Who: Perrito & SilvrSurfr
What: 30-Mile Hike (give or take a mile or two)
When: October 5-7, 2012
Where: Pennsylvania Grand Canyon (Pine Creek Gorge), West Rim Trail
Why: Hiking and Hammock Camping!
Many thanks to Perrito for researching this awesome trip. He arranged everything: shuttle, hanging spots, mileage, etc. All I had to do was pack, then take a train to Newark Penn Station to hitch a ride with Perrito.
The trip started poorly for me. I left my 26-year-old Boston Red Sox hat on the train. When I first bought the hat, I promised myself I'd wear it till the Red Sox won a World Series. Well, I wore it through two World Series wins, 2004 & 2007, then decided to buy a new Red Sox hat: they haven't won squat since. So after the teams' horrific season this year, I brought the tried & true lucky hat out of retirement, only to lose it on a train in Jersey. This is proof that Jersey sucks - up lucky hats.
We arrived at Pine Creek Outfitters just before they closed at 4 pm. I bought a new hat, & we dropped Perrito's car off at the northern trailhead in Ansonia. The shuttle took us 35 miles south to the Bohen Run trailhead. Per 2Q's suggestion, we hiked 1.5 miles to a campsite just before the Bohen Run trail ascends Pine Creek Gorge and meets up with the West Rim trail. The campsite was gorgeous, directly on Pine Creek next to a waterfall. We brought sandwiches from Newark for dinner. I slept mighty fine next to that waterfall.
It was raining when we woke, but stopped before we started hiking. Nevertheless, the undergrowth along the trail was soaked & my legs were soon drenched. Then the water got into my Merrill hiking boots. I had never hiked with water in my shoes (very squishy), & we had twelve miles to go to our next campsite. I started getting hypothermic, so we stopped & I took off the shoes & put on my down booties to warm my feet up. I put on dry socks & felt much better. The wind kicked up, the sun came out, and my pants dried out too. The mushrooms were out in full force - I saw a lot of varieties, none of which I can identify.
We camped just north of Bradley Wales picnic area on Pine Creek Gorge rim with plans to wake early & get a jump on the remaining sixteen miles. For an appetizer, we had Bumble Bee Spicy Thai Chili Tuna Medley http://www.bumblebee.com/products/1/...icy-thai-chili on Wasa Multigrain Crispbread http://www.wasa-usa.com/multi-grain-bread.aspx. This combo is one of my favorite trail foods.
I love Wasa crispbreads. They're about 3/8" thick and don't crumble like crackers in my pack. I put peanut butter, tuna or whatever on them.Nevertheless, I have a Reflectix cozy just for my crispbreads so they don't get crushed.
We had Hawk Vittles Buffalo Pasta for our main course, & crashed right after dinner. The low was 38 degrees. I had an erotic dream about Reese Witherspoon, and in the background it sounded like somebody was whistling an a cappela version of the chorus of Devo's Uncontrollable Urge (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0BmxN3E548I). It seemed strangely appropriate: an erotic dream about Reese Witherspoon with a Devo soundtrack.
I gradually realized that the soundtrack was a hooting competition among quite a few barred (aka hoot) owls. At first, I could hear them down in the gorge, but then they came right in our campsite. It distracted me from Reese Witherspoon but we were still able to consummate our love, even with all the hooting in the background. Reese, you're the best.
After the hoot owls woke us up, we ate and Perrito got a head start while I finished packing. He got a 10 or 15 min. headstart on me, but I finally caught up to him 2.5 hours later. The forecast called for rain around 4 pm, so we picked up the pace trying to beat the precipitation. We almost did, but it started raining the last half mile. A couple of miles from the end, Perrito and I heard crashing & thought we saw a bear. Now I'm not so sure. Of course, my camera batteries died while filming the supposed bear.
We got to the car and went to a restaurant for cheeseburgers, beer, and some NFL football on the telly; a great way to end a 16-mile day! It rained the whole trip back to Newark, but Perrito got me to Newark Penn Station with two minutes to spare before the 10:25 pm train back to the Jersey Shore. A taxi ride got me home at midnight.
A lot has changed in the year since Perrito and I did the Fall MAHHA 2011 pre-hike together. Back then, I was out of shape, and sporting a 26-year-old North Face 90-liter pack that I loaded to 60 lbs. I had a Grand Trunk Funky Forest tarp with a ridgeline of Home Depot nylon rope. I used a Hennessy Expedition with blue ccf pad and 4 lb. synthetic sleeping bag. My cook kit was a 2 lb. Swedish Army Trangia mess kit. I carried a machete. I even packed a full-size pillow from my bedroom. Many dollars later, and a lot of research on this forum, and I'm much lighter and in better trail shape.
Again, many thanks to Perrito for planning this trip, and for pounding out so many miles even though he wasn't in hiking shape for it. It was strange having someone tell me I was in better hiking shape than them - I don't hear that often.
A big shout-out to Brian at Buttinasling. He got a Weight Weenie Micro to me in time for my trip. Though I'm a big fan of my WWM double-layer, I slept great in the single-layer WWM. At half the weight of my BIAS DL, it might be my go-to hammock from now on.