I finally had a chance to hike a local section of the North Country Trail, which runs from Willow Bay in PA through to the RedHouse area of Allegheny State Park. They suggest the total milage is ~18, but that’s just the NYS part- with elevation gains it ends up being closer to 22.5… and mostly uphill (both ways!).
I started out at about 8am Sat, hiked till about 4:30p and stayed at the Stony Brook Leanto (~13mi into the hike). About an hour after I found camp, a few guys from Buffalo showed up coming from RedHouse. At first I wasn’t thrilled (I’m sure they weren’t either), but they turned out to be a fun group- as we cracked open our MRE’s I noticed, the one think I hadn’t packed.. my spoon!
Luckily “SK” had an extra- and I was happy not eating dinner with a stick (I did have to stir my coffee in the AM with one). We crashed the Leanto that night- the forest was dead silent with the exception of a few frogs, mice and what sounded like a really large Deer (we hope it was a deer).
I learned a few things on this trip-
- 35LBS is too heavy for up and down mountain climbs
- I don’t need a spare cellphone battery
- Hiker hunger doesn’t really kick in until the end of Day 2
- A sleeping bag rated for “15F” means- don’t use it unless it’s < 40 out at night (we hit 42, I was still hot in shorts).
- Ticks are bad. They should be avoided where possible.
- Most other hikers on the trail are not overnighting- they will look at you funny with your gear on.
- Uphill is hard. Both ways.
- There is no Cell Service in the forest (thanks Garmin!)
- In late fall- make sure you have more water than you need, the mountains tend to dry out at higher elevations if it hasn’t rained in a while.