A man, his dog, and their quest — to visit every state park in Pennsylvania
Dale Yohe and S’mores love the PA Wilds.
And the man and dog are certain kind of experts as the Instagram famous adventure team has set out to visit every Pennsylvania State Park.
Yohe, born and raised in Pittsburgh, has always had a love of the outdoors, something he credits to spending a lot of time growing up at his family’s cabin at Cook Forest State Park. He can most often be found hiking, biking, camping, cycling, backpacking, and adventuring with his dog S’mores.
I caught the adventure team in a rare state of rest and was able to ask them some questions about their adventures.
Q: Tell me a little bit about your dog. She is adorable and I have so many questions — how did you find each other; when did you realize she was an adventure dog; what does she love most about your adventures; what are some unique things about her?
A: S’mores is a Wirehaired Pointing Griffon. I wanted a high energy dog to join me in my outdoor adventures and she definitely fits the bill. S’mores is not a very common breed, so she wasn’t the easiest to find. I searched for about a year and I was finally placed on a waiting list with a breeder in upper Michigan. The 10+ hour drive to pick her up was an adventure in itself!
I knew immediately that S’mores loved going on adventures. She loves being in the woods. She is so good on the hiking trails and she is such a happy, playful, sometimes clumsy girl.
Unique/fun fact – S’mores is named after Seneca Point in Cook Forest State Park. Her registered name is Manitou Seneca Pointer. And she has a beard!
Q: How did you start @dogpacking on Instagram and what has the response been?
A: I really enjoy hiking, backpacking and bikepacking, so when I got S’mores, I thought starting dogpacking on Instagram would be a great way to share our adventures and inspire others to go outside and enjoy the outdoors with their dogs! I think people really enjoy following along and S’mores has been recognized twice in the wild by two of her followers.
One of my goals is to visit all of the Pennsylvania State Parks with S’mores. It will take us a few years, but we have visited more than 30 State Parks and she hasn’t even turned one yet. I’m saving Allegheny Islands State Park for last and hopefully I can organize a group outing for our last State Park visit.
I hope that sharing our adventures will inspire others to go outside and visit and support the State Parks.
Q: Where all have you been?
A: 2017 was a busy year for S’mores! We visited 29 Pennsylvania State Parks, nine Ohio State Parks, one Maryland State Park and one Delaware State Park. So far in 2018, we have been to five Pennsylvania State Parks. We’ve been hiking, camping, kayaking, and stand up paddle boarding!
Q: What have been some of the favorite moments you and S’mores shared in the PA Wilds?
A: Some of my favorite moments in the PA Wilds were celebrating Thanksgiving at one of the river cabins at Cook Forest State Park and visiting the PA Grand Canyon while spending New Year’s Eve in a cabin at Hills Creek State Park. It’s so nice to have dog friendly cabins at some of the State Parks!
There was also catching trout with S’mores going crazy by my side, taking S’mores to visit some of the spots that my Dad used to take me were very special moments, and watching S’mores and her best friend Neela winding through the giant boulders at Bear Town Rocks.
Q: What are some of your top recommendations for people traveling to the area with dogs?
A: My number one recommendation would be to hike through the Forest Cathedral at Cook Forest State Park.
Bear Town Rocks near Clear Creek State Park is another one of my favorites.
The Kinzua Bridge skywalk and the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon would also be at the top of the list.
I would also recommend reading as much as you can about each State Park that you visit. Each park has something unique to offer and there is much to learn. There is a lot of history that surrounds each park.
Q: What are some of the next stops on the Dale and S’mores tour?
A: I’m hoping to visit 25-30 PA state parks in 2018. I typically try to visit a cluster of parks and camp for a night or two. My 2018 plans include many parks in the PA Wilds — Denton Hill, Lyman Run, Patterson, Pouty Place, Sizerville, Ole Bull, Chapman, Bald Eagle and Black Moshannon. We’re looking forward to many camping trips this summer.
I’m so grateful to live in the great state of Pennsylvania with so many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors.
Follow S’mores and Dale on Instagram at @dogpacking. All photographs in this story were provided courtesy of Dale Yohe from their IG account.