Vermont’s First Women of the Long Trail

by Sarah Tuff Dunn for Seven Days

You’re a woman in 1927, just seven years after the 19th Amendment has given you the right to vote. You live in the age of short flapper skirts, bathtub gin and silent movies.

Why would you gather two of your female friends, lace up your 14-inch-high boots with moccasin toes, button up your flannel shirt and hike the Long Trail from end to end?

Catherine Robbins, Hilda M. Kurth and Kathleen Norris, 1927.  PHOTOS COURTESY OF WILL D. CHANDLER / VERMONT HISTORICAL SOCIETY ARCHIVES

Catherine Robbins, Hilda M. Kurth and Kathleen Norris, 1927. Courtesy of Will D. Chandler/ VT Historical Archives.

“If you’re young and fit and want some adventure, why not?” says Vermont historian Reidun Nuquist of the women known as the Three Musketeers. The trio earned national attention in the summer of 1927 for hiking all the way from Massachusetts to Canada. In doing so, Hilda M. Kurth and Kathleen M. Norris of Schenectady, N.Y., and Catherine E. Robbins of Cornwall, Vt., became the first female “end-to-enders.”

Those are just a few of the many women who have been trailblazers in Vermont’s hiking history, Nuquist points out. The Three Musketeers will be among “dozens of women” she’ll discuss in “Green Mountain Girls: Women of the Long Trail,” a presentation on Thursday, March 24, at the Green Mountain Club‘s headquarters in Waterbury Center.

Nuquist promises stories not only about early female hikers but about trail workers — women whose names are remembered in trail names and on shelters — and about Long Trail romance. “Come to the talk if you want to know what connects a famous flapper and the first women to climb Mount Rainier in 1890,” says Nuquist of one mystery she plans to unravel.

Long Trail history offers plenty of yarns. Presented by the Vermont Historical Society, the Vermont Commission on Women and the GMC, “Green Mountain Girls” aims to provide a glimpse of girl gusto during Women’s History Month, says Cary Brown, executive director of the commission.

“Women’s achievements have gone unnoticed or unrecorded for much of our history, which leaves us missing a great deal of inspiration, wisdom and knowledge,” adds Brown. “Young girls who open history books and see story after story of men’s accomplishments need also to see the courageous and brilliant women who’ve contributed to our culture.”

Read the whole article in Seven Days.