We hiked seven and a half miles on our first day of backpacking in the Quehanna Wild Area this weekend. It's a gorgeous, lush forest full of ferns, rhododendrons, hemlocks, and tiny plants that we started referring to as "forest fingers". The trails we followed kept us close to water sources which meant many tiny, lovely waterfalls. But by the time we had crossed what seemed like the fiftieth stream that evening, with sunlight fading fast and not a spot to stop and camp in sight, morale was fading. Did I mention that my boots were holding as much water as I was carrying in my pack?
After making a steep 400 ft climb out of a ravine at dusk, we happened upon the first flat area we had encountered in several miles. It was nine o'clock at that point and there was barely enough light to set up camp before we were working by flashlight. Too exhausted to even take the time to cook, we had a couple of peanut butter sandwiches, hung up the bear bag, and crawled into our tents.
I've never experienced such quiet at night as I did sleeping in this field. There was nothing but an occasional bird chirping or plane flying overhead. That and the elks bugling at four in the morning. Despite the quiet, I barely slept but crawled out of the tent feeling energized again when the sun rose.
Everyone but Andrew had to put on sopping wet boots again in the morning. That, in combination with the aches and pains of pushing ourselves too much the day before when we couldn't find a place to camp, led us to cut our weekend short. We hiked several more miles out of the wilderness area and back to the highway to retrieve the car. It wasn't what we had planned, but it was a fulfilling couple of days in the wild.
Additional photos HERE.