North Country Trail - ANF (SR 321 - Henry's Mills)
TRAIL DISTANCE - 36.5 miles
TYPE - Backpack (1 night)
This was our first backpacking trip. Ever. We hiked part of the North Country Trail up in the Allegheny National Forest over the Memorial Day weekend. We actually hiked on Monday and Tuesday thinking that the crowds would be gone. We were right; we hardly saw a soul. We only saw one backpacker, and two day hikers with their dog the whole trip. It was so peaceful in the forest. The weather was gorgeous, a little hot, but not a drop of rain.
Day one was fairly easy terrain with just a few climbs, but with the distance covered today, even the small hills were tough. We haven't hiked in 9 days, and we could feel it in our legs. By mile 12 or so, we were ready to stop and set up camp, but we marched on to get more miles in. We got such a late start to begin with so we took very few short breaks. So, by the time that we stopped for the night, it was about 7:30 PM. Day one was 17 miles of hiking in 8.5 hours.
We set up camp, ate some grub, cleaned up,
and went to bed. No gear problems, no rain, and no crazy wild animal trying
to eat us while we slept. Everything went awesome. We were exhausted and
slept like babies. We woke up the next morning, got some java and some
oatmeal and tried to get our achy bodies moving. We have day hiked long
miles before, but this little adventure was a first for us. We have never
hiked big miles like this back to back. Today was going to be an interesting
We broke camp and got started on today's journey. This particular day was the highlight of our short hiking career. We saw our first bear, well, three of them actually. We were up on a ridge hiking along, and down in a small valley at least 100 feet or so away, momma bear was hurriedly climbing out of a tree quickly followed by her two cubs. It was amazing. It all happened so fast, I didn't even get the camera out. What a shot of adrenalin that was!
About 5 miles later a wild turkey was acting all crazy wanting to get a piece of us because we apparently got a little too close to her babies. She was literally making circles around us making all these funny crazy noises. So today was full of critters and a lot of overgrown trail and fallen trees to overcome. We also had to overcome a lack of blazes at certain times. Or maybe it was our lack of noticing the blazes. We made our share of mistakes in that department, which ended up costing us some extra miles. Day two was 19.5 miles in 11.5 hours.
Our first backpacking trip went extremely well. We had some scratches and a couple of bruises, and also the nasty "B word" (blisters yuk!!!) But we managed. We got the duct tape out and forged on. Overall the hike wasn't easy, but it was a very satisfying accomplishment.
Our mistakes were little mistakes, which
we will definitely learn from and do better next time. It was an awesome
trip! We are both sore and still recuperating, but we are already looking
forward to our next outing.