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  1. #1
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    Default Great Eastern Trail

    Here's a thread, as suggested elsewhere, to discuss the Great Eastern Trail http://www.greateasterntrail.net - how to hike it, how to finish or to improve it, and how to use the GET to supplement or to enhance your A.T. experience.
    Last edited by MOWGLI; 01-15-2009 at 14:46. Reason: changed URL

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    I have nothing to add at this time, but look forward to reading what's contributed and will check out your link.

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    Springer - Front Royal Lilred's Avatar
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    Looks pretty interesting. Another long distance trail in my backyard can only be a good thing.
    "It was on the first of May, in the year 1769, that I resigned my domestic happiness for a time, and left my family and peaceable habitation on the Yadkin River, in North Carolina, to wander through the wilderness of America." - Daniel Boone

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    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    This is a great trail. The AL portion was easy to follow. Not sure if they have the route down in TN south of the Cumberland Trail just yet... From Great North Mountain in VA up to Cowan's Gap in PA is well marked. Lots of nice shelters.

    AL Trail Hiking Society and PATC are wonderful groups and supportive.

    I am taking a break to help my knee heal but hope to get back out there and hike the north half in 2009. Then finish up TN & KY in 2010.

    If you like trails that are pretty and not crowded the GET and the various trails that make her up are something to look into.
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    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    looks like the the website is progressing since i visited last. cant wait to hike some of teh cumberland trail once we complete the pinhoti!
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

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    The idea of the recent changes to the website is to bridge the gap from the GET idea to actually getting maps/guides from the member clubs - and (eventually) the interim gaps between.

    Comments on how better to do that are welcome - they'll be noticed on WhiteBlaze too.

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    Default Pennsylvania GET route?

    Has the route across Pennsylvania been settled upon and what percentage is now complete?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shades of Gray View Post
    Has the route across Pennsylvania been settled upon and what percentage is now complete?
    There are 2 official routes, both existing, in MD and in southern PA that converge in the Detweiler Run valley in the northern tip of Huntingdon County. From there is a single route to a point SE of Wellsboro, a gap across US 6, then it picks up again to 2 mi short of the NY border.

    http://www.greateasterntrail.net/PA.htm

    So, although the official figures are being tabulated, there are about 400 mi completed and 12 to go in PA - completion percentage roughly 400/412 = 97%.

    And at least 6 of the 12 missing miles will be done following a scheduled KTA Trail Crew in 2008 (it's basically done now except for blazing and signs). http://www.greateasterntrail.net/june.html
    Last edited by MOWGLI; 01-15-2009 at 14:47. Reason: changed URL

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    Default Mean elevation of Pennsylvania GET?

    Some people seem to believe the GET through Pennsylvania is at a significantly higher elevation than the AT. You may be the best informed person about the Pennsylvania GET who regularly posts here. Perhaps you could help to clarify this point.

    I know the Kittatinny Ridge is pretty much uniformly +1500 feet on the ridge top and obviously less where the AT passes through water and wind gaps. I also know the elevation of Mt. Davis, 3213 feet, Pennsylvania's highest point. While the mean elevation or elevation at which a hiker would most often hike may be higher on either or both GET routes than the AT route, it's also farther from the Atlantic Ocean and nearer the continent's interior and given the environmental lapse rate is 3.5F, I can't see a hiker could expect much relief from the summer heat.

    Do you know the mean elevation of Pennsylvania's GET route(s) or have the same information for the AT route for purposes of comparison? I'd be surprised to learn the difference is >1000 feet and it might not even be 500 feet.

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    Hmm. Honestly I don't know what the mean elevation would be of the GET, nor of the AT in PA. (However, I am hoping that someone will buy me the ArcGIS extension that will be able to let me calculate stuff like that! )

    I do know that the west loop of the GET passes over the highest mountain in PA's section of the Valley and Ridge physiographic province, Martin Hill (the highest summit is 2,775'; the lower summit the Mid State Trail goes over is 2,730'), in Southampton Twp., Bedford County. (That's not Bedford County's high point because Blue Knob on the Allegheny Front is in that county, and is over 3,000'.)

    The west loop also passes very near the highest point in Huntingdon County on MST. The east loop passes very near the highest point in Franklin County on Tuscarora Trail. Both over 2,000'.

    There's also a lot of hovering near both sides of the 2,000' mark along the GET route in Bedford, Huntingdon, Clinton, Lycoming, and Tioga counties. Even the valley bottoms in Tioga County are over 1,000' except for Blackwell at the mouth of the "PA Grand Canyon."

