How did you decide on a backpacking trip to Pine Creek Gorge (aka Grand Canyon of PA)?
My wife had just finished her first 50 mile trail run in under 9 hours (8:38), and I was feeling inspired to get out and see if I had it in me to go beyond what I thought I could do. Definitely tapped some inspirado from her accomplishment and just went for it.
I knew wanted to do at least one night and bring the dog. When I started searching for good backpack trips in PA for dogs the ‘west rim trail‘ kept popping up. Doable elevation changes and less rocks than the Appalachian trail.
As it is a one way hike, the key was finding Pine Creek Outfitters. They offer shuttle and vehicle repositioning service that makes the whole thing possible. I parked and started on the north end and hiked 30 miles to the south end where my car was waiting for me. Well worth the $45.
What was the time between conception and execution?
A couple of weeks after coming up with the idea, the weather looked good, I was off from work, kids had a lull in activities.
It was a bit daunting and I kept trying to talk myself out of it (too long a trip, possible bears, dog and I are both too overweight and out of shape etc…) but I pulled the trigger and went.
How did the hike go?
It was a great backpacking trip. My first in about 12 years and it was humbling to carry a 40lb pack over 30 miles.
The weather was fantastic and the trail was full of scenic vistas
I did 13 miles on day 1 and camped by a stream which was great for sleeping, and for cooking/filtering water/dog water.
Was planning on doing 10 miles on day 2 and camping again when I got the thought of pushing myself beyond what I thought I was capable of, and began the quest of finishing the 18 miles on day 2.
At some point something in my brain switched and it became a game of not “if I could” but “when I would” finish. Pretty cool to tap into that deeper physical drive that had been lying dormant for many years under layers of cheeseburgers, fries and tasty craft brew. Haha.
To say I was spent is an understatement, but I made it and then drove 3 hours home in a dehydrated exhausted haze. Turns out the gas station trifecta of Coke, Gatorade and chocolate milk was a life saver.
My knees are feeling it and my shoulders are sore, but I’ve awakened something that used to be a big part of who I was before having kids. It’s a good thing since time keeps on moving and right now is as young as we’re ever gonna be again.
Tell me about your hammock setup.
I’ve been hangin’ in my Hennessy Hammock for a couple years now. I started using it car camping with the kids as a way to get a better night’s sleep.
The hammock is comfortable, easy to setup and very adaptable, as all one needs is 2 trees that are 15 feet apart. There is a learning curve though, as there are insulation concerns requiring either a traditional sleeping pad (annoying as you move in the night) or getting an underquilt.
The underquilt is essentially a sleeping bag that hangs below the hammock and provides insulation. It is far superior to a sleeping pad and makes the hammock my #1 choice for outdoor sleeping.[note: We totally endorse the hammock setup. Just this spring I cemented an 8′ high 4″X4″ post into my backyard so that I can use my inexpensive backpacking hammock to catch quick naps in the backyard. Napping in the hammock is such a treat that I ordered up a real, large, cotton Yucatan hammock for the backyard. If you’re new to the hammock scene I highly recommend: The Ultimate Hang. Also, Hammock Forums are a great source of information.]
Gotta ask: Bears?