Our Stories

Rachel Brag: NCT Long Distance Hiker

Categories: Hiking Stories


Rachel Brag

Kindred, ND
Central patch + North Dakota rocker
Compiled by Joan Young

Provided by Rachel Brag

My record of my days in North Dakota:

  • Started May 4, 2019. Finished June 6, 2020.
  • Fastest hike: 12 miles in three hours (Mile 227.9 to 239.9).
  • Longest day: September 26, 2019. 50K in a day. 31.2 miles with a start time at 5:57 a.m., finish time 5:15 p.m. (Mile 395.5 to 426.5 with Glee Mayer.) It was mind over muscle fatigue.
  • Shortest day: March 25, 2020. 5.5 miles from Abercrombie to Mile 426.5.
  • Rainiest day: May 18, 2019. Clausen Springs, Mile 309 to Highway 46, Mile 322. 12.5 miles Glee Mayer. It rained hard; super windy and cool. We stayed in a camper at Little Yellowstone.
  • Day with family: July 22, 2019. Lonetree [Wildlife Management Area] with daughter Krista. Seventeen miles: 99-116.
  • Hardest day: August 16, 2019. Twisted my ankle while doing trail scouting for new off-road walk. Two days later, hiked 10 miles (116-126) in pocket gopher mound area and it was hot. I had to be extra careful not to twist it again.
  • Prettiest day: March 16, 2020. North end of Lake Ashtabula. Sunny, nice, walked on top of snow without snowshoes. Beautiful blue sky and sparkling snow. 11.5 miles (255.25 to 266.75).
  • Most unexpected event: September 20, 2019. Hiking with Glee in Sheyenne National Grasslands, and a rainstorm popped up out of nowhere with lots of lightning and heavy rain. No rain was predicted. Got soaked, but it felt good later as it got to 86° F.
  • Hottest day: June 27, 2019. McClusky Canal in afternoon. Glee and I did six miles down along the canal with no breeze… Stifling! Around 90° F.
  • Coldest day: Didn’t have a cold day that bothered me, as I was in Arizona from October to March!
  • Next challenge: In 2020, I started on Minnesota… Almost half done! I’m addicted to the NCT!

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.