Guess what came in the mail last Saturday, on National Public Lands Day?! My North Country Trail 100 mile Challenge Patch!
The North Country Trail is a footpath that is 4,600 miles(7,400 km) long from Crown Point in eastern New York to Lake Sakakawea State Park in central North Dakota. Thats almost as long as the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trails combined together (-250 miles). The Minnesota section of the NCT goes from the Southern Terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail, up to the Northern Terminus, hangs a hard left just before you get to Canada onto the Border Route Trail and continues all the way back down to North Western Minnesota through Fergus Falls and into North Dakota.
Receiving this patch has a double sweetness since I’m a patch collector and our 100 mile hike was also my final 52 Hike Challenge Hike of the year. I remember hearing about the NCT100 2 years ago and it just seemed so unattainable. I would drive by the trailhead every year on my way to scout camp and wonder what it would be like to hike a wild trail like that.
Im proud of how much I’ve grown in these last few years, and get pretty stoked when I see that black line on my Keith Myrmel map . It signifies much more than a long walk, its a symbol of where I’ve been and the journey that still lies ahead.
The biggest surprise upon returning is how often my knees still complain almost two weeks later. Nothing too bothersome, but my body keeps reminding me of how far we actually walked so I’m still resting and stretching a lot. It’ll go away eventually.
In this post, I’ll share our planned route and the changes we made along the way.
My two friends, Skydiver Dude and Hiking Dude, who have both thru hiked the SHT, both told me that it’s great to make a plan…very important to make a plan….but that as soon as you step foot on the trail, to realize the plan goes away. It can all change and to just be ready for that. I’m so glad they told me that because I thought of this every time we changed our plan…and it really helped.
Our original itinerary (before the two listed below) had us starting on 14-16 mile days for most of the first week with a zero day mid way at Tettegouche or Gooseberry so we could recuperate and have family come visit us mid way if they wanted. Looking back, (and at the elevation) we probably should have stayed with this plan, but some upcoming family things had us both taking that zero day out and hoping to get off the trail a day or two early to get back home. No regrets making that decision, because hey…life. But I’ll definitely plan a zero day or two if I take a long trip again and will probably also slow my roll at least in the beginning. I have said before, that my favorite day on our Isle Royale Trip was the mandatory zero day at Siskiwit Bay. So unexpected, and so good.
The Journey (to Not Counting the Miles) Begins with the First Step.
I don’t feel like we were blasting crazy distances, but I do regret not stopping to rest more often, soaking my feet, taking more pictures of mushrooms, changing my socks, and honestly just being in nature without focusing on the miles. I learned a lot on this trip and hope to take the rest of it at a more relaxed pace now that the pressure is off to finish it in one shot. Heck! A guy named Ajay Pickett JUST broke the speed record last week finishing the 310-mile hike in 7 days, 20 hours, 56 minutes. I read that the last 50 miles, he hobbled on a broken foot to the Southern Terminus.
That’s admirable, but I’m totally ok with slowing down a little and not having creaky knees two weeks later. I love this youtube video from one of the the gals we met at Woods Creek who hiked 100 miles (all in the same trip).
So, here it is! Drum Roll please……. The Pine Sister Grande Plan for thru hiking the Superior Hiking Trail in 18 days! Do not try this at home.
Itinerary with approximate distances to SHT Campsites
9/8 S Carlson Pond 17 mi
9/9 N Little Brule 15 mi
9/10 West Devil Track 17 mi
9/11 White Pine 18 mi
9/12 W. Poplar 17 mi
9/13 S. Cross River 22 mi
9/14 W Caribou 15 mi
9/15 Leskinen Creek 21 mi
9/16 E Palisades 18 mi
9/17 Fault Line 15 mi (stop in Beaver Bay)
9/18 Gooseberry1 19 mi
9/19 Silver Creek 14 mi
9/20 Ferguson 15 mi
9/21 Fox Farm 15 mi
9/22 Lone Tree 17 mi
9/23 Rose Garden (DUL) 19 mi
9/24 Fon Du Lac (DUL) 22 mi
9/25 MN/WI Border 22 mi
Adjusted 100 Miler Itinerary
Includes turbo to Lutsen, miles from our 7/27 trip. FYI-we still had a trouble calculating exact distances using the two maps, guidebook and online distance calculator. Which is another great reason to not focus too much on the miles, but where you are going… right?
9/8 N Carlson Pond 17 mi
9/9 Judge CR Magney 14.5 mi
9/10 Woods Creek 17 mi
9/11 N Bally Creek 14 mi
9/12 Cascade River SP 10 mi
7/27 (Lake Agnes-Cascade 13 mi)
9/12 Mystery Mountain 1 mi
9/13 Temperance River 19 mi
Total 105.5 mi
This week on the Wandering Pine Instagram, I’m highlighting the gear we brought on our trip. Starting with the big items all the way down to the littles. Next post will have my packing list and the top 3-5 ways I reduced my pack weight.
Thanks for following along with us on our journey. Happy Trails!
SHT Trail Log: