Playing at Ohiopyle State Park

The dam building crew

Last weekend John and Jackie, our son and daughter-in-law, came out to visit us.  Steve, our “other son” and his wife, Amy, came with them.  Steve spent so much time at our house when he and John were growing up that he is a member of the family.  He also accompanied us on most of our family adventures.  While they were here, we did a lot of fun things, but the best was playing at Ohiopyle State Park.

I’m not very good at playing.  I like to have rules and objectives.  I’m good at playing games, but have not been good at imaginative play since I hit puberty.  Maybe most of us are like this and outgrow free-form playing.  But Saturday was a very hot day and playing in the water at Ohiopyle sounded like a great idea.

A cool spot under the overpass

Finding a parking place was a challenge.  Ohiopyle is PACKED on summer weekends.  Between bike riding, hiking, and rafting, everyone wants to be in Ohiopyle.  This year Ohiopyle added a huge new parking lot, and the place is still packed.  We’ve had people stop by Fort Necessity because they couldn’t find a place to park at Ohiopyle.

But Ohiopyle is also large, with rivers, creeks, and miles of trails.  Once you find a place to park, it doesn’t seem as crowded.  Everyone spreads out to do their thing.  We pulled into a spot just as another car pulled out, and then we walked everywhere we wanted to go in the park.

The finished dams

Our main destination was the Natural Water Slides.  We figured the water level was about right to enjoy the slides and we were correct.  We watched people go through the slides for a few minutes, but decided to head downstream to a quieter area.  John, with his focus on rules, goals, and objectives (he is his mother’s son) wanted to build a dam across Meadow Run.  We found a good place with lots of big rocks to anchor the dam and got to work.

An hour later we had two lovely small dams that stretched across Meadow Run.  They raised the water level on the upstream side of the dams and created a couple of lovely, small pools.  Plenty of water still rushed through the dams because we made them entirely from rocks.  It felt good to all work together toward our objective.  We supported each other over the slippery rocks in the river and laughed together when someone slipped.  Playing in the shade and the cool river water refreshed our spirits as well as our bodies.

It was Steve and Amy’s 2nd anniversary!
More people up the run
The rocks are slippery
John and Jackie ready to get to work
The backup dam

After we sufficiently dammed Meadow Run we headed down the Youghiogheny to Cucumber Run.  We watched rafters heading down the river, running the rapids, and getting stuck on rocks.  We did that with John and Steve in 1999, but for some reason they didn’t want to do it as adults.

As we climbed along the rocks on the river’s edge, I noticed that my water shoes had turned into flip flops.  The soles were flipping and flopping all over the place!  The water shoes were 13 years old and I guess the glue that held the soles gave way.  When we got to the end of our hike, I threw them out.  They were great while they lasted, but it is time for some new ones.

We gazed at Cucumber Falls for a little while, but everyone agreed they had enough time playing in the water and hiking on the rocks.  John and I both got in some poison ivy along the trail and we were anxious to wash it off.  I think everyone was ready for a shower and some down time.  So we piled into the car, freed up a parking spot for someone else and headed out.

Now, whenever we go to Ohiopyle, we will remember our wonderful afternoon playing in the water with some people we love.