PA Appalachian Trail- Summer of 2014

Where to begin. The idea of running the Pennsylvania Appalachian Trail had been on my mind ever since I started running trails, 4, maybe 5 years ago. Grant it, it was in the far backend part of my mind, but it was there. At that point in my running “career”, running marathons as fast as I could was the main priority.

I had gradually started getting into trail running more and more over the past 2 or 3 years. I took the plunge, though, when I chose to sign up for local road and trail running legend Don Halke’s Fatass race, the Conococheague 50K in August of 2013. I met Jen Henry trying to find Don’s race. Once we found it, and started, I somehow managed to run into her during the race, and one of her running friends, Kristen, was with her. It turned out Kristen knew Megan Michael, who went to my high school and who I was familiar with….small world. We completed the 50K and at the end, I met a person by the name of Randy Dietz, who happened to know my uncle and graduated high school with him. Randy is considered as being a hardcore distance ultra runner himself. From what I’ve heard, he’s blazed a considerable amount of trail miles and races for himself. There’s such a great respect for experienced, knowledgeable long distance trail runners. Don and Randy are two of those people.

Since that Fatass, I’ve run off a few more 50K’s, including Don’s other Fatass race, the Tuscarora Trails 50K. They are both considered challenging, but at the time, I really didn’t know any better. I just did it. I just listened to what other trail runner’s were saying about it and went along with them…they were considered tough. Agreed, they are tough!  (FYI…Megan, Kristen, and Don all have blogs. I’ll work on linking them up on future posts, but until then, look them up. You could say they are active people.)

Sorry, I’m getting off trail….Anyhow, late last year I created a facebook page with about 20 or so ultra runners I had come to meet and run with in my short time of running these trail runs. I knew I had a few takers…after all, Megan Michael said it was on her bucket list and I had remembered Kristen mentioning about it at some point. I knew I had some takers. That facebook page has grown considerably(I’m really hoping a few will join me on the A.T. in future runs). We decided to split the runs up with a running weekend in June, July, August, and September for a total of 8 days.That’s 229 miles on the PA Appalachian Trail in 8 days. Yes, we covered some good miles on those days. Even though it was one of the greatest summers I’ve experienced in my life, I’m too lazy to type all that I remember on each day so……The following is simply a copy and paste, brief description from my personal running log on each day:

Day 1: June 7th (29.2 Miles)

PA/MD border to Big Flat/Shippensburg Rd………………Day 1, perfect day/weekend to start the PA AT run…with Jen Henry, Kristen, Anne Weaver, Carol Varano, Missy Miley, John Weaver, Bill Bechtel, and Megan Micheal. Rolling hills and mountains. took it easy the first day. enjoyed it.

PA A.T. Day 1

Day 2: June 8th (27.8 Miles)

Big Flat/Shippensburg Rd to Boiling Springs……………………..Day 2, with Jen Henry, Kristen, Anne Weaver, Carol Varano, Missy Miley, Danny Mower, Gary Bowman, and Bill Bechtel. Another nice day, may have been a little warmer. Started off slow, steadily ran harder throughout. more up and down hills, with open field at the end at Boiling Springs. Overall, great weekend, took lots of pictures!

Halfway point of A.T.

Day 3: July 12th (26.9 Miles)

From Boiling Springs to Clarks Ferry Bridge…….Day 3…..Danielle Diantoniis, her two guy friends, Allison Longenberger, Kristen, Anne Weaver, Jen Henry, Don Halke, Rik Keener, Matt H. Brigitte Sheehan, Chris Booke……..warm and humid, a mix of open fields and woods the first 16 miles, then hit the mountains for the last 10-11 miles. I personally had a rough day, was dehydrated, cramped up, threw up…but still was fun. we stopped at the Doyle Hotel in Duncannon for a beer before finishing at the bridge.

PA A.T. Sick

Day 4: July 13th (32.4 Miles)

From Clarks Ferry Bridge to Green Point/Rt. 443…………Day 4………Jen Henry, Anne Weaver, John Weaver, Kristen, Bill Bechtel, Gary Bowman, Danny Mowers, Sayard Gonzalez, Ashleigh Garber, Carol Varano………a better day than the day before for me. I started off slow for the fist 10-15 miles and was hesitant and wasn’t sure if I was going to crash like the day before or not. I got stronger as the day went on….wanted to fill hydration pack at Rausch Gap with 4-5 miles left, but couldn’t locate the spring(it was at the shelter)…still a great weekend with good friends and Caryn did an exceptional job again crewing.

PA A.T. Day 4

Day 5: August 9th (36.5 Miles)

Day 5……Swatara State Park to Port Clinton….Jeff Merritt, Ian Kraynak, Don Halke, Jen Henry, Stacy Gautsch, Carol Varano, Bill Bechtel, Kristen, Danny Mowers, Anne Weaver, and Paul Moretz….another fun, but this time a very challenging run. a beautiful morning, the terrain started out similar to peter’s mountain/clark’s valley terrain, nice, runnable terrain. we had beautiful views. gradually the terrain got to being rockier and rockier. the run got tougher and beat up my legs and feet toward the end. was completely exhausted when finished…a few of us saw a black rattlesnake.

PA A.T. Day 5

Day 6: August 10th (26.7 Miles)

Day 6………Port Clinton to Rt. 309….Bill Bechtel, Gary Bowman, Ashleigh Garber, Stacy Gautsch, William Bordner, Anne Weaver, Ian Kraynak, Kristen, Jon Rich, Carol Varano, Jen Henry, Maggie Wonsick, and Cassy Lizza…….a better day than the day before. More beautiful vistas including Pulpit Rock and the Pinnacle. the terrain was still rocky, but also had a nice mix of runnable trail and logging road. I personally felt better and had a great time enjoying the sights…I also tried the Hoka’s for the first time and worked well over the rocks.

PA A.T. Day 6 Pulpit RockPA A.T. Day 6 The Pinnacle

Day 7: September 6th (34.0 Miles)

Day 7…………..Rt. 309 to Wind Gap……..Jen Henry, Anne Weaver, John Weaver, Carol Varano, and me…..Unfortunately, Kristen was injured and couldn’t run this run……a very long day. we all stuck together due to the humid and warm conditions and all of the rocks!!! hydrated and fueled well throughout. at least half of the run was actually hiking over rocks. A very nice view at the Lehigh Gap overlook. a fun but tiring day.

PA A.T. Day 7 Lehigh Gap

Day 8: September 7th (16.0 Miles)

Day 8……..Wind Gap to Delaware Water Gap(PA/NJ border)…….Jen Henry, Anne Weaver, John Weaver, Kristen, Carol Varano, Stacy Gautch, and me………a better, “easier” day in terms of weather. it was very comfortable but still rocky conditions. it was bittersweet at the end once we finished on the other side of the Int 80 bridge. sad that there are no more runs in PA, but happy to complete it and looking forward to starting other states on the AT!!

PA A.T. Day 8

Yes, correct. “Other states on the AT.” Stay tuned.

4 thoughts on “PA Appalachian Trail- Summer of 2014

  1. It really was a fun time, Megan. I’m glad you got to join us for one of the runs to Caledonia. That was a good stretch of running! 2 rattlesnakes and 1 garder snake is what I saw. None of them were mad, so that pleased me. 🙂

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