Hike Prep: 3 Days on the Allegheny Front Trail


A signpost from my last hike on the AFT.

“The Allegheny Front Trail, or the AFT as it is commonly called, is a relatively new addition to the trails of Pennsylvania. The trail encircles Black Moshannon State Park and offers a number of vistas as well as excursions down off of the Allegheny Plateau along some very scenic mountain streams. Being nearly 42 miles in length, it is a nice trail for backpacking that could be done in as little as three days but more typically done in four or five.”PAHikes.com

This was the first trail I hiked after my foot surgery 2 years ago, and it was a defining experience in my backpacking evolution. After 4 days of walking on a sore, beat-up, slightly deformed foot, I made a promise to myself. I vowed to lighten my pack load drastically, so that my next trip would be more enjoyable. So, this hike will be a coming-of-age journey in my Ultralight career. This time, with members of in tow, I plan on shaving an entire day off my previous trip, while feeling better and having more fun at the same time.

I plan on pushing all of my gear a bit past the temperature ratings in order to save weight. With forecasted lows in the 30’s, I will carry my 40 degree quilt and my uninsulated pad. I’ll wear all my extra layers to bed to give my sleeping gear a boost.

Here are my gear highlights (all weights from my scales, not manufacturer specs)!


I’ll be eating a lot of Pack-It Gourmet on this trip. They aren’t the most efficient meals to pack (lots of packaging, low calories per ounce), but many of them are damn delicious! For this 3-day trip, I’ll be packing 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners. I plan on eating a big breakfast before hitting the trail on Day 1 and a big lunch/dinner after finishing on Day 3, so I can eliminate the weight of those meals from my pack. I don’t usually pack full lunches because I snack pretty much all day while I hike. Here’s an overview of my menu (weights include packaging):


My meals from Pack-It Gourmet

  • Breakfast 1: Pack-It Gourmet Creamy Italian Polenta (4.4oz, 260 cal, 59 cal/oz)
  • Breakfast 2: Pack-It Gourmet Santa Fe Breakfast Corn Pudding (4.6oz, 320 cal, 70cal/oz)
  • Dinner 1:  Pack-It Gourmet Texas State Fair Chili (6.8oz, 570 cal, 84 cal/oz)
  • Dinner 2: Pack-It Gourmet All-American Burger Wrap with The Works (5.6oz, 470 cal, 84 cal/oz)

The Burger Wrap is a “Bring Your Own Bread” meal, so I will bring 2 tortillas.


My Pro Bars: Superfood Slam, Superfruit Slam, and Koka Moka

I’ll be packing three Pro Bars to snack on. They are 3oz each, and average about 120cal/oz. The two flavors I’ve tried already were pretty good, so I’m excited to give these three a whirl! In addition to the bars, I plan on visiting my local butcher for 8-12oz of their homemade summer sausage. Since it won’t be too warm, there will definitely be some cheese in the mix… I’m thinking gruyere. To round out my menu, I’ll toss in some good old fashioned trail mix and some chocolate. I will also pack a few tablespoons of olive oil to add some flavor and healthy fats to my meals. For my morning coffee, I’m packing Starbucks VIA French Vanilla instant coffee. At almost $1 per serving, they are kind of expensive, but I only splurge for backpacking trips. Depending on my final weights, I might repackage a bottle of wine into my PlatyPreserve.

This post isn’t finished yet! I’ll be updating it with pics, video, and info as I get deeper into the packing process!


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