Hike Prep: The Loyalsock Trail


Next weekend, I plan on doing an end-to-end hike of my favorite trail in Pennsylvania. The Loyalsock Trail (LT) is a footpath, which begins on PA Route 87, north of the Montoursville Exit of Interstate 180, and ends at a parking lot on Meade Road, 0.2 miles from US Route 220. The LT follows mountain ridges and streams through the Loyalsock Creek watershed as it travels through the woods on footpaths, old logging roads and abandoned railroad grades. The trail passes through parts of the Loyalsock State Forest for most of its 59.21 miles and spends a short time wandering through Worlds End State Park. The extremes of elevation are 665′ at its lowest, and 2140′ at its highest.


I’m leading this hike as an event for Berks-Lehigh Hiking and Backpacking. In an attempt to attract a few more people, I built in an early bail-out point, creating a 2-day, 22 mile option. As of now, half the group will be hiking for 2 days, and the other half will be hiking end-to-end in 4 days.

Gear Highlights:

For this trip, I’m shooting for a base pack weight around 6.5lbs. I’ll be going “No Cook” in order to save some weight, the weather won’t require me to carry any particularly warm or technical layers, and I won’t need to carry my insulated sleeping pad.

  • Gossamer Gear Gorilla: I’ve had this pack for a month or two, but haven’t had the opportunity to carry it yet. Normally, I’d carry my tried-and-true Gossamer Gear Murmur on a trip like this. The Gorilla (27.5 oz), while still relatively small and ultralight, weighs more than double what my Murmur (11.7 oz) does. That being said, it has a few nice features that my Murmur doesn’t. It has a removable aluminum stay (to help transfer weight to the hips), a padded hip-belt with pockets, and a zippered pocket in the lid. The Gorilla is also constructed almost completely from Dyneema Gridstop fabric, which will take much more of a beating than the Silnylon used in large areas of the Murmur.
  • Black Diamond Z-Poles Distance: I’ll be carrying the Distance poles (aluminum) because I broke my Ultra Distance poles (carbon fiber) on my recent trip the the White Mountains. The pair of aluminum poles weighs about 2 ounces more than the carbon fiber poles, but they have proven themselves to be more robust and worth the extra ounces.
  • Exped AirMat Basic 7.5 UL: I carry the “Small” size of this pad. At 64″, it’s longer than a torso pad, but a bit shorter than a full-length pad. My feet hang off the end, but I don’t really notice. At roughly 10.5oz, this pad provides a lot of comfort without any terrible weight penalty. The 3″ thickness is very important to me, since I am a side and stomach sleeper. A CCF pad just doesn’t cut it for me.
  • Enlightened Equipment Prodigy X Quilt: This fantastic 40 degree quilt has kept me warm down to 29 degrees. A 40-degree quilt might be a tiny bit much for a summer trip in this region, but I sleep a little on the cold side. I carry the 6’/wide size quilt, which weighs in around 22oz.
  • Foster’s Can 2-Cup Flat-Bottomed Ridgeline Pot: I bought this pot from Zelph Stoveworks, and I actually used it as my primary cook pot for a little while. I’ll basically just be using it as a mug and measuring cup on this trip. At 1.2 oz, it will save me 1.3 ounces over my normal titanium pot.

My COMPLETE gear list!

Clothing:

I’m expecting this trip to be warm and humid all around. This means that my layering needs will be very simple. My layering system will include The North Face Verto Jacket, Mountain Hardwear Canyon Shorts, Patagonia Capilene 2 Crew, lightweight Bridgedale socks, La Sportiva Wildcat shoes, and my trusty Outdoor Research Radar Cap. I won’t be carrying an insulation layer (such as a fleece or “puffy” jacket), but I can always wrap my quilt around myself if there is a freakishly chilly night in camp.

Food:

Since this is a summer trip, I’ve decided to go “no cook” to save the weight of the stove and fuel. I have a few cold-rehydratable dinners and fruit smoothie mix from Pack It Gourmet, which will fulfill my major meal requirements. The rest of my calories will be made up of jerky, nuts, fruit leather, and granola bars. To satisfy my caffeine fix, I am going to try Starbucks VIA instant iced coffee. I won’t be able to make it ice cold, but there is plenty of cool stream water, which should be good enough. I’m also going to pack Gatorade mix, to help replace any electrolytes that I may sweat out.

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