Boy, it’s been a long time since just the two of us went backpacking alone… like 24 years (coinciding with a certain event whose 24th anniversary is coming up Oct 3).
It took us a while to decide where to go for the long Labor Day weekend, but we used our usual method of finding an empty green spot on the map and then seeing what it is. This time it turned out to be Hickory Creek Wilderness area in the Allegheny National Forest just north of Tionesta. It actually surprised us that it didn’t take all that long to get there, so we definitely want to go back now.
A couple photos from the trail:
We were pretty sure the mushrooms were poisonous Jack-O-Lanterns and not delectable Chanterelles, but unfortunately I’d forgotten to pack our mushroom field guide, so we only took a picture (that’s right kids, safety first!).
The trail is blazed to a certain extent, though we read later that they are allowing the blazes to fade, in order to preserve the wilderness aspect of the area, so now we understand why we lost the trail at one point and ended up in what I dubbed the Slough of Despond…
Beautiful it may appear to be, but we wandered about in it for a good half-hour, sinking into bogs, falling into ditches, and generally getting scratched and cut up. But eventually a re-tracing of our steps and a re-reading of our trail guide got us back on track.
The trail through the wilderness is about 12 miles long, so we camped in two separate locations Saturday and Sunday nights.The first campsite was along Jack’s Run, so we had plenty of water, but we could see by the map that the entire balance of the trail was not near water, so we boiled and filtered about a gallon extra to pack with us for the 2nd night.
Saturday night’s menu: Tuna-noodle stuff, with the addition of various yummy organic veggies, and a lovely Sierra cup full of homemade Chiraz.
The weather was so gorgeous, we didn’t even bother packing a tent! Good choice, too; it was really perfect for sleeping outside. We heard owls both nights (different types) and coyotes the first night. Other than that, it was so nice and quiet – none of those underlying noises of civilization that we get so used to.
Sunday night’s menu: foil dinners cooked in the campfire with, again, lots of veggies from the farm, and with the addition of prosciutto, which I’ll have to remember for the next time – it really made the dinner special, and was so easy to pack!
Unfortunately, since all the trail maps were gone at the trailhead when we arrived on Saturday, we didn’t read till afterward that the Forest Service asks that people don’t make campfires in the wilderness area, but rather only use campstoves, which of course we did have and use for much of our cooking, but we could have used it exclusively had we known. But now we know for next time…
We did, however, do our best to Leave No Trace… here’s Campsite II after we cleaned up Monday morning:
So – a really wonderful weekend. We really want to go back with the kids at some point, and also explore some more of the area.