Raymond B. Winter State Park – start of the hike

With its incessant ups and downs across Pennsylvania’s Appalachian mountains notoriously hurdling its peaks across ankle breaking rocks the Mid State Trail makes you glad to be carrying a light pack.  Fortunately for me I was carrying some of Vargo’s newest titanium ware but since I also wanted to give my dog, Tuesday, a great first trail experience, I carried her gear as well.  All in all, lots more gear with much less weight in my pack than my previous excursions.

My plan was a quick out-and-back trip along the Mid State Trail starting in and returning to RB Winter State Park.  The hike immediately ascends up along the closest ridgeline passing through mountain laurel and chestnut oaks to the Sand Mountain fire tower which has been shut off from public use.  Finally the trail descended, ascended, and descended again across a few more ridges through some of the most beautiful hardwood and deciduous forests before settling into our destination–my favorite camping spot along White Deer Creek.  I feel worried making that public but since the Mid State Trail boasts remoteness and isolation (you seriously won’t see anyone else on the trail but plenty of wildlife for sure), I know my future trips will still remain somewhat pristine.

Vargo Titanium Whistle

Now besides the 10 essentials I never travel anywhere without a whistle.  It’s my security blanket.  The problem is that most whistles are plastic and break fairly easily (I’ve gone through quite a few) and the ones that come standard on most pack sternum straps are too dinky for my preferences.  However, Vargo’s Titanium Emergency Whistle  provided the peace of mind I desired while allowing me to forget I was wearing it around my neck.  And being made of titanium not only was it incredibly light, I didn’t have to worry about it causing any metal allergy reactions.  It was even great for calling the dog!

My favorite piece of gear by far was the brand new BOT (combo titanium bottle and pot).  As a water bottle it weighed half as less as my go-to 40 oz Klean Kanteen and was twice as easy to clean as I could actually get my hand inside to clean it.  Sterilizing water with my SteriPEN was also easy as there was no need to invert the bottle or swirl the pen through a tight opening.  Even for its size it fit right in my pack’s water bottle pocket.

Where it really shined, for me was the fact that I could actually use it to boil water in like a normal pot versus precariously doing the same with the Klean Kanteen.  Even with the Decagon stove, travel mug, pot lifter, and a bit of fuel my outfit still weighed less than the Klean Kanteen EMPTY!


Arriving at the campsite I had enough water left in my BOT to boil for my coffee which I heated up quickly on the Decagon stove.  With the warmth and caffeine perk of the coffee plus the serenity of the creek I melded into a state of bliss…

…until Mother Nature proved the weather man wrong again.  Bliss quickly turned into a bustle to get out of the woods relatively dry.  Luckily we were able to hitch a ride for the last two miles back to the car thanks to some generous dudes whose car broke down on one of the mountain roads the trail crossed.  Gotta love trail magic!  But gotta love light, multifunctional gear and tired out pups more!