Hiking the North Country National Scenic Trail with Friends for Worldwide Access to Clean & Safe Water. Will you join us this summer?

Our GOAL: Raise One Million Dollars over eight years to bring clean and safe water to the most needy and the poorest regions of the world. 100% of funds raised is for the delivery and purchase of water filters to those least able to pay for them. Total achieved to date: $78,000/2016 – $28,500. North Country Trail Miles Total: 4,600/286.4 completed to date.

Several months ago when I asked a friend if she would like to participate in the Creating Hope with Every Step fundraiser, she responded by saying: “I will support your efforts but I really want to walk with you!” Hmmm, how do I make this work? I want it to be a part of the trail, not just a hiking experience. It has to be within driving distance…and I have already completed over 100 miles in both directions from my home. Where do we start and finish? How do we provide support…water, transportation, a place to stay before or after the hike? That was the challenge. I had to become an event planner overnight!

I arranged our stay at Ro062916cckwell Lodge, a “Five Star” 10 room retreat at Hillsdale College’s G.H. Gordon Biological Station in Luther, Michigan, about 28 miles from the trail head. The trail route was in Lake County. I wanted to hike South from Koenig Road back to Loon Lake on Five Mile. The day before, Jan and I drove up and down the gravel road trying to find where the trail crossed. We could not find it. However, we did see a raccoon family of four climb a tree, turkeys, and deer among other small game and birds and…and finally, a feeder trail called Bear Track, with white blazes, instead of blue, where we started the following morning about 10:30 A.M. About 1.1 mile in we hit the NCT trail with blue blazes. The weather was perfect, scatter clouds with a clean sky, temperature at 70 degrees. We walked the ridge overlooking the wetlands, wandering up and down some small hills. After a little over three miles we met Jan, Tabitha, and Jeff. They had a fine lunch and fresh baked goodies from a bake sale just down the road in Freesoil.

We passed through some berry bushes growing between red and white pines, red oak, some beech; and make a sharp turn East on an old RR grade of the Manistee and NW RR. The trail continued through an interesting bottomland hardwood swamp, with 5 small bridges across channels. We saw several types of ferns, lots of Winter Green, Sassafras, and leatherwood, continuing to follow the ridge above the wetland, and then the trail wandered up and down some more small hills. We hit Five Mile and walked about a mile to Loon Lake. The Google site claims it is 12.5 miles and would take about five hours. I think it was 8.4 miles and took us about 3.5 hours hiking.

062916aThe best part?  Spending three hours in the evening and on the trail talking with friends about life, business, ministry, why we are doing what we do. Before leaving the trail we had a prayer over this event, the creation and the worship experience it was and the impact it will have for clean and safe water around the world. Emily Brink is inspiration. Claire Elgersma is high octane. Filibus Usman is humility. Tabitha Usman is steadfast. Jan, my wife, is loyalty. Jeff, my son, is professionalism with a servant’s heart. There is nothing we cannot do with a team embracing us like this. Thank you each, for your partnership, friendship, support, and encouragement!!! Come walk with us on the next opportunity…and help change the world!

Until next time,

Lou

UP NEXT: To commemorate this special centennial year, the North Country Trail Association will be promoting a Hike 100 Challenge. 100 miles for 100 years of the National Parks! We will share how YOU can get involved while walking with us!

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