Weekend Getaway in Cook Forest
As I mentioned in my last post, Dave and I went on a belated Valentine’s weekend getaway up to Cook Forest. I’ll give you a review of the lodge in a separate post, but for now let’s focus on the weekend.
We got in on Friday night to the Gateway Lodge around 8pm, then headed out to grab dinner at a place called the Iron Mountain Grill. It is a local bar in northwest PA, so we forewent our no-meat-on-Fridays-in-Lent Catholic mindset because I’m very picky about seafood. Dave started with jalapeño poppers and beer and I got a gigantic pretzel and Makers Mark. Then we went right for the burgers! We were hungry, so I didn’t get any pictures of those, but they were delicious!
On Saturday, we had an early breakfast that we took our sweet time eating in the lodge’s cozy restaurant in front of a lit fireplace. Around noon, we headed our for our first hike in the Forest Cathedral. Let me start out by saying that I am SO GLAD that I got waterproof hiking boots! I bought these Merrell Energis boots and they are worth every penny. They kept my feet comfortable and warm and dry until the knee deep snow (we’ll get to that in a bit).
While the snow had melted in Pittsburgh, in the low, tree-covered forest the paths were covered with snow and ice. At one point we were – I kid you not – hiking in snow up to our knees. When it started getting deep (ankle deep, the shin deep), we figured to just press on it would get better. NOPE! The path got steeper and the snow got deeper. It was the kind of snow where it seems firm when you start stepping on it, but as soon as you put all your weight on it BOOM, right through. Eventually we did make it out to a small, gravel parking lot where the trail continued on the other side at its regular depth. Cold and wet, but it was fun in a weird way!
Mr. Navigator. He also caught me as I went sliding down the ice path you see beside him. My hero!
Learning to steer clear of the ice!
The one snow-less patch in the entire forest!
Snow + Ice + Swinging Bridge = Adventure!
After we got back to the car, we headed to the hotel to change our socks and evaluate how we felt. Once Dave used the hair dryer on his pants, we decided to head back out for another 3 mile hike, this time up to the Fire Tower and Seneca Point Lookout. Since this hike used an access road, the trail was much wider and flatter, but still snow covered.
The view from Seneca Point
Fire Tower. 6 Person Limit. Luckily there were only 2 of us.
View from the top. Grey, cloudy day, but still pretty.
It was being held together with zip ties. =O Also, it was breezy and started raining when we were up there.
We got back to the lodge again around 4:30, changed, warmed up and went down for an “afternoon tea,” which consisted of hot coffee, tea, and freshly baked cookies. Yum!
We relaxed by the fire until dinner time, striking up some conversation with a few other couples. We had dinner reservations at the Lodge’s restaurant and it was so delicious. We spent over two hours at dinner and when we got upstairs at 8:30 we passed out, still dressed, until 2am. We’re old like that.
Sunday morning, we had another early breakfast, then packed and checked out before getting our COUPLES MASSAGE in the Lodge Spa. Oh man, it was fantastic!
On the way home, we stopped at a high school friend’s house for wine and chatting. She made us quiche and baked French toast for a “brunch,” even though it was at 4 in the afternoon. It was great to catch up!
It was a perfect little getaway weekend and exactly what we needed to relax and reset ourselves! Keep an eye out for my review on the Gateway Lodge! It’ll be glowing!