Spontaneous Solo Backpacking Trip

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I kind of knew that I would be too tired from my backpacking trip to write up a post and…I was right. Ha You’d think with all the extra time from the stay at home order, I’d be ahead on my posts, but unfortunately I did not use my time as wisely as I thought I would have. Nevertheless, here is this solo backpacking trip I took once the stay home order was lifted mid-May.

I knew I needed a trip to myself. I originally had planned a day trip to hike somewhere in Maryland, but while driving West on I-75, I saw my trekking poles in my rear view mirror and realized I had pretty much all my backpacking gear with me. So, one thought lead to another and I drove to one of the destinations (2nd option in the photo below) that we did not select for our Spring backpacking trip. To provide some context, the Spring backpacking trip I had organized was based on a vote out of six places:

Thinking back it was good we decided to do the Cranberry Wilderness hike. The Fork Mountain Trail as shown in this post, would have not been pleasant for the experience level of backpackers in the group, or at least the initial 5 miles of uphill.

First (Unnamed) View38.979650, -79.247319

To be clear, I did not backpack the full 17.7 miles (as shown in the title of option two). I hiked a little past the main view, Chimney Top and back. This distance could have just as easily been a day hike, but I wanted a night to myself to not only re-center myself, but as well test the backpacking gear I haven’t used since the Fall backpacking trip. In fact that might be the first time I had slept in a tent alone (within vicinity of other tents) since my Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

Chimney Top

Usually, you’d hear a least some noises in the night, but to my surprise camping on the ridge had been completely silent. In the middle of the night, I started to hear what I thought was some movement around my tent. At first I had thought it was a snake, but later thought it had to be a mouse digging away. In the midst of my uncertainty, of the sound, I decided to urinate in one of my empty water bottles. Unable to go back asleep, I was very much awake for the next 4 hours until sunlight when I could see that the sound was just my tent doors brushing against each other in the very slight breeze. It’s crazy what your mind does to you when you’re sleeping by yourself in the woods. The simplest of sounds can make you think of the absolute worst possible causes.

Stealth Campsite

Sunset by Campsite

It is a common misconception that when your on the Appalachian Trail that you’d be alone at camp. As long as you set up camp at a shelter, you should run into other people doing the same. You really have to try to be alone to be alone, though I have had one or two experiences where I’ve intentionally set up camp at a shelter, to find that I was the only one for the rest of the night camped there.

Next Morning

The spontaneous trip was fitting. The struggle uphill I experienced made me realize that I really need to find an alternative to the gym and soon for my upcoming thru-hike of the Uinta Highline Trail in August.

NameChimney Top
LocationCabins, WV
Trailhead/ParkingNorth Trail Trailhead
Trail NameNorth Fork Mountain Trail
Hike Length5.3 miles (Out & Back)

Side Notes:

  • Verizon: You’ll have service to call/text on the ridge, but not internet services.
  • I unfortunately did not download this prior, but there is a map you can download for this trek from AllTrails called: North Fork Mountain Trail to Chimney Top
  • This is the only Chimney Top view I have been to that actually looks like a chimney.
  • Unnamed viewpoint: 38.979650, -79.247319
  • West Virginia’s foliage seemed to be behind. The leaves were bright green and at higher altitudes, not even budded yet.
  • If you are afraid to camp alone, try to camp near a moving body of water so the background noise muffles out any possible distant trifling sound to ease your mind.

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