GPT Photo of the Week

This week’s photo is from Colorado.  This is from deep in the badlands canyons of Paint Mines Interpretive Park northeast of Colorado Springs.

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Announcing the GPTA Founder’s Club

I know.  I know.  I know what you’re thinking and you’re not wrong.  Fundraising is as popular as a blizzard in April.  I get it. That said, GPTA is actually excited to launch our first real fundraising campaign.  Why? Because we’re optimistic that if we can do all we’ve done so far on just a shoestring budget, think what we’ll be able to do with some additional funds!

Here’s a brief history of our accomplishments in the first five years of the organization:

2012 – Formed a 501c3 Nonprofit

2013 – Helped build new trail at Pawnee National Grassland

2014 – Trail scouting and initial routing is completed

2015 – 100 mile test hike in Nebraska and South Dakota

2016 – First GPT thru hike completed by Luke Jordan (aka Strider)

That’s a lot to be proud of in just a short period of time.  The Great Plains Trail has gone from an idea to something that is real and tangible!

However, there is so much more work that needs to be done in order for the trail to remain viable.  The current route is mostly on roads, but we have identified many areas where we could change that percentage significantly.  The bottom line is: We will not be able to add more trail miles with our current resources.  I think it’s safe to say that Strider’s hike inspired us all.  In the years and generations to come, with your help, there will be more stories like Strider’s along the Great Plains Trail.  Here are our top priorities for 2018:

  1. Building new trail in Oglala National Grassland, Nebraska
  2. Holding one or more trail events with group hikes and campouts
  3. Improving and adding more features and details to the map
  4.  Developing a professional marketing strategy for the trail
  5. Attending national and local conferences and events to further our professional network
  6. Forming partnerships with other professional organizations along the trail

Given all of that, I think we have a unique opportunity for people to get involved in the next phase of this trail.  For the remainder of 2017, you have the opportunity to become a permanent part of the organization by joining our Founder’s Club.  In 100 years or more, when people like Strider are out there hiking the Great Plains Trail, they’ll think to themselves, “I wonder how this trail got started?” When they search the history of the trail, your name will appear as one of the Founders!

Here is more information, and please see our website or our Fundly Page to donate:

1. Join our Founder’s Club: For the remainder of 2017 only, we are launching our first fundraising drive.  While we have accomplished much in our first five years, there is much more to be done.  Significant trail building projects and events await, but we need your help.  By donating $1,000 or more, you will become a member of our Founder’s Club.  This is a unique opportunity to be a part of the history of the organization.  You will receive a lifetime membership, you will have a mile of trail named in your honor ($2,000 would earn two miles of named trail, and so on), your name will be on a permanent monument (TBD) along the trail, and you’ll also receive a GPT Daypack, a GPT Hat, and a GPT Mug.  Please contact us if you need more information on this once in a lifetime opportunity.

2. Make a Donation: If you can’t quite swing joining the Founders’ Club, we still need your support.  Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated, but we do have some special categories for the remainder of 2017 only.

$500-$999 Pronghorn Level – GPT Daypack, GPT Hat, and GPT Mug

$250-$499 Swift Fox Level – GPT Hat and GPT Mug

$100-$249 Black Footed Ferret Level – GPT Hat OR GPT Mug

$50-$99 Burrowing Owl Level – GPT Sticker

$5-$49 Valued Donor – Tax deductible

To make a donation, click the “Donate” button on the home page of the website.  We are a non-profit 501c3 organization and your donation is tax deductible. Note:  If you don’t want PayPal to take a cut, you can send us a check directly to Great Plains Trail Alliance 313 Sherman Street, Longmont, CO 80501

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GPT Photo of the week: Pawnee Buttes

Northeast Colorado contains some interesting features in the Pawnee National Grassland.  They are generally referred to as the Pawnee Buttes and they rise 200-300 feet about the surrounding country.  There’s a nice trail leading to them, and they are really cool places to explore.

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Photo of the Week – 7/24/17

This week’s photo is from New Mexico.  Capulin Volcano National Monument is a little gem in the northern part of the state.  You can drive or hike to the top where expansive views of the largely volcanic region, such as this, await.

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GPT – Photo of the Week – 7/17/17

It’s back to South Dakota this week for no particular reason other than I really like this photo and I really like this place.  This is in Custer National Forest.  The rolling terrain here is spectacular and almost has an alpine feel to it.   It was a hot day in July.  I rode my bike to cover as much territory as I could, and then climbed a modest hill to get this view.  If you continue on the forest road in view, you would eventually come to Reva Campground at the north end of the National Forest.  This is on the GPT, but it needs some scouting and additional development to make it happen.

In the coming weeks, look for how you can become a founding member of GPTA, so you can help make trail sections like this become a reality.


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Thru and Back Again

Just finished reading Luke “Strider” Jordan’s book about his 2013 thru hike of the North Country National Scenic Trail.  Reader’s of this blog are well acquainted with the fact that there is such a thing. I’ve posted a number of times on the diversity of the NSTs, and the fact that they go well beyond the AT or the PCT.  If the North Country Trail has a claim to fame, it’s that it is, at 4,568 miles, by far, the longest of the bunch.  It runs from the middle of North Dakota to Vermont and is in no way a straight shot.  It winds considerably, going as far north as the famed North Shore of Lake Superior, and as far south as southern Ohio.

Few have even thought seriously about attempting a thru hike of the entire NCT.  It’s far more likely to attract a local crowd along its shorter sections, or perhaps a thru hike of one of its longer pieces such as the Superior Hiking Trail or the Buckeye Trail.  We don’t know how many people have thought about it, but we do know how many people have actually done it:  4.  That’s right. Strider was just the 4th person to thru hike the trail since its inception in 1980.  A few others have completed it in sections, but that’s about it.

That should tell you all you need to know about the difficulty of the NCT.  Let’s face it. The NCT makes the AT look like a trek to the mailbox.

Enter Luke Jordan.  It takes an indomitable will and a level of perseverance few possess to succeed, and Luke has the right stuff.  Most of the book is essentially his journals from the trail, so it is heavy on day-to-day details, and light on philosophy, but even the fact that he had the strength left to write a daily journal after pounding out 25-30 miles a day in often adverse conditions is remarkable.  Also, this kind of writing makes you feel like you’ve pitched your tent right next to his.

Let’s see . . . There was cold, then extreme cold, then bugs, then more bugs, then heat, then extreme heat, then dogs, then snakes, then bugs again.  I’m not saying he didn’t have a few enjoyable days in there.  He certainly did, but when the trail got tough, it got really tough.  No one would’ve faulted him if he’d called it quits when the mosquitoes in Michigan were thick enough to carry him away, or the ticks in Ohio numbered in the hundreds on his legs!

But he didn’t quit, and as much as it’s his own personal grit, it’s the “trail angels” that help him through.  Acts of kindness from strangers are a near daily occurrence for Luke on the NCT.  So if you want your faith in humanity restored, or if you want your faith in America restored, then read Thru and Back Again – A Hiker’s Journey on the North Country Trail.  


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GPT – Photo of the Week – 7/10/2017

The previous two photos were both from South Dakota, so let’s switch it up a bit and head south on the trail to Nebraska.  This is one of my favorite shots of the Pine Ridge, taken in Oglala National Grassland.  The dark skies give it an ominous and powerful look.

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