GET ACTIVE: Hiker Joan Young is young at heart

73-year-old Joan Young recently made her way through the Miami Valley on her thru-hike of the 4,800-mile North Country National Scenic Trail - Contributed

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73-year-old Joan Young recently made her way through the Miami Valley on her thru-hike of the 4,800-mile North Country National Scenic Trail - Contributed

Eight states, 4,800 miles – 73-year-old Joan Young is up to the challenge.

“I love hiking and I figured I had one grand adventure left,” Young said, smiling.

The Michigan woman set out in December to thru-hike the expansive North Country National Scenic Trail, the longest of the 11 trails in the National Trails System, stretching from North Dakota to Vermont. After arriving at the eastern terminus of the trail in Vermont she will drive to the western terminus in North Dakota and hike back to Michigan. Logging about 15 miles a day and taking a day off every 10 days, she is expecting to be back home in December.

Young recently made her way through the portion of the trail that winds through the Miami Valley.

“Ohio in the winter isn’t too bad,” she said. “I’m avoiding North Dakota, Minnesota and Adirondacks, not where you want to hike in the winter.”

Young fell in love with the North Country Scenic Trail while completing a multi-year section hike of the vast trail more than a decade ago.

“In my opinion, the diversity of experience is the strength of this trail,” Young said. “The small towns are just as interesting as the grand vistas. Most of the National Scenic Trails have one particular theme and this one has a diversity of experience you won’t find anywhere else.”

From forests to farmlands and bustling communities to tranquil trails, hikers experience a little bit of everything along the 4,800 miles.

Young – who ironically will likely be the oldest person to complete the trail – has thrived on outdoor adventure for as long as she can remember.

“I grew up on a farm and I was probably not even 4 when my mom would turn me loose outside,” she said. “I could run around all day as long as I came when she called me.”

Seventy years later, Young still loves being outdoors.

“My motto is ‘hiking cures everything,’” she said.

And it’s never too late to get started.

“If your joints are still working, you can hike – there are trails for everybody,” Young said. “And the more you do it, the easier it will get. It will make you feel better and, after a while, your body starts craving it.”

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Hiker Joan Young recently made her way through the Miami Valley as she thru-hikes the North Country National Scenic Trail - Contributed

Hiker Joan Young recently made her way through the Miami Valley as she thru-hikes the North Country National Scenic Trail - Contributed

caption arrowCaption
Hiker Joan Young recently made her way through the Miami Valley as she thru-hikes the North Country National Scenic Trail - Contributed

Starting small is the way to go.

“Get out there and walk around your block,” she said. “Then, maybe, try a local park.”

While hiking the entire North Country National Scenic Trail is something few will attempt, Young suggests the trail’s less daunting Hike 100 Challenge. Simply hike 100 total miles of the trail during 2022 and receive a certificate and patch for the accomplishment.

“It is attainable by all kinds of people,” she said. “You can even hike the same mile section 100 times if you like.”

You can follow Young’s journey at https://myqualityday.blogspot.com/.

North Country Trail Association’s Hike 100 Challenge

What: Hike a total of 100 miles on the North Country Trail during 2022 for personal pride and a patch.

Who: All ages are eligible and if you hike with a furry friend, they can earn a collar tag.

Where: Hike any part of the 4,800-mile North Country Trail. You can even hike the same mile 100 times. Skiing and snowshoeing count, too. If your miles are on foot they count towards the challenge.

Sign up: Registration is free at https://northcountrytrail.org/hike-100-challenge/

More: Mileage tracking toolkit with log and trail maps are available to all participants.

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