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Sunfish Pond & Mount Tammany Loop

20140418-093511.jpgThis past Thursday, I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment hike, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go. The Pinnacle & Pulpit Loop is nice, but it seems to be all I do anymore. I needed a change. After a lot of annoyed googling, it dawned on me that I hadn’t hiked in New Jersey recently.

Sunfish Pond & Mt. Tammany can both be hiked together via several different out-and-back and loop hikes. My hike didn’t follow any of the exact routes covered at the previous link, so I’ll try my best to explain it to you. I forgot to take GPS readings, so everything will be “ballpark” numbers.

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I parked at Dunnfield Creek, which is just off of I-80 near the PA/NJ border (Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 40.974455,-75.125399). This lot can hold at least 20 cars, and there are other lots in the vicinity as well. This is a popular area to hike, so it could be busy on weekends with nice weather.  From there, I headed north on the Appalachian Trail. The trail is a slow, steady 1000 foot climb almost all the way to Sunfish Pond. There were quite a few sections that were very rocky, and many of the rocks were loose. This made for some precarious footing at times. I only twisted my ankle one time, which is pretty good for me. 3.7 miles later, I arrived at Sunfish Pond. I continued to follow the AT along the edge of pond, which required some minor scrambling over and around large rocks. As the AT rounded the far side of the pond, I reached a trail intersection with a sign for the Turquoise Trail, onto which I turned.

The Turquoise Trail only had one or 2 decent blazes before they vanished altogether. The visible footpath disappeared not long after that. I knew that my next goal, the Sunfish Fire Road, was just at the top of the near ridge, so I did a little bushwhacking and found the road pretty easily. I turned right on the road, which paralleled the far shore of Sunfish pond and spit me out at an intersection with the AT and the Dunnfield Hollow Trail.

The Dunnfield Hollow trail was rocky and wet, requiring no less than 5 nearly knee-deep crossings of the Dunnfield Creek. I imagine that the recent rainfall and snow melt made the creek deeper than normal, so summer crossings are probably fairly shallow. Just before I turned off onto the Blue Dot Trail, I encountered a major washout. This was an inconvenience, but it was still passable. There were also stone steps constructed as a bypass, but I didn’t feel that I needed them.

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After spending a few miles on the Dunnfield Hollow Trail, I hung a left on the Blue Dot Trail. This rocky trail climbed 1250 feet in 2.5 miles before reaching Indian Head Vista at the top of Mt. Tammany. The vista had some pretty great views of the Delaware River, Mount Minsi, and the much less beautiful I-80. At the vista, I encountered a large group of tourists who advised me not to descend via the Red Dot Trail because it was very steep and dangerous. I took the Red Dot Trail anyway.

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The Red Dot Trail descended 1250 feet in 1.5 miles. The tourists weren’t wrong. It was a little tricky to negotiate at times, but I didn’t end up having any real trouble. The trail ended right back where I started, at the Dunnfield parking lot. All in all, I spent just under 4 hours on the trail. I’m guessing I covered between 10 and 11 miles. It was a pretty great day!

John P. Saylor Trail Gear and Food List

The John P. Saylor Trail is a very short backpacking trail in central Pennsylvania. At 17 miles long, I could very easily complete it as a day hike, but I need a quick getaway and a chance to test out my new hammock set-up. This will be an overall dry run of my gear for this year’s Spring/Summer/Fall backpacking seasons. I’ll run through a few highlights for you, but the complete list (including food) can be found HERE if you just want the hard numbers.

Shelter and Sleeping

I’ve sold my trusty ZPacks Hexamid and picked up a new hammock system for this season. The hammock is a Warbonnet Outdoors Traveler. This is a very simple gathered-end hammock, but the quality seems pretty good at first glance. I chose the Double Layer 1.1 variant with whoopie sling suspension, which weighs in at 17oz. I chose a double layer because it creates options for using a sleeping pad to supplement my bottom insulation.

Speaking of bottom insulation, I’m taking a 2 pronged approach. As my primary insulation, I went with a Warbonnet Outdoors Yeti 3-Season Underquilt. This is a torso length under quilt that weighs in around 12oz. The Yeti is made of DWR-coated ripstop nylon and filled with 6.5oz of 850 down. According to the manufacturer, this quilt can be used down to 20 degrees. To supplement this quilt in colder weather, I’ll be using a Gossamer Gear Nightlight sleeping pad under my legs.  As weather warms up and I get more comfortable using this setup, I’ll probably leave the pad and quilt at home (for a weight savings of a full pound), but for now I’m bringing it all along.

