PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s a grueling 35.7-mile hike and it will be done in one day.
The hiking challenge is done annually to honor nature writer and Pittsburgh native, Rachel Carson.
“I’ve run some marathons and marathons are very difficult, but you’re generally over in 3, 4, 5 hours. When you’re hiking 35 miles, you are on the trail all day, typically 12, 13, 14, 15 hours,” Doug MacPhail, of the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, said.
“About 9 to 10 miles on roads and then the rest is in the woods and there’s a lot of hills,” Kathleen Ganster, of the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge, said.
The course stretches from Harrison Hills Park in Natrona Heights to North Park.
Hikers start at sunrise and have to be finished by sundown.
“It is like a part-time job to train for it. So, you have to be dedicated, but it’s like any other challenge to see if you can do it,” Ganster said.
MacPhail, a Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy board member, has completed the challenge 10 times.
He said it never gets any easier.
“I get older, it gets harder every year. So, my times get a little slower every year, but I love doing it. It’s a personal challenge. I try to stay fit year-round to stay ready for it,” he said.
This is the 20th year for the event.
Each time around, the idea is to raise awareness about Pittsburgh’s trails and the environment.
Some say it’s the perfect way to carry on Carson’s legacy.
“She was all about protecting the environment and that’s what the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy does in its own little way. We maintain over 170 miles of hiking trails in western Pennsylvania and these trails are near a population of almost 2 million people,” MacPhail said.
The challenge is set for June 18.
If you aren’t up for 35 miles, there is a half challenge and a much shorter family challenge.