As excited as I had been all winter for summertime dark sky trips, it’s hard to believe June is almost over and this is my first trip of 2016 to a rural PA area to see stars! This was my first opportunity so I took it.
My sister Debbie came with me. We had been to Hearts Content Campground area near Warren late last September but the Milky Way wasn’t very impressive that late in the year. June is much different!
As soon as we stepped out of the car the summer Milky Way was very apparent! This was the first time I’d ever seen it so brilliant. It arched from horizon to horizon and it was stunning!
We watched it for about an hour along with a dozen or so shooting stars. Identifying several constellations was fun too. It just felt great being out there in the dark with a million stars and the warm summer air.
The moon was on the rise that evening so once it started peaking over the horizon we knew star gazing was finished. We watched it rise, quite beautiful at about 30%, red and a background of trees. Soon it lost the reddish tint and ascended higher. Time to head home.
My sister was fascinated with the idea of seeing some Elk or fox and talked about it the entire trip up but we didn’t see any. At a stop light near Wellsboro, a small bear crossed right in front of us! It was surreal. He never slowed down so it was quick. He just came from my left and ran a straight line which happened to be directly in front of the car, up a small embankment through someones yard and into the darkness. Debbie didn’t care about the Elk anymore. This was her first time seeing a bear up close like that.
A side note about the bear; I have heard from some Amish folk that bear smell like skunk. I’ve been told that often when a person is outside in rural PA and smells a skunk that it’s possibly a bear. I never doubted him but at the same time didn’t dwell on the thought.
He is correct! The smell of skunk was unmistakable. The difference is that the bear smell didn’t linger like a skunk and it wasn’t quite as piercing…but it was very much there. Something to think about!
We headed home and while I usually like to stop along the way and check out the sky, we didn’t this time as the moon was up and later it started to cloud up. I was so happy to finally make it out to star country. Hopefully my next outing will be soon!