Our Stories

Bill Courtois: NCT Long Distance Hiker

Categories: Hiking Stories


Bill Courtois

Ann Arbor, Mich.
Central patch + Mackinac Bridge and 1,000-Mile rockers
Compiled by Joan Young

by Merri Carol Wozniak

I “discovered” the NCT at Naomikong Overlook no later than the spring of 1999. Naomikong is located at the bottom of Lake Superior’s Whitefish Bay. I was hooked!

I did some research and found the NCTA and, “HUTCHINS GUIDEBOOKS.” I have documents from 1999 when I was capturing GPS logs and merging them with maps. The Hutchins Guidebook and NFS maps were a big help. I did small solo-hikes each summer over the next few years.

My first long-ish hike was around July 2005, between the Castle Rock trailhead and Brevort Lake Road. In July and August 2006, my brother Bob and I spotted cars for five days of car camping/hiking from Lake Michigan to Lake Superior.

Hiking a more intense number of unique miles began in 2018 and further intensified in 2020. One highlight was doing the Minnesota Kekekabic Trail with my brother and three women in August 2020. Our average hiking age was about 67 years old. Hiking the “Kek” escalated to hiking with the Softies in September, hiking western Wisconsin in October, and a collecting a large number of miles in Michigan and Ohio between October 2020 and May 2021. I finished Michigan’s lower peninsula on May 1, 2021, south of Fife Lake.

An excerpt from this essay ran in the Summer 2021 issue (40.3) 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 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.