At the top.

At least once a year for the past few years, a few of my friends and I have made a point to hike up a mountain and camp over night. We always go to the same spot in Blackwell, Pa. It’s called Gillespie point. We hike up to the top on Friday afternoon and enjoy the scenery from the rock overhang. It only takes us about 45 minutes to an hour with packs on. It can be steep in spots but the trail is easy and well defined. As a matter or fact it is along a section of the Mid State Trail which runs north/South cutting Pennsylvania in half.

From the overlook you have a grand 180+ degree view overlooking three valleys that come together where Blackwell sits deep in their junction. To the southwest you can see down through Pine Creek as it meanders down to Cedar Run in Lycoming County. To the North, you look up through the Pine Creek valley which forms the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. And to the north east you see the quiet valley funneling Babbs Creek into Pine Creek.

Climbing...almost there.

Known locally as the “Matterhorn of Pennsylvania”, the view from Gillespie point is breathtaking and enormous no matter what season. To see the juncture of three beautiful valleys coming together at the sleepy village of Blackwell is well worth the short climb.

After we take in the view we head to our secret campsite a short distance away that is just perfect. Hidden from most foot traffic, the site flattens out and provides protection from the wind. We usually set up camp and the campfire site. The campfire site has been at the same exact spot every year. The first year I went, the site hadn’t been used in a number of years. My friend, Phil, and I were the first to get to the site and he started looking around and kicking away leaves. It was amazing, we found black charcoal under years worth of forest detritus! He was as excited as I was amazed.

Morning campfire.

The usual fare is hot dogs and brats over a fire with a few toppings. I usually bring the coffee, fresh ground that day, and somehow manage to bring up a french press without breaking it. Stories, memories,  reflection, and lots of laughter fill our conversation around a warm fire. As we crawl in our tents, we wonder how loud one of our friends will snore that night and joke about how he has been the one who keeps the bears and various varmints away.

The morning comes with a woodsy silence. Stiff bodies emerge from tents along with long loud stretches.  The fire is re-stoked and wood added. Coffee is first on the agenda while breakfast is planned out. We always manage to spoil ourselves with treats like the fresh ground french pressed coffee and real maple syrup, but hey, why not. It’s only one night. If we want to lug it up there, then we can enjoy it.

Morning Campfire

Breakfast is enjoyed and somehow is always plentiful. We take time getting everything cleaned up, tents packed away, and backpacks packed. We make a short ascent to the rock outcropping again before heading back to the bottom in Blackwell.

Morning fog looking south west down Pine Creek.