In May of 2017, Melanie and I had decided to skip out on the senior trip down to Disney and instead made our way to Western Pennsylvania for our first solo adventure/camping trip. We didn’t have much of a plan – nor had we ever gone out camping on our own before – but we figured dealing with bugs was better than dealing with crowds in super hot weather. Rather see a real mouse than a guy dressed up as one anyway…
Due to not having a plan, the trip did not go nearly as smooth as we had hoped. Our first stop was Kinzua Bridge State Park, which was an absolutely stunning area. By some miracle, the looming thunderstorms did not hit until after we had explored a trail or two, and I had gotten a beautiful image, entitled “Overlook.” From there, we headed to Allegheny National Forest. When we arrived, we began setting up our tent in a free camping site, and went to sleep almost immediately, as the rain prevented us from doing much of anything outside.
With little service, it became apparent that we could not contact anyone if something were to happen. However, this didn’t bother me as much as it had bothered Mel and her parents. Yet we, rather obviously, made it through it all.
Sadly there was not much in the area in terms of visual appeal. No waterfalls; no rivers; no mountains or cool overlooks. Nothing worth photographing. So we moved on. We explored a local forest, spent a night in Cherry Springs, then shot over to Ricketts Glen before stopping for pizza and heading home, officially calling it a day (week?).
Although this trip did not go as we had hoped, we still enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot about preplanning, along with what not to do if we chose to do something like this again.
One year later...
So, remember how I said we learned a lot about preplanning from the 2017 trip?
Well, we must have forgotten it all, for we did not do any planning until the end of April/beginning of May. The trip was to be the week after we got out of school for the summer: May 15th.
Originally we had hopes of going camping again, down in Georgia this time. Our hopes were to visit another state and see a ton of waterfalls. However, we began looking into campsites, trying to plan it, and it all went to…well, you-know-what. If we were going to do this trip sometime in the future, we would either stay in hotels or camp in our car, once I get something bigger with four-wheel-drive.
Still wanting to visit another state and see waterfalls – I clearly have an addiction – I began to realize that New York was our best bet. We could use my family’s cabin in Wilkes Barre as a base, rather than trying to figure out campsites and all that shizz. So that’s what we did.
Ricketts Glen: One week before the trip...
A popular location, Ricketts Glen is located west of Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. During the peak summer season, this area is crammed tight. Getting a good photograph of any waterfall – let alone finding a parking space without having to walk miles to the main trail – is a terrible challenge. I suppose this explains why I have not a single portfolio-worthy image from my first visit at the end of May of 2017.
With this in mind, Melanie and I chose to visit again, a year later, as we had a day off school before taking our finals. Luckily this was on a Tuesday, so there really weren’t a whole lot of people around. I think we ran into five or six in total.
We definitely lucked out; the only issue we ran into that day was the lack of cloud cover, making the light rather harsh from time to time. Throwing on my 10-stop ND filter and waiting definitely helped, but it was a challenge nonetheless.
To say that I am in-shape would not be an accurate statement whatsoever.
Am I truly out of shape? No, not exactly. I eat as “right/healthy” as I can with some snacking of junk foods in-between. My back prevents me from running but I try to go hiking and be on my feet as often as I can. Yet I know I should workout more, eat healthier, drink more water, and take better care of my body as a whole. Even Mel – a college athlete who is constantly getting in better shape as the years fly by – found the hike heading back up to the car to be rather strenuous. It’s just a lot.
And it killed me. Almost.
Anyway, we hiked around and took photographs for a while, taking breaks and enjoying our day.
As we made our way back up to the car, the stops became much more frequent, especially on my end. Regardless, we eventually made it back and headed home to recuperate before our week-long trip.
Next time, we head up to the family cabin before going back to Ricketts Glen on a rather rainy day. Afterwards, we begin our exploration of New York's waterfalls.