Look Ma, No Checkpoints!

Two hikers tackle the trail on their own

Joe & Clarence at western terminus

Joe & Clarence at western terminus

The Rachel Carson Trail, as anyone who has hiked it knows, is not your typical hiking trail. In all its nearly 38 miles of length it possesses but a single switchback, and a very small one at that. The path is straight up and down, which means carrying any amount of weight becomes quite a challenge. So maybe we can call it a SuperChallenge but on Sunday September 23, 2012, Clarence Woods and Joe Kostka, both Rachel Carson Trail stewards, decided to take on the Rachel Carson Trail, terminus to terminus, with just the packs on their backs. They set out from the eastern terminus at Harrison Hills Park at 4:10am, headlamps alight, and arrived at the North Park Beaver Shelter western terminus at 4:04pm, making it a 12 hour jaunt of 37.7 miles, more or less.

With no support along the trail they carried food, water and whatever else seemed appropriate for the undertaking, bringing their gear weight on the first full day of Autumn to about 30 pounds each. The cool Fall air was a welcome change to the typical Challenge day temperatures and humidity, but twelve pounds of water, along with food, dry socks, headlamps, etc., and trail conditions that were somewhat overgrown - yet still beautiful - made this very long day hike a worthy challenge nonetheless. They could have stopped for food and water at several places along the trail, or set supplies out before their hike began but that was not their plan. They wished to carry it all, to make the challenge an even greater challenge.

And they are not stopping there. Their plan is to try it again in the Spring, maybe a few weeks before the annual Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. One hiker said it was like climbing a mountain, having to leave in the dark, knowing you have only so much time to get to the summit and then return safely. He added that you only have so many chances to climb the mountain and that it was simply time to see if this one could be climbed.