The magazine of the North Country Trail Association
north star 2013 State Of The Trail Hiking With Faith Luke “Strider” Jordan’s Story
Volume 33, No. 1
Jim and Norma Matteson on an autumn Softies Hike by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter, clearly during hunting season.
About the Cover Itasca State Park, North Country Trail near South
Entrance by Deane L. Johnson, who lives 20 miles south of the trail in Park Rapids, Minnesota. His book, The Best of Itasca: A Guide to Minnesota’s Oldest State Park, will be available in April, 2014 from Adventure Publications, and he also photographed Little Minnesota: 100 Towns Around 100, by Jill A. Johnson.
Terms Expiring 2014
State of the Trail 2013............................4 Annual NCTA Awards Call for Nominees.............................24 Board Nominations are Open ..............25 Rovers Crew Wrap-Up.........................26 Minnesota Hiking Celebration..........28 NCT Delegation Attends Partnership Conference........................30 Minnesota Chapters’ New State Guidebook..........................31 2014 Extended Outing......................33 The Importance of Chapter History......34 Hiking With Faith...............................35 NCTA Chapter/Affiliate/Partner 2013 Honor Awards............................37
A Tale of Two Trails...........................38 NCTA Announces NCT National Scenic Trail Day!....................39 Luke “Strider” Jordan’s Story.............40
Columns Trailhead.............................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.........................32 NPS Corner......................................36
Departments Where in the Blue Blazes?..................25 Submission Guidelines And Next Deadline...........................31
North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or email@example.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 33, Issue 1, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.
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David Cowles Director of Development firstname.lastname@example.org Jill DeCator Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator email@example.com Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota firstname.lastname@example.org Tarin Hasper Administrative Assistant email@example.com Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development firstname.lastname@example.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator email@example.com Bruce Matthews Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin email@example.com Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
National Board of Directors
In This Issue
Mary Coffin, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 687-3589 · email@example.com John Heiam, Secretary, At Large Rep. (231) 938-9655 · firstname.lastname@example.org Lorana Jinkerson (906) 226-6210 · email@example.com Doug Thomas, First VP, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms Expiring 2015
Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 526-5407 · email@example.com Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-5398 · JCohen@zoominternet.net Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota Rep. (701) 271-6769 · firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep. (763) 425-4195 · email@example.com Gaylord Yost, VP West, Great Lakes Rep. (414) 354-8987 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms Expiring 2016
Larry Pio, At Large Rep. (269) 327-3589 · email@example.com Debbie Zampini, Ohio Rep. (440) 567-1894 · firstname.lastname@example.org Ed Gruchalla, North Dakota Rep. (701) 293-1839 · email@example.com Jaron Nyhof, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · firstname.lastname@example.org Jerry Trout, Minnesota Rep. (218) 831-3965 · email@example.com Jim Noble, Wisconsin Rep. (715) 372-5680 · firstname.lastname@example.org Lynda Rummel, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · email@example.com Larry Hawkins, Immediate Past President, Michigan Rep. (269) 945-5398 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Moberg President
Photo Provided by Tom Moberg
inter has settled in with a vengeance in North Dakota and probably many other places along our North Country National Scenic Trail. (NCNST) The trail building tools are stored away in tool trailers and garages, and our volunteers are taking a short break from trail construction and maintenance. Some hardy souls are still out on the trail with snowshoes, enjoying new views of the surrounding country as the leaves blow off the trees and snow drifts pile up in the draws. And the NCTA Chapters are probably writing grant proposals and making plans for next summer’s work projects. The work of the Board of Directors does not stop for the winter, either. The winter meeting of the Board was held in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on December 6-7. Regular business included approval of the Executive Director’s annual performance evaluation that was done with care and thoroughness by a Board committee led by Doug Thomas. The Executive Committee and the staff worked together to build the 2014 North Country Trail Association (NCTA) budget, which was also approved by the Board. As usual, the Board heard reports from many busy committees and our partners in the National Park Service. As I described in my last column, last August the Board suspended planning for 2014 and 2015 Conferences organized along the past model. However, the NCTA Conference issue is still front and center for the Board. A large Conference Future Committee chaired by Larry Pio is developing a comprehensive, on-line opinion survey that we hope will be filled out by a large proportion of NCTA members, whether or not they have attended any of the past Conferences. This data will play a large role in future Board decisions about Conferences. The Board and staff have made a new start on our strategic planning activities, using a new planning model and a new consultant to guide us. We spent a day at the December meeting working on the planning process and will continue to refine the plans with both small group and full Board meetings through the winter. Most of the work on the new plan should be completed by the April Board meeting. We are already seeing new directions, perspectives, and “big ideas” emerging from this important process. One key idea that runs through all the strategic planning development is the absolute importance of viewing the NCNST as a single entity running across seven states, not just a collection of local trail segments. One of the biggest challenges facing the NCTA is creating a stronger public understanding of the trail, which we believe would lead to more use of the trail, more support for the trail, and more protection for the trail. From a larger perspective, National Scenic Trails are fundamental assets in helping the public understand and value history, culture, nature, and healthy recreation. All these ideas have a place in the NCTA’s strategic plans.
I have occasionally heard questions about the role of Chapters within the NCTA. With much help from other Board members, here are some thoughts about that relationship. The NCTA is the entity which enjoys the legal IRS status of being a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. Chapters can exist only within that legal framework and under the Bylaws of the NCTA. Chapters cannot be separate “trail clubs” that by themselves do not have legal coverage, are not incorporated, and cannot independently work on the NCNST. Without non-profit status, it would be difficult for Chapters to raise and manage funds, solicit tax exempt donations, obtain insurance, receive state and federal permits, get legal land easements, and enter into contracts. On the other hand, there are many reasons why it is very beneficial for Chapters to exist within the NCTA framework. As the “parent” organization, the NCTA provides access to liability insurance and the Volunteer in Parks (VIP) program, handles all IRS requirements, rebates a share of membership dues to the Chapters, awards field grants and participates in managing NPS Cost Challenge Share grants, and provides a wide range of resources, training, coordination, management, marketing, mapping, and support activities for Chapters and their leaders. The NCTA also is legally responsible for all contracts, easements, agreements, and Memorandums of Understanding (MOU) with public agencies, provides an umbrella of land protection and easement defense for the entire trail, and coordinates training and certifications for trail building skills. This is certainly not an exhaustive listing of all the ways Chapters benefit from being part of the NCTA. Perhaps one of the most valuable features of our NCTA/Chapter model is the wonderful synergy that results from being part of one larger organization dedicated to building, maintaining and promoting the longest National Scenic Trail in the country. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about anything in my report. In our next issue there will be an article about the status of our Affiliates within the NCTA. Best wishes for a happy, successful and peaceful 2014.