    So, without further detailed study, I'd buy the 500' or slightly less, average elevation difference figure, between GET and AT in PA.

    I can tell you from quite a lot of my personal experience spending much time on both ends, that there's about a five degree difference on the same day between the Harrisburg area and Tioga County; and it's usually a couple of degrees cooler even in southern Bedford County than in Harrisburg. That's certainly more than can be explained by the lapse rate; I suspect a higher proportion of cloud and fog in the interior mountains, retarding the daily growth in temperature, explains the rest.

    In other states, such as Virginia and Tennessee, I think generally the GET route would have to be lower than the A.T., since the GET is not on the Blue Ridge where the highest elevations are.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
    Hmm. Honestly I don't know what the mean elevation would be of the GET, nor of the AT in PA. (However, I am hoping that someone will buy me the ArcGIS extension that will be able to let me calculate stuff like that! )

    So, without further detailed study, I'd buy the 500' or slightly less, average elevation difference figure, between GET and AT in PA.
    Hope Santa brings you the software. Then this question can be settled once and for all! I think we're pretty much in agreement anyway, but I won't tell Santa.

    Quote Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
    I can tell you from quite a lot of my personal experience spending much time on both ends, that there's about a five degree difference on the same day between the Harrisburg area and Tioga County; and it's usually a couple of degrees cooler even in southern Bedford County than in Harrisburg. That's certainly more than can be explained by the lapse rate; I suspect a higher proportion of cloud and fog in the interior mountains, retarding the daily growth in temperature, explains the rest.
    I believe it's also cooler with few exceptions on Blue Mountain than in Reading especially on its northern slope.

    I could think of many good reasons to hike the Pennsylvania GET versus the AT. Avoiding the summer heat just isn't one of them. To get significant relief from summer's heat requires a higher latitude and elevation than Pennsylvania offers. I can find greater relief by descending the steps to my basement.

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    Well, home for me is a thickly wooded north slope of Allen Mountain, in the winter I can look out across the Lebanon Valley at the local crest of Blue Mountain (which is lower here than 1,500') so that's my point of comparison.

    I don't think I did previously assert that the GET in PA would be cooler than the A.T., but now that the specific question's been asked, so far I do believe there would be a two to five degree difference - based on our family spending nearly every summer weekend very close to one end or the other of the GET in PA - and the remaining weekends generally pretty close to the A.T.

    Maybe someone better at navigating the data than me, or with more time to figure it out, can check climate data for State College vs. Harrisburg; there's roughly the same distance and elevation change from weather station to trail in both cases. I'm sure the data will support a difference; how meaningful that difference might be, falls into the realm of HYOH.
    Last edited by ki0eh; 03-10-2008 at 10:15. Reason: specificity

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shades of Gray View Post
    Hope Santa brings you the software. Then this question can be settled once and for all! I think we're pretty much in agreement anyway, but I won't tell Santa.....
    I'm thinking that if the GET trail was mapped as a raster line, then a simple set of summary stats could be output. That is, take the mean of all the raster cells that compose the GET.
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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Ki0eh, thank you so much for providing the info about the GET in PA. More and more, the Dinos are considering doing the GET instead of the AT for the solitude and unspoiled beauty it provides - especially in PA where the camping options on the AT are so limited.

    Since you are somewhat familiar with both the GET and the AT in that area, could you compare and contrast the social aspects (How many others can I expect to meet?, Can I camp alone?), support available (food resupply, hostels, hotels, etc.) and that oh-so-subjective quality - how hard are these trails when compared?

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    Addicted Hiker and Donating Member Hammock Hanger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frolicking Dinosaurs View Post
    Ki0eh, thank you so much for providing the info about the GET in PA. More and more, the Dinos are considering doing the GET instead of the AT for the solitude and unspoiled beauty it provides - especially in PA where the camping options on the AT are so limited.

    Since you are somewhat familiar with both the GET and the AT in that area, could you compare and contrast the social aspects (How many others can I expect to meet?, Can I camp alone?), support available (food resupply, hostels, hotels, etc.) and that oh-so-subjective quality - how hard are these trails when compared?
    The part of the GET that we hiked last year was on the Tuscarora section and I can tell you it was beautiful and solitude abound!!! When I pick this back up, unfortunately next year as I want the knee to heal, it will be North of Cowan's Gap and getting up on the Standing Stones/Link Trail. From what I am told it too will offer much solitude.

    As much as I love the AT and the AT Family, I really enjoyed my alone time last year. I hope you get out there.

