Off the Grid in Sinnemahoning State Park

Every year for 30 years, Will has gone to Sinnemahoning State Park to go trout fishing with his dad, and often his grandpap, uncle, and cousin (prior to his grandpap and uncle passing). It is 2020, so obviously their usual trip did not happen this year. When we were trying to figure out where to officially start our trip, Sinnemahoning seemed like the perfect place to start, especially when his parents decided to stay in a cabin just up the road from us.

Early in our relationship, I heard so many stories about this place and how much it meant to Will. Cell service is spotty at best, and he would always find a way to call and send pictures when he was on his annual trip so I could hear all about it. We made our first (and only prior) trip here together when I was 6 weeks pregnant with Little Bird, and the last time Will had been here was about 6 weeks before she was born. Thankfully, we were stocked up with bananas and applesauce for Bird and not me this time!

Our campsite was really nice, and we set up camp like we have done this before! Since we were only staying 2 nights, we did not pull out all the bells and whistles, but we certainly made it feel cozy. Within a short time of getting there, though, we realized we would have an ongoing and relentless battle with flies. They were literally swarming us (except for Little Bird, thank heavens for small miracles) and did not hesitate to bite. We have all the bug resistant repellent things out there, but as soon as we were set up, Will ran to the only little store in the valley and picked up one of every bug fighting thing they had – an admittedly futile effort in retrospect. Once the sun set, however, the flies seemed to disappear (or at least let up on their attack) and the mosquitoes either were not bad at all or we the cloud of repelling chemicals around our campsite was thick enough to keep them away (either way, it was truly a win).

The first evening we were there, Will’s parents put Little Bird to bed so Will and I could go watch the sunset at the top of the mountain. And what an amazing sunset it was. We had such a nice drive up the dirt roads to the overlook and sat and watched the sun go down to a gorgeous display of pink and orange. It was incredibly nice to get away just the 2 of us for an hour and a half, since that is not something we are going to get for some time. As much as I loved sitting and watching the sunset, I am pretty sure the highlight for Will was seeing a rattlesnake on the road on our way back to the campground.

By the time we returned to camp, it was dark and oh-my-goodness. The stars. It has been a long time since I have seen such a beautiful night sky and what a treat to have such a clear sky during the Perseids meteor shower (although we only saw a few shooting stars). I laid in the hammock for not nearly long enough and soaked in the stars and satellites and sounds of summer.

On our only full day in Sinnemahoning, we let Daisy rest in the cool camper and packed up Little Bird for a hike. There is a special place Will likes to go to when he is in the area that is rather a challenge to get to. In retrospect, we maybe should have chosen to forego the trip to this spot and taken a hike on more charted territory, however, we both had our own things to prove to get to this spot. For me, I had to prove that I could make this hike now after making it up 2 years ago when pregnant with Little Bird. Pregnancy and the 15 months postpartum have not been easy in many ways, but particularly not easy physically, and I felt like I had so much to prove. For Will, he wanted to prove that he could carry Little Bird up the mountain. He has been hiking to this spot for the past 4 years, and each trip up there has marked a significant milestone in his life. Taking Little Bird there brought many feelings full circle for both of us.

After our hike, we explored the park a little more and discovered parts that Will had never visited. In the afternoon, he and his dad got a little fishing in (not much catching, though), and we had a truly special final evening in Pennsylvania sitting with his parents by the fire. It is amazing how quickly 2 nights goes, but after saying our never easy “see you laters,” we were excited to continue our journey.

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