After a long day of exploration, my friend and I came off the trail at Cook Forest State Park still not ready to head home. So we took a little drive and found a gorgeous area to pull over and admire the water.
Clarion River is a popular spot for kayaks, canoes, inner tubes and all manner of things that float. I searched the shore for pretty rocks and made friends with some ducks while my friend waded out for a little river yoga.
To each her own. We both were happy in the moment.
There’s a place where you can rent your equipment or just take your own. There’s also a place where you can get ice cream – in case you need to know!
Read about our hike at Cook Forest State Park here!
The quiet was so deep that their feet seemed to thump along while all the trees leaned over them and listen. J.R.R. Tolkien
Stepping into the Forest Cathedral Natural Area at Cook Forest State Park feels a little like stepping into a Tolkien novel. Quotes from The Hobbit come to mind.
This is one of the largest old growth forests of white pine and eastern hemlock in the eastern United States. Many of these trees are over 200 feet tall and are too big to wrap your arms around. These trees likely date to the era of William Penn, the first governor of Pennsylvania.
The trails here are wide and well maintained and meander through the hills. This is a place where fairies play and where you might spot a unicorn or two if your eyes were just a bit quicker. I wish these trees could talk. Some look like they are poised to pull up root and walk away.
These trees look like two old friends sitting together on a boulder. They appear to be holding hands.
This place exists because a lumber baron named Anthony Cook saw value in this incredible forest, reserving the best of it for conservation purposes. He also convinced others to join his cause, starting an important era of conservation in Pennsylvania. By the time of Cook’s death in 1891, two-thirds of Pennsylvania’s forests had already been cut so it is hard to place a value on Cook’s work.
His is an important and lasting legacy.
This place is gorgeous. The very idea that it exists because of the forward thinking of someone long ago is awe inspiring. Here’s to the future.
This is partly of my own doing since I have been out adventuring as much as possible in recent weeks. I stayed home Saturday to clean my house and did too much in a single day. Yesterday, I volunteered for Patriot Day, dragging myself home tired and sore after a day of physical labor.
So, yeah, I have been asking for it.
I continue experiencing symptoms associated with my thyroid and suspect that some of my trouble is related to this ongoing issue. But I try not to think about that as I’m actually sick of life revolving around the whims of this obnoxious little gland. I would make a terrible hypochondriac given how I prefer to just ignore an issue than dwell on it.
So, here I am. Thinking that this needs to be a quiet week. Hoping that this will be a quiet week.
I badly want to go back to this place pictured above. It’s a trail in Cook Forest State Park in Pennsylvania. It’s incredibly peaceful, stunning in its beauty. Restorative.
Luckily, I have plenty of forest nearby where I hope to go this week to mend my mind and soul. I believe in the healing power of solitude in wilderness. If I can walk without cringing tonight, I plan to be out on the trail amidst the trees and birds and meandering streams. At least for a while.
Sometimes we need to simply give ourselves a break and do the thing that gives us peace.
This weekend found me in Pittsburgh for a jaunt around the area with my friend Nichola.
She is a skilled tour guide and has a similar attitude to my own when it comes to adventuring. We are always ready to go and interested in nearly everything. Plus, we are pretty good at frugal fun and often find something fascinating or beautiful around every corner.
This time we hiked the best old growth forest in America, enjoyed Monet in flowers at the Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, and saw the city lit up in all her glory. We even got gussied up for brunch in an old train station turned restaurant. Plus, I found a new independent used bookstore to tell you about.
Perhaps my favorite thing was stumbling upon a gorgeous Catholic Church with open doors in a small rural town.
I’m not done sharing stories from my western adventure but hope you’ll forgive me for jumping around some. I’ll start weaving in topics from this weekend along with all the other fall fun I have planned.
Stay tuned for stories near and far. Perhaps you’ll find some inspiration for planning your next adventure!