In 2016, the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) hosted a hiking challenge: everyone who completed 100 miles on the North Country National Scenic Trail within the year would receive a commemorative patch and certificate. The specific mileage was chosen to honor the 100th anniversary of the US National Park Service.
Living nearby the NCNST, which is coincident with the Buckeye Trail through much of Ohio, I decided to give it a go. I got my miles done in mid-December and earned my patch, but I often felt guilty for ditching the wife and kids just to achieve my goal.
The next year, the NCTA renewed the challenge and we decided to tackle it together as a family. By the end of 2017, we had racked up a grand total of 13 miles. No patches for us!
2018 brings a new anniversary and a new pair of hiking challenges. 50 years ago, President Johnson signed the National Trails System Act, which allowed for the creation of long-distance gems such as the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail, numerous National Historic Trails, and of course the longest of them all, the 4600 mile North Country Trail.
This year's challenges on the NCT include a 50-miler and a 100-miler. They run concurrently, so if you complete your 100 miles on the trail, you get both patches! I don't know yet how much I'll bring the kids along this year, but I'm certainly going for the prize.
While much of the NCT/Buckeye Trail nearest to me is paved, I may also seek out some natural surface trails to coincide with the 52 Hike Challenge. Outdoor multitasking at its finest!
Are you up for the task? As the NCTA says, Your Adventure Starts Nearby. Sign up for the challenge here and see you on the trail!