10th annual A-100 Challenge draws hikers to ANF

Photo submitted to the Times Observer Jim Penley kneels next to the 100-mile marker after completing the Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge, Sunday, June 9, 2019. The A-100 Hiking Challenge is an endurance challenge met through unsupported hiking, and covers a 100-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Allegheny National Forest

The Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge is an endurance challenge met through unsupported hiking. It is not a race, but an individual challenge of stamina, determination and resilience. The adventure covers a 100-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Allegheny National Forest from Willow Bay in the north to Route 66 south of Marienville. Hikers climb over rolling hills, cross ridgelines and pass through many beautiful stream valleys. The A-100 challenges hikers to traverse 100 miles, 75 miles, 50 miles or 25 miles in a 50-hour time period starting Friday evening at 6 p.m. and finishing by 8 p.m. on Sunday. The event is hosted by the ANF Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. The ANF Chapter is a volunteer organization responsible for maintaining the 100 miles of the NCT that passes through the ANF.

Beautiful weather for the whole weekend of the A-100 was a nice surprise, but the high amount of rain throughout May and into June caused the trail to be quite muddy, slowing down the hikers. This year 140 hikers started at Willow Bay. Only 17 of 64 hikers who registered for the 100 miles completed that distance, which is the usual percentage finishing this difficult challenge. Of the 17 who attempted the 75 miles, four completed. The 50 mile mark welcomed the 72 who completed the challenge with hamburgers and cold drinks. Only 50 hikers registered for this distance, but many that attempted the 100 or 75 miles ended their hike here due to injury or fatigue. Finally, 18 hikers finished 25 miles.

At the 50 and 100 mile finishes, hikers enjoyed burgers and cold drinks and had a chance to talk about their experience. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of the Allegheny National Forest and the chance to meet and learn from other hikers. Many are looking forward to returning next year for the 2020 A-100. This event draws in people from all over the country. Most of the hikers hailed from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio, but others came from as far west as California and Washington, south from Florida and Alabama and east from Connecticut and Maryland. This year there was also a contingent of nine hikers from Michigan. The A-100 introduces many to the beauty of the area, drawing them back to repeat the challenge or vacation in the ANF.

The North Country National Scenic Trail is America’s longest National Scenic Trail, stretching over 4,600 miles from Vermont to North Dakota, linking eight states, 10 National Forests and over 150 public lands. The NCT provides year round recreation as it traverses America’s north country. It is built and maintained primarily by the hard work of volunteers. Anyone interested in helping with trail projects or linking up with other hikers can contact the ANF chapter at anf@northcountrytrail.org, visit https://northcountrytrail.org/anf/ or view the Allegheny National Forest Chapter NCTA Facebook page.

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