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Buck30 - North Country Trail Journal - 2018

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Brian (Buck-30)
Begins: Aug 9, 2018
Direction: Westbound

Daily Summary
Date: Wed, Aug 8th, 2018
Start: Rutland, VT
End: Rutland, VT
Daily Distance: 0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 217
Journal Visits: 9,869
Guestbook Views: 92
Guestbook Entrys: 1

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North Country Trail Day 0

North Country National Scenic Trail! 4,600 miles. 3,000 miles complete, the rest on roads. It's been around for 38 years and only 16 people have completed it, the first in 1980 by Peter Wolfe. Pretty incredible. I don't plan on doing the entire trail in one shot. It's too late in the season for that. I'll start walking at Crown Point, NY, the eastern terminus and walk west till I feel like stopping. I'll do at least New York and Pennsylvania and probably continue into Ohio for as long as I want. The NCT uses the Finger Lakes Trail in NY for 400 miles. I've already done that trail so I'll skip around it when I get there. The trail then continues west through Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin and North Dakota, but Heather wants to walk those for sure so they are currently on the banned trails list until she frees up from family obligations.

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Here's some good summary info from Wikipedia:
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The trail begins in northeast New York and proceeds to the western end of the state. It cuts across northwestern Pennsylvania, then follows a southwesterly course through the hilly region of southern Ohio until it nears Cincinnati when it runs north through western Ohio to the hills of SE Michigan. It continues from southeast Michigan through the western Lower Peninsula, crosses the Straits of Mackinac, and takes a northern route the length of the Upper Peninsula. After crossing northern Wisconsin, one leg follows the Lake Superior shore to the northeast corner of Minnesota before turning west, where it meets the other leg in central northern Minnesota. The trail enters southeast North Dakota, and continues to its other terminus in the center of the state.
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The NCT connects more than 160 public land units, including parks, forests, scenic attractions, wildlife refuges, game areas, and historic sites. The list includes:
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Other federal facilities along the NCT include:

The NCT also threads its way through 57 state parks and state historic areas, 47 state forests, 22 state game areas, seven state water conservation districts and at least ten county forests and parks.

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That's a freaking amazing list!!
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I feel fairly unprepared for a trail of such magnitude. Since I wasn't really sure what I'd be hiking right now I only marginally planned before I started hiking this year. Heather has hiked some of the NCT in Michigan and says while it isn't necessarily always well maintained, it was well blazed. If that's the case for the rest of the trail then I'll be fine. If not, then I'll still be fine but it will probably be more challenging.
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I essentially only have 1 significant piece of information, the GPS track from the NCTAs website. There's no mapset, no guidebook, no data book. A mapset is being created but so far only Michigan and Wisconsin have been released. I'll try and be brief on this but I found the GPS track maddening. It's confusing to explain but the high level is that the NCTA is really good at the GIS part of GPS (as in the technical aspects) but maybe doesn't underatand how a long distance hiker uses a GPS track. The track is on the website in Arc GIS. Each state is made up of several hundred segments. Each segment represents a piece of trail as it changes from trail to road to sidewalk to dirt road to rail trail, etc. This information is incredibly helpful. It's kinda like having a pseudo-guidebook. You import the GPS track into your GPS and each segment is either labelled or color coded a "type" of trail tread. That way you are walking on say road and look at your GPS and see the next segment is trail so you know to pay attention. Without a mapset, guidebook or data book this is the only way to really know what's coming up (well, other than the trail actually being blazed). Otherwise, you basically just stare at your GPS all day zooming in to see what type of trail might be next or if you missed a turn. I find this tedious. I'd much rather look ahead and see that in 2 miles the trail changes from road to single track and then just zone out for 2 miles. Anyway, the whole point of this rant is that all of this amazing information contained in Arc GIS can't actually be imported into a GPS in the format provided or printed on a map. Super annoying! I found a workaround after a substantial amount of trial and error and made myself a printed mapset where I color coded the "trail types" myself and printed the maps. Now at a high level I can see how long a road walk is or where the next change in trail type is. I also had to do a bunch of work to create one track out of the hundreds of segments in order to then create mile markers. This way I know how far I am actually walking, where I might end up for the day and how far between resupply points....all things the NCTA GPS track can't really tell me. Technology! OK, rant over, I did learn a lot through the process and created some helpful stuff.
[If you want to see a visual see the 2nd picture in this entry. The purple line represents "singletrack trail" and the red line represents "road". You can also see the mile markers I added. I printed these maps a little high level for navigation and instead will use these to have a good overview of trail/road for the day, where to camp and when I might be changing between types of tread]
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I also created some elevation profiles quickly and saved 2 journals that may be helpful. Strider hiked in 2013 and has a nice detailed journal. The famous Nimblewood Nomad hiked in 2009 and has a detailed journal but he was also van supported (age 70!...and still thru hiking 8 years later) so I'm not sure it will be as helpful.
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The NCTA has some chapter pages and there are some Facebook groups but after sifting through them I found limited info that would be helpful. I also basically created my own resupply information by checking towns along the way and seeing what Strider mentioned in his journal. Because the trail still has a lot of road walking it tends to go through enough small towns to make resupply planning fairly easy, if a bit time consuming.
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That's all I have for now. I'll be walking possibly tomorrow I guess.

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Journal Photo

North Country National Scenic Trail

When completed the trail will be the longest continuous hiking trail in the United States. The trail links scenic, natural, historic, and cultural areas across seven states allowing visitors to experience a variety of northern landscapes. Learn more: www.northcountrytrail.org

 

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