Category Archives: Climbing Mt Katahdin

Info about climbing Mount Katahdin.

PA Police Captain to Hike Appalachian Trail on Retirement

Peters Township Council has hired a new deputy police chief to replace Capt. Michael Yanchak, who will retire at the end of the year.

When Pennsylvania Police Captain Michael Yanchak of the Peters Township police department retires Jan. 6, the 33-year department veteran will be anything but idle.

He plans on hiking the Appalachian Trail, the 2,200-mile marked trail that stretches north from Mount Katahdin in northern Maine south to Springer Mountain in Georgia.

“Being able to walk through a piece of history intrigues me,” said Yanchak, 64.

Besides Maine and Georgia, the trail goes through parts of New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, Pennsylvania and North Carolina. It is also in close proximity to major battlefield sites such as Antietam and Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.

“The United States is very large and I have gotten to see it in bits and pieces,” said Yanchak, an avid hiker. “But, I feel like I’ve missed a lot.”

Mount Katahdin and Baxter State Park.
The northern end of the Appalachian Trail is Baxter State Park and Mt Katahdin. photo: Tim Pasanen

Yanchak has been busy prepping for the excursion at his Canonsburg home. For months, he has been dehydrating food, pouring over maps, reading and talking with people who have hiked the trail for tips. He said his wife Melody, their daughters, Meredith, 33, a theater teacher in Texas and Melissa, 35, a keyboardist in Arkansas, and their son Michael, 36, a one-man vocal band who lives in Pittsburgh, have been extremely supportive. In fact, Meredith plans on hiking with him in June, when she is on summer vacation.

“My kids have all back packed since they have been 4 or 5,” he said. “They have all been hounding me for my daily itinerary.”

Yanchak said he will begin his hike somewhere in southern New England in May and walk 15 to 20 miles a day. To prepare for his journey, Yanchak said he will begin taking progressively longer hikes with a 35-pound backpack to make sure he is in shape.

“Bears won’t bother me,” he said.

Besides fulfilling his goal, Yanchak said he views the upcoming trip, which should last six to 10 months, as cathartic. He said he doesn’t know whether he will miss police work, despite being a police officer half his life. He also doesn’t know whether he will go back to work, or remain retired.

“When I come off the trail, everything should be clearer,” he said.

Yanchak started out his law enforcement career as a state corrections officer in Montgomery County. After three years, he left that position and enlisted the military and became a military police officer. Following a three-year stint in the service, he returned to work as a corrections officer, but when an opening on the Peters Township police was posted, he applied and got the job. It also gave him an opportunity to return home to Western Pennsylvania.

“I believe we all have to give something back to society,” Yanchak said. “Me being a police officer is my way of giving back.”

Yanchak said he has been on a number of interesting calls over the years as a police officer, including one on a hot Memorial Day weekend several years ago. He was called to administer CPR on a man who was having a heart attack. Yanchak said he saved the man’s life. But a month later, the man shows up at the police department.

“He wanted to complain to the chief I broke his ribs,” said Yanchak, who was the only person in the station at the time. He said man did not recognize him. “I took his name and said I would leave a message for the chief and I did.”


Story of thru-hiking the AT | Appalachian Trail

Excerpt from “Transformed on the Trail” ~ By Jim T. Ryan

View of Mount Katahdin across South Twin Lake.
View of Mount Katahdin across South Twin Lake.

Here is an account from a hiker who completed his thru-hike on the AT.  It is very well written and quite emotional.  The story, that ends in Maine, of course, is accompanied by some great photos from many stops along the hike from Georgia to Maine.  Read the excepts below and then click thru to the entire article, if you like.  Feel free to leave a comment, below!


“The day is cold, yet the Maine sun beats down on your neck. You’ve been walking for hours, the last of it over and around boulders the size of dump trucks at times. The sweat beads down, running under the moss-like months of beard growth.

