FKT: Kelly MacDonald - Appalachian Trail through Michaux State Forest (PA) - 2021-04-03

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
9h 51m 33s

I ran this route south to north in mild weather, with temperatures starting in the 20s but ending in the 50s. There is a small parking lot across the street from the southern trailhead and a small pull-off across the street from the northern trailhead (it was perfect for my ride to wait for me to finish, but I'm not sure if I'd want to leave a car parked there all day). I ran a little too unsupported, carrying all the water I used for the day (about 3.5 liters) in addition to all my calories and some dry clothes, making for a very heavy pack. Particularly in spring, packing light and filtering water along the way would probably be optimal. This route is a civilized stretch of trail, with a number of well-maintained lean-tos, cabins, and outhouses along the way, as well as a convenience store and (seasonal) snack bar at Pine Grove Furnace. There are also quite a few nice parking areas in parks (Old Forge, Caledonia, Pine Grove) and along main crossings (like the Shippensburg Rd crossing) that would lend themselves well to a supported effort. This section of the AT is relatively gentle, but not as gentle as the snow I spent all winter skiing and snowshoeing on, and my legs felt pretty beat up by the end. This was my first long trail run in about 6 months and first ultra-length run in 9 months, and I could feel it!  This may not have been the most prudent choice for an early-season training run, but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to finally do a point-to-point run when I had transportation available to the start and finish while visiting my mom (now that we're all fully vaccinated). This was a nice luxury after a nearly a year restricted to NY for my job, and typically having no support within a 5-6 hour drive). The trails around Pine Grove Furnace are the first I ever hiked, and I really enjoyed running through these familiar stretches towards the end of the day.