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State of the Trail 2013
NEW YORK - There is no trail sponsor, chapter or affiliate for the Adirondack route. Volunteers from NCTA and the Adirondack Mountain Club continued to scout, evaluate and GPS the route in State Wild Forests and Wilderness Areas and submit the information to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation [DEC]. The route information has been incorporated into an amendment document to the original 2007-8 Adirondack North Country Trail Plan and is slated to be open to 30 days of public comment in Jan 2014. —Mary Coffin
Central New York Chapter
NEW YORK - Perhaps the high point of 2013 for the CNY Chapter was the designation of the Village of Canastota, “where the 2 National Scenic Trail meets the Erie Canal,” as the first North Country National Scenic Trail Trail Town in New York State. Thanks in large part to Chapter Administrative Liaison Al Larmann and the receptiveness (and perceptiveness) of Mayor Carla DeShaw and Village Administrator Larry Carpenter, the designation formally took place on April 20. It was observed at an outdoor ceremony by an enthusiastic (and hardy) crowd of Village residents and Chapter members, and a month later, Village, as well as Town of Lenox, officials met with Chapter officers, NCTA Executive Director Bruce Matthews, and NPS NCNST Superintendent Mark Weaver to follow up and reinforce what should be a very beneficial relationship. Another Chapter partner, the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park outside of the Village of Cazenovia, saw a major trail improvement when a longtime problem area, a hilly stretch notorious for turning muddy in wet weather, was taken in hand by a team from Boy Scout Troop 157 from North Syracuse. Working under the supervision of Trail Development Chair Steve Kinne and Eagle Scout candidate John Childs, they put into place a short remedial reroute, two puncheons, three culverts, and a catch basin. Not only was the wet weather trail experience improved, but Troop 157 was introduced to the NCNST, joining Trail Steward Troops 18 (Cazenovia) and 43 (Canastota) in helping the Trail in the Chapter’s jurisdiction. Earlier in the year landowner and Trail Steward Vic Nelson received his Chapter Honor plaque for the 2012 award for his above-the-call-of-duty support of the Trail across some of his sixty acres. And once again, Vic hosted a hugely enjoyable post-work-hike picnic in July. (No quid pro quo implied.) Other trail upgrades included puncheon replacement and drainage improvement in the swampy area adjacent to Mt. Pleasant Cemetery south of Canastota, rolling grade drainage dips and nicks between Irish Hill and Holmes Roads in the Town of Nelson, new and replacement puncheon south of the Cazenovia, remedial side-hilling in Muller Hill State Forest, and connector shields along road walks. At a work hike in August, trail boss Steve Kinne began an effort, complete with handouts, demonstration, and supervised practice, at teaching stewards and other trail workers to work smarter in their trail maintenance, particularly with regard to drainage. “Prettier isn’t
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always better drained, and muddy spots just get muddier over time.” We hope to spread the word more systematically during the coming year. As for membership, the Chapter benefited to the count of fourteen new members, from NCTA’s E-member campaign. Now it’s up to us to keep them renewing! An infusion of new blood in the Chapter leadership was seen in the election of Trail Steward, certified chain sawyer, and serious hiker Don Feola as VicePresident and the succession to longtime Steward Coordinator Kathy Eisele by Steward and chain sawyer Scott Sellers. After a kick-off meeting the previous November, New York NCTA Rep and Vice President East chapter member Mary Coffin has gotten New York’s NCTA volunteer Council up and running, a worthwhile initiative aimed at blowing the organization’s horn and establishing relationships with tourism bodies and county and state officials. Some of us could do a better job of supporting her efforts…and perhaps I will in the coming year… Recreational highlights included Mary Dineen’s wildflower walk in Nelson Swamp in the late spring, as always well done and well attended. For our October Annual Chapter Meeting we returned to Canastota, specifically to the Canal Town Museum where Joe DiGeorgio delivered a hugely entertaining slide presentation (I believe the technical term for it was “a hoot”) on the history of the Erie Canal with particular attention to Canastota and points east and west. Joe then threw the Museum open to us. Many thanks! Our conflict over the roughly 7.65-mile old Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) trail stretch with our State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) drags on: some new developments, an unsatisfactory default situation, and no immediate sign of a satisfactory resolution. Local snowmobile clubs, despite OPRHP’s hints/threats at the end of 2011, have not been given work permits to destroy/widen/ road-build any more of the LVRR beyond the 2.6 miles razed under permit at that time, though snowmobilers may use any of the trail without physical obstructions to them. Dropping the 2012 NCTA lawsuit against OPRHP has not resulted in that agency’s regional office even being willing to talk with the Chapter about issuing a work permit for trail maintenance on the remainder of the trail along the LVRR, despite a Chapter initiative to that end addressed to them at the end of October. Ironically, the agency, apparently realizing that the trail has a constituency among hikers, has expended a limited amount of effort—albeit relying largely on prison work crews—on warm weather trail maintenance. OPRHP met only once in May with Bruce Matthews and Mark Weaver on the development of a statewide Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) which would govern issuance of work permits to the Chapter, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, the Adirondack Mountain Club, and any other affiliates or new NCTA chapters trying to develop or perform maintenance on the Trail on OPRHP land. OPRHP is presumably considering a draft of such an MOU submitted to them by Mark on behalf of NPS a few months back. The most recent development is the release, by OPRHP, of a new Temporary Revocable Permit application for trail work on State land they administer. Such a permit would be for only
State of the Trail 2013 Paul Hoffman
a year at a time, unlike the five-year permits we have for work on State Department of Environmental Conservation land (State Forests and Wildlife Management areas) and had from OPRHP between 2001 and 2011. And it would seem to bode ill that while the form’s examples of “sample projects” include ”snowmobile trail grooming and maintenance”, there is nothing comparable for maintenance of an existing foot trail. —Jack Miller
Finger Lakes Trail end-to-ender Kirk Doyle with his long distance dog Scarlet walks through a very special stretch of the FLT/NCT through Little Rock City in a state forest north of Allegany State Park, where a small patch of NY was never scraped by glaciers; hence, these giant boulders on the hill top. The trail currently goes through here, and side loop to add more enjoyment of this novel area was added recently.
Finger Lakes Trail Conference
NEW YORK - After the FLTC’s big 50th anniversary celebration in 2012, this year was a bit quieter in comparison, but still productive. Our Alley-Cat crews built a new lean-to 2 in Danby State Forest on Map M17 south of Ithaca to replace the old Chestnut lean-to, and replaced a bridge over Shindagin Creek in Shindagin Hollow State Forest on Map M18 nearby. Elsewhere in New York, local work parties reconstructed ¾ miles of trail in McCarty Hill State Forest on Map M3 south of Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County, and rerouted one mile of trail between Goundry Hill and Sugar Hill State Forests on Map M13 west of Watkins Glen in Schuyler County. We secured two more permanent trail easements this year from the Robinson family on Map M8 near Swain in Allegany County, and updated two other existing trail easements. The FLTC also acquired the 48 acre Bock-Harvey preserve that hosts a ½ mile of the FLT/NCNST already subject to a trail easement on Map M16 southwest of Ithaca in Tompkins County. Now owned by the FLTC, this parcel is further protected by a conservation easement with the Finger Lakes Land Trust and will feature a loop trail and shelter in the future. www.northcountrytrail.org
The Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, caretakers of a long stretch of the FLT/NCT, modified their DR Mower to enable the operator to carry other stuff into the interior with this tray welded on top. They also added rubber guards in front of the deck to cut down on flying debris. While the top basket is handy, it does negate the wonderful balance of the mower, which, unmodified, has its weight centered so well on its wheels that it’s not hard to get up and down ramps while loading. However, with the attached tool basket, that balance is changed.
Looking ahead into 2014, we anticipate a very busy year on the trail. Major projects will include a bridge replacement in Danby State Forest on Map M17 in Tompkins County, a new culvert installation under the railbed/canal towpath we walk near the Whiskey Bridge on Map M7 just south of Portageville in Wyoming County, a one mile trail reroute in Rock City State Forest and a ¼ mile trail reroute in McCarty Hill State Forest both on Map M3 in Cattaraugus County. A six mile trail reroute through Hoxie Gorge State Forest on Map M20 in Cortland County will eliminate a five mile road walk, and a one mile trail reroute between Baker Schoolhouse State Forest and State Route 41, also on Map M20, will eliminate another five mile road walk. Off the trail, we are negotiating new Volunteer Stewardship Agreements with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) to ensure that our volunteers are registered to work on State Forest land and are afforded liability and workers’ compensation coverage while doing so. We completed major updates to our Safety Handbook and obtained the NYSDEC’s approval with respect to its conformance with their health and safety guidelines. We held our two annual regional trail maintenance workshops and two chainsaw certification courses and expect to continue to offer these classes, in addition to a grip hoist and rigging training session, next year. January-March 2014
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State of the Trail 2013 Clarion Chapter
The New York State Volunteer Council re-formed in 2013 with the goal of protecting and promoting the FLT/NCNST as a premier foot trail by establishing contacts with, and support by, leaders in every county in NYS through which the FLT/NCNST passes. The Council produced a Fall 2013 Newsletter from which the following is excerpted: “In its Strategic Plan for State Forest Management, the NYSDEC recognized the FLT and the NCNST as long distance single track foot trails with only limited and short exceptions on State Forest land. This regulation is now being included in recent Unit Management Plans for units hosting these trails; this means that bike, horse, and snowmobile users must build and maintain their own trails, and All Terrain Vehicles are not permitted in State Forests.” This Plan is bearing fruit in Rock City and McCarty Hill State Forests in NYSDEC Region 9 where the FLT has shared several miles of its track with a local mountain bike association for years. In an agreement reached between the mountain bikers, the FLTC and the DEC, the FLTC and the mountain bikers will each reroute one mile of trail in 2014, thereby restoring the FLT/NCNST to a single use trail through these two State Forests. And, in 2015, the FLTC is planning to host a fall event from September 10-13 in lieu of the temporarily suspended NCTA Annual Conference. Both the FLTC and NCTA membership will be invited to this four day event, which will be held at Hope Lake Lodge, a new resort hotel located directly across from Greek Peak Ski Area in Cortland County, where the Trail passes along the summit. —Steve Catherman, VP of Trail Maintenance
PENNSYLVANIA - 2013 was a banner year for the Clarion Chapter, as the last significant road walk was eliminated. Kiser Wagner Road is no longer a part of the NCT. Clarion now has 80 plus miles of continuous off road blue blazed hiking trail. We also completed a ¾ mile relocation to avoid clear cutting by the private landowner, which also enabled us to avoid conflicting usage by horse riders. The monthly hikes continue to be popular. For 2014 the chapter is setting up hikes for the entire year and advertising them so there will be no conflicts with adjacent chapters or affiliates. The geo trail consisting of 20 caches has proven to be a great attraction, and as a result of the geo trail the chapter received two donations from geocachers totaling $600. In conjunction with a local Boy Scout troop we erected our third hiking shelter just outside Clarion, making Clarion thruhiker friendly. Unfortunately the chapter lost one of our longtime supporters and maintainers: Bill Wesner died doing what he enjoyed, hiking. Clarion participated in nine public relation events, distributing literature and selling maps and hiking sticks. Several chapter members participated in Keystone Trail Association week-long trail work sessions on NCT and other trails across Pennsylvania. — Ed Scurry
Wampum Chapter Trail crew. Story on page 7.
