Old Loggers Path in Loyalsock State Forest, PA is a backpacking trip I tried YEARS ago and failed miserably. I had a MAJOR asthma attack going up the very first incline and couldn’t catch my breath. Of course I forgot my inhaler (which I honestly hate using anyway because I start shaking so bad from it) so we turned around. I was very disappointed and embarrassed, and couldn’t catch my breath even on the downhill. We were with two people who hike all the time and are in AMAZING shape- one of whom hiked the entire AT. We still had a great weekend hanging out at Kevin’s cabin, and doing some other hiking trails, but I still felt bad that we couldn’t do the OLP because of me.
So fast-forward to this past weekend. Kevin tells me that some people he knows were going to backpack the OLP and asked them if I could go along. I wanted to go for sure, but kept having thoughts like ‘What if the same thing happens and I can’t finish? AGAIN?’ I don’t even know these people and don’t wanna wreck their weekend….But I decided to give it a shot and just take my time. I am in better physical shape than I was the first attempt and also have a LOT lighter gear- not ultralight, but light enough. I just got the Marmot Force 2P tent (approx. 3 lbs) and was excited to test that out.
So early Thursday morning I headed out to Masten, PA which is the main trailhead for this backpacking loop.
I made it around 9:15am- just as it started to DOWNPOUR. I have never done a multi night backpacking trip and never backpacked in the rain. Well good- I will get to use my new pack cover.
I was a little nervous- I have no idea who these people are or what they look like and I only knew one of their names, Matt, a guy Kevin works with. I saw two other backpackers in the parking lot and asked if they were Matt or with Matt. They said yes they were with him, but he hasn’t shown up yet. So after some quick introductions (Zach – Matt’s brother in law and Claire, Zach’s girlfriend), we started to get our gear together.
Matt pulled in and I introduced myself- what a weird situation. I am heading off for a 3 day/30 mile backpacking trip with people I have never met before! This is something I would never think to do a few years ago.
I did tell them about my asthma and that I am a clumsy hiker.
We started down (well technically UP) the path, as I was breathing heavy and tripping over every possible thing to trip over. At one point I was trying to hold a branch for Claire and it slipped out of my hands and smacked her right in the eyes—WOW I FELT HORRIBLE!! “That is EXACTLY was I was trying to NOT DO!! I AM SOOO SORRY!” She just laughed it off. They were all so nice, but it’s definitely weird to be the odd person out.
We all stayed together for a while but Claire and Zach were FAST hikers- I let them go ahead. Matt stayed back with me- I felt horrible and kept telling him to go ahead. Matt kept assuring me that he was fine the pace we were walking, but I KNOW he could have walked faster. I literally have no idea how Claire and Zach were walking that fast! They would hike ahead and then wait for us to catch up. I kept telling them about the waterfalls that would be up ahead at Yellow Dog Run and Rock Run. I was hoping to eat lunch there. It was getting a little late and we found what they thought was the spot, but it didn’t look like it from the pictures I have seen, but everyone was hungry so we stopped and ate lunch. Luckily, the rain, which had turned to a drizzle had stopped. We then crawled down a steep bank to dip our feet in the water and also top off our water bladders as we weren’t sure how much water we could come across on the trail- it is July and pretty hot after all. I got to use my new Platypus Gravity filter—-I LOVE IT!! So easy and QUICK!!
We continued on our way and then came across the area I have seen pictures of online – it was BEAUTIFUL!! I felt a sense of accomplishment at reaching this area I had been wanting to see for so many years! We spent quite a bit of time there soaking our feet in the cool water and chatting with 2 other hikers that told us they had done the hike some years before, but this time just parked up the road a bit and hiked down to the falls. There was a great campsite there, but it was only 6 miles into our hike and still early, if we stayed we would SERIOUSLY have to make up miles the next few days – so eventually we continued on.
