Read Westley's interview and get inspired!
Your full name: Westley Shaffer
Your age: 27
Your hometown: Somerset, Pa but currently live with my wife Jennifer in Williamsport, PA
How long have you been hiking? Off and on my entire life through Cub and Boy Scouts
What is your earliest memory of hiking? Or most memorable hiking experience? The most memorable is completing the Laurel Highlands hiking trail during the summer between third and fourth grade. My parents and I, along with my older brother sectioned hiked the entire length that summer using weekends. When we reached our shelter for the night we would practice outdoor skills; lighting fires with a single match, identifying trees, and whittling with our pocket knives.
Why did you decide to take the 100-Mile Trail Challenge? I’ve decided to take on the challenge to prepare myself for greater goals. I’m tentatively scheduled to tackle Mt. Rainier in Washington State in August 2017. I’ve also wanted to dedicate more time to backpacking and get back to my roots. This challenge will hopefully serve to get me in shape and spend more time outside.
What are some of the trails you plan to hike on to meet this goal? Old Loggers Path, Chuck Keiper Trail, Allegheny Front Trail, Mid State Trail and part of the Laurel Highlands Trail
What is your #1 favorite hiking trail in PA, and why is it your favorite? The Laurel Highlands Trail will always have a place in my heart. It’s where I’ve learned to hike and holds some of my best memories. The LHT is beautiful and takes you through the heart of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
What is your favorite thing about hiking? I would say my favorite aspect is that you’re self-reliant even when hiking in groups.
Who is sponsoring you so far (friends, family, co-workers, hiking club, etc)? I joined the challenge late in the year, December. It’s a busy time of the year and can be stressful for some. I figured I’ll wait until after the 1st of the New Year to start asking for donations. Although my wife would be my first sponsor. I’ve got a new Peregrine Radama 1 person tent that will make many hikes more accessible.
How did you hear about KTA/ first get involved with KTA? I’ve known about the KTA for a number of years. Our paths occasionally cross paths in my professional career as well as growing up in Boy Scouts. As an Eagle Scout project I proposed and constructed a part of link trail to the Chuck Keiper Trail in Sproul State Forest called the Little Beaver Loop Trail in the East Branch Swamp Natural Area.
Do you have any advice to new hikers? My advice would be avoiding buying gear online. Going to a brick and mortar store provides much more than advice on gear. It’s a great way to build relationships with people already on the trail. Being outfitted with the right gear the first time is critical for success.
What is the one thing you’ll never hit the trail without? Toilet Paper. Choosing the wrong leaf can have some serious consequences!
Do you have a favorite nature/ hiking quote that you can share with us (either your own or someone else’s)? “We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it; we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home and in towns and cities.” - Nessmuk, Woodcraft 1884
Anything else you’d like to share with us? I’m working on a blog where my friends, family, and sponsor can follow my progress. I hope to put write about my experiences on the trail and review gear that I’ve decided to take along. I see it as a creative exercise or a journal.
Want to try the 100-Mile Trail Challenge? Click/Tap HERE to sign up and start hiking for a cause.