Years ago, I rented a cabin in the woods with other regular hawk watchers just behind the curve of the mountain on the left, up the little draw behind it. We were all regulars to the Hawk Mountain lookout during migration season, but we all lived 1-2 hours away from the mountain. Driving home Saturday night only to return early on Sunday morning for another day of hawkwatching wasn’t a good use of our time or money. And driving any distance with tired eyes wasn’t very safe either.
None of us wanted to or were able to spend money on a motel, so we started camping out together in an Appalachian Trail shelter near the lookout. Staying overnight at the mountain allowed us to attend the Saturday evening lectures that often ran past 9 p.m. and we could make it up onto the lookout even earlier the next day. We soon became not just acquaintances but friends and started hosting pre-lecture potluck suppers and post-lecture get-togethers with other, non-camping mountain regulars at the shelter.
After a few seasons of camping at the shelter, which in the fall never seemed to be used by hikers, one of our group found a cabin for rent at the bottom of Hawk Mountain. With the rental cost split multiple ways, it was affordable and we took it. The cabin was a year-round rental along the Little Schyulkill River, so we named it the River House. We were soon staying there on weekends long after migration ended in the fall or spring. We stayed there in winter and summer, too, often having friends over for dinner or a glass of wine. I thought it was prettiest in winter. A couple of times several of us were snowed in there for a day or two. In the summer, the cabin was a cool respite from the season’s heat.
Eventually, after several years, the landlord decided to sell the property, and we were forced to vacate. Now I have my own cabin in the woods to live in year round, and not just on the weekend, but I will always have a fond spot for those years and those times spent at the River House.