This summer, seize the opportunity to connect with others from NPC and embark on a journey away from civilization, cell service, and creature comforts. One of our newest members, Mark Franson brings a wealth of outdoor experience, having led backcountry trips for his former church. Since his recent relocation to our area, he has strongly desired to share this passion with our church community. This summer, he is ready to make that a reality.

He would like to invite you on a two-day backpacking adventure in the Hickory Creek Wilderness, just across the Allegheny River from Tidioute. The hike will be a moderately strenuous 16 miles over two days (about 8 miles per day) and will include about 3 1/2 miles of off-trail bushwhacking. The camping is “primitive” – that is, bring what you need – nothing is provided except East Hickory Creek as a water source (that will need filtration) – and leave no trace (pack everything out). The route will include the established Hickory Creek Trail and some bushwhacking to a backcountry campsite (just some small flat spots in the woods) about a mile and a half off-trail. The off-trail bushwhacking can be tedious at times and requires navigation through stands of black birch saplings and over and around numerous deadfalls. Essential equipment will include a backpacking-style tent (you must carry it in and out), a lightweight camp stove, food, and other gear. Alternatively, a hammock could work instead of a tent, but be prepared for foul weather. The drive to the trailhead is about 2 1/2 hours.

Our journey will commence from NPC on Friday around 8:00 a.m., with the group expected to return by dinner time on Saturday. Plan on approximately 4 hours of hiking each day. For those interested, there will be an opportunity to lead the group in backcountry navigation using topography and GPS. The trip is open to men, women, and children who are up for the challenge (parents’ discretion).

If you are interested, sign up in the lobby OR Contact Mark Franson. This initial step does not commit you to the trip. Mark will then email a detailed trip description, including what is needed and some basic considerations. This will allow you to make an informed decision.