48 Hours in PA: Day 1

Over Memorial Day Weekend, my family and I drove a few hours into Pennsylvania so we could have a quaint weekend away and do some hiking with the dog. I'd read about one of the best star gazing spots in the world, at Cherry Springs State Park, so I booked a hotel in the most convenient nearby town, Williamsport, which was actually an hour and a half away. But, it was the only town with a pet-friendly hotel and enough of a bustling civilization to prevent us from feeling like we were in the boondocks.

Leading up to the weekend, the weather was questionable - the forecast said thunderstorms possible - so we were hesitant to even go in the first place. But, I wanted to get away and I wanted to go on a little mini break with George Michael again so we just went for it.
It was a great decision because the weather was sublime (albeit, a bit humid) and we had an amazing time. We did a couple of hikes and ate lots of watermelon and burned hundreds, maybe thousands of calories climbing and sweating in the heat.

Here's what I packed:
We got on the road around 8AM on Saturday and headed west. There was zero traffic so it was an easy, comfortable drive.
Some of us were really, really comfortable.
Towneplace Suites, Williamsport
I tried to pick a hotel central to the hiking spots I wanted to visit. Williamsport is basically the only hint of civilization near the Loyalsock State Forest and they had several pet-friendly hotels so it was the obvious choice. It's a nice little town with all of the amenities and we enjoyed our stay at the hotel. It was clean and comfortable and convenient. I booked a two-bedroom; Dad had his own room, sis and I shared and George Michael squished himself between the girls.
Before setting out, we got energized with lunch. Since it was Memorial Day weekend, we made some hot dogs; it was only appropriate. For sides, we had a brussels sprout salad and some shells & cheese.
Our first hike was the Jacoby Falls trail. It said 1.6 miles but it honestly felt much longer, probably because there were several runs of rough terrain. I read that this was an easy trail, but I would upgrade it to moderate status. It took about three hours to complete. I would recommend spraying necks and ears and arms with sunscreen, as there are some sunnier patches. I also recommend liberally applying bug spray. This is a swampy area so there is no shortage of flies and mosquitos.
The hike was gorgeous and peaceful. We ran into just a handful of people while we were there, which was kind of amazing. The birds were chirping here and there, but in general, we were able to really enjoy the quiet of the forest.
George Michael made good of the streams and took advantage of nature's air-con whenever he could.
The falls were really beautiful. I can imagine they would be more impressive in the wet season, but we fell in love regardless. The water was ice cold and it cooled off the air so that we were in a little oasis. It felt great since the rest of the hike was through humid air so thick we could barely breath. We cooled off comfortably, dipping our fingers in the water, and waited for our sweat to evaporate before we made the journey back.
A video posted by ra¢h 💋 (@racheerachh) on

On our way back to the hotel, GM was so pooped he passed out immediately with his face in the rear air-con vents. When we got back, we ordered some dinner from a Thai place nearby (which was mediocre and not worth photographing) and then got ready for the next activity.
We drove north towards Cherry Springs at around 7PM, which got us to the park around 8:30, which was just when the sun was starting to set. The drive up was on rural, winding roads and we even saw a bear run across the road as we approached the park.

The weather wasn't exactly in our favor for our evening of stargazing, but we managed to enjoy the night sky for a few minutes before the clouds started rolling in. Because it was so humid, transparency was limited, but my camera still captured the twinkling lights. Hopefully you notice the 'Big Dipper' in two of the shots below.
I'll be sharing Day 2 in a second post so come back for that!