Late summer in our region is a precarious time to camp; some nights can be downright uncomfortably hot, and we were specifically trying to escape the heat wave of the weekend, so we headed towards the closest peak we could get to by sunset: the Laurel Summit. It didn’t take much planning, and I wanted to test out some new gear, so without much thought we headed east.


My Kelty Coyote at 35# pckd. (including water), Rachel’s Deuter ActLite at 17# pckd.

We were testing out my new ALPS Aeries 2P Tent (granted, there was no rain in the forecast, and we could have easily hammocked it). Gear review to follow, but quick summary: pack weight was pretty heavy for lightweight backpacking (>4 #s), but I was really pleased with the build quality of this $180 tent. Solid internal features, sturdy frame, easy-setup, dew-proof, and we were especially fond of the 2-door, 2-atrium design. That really does make a big margin of difference in making a lightweight 2P tent comfortable for 2P.

We packed pretty heavy for a single-nighter, but we weren’t going far and wanted to test a few other items, so I shamelessly shouldered 35# on my back. Rachel was trying out her new backpack as well, so yay for field testing.

We parked at a pull-off near the intersection of Fire Tower Rd. and Rt. 31 (see map below). We took a cross trail east that connects with the LHHT, but skipped right over the intersection and continued on the unnamed trail for a mile or so. The short trip took us through an enormous pine grove that alone made the trip worth it. We didn’t get far before sunset pushed us to set up camp early. We found a nice little clearing to sleep in (and we discovered only after looking at the tracklog how close we were to the condos at Hidden Valley Resort).

Tip: We packed 2L of water per person for a single night and went through almost all of it after cooking. On hot days, I’d consider this the bare minimum that one should pack for general/lightweight backpacking. I’m also in love with my MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter

Pleasant, quiet night with fireworks and thunder in the distance. The humid air and mountain-top vantage point let us hear thunder rolling in from more than 50 miles away while staying perfectly dry. Best of both worlds. We had a pleasant sleep, and enjoyed some of REI’s finest rehydrated scrambled eggs in the morning.

We took advantage of parking next to the LHHT and did about 6 miles of general hiking (strategically stopping at the car first to dump the packs). All in all, a perfectly improvised short trip with little planning required made for a pleasant respite from the heat!