Steve Mentzer


I first read about the Rachel Carson Trail Challenge on the AYH web site sometime in late summer 1996. As an occasional backpacker that did 10-15 miles per day, a 34 mile hike seemed extreme. Yet, I was intrigued and kept it in the back of my mind. In 1997 I considered trying it, but felt I wasn't ready. Instead I went backpacking in West Virginia that weekend. In 1999 I finally signed up, after convincing my friend Rick to join me. We did almost everything wrong. Wrong nutrition (e.g., a hot dog at Sheetz), wrong shoes (hiking boots), wrong gear (full backpack loaded with crap). After twisting my ankle around mile 4 and limping badly as a result, I finished dead last. Lessons were learned that day, to be sure.

I started helping organize the Challenge in 2001 by arranging shuttle bus transportation in the morning. In 2002 I did much more and in 2003 I took on all organizational responsibilities from the founding duo, Jim Ritchie and Leo Stember.

I still participate in the Challenge when I can, as well as other endurance hikes like the C&O; Canal Hike and the Brandywine Trail.