My top insulation will be my Enlightened Equipment Revelation X quilt. I’ve reviewed this before, so I won’t bore you with the details again.

 Overhead, I’ll be hanging a Mountain Laurel Designs UL Hammock Tarp. This tarp wasn’t my first choice. Don’t get me wrong, MLD’s quality is top notch, but this tarp provides VERY minimal coverage and requires me to pitch it perfectly every single time. I worry that I don’t have enough practice with it yet. The tarp is also constructed of Spinnaker, which is very light, but also very noisy in the wind. I would have preferred a larger cuben fiber tarp, but the price became the deciding factor. Hopefully, with some practice this tarp will grow on me, and I won’t have to spend money to buy different one.

I’ll write a more complete review of this system after I get some field experience with it.

Cooking

After a solid year of use, I’ve retired my Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri System. I had a good run with it, and it performs very well, but the pot, cone, and stove combined for a total weight of about 6oz. The system I’ll describe below only weighs 2.2oz.  I’ve decided that the fuel efficiency isn’t worth the added weight. I typically backpack for no more than 5 days at a time, so rationing fuel isn’t a critical point for me. My “new” cooking system is actually one of my old systems. I’ll be using an Esbit Titanium Wing Stove (0.5oz). In spite of the fact that Esbit solid fuel stinks and makes the bottom of your pot filthy, I’ve come to like the simplicity. The tablets don’t require me to carry the added weight of a fuel bottle. They can also be blown out and used later, which is very simple and convenient. With an alcohol stove, I either had to let excess fuel burn itself out (a waste) or snuff out the stove and try to pour the unused fuel back into the bottle (a hassle). My pot is a 2-cup flat-bottom Foster’s beer can pot made by Zelph (1.2oz). Around that, I’ll be wrapping a simple windscreen made from aluminum flashing (0.5oz). This is a very simple system that has worked well for me in the past, and I’m looking forward to using it again.

Food

Since this is a very short trip, I decided to stick to my normal day-to-day diet. I’m currently having success with Weight Watchers, so I didn’t want to jeopardize that progress. The food I packed for this trip isn’t necessarily extremely healthy, but I did account for everything in the WW system.  I only packed about 800 calories per day. I’ll be able to eat breakfast before I leave the house on Day 1, and I’ll be back to my car by lunch on Day 2. This will allow me to keep my food bag light. I didn’t do a particularly great job keeping my food’s average Calories/Ounce high (only 103 cal/oz), but on a trip like this, that’s OK.

I’ll be carrying 2 Muscle Milk meal replacement bars that I picked up as part of a promotion at GNC. I didn’t know what else I would use them for, so they will be Day 1 lunch and Day 2 breakfast . I packed a granola bar and some cashews to curb my mid-hike munchies. For dinner, I packed Minute Rice Multi-Grain Medley (quinoa, brown rice, red rice, and wild rice), which along with a tuna packet, will be my dinner. Some of my favorite Easter candy also made it into the mix (Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs and Cadbury Caramel Eggs).

I’ll check back with you after my hike and let you know how it all worked!

DC UL Gear Swap 2014 is this weekend!

I’ll be heading down to the George Washington National Forest tomorrow to attend the DC UL Meetup‘s annual Gear Swap. I’ve been an “Applicant” member of this group for some time, but scheduling just never allows me to hike with them. My online interactions with them have always been great, so I’m looking forward to meeting them face-to-face, especially their Organizer, Michael Martin. I’m also excited to meet some of my fellow Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors: Jen Adach and Brian Horst, who are both extremely active in DC UL.

The group will be camping out this weekend, but I am only able to attend for the day on Saturday. I hope to join one of the morning hikes, and then roam the campsite like a giant nerd and examine everyone’s gear. Members will have a chance to showcase their kits, which I imagine will stir much debate about the finer points of Ultralight Backpacking. There will also be demo gear on hand from a few manufacturers (including Gossamer Gear), some skills lessons, a chili cook-off, and a swap meet. I hope to sell a bit of my own gear while I’m there. I’ve also gathered some intelligence stating that there will be a fire so hot that it will melt steel at 1000 paces. I’m also going to put on a 1-man hiking-themed comedy show entitled “Angry Man Hangs Hammock for the First Time”.

