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Monday, November 9, 2009

Jerry Gauld Forages the UP NCT

Jerry Gauld
Jerry Gauld in 2006, holding snowshoes

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Jerry Gauld has hiked the NCT in Michigan's Upper Peninsula yet again, but he decided on a different challenge for this trek. He previously hiked it in 2006 on snowshoes.

This time, he decided to find his own food on his 36-day, 517-mile adventure. Traveling with his Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Molly, and carrying a .410 shotgun, Gauld hunted grouse and woodcock, which Molly flushed. He also made use of a portable fishing rod, and gathered wild cranberries, apples, watercress and mushrooms. Cattail and burdock tubers provided starch for his diet. The backup plan was a pocket full of granola and jerky.

Gauld, a retired heavy-equipment operator, lives in Fife Lake with his wife except for when he gets the urge to take to the woods. "I'm no Euell Gibbons, but I know a lot about berries and stuff," he said.

campsite of Jerry Gauld
one of Gauld's campsites on his trek (photo by Jerry Gauld)
Special dinners included a grouse stuffed with wild raisins and high-bush cranberries, cooked over an open fire, and pike with cranberries accompanied by sumac lemonade. Only twice, at Grand Marais and Marquette, did he get a motel room and treat himself- and Molly- to a hamburger and fries.

He credits his parents for his expertise in the woods. They lived simply when he was growing up, depending on wild foods many times.

Gauld lost the trail once in the McCormick Wilderness, as have many others! But by the use of map and compass was able to pick it up again as he neared the western boundary.

By the time he reached Wisconsin on October 21 he had lost 20 pounds. He considers that the trek was only partially successful. "I was hoping for more fish and meat," he admitted. He also commented that it was late enough in the year that many of the wild foods were well past their prime. He wanted to see if he had what it took to live like a hunter/gatherer, and decided that he didn't really. Yet, to many of us, this was an amazing story of resourcefulness.

See Other Hikers of Note where there are links to two other news articles about Gauld's previous hikes


Matt Stone said...

Brutal! I was dumb enough to do the same thing... basically. Didn't go so well for me either. I ate plenty of fish, but fish is just fish. That can't keep you going for hundreds of miles...

Sharkbytes said...

Hi Matt- This is an amazing story. And it gets even better. I got to meet him last night. He drove down to hear my program about my hikes this summer, and we must have talked for an hour afterwards!

Anonymous said...

We met Jerry on this hike. We were going in the other direction and met up with him on our last day, near Tahquamenon Falls. The knowledge he has of edible foods on the trail is amazing and he has the grit to go the distance.

Sharkbytes said...

Hi- It's so great to hear about having enough hikers out there that they actually meet one another. I hope we can get him to talk about his experience, but he's really shy.