“Mud Pie” Challenge

The 2001 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge

One would not usually think of a rainy, breezy, muddy, cool day at the end of June as a wonderful day. But for 248 Rachel Carson Trail Challengers it was a godsend. No heat to deal with. No sun beating you to dust. No steamy waves of humidity rising off the roller coaster as you push your way up and down the five trials by hill.

Just as the heat of 1996 and 1997 limited finishers of the Challenge to 5 the first year and 27 the next (out of approximately 135 registrants), the damp, cool weather of 2001 provided optimal conditions for hiking 34 miles in one day on Rachel’s Treacherous Trail. In all, there were 256 individuals who registered, of those 123, nearly half, finished by 9:00 PM, ranging from a dazzling 2:01 PM finish by Michael Halahan. Another 6 hikers/runners finished before 4:00 PM, and 17 more finished before 5:00 PM. The median finish time (half finished before, half finished after) was 6:55 PM. Four (4) hikers finished exactly at 9:00 PM.

Steve Mentzer, the RCTC2001 Executive Director, provided a new map of the trail, produced by GPS with the assistance of Don Erdeljac. Steve also participated in the Challenge, finishing at 6:32 PM. The cost of the map was underwritten by Steve’s company, True Commerce, Inc.

In addition to map production, the GPS survey also provided the following statistics:

  • The length of Challenge 2001 was actually 33.3 miles. An additional mile of the trail extends beyond the Ox Roast Shelter in Harrison Hills Park. In fact, 4 hikers missed the turnoff and went all the way to the end.
  • The climbing elevation, from North Park to Harrison Hills, is 7,130 feet. In comparison, from Mt. Everest base camp at 17,600 feet to the summit at 29,028 requires only 3,000 feet more climbing. And, most Everest climbers utilize 4 camps on the way to the top.
  • The descending elevation from North Park to Harrison Hills is 7,107 feet. Not only do you climb over 7,000 feet in one day, you also lose it all in the same day.
  • The Trail’s elevation ranges from a low of 761 feet above sea level at Freeport Road in Springdale to a high of 1,297 feet at the peak between Middle Road in Hampton Twp and the Hidden Pond.

We want to thank all the many, many wonderful people who supported us in our quest to stage the 2001 Rachel Carson Trail Challenge. Proceeds from the event are used to support the maintenance activities of the Rachel Carson Trail and the Baker Trail as well as the costs of the event itself.

-jim ritchie