FKT: Jason Wish - Susquehannock Trail System Loop, Southern Gateway (PA) - 2020-11-21

Route variation
Standard loop
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
1d 7h 12m 55s

On  Friday November 20, 2020 at 5:09 am I began my Unsupported FKT attempt of the 85 mile Susquehannock Trail System (STS) at Patterson State Park and was able to finish on Saturday November 21 at 12:21 pm with a total time of 1 day, 7 hrs, 12 min and 55 sec according to Gaia.  I also had Strava running and it failed to upload a completed link for some reason, I believe it was a glitch on my iphone 8.  My Garmin inreach mini was also tracking the entire time except for approx. 3 hrs. It does however show the start and finish of the FKT.  

I had been looking at this trail since March but was unable to make the time for it until November.  I trained fairly hard for three months prior and felt strong going in. I was hoping to beat the 27 hour, 20 min Supported time but fell just four hours short of that mark.  I was on pace to easily beat the supported time at the halfway point logging 42.5 miles at the 12 hour mark but 13 hours of night hiking and having a distressed stomach really slowed down my pace especially during the final third of the trail.  My food bag weighed in at 4 lbs which I carried during the entirety of the circuit inside my Palante Joey along with an extra pair of socks and an emergency camp set up if needed.  All of my water came from streams and creeks along the trail.  I vlogged my attempt for my Youtube channel and the video will be available soon.  I was also being filmed by one of my friends who drove to various locations where I crossed roads.  

At 1:30 am I laid down for about a half hour for a short nap but was unsuccessful due to the freezing temps.  At 2am I got sick and was unable to consume the necessary calories to keep pushing at the pace needed to beat the supported time.  At that time I refocused my attention to set a solid time in the low 30 hours and still be far ahead of the self supported time.  Fortunately I had created enough of a buffer in the first half of the trek to allow me to slow down and still complete the trail in a respectable time.  At 5 am the need for sleep felt overwhelming and I decided to lie down for a half hour before setting out on the final push.  This is where my Garmin mini acted up.  I had been charging it for about an hour and when you unplug a Garmin mini it proceeds to shut down and you must turn it back on and start tracking once again.  Coincidentally this happen to be the day that my Gamin plan was switching from the Expedition Plan to the Recreation Plan and because of this my unit did not work for over three hours.  

The final 6 miles were torture on my body and I had no more running left in me at all.  It's hard to explain the amazing feeling once I did exit the woods for the final time at the finish line and was finally able to lay down and receive support!  Not only was my buddy there to film me at the finish, but also three Susquehannock Trail Club officers met me at the end and provided me a home cooked breakfast right at the trail head!  

This is an amazing trail that passes by four shelters, three state parks and numerous beautiful camping options along its diverse terrain with approximately 13,000 ft. of elevation gain! The STS contains the state’s second largest Wild Area and many sections of it reminded me of the Quehanna Trail that I did this past March, the state’s largest Wild Area, where I was fortunate enough to see a herd of elk. I highly recommend this trail for FKT's and/or just a relaxing backpacking trip.  Much of it is very runnable but be warned, some of the climbs are unbelievably difficult, some of the hardest I've seen in the East.    

I had a failed attempt just 16 days earlier after getting stomach distress. You can find that video here if interested: