We just got back from a nice little camping trip up into the “mountains” of Pennsylvania. Rickett’s Glen State Park is just a short drive from our house, but it seems like a world away.
Lake Jean is near the summit of Red Rock Mountain (2,400ft) and the campground is lakeside.
The kids love to spend the day by the cool clear lake, but Rickett’s Glen is best known for its waterfalls and old growth trees. Sadly though, after centuries of timeless growth many of the massive hemlocks are now dead and dying. The newly arrived wooly algeid from Asia has literally sucked the life out of them and the glen is now filled with the gray remains of these crumbling giants. Better hurry if you want to get anything close to the effect that used to be here even as short as ten years ago, the hemlocks are fading and things don’t look good for the giant ash trees either as the emerald ash borer comes our way.
They’re not as impressive as west coast evergreens, but the Rickett’s Glen hemlocks push 400+ years
One of our first jobs after setting up camp was to head out and collect breakfast…. sort of. The former hayfields and apple orchards in the park are filled with wild highbush blueberries, and tis the season for blueberries!
-although I couldn’t help but think of the children’s book “Blueberries for Sal” and her surprise run in with a blueberry loving bear 🙂
Monarda fistulosa growing in the former hayfields of Colonel Rickett.
But outside of hunting and gathering the bulk of the trip was spent sitting by the fire, playing at the lake, exploring the woods, and cruising the campground -as part of the children’s biker gang which my kids promptly joined.
Any running water invites dam building, and here Opa was trying to give a few pointers.
The park ecosystem has a few problems, but for the most part it’s a nice snapshot of the woods which used to be. There was still a late season bird chorus to wake us at dawn and the woodlands still contained the wild trillium, hepatica, and tiarella which the damp glen protects. Japanese stilt grass was probably the only non-native invasive plant which was making inroads, a nice contrast to my own overrun neighborhood.
I haven’t seen the ghostly sprouts of indian pipes in a long time. I believe they’re the aboveground flowers of an underground parasitic plant, and not a type of mushroom which I used to think.
Spring is such a busy time but I always say I’m going to get here and see if I can catch a glimpse of the spring ephemerals blooming. It would also be kind of nice to sneak off here sans children and squeeze in a hike of the treacherous falls trail and see the many waterfalls which fill the glen. It’s been years since I made the hike, but I just don’t have the nerves to watch the kids teetering near every drop-off and slipping on every mud covered step.
Our campsite was surrounded by Lord of the Ring Ent trees. They get their legs when the tree trunk or upended root ball they sprouted on rots away and the new tree’s roots are left behind exposed.
So we’ll stick to the easy trails. It’s unambitious and tame but it suits us just fine!
Walking the lower end of the falls trail. We never make it to the waterfalls but the easy walk through the forest is still beautiful.
Next year they’re draining the lake for dam repairs so Rickett’s Glen might be off the list. We’ll have to venture further, but I’m sure we’ll find something just as nice and I’m sure it will be just as much fun. Viva la Summer!