Hikers are becoming increasingly curious about learning backpacking basics so they can enjoy an extended experience on the trail and PA hiking groups are stepping up to help!
If you've ever backpacked, you know that hiking with a backpack and going backpacking are not quite the same. Which is one of the reasons why day hikers can feel intimidated about going out for an overnight trip. Providing welcoming opportunities for hikers to learn backpacking skills in a friendly, safe environment can help people get off to a great start with their new backpacking adventures.
In the spring of 2023, KTA offered a Backpacking 101 course to hash out the differences between day hiking and backpacking. The course also covered selecting clothing, footwear, and gear (packs, sleeping bags, stoves, lights, stuff sacks, poles, tents), food preparation, campsite selection, potential dangers (ticks, waterborne diseases, bears, snakes), Leave No Trace, unique considerations for women, and more.
Leaders of this course were Jim Foster, Marian Orlousky and Ed Riggs. Jim and Ed are experienced backpackers who have backpacked the entire Appalachian Trail, as well as the John Muir Trail, the Quehanna Trail and others. Marian is Director of Science and Stewardship for Appalachian Trail Conservancy and an experienced backpacker. A few weeks after the course, the leaders offered to take the crew on a guided overnight trip to practice their new skills!
In October, we hosted another overnight backpack experience on the Loyalsock Trail (LT). This trip was led by Jenn Ulmer, KTA Manager of Trail Maintenance and Training. As the president of the Alpine Club of Williamsport, which takes care of the LT, Jenn is very familiar with the terrain and campsites and was happy to take people out on the trail! Together the group learned tips for organizing their packs, setting up their campsites, and preparing for all types of weather (it was a chilly weekend!).
Stay tuned! KTA is planning an Intro to Winter Backpacking trip in early 2024! Sign up for the newsletter to get notifications about this event.
With momentum building across the state, the Blue Mountain Eagle Climbing Club is preparing for their first ever annual Treksylvania Backpacking Rally on May 4, 2024! During this event, participants will interact with and learn from experienced backpackers as they use typical gear to demonstrate the skills needed to get out on the trail. They'll find out how to purify water, cook food, pitch tents, hang hammocks and more! Attendees can talk to subject matter experts and get up to date on the latest best practices. This event will be hosted at BMECC's Rentschler Arboretum.
Maybe backpacking feels like too much for you right now but is something you want to work towards. We all begin somewhere - and that's okay! Try these tips for getting starting with hiking. If you're ready to start your backpacking journey, save the date for Treksylvania Backpacking Rally and stay tuned with KTA for more events, like our Intro to Winter Backpacking trip in early 2024!
Keystone Trails Association