Press-Republican

October 25, 2013

4,600-mile hike leads to Crown Point

ALVIN REINER
Press-Republican

CROWN POINT — Over the Adirondacks and across the bridge here, Luke “Strider” Jordan took the final steps of his odyssey of the 4,600-mile North Country Scenic Trail.

Jordan’s research told him he is only the 12th hiker, and youngest, at age 23, to walk the entire North Country National Scenic Trail, which stretches from Lake Sakakawea State Park, N.D., to the Champlain Bridge at Crown Point. 

And, he decided to go a little farther — to become the first person to continue walking on the proposed Vermont extension that connects to the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail.

Nicknamed “Strider” because his pace prevents others from keeping up with him on hikes, the Minnesota man started out on March 27 when snow still covered the trail. 

He had spent a year and a half planning his trip by scrutinizing maps, talking to other end-to-enders and staging his weekly mail drops of provisions. 

“In college, I saved as much as I could budget and had about $5,000, but I have been frugal and not used it all,” he said. 

“Strangers have handed me a $20 bill along the way,” he added, “and my parents have sent me some money.” 

URGE TO WANDER

Some might think undertaking such a trek to be crazy or foolish, Luke writes on his website, www.striderNCT.com.

“But for others it is an opportunity to see isolated places, to discover oneself, and of course to have fun doing it! Such is the case with me,” he said.

Jordan and his family camped and hiked on a regular basis, so he always had the urge to wander in his veins.

“I decided in college, that before I got into a career, that I would do something like this. I wasn’t sure I could do it, but now I am here at the end,” he said. 

“My parents were very supportive and told me, ‘You don’t want any regrets at a young age. Just follow your dreams.’”

‘GOT USED TO IT’

Some of the contributions may seem small but are welcomed. 

As they accompanied Jordan on his Champlain Bridge walk, Press-Republican outdoors columnist Elizabeth Lee of Westport handed Jordan some money and a quart of fresh apple cider, while Melinda Chapman from Ticonderoga gave him freshly baked brownies.

Also walking across the bridge with him were Chris Maron and John Davis of Champlain Area Trails System.

Jordan carried his tent and sleeping bag, spending most nights in the woods, but he treated himself to a motel every few weeks.

He averaged 25 miles per day. 

“At first it was tough, but then I got used to it,” reflected Jordan. “It feels weird. This was my life for six and a half months, and now it’s done. 

“It was a bigger deal than I thought it would be.” 

His return trip would be a little easier — two days on the train from Rutland.

‘GENEROUS PEOPLE’

Jordan had many boxes packed when he left that his parents would generally send five days ahead to towns along the way.

The end of his journey, officially at the Crown Point bridge, was not without glitches, as he was expecting a box of rations in Port Henry, but the post office was closed when he got there. 

However, it was arranged that the package would be picked up by a daily commuter who would meet Jordan in Middlebury.

The boxes mainly contained food. 

“I would try to have a hot meal a day, mostly a pasta or rice meal,” he said. 

“There would be energy bars, and I would also have Skittles and M&Ms. That was my basic diet. 

“Once in a while, I would stop for a burger or real meal. Sometimes, total strangers would take me in for a meal and the night. 

“There are many generous people.”

‘TERRIBLE MOSQUITOES’

After crossing the bridge, Jordan was met by John Derick of the Middlebury Land Trust, who gave him maps for the Vermont leg of his trek. Derick was responsible for the construction of several trails in the Middlebury area.    The rain and wind that accompanied Jordan across the lake were a minor issue compared to some parts of his journey. 

At the beginning of his trek, for the first six weeks, he traveled on snowshoes. 

“I lost 11 days off my plan,” he said. “Then I ran into terrible mosquitoes in upper Michigan and had to use bug stuff for a month.” 

In Ohio, he was warmly greeted by 100-degree temperatures.

In the Adirondacks, after a few days rest in Old Forge, Jordan headed up the Northwood-Placid Trail. He had wanted to hike several Adirondack 46ers but decided to just do Mt. Marcy. 

“The way down was tough on my knees,” Jordan said. 

After 4,600 miles, that could be expected.

Email Alvin Reiner at: rondackrambler@yahoo.com