A Week in the Pennsylvania Wilds - Allegheny NF - Bald Eagle SF - Pine Creek Gorge

mortonm

Expedition Leader
The following pages will be a brief re-telling of an adventure my brother and I took upon last week. We have both been members here for a few years now. It was actually my brother who turned me onto this site, as at the time I drove a 2007 VW GTI, and the thought of driving over even a well graded dirt road in it made me cringe. He had a 2008 2DR JK that he “wheeled” with at the time, and was starting to take an interest into what was on offer here. Now he has also added a 2000 Jeep XJ to his fleet, and I have been the proud owner of a 2001 Nissan Xterra for almost two years.

Build Thread Here (http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/threads/79780-Mortonm-s-2001-Xterra-Build)



In the last few years, we have taken a lot from this site, and I mean a lot; Information, pictures, build-threads and ideas for our own creations. We have read through countless trip reports, of far off places and amazing travels. We have been going on our own little adventures, most of them quite tame by comparison, but we were learning and having fun. This year we decided to head to the Pennsylvania Wilds for a week to explore, camp, hike and forget about the daily grind. We decided it was time to give back and hopefully with this report, over the coming days we can provide some of the same level of enjoyment as we have received from others.

I will start off with a brief introduction of who we are, and the vehicle we used to take us there and back again. My brother and I are both in our late twenties, in fact I am now in my final year, and my brother is 3 years younger than I. We grew up in a Suburban neighbourhood outside the largest city in Canada (Toronto). Despite this, we have always loved being outdoors, doing anything. Both of our parents grew up in small towns, and allowed us ample time as kids to play outside, at the cottage and explore around the family farm. From this our passion was born and has taken us here.

I won't bore you with too many details on our Truck, you can read through my build thread if you desire more details, but the basics are as follows. 2001 Nissan Xterra, 3.3L V6, 4WD. I have new suspension and shocks, providing around an inch or so of lift, and extra weight carrying capacity. It is sitting on 235 85R16 BFG AT tires. Otherwise, it is mostly stock as far as all major mechanical items are concerned.

We decided to travel the week after labour day, less heat, less bugs, less people. Now the decision was where to go? We thought of Colorado originally, but a week didn't afford us enough time, as we would spend half our driving. We looked a map of North America, and saw the very large patch of green in the North Eastern United States. We took a closer look and saw what was to become our destination, The Pennsylvania Wilds.

The PA Wilds is a large tract of land covering more than two million acres, and twelve counties. We focused on the Allegheny National Forest, Bald Eagle State Park and the Pine Creek Gorge. We set out on Saturday August 31, car and cooler full, and our heads full of the fun and adventure to come. We hadn't booked any campsites, and had picked exactly where we were going to stay that night. We were just two idiots, a dog and a truck full of stuff.

Turns out my brother is the bigger idiot



It was a quick one hour drive to border crossing at the Peace Bridge in Fort Erie, Ontario, and we were over into the United States of America



Another hour of driving and we had cleared through New York State and crossed into Pennsylvania, excitement was growing, but we still didn't have a place to stay



Just across the border is a town called Bradford Pennsylvania, the name may sound familiar, and that is because it has been the home of Zippo lighters for 80 years. All Zippos currently made, or ever have been made came from Bradford PA. Kind of humbling to think of all the lighters that served all over the world in countless adventures and wars all started out here.

The Zippo museum is also home to the W.R. Case and Sons knife museum. We stopped in take a gander on our way to the Allegheny NF.



A bunch of the streets in Bradford had these Zippo lighters for street lights, pretty cool.



They had a Zippo Car out Front, not sure if it is used in parades or just ornamental.



Zippo has a lifetime warranty on all products, and all repair work is done here at the Zippo museum, in this workshop



They had a large display of Zippos that had been destroyed by one means or another, some of the pictures didn't turn out, but a few did

Cocker Spaniel



Train! Its hard to tell, but this thing really is super flat, not much thicker than a quarter



There is a ton of things in there, hundreds of Zippos and knives, too much to share it all here, but here is the first Zippo ever created, more than 80 years ago! I bet it still works.



Once we had eaten lunch and grabbed some groceries, we left Bradford and head South and West into the park. We stopped at the nearest ranger station to get an idea on a camping location, we were a little worried since it was the Saturday of the long weekend, but there were tons of spots available, We ended up staying at Tracey Ridge, it was nice enough, however not particularly remote. It provided us with a great base of operations for a couple days of exploring.





The first night we had sausages on a bun, cooked over the fire, yummy!



My brother bought a fixed blade Case knife from the factory, couple glamour shots he took, nice knife for $60





Yup, it is shaving sharp!



Here is something that we just setup for this trip, we were looking for a way to keep most of our camp kitchen together. We had a few old pelican cases for equipment we no longer possess at work, so they were destined for the garbage. I grabbed this one, I believe it's a 1550, but cant quite remember now



Everything fit in quite snugly,



We were pretty tired from a long day of driving and setting up camp, we sat beside the fire for a few hours and then called it an early night, and with a smile I went to bed realizing it was only the first night, and the best was yet to come…
 
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zimm

Expedition Leader
i think ill be headed there this weekend if its too cold to sit on erie beach. i look forward to the writeup.
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
SUNDAY

We awoke the next day to a beautiful morning, despite the weather calling for rain. We quickly made up breakfast. We had planned on doing bacon and eggs, but we had buns leftover from the sausages the previous night, and my brother and I don't like doing dishes. My brother had the awesome idea of tossing the eggs, bacon, some cheese we had and hot sauces a bun, saved washed 2 dishes and forks and knives….sounds good to me!



