Following the publication of the Centennial Edition of the Long Trail Guide in June 2017, the Green Mountain Club has now released A Century of Long Trail Guidebooks: A Retrospective wherein Reidun Nuquist masterfully weaves the twenty-eight Long Trail guidebook editions together, incorporating the characteristics of Green Mountain Club’s finest editors, illustrators, cartographers, and trail builders.
From the introduction by former Executive Director Ben Rose:
In 1982, a few months out of college and somewhat uncertain of direction, I resolved to hike Vermont’s the Long Trail. My mother, of blessed memory, drove me down to Williamstown, Massachusetts, accompanied only by my monstrous Kelty backpack. Our understanding was that I would call for a ride home from North Troy in about three weeks. I’d mailed myself two packages of food to pick up along the way. The Long Trail, I figured, would give me “time to think” (which it did).
The Kelty, incidentally, must have weighed a good 70 pounds. So young, so foolish… It contained glass jars of peanut butter and jelly, assorted fishing tackle, harmonica and a harmonica-holding headgear apparatus (so that I could, as I had imagined, play hands-free as I galumphed), and two fat novels I planned to read on the trail.
By the time the Kelty and I reached Sherburne Pass, we disliked each other. I gleefully hitchhiked into Rutland, to the post office to which I had mailed the food for Week Two. Outside the post office, I tore through the Kelty and ruthlessly rejected all non-essentials, which were immediately mailed home. Perhaps the culling was excessive; by the time I reached Camel’s Hump, I had run out of food completely and was running on fumes, obsessively craving the goodies in the Week Three stockpile waiting at the Jonesville Post Office. Pushing the pace, I raced over Robbins Mountain to reach Jonesville before closing time. Only when I got there did I discover that it was Sunday. The post office and the store were closed. Sat down, cried. Then called mom and dad, and they came from Burlington, with roasted chicken.
Decades later, when I started working for the Green Mountain Club (GMC), I visited the Vermont Historical Society GMC archives in Barre City, and found my 1982 end-to-end report. Sadly, most of what I had submitted was about muddy spots, stretches of untamed nettles, scantily-blazed junctions—the sort of report that I would later come to regard as “whining.”
Fast forward nearly another two decades, and it warms my heart to read in the autumn 2017 Long Trail News a remembrance by Reidun Nuquist, in which she reported a similar experience upon re-reading her own end-to-end report (from 2002). Reidun, you see, is one of my trail idols. If she found her own end-to-end report to be “exceedingly dull” in retrospect, then I am in very good company!
As GMC executive director from 1998 to 2011, I received more than a few phone calls and a handful of grumpy letters from people who had been displeased with their Long Trail hiking experiences… trail longer than guidebook said it would be… shelter not where it was supposed to be… etc. My first question to these folks was always this: “What does the cover of your guidebook look like?” More often than not, people relying on Long Trail guide editions from the 70’s, 80’s, or 90’s were surprised to discover that the guidebook is wrong.
The history of The Long Trail Guide is a wonderful lens through which to view the history of the Long Trail itself. There is nobody better to bring that history to life than Reidun Nuquist.
I thought of Reidun and her husband Andrew as the very heart of GMC, epitomizing the best of GMC volunteers. They were understated, relentlessly cheerful, indefatigable, and startlingly witty. While Andrew was serving a term as GMC president, Reidun served as the club’s Montpelier Section president and on the Board of Directors, but she also cranked out a series of contributions to the Long Trail News which brought the cultural history of the Long Trail into sharp focus. Drawing on her professional skills as a librarian and researcher, she explicated stories of the Long Trail and its builders and stewards, culminating in “A Century of Change – And Growth,” the chapter which Reidun contributed to GMC’s centennial publication, A Century in the Mountains.
In A Century of Long Trail Guidebooks, Reidun has done it once again. The topic may sound slightly dry or arcane, but you will see: in Reidun’s hands, it is not! This is a book of good stories, and it is full of joy, beauty, and humor—just like its author.
Purchase your limited-edition retrospective or the collector’s set, including both the retrospective and the Centennial Edition of the Long Trail Guide, at our Visitor Center in Waterbury Center or online.