Senior citizens are nearing the finish line of a 4,600 mile hike across Minnesota and six other states and awe many with their determination and lifelong hiking endeavor.
Sitting on the front porch or patio to soak-up sunshine on a nice day, lunching with friends, or spending time with grandchildren are all visions one thinks of for elders. But Dan and Ruth Durrough, 69 and 72, have always been a little different. These inspired seniors have nearly finished hiking the entire 4,600 miles of North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) that expands across seven states, including Minnesota. The tenacious couple started their journey in New York and will finish in North Dakota by September.
The Durroughs’ adventure began in New York while they were walking on the Finger Lakes Trail near their home 17 years ago. They enjoyed their hike and did some research to discover the trail ran across New York and much further west beyond that along the NCNST, which was when they learned about the enticing trail.
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“We never even knew the North Country Trail existed before that,” Ruth notes. “We saw the blazes along the trail and have been following them ever since.”
The Dorroughs say section hiking is a much different experience than thru-hiking. Section-hikers get the chance to see all the communities off and around the trail but thru-hikers bypass those places and have an entirely different adventure. They decided that section hiking was something they’d like to pursue. Ruth explains why she and her husband were so intrigued by the hike:
“What is so cool about doing it this way is all these wonderful little towns; you get to see more doing it this way. Otherwise we’d miss things like the Pencil Sharpener Museum or the giant Paul Bunyan in Akeley and his girlfriend in Hackensack.”
They have made vast connections throughout what they call the “hiking bubble,” making their adventure more of a journey that includes meeting amazing people, friends and others inspired by hiking.
“People are generous,” Ruth discusses. People along the way have invited them into their home and others hiked alongside them. “We started as novices and people shared their knowledge. We’re still learning things.”
Many people discuss that age brings wisdom. The Durroughs feel that their 17-year hike has brought them both joy and wisdom as they entered their autumn years. For them it has been a lifelong journey; they didn’t rush through the miles, they gained knowledge and a deeper familiarity for the individuals and places along the trail, spending nearly two decades doing so.
“My appreciation for the entire country is so much greater. Before you’d hear ‘Minnesota’ and it didn’t mean anything. I hear it now and all these places we’ve been and people we’ve met come to mind,” discusses Ruth.
The trials and tribulations have been worth every second for this adventurous couple, despite the difficulty. “It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but has also been the experience of a lifetime,” Dan said about overcoming the challenges they’ve faced.
Like the Durroughs, many seniors don’t let their autumn years hold them back from life adventures and athletics. In fact:
Obviously a passion for happiness, life and endorphin-releasing sports can accompany people their entire lives — even into their 100s!
Read more about these inspiring seniors and their determination in both athletics and life.
What do you think of the Durroughs and other seniors who go the distance? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below.