Hiker of the Week – Jacob Stoltzfus

Hi everyone, my name is Jacob Stoltzfus. I’ve always been into the outdoors, and my first hobby was actually mountain biking and not hiking. I started mountain biking in sixth grade, and then started camping out in the woods at friend’s houses. One of my first camping trips (only a half mile from a friend’s house), was one of my most memorable trips. my brother dropped me off and not until he did, did he ask how long I was going to stay. I told him two nights, but ended up staying for two weeks, and camped out every night!

What was cool about it was that we spent an entire week building a fort out of an old stream bed. It was actually five feet underground, we made steps, put up cross logs so that we could put a larger one perpendicular to it so that we could lay thinner branches from both sides of the fort with leaves to cover everything. It was so well hidden that you wouldn’t notice it if you walked by, and it stayed in tact and we camped in for the next two years before we both joined the army. I was in the parachute infantry, and spent even more time in where? The woods!

A friend in the army got me into hiking and we would hike the uwharrie national forest and camp out in the middle of nowhere. Not long after our first trip I started buying my own gear – pack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, trekking poles, stove, headlamp, etc. For the next several years while in the army I’d hike the Appalachian trail at home during leave or on a four day weekend. I don’t know why I never drove out to Western North Carolina to hike the AT there, but my first AT hike wasn’t lengthy, but I hiked NOBO on PA325 for several miles, PA309 to bear rocks and a few other short trips here and there.

After I got out of the army, I started exploring other trails in PA, and have hiked quite a few of them (and the same ones over and over) to include the Loyalsock trail, Black Forest Trail, Golden Eagle Trail, Old Loggers Path, and the Allegheny front trail.

I’ve seen everything you could see in PA, including bears and bobcats, and have had quite a few close encounters with both. my last trip was on the Allegheny Front Trail and hiked it with Ian Oswald. It was very rainy on the third day and we actually decided to cut our trip short because it was coming down that hard! We are planning another trip in January, and will either hike a section on the AT or hike the Iron Stone Loop on the Mid State Trail.

I like to hike to get away from civilization (the thousands of tourists who come to Lancaster county every year), and all the noise. Though I don’t mind the noise of packs of coyotes howling at night! I also like to solo hike, even though sometimes I do get bored at my campsite. I’m usually packed up and hitingt the trail at 5:45am in the summer(or what other time it is when it first gets light throughout the year) and don’t stop until almost dark. I like to pack light, which makes it easier to get more miles in. I plan to someday thru hike the AT, with or without Ian!

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