Again Claire and Zach went ahead and Matt stayed back with me. I told him I am usually taking pictures of EVERYTHING but it is a little awkward as I just met them all. Eventually I was sort of like ‘whatever – who doesn’t like to have pictures when they do stuff’ so I told Matt I would just txt him all the pics at the end of the trip.
We found a nice camp spot at Doe Run with a great little stream running through. How relaxing to just sit around, chat and listen to the gurgling stream. We all ate our dinners and compared the food we brought- I brought a soup on the go tomato soup thing and had a pack of grilled cheese crackers, which I had never heard of until a few days ago. Pretty good I must say!
I crawled into my new tent – the Marmot Force 2p – I immediately though ‘They sent me the wrong tent! Is this the one person??’ I looked at the stuff sack that came with it that states 2p, wow- I mean I was expecting a smaller tent, but I am not even sure JoJo could fit in the tent with me…I have to say the mesh has a TON of spots that already seem snagged or maybe the mesh wasn’t made right to begin with- I sort of wish I would have sprung for the tent I really wanted, the super mega UL 2, but nothing I could do about that now. The ends of the tent mesh where it attaches to the poles REALLY stretch out- I hope it doesn’t rip. Also, the tent pole that goes over my feet is VERY hard to bend into position- I really hope it doesn’t break.. I will do a gear review of the force 2p once I have more miles on it….
ANYWAY, I used the coolmax sleeping bag liner I brought with to try to keep Kevin’s sleeping bag as clean as possible- I was using his as it is a 30 degree bag and lighter than my 25 degree bag. I’m not sure overall how clean it kept Kevin’s bag, but it was nice to have something extra to pull up over my shoulders- it got very cold that night. I kept one of tent flaps open throughout the night so that may have attributed to the chill. I have to say I did not sleep well, as comfy as I was.
I was wide awake at the crack of dawn (like always) but I had no idea how long the others wanted to sleep or what time they planned on getting going- I did not want to wake them. I tried to read my book (Orange is the New Black) but couldn’t get into it for some reason. So eventually I tried to start packing up my stuff as quietly as possible – try letting the air out of your inflatable air pad (Big Agnes Q Core) quietly—not really happening. So I held my hand and part of a stuff sack over the valve the air was escaping from- I just know sometimes they take FOREVER (or so it seems) to deflate and as the others were hammock camping they had a much easier time packing back up.
I heard the others start to stir and we all got up to eat breakfast- I had a Backpacker’s Pantry granola and blueberry mix that I split in 1/2 and added some of my favorite cereal as I wasn’t sure how the freeze dried meal would taste (and actually I thought I brought a different one- apples and quinoa). Much to my surprise the meal was AMAZING!!
We finished packing up and got on our way to start the day. I had a little cell reception so I was able to talk to Kevin – I was starting to feel a little down that I couldn’t hike as fast as the others. Honestly it was really getting to me and I felt like I was holding up the whole trip. My hip started to really hurt too. I texted Kevin and said I was thinking about bailing out at the 1/2 way point – there is a road that would take me back to my car or I could take the S&NY trail back to my car. He replied that he thought I would want to finish. At that point though I was feeling pretty convinced I was going back to my car- I smelled worse than I ever thought possible, it was a bit more humid Friday than it was Thursday when we started, my hip was killing me, and I was just worried I was wrecking the trip for everyone else. Matt kept saying it was fine and the pace we were going was fine for him.
We got to a VERY short and steep section of the trail- I had seen pictures of it online, but you can never judge how something really is by pictures until you see it right in front of you. WOW -ok, just 1 foot in front of the other and grab a few tree branches on the way up.
Shortly after that we arrived at a beautiful view and we decided to rest there for a short while. It was starting to get hot and I was glad I brought my bandanna with me- I changed my hat to my bandana and it was so much more effective at keeping the sweat out of my eyes.
