Scoop parked her Jeep in the designated area and we slipped into our packs…er…Scoop slipped into her pack, I struggled into mine. So far I haven’t mastered how to put on a fully loaded backpack without falling over backwards.
And so progressed my lessons on overnight hikes.
Too late I learned the necessity of paring down take-along items to the absolute essentials and leaving everything else at home. But for this hike I bucked-up, carried the almost 40 pound backpack, and did okay. Very patient, Scoop did not mind stopping and resting when I needed to do so.
Fortunately, since this was my first-ever overnight hike and Scoop’s first in about three years, we chose a short trek to begin the season.
Our first several hundred feet went straight down a steep mountain path leading to the Loyalsock Trail.
A long time and 2-1/2 miles later we hiked a short distance beyond the Haystacks and set up camp. We chose a flat rise at the bottom of a ravine. A small stream ran down the ravine and wrapped around our camp. A beautiful spot!
As night approached, the air turned chilly. A hot supper sounded good. I heated up water in my Zip-Boil stove and added it to homemade dehydrated pumpkin soup. Yum! Scoop made seasoned noodle soup.
After supper we gathered up all food, food wrappers, toothpaste, and anything else that might attract bears or other critters. Everything went into our bear bags. Now to hang the bags on a 15-20’ high tree branch away from our camp, a branch strong enough to hold the bags but too small for critters to climb onto.
After a short search, we found a suitable branch. Scoop took one end of her 50′ hot pink paracord and tied a fist-sized rock to it. She let me have the honor of tossing the corded rock over the branch.
My first try didn’t go high enough. My second try went high but I let go of it too late and it flew backwards. Scoop managed to do a quick side step and missed getting beamed on her head. At that moment I spotted another high branch, one next to a rise along the creek.
I climbed up the rise and stood almost level with our second-choice tree limb, making this an easier target. I tossed the paracord wrapped rock but forgot to hold onto the other end of the cord. The rock, along with the cord, flew over the branch. A few more tries and we finally had our bear bag secured on the limb.
By now both of us were ready to hit the sleeping bags. Originally the idea of sleeping in the middle of the woods in a tiny tent had been a bit scary to me. However, after hiking several miles with a too-heavy backpack, setting up camp, cooking supper, and getting our bear bag treed, any scared feelings had dissipated and I only wanted to climb into my little tent and fall asleep.
Fortunately Scoop recommended I bring a ski hat to sleep in. As the night temperatures dropped into the 30’s, the hat kept my ears and head warm as I snuggled deeper and deeper into my cozy sleeping bag.
But all night long my silky smooth sleeping bag kept sliding off the sleeping pad and taking me with it. Until then, I never noticed the almost imperceptible slant of the ground under my tent. And the thin floor of the tent felt hard and cold without the sleeping pad.
I had the feeling of being surrounded by a fairy tale wonderland. After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and headed back to civilization.