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6 Ways the North Country Trail is Better than a Gym Membership

Categories: General, Uncategorized

It’s the season for getting back in shape, and taking an honest look at your health. No matter what state you find your health in as we kick off 2018, the North Country Trail has something to offer you.

Here are 6 reasons the North Country Trail is better than a gym membership:

It’s Less Crowded

by Mike Goroski, North Dakota’s only waterfall

It’s January and everyone has decided to run off those extra cookies they ate over the past few months. You can hunt for a treadmill or a small square of personal space on the floor.

Or you could go out on the North Country Trail and find a stretch of dirt all for yourself. You might have to share it with some scavenging squirrels or skittish deer. You could take a friend with you, but if you need personal space, you can keep a few yards between you and agree to each hike your own hike.

It smells better

This doesn’t need an explanation. Jim-Bob’s sweaty body, or the scent of a river, the dirt beneath your feet, fresh snowfall, and clean air. If you’re hiking with a smelly partner, you can just put a bit of breathing room between you. As far as the car ride home with said smelly buddy, just roll your windows down.

The sights are better and always changing.

by Rick Kacel, Manistee River, Michigan

You can stare at a brick wall day after day, watch the negative news, or the beefy guy lifting weights. Maybe tomorrow you’ll have a different person’s behind to stare at on the treadmill in front of you, or if you’re lucky, people will have given up on their resolutions already and that treadmill will be empty.

Or you can take in sweeping views of frozen rivers, fresh tracks from wildlife, and towering trees above you. Even when you walk a section of trail you’ve already experienced, the trees will be the same, but maybe you’ll start to see some green popping through the snow. Or you’ll notice early buds on the trees. Or deer tracks. Maybe you’ll walk it in the opposite direction as last time and see the Trail from a whole new angle. There’s always something new to view, even on the same stretch of trail.

The sounds are better

by Stephen Rhoades, Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

The drone of the news, the grunts of the weightlifters, the panting of the guy on the treadmill next to you, or the blasting music from your headphones to drown all that out.

Or you could enjoy the chirping of birds, the rushing river, or the sounds of ice breaking on said river, and the chattering of anxious squirrels above you. Tuning into the sounds of chirping birds and flowing streams and rivers may even help reduce anxiety.

Technology not required

by Connie Cox, Itasca State Park, Minnesota

No new machines to figure out. No confusing equipment needed or complex moves to master.

Just put your feet in your boots, strap on a pack with the 10 essentials, and enjoy the rhythm of your trekking poles.

It’s a better financial investment

Investment in your health is always wise. Technically, the trail is free for you to enjoy. But we all know the Trail doesn’t just “happen.” So what if the money you spent ($60-$100 per month for a gym last we checked, plus a sign up fee!) didn’t go just to buying new treadmills and upkeep of a square concrete building?

You could, instead, take all the money you save on a gym membership and make a donation to the North Country Trail Association. Not only is it an investment in your health, it will help provide for the upkeep and development for a 4,600 mile trail available for you to enjoy in all kinds of weather and all 4 seasons. It’s an investment in the future. Not just your future, but a future for people you may never meet. Future generations who will enjoy the Trail. A woman who will walk the Trail to heal from a broken relationship. A man who will walk the Trail as part of his heart attack recovery. A family who will walk the Trail to strengthen their relationships with their teenagers, or to teach their grade schoolers the value of nature.

Ready to improve your physical and mental health in 2018? Join our Hike 50 and Hike 100 Challenges.