We only had a short stay planned for the Allegheny NF, as we had intended to spend more time in the Bald Eagle State Forest, further South and East, into the Appalachians; this only gave us one full day to explore the northern reaches of the forest. There isn't a lot of technical driving here, but that's okay.

This is what a lot of the forest service roads look like



Found a few shot up signs that day





Now is a good time to introduce the third member of our motley crew. It is my brother's dog, buddy. He is an Australian shepherd, German shepherd mix with some border collie thrown in for good measure. We had to make sure we allowed enough time to get him some exercise; he is on vacation too!



You will see more pictures of him throughout the trip.

We explored both sides of the Allegheny reservoir, down to the town of Kane and back. We had forgotten to get beer the night before, and there is no more worthy a cause for an “expedition” than to grab some beer.

We did manage to find the odd difficult obstacle; I don't have a lot of off pavement experience, so this was a nice warm up to get more used to the vehicle. I have just recently redone the suspension on my truck, so this allowed us to make sure everything was functioning well before we got to the more difficult sections in Bald Eagle State Forest.

We didn't keep as good track of our route here in the Allegheny NF, as it was all numbered forest service roads and nothing of any extreme interest.

I swear it looked steeper at the time! Haha



Lots of spent ammo in the area











We didn't bother airing down while in the Allegheny NF, but you can still see a bit of sidewall flex here, even at 45psi on E rated BFG All-Terrains.



We found this in a little pull off area where the standing water was, in the middle of nowhere, some kind of electronic component. Just shows its getting harder and harder to escape civilization these days



There is a ton, and I mean a ton of oil related industries in this area, we saw oil lines and pump systems all over the forest. In fact not far from here is Titusville, PA which is the birthplace of the American Oil Industry 150 years ago.



At lunch time we were exploring up a ridgeline when the trail ended pretty quickly



Solution? Make lunch, have a beer and head back the way we came!

Some pretty fresh deer tracks at our roadblock/lunch spot



As we pulled back into our campsite, the rain was threatening. We did manage to get a roughly 5 mile hike in before dinner, it was actually supposed to be a 4 mile hike but my brother “misread” the map and we took a little detour.

It started raining just as we finished up the hike, and we were able to make dinner under the tarp while keeping pretty dry. The evenings fare included the spicy Italian sausages from last night, some tomato sauce and more hot sauce. Oh and you can see the beer expedition was successful!



Again tired from the day's events, we watched the fire burn low, talking of things old and new. The sound of the rain drumming on our tents put us off to sleep; we slept well that night knowing that in the morning we would be heading South, and East!
 
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Morticon

Adventurer
Neat story about the beer.

Last time I was in PA a bunch of my jeep buddies and I convoyed down to Rausch Creek with Canadaian Flags attached to our attennas. Some people gave us thumbs up, some people literally tried to drive us off the road. Anyway, We became friends with the organize of the event there and we traded our Canadian beer for some American beer. I ended up with some Yeungling. Liked it so much I had to grab some more when I was down this time. The beer also states that its the oldest brewery in America. Not to sure how true it is, but with a Est. date of 1829 (IIRC) who knows?
 

galen216

Adventurer
Yuengling is not the oldest beer in the U.S.

It is the oldest continually operating brewery in the U.S.
 
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xCSx

Adventurer
Yuengling is the best 'common' beer on the eastern united states, generally a decent american lager. But there are tons of 'craft breweries' around too which make much more interesting stuff. Keep on posting, I am interested in how this went!
 

rkj__

Adventurer
Good stuff so far. Looking forward to the rest.

I'm from Niagara Falls ON, not too far from you. I took my first trip to PA this summer, to check out Rausch Creek among other business.

Most of my past traveling and vacations have been in Ontario. However, I definitely foresee more trips to the nearby states. I love how much cheaper the gas is in USA, in addition to the fact that mostly everything else is cheaper too. Even camping rates are typically significantly cheaper than Ontario Provincial Parks.
 

mortonm

Expedition Leader
Good stuff so far. Looking forward to the rest.

I'm from Niagara Falls ON, not too far from you. I took my first trip to PA this summer, to check out Rausch Creek among other business.

Most of my past traveling and vacations have been in Ontario. However, I definitely foresee more trips to the nearby states. I love how much cheaper the gas is in USA, in addition to the fact that mostly everything else is cheaper too. Even camping rates are typically significantly cheaper than Ontario Provincial Parks.
I agree on all parts, love the cheaper gas especially. We were payoing 3.60 a gallon, its less than a dollar a litre.

My wife is from Welland, my in laws still live there. If something works out next year we should try and setup a combo trip. We would like to go with an extra vehicle next time, more fun and safer. Looks like your truck is pretty similar in capabilities as mine.

Stay tuned, another update later tonight.
 

rkj__

Adventurer
A Week in the Pennsylvania Wilds - Allegheny NF - Bald Eagle SF - Pine Creek ...

I agree on all parts, love the cheaper gas especially. We were payoing 3.60 a gallon, its less than a dollar a litre.

My wife is from Welland, my in laws still live there. If something works out next year we should try and setup a combo trip. We would like to go with an extra vehicle next time, more fun and safer. Looks like your truck is pretty similar in capabilities as mine.

Stay tuned, another update later tonight.
I don't get a lot of vacation time (1 week + 5 days), but don't hesitate to let me know what some of your future plans may be.

I like to get in on one or two of Niagara Overland's trips each year, as only one day off work can lead to a really fun weekend trip.
 
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Morticon

Adventurer
Yeah, we had a bow saw, 3ft blade on it, pretty sure its swedish or nowegian made or something. From the late 70s or 80s it was our fathers.
 
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