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PENNSYLVANIA - Much of our efforts involved working with our fellow Pennsylvania chapters in putting on the 2013 NCTA Conference in August at Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania. This took a great deal of effort in planning and preparation. By many accounts we were successful. While many people did their essential parts to make this happen, Joyce Appel was the vision and the engine driving this project to its completion. Actual on the ground improvements were also made in the following areas: • About 100 feet of puncheon and bridges were installed in four locations to alleviate muddy conditions. Tom Baumgardner, Dick and Sue Boettner and Dave Sileo contributed many hours to these projects. • Almost a mile of new trail was built along former road walk on Wolford Road, just east of Route 308. This was thanks to Ron Rice working with private property owner, Waste Management, to bring this about. Mark Smith, Doug Turner, and Joyce Appel worked with Ron to get this trail on the ground. • In order to build a 52 foot bridge across Muddy Creek, just below the spillway of Lake Arthur, in Moraine State Park, Tom Baumgardner has been working with many agencies to make this happen. He worked with Rayanne Aiken to get a grant from the State Department of Conservation and Natural Resources for $18,000. The Butler Outdoor Club applied for and received a grant from the Butler Tourism and Convention Bureau for $5000. All the permits and drawings have been approved, and work is now progressing to have this new aluminum viaduct installed in 2014. And without the vigilance and stewardship of our trail maintainers, of course, the trail would not be hikable. Thanks to everyone for a great trail and a great year! — John Stehle
State of the Trail 2013 Dave Brewer
Wampum Trail Crew installs a trail marker on Cemex property. This is a picture of our trail crew out on a latewinter morning installing a blaze post along a field walk near the turn-of the last century lime kiln that the trail passes. The lime kiln was built by a local farmer in the early 1900’s and used to produce lime for, we think, agricultural and local light-industry purposes. Plenty of limestone and coal at hand. The kiln was last used in the 1930’s is what we’ve been told.
PENNSYLVANIA - Our volunteers built a new half-mile segment of offroad trail in Beaver County, routing the trail away from a dangerous crossing of a four-lane highway and setting up the elimination of a section of road walk south of Darlington, Pennsylvania. Negotiations are ongoing with four landowners to build the new mile of trail in the woods in Beaver County in 2014. In Lawrence County, a new quarter mile of off-road trail is being negotiated for a section just east of the Beaver River. The chapter maintained a twice weekly trail maintaining schedule over the course of the year, doing our routine mowing and pruning chores to keep the trail in excellent hiking shape. Trail work sessions also involved improving the treadway on existing sections of the NCT within our range, refurbishing and repainting our wooden trailhead signs, adding trail signing at various locations to show distances to vistas and trailheads, participating in the Great American Cleanup with PennDot by removing trash and tires from along a mile of our road walk in Beaver County, and signing and identifying a trailhead parking area in the Cannelton area on Pennsylvania Game Commission property. We were also able to increase our impact on the NCT at McConnell’s Mill State Park, first by hosting a Student Conservation Crew from the Pittsburgh office for a weekend of trail maintenance in the spring, and secondly, by partnering with the Butler Chapter members and park staff in working on various treadway upgrade projects along the seven-mile length of trail in the Slippery Rock Gorge. The Chapter’s outreach was extensive in 2013 as volunteers manned the NCT booth and tables, “talked trail,” and recruited
new members at five different community events along our range. We led hikes for Darlington Days and the Butler Outdoor Club’s Outdoor Extravaganza, as well as conducting our own annual Pumpkin Pie Hike in October, which drew forty-five hikers from the community. The chapter has developed a plan for a regularly-scheduled monthly hike on the North Country Trail, details published on our website and shared through local media outlets to grow exposure of the trail within our communities. We worked on promoting the North Country Trail within our Trail Town of Wampum, first by installing three NCT kiosks in and around town and then by partnering with the Wampum Revitalization Committee in their preliminary efforts to develop a new riverside park, complete with amenities for NCT hikers. Talks with the officials of Darlington have led us to an agreement for that community to be our second official Trail Town. The chapter leadership is working with the community and the local historical society to find ways to leverage benefits of this arrangement to both the town and the NCTA. The chapter has been working on several signing initiatives, looking to add four to six new NCT 55-MPH highway signs at major road crossings all along our trail range. Materials have been sourced and priced and funding sources are being approached as we near the year’s end. Lastly, the volunteers from Wampum teamed up with our fellow Pennsylvania chapters to help conduct this year’s NCTA National Conference in Slippery Rock. We worked to coordinate transportation, we led hikes, and we provided labor and talent to support conference activities both on and off campus. It was a great opportunity to meet our North Country Trail counterparts from across the country. We want to thank all of our volunteers, landowners, and supporters for their contributions over the past year and say that we’re looking forward to another great year for the North Country Trail in Pennsylvania in 2014. —Dave Brewer
Wampum Chapter: Who wouldn’t show up for a Pumpkin Pie Hike? Forty-five hikers from the community did show up for this tasty event.
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State of the Trail 2013 Eric Albrecht
Buckeye Trail Crew, The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve, June 2013.
Buckeye Trail Association
OHIO - In 2013 the BTA made many strides in building, maintaining, protecting and promoting both the Buckeye Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) in Ohio. In 2013 we surmounted our historic peak of BTA memberships, and with the assistance of our second Americorps Member, Barry Unger, we are making strategic efforts to keep on growing. The Buckeye Trail Crew put in another year’s worth of hard work and fun through 10 organized Work Parties. The 2014 schedule is available on our website; come on down and enjoy a weekend or whole week with the Crew! Our Crew initiated the 15 mile Edge of Appalachia project with the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. Three quarters of a mile down and fourteen and a quarter to go! We have two 2014 Buckeye Trail Crew Work Parties scheduled here in one of Ohio’s most scenic and ecologically unique landscapes. Don’t let the BTA enjoy all 15 miles by ourselves; come down, pitch a tent, and lend a hand! Thanks to Josh Knights, Pete Whan and all the staff of the Nature Conservancy who share the vision of a sustainable trail that gives the public access to the natural world, developing the next generation of conservation leaders. Just off of the NCNST, the BTA completed our 15 year and 26 mile AEP (American Electric Power) ReCreation Lands (reclaimed from strip mining) trail project in Morgan and Noble Counties. We have also continued our West Branch State Park project thanks to local volunteers under the leadership of Steve Latza and Rick Adamson. When you get done hiking the entire NCNST, check out this backpacking loop in the making in Portage County, Ohio. Partnering with the NCT we welcomed Dayton as our newest Buckeye and North Country Trail Town! In the year ahead we hope to bring a couple more Trail Towns into the family. Thanks to Brent Anslinger and the good folks at Dayton’s Five Rivers Metroparks for all their work to celebrate the Buckeye Trail/NCNST as an important community asset!
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We received grants from AEP for needed trail maintenance equipment, and from the North Country Trail to fund trail corridor preservation planning work and new signage. Sixteen sharp looking signs will be installed leading up to spring. Thanks to Darlene Karoly and Jeff Yoest for their patience and perseverance to design and produce something that makes us all look so good! Anecdotally hiking the BT seems to be becoming more popular, or at least we are hearing more about it. We witnessed two new BT thru hikers and assisted Luke “Strider” Jordan on his journey along the NCNST through Ohio. We will be focusing more and more on developing campsites along the trail where long distance hikers are challenged. Thanks to all the long distance hikers who are providing great input on trail conditions, potential improvements, and priorities! We finalized the 40 acre Pretty Run land acquisition that is the centerpiece of what we are now calling the 230 acre Pretty Run Preserve that hosts 3.5 miles of the BT/NCNST. This is the BTA’s first effort in applying for and receiving Clean Ohio Funding as well as our experiment on different tactics to acquire a corridor for the BT/NCNST in Ohio. Thanks for the guidance from Andrea Ketchmark and Jeff McCusker! Thanks to the work of Richard Lutz, our BTA Americorps Member, and John Knouse, our Trail Preservation Committee Chair, even greater corridor preservation work is being planned for the future. Thanks in part to your support there is still no ATV development at Burr Oak State Park in southeastern Ohio. No news is good news, we’ll keep you posted! On the other hand, former NCTA and BTA Board Member Carl Boesel and his wife Gail have donated a new Trail and Conservation Easement on their 100 acre property in northern Hocking County that will protect approximately 2 miles of existing BT/NCNST. Thanks to Carl and Gail for leaving such a legacy for the BT and NCNST! We had another successful Buckeye TrailFest near Lake Erie in 2013. April 24-27, 2014 Buckeye TrailFest will be along the Buckeye and North Country Trail nestled between the Hocking Hills and Little Cities of Black Diamonds Regions in beautiful Appalachian Ohio. Camp Akita is a beautiful setting to use as a base camp to explore the BT/NCNST during the peak of spring wildflowers. Registration is open; bag some trail miles, and enjoy the camaraderie of other BT/NCNST enthusiasts! Check out www. buckeyetrailfest.org for details. The Buckeye Trail is the proud host of nearly 800 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Ohio and we are ever thankful to all our volunteers and the generous support from the staff at the North Country Trail Association and the National Park Service. —Andrew Bashaw Executive Director
State of the Trail 2013
West Michigan Chapter
Chief Noonday Chapter: Clara’s On The River is an old train depot in Battle Creek, Michigan, for a long time now used as a restaurant. This sign is installed on a river walk in front of Clara’s. We worked for a long time through three administrations to try to get this sign installed, but the rules kept changing on us. Finally, it has worked out, and we think the outcome looks great. Our hope is to get more publicity in Battle Creek, and really start to expand the recognition of our trail there. Photograph taken by Battle Creek Department of Public Works employee.