If you are an active ultra lighter or a curious newbie in the Mid-Atlantic, I definitely suggest checking out DC UL. They won’t steer you wrong.

Pulpit Rock and Pinnacle Hike

Today, I took a quick hike up to the Pinnacle and Pulpit Rock on the AT near Hamburg, PA. It was a chilly morning, with single digit temperatures, and the trail was covered in dense crunchy snow. I only twisted my ankle 53 times!

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Review: Gossamer Gear Murmur Revisited

Since my first review of the Gossamer Gear Murmur Hyperlight backpack was little more than a glorified “unboxing” review with some field notes added after the fact, I decided to revisit this review and give you a more in depth look at my experiences with the Murmur. I’ve been using this pack a lot over the past year or so. It’s accompanied me on 90% of my backpacking trips and pretty much every day hike. I’ve put it through its paces and definitely haven’t treated it with much respect, but it still seems to have plenty of miles left in it.

The Cold, Hard Data

On my cheap-o Wal-Mart kitchen scale, this pack weighs in at exactly 10oz (not including the SitLight Pad that it came with). This is pretty damn close to the 10.1oz that Gossamer Gear advertises, so I’m happy about that. The total volume of the Murmur is 36L: 28L in the main compartment and 8L in the stretchy mesh pocket. This pack is 100% frameless. There are no frames, frame sheets, or stays to help transfer the weight to your hips. This saves overall weight, but also limits how much weight you can carry. Gossamer Gear says that this pack is capable of 20lb loads, but 15lbs is the max “comfort” load. I’d say that this is a fair rating. I’ve pushed this pack a little past 20 pounds, and it does get pretty uncomfortable at that weight. Since the hip belt isn’t designed to be load-bearing, all the weight is born by your shoulders. I find that to be pretty uncomfortable after a half-day of hiking. However, below 18lbs or so, this pack is very comfortable for me. I barely know it’s on, and don’t even bother taking it off during most breaks.

Materials

The grey material with the white criss-cross pattern is 140D Dyneema Gridstop. This material is very durable. There are a few puncture holes in my pack, but I am absolutely confident that they won’t be able to tear much more. The white Dyneema fibers criss-crossing this fabric are extremely strong and won’t easily tear under normal use. So, even if you poke a hole through the grey part of the fabric, the white threads will stop the hole from becoming an all out tear. This material is also lighter than the more commonly used 210D Dyneema Gridstop (example: GoLite Jam). This fabric is water resistant, but NOT waterproof. Gossamer Gear uses this fabric across their entire pack line (except the G4).

Most of the black parts of the pack are 30D Silnylon. The nylon is impregnated with a silicone coating that slightly increases tear strength and also acts as waterproofing. That being said, the silnylon is still much less durable than the Gridstop, which is one of the main reasons that this pack isn’t very suitable for bushwhacking. One stray branch or stick, and you could have yourself a nice rip. The waterproof quality of this fabric is pretty nice, though. In conjunction with the water-resistant Gridstop material, the inside of the pack stays pretty dry (for the most part). Besides a few scuffs and scrapes, the 30D Silnylon on my Murmur is holding up pretty well.

Stretchy mesh is used for the outside pocket and the sit/sleeping pad holders on this pack. I’ve heard stories about this material being less-than-durable, however I’ve never had any issues with it. I usually have this pocket full of rain gear, my cook kit, and a few other odds and ends. Even stretched to capacity, I haven’t had any problems. I’m more or less indifferent towards this material. It’s held up well, but at the same time doesn’t do anything impressive. It functions, and at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

Over-The-Top Closure

Instead of the more typical drawstring/roll-top closure for the main compartment, Gossamer Gear has developed what they call the “Over-the-Top” closure. The excess fabric at the opening of the compartment is loosely gathered together with a shock cord and cord lock. This fabric is then folded over and then buckled in place with 2 Lineloc Buckle. If you fail to tighten the buckles enough, you could potentially run the risk of smaller-sized objects shimmying out through the opening and being lost forever. Fortunately this has never happened to me, but I am obsessive about keeping those buckles tightened. On the brighter side, I find that this closure is very convenient, if you want to get in and out of the pack very quickly or while walking. I think that folding the flap over and buckling it in place is much more convenient than the more conventional drawstring/rolltop/strap-and-buckle system.

