Pennsylvania has a three day statewide trails and greenways conference every two years. This is what brought me to Shippensburg by way of the beautiful hilly Adams County apple country. And I chose to bring my tent and camp in Michaux State Forest.
But first, here are my takeaways from the conference.
- “Being in nature fights depression.”
- “Have you read Outside Lies Magic?”
- “In the US, we care about health for the sake of productivity. In Europe they care about people’s wellbeing, and mental health is a part of that.”
- “Pennsylvania spends $12 billion a year on diabetes.”
- “The Draft State bike plan comes out in October.”
- “There’s a monetary value to recreational space.”
- “Where did recess go? In Finland, there is a recess every 15 minutes.”
- “Draw important places/areas (historic, cultural, natural) and link them with corridors.”
- “Benton Mackay, an urban planner, came up with the idea for the Appalachian Trail in 1921 after his wife died of depression.” The AT protects community watersheds as well as offering peace and tranquility and preservation of wilderness in the East. Wild East. This requires partnerships that go beyond the political realm.
- “Spending time in nature reduces blood pressure.”
- “DCNR has three online webinars about the trail plan, October 17-24.”
- “PA is #1 in Lyme disease, reason for 36% of Pennsylvanian’s not getting outdoors.”
- “There’s a Health Equity Summit in Philadelphia on November 1 that deals with transportation and nutrition.”
- “County commissioners deal with a lot of criminal justice, mental health, drug and alcohol problems. They’d much rather deal with trails and quality of life goals.”
- “People like commenting with points more than lines on a WikiMapping project.”
Final thoughts on the conference.
Florence Williams was a good Keynote Speaker. She’s a journalist, and her message was one of the benefits of connecting with nature. I had listened to her audiobook, The Three Day Effect, this summer. It’s different from her book, The Nature Fix – Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier, and More Creative.
I got to know a few more people, and I liked that they served three varieties of local cider. If I were to be a sponsor in the future, I would sponsor in a way to increase diversity.
I was talking with a couple of people about Environmental Advisory Committees (EACs) in Pennsylvania. I’m not 100% certain about the data, but it is from conservationtools.org. Here’s a link to the shapefile: EACs.
Now, about my night in the woods
Finding Primitive Campsite #8
Talking to other people about Michaux State Forest, they mentioned the Rhyolite Quarry, the Appalachian Trail Museum and the LIDAR located charcoal pits next to trees. These are important in the history of Michaux State Forest, but they weren’t part of my immediate experience.
Before leaving home, I looked at a map and found Primitive Campsite #8. You can camp for a night in the state forest without registering. You just aren’t supposed to camp out of your car. I didn’t camp out of my car. I had a backpack, and it seemed like I would probably park at the Anna Michener Parking trailhead of the AT and walk from there.
Ridge Road intersects with Shippensburg Road. It’s a gravel road that I took north for about a mile. There are a few homes that you pass before getting into the State Forest. Instead of parking at the AT, I parked in a little loop that is the trailhead for a very short (about 300 yards) trail/road that leads to Primitive Campsite #8 and a spring house built as an Eagle Scout project.
In the photo above, you can see my tent set up with the trail in the background. I headed into Shippensburg and came back around 6:30 to set up. Below is all of my stuff. The filled pack weighed all of 12 lbs.
It was pleasant just being in the woods. Dragonflies flew about 20-30 feet overhead. I was ready to sleep around then, but I probably stayed awake until 8:20. The crickets and beetles and other insects were very loud as it got darker.
The breeze in the tree canopy above reminded me of the ocean. Because it’s easy to fill your head with worry even when you’re in a safe place, I listened to the end of a Rich Roll Podcast where he was talking to someone about barefoot running, hip mobility, toad venom and crystal healing.
My 1X tent was very comfortable with gear stowed inside. In a tent, with just a mesh siding, you get fresh air. A light air mattress with a Keen shoe under one end for a pillow. Well, I had a comfortable micro-fiber jacket for my pillow as well. Ironically, I had thought I was bringing an air pillow only to find that I’d brought a collapsible shopping bag that was a gift from Adventure Cycling. Didn’t need a pillow anyway.
Tracking my sleep by the numbers.
I fell asleep early despite the crickets and jets overhead. At 8:28 pm, my heart rate had dropped to 42 bpm. I must have been asleep then. My watch tracks my sleep starting at 10 am, and it showed that my heart rate was mostly around 46. The quality of sleep based on 8 hours as 73% and 100% recharge. I guess that is 6 hours of quality or deep sleep. But I really think that the best quality sleep was before 10 pm before my watch started tracking. I woke up at 6 am.
To put this into perspective, that’s at least two to three hours more sleep than I get at home, especially if I got closer to 10 hours of sleep. I was up at 5:00 this morning after going to bed at 10:30. The reason I’m sharing this is because I want to start tracking my sleep when I’m outdoors.
It never got totally dark. I awoke to look up at a the crescent moon. No dew. The grass was dry. Perfect temperature. It made getting up so easy and I could just be there.
Camping was the perfect way to prepare for a day of sitting in meetings, especially where you’re listening to people talk about the health benefits of being in nature.