    Sue/HH
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    Quote Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
    I don't think I did previously assert that the GET in PA would be cooler than the A.T.
    I'm not aware you did either. It's Minnesota Smith who likes to make that point whenever he can.

    Quote Originally Posted by ki0eh View Post
    Maybe someone better at navigating the data than me, or with more time to figure it out, can check climate data for State College vs. Harrisburg; there's roughly the same distance and elevation change from weather station to trail in both cases. I'm sure the data will support a difference.
    I expect it would too. There's also a difference between Reading and Port Clinton or Summit Station, but I wouldn't drive there to experience it.

    To me, anything over 80F is hot and there's no difference between 93F and 95 or 96F. It's just numbers on a thermometer if you happen to be carrying one. I'd refrain from hiking between 1100 and 1500 or 1600 hours in the summer anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Frolicking Dinosaurs View Post
    More and more, the Dinos are considering doing the GET instead of the AT for the solitude and unspoiled beauty it provides - especially in PA where the camping options on the AT are so limited.
    More incorrect information from the font of misinformation. Camping options on Pennsylvania's AT are not limited. With few exceptions, hikers can camp wherever they desire.

    Maybe we could return to a discussion of the GET without a reprise of your earlier performance?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hammock Hanger View Post
    The part of the GET that we hiked last year was on the Tuscarora section and I can tell you it was beautiful and solitude abound!!! When I pick this back up, unfortunately next year as I want the knee to heal, it will be North of Cowan's Gap and getting up on the Standing Stones/Link Trail. From what I am told it too will offer much solitude.

    As much as I love the AT and the AT Family, I really enjoyed my alone time last year. I hope you get out there.

    Sue/HH
    Thanks Sue. That's great to hear. I'm really looking forward to it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frolicking Dinosaurs View Post
    Ki0eh, thank you so much for providing the info about the GET in PA. More and more, the Dinos are considering doing the GET instead of the AT for the solitude and unspoiled beauty it provides - especially in PA where the camping options on the AT are so limited.

    Since you are somewhat familiar with both the GET and the AT in that area, could you compare and contrast the social aspects (How many others can I expect to meet?, Can I camp alone?), support available (food resupply, hostels, hotels, etc.) and that oh-so-subjective quality - how hard are these trails when compared?
    OK, here goes on a whole bunch of subjectivity, based on day-hiking and/or weekending most of the 2.5 trails you mention, and on other information, but NOT representing any view of any organization I may be affiliated with.

    Let's say one would be crossing the Potomac into Hancock, Md., where the two routes split. Hancock probably has adequate resupply opportunity, motel, a couple choices of modest restaurants, and a nice little bike shop but no outfitter.

    The west route heads up the flat with very occasional camping opportunity C&O Canal NHP, also here American Discovery Trail, to Little Orleans, Md. home of "Bill's Place" a bar and convenience store beloved among river rats and towpath riders. Nearby is a PATC cabin. Then the footpath narrows and takes off up into Md.'s Green Ridge State Forest over some interesting hills but not getting too far from Fifteenmile Creek - a good thing because on many of the hills you can observe the Maryland native prickly pear cactus in this driest portion of the Free State. Path has some ups, downs, and narrow points but fairly interesting scenery through here. This fellow rated it as "strenuous" but I wonder if he was just having a bad day: http://www.midatlantichikes.com/id104.html Forest HQ and parking at I-68 but no services. After crossing into PA there is a short roadwalk leading into State Forest, camping legal but water only every 5 mi. Not too far away is Flintstone, Md. with beer in one place and a Mennonite-run store with quarts (?!?) of Dr. Bronner's in another. Climb up, the last on a rocky power line, to the highest point in PA's Tiltrock Country (mentioned above), Martin Hill. Fall quickly on a fire trail into Sweet Root Natural Area, rise to the last water and legal camping for 16 miles, rise again to a knife-edge jumble - No camping due to PA Game Lands (the GET does NOT have the camping availability regulation oft cited by SoG, shelterbuilder, and me), No water except 2/3 of the way north and then it's 1,000' down and 1 mile off trail. Finally descend a stretch that would be reminiscent of the east side of Lehigh Gap if there were three kinds of briar there, to Everett, Pa. on US 30. Everett is about the size of and about as prosperous as Duncannon; however, the grocery is directly on trail and PO with 2 hardware stores 1 block off. Motel on trail, a couple of so-so restaurants in town. There are 2 old hotels: either in the right hands could be the next Doyle. Wal-Mart and hospital are about 4 miles west. Outfitter of sorts (hiking definitely ranks after bike and paddle here) is in Breezewood 10 miles east. I-70/76, the PA Turnpike, rolls through town with no exit. Here are a couple of pictorial trip reports through this area: http://backpack.phanfare.com/2007 Then a few miles roadwalk returns you through a cow pasture to the rocky, dry ridge of Tussey Mountain - no camping either. Loysburg with its PO leads to a short roadwalk to turn left just before a fine local restaurant to more Game Lands - still no camping but soon there is a streamside walk before returning to the dry ridge mostly now on Game Land management roads. Finally turn off for three miles to Williamsburg, smaller with fewer services than Everett. Follow Lower Trail rail-trail alongside Frankstown Branch Juniata River to near Alexandria and US 22, 60 mi. from MD line. Woods roads and road a few miles to Little Juniata River, once you climb high above this Natural Area you are on dry ridge, camping legal in State Forest, springs 1/4 to 1/2 mi off trail. In 20 more miles look off ridge to State College, Pa., home of the 11th member of the Big Ten, good outfitter and probably everything else one would want in a town except a hostel. Wonder if we should mark a pink blazed side trail to it. Pass around Bear Meadows, an odd high-elevation bog except the elevation isn't high enough to explain it, and shortly rejoin the east route. See http://www.pahikes.com/trails/midstateSC_overview.asp