We were descending down to a stream and I see a tree across the path so I go to step over it and next thing I know I am hurtling face first towards the ground- not good. There was a sharp pain in my shin and then *WHAM* My SPOT GPS swung around and hit me in the cheek. What on earth had just happened? I mean I am clumsy, but really?? I SAW the log, lifted my leg-and then what? Matt showed me that there was a broken off branch that was behind some ferns and THAT is what got me- UGH! I could only laugh as I asked him if Kevin warned about how clumsy I am. He said no and I said “Good thing, you probably wouldn’t have wanted me to come with!” haha. But again he assured me that wasn’t true. Once I dusted myself off and inspected my shin which was scraped up pretty good and already developing a lump, we continued down the path towards a stream.
Claire and Zach were waiting for us there in a absolutely lovely spot by the water, already eating lunch. Matt and I broke out our lunch as well. I had a raison bagel with crunchy peanut butter- it tasted like heaven. It is amazing that something so ordinary can be so rewarding! Sitting by the stream chatting and eating lunch was just awesome- you could not ask for a better afternoon! I said about how I fell over the tree in the path and checked on my bruise and Zach said he did the EXACT same thing at the same spot. We compared our injuries and laughed at the irony.
After lunch I announced to the 3 others that when we get to the road I may hike back to my car depending on how my hip felt- and honestly I was still worried I was holding them up. They nodded and said ok.
We gathered up our things and began the ascent away from the stream- pretty steep, but not like the steep incline from earlier! As we were hiking and chatting we somehow lost the trail. According to my GPS we were heading towards the road, but not on the trail anymore. It looked like a trail, but there were no orange blazes. I hiked back quite a bit, but couldn’t find any blazes. The others came soon after and we kept looking- someone spotted orange blazes back down by the stream- we didn’t know how far we would have to backtrack so we decided to take a shortcut down the steep slope to rejoin the trail. I picked my way slowly through the slippery leaves and half slid down to the stream. Back on track! I was really glad I brought the good map I had from years ago because there wasn’t any at the trailhead and I was also using mapmywalk the whole time to keep track of where we were and could compare it to the map. Claire brought a map she had printed from online but it was very small as it fit on one sheet of paper. I also brought the pages about the trail from the book Backpacking Pennsylvania by Jeff Mitchell- I highly recommend that book- it is awesome and can give you an idea about the trail ahead.
Anyway, back on the trail it was very pretty hiking by the water, but the trail was a little flooded in places- eventually I gave up and just started sloshing through the mud. We reached the road and Claire and Zach looked back at me expectantly. “I think I am gonna hike back to my car, my hip is absolutely killing me” I said. “Really? Are you sure?” they said. “I think I’m gonna just go back- but it was really nice to meet you all! Thanks for letting me come with!” Matt replied “We’d love to have you with us for the rest of the trail!” “Yeah, I just feel like I am holding you all up!” I replied. Zach said “You aren’t holding us up” and Claire said “You came this far! You may as well finish it! You don’t wanna go home again without completing the trail!” Now I really WAS holding them up trying to decide- my hip was killing me, but we were ALL hurting- when am I gonna get another chance to finish this trail? It was perfect weather and good company- and they kept assuring me that I wasn’t holding them up. “OK, let’s finish this!” I said. They smiled and gave a little hoot and we continued on.
The southern part of Old Loggers Path was definitely way more overgrown. We got to Pleasant Stream and soaked our aching feet. I literally had the BIGGEST blisters on my feet that I have EVER seen- it was disgusting. It felt so refreshing to be splashing around having fun it the crystal clear water. Claire noticed there was a fire ring in the middle of the stream—very strange! There were a few little butterflies that kept hovering around us- it was so peaceful!