Six months of walking and so much landscape has passed underfoot, brushed past your face, torn at your clothes, bogged your socks and boots. You’re on your third pair of hiking shoes, the predecessors stripped of their usefulness by the mountains of Tennessee, shredded by the rocky remains of the last ice age in Pennsylvania.”

from Harrisburg Magazine

“You’re exhausted, yet you climb the peak in front of you. You can’t wait to be done with this meandering existence. But you dread its end. What next? Where do you go from here?

You just keep walking. There it is. Baxter Peak, the pinnacle of Mount Katahdin. You can see the sign. Adrenaline kicks in, and you begin sprinting the final football field only to stop to wait for the companions behind you. You made them a promise to finish together. You’ll keep it. You’ll finish the 2,186 miles of the Appalachian Trail (AT) together.”

“For anyone with a bit of wilderness in their blood, thru-hiking the AT is the first long-distance notch in the hiking stick. But finishing the trail is a remote accomplishment. Only about 20 percent of those who set out ever actually finish the hike in a single year. Many quit before they’re out of the first state.”

“My favorite area – the most beautiful area – is probably Tennessee. In Hampton, Tenn., there’s a stretch where you hike along a stream. It’s just absolutely beautiful. The trail is right next to the stream, and it’s flowing. You start at a waterfall. It was a place where I wish I just could’ve camped for a week,” Reardon says.

“He chokes-up with emotion, reliving the final day of his trek. Summitting Katahdin isn’t just a story. He relives it.”


More from Harrisburg Magazine

Walking to Katahdin – Appalachian Trail video

Video – Walking to Katahdin

Experience Mount Katahdin and the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. 2181 miles, 14 states. Great video!

More about Mount Katahdin and the Appalachian Trail

Mount Katahdin (pronounced: kah-Tah-din) is the tallest mountain in Maine at 5,269 feet (1,606 m or just shy of a mile). The mountain was named ‘Katahdin’ by the Penobscot Indians.  The term means “The Greatest Mountain” in their language. Katahdin is the centerpiece of Baxter State Park: a steep, tall mountain formed from a granite intrusion weathered to the surface above the treeline. The flora and fauna on the mountain are those typically found in other regions in northern New England. Katahdin has been known since time immemorial to the Native Americans in the region, and has been known to Europeans since, at least, 1689. Or, possibly, long before.  It has inspired hikers, climbers, journal narratives, paintings, local hit songs and a piano sonata. The area around the peak was protected by Governor Percival Baxter starting in the 1930s and is now known as Baxter State Park. Katahdin is the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail, and is located near a stretch known as the Hundred-Mile Wilderness.

Man to hike Appalachian Trail to spotlight military vet issues

Bradenton man to hike trail to spotlight military vet issues

Hiking the AT to raise awareness of Veterans needs.
Christopher Davis hikes the Appalachian Trail. photo provided.

Christopher Davis’ dream was to one day hike the Appalachian Trail to bring awareness to a cause closest to his heart — returning veterans.

To do on someone’s time clock would be an unexpected treat.

His dream has come true.

By RICHARD DYMOND  May 12, 2014  website

Davis made a pitch about a year ago to his new boss, Bob Rosinsky, president and CEO of Goodwill Manasota.

“There is something I’ve always wanted to do,” Davis told Rosinsky. “When I was sitting in Afghanistan in 2002 with the U.S. Army, I promised myself that if I lived through the war, I would walk the entire Appalachian Trail for a good cause.”

Davis proposed his “good cause” would shine light on the issue of military veterans coming home and having trouble accessing services.

Rosinsky immediately said “yes” even though it meant Davis would be physically out of pocket for five months, hiking with a backpack between Mount Katahdin, Maine, and Springer Mountain, Ga., while remaining on the payroll.

“Chris is still part of our team,” Rosinsky said. “It’s kind of a redeployment for Chris.”

As it turns out, the story of Davis’ May 28-to-Thanksgiving trek and why Rosinsky said yes is as much about Rosinsky and his enthusiasm and passion for military veterans as it is about his bucket list adventure.

‘One step at a time’

Davis, 35, was hired by Rosinsky in January 2013 to be the veteran’s program manager for Goodwill Manasota’s new American Veterans and Their Families Initiative.

