This is the North Country Trail, one of 11 National Scenic Trails in the United States, and the largest NST at about 4600~ miles long.
This route is special because of the many states it not only goes through but the vastness of the trail and the ecosystems that it crosses through on its more than 4600 mile long route. The consistency to hold high mile days for months on end, lends this route to be for those who want to test themselves physically and more so mentally for months on end, day after day.
The map system currently updated with the KML file, does not have the connecting pieces of Vermont, parts of the Finger Lakes Trail, part of the Buckeye trail, and the Superiror Hiking Trail, those GPX or KML files have to be recorded when going through, the trail associations claim rights to some of these map systems.
Exact mileage will be calculated with a Garmin InReach and along the official North Country Trail Route. The map system below shows the entirety of the route.
Website Link for Full Viewable Map: https://northcountrytrail.org/the-trail/trail-map-and-downloads/
Note that the Mackinac Bridge can only be walked legally on Labor Day (when thousands of people do it). Therefore, it is not required to walk across the bridge for the FKT. You can hitch-hike, or take a taxi / Uber and still be self supported.
Alright, well its about to begin! The North Country Trail Thru-Hike 2021!
My name is Ryan Bunting, trail name Constantine and my partner, Dana Burkett, trail name Magpie, and I will be starting our NCT thru-hike around May 1st or May 2nd.
A little intro to us both is, we both have been thru-hiking consistently for the past 6+ years, with about half of each year spent on trails and the other half working to be able to go hike said trails, it is a vicious circle isnt it? In that time frame we have hiked, the AT, PCT, OCT, CDT, PT, PNT, IAT, AZT, NTNST, GDT, VIT, S2S, FT, PHT, and the NET. I know alot of abreviations right?! If you are curious what any of them mean or encompass always feel free to ask us, or you can also see much of them documented on our YouTube channel.
We will be going for a Self-Supported FKT along this trail system.
The trail begins at Maine Junction, which is the junction of the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail in the state of Vermont. Then it travels about 4600~ miles to the Western Terminus in Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota. The exact mileage will be tracked along the official route as we go along. We will be using a Garmin Inreach to ping location and track along with us, once we have this activated before the hike, we will include a link on here.
We hope to achieve this thru-hike in anywhere from 4 months - 5 months. Depending on the time, we will be averaging anywhere from 30-35 miles daily including all "rest" and resupply days. We both have recorded "unofficial" FKTs on other trail systems, such as the Ice Age Trail, Natchez Trace Trail, Sea to Sky Trail, Potomac Heritage Trail, but this is the first one we are officially registering with FKT, because the idea of having a "speed record" that takes 4-5 months is a wonderfully ironic statement that makes both of us smile.
We will be updating this page along the way, but also will be documenting this thru-hike in video format as well as daily on our various social media accounts. I will include these links below, where you can follow along with the daily progression through pictures, our daily thoughts and comments, and video format.
We know alot of information right? Yea, but it is also a whole lot of trail ahead of us too! If you are trying to get in contact with us, the easiest way is sending us a message via ElevenSkys Instagram which we will be updating daily or you can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org as well. As always we also love hearing any commentary, ideas, thoughts, suggestions, or just saying hi on our YouTube videos, it always makes us smile through some of the tough days. We hope to be able to document this trail in a wide enough video format so you can see the experience behind a hike of this size and consistency pushing high mile days for so long, but also for any that hope to step out the steps behind us, whether that is a thru-hike, section hike, or day hike. They will provide information for the hiker but will also contain much "Stumbles and Mumbles" rambles (viewer discretion in each video who is Stumbles and who is Mumbles, sometimes it can be individually one of us for each and sometimes we can singularly encompass both depending on the day) in the moments of a thru-hike that give it the true flavor of the experience. You will also be able to see as our bodies start wasting away on chewing off these amount of miles, but our minds...well we will see about those as well! You can't lose something that you never had to begin with, right? (Constantine here writing this post so speaking for myself on the "lost mind" part, as for Magpie well she has beyond an intelligent mind, so it also begs the question, why would someone so intelligent be doing this hike? Well, that is a question for her, I only know how to hike and sometimes find a banana along the way, all philosophical and practical questions should be directed to her department...)
We are so excited to begin here, the longest and "best" National Scenic Trail was saved for last! As I type this out, my muscles are twithcing for miles, my stomach is growling for food (well it always does), and my mind is looking forward to an endeavor of this size, where we will get to test the mind/body cohesion for months on end of high mileage days. Honestly, my feet also are pre-emptively cussing me out for what we are about to put them through, but hey we must hike West and the only way to get to the end is stepping!
-Constatnine and Magpie
Hi Again Everyone,
Constantine and Magpie here, (Ryan and Dana), and as promised we wanted to include our link for the GPS tracking device we will be carrying to register this North Country Trail thru-hike as an official FKT.
It will begin pinging on April 30th, in the morning when we begin our hike, and will update at intervals along the way each day, so the route as well as time can be officially documented.
We are so stoked to be starting here in the next few days, it feels like there are a million things to do, and less than a million seconds to do them, so will keep this short and end it around here.
-Constantine and Magpie
P:S: Should we say excited one more time? Okay we will say it again, SO EXCITED, LETS GO!!!
Best of luck!
Get it son. Hike hard. Much love.
Very exciting! I have listened to interviews with others who have completed the entire NCT. My understanding is that there are many areas at the west end where there is no where to camp. The person being interviewed had to be driven from the end of his daily hike to a place to sleep and then driven back in the morning. Given this restriction, I'm wondering how this can be completed "self-supported." Also, the only day you can walk across the mackinaw bridge is on labor day. Are you planning to hitch-hike across the bridge? Would this make it supported? Regardless of these minor questions, I am VERY excited for you and jealous! Have a ton of fun and good luck!
So odd that these folks are less than 100 miles from finishing this endeavor, and it's not being tracked on the front page etc.
4500 miles so far in 177 days (so nearly 26mi a day) seems like something worthy of some fanfare, no?
Start Date: May 1st, 2021
End Date: November 3rd, 2021 5:38PM
We have tried to tag FKT to let them know we were finishing, but maybe we have to go through this platform? Either way wanted to let the “powers that be” know we are done. Done. Done. Done. Are we official?!?!?!??!?!?
Congrats on finishing the NCT! A great accomplishment for sure! I must say two things though, neither of which is meant to take away from your accomplishment at all:
1) how is there NOT an FKT for the CDT but there is for the NCT? Kind of comical given how much less of a “trail” the NCT is. I can’t imagine anyone who hikes the full NCT doing the same route, at least not in the next 100 years… But if the NCT fkt is accepted, hopefully we’ll see some people going for the CDT? Just kind of bizarre…
2) Was this 2021 hike completed faster than Skurka? Impressive if so!