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.

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