Doug Boulee: NCT Long Distance Hiker
Grand Rapids, MI
Central patch + Michigan, Wisconsin, and 1,000-Mile rockers
Compiled by Joan Young
As one of those “turning 50 things,” I decided to return to the world of backpacking. A goal of hiking 50 birthday miles in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore was set. During a training hike on the Manistee River Loop, for the first time I found a North Country National Scenic Trail emblem. Returning home, a visit to the NCTA website completed my discovery of this fantastic pathway that has been followed ever since.
That first hike was on July 27, 2006. Several random hikes of the NCT followed for over a year. One day, a hiker I met on the Trail asked if I was going to section hike the entire Trail. “People do that? Really?” And the hook was set.
As of May 20, 2012, the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail have been completed with 1,650 miles under foot. Each section of the Trail continues to bring on a new and fantastic journey.
Beyond the hikes are very rewarding days building and maintaining pathway alongside a great number of like-minded folks. Topping off my NCT experience, through both days of work and those of adventure, many lasting friendships have been made along the North Country National Scenic Trail.
An excerpt from this essay ran in the Spring 2021 issue (40.2) of our quarterly membership magazine, the North Star.
In 2012, a program was developed to provide a modest award and incentive to people who hike a large number of unique miles on the North Country Trail. Many hikers love patches, so a central patch and rockers were designed to give to those people who hike either [at least] one complete NCT state or 1,000 unique miles. In addition, those who complete the entire NCT under muscle power are given a certificate, and an outer rocker. Those who hike (including snowshoeing or skiing) the entire Trail are said to complete an end-to-end (E2E) hike. If some portions are bicycled, an end-to-end trip rocker is awarded.
To date (Spring 2021) 53 people have been recognized as NCT Long Distance Hikers. We know there are other people who qualify for these patches, but have not applied for them. There are currently 19 known E2E hikers. Two people have completed E2E trips.
To see the complete list of NCT Long Distance Hikers and find out how to apply for recognition, visit explorenct.info/NoCoLo. There are also links to known essays, journals, and more by these hikers.