Last year, pre-covid, Carolyn and I planned our next big hiking adventure. We were ready to take our hiking skills up a notch from our last backpacking trip in Havasu to do a full back country backpacking trip. We purchased permits for 3 campsites, 4 days, 41 miles on the Teton Crest Trail in Jackson, Wyoming. To prepare for this trip in Pittsburgh, I hiked over 80 miles from June to August. A good portion of the miles were on the Rachel Carson Trail (RCT).
During my training, I gained an incredible interest in the Rachel Carson Trail (RCT). I fell in love with the trail and even though it did not seem to love me back, I wanted to conquer it. Although the actual RCT Challenge was cancelled this summer, I set a goal to do my own Rachel Carson Challenge where I hiked from Harrison Hills Park to North Park (a total of about 35 miles) in 15 hours and 4 minutes – the actual challenge regulations. With another surgery coming up, I wanted to finish the summer strong with Tetons in July and my RCT challenge in August. I knew the recovery time for this surgery would be about 2 months, which would put me out from physical activity for the rest of the summer.
With this goal, I wanted to make it personal for me. I did this challenge with a twist. I did the RCT only fueled by tacos! I started with a breakfast taco and then I asked my amazing friends to volunteer to bring me tacos at specific checkpoints.
RCT Training Pics:
Sunday August 9th – Challenge Day
The Start: Harrison Hills Park
Checkpoint 1: The Parking Lot at the intersection of Bull Creek Rd and Ridge Rd – 6.2 miles into the challenge
Checkpoint 2: Agan Park – 13.2 miles into the challenge
Checkpoint 3: Log Cabin Road – 19.4 miles into the challenge
Checkpoint 4: Emmerling Community Park – 23.4 miles into the challenge
Checkpoint 5: Hampton Middle School – 31 miles into the challenge
The Finish: North Park at the Spillway Parking Lot – 36.75 miles
Although the challenge took me longer than I expected, I finished the course and that is what mattered to me the most. I may have not made the 15 hour 4 minute cut off, but I had the best support. I had fresh feet pushing Maurissa and I through at the end and I had friends who appreciated the challenge even more after hiking some of the segments. I pushed my body to places I did not know it could go. And I ate more tacos than I thought I could handle in one day. I am so happy to now say I hiked the RCT solely fueled on tacos.
Now, where will tacos take you?