugs stopped!
As we approached the trail head we could see two beams of light. There was a park ranger car there crossing the trail head. Due to the thunder and lightening storm they closed the trail. Well, obviously we survived! It was definitely good experience for me for my thru hike. I’m sure I will be hiking in thunder and lightening a few times next year!
If you think that was the end of the story, it’s not! We just couldn’t get enough of the trails! After a quick bite to eat and a change of clothes we headed over to the North Country Trail. We donned our heavy packs and hiked in 2 miles to the Willis Creek lean to for the night.
Since it rained all the wood at the lean to was wet. So wet, I was afraid we wouldn’t get a fire started. I wasn’t too worried as I had packed my pocket rocket stove and kettle to make our Mountain House dinners. Or at least I THOUGHT I had packed my stove. Another learning lesson here – always double check you have everything you need! Usually my stove is kept in my kettle, but the last time I went out I moved my stove to a small bag and inadvertently left that bag sitting on the dining room table.
Luckily, I was camping with the world’s most brilliant man (trust me on this) and he was able to somehow create a fire. Carl scoured the surrounding area for tree stumps that had dry wood in them and was able to get enough to start a great fire that boiled our water so we could eat dinner. That fire also dried out other sticks and logs that we used to keep the fire going well into the night. Did I mention he was brilliant?
That night we played cards and talked until the fire was out. In the morning, I laughed out loud seeing Carl sleeping in his wife’s sleeping bag. I think I know what he needs for Christmas! He looked like a mummy stuffed in that little bitty sleeping bag!
As we hiked out the two miles back to the car in the morning, we decided we would have breakfast at the park restaurant. Before that though, we had a quick stop at Thunder Rocks.
Then another quick stop at Camp Allegany where years ago Carl and I spent many weekends with the Buffalo Museum of Science. I made him pose next to the creek he played in.
After breakfast I took my tuckered out son home to his wife! He slept almost all the way!