Bears and Baskets

Upon arrival, we secured our favorite pavilion by the creek and were just settling in to enjoy our fire-roasted hot dogs when our dog jumped up and bolted. When we looked to see why, we were surprised to see a bear shuffling through the park on all fours, with our dog following close behind. My son, fearing for the dog, took off running. Then I, fearing for my son, ran after him. I am sure we created quite a stir in the park. I envision that we looked a lot like the farmer, his wife, the cow, and horse chasing after the rouge gingerbread man!
Fortunately, the bear easily outran all of us, but we certainly had a story to tell as we sat back down to finish our picnic. Little did we know that the day’s bear story was still unfinished. On our way home, as we traveled down Stone Creek Road, we spotted a bear cub perched in a tree. The kids enjoyed throwing it marshmallows, but we kept a watchful eye out for momma bear. After a few minutes, we saw her in the distance and watched (from the safety of the car) as she lumbered closer. What luck we thought, three bears in one day, but wait, there’s more! As we traveled Route 322 and passed the Burnham Exit, we spotted bear number four in an open field.
I had often said that I hoped to see a bear in the wild in my lifetime and feared this must surely spell the end for me after seeing four in one day! Thankfully, it did not signal my demise, and I have lived to recount this story many times.
To this day Alan Seeger is still my favorite destination when I choose to hike or picnic. I love its mature trees, some documented to be several hundred years old, as well as Standing Stone Creek that runs through the park. The trails are also well marked and quite beautiful. I cannot begin to count how many times I have walked the beautiful 0.8-mile loop trail around Alan Seeger where the tall rhododendrons create a tunnel-like affect which are quite stunning when in bloom. There are also quaint bridges that are perfect for impromptu picture taking.
In my humble opinion, the stretch of road between the Natural Area and the New Alan Seeger Picnic Area, located just a short distance away on Stone Creek Road, is the most scenic portion of roadway in our area. I just hope that I can, one day soon, introduce this beloved slice of heaven to my grandchildren, continuing this family tradition. This is truly another diamond in our own back yard!
As a side note, the nature center was named Alan Seeger, after an American war poet who fought and died in World War 1. The poem he was most famous for was “I Have a Rendezvous with Death,” which was said to be a favorite of President John F. Kenney. Rhonda S. Kelley, Executive Director, Juniata River Valley Chamber of Commerce