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Vlasak, Narum are stellar champions of NCT

Ray Vlasak, at left, and Gary Narum are stand-out volunteers in the Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. (Submitted photo)

The Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has had amazing volunteers since its beginning in 2006.

Volunteers are the lifeblood of this organization and it takes special leadership qualities to successfully organize a chapter and oversee the building of a hiking trail that carries a national designation.

Two such volunteers the chapter would like to recognize and thank have held leadership positions since the chapter was formed.

Ray Vlasak, from Bad Medicine Lake, was the first chapter president, a position he held for 10 years. He has been the inspiration for much of the planning and constructing of over 60 miles of trail from Itasca State Park to Frazee. He has been recognized by the national organization with the Lifetime Leadership Award and also the President’s Call to Service Award for over 5,000 hours of service.

Gary Narum, of Bad Medicine Lake and Fargo, has also been an integral member of the chapter. He was a charter member, holding leadership positions as well as being instrumental in the building and maintenance of trail. His specialty has been in the designing and building of structures that are necessary in crossing wet areas along the trail and the kiosks to mark trailheads. He was recognized in 2016 for a Trail Builder Award from the national organization and has also given thousands of hours to our organization.


From all Laurentian Lakes members and users of the trail, we would like to thank these men for their outstanding efforts and dedication in making a dream become a reality.

The North Country Trail is the longest of the national and scenic hiking trails in the U.S. It spans 4,600 miles, beginning in North Dakota and now passes through eight states to Vermont and connects to the Appalachian Trail. The North Country Trail in Minnesota passes right through the heart of our local area and is a superb asset for us to make use of during these challenging times that require social distancing.

The peaceful nature of this trail offers great benefits to both the hiker and volunteer. We are always in need of additional support, including new volunteers, to perform trail maintenance and financial donations to help offset material expenses for keeping the trail open and operational. Please contact 218-573-2209 if you would like to help in trail maintenance or email the organization at llc@northcountrytrail.org for more information.

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