Friday night, we had gone up to Benezette for an evening elk hunt, and so I was shocked when hubby woke me at 5:15 the next morning for a dawn hunt! The fog was terrible, but we caught a few on the side of the road and a herd at Hicks Run. There was an altercation between two bulls when a cow wandered off with a young buck. The large bull ran off the younger one, corralled the errant cow into the herd and they disappeared into the woods. Looks like romance in the wild wasn’t working out for more than our cabin neighbor.
On the way up Winslow Hill, I noticed a road that hadn’t been there before. We were delighted to find that it led to a brand new Elk Country Visitor Center that had just opened the week before. The Center has interactive exhibits, viewing blinds, wildlife trails, paved paths, restrooms and ample parking, all set in a beautifully wooded environment. And, of course, a gift shop full of goodies like the long-sleeved tee I picked up. (See Elk Country Visitor Center Opens in Benezette.)
Our reservations are already made for next year in the spring and fall, and I can’t wait to go back to the Center and spend some time there.
Our early rising that morning left me dragging, so when we returned from the Elk Center, the rest of Saturday was a “hang around the campsite, harass the groundhog with the camera and take a nap” day. We did take a spin around Tyler Road at dusk looking for bear, but a few deer were all that were to be found. As the Phillies were making their way into the post-season, on game nights, we had to be back in time for Ron to power up that wind-up up radio. After each victory, I went outside and announced loudly, “And Atlanta goes dowwwwwn!”
Sunday morning, we awoke to a heavenly choir. I opened my eyes, looked over at Ron and asked if we died the night before and went to heaven. Of course, it was the Mennonites holding services before their departure that day.
We took a picnic lunch on the banks of the Susquehanna that afternoon, near an old trestle on the edge of Clearfield, feeding the greedy ducks that climbed out of the river. Later, I prepared an apple cobbler and popped it in the frig for baking the following day, leaving the apple cores and skins out for the critters, but alas, none deigned to visit us as we waited for them around the fire that night. When I realized that it wasn’t a giant moth, but a bat flying around our porch light, I wasted no time retreating inside.
Even though this was our third trip to Parker Dam, we had never really explored the park. Monday morning, we discovered there was a boardwalk through a natural area that had been built by St. Marys High School Conservation and Ecology Club and the Pennsylvania Conservation Corp. It took you back into an area previously inaccessible, and led to a path around the lake. That was the day 200 teenagers from Elk County Catholic High invaded the park on a Senior Retreat. We noticed the rambunctious youngsters gathering at the gazebo as we headed for the boardwalk. They quickly caught up to us, and a few stragglers bounded past, saying, “Don’t tell anybody you saw us!” When we heard one tell a friend he needed to, uh, relieve himself, we quickly continued on down the path, which led to the top of the dam. Here’s a link that will take you to their Retreat page and their activities that day.
How nice was it to see a group of clean cut, American teenagers having fun in a State Park, laughing, smiling, hiking, singing, praying, and enjoying nature! And there wasn’t a nose ring to be found.
At the dam, we discovered a bat house. I had seen an entry in the cabin journal about these bats swarming out at dusk by the hundreds, and how they’d actually part as you walked through them! Not a wildlife encounter I’m eager to experience. Ahead of us, the kids were climbing down a precarious set of steps to a boulder field at the head of the dam, and Ron just had to follow. No way was I climbing down there, having just recovered from a nasty fall that summer. It gave me acrophobia just looking down! (See slideshow of this busy weekend here.)
Having had our morning constitutional, it was now time to go in search of the homestead of Tom Mix in Driftwood, Pennsylvania. (To be continued).
Ch. 1; Ch. 2; Ch. 3; Ch. 5; Ch. 6; Ch. 7