1. Detweiler Run

    Flooding at John Wert Path
    Flooding at John Wert Path
    This past weekend took me through one of my favorite local hiking destinations – Detweiler Run. I figured this may be my last chance this year getting out in reasonable hammock weather, so I saddled up for a night at Penn Roosevelt State Park.

    I waited for the rain to quit on Saturday then made my way toward the parking area at Bear Meadows. On the way were clear signs that the woods weren’t done draining from the storm. I parked, and wandered down John Wert Path. A few hundred feet down the trail, a flooded valley formed a temporary pond, and the trail lead into the middle of it. It was towards 4:00pm, so I looked at my map for an alternate route.

    Flooded Campsite on Detweiler Run
    Flooded Campsite on Detweiler Run
    I drove just over the ridge (with many downed bushy tree branches leading the way), and parked at the gate entrance to Detweiler Run Road. No sooner did I get out of the car and I could hear raging water. I knew today’s hike would be up the service road, but I had to check out the creek.

    I reached the MST’s intersection at Greenwood Spur, and saw quite a bit of water running down the MST. Just two hundred feet up the MST and I saw the primitive campsite completely flooded by running water. The swift water rushing through the mountain laurel was gorgeous indeed! I made my way another few hundred yards up the MST, and found the trail submersed in swift water. I worked my away around through some thick mountain laurel and found more of the trail submersed. After reconsidering the time, my safety, and the goal of reaching Penn Roosevelt by nightfall, I made my way back up the hillside, and followed Detweiler Run Road up the valley. I changed my course at Shingle Path, and paused where it intersected the MST and crossed Detweiler Run. An unusual amount of water this far upstream made for an entertaining crossing, and I crested over the ridge, making my way down into Penn Roosevelt for the night.

    Retreated Waters
    Retreated Waters
    On my way back out of the woods yesterday morning, reaching the MST at Detweiler Run was visible proof I could follow the orange blazes downstream (instead of taking the service road, as I did on my way in). The lack of roaring as I descended the ridge lead me to suspect this reasonable water level. As I made my way down the MST, clumps of fallen leaves and branches showed every turn the water had carved out. I entered the region thick with mountain laurel and found myself hopping from rock to fallen branch, using downed trees as bridges to keep me out of water but on the trail. Finally downstream, I reached the camping area that was flooded the previous day. The stone fire ring was now out of the water, and the area looked a lot closer as it had during my other hikes.

    Hiking along Detweiler Run after the rainstorm proved to be an exhilarating experience. I highly recommend taking a look at the area after a large rainstorm to see some local geography in action. Though take caution to dangerous situations. If you are interested in other pictures from my hike, you can find them in my Picasa photo album.

    Detweiler Run
    Detweiler Run

  2. Hike Planning with USGS Topo Maps

    Seven Mountains on the left, Nittany Mountain on the right
    Seven Mountains on the left,
    Nittany Mountain on the right
    I’ve heard that the USGS has free topographic maps, but I hadn’t checked them out until today’s binge. I snagged a few around the State College area, notably, the Tussey Mountain region near Little Flat and Bear Meadows (since I’ve done a bunch of recent hikes there) and also the portion of Nittany Mountain behind Rockview Penitentiary and Pleasant Gap, as I’d like to checkout the lookout tower and Little Fishing Creek this season.

    I hung a bulletin board and posted some of the sections of map I printed. It seems like a great way to ponder over hikes, and will be good for showing my friends where I’ve been.

  3. Going Lightweight with a Fuel Bottle and a Spork

    fuel bottle size comparison
    The new fuel bottle (in green) is about as tall as a beer can and holds 8.5 fluid oz.
    For my birthday my parents sent me the fuel bottle and a titanium spork I’ve been eyeing up at Campmor.com. Both items reduce the overall weight of my pack.

    Since getting my new pack and building a soda can stove, I’ve wanted a smaller fuel bottle to go along with the light-weight theme. The new fuel bottle holds 8.5 fluid oz and is more economical for 3-4 day hikes when compared to my MSR bottle which holds 20 fluid oz. This is especially true considering most of my hikes are less than four days and I generally cook only once a day.

    A spork was another way to shave away at my pack’s weight. Until now I’ve been using a fork/knife/spoon set (the kind where the knife and fork piggy-back using two hooks on the spoon). I always have a pocket knife on me, so replacing the 3-piece set with a spork lets me ditch the weight of two utensils. The spork will also keep me from having to dig for multiple utensils in my pack (a common headache when the fork and knife dettach from the spoon).

  4. Soda Can Stove

    The second stove is taller than the first
    The second stove is taller than the first

    About three weeks ago I made my first soda can stove using the instructions at YGringas.net. His instructions are thorough, so there’s no reason to rewrite them here.

    I first heard of the concept while doing a section hike on the AT (I believe just south of The Pinnacle). A thruhiker I ran into named Badger had just picked one up and explained to me that it could boil water. With my new pack on the way (I had just ordered it), I saw this as an opportunity to whittle away at the ounces I carry on overnight trips.

    The taller stove, just after the jets kicked in
    The taller stove, just after the jets kicked in

    I found that the first model I made did not quite boil water. The stove was filled with denatured alcohol and my cooking pot had about 1.5 cups of water and no lid. The jets seemed to be working ok, so the only adjustment made on the second stove was height – I made it about a quarter inch taller to hold more fuel. Filling the second stove to the top (up to the fill-hole) did the trick. After 1.5 – 2 minutes, the jets were going, by 7 minutes water was boiling, and the jets continued burning until about 9 minutes.

    This should take care of any oatmeal, tea, or ramen noodles I’ll be cooking in the woods. At some point I want to measure how many ounces of fuel it takes for a single run. With that I can get a good estimate on how much fuel I need per hike.

  5. My New Pack

    My new Deuter ACT Trail 32
    My new Deuter ACT Trail 32

    A week or two ago I picked up Deuter’s ACT Trail 32. It’s an internal frame backpack that’s a little larger than your typical day hiking pack, yet big enough to carry enough gear to go on an overnighter or possibly a two day hike.

    If you want to take a tent and sleeping pad with you this backpack is probably not for you. In my eyes, this pack is ideal for warm weather trips where you’d need no more than a lightweight fleece bag or blanket and a hammock. But to my surprise, I was able to fit my 3 season sleeping bag in the bottom of the pack.

    The main compartment of the bag is accessable from both the top and the backside. The top has a draw string with a typical flap that buckles down after you draw it shut. The backside of the pack has a netted pocket (which I’ve been using for quick assess to trail maps) and a bungee mechanism for stashing a sweatshirt or fleece when you need to remove layers as you hike.

    The backpack fits firmly against your back and allows you to move without any jiggling whatsoever. It has a belt strap and a second strap across the chest to pull the arm straps closer together. On the inside is a pocket to hold a water pouch, with a hole in the front to route the drinking tube. On the outside at the bottom is a zippered compartment containing a backpack hairnet built to fit the pack. There are also numerous loops for tying down gear or clipping doodads with carabiners.

    I’ve taken the pack on two evening hikes so far (both behind Tussey Mountain) but have not yet camped overnight with it. One was two weeks ago around Bear Meadows, and the other was on a smaller loop off Kettle Trail and Shingle Path. I’ll probably do several more night hikes in the upcoming weeks until I can find a full weekend to backpack. And even then, I don’t foresee myself using this pack until June or July for weekend hikes, as I generally like to take my tent when I’m backpacking in colder weather.