Published on July 23, 2014, by admin in The Great Outdoors.

I have been camping in the Allegheny National Forest for the last few days. I found a road that goes to an oil well where I have occasional cell service and a clear view of the southern sky to point my satellite dish. There are a few trees that block the sun for part of the day and the sky has been filled with puffy clouds all week, so leaves and weather have been quite a challenge for my solar panel.

I’m really not sure if I’m allowed to park on this road. I’m pretty sure it belongs to the oil company that pays a lease to the government for the mineral rights. But they may not care. I have been gone every day and expect to see a note on my van if they want me to move. There are a lot of nice sites I found along a forest road near here but they are deep in the trees where I would lose cell, solar, and tv.
One time when I was parked in a state forest a few weeks ago, a man pulled up in front of my campsite and shouted, “Is that a Direct TV dish? That’s not camping!!!” It is futile to try to explain to someone that I live in a van part of the year, so I just smiled.

Most of you will remember a few years ago when Karen and I hiked the North Country Trail through the Allegheny National Forest. I rode my motorcycle back to the campground where we spent our last night on the trail and thought about the great times we had together. There was still a short 3 mile section from the parking area where we ended our hike to the border of the National Forest, so just to make our hike of crossing the whole thing official, I set out this morning to finish the last piece.

I rode my motorcycle to the parking area and found the trail near a shelter in the woods. The weather was typical for this time of year – hot and humid! The rocks on the path were wet with humidity, almost like it had just rained, and the mosquitos and biting flies were out in force. The trail followed the Salmon River for about a half mile and then turned up a steep hill with switchbacks. Once on top of the hill the trail was fairly leval, broken only by a couple of streams and two forest roads. Towards the end of the trail it became very marshy and I hopped about the mossy humps trying to keep my feet dry. The weeds had overtaken much of the path through the swamp, also.

Soon I came to the boundary marker and turned around. The sky grew dark and threatened rain but held off until I made it back out. It was so muggy that I wished it would rain. I was completely soaked anyway.