Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Ives Run Campground, Tioga-Hammond, Pennsylvania

I can't believe we have the heat on. The temperature never went above 63 degrees the entire 190 rainy, spray-filled miles from Raystown Lake, our last campground. We drove the last wet fifty miles or so on Pennsylvania State Road 287 just for the beautiful ride through the Allegheny forest. A really nice break from the bustle of the Interstate and U.S. 220, even if it was raining. And it hasn't quit yet.

We are sitting in the gray, fading daylight at our Ives Run campsite at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers campground at Hammond Lake, Pennsylvania, enduring an endless drizzle that makes the low sixties temperature reminiscent of summers in Germany. We aren't here to suffer, so we turned the heat on in the camper. Never mind it is the twentieth of July.

We haven't seen much of the Ives Run Campground yet, but what we have seen so far is impressive. Beautiful, well maintained, spacious sites seem to be the order for every loop of this campground. The sites through number 131 have water and electric, and at least three loops, Beech, Aspen, and Hawthorn, have sewer hook-ups as well. 

Here again, however, the official brochure sometimes lists services differently from what is available. Beech only has sewers for part of the loop, not the entire length. Each campsite on those loops has its own service monument directly beside the pad, but the Hickory loop has to share service monuments. The campsites at the separate Pine camp, about a mile away, have only dry, or primitive sites, but several of those sites are directly on the water. Every site is reserved for at least the next three weeks, and again, we see why. This is a beautiful location, and a beautiful campground.

We have found all the Corps of Engineer campgrounds we have camped at to each have its own personality and idiosyncrasies, but they all share one common trait: cleanliness! From the always immaculate grounds to the showers and toilet facilities, one thing we have come to count on is the standards the Corps sets for all its facilities.

How they utilize the resources and areas available varies from project to project. Some camp sites are paved, some are gravel. Some have water and electricity, some have only one, or the other. Primitive campsites have neither, but are well marked. Unfortunately, we have found brochures from the Corps of Engineers themselves to sometimes be inaccurate when it comes to describing facilities. The brochure for Seven Points, where we just spent the last eleven days, claims showers on every loop, while in fact only two of the six loops have showers. But they were spotless, even after a troop of weekend campers, who I believe may have been rhinoceroses or water buffaloes, did their best to make themselves at home. The restrooms were returned to service within hours.

As with every campground, there are things you need to know beforehand. We had a hint when Ilse happened to see a you-tube video warning about the possible need for extra-length water hoses at Tioga-Hammond. We thought we were prepared, but surprise, surprise!

We drop anchor at site 111 after checking in with the main gate. Our stay at 111 is just for one night until our regular site at 120 opens up. We need two, twenty-five foot water hoses to reach the pad's water spigot. The service monuments are located centrally between every other two sites, and the sites are not close together! Not only did we need two water hoses end-to-end to reach the spigot, but I also needed my extension power cord to reach the power panel as well! The distance between the paved pads is nice for us, though, as the added distance adds to the privacy of each campsite.

We are reserved at 120 for the next six days. The campground is so popular there is no other way to juggle our schedule. Since we have to move in the morning, I don't unhook the trailer from our Toyota Sequoia. Changing sites in the morning will be really easy as all I do after backing in is put down the stabilizers to make the trailer stable, and of course go through the drill of hooking up the water hoses and the power cords. I crank up the TV antennae and am pleasantly surprised to find we have five stations! The news is so depressing we soon turn it off without even hearing the weather forecast.

We wake up to a damp, chilly, overcast morning, but at least the rain has stopped. We make breakfast and walk the dogs around the dripping wet campground. We watch the people currently at site 220 and would like to encourage them to speed it up a bit. They are putzing their way through the hooking-up process and it looks like they'll take an eternity to vacate the site.

