Trip Prep for the 70-Mile Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail

I don’t usually spend a lot of time planning gear and food for a three-four day trip because my gear list is pretty set and dependable. I want to get the weight and selection right on this, though. Usually summer trips in the mid-Atlantic are straightforward and this one, 70+ miles in Pennsylvania on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail, isn’t an exception. Unnecessary or uninformed choices could lead to mistakes out there, so I’ll just run though a few things here to “talk” it out.

Shelter: I had been using a small cuben fiber MLD tarp and bivy my last couple summer trips because, well, it’s so darn light and also fantastic for staying cool when the humidity at night refuses to drop. The problem with the setup is that it simply doesn’t provide a lot of storm coverage if I get hit hard in the night. This is a low risk of sorts but with four nights on a trail I don’t know if I want to risk it. I’ll bring my beloved Yama Mountain Gear Cirriform 2-P, also cuben fiber. Light and fully protective. It’s definitely heavier and bulkier than the tarp/bivy combo and more difficult to fully vent during a hot night, but it will protect me from elements and bugs. Worth it for ease of mind out there.

Backpack/quilt/pad: No hard decisions here. I have my trusty MLD CF Exodus, which is my go-to year round. Also, I don’t need anything more than my 9-oz. 40 degree Nunatak quilt and Thermarest Neoair Uberlite. Glad I have those items for my summer trips. This is their appropriate temperature range. Also, I’ll have a very small Caldera cone titanium setup for an alcohol stove and other small and necessary backpacking items, including headlamp, charger, medical kit, toiletries, etc.

Clothing: Been fussing about this a bit. I was considering bringing the kilt out for a trip but I’m a little concerned about having my legs exposed for the duration of the hike and also catching the locals eyes as an oddity. I think I’ll go with traditional hiking pants that convert from shorts to pants. That should help with ticks too. I’ll take my normal hike free or die BPL shirt too. Since we have a couple bars/markets to hit up on trail, I’m also tempted to bring a change of shirt in the attempt not to smell the place up. I don’t usually do this. For insulation, this is also a tricky question. I skipped anything but a wind-shirt on my last three-day trip and was a little unsure of the choice after a storm rolled through on the ridge. I ended up being fine but I didn’t like the slight doubt and risk. I’ll take a full shell instead this time. I’m on the fence about a microfleece but leaning toward it. I also think the umbrella comes too, both for rain and sun protection.

Food/Water: The only question is not overpacking since there are two eating spots along the way. That being said, were something to interfere with hitting those spots, backup food is necessary. Probably no-win on this. Take the food. Risk overpacking. Same with water. I’ll have capacity up to 6 liters and hope I don’t have to hike too often or far with that full complement of water. I also will have lots of hydration tablets too. And whiskey.

Looming final question: do I bring my little chair?

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