Our Stories

Glen VanAntwerp and Steve Breithaupt: NCT Long Distance Hikers

Categories: Hiking Stories


Glen VanAntwerp and Steve Breithaupt

Tustin, Mich. (Glen) and Cadillac, Mich. (Steve)
Central patch + Michigan, Mackinac Bridge, and 1,000-Mile rockers

On July 1, 2021, Steve and I finished hiking all of the NCT in Michigan, some 1,160 total miles. It took us more than seven years, but we did every mile together and overcame many obstacles.

We discovered the NCT in 2014 and began occasional day hikes, starting at the Freesoil (Mich.) trailhead and working north 150 miles that year. We always took two vehicles and positioned them for maximum trail miles with no backtracking.

Glen (left) and Steve (right), by Diana VanAntwerp

The next year we added 230+ unique new miles, reaching Mackinaw City and doing the Bridge Walk before returning to Freesoil and bagging many miles south. In 2016 we again walked more than 230 new miles by August. We reached the Ohio border, but our plans to start the UP gave way to Steve suffering heart trouble (atrial fibrillation) and hiking was set aside as he received treatment.

2017 brought a healthy Steve and we started hiking strong. We went north and west from the Straits of Mackinac, attended the NCTA Celebration in Marquette, and were into the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore by August. Then I was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and hiking plans were thrown aside for surgeries and treatments.

The next two years, 2018 and 2019, we only added 110 new miles each year, slowly creeping west between treatments. We loved the beautiful country and great hiking anyway. As 2020 approached, we had high hopes of finishing the remaining 139 miles but once again, I experienced medical emergencies and we had to stop 50 miles short.

In 2021, we finally finished this journey that started more than seven years ago. We are so grateful that we are both hiking strong and have walked every single mile together. We are delighted that we have experienced Michigan at its best, from highways to rugged backroads (finding trailheads) and of course the amazing NCT itself.

This essay ran in the Fall 2021 issue (40.4) 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. 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.