Our Stories

Brian Tanzman: NCT Long Distance Hiker

Categories: Hiking Stories


Brian Tanzman

The Villages, FL
End-to-End Hiker #19
Compiled by Joan Young

By Heather “Steady” Werderman

Day 156, Mile 2,863 for 2020: I finally finished the entire NCT! This year [2020] I hiked from North Dakota to Piqua, OH and I completed the eastern 2,000 miles to Piqua in 2018.

I’m not really sure how to sum up such a long walk in just a few sentences. Given that the Trail doesn’t follow a mountain range I was surprised how enjoyable the NCT is. It’s really quite eclectic with a lot to love. It was also a bit impressive how good the trail conditions were. I was loosely following along with two past hikers’ blogs from a while back (Strider in 2013 and Nimblewill in 2009), and it’s amazing how much better maintained and marked the Trail is today than back 10 years ago. So for that, thanks to all the volunteers and the NCTA. Also, the Trail keeps getting longer!

The NCT completes my eighth of the 11 National Scenic Trails. Here are a few stats from my hike:

  • Number of miles: About 4,700
  • Number of days: 244
  • Number of steps: About 10 million
  • Number of pairs of shoes: 5
  • Favorite section: Most obvious choice is the UP [Michigan] which was really fantastic. Least obvious choice is North Dakota, which I really enjoyed for its wide open, quiet easy walking and surprising number of lakes and incredible bird life.
  • Least Favorite Section: The Buckeye Trail and lower 250 miles of Michigan. I thought Ohio was really quite pretty, but I tired of the road walking (only state over 50% I believe), the sometimes seemingly abandoned trail, the angry dogs chasing me across the state, and the noise. It was the noise that really got to me. I barely had a quiet night’s sleep for 1,000 miles; even on the Trail, the surrounding roads and trains were inescapable. There are certainly some good miles to hike here and there in Ohio, but I think I’d rather just go across the top next time.
  • Number of other long distance hikers met: Four. Lorrie/Wingman, Odin, Steady, and Wolverine. I also almost met Sampson in 2018, the year he thru-hiked. Missed him by a day, per a register.

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.