I read in the guide that there was a lot of stinging nettle on the southern loop of the trail- so before we continued on Claire and Zach put on their gaiters. I always hike in long pants so I was hoping that would be enough to protect my legs! We started hiking up- and wow- they weren’t kidding about the nettles! It got worse as the trail went on! My hip and shoulders were SCREAMING “WHY DIDN’T U GO BACK TO YOUR CAR YOU IDIOT!??!” I just had to keep reminding myself that we were all hurting! After a little grumbling from me I got into a groove and a better mindset. I can do this! I AM doing this! I am FINALLY going to complete the Old Loggers Path! Matt and I chatted away as we hiked. We crossed a road which dropped down a little and then the hike paralleled the road on a narrow section of trail. I was glad I didn’t bring JoJo with me- as much as I missed her and LOVE having her as a hiking buddy I was worried it would be too much for her, too hot and she has only been on 1 backpacking trip before for a total of like 11 miles or so, not 10 miles for 3 days while carrying a pack on a narrow path with a steep drop off. We will have to work up to that- especially how scared she was on Mt Mansfield in Vermont.
The orange blazes brought us back onto the road and we joked that we could have just walked along the road- it would have been easier! We saw Claire and Zach up ahead at Sharp Top Vista- the most beautiful view we had seen on the trail so far- honestly this was hands down my favorite view of the trip! As we walked up to them, Claire exclaimed “THIS IS WHY YOU STAYED!!! LOOK AT THE VIEW!!” I honestly got a little choked up- this IS why I stayed- what the heck was I thinking before? I honestly didn’t wanna be any other place at that moment than with those 3 strangers who I had grown to know over the last 2 days. How awesome! We set our packs down for a much needed break and to enjoy the view. We found a little snake tucked in some rocks and had no idea what kind it was, definitely not a rattlesnake though. I noticed my pack was starting to get a small hole- bummer! That was what you get for getting lightweight gear I guess- the fabric is definitely thinner than my Osprey pack. It was nothing major that had to be repaired right away- I don’t know how I would have anyway- except maybe put some of the duct tape Claire had with her over the hole. It would hold up another day and I decided to deal with it when I got home.
We pulled the map out to see how much further we had to go. Only a few more miles to camp. The running joke would be that it would seem like those were the longest few miles and every time we compared my map to the GPS map it seemed like we had “about one more mile to go” hahaha!
We finally arrived at our campsite for the night- the others had hammocks so just threw them up on the trees at the site- I had my tent and the ground was not quite level. I set up at the most level spot I could find- it would have to do!
2 hammocks under this tarp- that is how Claire and Zach slept!
We tried to make a fire, but everything was still too wet so we just sat around on the rocks and compared blisters- yuck! We made dinner and I had ramen noodles – for the 1st time can you believe it? I must be the only American that has never tried them. I didn’t realize that there was a flavor PACKET and the noodles were separate! Once Kevin told me this game on! I am allergic to a lot of weird things so I always have to watch when trying new foods that I know the ingredients and I’m also a vegetarian so all the meat flavors were always out for me- but now I could get any flavor basically and just use the noodles! WAHOO! So I brought a 1/2 packet of pesto, a little olive oil, and a mozzarella string cheese stick to throw in there as well. I stuck it in the freezer for a day before we left and it kept very well til I was ready to use it. Pesto Pasta is once of my favorite dinners and now I figured out how to make it on the trail- PERFECT!! It was so delicious, but I couldn’t finish all of it- I never get “hiker hunger” until I get home for some reason- when I hike a lot I always feel like I DONT want to eat, so even though my meal was wonderful, I wasn’t hungry for the whole thing.
I asked the group if we could get going a bit earlier for our last part of the trip and they agreed. I had to make it home by 6 so I could give my diabetic cat, Willow, her insullin and had a 3 1/2 hr drive back home. I said really they could sleep however long they want to, it was me that had to get a move on as I was a slower hiker than the rest, but they said we would all leave together. We were all pooped so went to bed. I slept way better (especially after taking some advil for my hip) except when I would turn over and roll right off my sleeping pad due to the fact I was trying to sleep on uneven ground.
