After missing last year's annual visit due to my year in Kansas City for schooling, it was great to be able to make it out to PA/NY this year for a long overdue visit with our families. It was especially good for me to be able to pitch-in helping with various things around my family's property in PA. One of the first things we did after arriving in my hometown was to help Dad and Keith rebuild one of the bridges along 'Pete's Path'. The path has been one of my dad's many projects for the past several years and he has single-handedly built five or so bridges at some of the creek crossings along the winding trail through the family's farm land and woods. During last year's flood one of the larger bridges unfortunately washed away so my dad and Keith cut up a bunch of logs to build a newer, stronger one. With the seven of us (myself, Dad, Keith, Andrew, Elijah, Lavella & Jonah) it only took us a morning to get the entire thing set, nailed, and completely finished! I think it's one of the strongest along the entire trail.
Many of my family's vacations over the years were spent camping and hiking in some of Pennsylvania's most beautiful State Parks. I think we'd all agree our favorite was Rickett's Glen State Park, which is about 50-miles West of Scranton, in the heart of the PA Appalachian Mountains. What makes Rickett's Glen special is the over 20 waterfalls flowing along Kitchen Creek, which is part of the larger Fishing Creek watershed, a drainage basin of the Susquehanna River. There are over 10-miles of trails following the creek, including a shorter nature trail beginning at the base of the lower-most falls, Kitchen Falls. On this trip we chose to hang out at Kitchen Falls because there's a large swimming/wading pool at the bottom, plus the trail there follows an easy, meandering loop through some of the most scenic flora in the park. Also because of the ease of access we were able to bring Keith along in his wheelchair so we could all be together as a family. I suppose some may not consider the path easily wheelchair accessible, but we've never been easily deterred by 30 or so stone steps, bridge crossings, and muddy/rutty trails. All in a day's work I suppose, since we've included Keith in many, much more rustic adventures over the years.
After walking the 1-mile Evergreen Trail, highlighting some stunningly beautiful old-growth PA forest we spent the rest of the afternoon walking the creek, swimming, skipping stones, building little rock dams, and eating along the creekside. On the way home we stopped at one of the many NE PA farm stands for some blackberries and sweet corn (which we grilled up later that evening).