Dinner ready yet?
A white SUV marked Park Ranger pulls alongside during our walk, and we meet Trish, one of several volunteers who help with operation of the campground and events. She's handing out flyers about upcoming events at the Recreation Area. We chat for a few minutes and find out Trish is planning a special trip she is submitting for official approval. I'll post the details as soon as they become official. I hope she gets approval for the project, and I would like to see it becomes a regular, annual tour. That would have to be one of the prettiest camping and RV trails in the country. We wave goodbye and I notice on the flyer they are asking everyone to “Like” them on Facebook.

We cover over two miles walking the dogs and by the time we get back, the people in 220 are gone. Great! We hurriedly head out to the dump station, empty the holding tanks, and drive back through registration and pick up our new site tags. We excitedly back in to 220, it really looks like a great campsite! Ilse guides me back until we have the trailer perfectly aligned to put down the awning and have room next to the camper for the lawn chairs. Great!

I break out both water hoses and the electrical cords. I plug in the electrical service first, and surprised to find I have absolutely no cable left to spare. The power cord is twenty-five feet long and the extension cable is thirty feet long. At fifty-five feet, the power cord is almost taut. I have used every inch to connect the trailer! The water hose is also twenty-five feet long, but the extension, unfortunately, is also twenty-five feet long, five feet too short to reach the spigot.

We relocate the trailer to reach the spigot, but find we can't open the awning because of lack of space on the pad. Nuts! We decide to fill the fresh water tank in the trailer, then move it back to where we started, foregoing the water hook-up. Twenty minutes later, we break out the refreshments and kick back. Until the people in 121 check in, we have a great view of the lake! They check in twenty minutes later.

We call the local library in nearby Mansfield and ask if we can use their free WiFi service. No problem, so after lunch we run into town and on the way get to see one of the prettiest vistas we've seen on the entire trip. The Pennsylvania welcome center on US 15 at Tioga is located centrally between, and well above, the Corps project dams and facilities of Tioga-Hammond Lake. It is a really great place to see the scope of the entire project.

We find the library easily and after chatting with the pleasant librarian, she slides a piece of paper across the counter with the WiFi access code written on it. This is the first pass-word protected library we have used. The last library at Huntingdon didn't even have a consent page as with most guest access WiFi suppliers.

We pay bills, read e-mails, delete political entries, check our Facebook pages, and after liking the friends of Tioga-Hammond Lake, head to the nearby WalMart to replenish depleted stocks. It is funny to see different items stocked at chain stores that reflect the local populations. We are still not used to Pennsylvania grocery stores not being allowed to carry beer or wine. Special beer distributors carry beer, but we have found two or three liquor stores that carry wine. We stock up on milk and eggs, dog food and other essentials, then head back to Ives Run.

We drop by the Ives Run Visitor Center on the way back in to see the Rattlesnake they have on display in a glass case. It was captured at the Pine Campground. While we are looking around, Maggie, the volunteer behind the front desks introduces herself and graciously spends time chatting with us even though she has her purse ready to go. We are right at the closing time, but she tells us about several areas near here we should see. She even pulls a map out of her own bag and gives it to us, telling us to make sure to see the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania. When I asked about the Rattlesnake, she laughs and tells us about the recent visit by a thirteen year old boy, who quite seriously asked if he could take it out of the case and play with it. She said that only several weeks later, a middle aged man, she thinks he was in his forties, stopped by the center and while looking at the snake, made the same request! She asked him if he was thirteen.

As we drive out, we again meet Trish, who tells us she left a draft of her proposal at our camper. We thank her and tell her we “Liked” the Facebook page, and can't wait to read the details of her planned trip. As we drive away, yet another white SUV marked Park Ranger pulls along side and we meet Ranger Dina, the young lady who actually does the websites, including the Facebook page. She laughs and thanks us for “Liking” the page.

I think we're going to like this campground. I even bought a third water hose to reach the spigot.

NEXT: Local info - a trip to the Grand Canyon - no, not that Grand Canyon, the other one, at:

1 comment:

  1. great wish I could go back right now campground


Featured Post

The Waterfalls Trail

After several days of hiking and walking shorter trails to build up our stamina, we decided today was the day to descend the Waterfall T...