Chief Noonday Chapter
LOWER MICHIGAN - We hosted Joan Young, author and end-to-end hiker, for four events during a weekend in April, along with our cohosts, the Albion College, Whitehouse Nature Center, and the Kalamazoo College Outing Club. These events were highlights of our efforts to promote the Trail in our area, but not the only events, as we participated in at least 10 promotional events this year. Additionally, we have our monthly hikes, quarterly speakers at the first Chapter meeting of each quarter, and a quarterly “Open Mike Night,” where our members and guests can offer hiking trip recaps, video, slides, or other interesting information, at the third quarterly meeting of each quarter. Audrey Van Strien won the 4th Chief Noonday Hiker Challenge, with 351.7 unique miles of NCT hiked in 2012. Audrey appears to be on her way to victory in 2013 as well, but new challengers are looming for 2014. We have formed a Trail Protection Committee led by Dave Cornell, and completed our first Optimum Location Review this fall. Ron Sootsman has been instrumental in the work of the Calhoun Country Trailway Alliance, and they will be completing about 6 miles of multi-use trail in 2014 that will link portions of our Trail. Our partners in Middleville are working to develop another section of trail along the Thornapple River through the north half of town which should also be completed in 2014. As we begin 2014, we are again planning promotional opportunities. We have redesigned our Chapter brochure to include maps targeting Trail near the areas we are doing our promotions, so the maps will be relevant and useful to the potential trail user. The brochures can also be utilized at local distribution points more effectively. —Larry Pio
LOWER MICHIGAN - Let’s celebrate the highlights of a truly stellar year: • Five longtime members prepared fifteen art students from Lowell High School to create the striking three section mural on the east side of the North Country Trail (NCT) headquarters building in downtown Lowell. We unveiled that terrific mural with our special guest, NCT through hiker Luke “Strider” Jordan. • We welcomed the Appalachian Trail speed record holder, Jennifer Pharr Davis, by inviting her to Lowell to speak at the library where she promoted her book to a packed house. • Our good friends at Ada Township Parks agreed to share their world class pathway with us. • We celebrated completing the “White Cloud Loop” with our Fall Fun Day celebration on the route, in a beautiful building in the White Cloud Campground. This is an approximately one mile loop from the town to the NCT and back, an exciting project for both the town and us. • We held a trail-building school (where else?) at our own newly painted “school house,” taught by our friend Jeff McCusker of the National Park Service. • We partnered with our NPS friends planning to eliminate a road walk just west of White Cloud where two land acquisitions will eliminate some road walk in Newaygo County. • The climax to this great year is the inclusion of our own NCT in the revised Kent County Parks master plan! Access to the beautiful parks in eastern Kent County will put our NCT on the ground much closer to centers of population. Thank all you for your effort and the gift of your time to make so much happen this year. —Charles Vannette Chapter President
Buckeye TrailFest 2014 Camp Akita, Hocking Hills, Ohio April 24-27 Visit www.buckeyetrailfest.org for event and registration details. The funnest annual gathering of Buckeye Trail hikers, volunteers and outdoor enthusiasts in the State!
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The Spirit of the Woods trail section has been renowned for the immense Sterling Marsh boardwalk, so the damage from this blowdown is heartbreaking.
Spirit of the Woods Chapter
LOWER MICHIGAN - Our year was not filled with new projects but maintaining the trail. This was much needed since in recent years we have focused on building boardwalk at the south end of our chapter. We did quite a bit of benching and smoothing to start the year. We had hoped to do a stairway down a steep section of trail that collapsed, but the landowner is in dispute with the Forest Service about where the property lines are so that project is on hold until this gets settled. Right now the reroute includes a road walk but the detour is clearly signed. We also had a trail crew from Indiana help us out for a day, Boy Scouts who hiked the trail and helped us work on it. We ended the year with a surprise: a blow down of shallow rooted trees hugely damaged our boardwalk. The damage was so extensive, and the trees so tangled that the Forest Service decided to abandon that section. We then created 450 feet of new boardwalk around the tangle. With the help of folks from the West Michigan Chapter and the Ferris State Outdoor Club the boardwalk was completed the week before the deer rifle season opener when we stay out of the woods. Ken Knight posted a short video of the work day on his blog http://awanderingknight.blogspot.com on November 14, 2013. Thanks Ken! Our monthly hikes have been well attended averaging about 8 to 12 folks. Many are first time attendees so we hope to see more of them. We are using Facebook, newspaper community events calendars (both online and printed) and tourism bureaus to get the word out. Long distance hiker Luke “Strider” Jordan provided some good PR for the trail. Thank you Luke! Our local paper did a video interview which can be viewed at http://www.youtube. com/watch?v=O9J832tVC60 (or search for Manistee News Advocate, July 11, 2013). — Loren Bach, Chapter President 10
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Arlen Matson and Dick Naperala cutting in a bench for new sidehill trail described in Grand Traverse Club’s 2013 summary.
Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter
LOWER MICHIGAN - As North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) proposals go in the state of Michigan for State Land, they are first submitted to the Department of Natural Resources and after 1 to 3 years of preliminary scouting, grant writing, and coordinating where necessary with any entity germane with the proposal, approval is then granted and trail work begins. Our major thrust this year was the initiation of trail crew work for a 12 mile reroute from the Old US 131 State Forest Campground to its rejoining the NCNST at M-186. Its approval in early fall meant that this would be our first effort at initiating a loop trail to include the Village of Fife Lake. Most of this mileage is adjacent to the Manistee River and Fife Lake Creek and it is a hiker’s delight. We also worked with the Fife Lake community officials in utilizing their knowledge base in this area and have established a spur trail into that community with anticipation of making it a Trail Town. Our custom is to work Tuesdays; consequently, for 9 consecutive weeks we labored building 9 of the 12 miles of new trail. With our trail crew averaging about 15 workers each week we were able to brush out and construct the new trail, install a 45 foot boardwalk and two 16 foot puncheons. What made this
State of the Trail 2013 Jordan Valley 45o Chapter Arlen Matson
One of three new bridges along the new trail being built by Grand Traverse Hiking Club.
an interesting logistical task was the ferrying of both tools and lumber down the Manistee River to the predetermined sites. As in the past, Jerry Heiman provided the boat and motor, thereby saving many hours of back-breaking hauling work. Another asset in building this reroute was the usage of pin flags. This was our first experience with them specifically marking the treadway for the trail crew. Flagging serves its initial purpose, but the pin flags increases a more specific placement for the tread. We thank Jeff McCusker of the NPS for his initiating this concept for us as well as his help in the scouting phase. Another new wrinkle in trail agreements is the need to comply with archeological findings that may exist and this requires a whole new process also and here Jeff was key to this success. A neat feature of this new reroute is an agreement with Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) to utilize the roadside park along US 131 which gives the hiker access to water, parking, picnic tables and toilet facilities and daytime parking. Since US 131 is scheduled as a future freeway, we were granted to lay the trail under the Manistee River Bridge crossing. The Grand Traverse Hiking Club also has an agreement with MDOT for the maintenance of a 2 mile section in their Adopta-Highway program adjacent to the roadside park. Jerry Freels, our negotiator and manager of this project, was able to procure large highway signs indicating our chapter’s commitment for this responsibility. The info is a good communication tool for both of us, and serves to alert the public as to the nearness of the NCT. Three miles of trail remain to be built this spring as well as the installation of signage, kiosks, benches and reblazing of the existing NCT making this a loop trail of approximately 20 miles. We continue to utilize our 2 Trail Coordinators, Arlen Matson and Dick Naperala, in improving the quality of our 100 mile responsibility. They are supported by 8 Sector Coordinators who patrol their designated areas. Their surveillance is such an asset to the maintenance of the trail as they in turn are supported by our Adopt-A-Trail teams. Betsy Duede is our Adopt-A-Trail Coordinator. And of course there are others whose work we value such as our executive board, sawyers, brush mowers and Kiosk Managers.
LOWER MICHIGAN - We started 2013 with our annual meeting in January at which we were privileged to have National Park Service NCNST Superintendent Mark Weaver as our featured speaker! Our annual “Big Foot” award went to past president Gary Johnson for his tireless effort to keep us moving. We again represented the NCTA at the Quiet Waters Symposium in East Lansing in March (along with West Michigan and Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapters). We continued to address entropy in the Jordan Valley, installing two puncheon bridges, and replacing a washed-out culvert (heavy equipment and labor courtesy of the DNR). We were able to fund most of the materials with a generous NPS grant. Ken Phillips processsed the necessary DNR and DEQ permits. Then, in September, the bridge at the beaver ponds collapsed, leaving us ample opportunity for work in 2014. We have started working with local mountain bike groups who want to help maintain the trail they have access to (on state land). We held a “Trail Adopter Training” session for them on May 19 in the Sand Lake area, led by Peg Jones and Andy Zeek. They then held a trail building seminar taught by IMBA (International Mountain Bike Association) instructors, and rerouted the trail around a steep section near Chandler Hill. We have a candidate National Park Service safety-related trail rerouting project to move the trail from the shoulder of US-131 into the state forest. We investigated the area with the DNR and Jeff McCusker in May. An “Optimal Location Review” document is in process. On National Trails Day we celebrated Petoskey Trail Town in the Bear River Recreation area with speeches, booths, food, prizes and dedication of an informational sign. Our Petoskey Trail Town Coordinator, Jen Winnell, was successful in enlisting many local sponsors for the event. The Little Traverse Wheelway along Little Traverse Bay also received urban blazes where the NCT shares it. A youth group (BASES) from Charlevoix did a trail-clearing project in the Jordan Valley in October. It was exciting to have that many young people and chaperones working on the trail, led by our Amy Wilks and Gary Johnson. Bi-monthly chapter meetings continue, and this year we had an interesting hiking presentation at each. We continue to publish our chapter newsletter on opposite months, thanks to our editor Amy Wilks. Our website is also being maintained, thanks to Josh Berlo. We saw a significant gain in membership this year—from 40 to 60—largely due to the e-Membership drive. We look forward to having these new participants in our 2014 activities. —Duane Lawton
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State of the Trail 2013 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Anne Billiard
Harbor Springs Chapter: Jerry Keeney, Peg Keeney, and Nancy Zebko at dune sign dedication in Wilderness State Park.