Shoulder Straps and Hip Belt

The Murmur’s shoulder straps are very lightly padded, but at the pack’s intended load, you won’t need much padding. This lack of padding does create a minor problem for me. The shoulder straps don’t have much stiffness to them, so they tend to twist when I am putting the pack on. Over many hikes, this twisting has caused the seams to loosen where the straps are sewn to the body of the pack. I noticed this pretty early on and reinforced the seams with some Shoe Goo, which seems to have stopped any further damage. The shoulder straps have one other minor flaw: the lightweight webbing tends to slide in the buckle and loosen over the course of your hike. I find myself tightening them every few miles. Despite their little problems, I think the shoulder straps are comfortable and do their job fairly well.

There isn’t much to say about the Murmur’s hip belt. It is a narrow piece of plain-Jane webbing with a buckle. There are no pockets or padding of any kind. Unlike most traditional hip belts, this belt isn’t meant to help carry the weight of the pack on your hips. It’s pretty much only there to stop the pack from swinging around too much as you walk. With a total pack weight of 15-18lbs (or less), you could probably just take it off altogether. The hip belt webbing and buckles have the same slippage issue as the shoulder straps, but I’ve become used to it. I barely even think about it anymore. Sometimes, I’ll just loosely knot the webbing around the buckles to keep everything in place.

Overall Impressions

I think I’ve covered all my major issues with this pack, but I think the pros outweigh the cons. The materials are sturdy, the quality of construction is good, and the pack is comfortable to carry.  Unless you make your own or do some mods to another pack, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a sturdy 10oz pack at this $140 price point. I can definitely see myself carrying this pack for the foreseeable future, when it is the appropriate pack for the trip.

Disclosure: I am affiliated with Gossamer Gear as a member of their Trail Ambassador program. I did, however, purchase this pack at full price with my own money. Gossamer Gear did not ask me to write this review, and they did not read/edit it before it was posted here. 

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Hey folks! I just wanted to post the link to the announcement of the new Gossamer Gear Event Calendar. This contains hikes, gear talks/demos, hiking presentations, and more! The events could potentially take place all over the world and are all hosted by Gossamer Gear staff and/or Trail Ambassadors (like me!). Stop by and see what the Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassadors are up to. Enjoy!

A Snowy Night Out on the Loyalsock-Link Loop

Last weekend, seven crazies from Berks-Lehigh Hiking and Backpacking decided to brave the impending snowpocalypse and spend 2 days on the trail. We had voted and decided on the Loyalsock-Link Loop long before the forecast even hinted of snow, but when we heard 6-12 inches, we decided to go anyway. This trip was to be 25 miles with splits of 15.5 and 9.5, but it didn’t work out exactly as planned.

As we gathered on Saturday morning, the snow was already starting to fall; coating the parking lot with a fine dusting of fresh snow. We grabbed our packs and hit the trail. The Loyalsock Trail descended a short distance before meeting with an old railroad grade, which we followed for a bit before dropping down along the banks of the Loyalsock Creek. For the next 3 miles, the trail followed the creek pretty closely and we got a few great views of the water rushing by the snow covered rocks. After the 4th mile, the LT crossed the creek on an old iron bridge and started to head away from it. We reached Sones Pond around mile 6 and found it to be frozen and covered in a few inches of fresh snow. Up until this point, we had managed to make pretty good time despite some ice and the continually deepening snow.

We followed the LT without incident until we reached High Rock Vista in Worlds End State Park. This small vista gave us a modest view of the Park Office and the Loyalsock Creek below. This is really where I first realized just how crappy this snow storm was becoming. The park facilities below were barely visible through the dense falling snow. I suggested that we take a detour from our intended route. Instead of following the Loyalsock Trail, which took a narrow somewhat treacherous route into the valley, I thought that the High Rock Trail might give us a safer way down. After slip sliding down into the valley, a few of my cohorts seemed a little skeptical that my route was actually any safer, but I reassured them it was. The High Rock Trail ends at Rt. 154, which we followed into Worlds End. We made use of the public restrooms. This was a convenient place to replenish our water, and we all made use of the electric hand dryers to dry out gloves and hats.

After a very quick look at the guide book, we decided to get back on the Loyalsock Trail instead of the Link Trail as we had originally planned. The Link Trail would have taken us on some rocks right along the edge of the creek. One slip on the ice would have meant an unintended polar bear plunge, and it probably would have ended our trip. We were all equipped with microspikes, but it wasn’t worth the risk. Unfortunately, we didn’t look too closely at the map… Our detour on the Loyalsock Trail added some extra mileage as well as a very steep climb in fresh powder. I’m pretty sure this was the point where most of us started to feel worn out. After the climb, we descended back into the valley where we rejoined the Link Trail, which we followed up a tough climb to Loyalsock Canyon Vista. In good weather, this vista is usually quite pretty, but the driving snow made it difficult to see very much. From there, we hiked about 2 more miles and made camp just as the last of our daylight faded away. According to Mark’s GPS, we had done just under 18 miles.