    The east route heads out of Hancock on PATC's Tuscarora Trail. Camping is an immediate challenge on the towpath, roads, county park, roads, and PA Game Lands where treadway then adds to the challenge. See http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=4974 , http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=6211 , and http://www.trailjournals.com/entry.cfm?trailname=5400 for some passages through here. Pretty high up at the US 30 crossing but PATC moved the path 1/4 mile downhill from the summit bar. North of US 30 east route enters State Forest with legal but dry camping, then Cowans Gap State Park, then follows a stream to near another PATC cabin. Head uphill now on Standing Stone Trail http://www.hike-sst.org/highlights.htm , under the PA Turnpike I-76 a few miles from Fort Littleton exit with one restaurant and two convenience stores, head on a few miles' temporary roadwalk that has lasted 19 years but the end is in sight, and up onto Game Lands (remember no camping at all) where the aptly named Priceless Point is up a short side trail. After a few miles of not-as-rocky-as-it-could-be-for-PA there is a six mile roadwalk into the town of Three Springs with a fine pizzeria at the main intersection. Big climb comes next into Game Lands (no camping, water scarce) and a lot of management road following to a few great views, one small State Forest tract to camp in then more Game Lands before a long drop into Mapleton (PO, small store) on the Juniata River. The next 12 miles is possibly the most dramatic hiking day in all of PA with its dramatic interplay of history, scenery, the Thousand Steps that take you only HALFway up Jacks Mountain, and even one bit of legal camping with a nearby spring on top. Be kind to private landowners on the way down. Return to more no camping Game Lands but on relatively well graded trail, enter State Forest by headwaters streams for well earned rest. Rocky Ridge Natural Area quickly offers many spring wildflowers then head up Stone Mountain for a view-filled rocky passage to Greenwood Furnace State Park. One more big hill then a dramatic stand of never-cut rhododendron and hemlock at Alan Seeger Natural Area then re-join the west route, not far from State College.

    The re-united main trail heads up yet another old-growth area, strangely on an old logging railroad bed (???) that even more strangely was ballasted with central PA's most notorious stretch of ankle-biter rocks. Treadway eases up a but to duck under PA 322 (no services) and into one of the most remote sections of PA - now fairly well watered and not QUITE as rocky passing Poe Valley State Park (full service) and Poe Paddy State Park (in name only); eventually to R.B. Winter State Park (full service), cross I-80 truly in the middle of nowhere; Ravensburg State Park (half service) then drop down to West Branch Susquehanna River and a few miles roadwalk. Just north of the river is Woolrich, Pa. with the only shelter on this stretch - it's right next to the original Woolrich Factory Outlet and patrolled by private security. Web page featuring this area: http://www.pahikes.com/trails/midstateWO_overview.asp Then you get to climb the Allegheny Front (each time about the magnitude of Mt. Minsi out of DWG) three times over, mostly in State Forest on even-less-rocky trail, passing Little Pine State Park - then it's 25 miles to the next paved road, encountered in the tiny hamlet of Blackwell, right in the mouth of PA's "Grand Canyon." Fine food and lodging at the Blackwell Hotel - a bit pricey, better food, but nowhere near as stuck up as the Boiling Springs Tavern. GET passes 25 more miles close to water with occasional campsites in State Forest, with scattered bits of historical interest including a ghost town, see http://www.pahikes.com/trails/midstate11.asp and http://get.chattablogs.com/archives/065569.html#more After leaving the last State Forest and dispersed camping area, you are in northern Tioga County - very similar terrain and land use to NY's Finger Lakes Trail which is now pretty close by. Small store and PO in Morris. Excellent outfitter and other services in nearby Wellsboro but 8-10 mi off trail. Further north a side trail to grocery store in Mansfield. There is a 10 mile presently unmarked gap from Tioga State Forest to Hills Creek State Park, then camping only in car campgrounds at prevailing fees climbing up and down hills through Game Lands, private land, and 2 Corps of Engineers reservoirs, until you reach the END for now, 2 mi. short of entering New York State. Tiny PO and NOTHING else in Nelson nearby, however you do pass through where Nelson used to be.

