Thursday, October 23, 2003
Nearly three weeks ago now, my dad & I and my brother backpacked an 18 mile stretch of the Laurel Highlands Trail in Western Pennsylvania. The picture above shows the magnificent view looking down into the Youghiogheny (pronounced yock-uh-gain-ee) River gorge. We stood right on this very ledge. We had perfect weather, our gear held up well, and besides hiking about 2 miles too far on day one our trip was fantastic.
We hiked 12 miles the first day to the shelter (pictured below) and then finished the remaining six miles the next day. Here's a map of the trail which, in its entirety, is 70 miles long. We hiked from east to west beginning at Rt. 653, right where the P (for parking lot) is, and we hiked all the way to the last parking lot just before the trailhead at Ohiopyle State Park.
We had never done anything more than hiking (sans backpack) in a State Park, so I came back feeling like I'd really accomplished something. I felt like a stud, a real outdoorsman. Once I got home, however, I was surfing the web a little to learn a little more about the trail I'd just hiked, and I found this site which reports the results of a 70 mile ultramarathon that covers the entire length of the Laurel Highlands Trail. It took us 2 days to hike 18 miles of it...the winner of the 2001 Laurel Highlands Trail Ultra finished in just over 11 hrs!!. OK, I give, I'm a wimp.