Recently I have begun a project of section-hiking the North Country Trail through the lower peninsula of Michigan. A project that I anticipate will take two years — possibly three — to complete, due to the nature of scheduling and logistics. As sections are completed, it is intended that I shall write an accompanying series of essays concerning subjects and topics that are explored while out on the trail. It is not my intention that I will write about hiking or the trail itself — at least not in an objective manner — but to explore our relationship to the world and ourselves.
Such as our daily lives, each hike will provide something different, something unique to ponder. It is intended that I will begin each section with an open mind and let the exercise of the hike develop the topics organically. There may be sections that bring about multiple essays, just as there may be multi-day sections that spawn but a single subject.
While this series of essays is not meant to be about the project of hiking nor the trail itself, a brief moment should be spent discussing it nonetheless to provide for proper context. Beyond the next few paragraphs, I will, when possible keep details rather minimal and possibly include necessary details as footnotes.
The North Country Trail is a 4600-mile trail that has one terminus in New York and the other in North Dakota. Currently, as of this writing, the trail has 3100+ miles in place. Passing through the seven states of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and North Dakota, and is the longest of the National Scenic Trails. Michigan hosts 1105 miles of the trail with 605 miles of that total being in the Lower Peninsula. For this project, the focus is on the 605 miles that make up the Lower Peninsula portion of the trail. These miles will be sectioned hiked.
When hiking a trail of distance that is greater than can be covered in a single day, there is thru-hiking and section-hiking. Thru-hiking is to traverse a trail end-to-end, in a continuous path, and in a prescribed direction (i.e. northbound, southbound). This is, for simplicity sake a simplified description. Conversely, section hiking is covering the same trail system in parts, perhaps even out of order. A la carte if you will. Section-hiking is a popular form of completing a trail when adequate time is not available to thru-hike. Some have taken a lifetime to section-hike trails such as the Appalachian or the Pacific Crest Trails.
As this project develops, grows and builds upon itself, it will evolve. I make no claim that this project nor the essays that it elicits are faultless or irreproachable. They are but a mere exercise of thought and personal growth for myself. They are a chance to create conversation, kindle discussion, and through them — for those who wish to read — perhaps a small insight into the greater body of work that I create and have created.