Planning began a while ago, but today it has started to feel real. I tend to get really excited about upcoming projects and adventures, and my go to expression of this is creating a google folder for that adventure. Nerd alert! I started my google folder for the Iron Belle Trail a while ago, but have made some significant progress today!
The biking portion is roughly planned with no real great maps out there yet for it. But I have mapped out the daily itinerary for that portion. In order to get started on the hiking portion, I needed some trail maps and received my first three trail maps in the mail a few days ago from the North Country Trail Association. When I saw the package I felt like a kid on Christmas morning. The maps are very well organized and visually appealing and contain a lot of great information. Today, I mapped out the first re-ration and the first two weeks of the trail on the maps that I had. I ordered three more maps from the Association, joined as a member, and am excitedly anticipating their arrival!
All of my work thus far has consisted of mapping out the route, obtaining information on the trail, connecting with the DNR in Michigan, creating a list of contacts for different land areas, and creating a list of potential sponsors. The DNR has been absolutely amazing. When I first contacted them to see if they might be interested in working in conjunction with me to promote the state of Michigan and increase publicity of this trail, I left a voicemail with the thought that calling the state of Michigan was a long shot. But I was pleasantly surprised when an extremely friendly lady named Jacquelyn called me back right away seemingly excited about the idea and willing to work with me. I was really impressed with her communication and proud to know that my home state has such wonderful people working to promote Michigan’s natural resources.
The significant progress was made in mapping out the first two weeks of the hiking portion and drafting a letter to send to potential sponsors. I am excited and anxious to start the process of obtaining sponsorships as it is something I have never done before and also an area with which I have little to no experience. Even figuring out how to promote this journey on social media has been a huge learning curve because of how unfamiliar I am with social media other than facebook. But it is a journey I am excited to make and one in which I hope to learn a lot!
Stay tuned for more updates on the planning process as they develop!