Our Stories

Nancy DeJong: NCNST Long Distance Hiker

Categories: Hiking Stories

Nancy DeJong

Central patch + Michigan, Mackinac Bridge, and 1000 Miles

When I was a child, my dad loved to hike and backpack, and did it with my brothers. I knew he liked to hike on the North Country Trail, was a member of the Association, and got their magazine. I have some of his old North Star magazines – black and white, non-glossy. I never backpacked with him on the NCT, but I did backpack with him on Isle Royale three times;  in Brown County, Indiana; and Superior Provincial Park. We also would hike when we went camping.

After he passed away, my siblings and I went on a road trip and stopped in Lowell to visit the NCTA headquarters, knowing he had loved the trail. While there, I saw some information about the Hike 100 Challenge. It was the first year it was offered, 2016, and it was September. This appealed to me, so I started in October and hiked 100 miles by the end of the year.

I realized that people and resources had gone into keeping the trail in good shape, so I joined the NCTA and have also done some volunteering by picking up trash and clearing limbs from the trail, leading Western Michigan Chapter hikes, being a member of our Chapter board, and shuttling hikers.

At first, I was only hiking the miles close to home to get the Hike 100 award. Later, I made a goal to reach 300 miles a year. Then I decided to try to get some miles in every one of the eight states the trail crosses, and also go for 1,000 unique miles. My husband Gary and I had plans to travel east in 2020 to get the two remaining states of Pennsylvania and Vermont. The pandemic cancelled those plans so I started working on finishing the Lower Peninsula of Michigan. I finished those 612 miles on December 3, 2020.

After that goal was met, I decided to continue on in the UP of Michigan and still go for my goals of doing some miles in all eight states (which I finished in 2021) and hiking 1,000 unique miles (which I finished in 2022).

On October 11, 2023, my goal of hiking all of the NCT in Michigan was reached. I finished the miles with the Softies group in the UP. I’m thankful for God’s beautiful creation, the health and ability to do the hiking, and the 50+ hiking buddies who have hiked with me along the way.

Learn more about long distance hiker recognition at explorenct.info/NoCoLo/index.htm.