Goodwill Manasota is well known locally as a not-for-profit organization whose mission is “changing lives through the power of work.”

It helped 329 veterans find jobs in 2013, according to Goodwill Manasota records.

But Rosinsky said he wanted to go beyond just landing jobs for veterans.

Working with an annual budget of roughly $100,000, Davis helps veterans and their families when they are down and out. Program funding comes from grants and sales of donated items.

“Chris provides information for vets to get housing, jobs, insurance, benefits, social integration, clothing, food, legal aide, transportation and medical,” said Yen Reed, director of marketing for Goodwill Manasota. “He works with hundreds of community partners.”

Rosinsky said Davis has done a stellar job.

“People have visited and said that our program has gotten more traction than other vet programs they are aware of,” Rosinsky said. “I believe the progress we are making is due to Chris.

“Chris’ program is evolving,” Rosinsky added. “We hope to provide services for every veteran in the drawdown as we leave Iraq and Afghanistan. We have a lot of people struggling. We hope that Goodwill is the doorway past that struggle.”

It’s hard to imagine a CEO giving the green light to a key employee to hike the Appalachian Trail for five months, but Rosinsky is more than OK with it.

“I immediately considered the fact that the screen got bigger for us to project on,” Rosinsky said. “We can reach a national audience and get people to recognize that vets need assistance.”

While Davis is gone, his assistant, Don Hill, will run the program, Rosinsky said.

Davis said he thinks the Appalachian Trail will be symbolic for veterans.

“It’s not how high or low we go on the peaks or valleys. It’s taking one step after another,” said Davis who graduated from the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee last week as the Outstanding Graduate after serving 14 years with the U.S. Army with seven tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. “I will make it to Georgia because I will keep walking. I think that’s the message we want to send to vets, ‘If you just take one step and then another, you will get there.'”

Davis can thank the late Guy Kelnhofer of Wisconsin for making his Appalachian trek a reality. Kelnhofer, Rosinsky’s uncle, was captured in Wake Island during World War II and spent four years in a prisoner-of-war camp.

“I saw some of the issues he had coming back,” Rosinsky said.

Rosinsky noted veterans like his uncle don’t always get needed services but it’s not because the services are not available.

“When vets come out, they tend to get isolated,” Rosinsky said. “It’s not so much that things aren’t out there, it’s just that there is a lack of focus and a lack of assistance to help them access what is there,”

30,000-plus Manatee County vets

Manatee County has 36,000 veterans, Davis said.

“The 2011 census reported 81,000 veterans in Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Hardee counties,” Davis said. “Manatee is definitely in the top three of Florida’s counties for number of vets.

“There are young vets as well,” Davis added.

Davis recalled a recent case where he helped a vet access a Veteran’s Administration housing program for chronically homeless vets.

“The sky is the limit when it comes to what we can do to put vets back on track,” Davis said.

Goodwill Manasota will be getting a lot of value out of Davis’ trek, Rosinsky said.

“Chris is going to do a blog where people can follow him every day (available through or linked directly at,” Rosinsky said. “We will also hook up with media all along the trek and give updates on his progress. Some people will go out and walk with him.”

Rosinsky plans to meet Davis at Harper’s Ferry, W. Va., in August and walk about 100 miles over a week.

Davis is also fundraising. People can donate from five cents to $1 per mile at, which will have links on the home page, Reed said.

“Whether he raises $2,000, $10,000 or $50,000 for his program is inconsequential when you look at the impact of raising awareness over that longer period of time,” Rosinsky said.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter @ RichardDymond.

Read more here.

Video – National Geographic – Appalachian trail

National Geographic – Appalachian trail

A video from National Geographic about the Appalachian Trail on the eastern seaboard of the USA.  Running from Maine to Georgia, it is a challenging 2175 mile hike.  See the TV show and learn all about hiking, camping and experiencing the Appalachian Trail.

Mount Katahdin video from National Geographic Television.
Mount Katahdin video from National Geographic Television.