Almost Roughing it at the Allegheny National Forest

Every year since moving back to the east coast I have spent a weekend with my parents at our cabin in Tidioute, PA along the Allegheny River. This cabin has everything you could possible need for a weekend, it is right along the river with one of the most fabulous views, it is less than 2 miles from an amazing trail head, it has a canoe, a grill, a bed, and mom's cooking. Some the things it is lacking is the modern convinces, no plumbing which means no toilet that flushes, no hot water, no cell service, but who needs those? 

Friday night we arrive with enough time to cook diner over a campfire before a storm blows in and we are chased inside. After catching up with my parents it is bedtime since we plan on hitting the trails early. This hike took some persuading for my other half to join me. At first it started out as a 2 mile trail run, then it turned into a 5 mile run/hike, then it turned into an unknown distance under 10 miles. Last year I this same route out and back but couldn't remember the distance, I do know it had to be under 10 miles one way. I also had to reluctantly promise we wouldn't leave early enough that we needed headlamps. I wake up the next morning after a restless sleep due to someone (Miss Pepper) being a bed hog and barking at some 'strange noises' during the night. Nonetheless I am ready to get outside. This is when I first encounter the camp life clock. I realize nothing happens at camp until the fog lifts off the river, that could happen at 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00 but that is when the day starts. I cool my heels by eating some yummy french toast cooked up by my dad and chug 3 cups of coffee.

Now we can start the day by getting a ride to the trailhead at Hearts Content Recreation Area.  At the trail head we look over some maps to see exactly were the Tanbark Trail meets up with Hearts Content Recreation Area. We decide on taking Tom Run Trail to meet up with the Tanbark Trail. Then we are off! This trail is rather flat especially compared to the Finger Lakes and the Adirondacks, which made it nice to look around and soak up the forest.  The trail starts off with the old growth trees of Hearts Content which are surrounded by a blanket of ferns. This is really amazing part of the Allegheny National Forest with 200+ acres of virgin forest. The old growth here reminds you, you are just borrowing your space on this wonderful planet we live on. It does not belong to you, you deserve nothing from nature, nature belongs to none and it is only your job to make sure others know this and help preserve it rather than destroy the natural beauty that has been here long before you. 

One of the best things about this trail is how well it is marked. It is marked by off white/gray blazes. We did come across Tom Run Trail two times, I thought we would only hit once but we are on the right trial so we just keep on keeping on. About half way through the Tanbark Trail you come across some large rock formations and the trail actually goes through a rock tunnel. During this part of the trail I am rewarded with some geological facts about the depositing of the boulders by glaciers and some other rock facts from my geologist husband. This is also the time in the hike it is starting to get hot, so we take a break for some water, yoga, and to take off my long sleeve.  Along this trail I was surprised to see some campers at one of the two primitive campsites along the trail. I had expected not to see anyone as I did last time. For me this is one of the most dog friendly trails due to the limited amount of times it crosses the road (2 times), all the small steams for her to cool off in, and lack of other people. Bringing the whole family will always make for a more enjoyable experience. After a rather steep descent we make it to Route 62 take a left to return to our cabin. 


After returning to the cabin we have some lunch then it is time to start the production of taking a shower. It might be a production but it is a hot shower at a cabin with no running water, so it is awesome. First we have to pump 2 buckets of water, haul the buckets to the shower tent, make sure we have batteries for the pump, propane for the heater, and finally a towel. After all items are in order we can hop in adjust the heat and scrub the dirt and campfire smell off. This shower tent has a small window that overlooks the river, as long as there aren't any fishermen or kayaks on the river it is a glorious as any 5 star spa with an outdoor shower and nature views. 

Typically I do not leave the cabin except to go hiking when visiting. This year my mom told me about a band playing at a local winery. What? There is a winery? Who knew? Well apparently my mom. We decided to do something a bit different and check it out the Saturday night party at the Red Bandana Winery. Upon arriving seeing a campfire in the yard I knew this would be a different experience from the wineries in New York. It was part hoedown, part movie nostalgia, part rustic cabin, all with some awesome people and good tunes. We sample the majority of the wines with a $1 tasting  served in shot glasses.  We get a bottle of the Reflections wine, this is the wine I liked the best. I tend to lean on the dry white side when it comes to wine so a lot of their fruit wines didn't appeal to me but I hear were very delicious.  Since we arrived a bit late all the tables by the music were taken we find a picnic table to hang out on and let the music drift over us. The band Pipe Dreams played a mixture of rock music from all generations, everything from the Black Keys to The Hollies. All of which I have on my play list so I loved it all. 

One of the goals of this trip is to train Pepper to go in the canoe. We recently ordered some kayaks and would like to get her use to the water. My mom starts training her with cheese in the canoe but on dry land. Eventually we get her to in the water with more bribing, after a few times when she contemplated jumping ship she was a natural to the water. we paddled up river Pepper was looking over the bow of the canoe with the wind in her ear hair like she was meant to be there. Or maybe it is she likes to be anywhere I am.  


Sunday we spent the entire day at the cabin hanging out relaxing, napping, then took the canoe out for a sunset boat ride. On our canoe trip we are lucky enough to see a bald eagle along the banks. We stop paddling and hang out floating to watch this magnificent bird. I think to myself I will take this over watching tv any night. We return to a campfire to watch until it is time for bed. We make some s'mores because what would a camp trip be without one. Also experiment with grilling anything we can on a stick over the fire. My mom comes out with the idea of a mozzarella ball wrapped with prosciutto, YUM. This is now a must on my campfire cook list. 

The next morning we wait for the fog to lift off the river and start our travels home. Each time we come we vow to come back more than once a year. Each year we only seem to make it Labor Day weekend. Hopefully I will be able to come back more and embrace the camp vibes of starting your day after the fog clears.