During the night I had to go to the bathroom, not wanting to wake anyone I tried to sneak down the trail a bit to go, using the red light on my headlamp. I dug out my toilet paper and was surprised to find it was all wet- I stuck a wet wipe into the bag mistaking it for my trash bag- AWESOME. Luckily I brought wipes with me too- I will never be making that mistake again! On the way back I could NOT find the break in the stinging nettle to get back to my tent- I walked up and down the trail a few times- where WAS it?? It was amazing how different everything looked in the dark! I finally found my way over and crawled back into my tent- I had been sleeping with all the doors of the rain fly closed and it was super hot (and my clothes stank worse than anything I smelled before in my entire life) so I rolled one back for ventilation. A little while later it started to rain- I tried to close the door, but I was sooo tired I couldn’t get it- I realized it wasn’t actually raining into the tent as it wasn’t blowing and the rain fly is very well designed how the vestibule sticks out a little. Great! I got to fall asleep to the sound of the rain and I still had ventilation!
On the third day we woke up early- I added WAYYYY too much water to my granola blueberry mix and it was mushy and gross- I was bummed out, but ate it anyway- better than having to pack it out. We gathered all our stuff and Zach said “Did u hear or see the guy who was night hiking?” I laughed and said “Are you sure it wasn’t me walking back and forth trying to find my way back to the campsite?”
We started hiking – I knew there would be a pretty significant uphill to the next vista so I just took it slow. Matt stuck with me again, which was much appreciated. We eventually started going up some long switchbacks- we saw Claire and Zach above us and were tempted to just cut through the brush straight up to catch up but we decided there was too much stinging nettle- at some points it was above our elbows!
We reached the side trail for Sprout Point Vista- I dropped my pack. I said I was hoping someone would steal it so I didn’t have to carry it back to my car- hahaha! Honestly I wasn’t worried- there was only a few other hikers we passed on the trail the whole trip and why would they want to add more weight to what they were carrying? Sprout Point Vista was pretty nice and we sat down for a bit after snapping a few pictures. In the guide I had it said the trail was not maintained and would be very overgrown, but it wasn’t too bad actually- and there were certainly worse spots along the main trail.
There was a little more uphill to go and then downhill- my hip started feeling better, but my knee started aching during the downhill sections. I must have twisted it when I fell over the tree the day before. I had to take it very slow downhill.
Crossing over another road we noticed a sign that stated Masten was only 3.78 miles away! This created a burst of energy- ALMOST THERE!!! 🙂
We got to a fairly flat section of trail and decided to stop and eat a snack- we literally just plopped down in the middle of the trail- I didn’t feel like getting everything out to make lunch, so I just ate a Cliff bar- blueberry- MY FAV! As we were sitting there a huge tree fell down – the crash was so loud we both jumped!
The rest of the trail was fairly flat or slightly downhill- it was a little muddy in places, but not horrible. We got to one section where a pretty big tree with a lot of branches had fallen on the trail. I clumsily climbed under and through it- my legs and backpack getting stuck. Matt went through no problems! We then began to descend and ran into a group of hikers. They told us once we reached the road where the cabins were to watch out as there was a rabid raccoon. We made it down to the road and saw the poor raccoon-I felt so bad for it- it was just sort of wobbling around. Matt said if you every see a raccoon in the daytime there is definitely something wrong with it.
After we crossed the bridge we turned left and made it back to our cars! WE MADE IT! What an awesome feeling – Claire and Zach were waiting for us in the parking lot- they finished about an hour before us. We stood around chatting for a bit and then got in our cars and headed home. I made it home in plenty of time to give Willow her insulin, but man was I stiff! I almost couldn’t get out of the car! We had all talked about as soon as we got home we were gonna order a pizza- I ate like 1/2 of mine and fell asleep for a looonnnggg time! I had such a blast on this trip!
A few things from this hike:
– It doesn’t really matter how fast or how slow I hike- it wasn’t a race and we all met up at the same spot eventually anyway.
– I will need to bring more advil next time I go on a multi night backpacking trip.
– I am gonna just take as many pictures as I want, I really wish I would have taken more of this trip as the trail was so beautiful!
– I really want to try hammock camping
More photos from the hike: