The Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail will hold the fourth annual Allegheny 100 Challenge June 7-9. This ultimate hiking challenge is an endurance challenge, backpacking without outside support. The challenge is not a race against others, but a test of an individual's stamina, determination and resilience. There are no first aid stations, nor watering stations along the route. The adventure will take place on a 100-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail that meanders through the rolling hills and stream valleys of the Allegheny National Forest. As was the case last year, hikers will travel south to north.
The challenge rotates every two years, allowing the shorter distance challenge hikers the opportunity to complete all 100 miles of the trail in segments. The course for the challenge extends from just south of Marienville, near Vowinckel, to a point just before the New York border at Willow Bay.
The challenge is to backpack 100 miles in 50 hours. If a hiker cannot commit to the entire 100-mile challenge, they can choose a 25-mile, 50-mile, or 75-mile challenge offered that weekend along the same trail. This is for any hiker, of any skill level, who wants to test him or herself against the trail. All hikers are encouraged to "hike your own hike" in keeping with their own pace, abilities and fitness level.
Last year, 82 hikers participated in the Allegheny 100, a large increase in participation since the inception of the event in 2010. In 2012, 33 hikers attempted the 100 miles; 31 chose to hike the 50-mile option; and 18 hiked the 25-mile challenge.
The goal of the Allegheny 100 Challenge is to promote awareness of the North Country Trail, Allegheny National Forest and McKean, Warren and Forest counties. This year's pre-registration was limited to the first 100 hikers by noon Friday, May 31 (for shuttling service and T-shirts). The limit was reached within the first few weeks of registration, a real testament to the appeal of the event.
Hikers will be traveling near trail towns in McKean, Warren and Forest counties, communities that have historically demonstrated tremendous support for the hikers, the trail and the event. Hikers from previous years commented on the friendly and supportive members of these communities during previous challenge hikes. Additionally, out-of-state participants marveled that the Allegheny National Forest is one of the most beautiful and scenic trails they have had the pleasure to hike. Allegheny 100 hikers come from a wide range of occupations that include doctors, lawyers, teachers, retired people and students. Couples, fathers and sons, best friends and strangers alike join to hike many of the miles together. Oftentimes those who begin their hike as strangers end the hike as friends.
For a $40 donation, participants receive membership in the North Country Trail Association, trail shuttle service and a T-shirt. The Ultimate Hiking Challenge will begin Friday, June 7, at 6 p.m. and end Sunday, June 9, at 8 p.m. Hikers must bring their own food, drinks and gear. "Leave No Trace" principals will be discussed prior to the start of the hike, and there will be a safety review. Hikers are reminded that cell phones may not work over much of the trail.
Entrance for spectators will open at 4 p.m. This year's kick-off ceremony will begin at 5:20 p.m. and will include guest speakers meteorologist Tom DiVecchio, ANF supervisor Erin Connelly and a live rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by Devon Meddock. Peter Winkler, district director for Congressman Thompson will release the hikers promptly at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact the North Country Trail Association, 229 E. Main Street, Lowell, Mich. 49331, or call (616) 897-5987 or toll-free (866) 445-3628. Email for information: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out our web site: northcountrytrail.org. Locally, contact ANF Chapter president Keith W. Klos, 8320 Route 337, Tidioute, Pa. 16351-4318, (814) 484-7420. He can also be reached via email at email@example.com. For event or sponsorship questions, contact Karen M. Klos at the same address or email.