My First Overnight Hike

IMG_1476Scoop and I piled our backpacks into her Jeep and we set out for a section of the Loyalsock Trail. Our goal…the Haystacks in Loyalsock Creek.

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.

IMG_1427Too 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.

IMG_1433A 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 IMG_1455ravine 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.

IMG_1477After 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.

IMG_1462After 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.

IMG_1431By 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.

IMG_1468Morning came early as the birds woke up and started singing. A thin mist hovering over the creek and rays of sun trickling through trees greeted me as I crawled out of my tent.

I had the feeling of being surrounded by a fairy tale wonderland. After a leisurely breakfast, we packed up and headed back to civilization.

IMG_1474I’m growing more and more in love with hiking. It’s a soothing reprieve from everyday living while immersed in God’s beautiful handiwork.

About Kathie Mitchell

Kathie enjoys country living, time with family, playing cornet in community bands, crafts, gardening, and writing.
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19 Responses to My First Overnight Hike

  1. bigVdrums says:

    It’s a 2 person and was marketed as a “backpacking” tent. I guess that’s possible if two people are carrying it. It’s a Coleman, and I really like it. Way too heavy though.

    • I bought a two person backpack tent but it’s rather small for two people. It does work well to put my backpack and boots(in a plastic bag) inside the tent with me at night. It’s not quite 4 lbs. Applied seam sealer to it. We had a light rain during the night but the tent stayed dry inside.

      • bigVdrums says:

        I just got a Tarptent Double Rainbow. It’s a two person. It’s good for me and my backpack. It’s under 3 pounds. I had to seam seal it but haven’t had it in rain yet. It’s pretty versatile. And the price is good compared to the bigger name tents. Easy to pack too.

      • bigVdrums says:

        My new one is a two person, and it’s big enough for me and my backpack, and a little extra. It’s a Henry Shires Tarptent Double Rainbow. It weighs about 2.5 pounds. I had to seal it but haven’t had it in rain yet.
        I was also carrying too much water.

      • Your tent sounds great. For a two person it’s really light. Another problem I had was my sleeping bag. Although it’s in a compression bag, it’s still too big to fit inside my backpack. A friend suggested a compression bag that squeezes out the air and keeps it out so the sleeping bag gets really small. Does your sleeping bag fit into your backpack?

      • bigVdrums says:

        I have an external frame pack, so I have my sleeping bag, pillow and a small fleece blanket in a dry sack strapped to the frame on the bottom of my pack. It saves a ton of room in my pack, which is about 48 L. I’m
        going to get a top quilt soon because I really don’t like sleeping bags, but it works for now.
        I could be wrong, but if you compress your bag too much or for too long it may damage the fill and not fluff up and be as warm. That may depend on the fill.

      • You’re right about compressing a sleeping bag. I’ve been told to keep the pillow, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad open and only put them in the bags when ready to hike. That way everything stays fluffy when opened. What is a top quilt? A blanket? Would it keep you warm enough when the temperature drops into the 30’s at night? How much does one weigh and how big is it?

      • bigVdrums says:

        It’s like a sleeping bag only it doesn’t zip up, and doesn’t have a hood. So, you don’t really get “in” it. The one I want is a Jacks R Better Shenendoah and it’s good to 40 degrees and weighs 15 oz. It’s down, and will pack a little easier than the one I have now. I’m going to get a regular size which is 78″L x 48″W. They make others that go below freezing.
        I have a NeoAir pad with a fairly high R value that I think makes up for not being zipped up in a bag. I’ve read that as you lay on a sleeping bag the fill is compressed by your weight and it can lose warmth in that area. I just don’t like being zipped up in a sleeping bag. I wear a toboggan if it’s going to be cold.
        What bag do you have?

      • I’m using a Koppen mummy type and it came with a compression bag. We already had two of those for regular camping so that’s what’s I’m using. The bag is plenty warm (good to 23F for men, 34F for women) but needs a different compression bag. It won’t shrink small enough to fit inside my backpack. I don’t like being zipped all the way up in a sleeping bag either and leave it partially unzipped. The blanket sounds very interesting.

  2. bigVdrums says:

    I’m fairly new to backpacking, and it’s surprising how much I was taking out there and didn’t really need. Mainly my 10 pound tent. Got a 2 pounder now.

  3. Daisy9979 says:

    I’m just getting into hiking and my goal is to do my first overnight trip sometime this summer or early fall. I loved reading about your adventure and enjoyed the pics! 🙂

    • Glad you enjoyed the blog. I love hiking and backpacking and my friend Scoop is a great help as I learn how to do it safely and efficiently. Do you have a friend or two to help you? There always seems to be something new to learn.

      • Daisy9979 says:

        It’s great to have a friend to hike with and to help out. I hike alone most of the time and always put safety first. I grew up playing in the woods just got out of it for awhile and my family is very outdoorsy so they help me out.
        Most of my hikes now are close to home and under 10 miles. I’m working my way up and will definitely take a friend along for my first overnight trip.

      • Glad you put safety first. Your family sounds great.

      • Daisy9979 says:

        Thanks! They are…most of the time, lol. My grandpa was a survival trainer for the Air Force so he’s a wealth of knowledge. I look forward to reading about more of your backpacking adventures 🙂

      • It may be a while until I can go out again. I’ll be watching our twin grandsons quite a bit this summer. Plus my husband and I are in community bands that give a number of free concerts, usually outdoors, during the summer. There is a rails-to-trails nearby that I’d like to bike sometime this summer and stay overnight at a camp along that trail, then bike back the next day, but don’t know if that will work out. How often do you get to hike? Have you ever bicycled and camped?

      • Daisy9979 says:

        That’ll be fun to spend time with your grandsons and awesome that you’re in a band! I started exploring the area around me a couple months ago and try to go out for one good day trip (within 1-3 hours) at least once a week. I haven’t been camping in forever but I’ve planned at least one trip this summer and want to plan more. I keep meaning to grab my bike from my parents’ house so I can see if it’s something I enjoy. Started a few months ago on a lifestyle change, getting active, eating healthy so I’ve been trying different things and so far hiking is my favorite. Do you bike often?

      • So far this year I’ve only biked on my exercise cycle in the house. Now that the weather has finally warmed up I want to get out and bike. I also have a kickbike which is wonderful exercise (it’s like a scooter with a bicycle front, hand brakes) It’s rather hilly where we live so it’s a good workout even if I don’t go very far.

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