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Manton Senior Hikes More Than 1,000 Miles of North Country Trail

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A local senior citizen accomplished something most people only dream of doing.

The Manton woman hiked more than 1,000 miles across the entire Michigan portion of the North Country Trail – from the Ohio border to Wisconsin’s.

Jo Oostveen doesn’t just have a bunch of free time on her hands.

She cared for abandoned sled dogs and her daughter’s medical problems throughout the five-year journey — and wouldn’t have been able to do it without the support of her family.

“I kept on going and decided I would finish by the time I turn 65 which I did,” said Jo Oostveen.

A five-minute encounter with a hiker years ago inspired Jo Oostveen to hike the entire Michigan portion of the north country trail — more than 1,000 miles.

“After that I kept thinking if this guy who just had a massive heart attack can hike from Baldwin to the mackinaw bridge, there was no reason I couldn’t hike it too.”

So she hiked 69 miles in 2011, then 164.4 miles the next year.

After catching "Blue Blaze Fever," she upped her miles after setting new goals — and just finished this fall.

“A lot of memories from encountering a baby bear, I had to try and chase off the mom. I almost fell off a cliff once and got lost in the woods up in the UP.”

Jo was walking everyday about five to 12 hours with 55 pounds on her back.

“I think it was just one successful trip after another that jo took, and I had to admire somebody with a goal like that,” said Jo’s husband Don Oosvteen.

Don helped her trail spot — driving her to different parts of the route and taking turns caring for their daughter who has spina bifida.

“I have a daughter who lives in Kalamazoo who has a disability. It requires some help quite a bit over the past few years she’s had a lot of medical issues,” Jo said.

Five years and 1,150 miles later… Jo says if she could do it in her 60s, anyone can.

“All’s you gotta do is put one foot in front of the other and don’t give up.”

The total North Country Trail is 4,600 miles and goes through seven states.