Hua built a raging fire, which we enjoyed for a bit, but I was in bed before most senior citizens had finished eating their early bird specials. The snow continued most of the night and brought many branches crashing down in the vicinity of our campsite, but luckily our site was free of widow makers. My bivy had a bit of a condensation problem which sort of half wetted out my quilt. It got pretty chilly, so I only got about 2-3 hours of shut eye. I finally got up around 4AM and got the camp fire going again. The task of tending the fire kept my mind occupied while I was waiting for everyone else to wake from their slumber.

In the morning, we discovered that the total snowfall had reached about 12″. Mark and Seth yearned for their snow shoes as we took turns breaking through the fresh snow. It was very slow going. Our pace was barely over 1mph. After a few slow miles of this, we reached Rt. 154 again. Most of us had long drives home and places to be that afternoon, so we made the decision to road walk. After 4 or 5 miles, 154 reached Rt. 202, where we turned left. We then turned left onto Snyder Road, which was basically a dirt road, but at least it was plowed. From Snyder Road we got onto Mead Road, which was covered in between 10 and 12 inches of snow. We followed Mead Rd for a mile or so before reaching the parking lot where our trip had started the day before. Luckily, the lot had been plowed! We all went about cleaning our cars and eventually parted ways. The trip didn’t go at all according to plan, but I’m fairly certain that everyone had a great time anyway.

My Food for the Loyalsock-Link Loop

If you read my last post, you already know that I’m going out this weekend for a 25-mile, 1-night jaunt on the Loyalsock-Link Loop in northeastern Pennsylvania. I’m starting to organize and pack my food, so I thought I would share that with you. Normally, I’m very lazy when it comes to my food selections. I usually just grab a few entrees from PackIt Gourmet or Mountain House, some Clif Bars, some trail mix, jerky, and some candy before heading on my way. This time, I chose to use everyday items from the grocery store. With a little prep at home, these meals can still be very simple to prepare with the freezer bag method in the field. I’m going to be packing about 2100 calories per day, which is actually pretty low for a hiking trip in cold weather. Since this is only a 2-day trip, I will be able to make up the extra calories before hitting the trail on the first day and after getting off the trail on the second day.

Loaded Mashed Potatoes with Sausage

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All my ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1 pouch of Idahoan “Loaded Baked” Instant Mashed Potatoes
  • 4oz shelf stable sausage (I’m using Summer Sausage)
  • 2oz Parmesan Cheese
  • 2oz Asiago Cheese

Prep at Home

Empty the pouch of instant mashed potatoes into a quart-sized freezer bag. Doing this will help limit the amount of garbage you will end up carrying out at the end of your hike. Cut the sausage into small pieces and vacuum seal (or simply place into a lightweight zipper bag). Place the packaged meat and cheese into the bag with the mashed potatoes.

Cooking

Remove meat and cheese from freezer bag. Boil 2 cups of water and stir it into the instant potato flakes. Add meat and cheese. Enjoy.

Cinnamon Sugar Oatmeal

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup Instant or Quick Oats
  • Cinnamon
  • Sugar
  • Dried Fruit (optional)

Prep at Home

Place all ingredients into a quart sized freezer bag. Voila!

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Cooking

Boil 2 cups of water. Add to freezer bag and stir. Enjoy.

Besides those 2 meals, I will also be carrying some Brookside Dark Chocolate Goji and some Kind bars. For my caffeine fix, I’ll be carrying Nescafe Memento Mocha instant coffee, but any instant coffee will do.

My total food weight for this trip will be 28.2oz, and I will be averaging 114.5 calories per ounce of food. Calories per ounce is a very important number for me. To me, ultralight backpacking doesn’t just mean getting the coolest, lightest gear. It means doing my best to be efficient in every way. The higher my average calories/oz is, the more energy I’m getting out of each ounce of food. That means my food weight will be lighter, but still have all the calories I need. Try making a simple spreadsheet to figure out how efficiently your food bag is!

What does everyone else like to eat on the trail?

