Hike NS Summit Award
June 23, 2018
~ Norris Whiston ~
Norris Whiston was presented with a Summit Award at the Hike NS Annual General Meeting in Truro on June 23. The Summit Award recognizes outstanding leadership and commitment to the growth and development of hiking in Nova Scotia. Norris is a long-time board member of Hike NS and has been involved with the Cobequid Eco-Trails Society. His passion for hiking, nature and history has contributed greatly to the development of trails in Colchester County.
Norris was one of those folk that attended the very first Hike NS meeting held in Truro and shortly thereafter joined the board of Hike NS over 10 years ago. After retiring in 2008 his interest in hiking has not wavered and he has been involved locally, regionally and provincially in supporting and advocating change to create more hiking trails, linking people to our history and nature in creating new opportunities in Colchester County and beyond.
He attended one of the first international (International Appalachian Trail (IAT) meeting held in Iona, Cape Breton, supported efforts and connected people in the concept of a Cape to Cape Trail, worked on the Hike NS board and has been involved with the Cobequid Eco-Trails Society (CE-TS).
Norris has a passion for the outdoors and nature and feels that the best way to connect more people to nature is through the development of hiking trails and education.
Norris is a founding member and was instrumental in the creation of the Cobequid Eco -Trails Society (CE-TS). He has been an active member and has been working collaboratively with CE-TS board volunteers to make a difference in creating, promoting, advocating for the protection of hiking trails in Colchester County for over 10 years.
He chaired the committee that built the Earltown Trails that would lead to a network of trails in the region. He researched the region including local historic trails, local landowner’s folklore and genealogy that existed in the area so that the group could shape, define, design and promote interesting trails.
Overall there were three trails built in the area that would include 35 km of hiking trail and he created a book on the background and history of each of the trails.
Rogart was the first trail build of the CE-TS group in 2008 (80 percent built by volunteers) which involved negotiations with five landowners. Norris spent many hours coordinating trail builds and worked with many volunteers keeping track of the hours spent on the trail builds, motivating people to come out and participate through his email journals and interesting tidbits. He was the glue that kept the team together.
He worked alongside volunteers and trail builders designing, flagging and building trails with Macleod’s and Pulaski’s and welcoming people back to his house for a social whenever possible. “Maggie the Hiker Dog” went on more trail builds than many volunteers and many enjoyed the interesting stories of Maggie’s exploits on the trails.
He worked on Earltown Lakes and Portage Trails with three private landowners to create agreements to allow the connection to the Gully Lake Wilderness Area. Like many other volunteers, he understands the long and tedious process of building trail that includes planning, researching, searching for new funding opportunities, working with private landowners, negotiating with land owners for agreements, creating the designs, attending open houses and public processes, working through the DOE many steps for trail development, not to mention other regulations.
Although we are recognizing Norris’s hiking and trail achievements, Norris has written over 50 books and brought that passion to the landscapes of Colchester County, to the forests and to the pathways.
He took a course on how to identify mosses, lichens and such. He has taken over 5000 photos and categorized them to benefit the community of Colchester. Those inventoried photos include fungus, trees, mosses, grasses, lichens, vascular plants and many others too numerous to mention.
The information he researched was used in the creation of interpretative signs and historic information on native culture including the naming of the Sandy Cope Trail and Meguma Falls.
Some of those books include:
- “Hardwood, Scrubs and Nature’s Dynamics of Maritimes and Northern New England”…31 pages and growing.
- “Cobequid Mountain Field Guide to Ferns, Club Mosses, Mosses and Lichens”
- “History of Gully Lake to Nutby Mountain Hiking Trails”…106 page book
- “Climate Readings of Carbon, Climate, and Forests”… over 600 pages
Norris wants to remind us that we are just not just hiking we are walking through time and nature so we need to stop reflect on the beauty and look and understand our surroundings. Further and just as important in all of this, we need to stop the clear cutting and stop the soil degradation.
In all the research, there is one giant point that he raises: we are depleting the soils of nutrients that can never be replaced. What started as a project to promote hiking and trail building has taken on a greater need in getting people to understand the devastating effects of clear cutting on the soil.
We may ask ourselves why this is important and the simple answer is the need to protect our forests for biodiversity and for our planet.
Norris brings these issues to the board’s attention as we all need to be advocates for the conditions of our forests and he does this through his research, book creations and his Putcha Kutchas presentations at our Hiking Summits.
He says he might get carried away at times, however he is so committed to bringing nature and history of the region alive to the average person. In doing so he has developed many friendships far and wide due to his passion and interest in the natural environment and hiking.
So from being a runner, a hiking leader, a trail builder, an advocate of the forests and the environment and an educator, he is committed to it all! From simple flora and fauna explanations to the trips he has lead to the top of Nutby Mountain, Norris has done it all with passion and zeal!
It is for all of these reasons that Hike NS is pleased to present Norris Whiston with the Hike NS Summit Award.