Black Diamond Trail challenge kicks off despite frigid temps

The goal is to log 30 miles of hiking, biking, walking or snowshoeing during February

Hikers hit the D&L Black Diamond Trail on Saturday to kick off a Winter Challenge with the goal of logging 30 miles of hiking, biking, walking or snowshoeing during the month of February.

Rachael Stark, of the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, said the challenge is a great chance for participants to keep up with their new year’s resolutions during a period when falling temperatures and short days see people spending more time indoors with less activity.

Stark pointed out that the Black Diamond Trail is especially smooth and easy to navigate.

“I’ve always been a huge hiker and a couple of years ago, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis,” she said. “Luckily it doesn’t inhibit me much, but I started to realize that some people don’t get to experience the outdoors. I love trails like this because they are accessible to everyone, even those in a wheelchair.”

Stark said because participants are able to log their miles, with those completing 30 miles eligible for a prize, she wasn’t surprised that nearly a dozen people turned out in spite of sub-freezing temperatures.

“I saw it was going to get sunnier this afternoon, so I knew people would turn out,” she said.

Stark told participants that when the entire D&L trail was completed, it would run from the Philadelphia area to Wilkes-Barre for 165 miles. Another trail will run from Wilkes-Barre to the New York state line.

“One day you might be able to go all the way from Philadelphia to the New York border,” she said. “Which is not something you want to do in one day.”

Stark said currently that different sections of the trail run for miles from Philadelphia to Wilkes-Barre, but that they are not yet connected. An added benefit of the trail would be an increase in business for camping areas, restaurants and hotels near the trail.

“This is a rail trail, it runs along the route of an old rail-bed,” she said. “It obviously takes a lot of coordination to put that together. It involves issues of rights-of-way, working with property owners, legislators and the railways.”

The challenge will run through the end of February and is sponsored by the “Get your Tail on the Trail,” effort.

Tony and Sylvia Pszeniczny came out for Saturday’s walk for a chance to get some fresh air and time outdoors. Sylvia said she had registered for the challenge and was looking forward to completing it.

“Tony usually bikes and I walk,” she said. “We do it together.”

At the conclusion of Saturday’s hike, which included over two miles, participants were treated to hot chocolate and had the chance to ask questions about the challenge and other upcoming events.

Those who would like to register for the 30/30 challenge, which concludes Feb. 28, can access the website at https://tailonthetrail.org/challenge/30-30-nepa-winter-challenge-2022/.

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