Hikers hit the trail in winter

Staff Writer
Echo Pilot
The hikers spent the night at a shelter. Pictured, from left: Chris Hohl, Steve Rodger, Dave Myers and Randall Ackerman.

Four local men braved Mother Nature on Feb. 15 and 16 with their annual winter weekend backpack trip. They hiked the Appalachian Trail on South Mountain. Friends Randall Ackerman, Chris Hohl, Dave Myers and Steve Rodger carried their supplies as they trekked over the snow-covered path.

This year proved more challenging than in the past, as the hikers trudged through 18 inches of snow and 24-30 inch drifts. As planned, the hikers overnighted at one of the Adirondack shelters on the trail, but single digit nighttime temperatures on the mountain made for a very challenging primitive camping trip.

“We had to take special precautions because at temps this low everything freezes - your water, your food, even your toothpaste,” said Ackerman, a 25 year veteran backpacker.

“Fortunately, we hadn’t planned to hike very far on this trip, but because of the deep snow, it took us over two hours to hike the nearly two miles to the shelter. It was exhausting.”

 The four men have been hiking together for several years and in 2013 spent 16 days hiking various trails across the state. For short weekend hikes they are drawn to several sections of the A.T. where they can spend less time driving and more time hiking.