Any time is a good time to go backpacking.
But September has to be one of my favorite months because the heat of summer is waning, yet it’s still warm enough to wear shorts.
September 21-23, 2012, was an excellent time to pack the West Rim Trail on Pine Creek Gorge, the “Pennsylvania Grand Canyon.”
This water-cut gash in the eastern face of the Allegheny Plateau is home to the relatively easy 30.5-mile trail that shoots the western rim of the gorge.
Beginning near Blackwell, Pa., at the southern terminus on Lloyd Run, and ending south of Ansonia on Colton Road, the trail provides spectacular scenery.
Here’s a map of the area:
For a more complete map of the trail,
In September of last year, I made the three-day trek with Dave Pidgeon and Joe Duff, a couple of Lancaster County guys. Dave and I have known each other since 2002 when we both worked as reporters at the
Lebanon Daily News.
Joe’s family has their own construction company,
Duff Builders. He’s an experienced backpacker and outdoorsman, but I introduced him to hammock camping on this trip.
Dave is a public relations professional for
Norfolk Southern Corp. He’s a skilled writer and one hell of a photographer. When not talking trains, he’s escaping to the Adirondacks or some other high point. He recently started a side project selling his photography. Find his website here.
I’m presenting this photo perspective in three parts because I have too many frames to fit in one post.
In the first day, we got delayed and rained on, but it was all worth it. Here are photos from the trail.
Next week: Yeah, about that…, a dog named Pickle, and more.
Somewhere north of Williamsport.
Wind mills on a distant hill top.
Starting to see some mountains. Heading north to Wellsboro.
All journeys to the West Rim Trail begin at the Pine Creek Outfitters. We had to wait for the next shuttle to take us to the south terminus of the trail.
Aboard the “Millennium Falcon” enroute to the start of the trail.
Imagine that… the Millennium Falcon has hyperdrive trouble.
This never worked for Han and Chewie either. So I’ll give you one guess whether it worked this time. Where’s R2-D2 when you need him?
The southern terminus after a second shuttle rescued us from the Falcon.
Last minute gear checks… oh yeah, and let fly Blackbeard’s colors.
Joe signs the trail register.
Onward and upward. Finally on the trail after a nearly 2.5 hour delay.
Yeah… that’s not something you see everyday.
Our lunch window.
Interesting little woolly caterpillar. It’s a Hickory tussock moth caterpillar. Cute, but unlike the “woolly bear” this guy’s hairs are a defense mechanism that can cause a skin rash similar to poison ivy or stinging nettles.
A crossroads in the woods.
So, in getting this photo, I decided to jump across the stream and slammed my shin on a rock.
Joe and Dave take a rest and photos, waiting for me to catch up after taking a tumble in the previous hollow. Hence the bewildered look on Joe’s face as if to say, “Where the hell did you come from?”
An overlook of a run leading into Pine Creek Gorge.
Squirrel on the path, West Rim Trail, Blackwell, Pa. September 2012.
The remains of the jay… yikes. Wonder what whacked that, hawk maybe.
Stone arch sculpture along the trail.
One of the more interesting trail markers I’ve ever seen. This was for a side trail.
The trail blazes for West Rim. What ever happened to indicating a turn with two blazes in line, with the top off to one side indicating turn direction? More logical than this.
Late in the day, a rain storm came on quick and we brought out the pack covers and jackets. Before this was taken, we could hear the downpour coming through the forest, like a wave. Joe don’t need no stinkin’ jackets.
At one point it was a torrential downpour, but I like rain on camping trips. ~Photo/Dave Pidgeon
West Rim Trail leading along the rim before moving up to camp 1.
The view from the first night’s camp. As we dropped our packs, clouds began to drift through the gorge.
More clouds drift through.
Joe and Dave pose for a photo while taking pictures.
Misty mountains, West Rim Trail, Blackwell, Pa. September 2012.
Sunset over Pine Creek Gorge, West Rim Trail, Blackwell, Pa. September 2012.