Glee Mayer: NCT Long Distance Hiker
Central patch + North Dakota rockers
Compiled by Joan Young
I completed the Dakota Challenge on June 6, 2020. The Dakota Challenge requires you to hike every mile of the North Country Trail within the boundaries of the state of North Dakota. I was attracted to this hike in large part from the encouragement of Rennae Gruchalla, a fellow North Dakota NCT hiker. She developed the Dakota Challenge to encourage people to not only get out on the trails in North Dakota, but to see our great state up close and personal.
It took me just over a year to complete the 444+ miles. I had hoped to finish sooner, but winter weather conditions arrived a little early last year. I had lots of help with the shuttling of vehicles as I went along and without that help, I am not sure I could have finished it as quickly as I did. When these trail angels drove, and I had an opportunity to visit with them, it was surprising how few actually knew of the entire Trail.
Finishing this challenge gave me a whole new appreciation for my home state of North Dakota. There were cities and areas that I had never been to. As a result, I researched these area’s origins and found it to be fascinating why they were settled. Even more interesting was who settled them.
As a result of completing this hike across my state I have become involved in trail building and maintenance, and we have created a new Chapter in North Dakota (the Central Flyway Chapter) that highlights the Western Terminus. I am extremely thankful for all the NCT hiking enthusiasts and promoters that have done the work and provided me with this wonderful hiking opportunity.
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.