Harbor Springs Chapter
LOWER MICHIGAN -The year is ending with lots of snow for snow shoeing and cross country skiing, and the trails are beautiful this time of year. Summer brought monthly group hikes on various sections of the 46 miles we maintain. The weather was not very cooperative, and several planned hikes needed to be cancelled because of rain. We are hoping for better support from Mother Nature this next year! Each of our trailheads has a log book to help us track how many hikers we have and where they come from. Last year we had hikers from 17 states and as far away as Sweden. Unfortunately, two of our boxes were vandalized, but were quickly replaced. We average over 1000 people who sign each year. Guessing VERY generously that 20% of hikers actually sign in, you can see that our trail gets a lot of use! But the trail remains clean of litter or destruction, and we are very pleased at all the positive comments people leave on the log sheets. One of the highlights of the year was the dedication of a sign interpreting the dunes of Wilderness State Park. The dune ridges can be seen from space, and each ridge has been dated. The ridges have different vegetation depending upon the age of the dune formation. Many years in the planning, the sign was a result of President emeritus Jerry Keeney’s vision. Vice President Nancy Zebko worked to procure a grant, and Peg Keeney worked on the design and layout. The sign is located at Trailhead 8 in Wilderness State Park. Again this year, a marathon foot race was held over a part of our trail. Trail sponsors received permission from the DNR, and a check of the trail after the race showed no adverse effects. The race sponsors did an outstanding job of leaving no traces of the race. Members built over 60 feet of boardwalk over a wet area in a northern section. We had great teams working, and we were done with it in no time. We hope the marathon runners will appreciate it next year, as they all were covered with mud after running through that section. Mackinaw City worked with the Harbor Springs Chapter and NCTA Headquarters, and is now officially a Trail Town. — Anne Billiard, Secretary 12
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UPPER MICHIGAN - Continuing our monthly hikes, on Winter Trails Day we hiked on snowshoes and skis to the Pavilion at Soldier Lake for a hot dog roast and cookie buffet. The Soo Boy Scouts joined us and practiced their orienteering skills. February found us at Tahquamenon Falls enjoying the NCT in the daylight and the Tahquamenon Falls lamplight trail after dark! The group explored the park again on Sunday. The April hike was part of the annual celebration. After dinner Doug Boulee entertained us with tales of his Superior Shoreline hike. For September HSS hiked north of M-123 in Tahquamenon Falls Park exploring the rerouted section built by the Cedar Six AmeriCorp Team in 2012. A stroll through the newly rerouted and improved section in Hiawatha National Forest west of H-57 was the November adventure with lunch after in Brevort at the Whitetail Restaurant. The December Hike was along the Niagara Escarpment. The National Park Service (NPS) brochure has a winter photo of a section of that geologic feature. A potluck dinner at the Kujawas’ followed. HSS provides activities for children at several area events. Two new events this fall were back to school events where children receive back packs. The hiking stick activity was a hit at Sault Saint Marie and at St. Ignace backpack events. Charlene and Marv DeWitt worked late summer and fall installing boot cleaning stations. These structures work to keep invasive plant seeds from spreading along the trail. The chapter has declared war on the knapweed. A group of Lake Superior State University students joined the chapter in removing knapweed from the beach along the Whitefish Bay Scenic Byway. Charlene and Marv also supervised the construction of a shelter featured in the July-September issue of the North Star. St. Ignace High School Students worked on the Little Bear Pond Project for Global Youth Day in April. The chapter received $1500 from the Sault Tribe for boardwalk materials for the project. Next spring the boardwalk will be constructed and the benching improved. HSS has two Department of Natural Resources (DNR) projects under way. Rerouting the trail off Tahqua Trail in Tahquamenon Falls State Park has been on the agenda for two years. This fall Bob and Pat McNamara and the Kujawas walked the reroute with their GPS and mapped it. Snow has halted that project until spring when it will be walked with the park manager. The “adventure” in this volunteer opportunity will be the 29 sections of boardwalk over creeks and gullies! The second DNR project is the continuing search for a reroute of the NCT off M-123. There are also three US Forest Service projects. The Curley Lewis Project will reroute the trail off the road and out of the water on the existing tread. The project has been planned and mapped and was presented to the USFS. The new route has fantastic scenic overlooks with Lake Superior vistas.
Duane Lawton of Jordan Valley 45° Chapter
The Brevort Lake Project has had some work completed. The remainders of the reroutes are to improve the hiking experience and to take advantage of Brevort River and Brevort Lake scenery. This project is in the initial stages. Our St. Ignace Trail Town Center is closed for the season and will reopen in the spring with an Open House. Matt Rowbotham taught a GPS class in the Trail Town Center so we are now using the GPS units that Charlene and Marv purchased with the Rural Schools and Communities funds. We have wrapped up the two grants for the Trail Town Center and are finalizing the Field Grant for maps for the Tahquamenon and Whitefish Scenic Byway areas. We purchased two informative panels for the St. Ignace boardwalk and two for the Little Bear Arena with the NPS Trail Town funds. Tom Walker continues to keep our Facebook page up-todate and interesting. The HSS website is refreshed monthly by Greg Smith in Lansing. Walt Colyer coordinates Adopt A Section, and Kathy Colyer volunteers as Membership Coordinator. She writes all those hand written thank you notes that our members receive. Dennis Peronto served one day a week all summer long in the Trail Town Center and hosted the HSS Display at the St. Ignace Great Waters festival while Mary Lynn Swiderski manages the Trail Town Center. — Kay Kujawa HSS Communications Coordinator
Duane Lawton of Jordan Valley 45° Chapter
Regrowth in Superior Shoreline’s burned sector is fast.
As Tim Hass has told us earlier this past year, Superior Shoreline Chapter’s blazing of burned trees is highly visible.
Superior Shoreline Chapter
UPPER MICHIGAN - The easternmost three miles of our trail commencing at the mouth of the Two Hearted River still show the scars from the 2011 wildfire, as they will for the next 30 years. As soon as the snow was off the ground in the delayed spring of 2013 we resumed reconstruction of the trail. Prior to the fire our trail there was narrow and one’s feet readily became tangled in the underbrush that spread toward the trail tread. The trail was also located at the precipice of the fragile dunes. The trail has now been moved back from the edge of the dunes and meanders through that which was formerly the forest and the trail tread is two feet in width. We blazed the relocated trail utilizing blue vinyl blazes nailed to the burned tree trunks with aluminum nails. In addition to lasting for many years, the vinyl blazes stand out prominently. We entertained but quickly discarded the idea of scraping the burned bark and applying boundary blue paint. Not only is it extremely messy, but the black ash from the bark does nothing beneficial for one’s lungs. Hikers through the area have given our new trail high marks and after inspecting our work the Michigan Department of Natural Resources likewise commented. There will be work to perform in this section for many years to come. (Continued on Page 14) January-March 2014
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Superior Shoreline Chapter continued… As the trail proceeds west 36 miles to Grand Marais, the hiker is presented with the magnificent vistas of Lake Superior. The Siren mystique of the water belies the often vicious winds that build on the lake. This past season those winds blew more trees down onto the trail than we have seen in several years. It seems as if every spring we have to build the trail anew. This has been compounded by the loss of some of our sawyers and trail adopters. In the spring of 2014, assuming we do not have snow cover as we did in May 2013, we will be experimenting with a new approach to reopening of the trail after the long winters. In essence we will start on the east end of our trail (fire zone) and continue working west with the plan to complete our entire trail segment in not more than 2 weeks working daily on the cleanup. We want other members and local populace to join us, even for a short time and hopefully to encourage others to come out; we plan on making the time festive. We will place ads in the local papers and post notices at select locations, including motels, stores and campgrounds. The ads will identify the dates of the work, sections to be worked each day and everyone will be invited to come work on the trail, walk on the trail or just visit with the trail workers, whether for 10 minutes, an hour or all day. Those who join us to work on the trail will have their lunches provided by the chapter. Commencing in January 2014 in each newsletter going out to our members I will be inserting pointers on trail maintenance in our newsletter, to help our teams get off on the right foot come spring. Midway along our section is Muskallonge State Park, a very hiker friendly park. Commencing east of the park and ending west of the park we have relocated the trail onto the shoulder of the road which apparently confused some hikers who did not see the carsonite posts and new blazes but tried to stick to the old trail. We were compelled to abandon several miles of the original trail out of safety concerns, namely that the dunes in the area are collapsing and we do not want a hiker on that segment of the trail when a dune collapses. The situation is so dire that the park headquarters building and maintenance facility are being hastily relocated as their collapse is imminent. Once out of the dune calving area, the trail does return to the forest. The east segment of our trail from the Two Hearted River to Grand Marais undulates but really does not have any big hills. The segment west of Pictured Rocks is quite another story. The forest is a mix of hardwoods and conifers with numerous old growth white pine and hemlock. In addition to meandering around the ridges, the trail descends into deep valleys before ascending each next “hill.” It is not uncommon to experience a vertical drop or ascent of several hundred feet. We generally experience fewer than a dozen trees down on the trail in the 20 miles of this segment. However, a late fall inspection with two new trail adopters revealed a significant number of fallen trees, which will be bucked in the spring of 2014. Most of these trees are a couple miles from a trail head and it is expected that even with sharing the carry duties of the chainsaw, the hills will be a challenge. —Tim Hass
North Country Trail Hikers: Lakenenland hikers’ shelter complete with patio doors.
