START: Leroy A. Smith Shelter, PA
FINISH: PA 325 Clark Creek
DISTANCE: 108.5 miles (174.6 km)
DAILY AVERAGE: 36.2 miles (58.2 km)
TOTAL DISTANCE: 1024.4 miles (1648.3 km)
Malto: During this section I was joined periodically by Greg “Malto” Gressel (see photo below). A PCT veteran, class of 2011, Malto is one of the most enthusiastic, knowledgable and strongest hikers I have met during the course of the 12 Long Walks. A big thanks to Greg for his company on trail and his wonderful hospitality off of it. Best of luck for your future calendar year Triple Crown attempt!
Pennsylvania Rocks: I’m speaking geologically more than metaphorically. There is no denying that the 230 mile stretch through PA is quite rocky, however, it’s nowhere near as bad as many hikers would have you believe (see Hiker Hype below). For much of PA, the trail follows a relatively flat, fire pit strewn and, yes, rocky ridge, which at this time of year affords almost continuous vistas of the surrounding countryside. Who knew there were so many farms in PA?
Hiker Hype: Long distance hikers are like fishermen. Generally speaking, an exaggeration factor of between 25 and 30% needs to be taken into account whenever you hear them talk about how difficult a certain section either was, is or will be. Well known Triple Crown examples of this phenomena include: the rocks of PA, the 100 mile wilderness in ME, Sierra snow levels on the PCT and pretty much the entire CDT. As a general rule of thumb, the difficulty of any given section is relative to the experience of the person telling the story. In other words, for those in the planning stages of an upcoming thru hike, don’t worry yourself too much about what lies ahead as chances are it’s not as bad as others have made out. Be as prepared as you possibly can be mentally, physically and logistically and then simply hit the trail.