Appalachian Backpacking Trip

We’ve wanted to go on an overnight backpacking trip for over a year and a half.  Last year, we had one planned and booked.  Overnight with some friends from Atsion to Batsto out in Wharton State Forest.

The, just a few days before hand, Kreg’s shop caught fire, and we bailed on the whole trip  because he had to take care of his business and I didn’t want to go without him.  This year, I renewed the idea, but Cory had bigger plans for us.  We headed a little further north for a Delaware Water Gap to High Point State Park Appalachian Trail adventure.

Kat and Erica couldn't go, so Kreg, Monika and I stopped by Cory's hosue in the morning to get on the road with our two Elements and 4 backpacks.

headed two hours north on mostly back roads. Not a bad drive at all. We were headed to a rest stop to meet Matt and Gisela.

Cory, Matt and I took two cars to the end of the trail 35 miles north to leave a drop car for the end. This was a one way hike. Meanwhile, Gisela, Kreg and Monika waited for us and did shots of whiskey!

after a short diversion down a trail that wasn't the correct one (see map), we found the trail head and ventured in and up.

We had what we all thought was a reasonable amount of provisions and a reasonable pack weight. Nevertheless, we were unprepared for the ruggedness and steepness of this portion of the trail. We weren't really sure what exactly to expect. We knew it wasn't going to be a walk in the park, but just how bad could it be?

This is the first real break we took, at Sunfish Pond. That's about 5 miles up the trail, although we had to hike 6 to get there thanks to our little diversion.

This is a great shot. It shows the terrain that we had to navigate for probably 80% of the two day hike. Most of the time it was large, sharp rocks that simply could not be quickly traversed. You had to keep your head in the game the entire time or risk twisting an ankle (which Kreg did).

there were some great shots when we had the opportunity to stop and actually look around. But the trail was more difficult than we all expected, and we were traveling at a much slower than needed pace. It was at this point that Gisela and Matt decided they would set up camp and hike back in the morning. It was too difficult and they were worried the two day trip would turn into three. We helped them set up camp and went onward without them, determined to conquer the trail.

For the first 6 miles there were plenty of other people. Some were backpacking, but a lot of them were just day hikers. Here, we ran into a goup of others atop one of the nicer summits. As we hiked further away from the starting point, we saw less and less people. Sometimes we would walk 5 or 6 miles and not see a single person.

This is still day one. We managed to pick up the pace and make up some lost ground, but it was going to be near impossible to reach the 15 mile mark we needed to hit for day one.

i still got a hug once in a while even though we were all covered in sweat and dust at this point.

occasionally, the hike got very challenging. In addition to parts like this where you had to slowly navigate large boulders, there were also some absolutely grueling uphill climbs that just kicked your ass. And, there was even a straight up 30 foot wall that we had to climb. Would have been fun on a normal day. But, hiking 10 miles, and then doing it with 35 pounds on your back is a very different story.

there's no way you can carry enough water with you on a hike like this. Instead, we filled our water bottles from streams and ponds. Whenever we found water, we all topped off our bottles after running it through this filter.

Eventually, at almost 12 miles, we had to find a site to set up camp. It was getting too dark to be able to navigate, and we still needed time to set up our tents. We found a decent spot with enough space for three tents and not too many rocks.

After setting up camp we had some dinner.  Monika and I had packed a bunch of TVP which is super light weight and very filling because it expands in your stomach. Great lean protein source.  Also, we had some obligatory trail mix, and  some sandwiches.

We followed up dinner with some well-deserved Maker’s Mark and a few cigars.  Packed up all our food and hung it in the trees away from our camp and eventually went to sleep.  We slept reasonably well (as good as usual for me, which is not very good at all, but normal) and we slept for a long time.

This is our first day’s trek.  We started at the bottom left and walked northwest.

We packed up our camp and were back on the trail by 9 after some breakfast. We weren't exactly sure how far we had to go since we could only estimate the distance as the crow flies. We underestimated...by a lot.

Nevertheless, we were all still determined. We tried to keep a steady pace despite Monika's blisters and Kreg's swollen ankle. When we came across a well pump, we broke for lunch.

around this time, we had hiked about 13 miles over very rough terrain. We were tired, our arms were sore as were our weathered feet, and we were burning 600 calories an hour, and only consuming maybe 150. And...we still had 7 miles to go.

we had to bail on a side trip to Buttermilk falls because it was 2 miles off the trail. We just didn't have the time to get there and back and actually swim, which would have felt amazing. So, there's always next time, I guess.

Monika started to break down the last half mile because here blisters had begun to pop inside her shoes, which is very painful. Cory lent a walking stick and I my shoulder to get us all out of there, but we made it. Almost 21 miles. 10 1/2 hours of hiking. This sign was where we ended. It points towards Space Farms, a place I remember from my childhood. I grew up 10 minutes from where we ended up.

This is the day 2 hike…almost:

about a mile and a half from the end, my phone was dangerously low on power, so I saved the map so I wouldn’t risk losing all the data.  But, it made it all the way to the end.

Here is the last little bit:

We had to drive back to the start to get the other cars, and we were pretty beat up by this point.  Monika could barely walk, and all our shoulders were just spent.  Didn’t stop us from going to the nearest bar and having a celebration round before heading home to a nice shower.  We’d do it again, but maybe take on a little less.  I loved the challenge, but we missed out on some relaxation time and it would have been nice to take it a little slower.  Good times, none the less, and we were all really proud of what we accomplished.

 

Check out all the pix over here on Facebook.

One Response to “Appalachian Backpacking Trip”

  1. I want to go next time.

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