December 28, 2016

The North County Trail

You know how the new year comes around encouraging and sometimes screaming at you to plan a challenge. So, you surround yourself with books, maps, papers and come up with lofty goals, at times fueled by the newness of the year. My husband and I did just that in January 2015. Ambitious to be sure. Attainable - we thought. Our decision was to walk portions of Michigan's North Country Trail.

We went to outdoor symposiums plying backpackers with questions on these trails: what kind of pack, supplies, where to begin. We bought books from authors who walked the trail and wrote about their excursions...absorbing every word as gospel. Our starting point would be above Ohio, walking weekends and traveling up through our beautiful state.

But life happens. In April, I developed a horrible cough, fever, and eventually "blew" my ribs out of place, the pain forcing me to the floor at work. Forget about training, I could not walk a corridor with comfort - let alone try trail walking. A series of tests ensued because of lingering issues and I was given a slew of surprising diagnoses gave a tremendous blow to my normally active and positive attitude.

So, I had a decision. Do I fold up and sink in despair or round up my resources and fight. I chose life and began slow walking, then faster. But, we were realistic and realized the North Country Trail was unobtainable, and went through the grief of limitations.

In September, I began the walking, spinning, elliptical challenge of a previous blog post. Then took two of our girls "home" to Marquette, Michigan for an active weekend of walking on trails. In the midst of this hard, for me, weekend, we discovered a trail - The North Country Trail - and commenced to spend a few hours navigating rocks, roots, hills, obstacles. Then, a day later, we were walking deeply into the forest to a waterfall, and scooted down to these beautiful falls, noticing another sign: the North Country Trail. We had successfully maneuvered two NCT walks in one weekend. A great change occurred in my heart. I would and could be active and beat these inflictions.

A few weeks after our return home, a daughter, my husband and I competed in a 5K run/walk. Our daughter ran, beating her time and placing nicely in her age category. We pushed hard in the walk and placed pleasantly in our own age categories. It was life-changing in the midst of my medical turmoil.

Each week that passes and I reach my weekly walk goals, I believe, I am in better health. My sports medicine doctor heard my story in October and confirmed that I could reach health with a positive attitude and continued exercise, and lots of liquid.

Never curl up in despair - think of something, anything, you can try to get you through tough moments in life's road. You are worth it. Oh, and remember to smile, even as you trip over a branch in your path.



  1. Hopefully you don't trip over too many branches :)

    1. True, but it can add to the experience - especially if it is a soft landing and people aren't too upset. I was hopefully not being too literal but figurative in the falling down part.

  2. I started walking portions of the NCT last summer with a friend who lives nearby. We usually walk a day a week, not backpacking but just day-hiking. We have now covered more than half of the NCT in Michigan's Lower Peninsula and might even finish the LP next year. Then we will tackle the UP. It's a great trail and lots of fun.

    1. Glen, I read about your achievements on the NCT last year and that was what inspired Les and I to try and walk it. The portions we walked in the Marquette area were quite challenging, beautiful to gorgeous, and worth every step. Hopefully, next year will be a better health year for us and we could pass you on the trail. Proud of you and your walking.


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