NCT100 2016

The National Park Service is celebrating 100 years of awesome in 2016, and many special programs are being offered at various units throughout the year.  Although it is not as well known as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, the North Country National Scenic Trail is also administered by the National Park Service.  At 4,600 miles, the North Country Trail (NCT) is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States.   The North Country Trail Association is celebrating the centennial with the Hike 100 Challenge (NCT100), which compels participants to hike 100 miles of the NCT in calendar year 2016.
via North Country Trail Association
I first found out about the NCT100 back in February, when a co-worker forwarded an email publicizing the challenge (thank you, Joanne).  I skimmed the email and thought, I wish I could do that, but I dismissed the idea pretty quickly.  Work is obviously one thing that keeps me from hiking as much as I'd like.  Being a parent is another, simply because I want to spend time with my kid when I'm not working.  I take Frankie hiking with me, of course, but there is no denying that hiking with adults and hiking with children are two different things.  He is a capable hiker and I fully believe he could complete a challenge like this, but it would take a REALLY concerted effort and consume a LOT of weekends.  I don't want to impose my agenda on him too much, and I don't want him to get burned out on hiking.  So I tried to forget about the NCT100.

Well, that didn't work, at all.  The idea was lodged in my head. 

A few days later, I was researching maps.  I honestly didn't know much about the NCT.  I'd seen signs and blue blazes on past hikes at Highland Forest, the Art Park, and Morgan Hill, but the NCT trail segments I'd hiked on those occasions were entirely incidental: I was always on those trails to hike another hike.  I had never by design hiked a section of the NCT.  I discovered that most of the trails I've always loved at Morgan Hill State Forest are part of the NCT, and that there were even more I'd never been on, and I learned that the NCT passes through several other nearby State Forests that I'd never even been to.  My curiosity was definitely piqued, and I decided I would make it a personal quest to explore the local off-road portions of the NCT.  It didn't have to be about the challenge.  Honestly, I still didn't think that kind of mileage was something I could reasonably accomplish.  I just wanted to get out there.  Plus, I didn't want it to end when 2017 arrives -- exploring is a lifetime pursuit.

However, I decided I would keep good records of my 2016 NCT hikes, just in case.  And guess what?  The miles really started to add up.  Of course, this made me more determined to actually see the challenge through.  So here they are... my NCT100 hikes:

Date Miles  Description
2/24/16 4.9  Cazenovia to Stone Quarry Road (Art Park)
2/27/16 3.6  Constantine Bridge Road to Hardscrabble Road (Nelson Swamp)
3/20/16 3.8  Shackham Road to Spruce Pond (Morgan Hill State Forest)
3/30/16 5.0  Irish Hill Road to Damon Road (Tioughnioga WMA)
4/06/16 4.8  Canastota to Nelson Road (Lehigh Valley Railroad)
4/13/16 5.8  East Lake Road to Armstrong Pond (DeRuyter State Forest)
5/04/16 6.4  Nelson Road to Quarry Road (Lehigh Valley Railroad)
5/07/16 3.2  Webber Road to Armstrong Pond (Kinney Hill)
5/11/16 5.2  Cowles Settlement Road to West Lake Road (Highland Forest)
5/18/16 7.7  Shackham Road to Chickadee Hollow Road (Morgan Hill State Forest)
5/21/16 4.2  Quarry Road to bench (Lehigh Valley Railroad)
7/30/16 3.2  Tinker Falls to Jones Hill (Labrador Hollow)
8/06/16 3.5  Shackham Road to Tinker Falls (Labrador Hollow)
8/28/16 3.1  Spruce Pond to Jones Hill (Morgan Hill State Forest)
9/14/16 6.4  Webber Road to Damon Road (private land & roadwalk)
9/21/16 5.0  Stoney Brook Road to Route 13 (Maxon Creek State Forest)
9/28/16 7.6  Route 13 to Chickadee Hollow Road (Morgan Hill State Forest)
10/05/16 6.2  Emhoff Road to Route 20 (Lehigh Valley Railroad)
10/09/16 4.9  Freber Road to Emhoff Road (Lehigh Valley Railroad)
10/12/16 6.9  Stoney Brook Road to Wiltsey Glen (Cuyler Hill State Forest)
Total 101.4

I completed the 100 miles over 20 separate hikes.  Eight of these hikes, totaling 29.5 miles and averaging 3.6 miles, were with my 5-year old son, Frankie.  My husband Erwin accompanied me on two hikes totaling 10.2 miles.  And the remaining ten hikes, totaling 61.7 miles, were solo.  Because I did most hikes as out-and-backs with just one vehicle, I only covered 54.4 unique miles of the NCT.  But I'll be back for more!  I am super grateful for the NCT Hike 100 Challenge.  It brought me out to explore some truly magnificent trails.

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