Thru Hiker Oversight?
The recent increase in making end-to-end thru hikes of the North Country National Scenic Trail, including accomplishing it in one season, has led to a number of questions having to do with NCTA’s oversight of such hikes and claims for their accomplishment. While NCTA welcomes and encourages such attempts, the Association neither assumes nor desires any role in their oversight or claims related to them. The NCTA’s Long Distance Hiker Committee maintains a record of hikers accomplishing E2E’s or one season thru-hikes as well as significant section hiking accomplishments, but this is the extent of NCTA’s role. Thru-hikers, E2E’s and state section hikers may apply to the NCTA’s committee for a patch with state rocker bars to indicate their achievements.
Attempts to hike end-to-end on any long trail are challenging. Trail conditions are sometimes impossible to assess from a distance and hikers may encounter barriers which make the trail impassible or temporarily unsafe to attempt. Long distance hikers seeking to “bag” sections of the NCNST or the entire trail may take their own initiative in making a temporary re-route in such instances, without the fear of some long-armed oversight group attempting to manage what can best and more safely be done on the ground, in the moment. While the Long Distance Hiking Policy of the North Country Trail Association states that hikers are expected to make every effort to follow off-road trail where it exists, there is not, nor can there be, any policing of hikers or hiking claims. In fact, policing of hikers is not something we would deem desirable even if it could be accomplished. We rely on the honor system, as do all the long trails that recognize long-distance hikes. It is expected that each particular hiker will conscientiously attempt to use the official, designated off-road routes.
At present NCTA’s records show there have been 13 individuals completing what is considered an end-to-ender. Because the Trail’s route and length has varied since its 1980 authorization (and it continues to do so) there is little point in making comparisons among these pioneers based on their routes or methods. NCTA recognizes these pioneers:
Thru-hikers (E2E in one season)
Ed Talone (1994)
Andrew Skurka (2004-5)
M.J. “Eb,” aka “Nimblewill Nomad” Eberhart (2009)
Luke “Strider” Jordan (2013)
Al Learned (2013)
E2E Section Hikers (date completed)
Peter Wolfe (1980)
Chet Fromm (1995)
Allen Shoup (2005)
Don Beattie (2005)
Bart Smith (2007)
Joan Young (2010, Vermont 2014)
Completed using hike and bike
Carolyn Hoffman (1978)
Judy Geisler (2011)