This past weekend was our first commitment-free weekend in over a month, and despite our apartment chaos, or maybe especially because of it, I needed to get outside.
I had read rave reviews of Lackawanna State Forest as an easy backpacking weekend trip. No elevation, nice campsites, and free– I was sold. We drove up Friday afternoon, through rush hour traffic, and arrived at the trail head at 7:30pm. Thankfully, Friday was the longest day of the year! So with a few hours of light left, we donned our backpacks and hit the trail.
The map and park info online weren’t very detailed. The blogs I read said that the trail is easy to follow, and I was betting on that being true. Which it was! The Pinchot Trail is a 26-mile loop, but each segment is named something different on the map and on the trail signs, which confused me as I was planning. However, the sign at the parking lot basically says to follow the orange blazes to stay on the Pinchot trail loop, and that all other side trails are blazed yellow. So despite the many name changes, the main trail was really easy to follow.
We picked a great time to go: the mountain laurel was in full bloom. For the first few miles, we felt like we were walking through a mountain laurel forest. It was beautiful. We also saw deer, snakes, and a small weird bright orange lizard.
I had read that well-established campsites are available every 2-3 miles. We passed two nice campsites right away, and decided we might have just enough daylight to hike to the third one…. And we kept hiking, and kept hiking, and then it got too dark to see, so we camped at the first flat spot we found in a wide open field.
Which we thought would work really well. We brought Mowgli with us, of course, and he seemed to love our new campsite. Once we had settled into our tent, he assumed a sphinx-like position at the door of our tent to stand guard. So nice to have a protective dog, right? It was, until we were awoken in the middle of the night by Mowgli barking and then running through the screen door of our tent to chase down some wild animal. We have no idea what it was. But we do know that our tent now has a gigantic doggie door.
Another note: It’s tick season. I’ll spare you the details, but let’s just say that they are bad this year. So bad that I found one crawling on me this morning, after I had gone swimming and taken a shower.
We finished hiking the north loop Saturday and took a side trail back to the car. Neither of us used a GPS or a watch, so we don’t really know how many miles we did or how long we hiked. Based on the map available at the trailhead (and using his finger to measure the scale), Shawn thinks we did 6 miles overall. I think, logically, that since the whole trail is 26 miles, and the north loop looks slightly smaller than the south loop, that we around 10 or 11 miles. Regardless of the distance, it did my heart and mind good to get out into the wild. Sadly, I can’t say the same for our tent.