Hike Prep: Loyalsock-Link Loop

Loyalsock Canyon Vista in summer.

This weekend I’ll be leading a great group from Berks-Lehigh Hiking and Backpacking on a 25-mile, 1-night hike on the Loyalsock-Link Loop in Pennyslvania’s Loyalsock State Forest and Worlds End State Park. This hike will start at the eastern terminus of the Loyalsock Trail. When we reach Worlds End, we’ll pick up the Link Trail and head more or less back the way we came. We’ll rejoin the Loyalsock Trail and hike back to the cars.

Gear Choices

The weather forecast is still in flux. I’ve seen forecasted overnight lows ranging everywhere from 9-30 degrees, so I’m going to plan for 9 degrees. This might make me carry some things I might not end up needing, but I want to get my packing done early. My total bas weight will be right around 10lbs for this trip.The extra gear will also give me an opportunity to use my Gossamer Gear Gorilla pack, which normally has too much volume for my purposes. I haven’t really had the chance to give this pack a fair trial, and I’m looking forward to carrying it.

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My Gorilla: Packed and Ready to Go

My shelter as (almost) always will be my Zpacks Hexamid Solo Tarp. In order to help cut the cold wind, contain a little extra heat, and add some extra protection from precipitation, I’ll be supplementing my tarp with a Katabatic Gear Bristlecone Bivy. The Long/Wide size only weighs 9oz, but provides enough space for me and my dog.

For sleeping, I will be using 2 pads. My Exped SynMat UL 7 is pretty warm but isn’t quite enough, if the temps drop into the teens. I’ll be adding a torso length Z-Lite Pad to provide a little extra insulation. I’ll be covering up with a 10 degree Enlightened Equipment RevelationX quilt. A balaclava and all my layers can provide a little extra boost just in case the mercury really starts to drop.

Since I’ll be freezer bag cooking, my cook system’s main purpose will be boiling water. For that job, the Trail Designs Caldera Cone Ti-Tri and Gram Cracker stove suit my needs perfectly. Esbit isn’t usually my fuel of choice, but I was out of alcohol. This decision was based on laziness, but it actually saved me about an ounce of weight. The Gram Cracker is lighter than my alcohol stove, and this way I won’t need to carry the weight of a fuel bottle.

Those were just the basic highlights, but you can check out my complete gear list HERE. As always, thanks for reading!

Trip Report: The West Rim Trail (PA)

After our snowy, cold hike on the WRT back in March, one of the hikers requested that we attempt it again. Since I’m generally a fan of the WRT as a 2-day trip, I naturally agreed. This time around, the forecasts were pretty favorable, so we figured that we would manage to stay warmer and drier this time around. How well do you think that worked out for us?

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Perfect weather on Day 1 of our WRT hike.

After a 40 minute shuttle to the southern terminus of the WRT, our hike started off pretty darn well. The weather was a bit chilly at the beginning, but the sun was shining and there were only a few wispy clouds in the sky. It was about 10AM when we hit the trail, and sunset was going to be at 4:48PM. We knew we’d have to keep moving to finish our 15.5 mile hike before dark. The southern half of the WRT is generally in the woods, and only has one or two isolated vistas, so we didn’t have many distractions to slow us down. At times, we were moving over 3MPH, but we ended up closer to a 2.5MPH average for the day. We made it into camp around 3:30PM with plenty of sunlight to spare. We set up camp, ate dinner, and got a pretty warm fire going. We heard some coyotes nearby and had some fun convincing our only female companion that they would be swarming our campsite all night. We hung all our food as a precaution. Around 6PM, we all started to half-seriously joke about hitting the sack, but we managed to stay up until almost 8. A pretty spectacular full moon lit our campsite up, and made it a little hard to fall asleep, but we all managed.

As usual, I woke up pretty early… around 5AM. I packed up my gear and sat next to the dormant fire ring; enjoying the solitude until the everyone else started to wake up around 6. A few morning showers hurried us out of camp, but luck wasn’t on our side. The 20% chance of rain quickly became 100%, and we ended up walking in a cold, moderate rainfall and fog for most of the day. With the exception of the weather, our 16-mile day went pretty well. We all wished that we had hiked in the opposite direction, so that we would have seen the WRT’s trademark vistas in better weather conditions the previous day. We were back at the cars by 2PM, changed into dry clothes, and got on our way home.

Next time, we might try this as a 1-day, 30-mile traverse.