The Keystone Trail Association, a volunteer-based organization, has as its members individuals who are dedicated to "providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania, and to representing and advocating the interests and concerns of the Pennsylvania hiking community."
Every year, the organization gives out hiking awards. New this year is the 100-Mile Challenge Award, which recognizes hikers who complete 100 miles or more of eligible Pennsylvania hiking trails in a designated period of time.
By June 21, Daryl Warren, of Wellsboro, completed 100 miles toward the challenge. But, he didn't stop there.
The 78-year-old kept hiking.
He is one of 12 hikers to receive the award. Warren racked up the most miles - 212 - in a five-month period.
The KTA challenge ran from April to September this year.
The hikers who competed in the challenge hiked 1,603 miles total.
But, putting in miles isn't the only thing the challenge is about. It's about raising funds, too.
"I decided to do it because I knew acquiring sponsors' contributions would help the KTA. Doing at least 100 miles was not really a challenge," Warren said.
The funds will go to help support KTA's mission to protect the state's hiking trails.
"The money raised supports KTA's efforts to construct and maintain hiking trails throughout Pennsylvania. Almost any Pennsylvania hiking trail is eligible, but a good resource is 'Pennsylvania Hiking Trails, 13th edition,' " he said.
The hikers raised $2,589 through sponsorships. Warren raised $466.
"The main thrust of the 100-Mile Challenge is to encourage hikers to just get out there and use the many hiking trails available all over Pennsylvania," he said.
By emailing and "snail mailing" friends and relatives, he asked them to sponsor him for $1 a mile. He wanted to let his potential contributors know how important the funds he raises are to KTA's efforts in constructing and maintaining hiking trails.
"I think some friends sponsored me just because they respected my commitment to do something like this at my age. I was 78 on July 20," he said.
Warren is a avid hiker who hits the trails for an average of 40 miles a month, even in the winter.
Trails Warren hiked for the challenge included Pine Creek Rail Trail, Hyner View, Mid State Trail, Lakeside Trail at Hills Creek State Park, Bohen Run Trail, West Rim Trail, C. Lynn Keller Trail, Donut Hole Trail, Tauscher Trail, Deer Trail, Lost Trail, Bark Hollow Trail, Plantation Trail and Thunder Swamp Trail.
He said many of the miles were hiked on the Mid State Trail, "which is my first love."
Through the KTA, Warren is a volunteer "overseer" for a section of the Mid State Trail, or MST. He works on a five-mile section of the entire 329-mile path, which bisects Pennsylvania from the New York state border above Cowanesque Lake in Tioga County to the Maryland border below the town of Everett.
"It took me five years to section hike the entire MST and earn the coveted End-to-End Award. The MST has been described as the wildest footpath in Pennsylvania, although the trail is rarely more than (1 1/2 miles) from the nearest civilized town or roadway," Warren said.
Nevertheless, "I've seen more bears on the MST than hikers," he said.
In 2007, Warren joined the KTA. He said he loves the outdoors and, through the KTA, he can be around others who share the same passion.
"(They) are willing to contribute their time, not just talk about what should be done," he said of KTA members who work on trails and volunteer their time.
The KTA and its members are looking forward to 2013, where the challenge will allow hikers to finish the 100 miles within a 12-month period.
"Without generous charitable giving, the KTA would be hamstrung in its efforts to construct and maintain trails in Pennsylvania for the outdoor enthusiast. Much equipment is needed. The KTA also represents the hiker in state budget and political issues," he said.
Without an organization such as the KTA, Warren said, many trails in the state would be left unattended, overgrown and unusable.
"Hikers like to trek on well-maintained remote paths. They create revenue and add to the economic health of the community with their purchases of hiking equipment, clothing, etc. Earnest hikers enjoy good health and maintain physical fitness. The KTA contributes to all that," he said.
Warren hopes others explore the area's trails, too.
"I hoped (this) would encourage my friends and relatives to get out there and enjoy God's wonderful creation," he said. "I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but the recognition for getting the reward was also a motivator. I really did try to come in first."