Written by Ethan Ferraro
Over our winter break Gavin, Dillon, and I planned a winter camping trip to Worlds End State Park in Sullivan County, PA. We had discovered the park after spending hours online researching parks that were both open during the winter for camping, and relatively inexpensive; a combination that is not easy to find in Pennsylvania during the month of December. Our go-to site for finding hiking destinations All Trails helped us find Worlds End as well. The site stated that there were cabins available for rental, but that campsites were closed to the public and only available for organizations. After a quick conversation with a wonderful woman named Laureen, Living Now was registered for a one night stay from Saturday the 28th into Sunday, with a fee of $50.
I had originally asked two of my close friends from the grade above, Mike and Alfredo, to come on the trip and camp out with the three of us. Neither of them had ever been camping and had spent very little time hiking in the past. They both accepted the invitation immediately and were excited to give it a try. Right before the trip, however, Dillon found out he had lacrosse practice early in the morning and would not be able to stay over. It was disappointing, but it ended up resulting in Dillon taking a separate car and being able to take two of our regular trip companions, Riley and Bryan. Now we had the task of managing expenses and equipment for the 7 of us, as well as arranging the overnight camp-out for Gavin, Mike, Alfredo, and myself.
In terms of expenses, when we bring our supporters and friends along for trips they do not pay for gas, food, equipment, campground fees, or anything else. We sell apparel with the intention to be able to further spread our message, and that means bringing people along without the burden of paying. Help support us by purchasing a hoodie here! Through Gavin’s status as a leader in his Boy Scout troop, we were able to get access to a variety of high-quality equipment such as a weather-proof tent, a propane stove, and cooking equipment. Also, we gave our guests top of the line sleeping bags and mats to ensure that they were comfortable on their first camping trip.
If you have ever been in Northern PA (near the Appalachian Mountains) you know that cell phone service is few and far between- a fact that our friends were apparently not too familiar with, and were surprised to find that about two hours into our three-hour car ride they lost service… for the weekend. The lack of service for the trip served as a perfect (yet intense) introduction to what Living Now is all about. About an hour after the service was gone, we arrived at our destination to find a beautifully-eerie side of Worlds End Park that is not often seen, as the majority of people visit the park in the summer. It was foggy and almost dreamy as the pictures show, and there was a great sense of isolation from the rest of the world in the park that made the outdoor connection that much better.
We ended up choosing the Canyon Vista trail, which is a 4-mile trail through a breath-taking forest, with the culmination being a vista showing the entirety of the valley that makes up the park. The hike was pretty moderate and everyone was able to make it up without much difficulty, even for Mike who happens to have asthma (and refused to bring an inhaler, but luckily didn’t need it).
By the end of our hike, it was starting to get dark and we had to put on our headlamps to navigate through the trail. When we got back to the campsite we set up our propane stovetop and got a fire going with the firewood we bought from a local store on the way. I cooked some Michelin chef-worthy hamburgers for everyone and then Dillon, Riley, and Bryan had to head home for the night. The four of us that were left to spend the night enjoying the fire for a few more hours and the stunning view of the stars, later retiring to our tents for the night.
Morning came, and with it came a frost which covered the tent and thoroughly froze all of us to the point of abandoning any idea of a campsite breakfast, and we instead went into town to the county store, where we had a delicious breakfast and I was able to add to my collection of postcards.
Overall, it was a really great trip and I know that the people we brought with us enjoyed it as much as we did, to the extent that they are even planning on coming on future trips. For Mike, going from being on his phone for over 8 hours on average per day to 0 hours for two days was a huge adjustment, but he enjoyed his time with us and definitely found himself living in the moment more than he typically would which is what we are all about. We are looking forward to bringing more of our friends and people who support what we do along with us on future trips and giving them an opportunity to see how amazing spending time in the outdoors can be.