Published by Serge Stuart,
[Scroll down for the packing list for this trip]
On Friday, 19 July 2019 we set out on our 3-day trip to camp at Rocky Gap and hike Evitt’s mountain. The crew was yours truly, Dan, who was my college professor back in the day, and Victor, a Navy guy. We usually go camping once a month during the season. We go to various locations but our go-to is always Rocky Gap, located near the border between MD and PA in the Appalachian mountains. The state park is well-maintained and has a large lake with a beach.
We arrived Friday around noon and setup camp. On this trip I was testing out several new pieces of gear: my new tent - Mier Lanshon 2, Thermarest Neo XLite sleeping pad, some new stuff sacks from KUIU, food bag by LokSak, and new prototype hiking shorts by Blue Zipper. As far as the new tent - I normally do hammock camping, but wanted to switch to tent camping, because being in a tent feels cozy and more private.
At campground, we were in Ironwood loop, which is a loop close to the lake, although our site was not on the lake. The weather forecast was hot and humid, and arriving to the site we knew this was going to be uncomfortable with a heat index of 105 degrees and not much wind.
We setup and went to the beach to take a swim in Lake Habeeb. The water was great, and although there were a lot of people at the beach, the swim was nice and refreshing, if only for a short time. We came back to camp and had lunch. Our plan was to make salmon with stuffing for dinner.
Dan started making dinner on campfire around 7pm and we had a great meal at camp, after which we relaxed and talked politics (why oh why?) and general life topics.
That night I didn’t sleep too well due to the heat, even though I had both vestibule doors open on my tent; there was just no air movement. As far as the tent setup - I put my Thermarest air pad in there and my lightweight summer sleeping bag. I didnt sleep inside the sleeping bag though. The setup was nice and comfortable (minus the hot and humid temps) although one change I will make is to get an air pillow. I used a KUIU stuff sack with my fleece inside as a pillow, and after a while, it got pretty flat.
I woke up around 7am on Saturday and made coffee using my GSI cook kit with BRS stove. I normally like to have 2 cups of coffee when I wake up while camping. GSI system with BRS stove allows for quick water boils and is a pleasure to use. I also ate a granola bar.
After breakfast, we started prepping for the hike up Evitt’s mountain. We estimated elevation gain on the hike to be around 1500 feet (was 1200) and the hike up is 4 miles, so our trip would be about 8 miles. Normally, not a difficult track, the fact that the temperatures were so high we wanted to make sure we are well hydrated. I drank a liter of water with NOON electrolytes tablet in it. For the track, I had a 2 liter bladder in my buttpack and a 1 liter SmartWater bottle in my hand.
For the hike I used my Mystery Ranch Glacier backpack top lid/buttpack with a 2 liter bladder inside as well some snacks. I like using it instead of a day pack as I already bring it part of my backpack and it rides nice and can hold a lot of stuff, like the 10 essentials and water.
On this trip I was also testing hiking shorts from Blue Zipper, a local Baltimore company that tries to minimize the use of synthetic materials manufacturing by using proprietary cotton material. The shorts performed fine around camp, but for the hike up the mountain I used my running shorts as they were lighter and quicker to dry. I think Blue Zipper shorts are great for normal temperatures or for fall or spring, and were comfortable and well designed and made. During high temperature and high humidity, I found them to dry slower than synthetic shorts.
Our hike to the top of Evitt’s mountain was pretty hard due to the heat index. The incline itself is not difficult, but the lack of moving air and high humidity made our track slow. The trail up the spur of the mountain is a bit sandy and rocky at times, it’s an old doubletrack fire path. It can be done in trail runners, although I had on Columbia hiking shoes with ankle support. My friend Victor had on trail runners, and Dan had on his old leather hiking boots. By the time we started the climb, our shirts were soaking wet from sweating. They stayed that way pretty much through the whole hike, not drying, since the air humidity was very high.
After reaching the summit and taking a break there, we turned around and hiked back to camp. The track back was fast as we wanted to get back and cool off in the lake. After a total of 4 hours of hiking, we got to camp and had lunch. I ate 2 Backpackers Pantry meals, since I was so hungry after hiking.
We decided to take a swim in the lake to cool off after the hike. This time we did not go to the beach area though, just swam near the Ironwood loop on a nice drafty peninsula.
After returning from the lake, we decided that instead of making our steak dinner at camp, we’d like to go to town and eat at Denny’s. This is something we don’t do normally, but we were tired from the hike and though it was better to let somebody else cook for us. The meal was fine and we came back to camp with our bellies full. Matter of tradition on our trips our first dinner in camp is something yummy and prepared on the fire. For the rest of the days we normally eat dehydrated meals and snacks.
Saturday night was a bit cooler but I still did not sleep too well. All the water I been drinking during the day made me get up couple of times during the night to go pee.
The next morning we made the steak at camp with eggs and hash browns. It was glorious! Sundays we normally wake up, have breakfast, pack up, and go home around 10am.
A few final thoughts on the trip. I think we did enjoy the trip, especially accomplishing the climb to the summit and the lake, but super hot weather made us realize that perhaps we should skip July and come back in August or September the next season.
The gear I was testing performed well. I love the Mier tent; it is comfortable and easy to setup with tracking poles. The sleeping pad needs no review here - it is a great product, the stuff sacks worked as advertised, and the food bag did its thing with no animals getting to it - it supposed to be odor-proof.
The shorts by BlueZipper are nice, but like I said earlier in the 105 degree heat index, something lighter weight is better, just because it dries out quicker.
Let me know if you have any questions and happy hiking/camping. Till next time, see you on the trails!
I have included my packing list below for reference.
Weight: 25 lbs