North Country Trail Hikers
UPPER MICHIGAN - The NCT Hikers’ top priority every year is to maintain one-hundred percent of our existing trail and we are proud to announce that, once again, we did just that, even with a late spring snow melt and an injured Trail Boss at the start. We wish to give our trail adopters and a small, but very dedicated, hard working trail crew a big “thank you” and hope additional chapter members and friends come out next season to help. Our second priority over the last couple of years has been to complete a new segment of trail north of the Silver Lake Basin of the Dead River, thereby erasing significant dead-ends of trail coming from both directions. Mostly due to weather and a lack of trail crew workers, we are saddened to report that we didn’t quite get it done. However, we did complete approximately one mile of new trail and have the remainder flagged as is reported by thru-hiker Al Learned in this message he recently wrote to us. “It was fun to meet you and your trail crew while you were working on the dead end section of trail that you so kindly put flags on just before I arrived. You may be interested to learn that was the only time I met anyone working on the trail during my entire hike, which is no doubt an indication as to why your section of the NCT is in such good shape.” Of course, we also held a variety of events and projects including: • three General Membership Meetings, complete with interesting programs. • a National Trails Day Hike highlighting the beautiful new hikers’ shelter built by private landowner, Tom Lakenen. • our spring and fall Softies Hikes in our own chapter territory. • monthly 3rd Sunday hikes for June, July, August and September. • a booth at Northern Michigan University’s Fall Fest. • presentations to Marquette’s Beautification & Restoration Committee, Parks and Recreation Advisory Board, and the City Commission, and Dave Gilbert’s North Star Academy class.
State of the Trail 2013 Peter Wolfe Chapter Lorana Jinkerson
NCT Hikers Chapter: Eric Rehorst digs a hole for installation of a destination sign at McCormick Wilderness west end.
• the Labor Day Big Mac Bridge Walk, including paying for the NCTA 7-state logo printed on the back of the Bridge Walk certificate. • multiple media spotlights including Media Meet on PBS WNMU TV 13, ABC WBUP TV 10, NBC WLUC TV 6 and The Mining Journal, some with Luke Jordan and long-distance hiker Chris Hillier. • a breakfast social and end-of-trail-maintenance potluck party, both complete with door prizes. • completion of our destination sign project. Our chapter has continued to grow with the NCTA e-membership campaign adding 21 new members. We welcome them and encourage them to become active members as we move into 2014 and beyond. —Lorana Jinkerson
UPPER MICHIGAN - For the Peter Wolfe Chapter, 2013’s activities encompassed organizational work and good old fashioned trail building. On the organizational end, our board of directors began meeting more regularly in 2013, meeting on a monthly basis during the spring, summer, and fall. We also organized board subcommittees for trail maintenance, trail management, membership, and activities, which met independently during the course of the year. We initiated a series of “Second Sunday” hikes. These wellattended public events highlighted sections of trail including Canyon Falls and Tibbetts Falls on the Sturgeon River in Baraga County, and the Trap Hills of Ontonagon County. In most cases these hikes were led by the adopters who maintain the trail segments. In September we ran a week-long chapter-funded Volunteer Adventure, which completed a half mile of high-quality, scenic trail east of the Matt Manger-Lynch Shelter in Baraga County. Our Manger-Lynch Memorial Fund paid for food for trail workers. We camped at the west end of Little Spruce Lake, an 80-acre private lake in a very remote location. Besides great camaraderie, highlights were sunrises over the lake, a moose wandering through camp, John Forslin’s great cooking, and perfect weather. In 2014 we plan to continue trail construction east of 2013’s work, upgrading a half mile of trail that has been cleared and blazed but has not had tread work done. Additionally, in 2013, the chapter installed eight trail register boxes along our section of the NCT, put our new 18.5 horsepower brush mower to good use, certified some new sawyers for chainsaw work in the Ottawa National
Both by Jim Belote
Larry and Connie Julien tackled chainsaw work in late October on a section of the NCT maintained by the Peter Wolfe Chapter in the Trap Hills of Ontonagon County. October 25th, no snow at home, but a surprise 8˝ at their destination! Went in working anyway.
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Forest, and added several new members, most with the help of the NCTA’s e-membership promotion. In 2014, the Peter Wolfe Chapter plans to continue our Second Sunday hike program, adding snowshoe hikes during the winter. Other plans include offering trail maintenance training for our membership and the general public, and marking a stretch of wooded road walk that will bridge one of the last major gaps on the east side of our trail section. Other future plans involve significant puncheon construction, particularly along the popular trail to O-kun-de-kun Falls, a trail segment that suffers from poor drainage. —Dan Schneider President Bridge installed by kids from the Conserve School in nearby Wisconsin for Ni-Miikanaake Chapter’s ravine re-route in the western Upper Peninsula.
UPPER MICHIGAN - Let’s start out with the accomplishments. Due to a reroute we needed to get from the river’s edge up to the top of the bluff to connect to the old trail, an elevation change of some estimated 400 feet. The best route was up a ravine but it would need a rope assist and a 20 foot bridge, plus about 40 feet of benching on the side hill. The closest we could get with truck and trailer was within about a mile, one truck and trailer for the tools and equipment and another for all the materials. With our modified DR Power Wagon and 3 trips to a drop point, still some 100 feet from the bridge site, we hauled eight 20 foot 2 X 12s, railroad tie sills, decking and railings. We also hauled 300 feet of 1½ inch rope and thirty 6 foot steel posts, post drive and hardware to attach the rope to the posts and anchor it at both ends. With the great assistance of eight students and two teachers from the Conserve School we accomplished the task in just two days. Conserve School is an environmental school that brings kids from all over to northern Wisconsin for a semester. This new section of trail, most within the Porcupine Mountains State Park, gives hikers a beautiful campsite by Lepisto Falls and a great hike along the Presque Isle River. Working with the Peter Wolfe Chapter we built and installed five registration boxes at strategic points along our section of the trail. The boxes contain a journal and trail information for hikers. We also built five Leopold benches but this is where our summer fell apart. It continued to stay on the cool side and rain became our biggest nemesis. Our last accomplishment was to add ramps on a bridge we built last year plus 20 feet of boardwalk were installed. We also managed to get a DR brush cutter stuck and had to use ropes to get our string mower and one of the chapter members out of a washed out culvert area.
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The same group of kids from the Conserve School installed this helper rope for Ni-Miikanaake Chapter.
A lot of the work season was spent waiting for it to quit raining or waiting for it to dry up enough to be safe to work. Making the best of the situation, we were able to get a couple more members certified as sawyers and worked on other trail issues. Working with the National Park Service our new section of trail was accepted and now is being worked on from both our end in Michigan and from the Copper Falls area of Wisconsin. We also got the go ahead from the Ottawa National Forest for another reroute we are working on. We were not as productive as we hoped to be this year, but everyone was safe, somewhat dry and waiting for next year. — Richard Swanson
State of the Trail 2013 Heritage Chapter
Heritage Chapter: Five of the six interns who came from Northland College at Ashland, Wisconsin, to help us.
WISCONSIN - Our 2013 report has a number of very nice highlights in it but is not without some lowlights too. The Chapter had to overcome weather setbacks in May (a complete washout) and June (still wet, with a lot of standing water on the trail) and an entire work weekend was lost in October due to the US Government shutdown. Even so, the Chapter was able to complete an additional 1.5 miles of new trail within Copper Falls State Park near Mellen in Ashland County. This could not have been accomplished without the help of six interns obtained from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. Their assignment was to build new trail segments with the help of Chapter volunteers. In addition, some of their time was devoted to maintaining existing trail segments. The Chapter was fortunate to continue to have impressive member and volunteer turnouts at each of the scheduled work events. Another highlight was having the Rovers Trail Crew, headed by Bill Menke, help out in September and November by building over 420´ of puncheon and three bridges in excess of 30´ each. This dedicated crew of experienced member volunteers is highly trained in building structures and their efficiency resulted in the accomplishments noted above. Unfortunately, two lowlights occurred during the season due to the extreme storm downpours that assaulted the Trail area early in the season. A large bridge constructed several years back near Wren Falls was threatened due to the washout of materials beneath one of the cribs built to anchor the structure. Continued erosion was observed during the year and an attempt will have to be made either to repair damage to the crib or move the bridge to another less vulnerable location. Flooding also completely washed away a 40+ foot boardwalk on the Casey Sag-Wren Falls trail segment. This boardwalk was built a short distance below a large beaver dam containing a lake of 5 to 10 acres. The dam broke and the flood moved all three segments downstream. Todd McMahon, a chapter volunteer, pulled together an emergency crew of volunteers made up of students from Northland College and other parts of the state. This crew retrieved the boardwalk segments and moved them to near their original location in readiness for putting them in place during the 2014 season. Much of the progress noted above was due to the grant received from the Forest County Potawatomi Community Foundation without which it would have been impossible. The grant will be used during the coming season to construct new trail and work on repairs to trail structures already built with grant funding. The Chapter and the public continue to express their gratitude to the Foundation for its support.
Heritage Chapters’s emergency volunteer crew carrying a segment of the boardwalk back to its original location.
