Over the Victoria Day long weekend, 14 Ridley students participating in the Duke of Edinburgh program, along with four faculty from the school, spent three nights and four days camping and trail riding in the Cook State Forest and surrounding lands. Located in Western Pennsylvania in Clarion County, the area is famous for its stands of old growth forest. Cook Forest’s “Forest Cathedral” of towering white pines and hemlocks is a National Natural Landmark.
The group arrived very late Thursday night and had to pitch tents in the dark. The next morning after a breakfast heavy on bacon, the riders set out to meet their mounts and to spend the next five hours in the saddle.
The terrain was very challenging with few flat areas. The horses were very sure-footed and took care of the mostly novice riders. Everyone was stiff after that ride and we had a quiet night.
The Saturday ride was the highlight for most. We rode down and up the steep valleys in the forest, across large open meadows and forded the wide and fast moving Clarion River. The riders were warned not to look at the water while crossing and for good reason – it disoriented you. Only one rider ended up taking a swim but thankfully near the shore. We lunched beside a babbling brook and the students had a good time playing in the water, only a few soakers to report.
The Ridley students were incredible ambassadors for the school. In the campground everyone stopped to compliment the adults on the students manners and helpfulness. With prefect weather, exciting riding and good company the trip was a great success.
Written by Anne Kubu