Rundown of our trip to the Lackawanna State Forrest for an overnight backpacking trip along the Pinchot Trail.
The decision was between the Jersey Shore and going camping. Jess made the call last week and it was “camping.” So the natural question was well “Car Camping” or Backpacking. Backpacking it was. Now came the distribution of responsibilities. I immediately started going through a mental checklist of our gear and what we had and what we would need. Also, I took on the “Where” question. Jess rogered up to figure out how to feed us three which led to the challenge of what to feed a pup that eats a raw diet when you are miles from a refrigerator and hunting season is closed.
That’s when jess found this stuff from natures kitchen
. It’s dehydrated raw dog food… just add water and voila! Who would have thought.
I started looking at where these east coast types go backpacking and lucky enough for me there are quite a few places. Of course the appalachian trail (AT) goes through Pennsylvania and that was an option. I bought a book called Backpacking Pennsylvania
. I found a great hike that looked like it would fit my needs perfectly. It is called the Pinchot Trail. It was a fairly easy trail with plenty of scenery and low crowds. We couldn’t take our pup on a crazy trail not knowing how she would do. More info on the trail can be found here
Gear prep began. We pulled the packs out of storage, dusted them off and set off to check off the list of necessities.
Here is Jess trying on her pack the night before. We weighed them out and I don’t remember exactly but Jess weighed like 35lb and mine was maybe 45 or so. Jess said that these weights were way dispraportionate to our body weights but when I offered to take some of hers of course she said “no way… I can handle it”
Day one started just as every other Saturday has started here: RUN Drills. Jess ran well getting another sub 8/mi run and some fast sprints. After a shower, breakfast, grabbing everything and a sandwich for the road we took off for the trailhead. A couple hours later we arrive at a beautiful spot in a shaded tree filled area of greenness. Living in the city makes you forget the beauty of trees and green nature. We ate the rest of our sandwiches put Rogue on her leash and took off.
It was a bit of a learning curve on how best to handle the rogue pup on the trail. She would run up ahead, find something to sniff, stop (in the middle of the trail of course), we would pass her and then she would come zooming up around us back up to the front. She was waaaay too excited… “I love nature!”
We started with a gently uphill until we hit the trail register, signed in and continued on until we came to the junction of the Powder Magazine Trail (which we were on) and the Big Pine Hill Trail (which we would come back on). Jess and I both kept figiting with our straps and belts trying to find that sweet spot for our packs (it has been a while).
Rogue finally started to settle down and we picked up some momentum. The trail itself is fairly level with a few rocky sections and creek crossings. Eventually we made it to a big meadow and decided to take a break and let Rogue do some running around. Of course she went crazy. Jess and I snacked on some of J’s homemade trail mix and then we set off again.
Our camp area for the night was supposed to be around Painter Creek which was about halfway around the loop. We crossed a pretty soggy area and saw some running water at around the 4-5 mile mark and figured that it must be Painter Creek so we looked for a campsite found one and started to settle in. We found a nice area with some piled up rocks next to a tree and decided that would be our cooking/eating area
We then went about 100′ away and set up our sleeping area where we set up the tent and stored our packs. There were really no people around so we let Rogue roam free and skip around like a deer from the cook site and the campsite.
We started cooking up some dinner (i.e. boiling water to put into J’s premade dehydro dinner) with our headlamps on and the last of the natural light fading away. Rogue was pretty pooped so she found a nice cozy place next to us and layed down. As it got darker and a little colder you could tell Jess was starting to get on edge. To make matters worse, at one point, out of nowhere, Rogue stands up looking intently into the darkness, the fur on her back stood up and she starts growling. Of course this freaks Jess out and she is pointing her headlamp everywhere to try and see what’s out there. Let’s just say that that was about it for the being outside time that night. We took all of our scented items, double bagged them in trashbags and hung them up in a tree then called it a night (so we thought).
NOTE TO SELF: Don’t expect to sleep well with a big o’ puppy in your tent. We tried every spot possible but she just kept figeting and waking us up. Luckily we went to bed at like 1900 so we had plenty of sleep by the time morning rolled around, even if it was 20 minutes at a time.
Next thing, it’s morning wake up get some breakfast break camp and head back on the trail. We move along and about half a mile in we come across… Painters Creek (the real one). Oh well, we had a good site and there was another set of backpackers there anyway.
We cruised along with great weather and a fairly cooperative pup until we got to the Big Pine Hill Overlook and lunchtime. There is a tower built on top of the hill at the overlook where you can get 360 degree views of the surrounding hills of the Poconos. We took in the view and decided to grab some lunch so we pulled out the pocket rocket our new cookset and our homemade dehydro chilli mac and chowed down while taking in the view.
From there we descended the hill and made our way back to the trailhead.
Overall, it was a great intro trip. Nice mellow terrain, low crowds and some pretty scenery. The pup did well and we only had to pull a few ticks off of her.