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State of the Trail 2013 Chequamegon Chapter
The North Star
Chequamegon Chapter started a tradition of lunch after maintenance events. This one’s at Snow Creek Bar & Grill in Mellen, Wisconsin. It’s a chance to have minimeetings and support local establishments; many now hand out Chapter Brochures. We like it better than the old way of bringing a lunch and working well into the afternoon (called “death marches” by some Chapter volunteers). Pictured clockwise around the table: Mikie Kuhman, Mike Trieschmann, Warren Irle, Ellie Williams, Mike Ryan, Kevin Schram, Marty Swank, Mary Stenberg and Rick Pomerleau. Photo by a customer who appreciated our efforts on the NCT!
WISCONSIN - The Year of the Mosquito An entry in the register box on County D at the gateway to the Porcupine Lake Wilderness sums up this year’s mosquitoes. It reads: “Hiked ¼ mile and turned back, Skeeters really aggressive. Lost one of our party to the demon insects. He’s with God now.” —Adam and Tracy Despite the aggressive and numerous mosquitoes, two late season snow storms (last one was the first week of May with 17˝ of snow!), a lot of rain creating soggy sections of NCT and an early end to the maintenance season due to the government shutdown, the Chequamegon Chapter made progress in 2013. This would be a testament to our Chapter Volunteers and Trail Adopters! The Chequamegon Chapter launched a new website in early 2013. This is a much improved website with comprehensive information for hikers and backpackers. The new site is at http://northcountrytrail.org/che/ The Town of Mellen became an official trail town with the final signing of paper work in April of 2013, making the City of Mellen the first Trail Town of Wisconsin. The Chapter finally reclaimed a section of NCT in the Drummond Ski Trail area that was lost to a major wind event on July 1, 2011. Devastation was so complete that the 30 acre site needed reclamation logging completed and a temporary road walk was set up on N. Lake Owen Drive. This section of NCT was appropriately re-opened during the Trail Maintenance Event on June 1st, 2013 (National Trails Day). Rick Pomerleau and Mary Stenberg continued the NCT sign effort with additional interpretive signs and with more in the planning. Use of Rick’s material and tool hauling cart again proved to be a major labor saving device, and as an added benefit, the NCT is actually being brush mowed at the same time! Hand brushing (with misery whips and a scythe) was completed on large sections of both the Rainbow Lake Wilderness and the Porcupine Lake Wilderness this year. Efforts have continued to make our sections of NCT easier to brush mow. We have added a number of new wooden puncheons and bridge approaches and have more in the planning for next year. For 2014 the Chapter will be working on some wet areas that include trail re-routes in the Rainbow Lake Wilderness. This VERY wet year has made fixing the wet areas imperative. We are actually losing some sections of our NCT to water erosion and some were underwater for months. The Chapter will continue to work with the Great Divide District of the Chequamegon National Forest USFS on bridges and puncheons that need replacing and a few other trail issues. A high turnover of personnel in this District has delayed some approvals. Approval of a major NCT trail re-route to the Canthook Lake area and the replacement of dangerous boardwalk leading to Copper Falls State Park along with a trail re-route to the park are also in the works thanks to Bill Menke.
Brule-St. Croix new campsite, an Eagle Scout project.
Brule-St. Croix Chapter
WISCONSIN - National Trails Day is the annual centerpiece of Brule-St. Croix’s activities to bring more attention to the trail in northwest Wisconsin. In 2013, our celebration was held in Brule in partnership with the Brule River State Forest’s Family Fun Day. Our demonstration campsite attracted both kids and adults. We were especially honored to have thru hiker Luke “Strider” Jordan as our guest and participant in our 17th annual National Trails Day event. Completion of the NCT within the St. Croix National Riverway has been a multi-year project for the Brule-St. Croix Roving Crew. While the Riverway segment is about two miles
—Tim Mowbray www.northcountrytrail.org
long, access is remote and construction has been challenging over rocky ground with pocket wetlands. The Rovers used creative methods to move materials to the site, including a canoe catamaran ferry across the swift St. Croix River. The segment was completed this year, opening access to the Riverway’s Scott Rapids Campsite and establishing a new trailhead at Gordon Dam County Park. A short but critical segment of the NCT just north of Solon Springs was also finished in 2013 when the Rovers built two truss bridges across creeks, including the substantial Dudeck bridge, several years in the planning. Zach Davis of Lake Nebagamon, a member of Scout Troop 212, then carried out an Eagle Scout project by building a campsite on the segment at Aden Creek. This unique campsite is set in an oxbow of Aden Creek with water flowing on three sides of the site. One of the NCT’s most visible trail crossings is US Highway 53, the only four lane highway in northern Wisconsin. The original trailhead on this highway, opened in 2002, is now submerged beneath a wastewater treatment pond. The Village of Solon Springs generously included construction of a replacement trailhead in the wastewater project. Thanks to National Park Service assistance from Trail Manager Jeff McCusker, new highly visible highway signs now mark the trailhead entry, and a new information kiosk invites travelers to take a break and explore what’s down the pathway. Beyond the Riverway, many miles of future trail construction lie ahead across Douglas County Forest lands to Pattison State Park. However, access to this route is blocked for now by narrow strips of private land. For 2014, new trail construction will move west near the Wisconsin-Minnesota border where land and easements have been secured. The chapter also looks forward to completing the Trail Town designation for Solon Springs, while reviving the currently suspended Solon Springs Hikers club. We also look forward to creating a fall public hiking event as part of NCTA’s recently announced fall trail celebration.
Guided Hike Near Lutzen, on the Superior Hiking Trail.
Superior Hiking Trail
UPPER MICHIGAN - Another Good Year! We opened two new 7.0 mile sections of trail in one National Trails Day in June. We celebrated with a ribbon cutting, treats, and featured hikes on those sections. Most of the construction work on these sections was done in 2012 but there was still signing and blazing to do, one additional campsite to build, etc. A late wet spring also gave us the chance to look at any water drainage issues on the new trail. The trail is now complete from Jay Cooke State Park, south of Duluth, to the Canadian border, a distance of over 300 miles. The north end of the SHT connects to the Border Route Trail and now shares the Border Route Trail for 1.2 miles up to the first overlook called the 270 Degree Overlook, a much more scenic end to the Superior Hiking Trail. We will now turn our attention to our last segment of trail construction, from Jay Cooke State Park southwest to the Wisconsin border to meet up with the North Country Trail in Wisconsin. We had a joint route finding field trip in May with SHTA staff and volunteers and Bill Menke, Andrea Ketchmark and Matt Davis from NCTA. There will be some tricky route issues near a railroad and finding a way across a river severely damaged in the June 2012 flood. We are also in the process of getting a route approved for three miles of new trail in Jay Cooke State Park, which will be the next section of trail to be built. Our biggest set-back was losing the Encampment River Bridge north of Two Harbors once again. We have now exhausted our options of putting a wooden, hand-built, volunteer-set bridge at this site, and we are looking at options for a cable suspension bridge, which means big bucks and difficult building conditions. We issued the 7th edition of the “Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail” in April. We also did an ebook of the Guide, which sells on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and through our author page at https://secure.mybookorders.com/Orderpage/1214 We are still working on flood recovery from the June 2012 flood. The trail is on a temporary route in parts of Jay Cooke State Park, and two trailheads are still closed. We will re-open the trail in the Gill Creek area of the park in 2014, and we are working with the state park and city of Duluth on a new trailhead parking lot. We had volunteers who adopted 79 trail sections, 93 backcountry campsites, and 53 trailheads, and who worked on numerous scheduled maintenance work projects. We also offered eight guided hikes. Altogether volunteers put in over 5,000 hours of dedicated service. As I end this report every year, the Superior Hiking Trail is still not an “official” part of the North Country Trail, but some year this is going to happen! —Gayle Coyer, Executive Director January-March 2014
The North Star 19
State of the Trail 2013 Itasca Moraine Chapter
The North Star
MINNESOTA - We celebrate another year 4 of work and play on the NCT. Last year we wrote about the Minnesota Chapters of the NCTA collaborating on the Guide to The North Country National Scenic Trail in Minnesota. While more detail is given to our backyard from the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge eastward to near Remer, chapters of the book include information on the whole trail as it crosses the state. We are confident that the distance covered in our area is 163.3 miles. The GPS distance data was confirmed and in a few cases revised as the whole distance was measured with a measuring wheel. The majority, 105 miles, was done by ITM V. P. Beth Trout. She organized a series of “wheel hikes” in May and June. Each hike involved at least one other and up to nine people joined in on one of the hikes. The remainder of the trail was “wheeled” later in the summer. Over the last few months data was collected by co-editor Linda Johnson and “funneled” to co-editor Susan Hauser. Susan gave the manuscript one voice, organized everything, tables and charts, chapters, maps and photos. A special thanks goes to Todd McMahon, map illustrator, for all of his important work. Next there were several Editorial Team proof-reading sessions. Also, after eleven day-hikes in October the 163.3 miles was walked with the guide book in hand to “check it out” on the trail. On November 7th the manuscript was sent to the publisher, Big Earth Publishing, Boulder, Colorado. The guidebook is scheduled to be released in the spring of 2014. We are confident that this full team effort (50 people contributed) will help put the NCT on the radar screen. Efforts to promote the NTC were expanded this year. The largest event of the season was the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener (GFO) in Park Rapids. The Laurentian Lakes and Itasca Moraine Chapters worked together organizing and setting up six trail-related information stations. GFO organizers said 3000 meals were served at the Community Dinner. The NCT booth was very near that dinner and closer to the event’s stage. Hundreds stopped by our booth. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton spoke and U.S. Representative Rick Nolan and wife Mary, visited our booth. The Nolans left with information about the NCT and free body art. NCT blue blazes were applied by our face painters and NCTA logo tattoos were sponged on. Led by Byron Knapp, ITM member, ten other events were also “worked” in our area this year. At these events a table was set up with brochures, an area map and other promotional materials. Behind the tables NCTA backdrops helped draw in those passing by. At three of the events NCT chapters sponsored hikes the next day, introducing several new people to the trail. We plan to expand upon this model next year.
