You know when you’re like Hey, I like eating lots of candy and looking at trees and sweating through my kneecaps. I wonder if there is a place I could do that all at once– and pay for it?
Well let me tell you– the Susquehanna Super Hike is for you!
I did it. 29.6 miles in 11 hours and 2 minutes. Let me tell you all about it.
Spoiler alert: I ate an entire bag of swedish fish.
Spoiler alert: A tree branch fell on my head.
Spoiler alert: I took my first ice bath and hated it.
The weather was perfect. Kudos to the KTA for ordering a sunny day with a high of 75 and no humidity! The first 10 miles seem like a distant memory now, but at the time I remember painfully marking our progress… 3 miles in, 26 miles to go… The first few miles were along old roads, so the large pack of people were able to disperse by the time we got to the single track along the Mason Dixon Trail, although we kept time with a group of other hikers until we got to checkpoint one. (To the volunteer drinking a Corona at checkpoint one at 10am: I am simultaneously disgusted and jealous of you).
My checkpoint highlight– or should I say revelation?– was the PayDay bar. Seriously, you guys. Have you had these before? Delicious.
I spent my time between checkpoint one and two trying to keep up with a small woman at least twenty years my senior. She was fast.
After checkpoint two we encountered the worst part of the hike: crossing the Norman Wood Bridge. While walking two feet away from cars going 60-mph was nerve-wracking, the view over the river was stunning.
I had my one and only true slip-n-fall right after we got onto the Conestoga Trail– I blame wet rocks. But don’t worry, I was extremely graceful and didn’t cry. (Maybe).
Up up up we went. And then back down, and then back up. Shawn met me a few hundred yards from checkpoint three, the Pinnacle Overlook, and literally pushed me the rest of the way up the hill.
And then came the last section. You may have read here previously that this section is soul-crushing. My entire body hurt going into it, but I had 3.5 hours to complete the whole thing, and I hadn’t even busted out my emergency music yet. So why not?
I slowly lost sight of the group I had been keeping pace with because, well, I was going slow. I stopped before the last series of hills, right after crossing the Tucquan Creek, and popped in my earphones. I was following two girls up the first nasty hill when I saw the girl in front of me lean on a tree to pull herself up. I would probably not remember this, except that immediately after that something large and hard hit me directly on my head. I looked around, expecting a coconut (because of all the tropical trees in Southeastern PA), but only saw branches. They asked if I was ok, and with gigantic tears in my eyes, I said “Of course I’m ok!” They kindly let me pass by them so I could weep alone. Actually, the whole thing gave me a burst of adrenaline. Once I realized I was bleeding from the head, I thought “I need to get to the end before I die!” and off I went. I managed to catch my friend Howard and drag myself up the last few hills. (I didn’t die, or feel nauseous, or dizzy, or lightheaded, I promise, Mom).
The last thing we experienced on the hike was a shirtless, inebriated man heckling hikers as they walked by with his pet rat. A great ending, if you ask me.
I made it to the finish line, picked up my highlighter-yellow race shirt, and finally sat down. I howled when I took off my shoes and saw the gigantic blister on my big toe. (It’s still there as I write this. Maybe I should have it looked at?)
I really did enjoy it. The area is absolutely gorgeous, the course is challenging, the event seemed well-organized, and everyone I interacted with was happy to be there, participants and volunteers alike. Will I do it again? Ask me when I can walk down stairs without wincing.