    Whew, with all that said, now I'll try to draw some conclusions:

    -The west route IMO is harder than the A.T. due both to terrain and camping restrictions. Both ease up toward the north end of the west route. Basic resupply could be easier than the A.T. but the town folks will not be used to hikers and hiker-specific hostels, etc. are non-existent. There is a stretch either side of I-70 of about 45 miles with no legal trailside camping at all, and about 30 miles with no trailside lodging. Perhaps a NOBO heading into Everett after a very long and rough day can, with a humble attitude and a few dollars, hire someone to slack for a couple of days, according to this: http://www.hike-mst.org/shuttle.html

    -The east route gets easier more quickly upon entering PA but still has its rocks, and climbs well over 1,000' each in spots. Resupply could be possible but a little thin. There is more road walking on the east route but not quite as huge a gap in legal trailside camping and lodging. People in towns still haven't seen hikers before. No hostels.

    -The combined route in the northern half of PA, is considerably more well watered, and after a few miles gets decidedly less rocky than either the A.T. or either southern-half route. The northern-most 40 miles (including 10 yet unmarked) includes 4 car campgrounds trailside that offer the only legal camping. Resupply options are very thin and mostly limited to state park offices, or a couple of tiny post offices 3 miles off trail, none of the above have seen many hikers. No hostels.

    -The fairly large town of State College (population 38,420 just within the borough limits, plus many new subdivisions and commercial areas surrounding) is close to where the GET branches. (No coincidence: Mid State Trail begain in 1969 as a project of the Penn State Outing Club.) I'm sure a lot of future thru-hikers will end up there on their journeys.

    -Apart from dayhikers in: the immediate neighborhood of State College; the Thousand Steps themselves; and perhaps right around the PA Grand Canyon and some of the state parks; you will most likely have the trail entirely to yourself. The MST guide says: "If you hike alone, you will meet more bears than people." Long sectioners report seeing maybe one or two other backpackers, after crossing the entire state; and two or three bears.

    -You might find "angels" and "magic" along the GET in PA, but both will be the old fashioned kind and nothing to plan for. However the club people would probably go well out of their way for the first one or few hikers; then small towns being what they are, "angels" will probably emerge eventually if there's enough "business."

    -Is the GET in PA more scenic than the A.T. in PA: Many people do think so. Of course the GET is both longer, at slightly higher elevations, and generally more rural, so it has advantages there.

    -Is the GET in PA cooler than the PA A.T. route: Possibly a little, see above.

    -Getting to the GET in PA would be more difficult than getting to the PA A.T. There is even less public transportation; and if you need a shuttle, it will probably be harder to find one. I honestly don't know if hitching is easier.

    -Is the GET in PA harder than the PA A.T.: This has got to be left to HYOH for the areas north of US 22. South of US 22, it's definitely harder due to lack of legal camping opportunities.

    -Are there problems with vandalism, "squealing like a pig," etc.? Such problems can never be ruled out but there's not known to be major issues. The MST guide mentions one road crossing as a frequent site for "beer and pot parties" but that was probably the case 30 years ago, not now.

    -Would I, the WB reader, prefer to hike the GET or the A.T. across PA: Hike both and let us know!!

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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    Wow, Ki0eh. Thank you so much for taking the time to write that wonderful info about the PA GET.

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    Default Circuit Hikes

    Yes, indeed, thank you. I think we might have us a GET thread.

    What strikes me as the most significant opportunity afforded by the GET is the opportunity for a big circuit hike.

    When the Schuylkill River Trail is complete, Matty will be able to hike from Philly to Port Clinton where he'll be able to hike the AT SOBO to the GET NOBO to the AT SOBO to Port Clinton. He can celebrate completing his circuit hike at Port Clinton Hotel before heading back home without spending a penny on gas money.

    I wonder what Minnesota Smith would think of that?

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