In September we had an AmeriCorps Team work with us on several projects. In the Chippewa National Forest they included a small reroute, rehabbing a campsite, and several signage projects. In the Paul Bunyan State Forest and Hubbard County the team worked on flagging, clearing, and making the tread to complete the 3.1 mile long figure-8 loop trail around Nelson and Lake 21. This loop trail is adjacent to the Gulch Lake Campground and Day Use Area. They also rehabbed 400 yards of trail that needed benching to make mowing easier. A highlight for all of us was when we were building trail around Lake 21. Four times different trail runners or a small group of hikers stopped to comment on and thank us for our trail building efforts. They assured us that our work was appreciated and the trail would be used. It was instant gratification for a work in progress. Not often do trail users meet trail builders while the dirt is still flying.
Representative Rick Nolan (Minnesota-8th District) gets a blue blaze painted on his cheek by Laurentian Lakes Chapter volunteer Jeri Raksness at the 2013 Governor’s Fishing Opener event in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
Laurentian Lakes Chapter crew carried 140 cubic yards of dirt for their causeway into the worksite with wheelbarrows. Brian Pavek
Laurentian Lakes Chapter: Gravel-filled causeways in the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge are necessary to avoid disturbing archeological remnants beneath the trail where ancient peoples once lived.
Laurentian Lakes Chapter
MINNESOTA - A highlight of our year was the official opening of the 14 miles of trail in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge on National Trails Day. This day was a culmination of years of planning, inter-agency partnerships, culture and resource reviews, and finally the actual trail construction. (See July-September North Star.) The most sensitive area was along the shores of Tamarac Lake as many cultural resources had been identified. Because of late spring snows the causeway was not completed for the June 1st celebration but work began in earnest shortly after. Many members worked two and even three days a week on this 1895 foot long project. The causeway (a turnpike without ditches) project passed though a glaciated area and was difficult for many reasons. Curbs were built through some rough terrain to hold in the dirt and gravel mix throughout the entire length. All beams and dirt (140 cubic yds.) were brought in by wheel barrows and hand carried so this was one of the most labor intensive as well as expensive sections our chapter has been involved with. It was with great satisfaction when the last load of dirt was carried in on July 17th! A reroute was finished near the Anchor-Matson road on the northern part of our trail and 172 feet of boardwalks and puncheon were also completed. A campsite on private land just east of the 400th Avenue trailhead was brushed out and readied for completion. Trail adopters have started to install routed signs identifying features along the trail. Fall hikes included the Hiking Fest in Itasca and a hike in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. Attendance at these hikes has generally been around 20 or more with always a few new faces. We will continue the themed hikes in 2014 and are optimistic that our chapter’s trail will be finished through the Hubbel Pond Wildlife Management Area and completely finished to State Hwy 34. —Karen Stenberg, Chapter Communications Coordinator
Star of the North work crew clearing from a highway crossing.
Star of the North Chapter
MINNESOTA - After a weird weather spring, snow came to the trail again rather unexpectedly the day before Mother’s Day, but we overcame it and moved on. Ten days earlier a crew had set out to check on downed trees from the winter. It was a great big deal to get on the previously snow and mud covered trail! Only one section, just west of MN 371, had a full cut of mature trees taken during the winter and it was hard to find trail. After some quick rearrangement of downed branches, a trail lured you back out to the trail head. It was important to go back as soon as we could to route the trail with additional blazes and organized branches to keep hikers on the trail. After five and a half hours and reconnecting the quarter mile of trail, we felt the warmth for the first time. At last check, this section has shown this writer why it is so important to go back and see what the forest had hidden from our eyes. I have never seen these boulders, a water source, and a new view... Good times. The balance of the trail the Star of the North chapter maintains also had heavy damage by strong winds blowing tall mature pines on top of one another. These have been cleared by the rangers of the Walker Ranger District of the Chippewa National Forest. We share duties with the CNF rangers January-March 2014
The North Star 21
State of the Trail 2013 when it is prudent, and have also agreed that “widow makers” and trees exceeding 10 inches in diameter will be taken care of by them. Mowing of the trail in 2013 was hampered by mud until July in the wetlands, and by BEAVERS extending their dams, leaving us to question how to share the forest bottoms with them. Mowers do not like mud, nor do we when we are working. But sharing the forest bottom has such treats when I work alone: I stared off of the trail and saw a moose in a new wetland caused by the heavy winter and spring precipitation. This sighting was between west and east Macemon Road, just south of MN-200. Smiling, I pulled in just off the trail and watched as this moose waded into the water looking for a meal. Black bears continued to entertain us: during one visit there were four, a bear with two cubs, and then a fourth appeared out of a slumber after I tossed a branch off trail. It took off really fast, did a belly flop in the west end of the same wetland the moose was wading. This section is better described in the latest book from the NCTA, The North Country Trail, page 214, “Wetland Wonders.“ The trail continues to amaze us with what a stronger character it is becoming, with better grooming of the trail, trimming, and lopping. It is as Ron Strickland said as he first saw the Wetland Wonders, “This is so beautiful, it is like a walk in Central Park.” Come enjoy what was a swamp but is now a Wetland Wonder, and don’t forget your camera. —Brian Pavek, Retiring Chapter President
Sheyenne River Valley Chapter
NORTH DAKOTA - We had our annual meeting at the Rosebud Visitor Center to discuss progress in 2012 and plans for 2013. Since we had a lot of work to complete, it was decided that we would add a monthly work day to our schedule of monthly hiking events! After the meeting we went to the Eagles Club for burgers and refreshments and then on to Chris and Alicia Hoffarth’s for an afternoon of hiking/snowshoeing/crosscountry skiing in the river bottom of the Sheyenne River near their home. Afterwards we gathered in their beautiful home for hot chocolate and cookies! It was a very enjoyable day, overcast but warm with a light snow, and we had a great time. Winter didn’t want to leave us in 2013, so on our first hike of the season in April we had to hike through snowbanks on the hills south of town! At least it didn’t flood this year! A few weeks later we enjoyed a hike along the banks of Lake Ashtabula with lunch afterwards at a restaurant overlooking the lake. National Trails Day was spent on the trails at Fort Ransom State Park. Later that month, Deb Koepplin, Alicia Hoffarth, Becky Heise and John Kwapinski took in the North Dakota Trails Conference in Bismarck. There were some good hikes, informational workshops and great networking opportunities. Jeff McCusker was also able to attend. It was great to have him there! In July, we combined a work day with overnight camping at the waterfall at the Sheyenne State Forest. A new boardwalk was installed over a wet spot caused by a spring at the base of a hill. Three short sections of the Mineral Springs segment were rerouted around wet areas that had been severely damaged by horse traffic and gravel was placed in soft spots to help firm up the treadway. Jerry Warner, an Engineering Tech at Bobcat, has been able to request use periodically for a small walkbehind Bobcat skidsteer which he used to pull the two sections of the boardwalk frame through about a mile of hills and ravines for us to its very inaccessible final resting place. Jerry was able to provide use of the machine previously to till a segment of treadway riddled with hummocks, badger, and pocket gopher mounds for the Dakota Prairie Chapter as well. Clyde Anderson grilled hamburgers for us over the fire, assisted by his ingenious field design homemade hamburger flipper. After the meal, Rick Schlauderaff read us poetry while we enjoyed our campfire.
Sheyenne River Valley Chapter’s Winter Hike.
The North Star
State of the Trail 2013
Forgot the spatula? Not to worry! Sheyenne River Valley member Clyde Anderson cooks with his improvised hamburger flipper.
The NCT conference in Pennsylvania was missed by the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter in favor of attending the nuptials of Jessie Koepplin, daughter of Bobby and Deb Koepplin. What a great time and a beautiful wedding! Even though we were not in attendance, at Conference, two chapter members were awarded national recogniton, Becky Heise with the Communicator Award for working with landowners during the previous year to obtain easements, and Ron Lindquist one of the Maintainer of the Year awards for his work resigning about 130 miles of trail along the New Rockford and McClusky Canal segments and working on a proposed route across the wildlife management area along Lake Sakakawea. The weather was hot for the 7th annual Hiking Fest at Itasca State Park in Minnesota. Six SRV chapter members enjoyed a hike along the shores of Lake Itasca from Douglas Lodge to the headwaters. A cool breeze and beautiful view of the lake made the hike enjoyable as did the cool treats from the visitor center afterwards! The season was rounded off by a hike at the Sheyenne National Grassland on National Public Lands Day in September. A special event in addition to our regular calendar for 2013 included a Doosan/Bobcat Wellness Hike to the waterfall. A huge number of Doosan/Bobcat employees and family members attended. Just because we have plenty of fun during the summer months on the trail doesn’t mean we don’t get the work done! Starting in May and ending in September, our monthly workdays provided plenty of progress in trail development and maintenance along the Sheyenne River Valley segments! Four new miles of trail were developed, blazed, and stiles and a boardwalk installed. Four 24˝ X 24˝ North Country Trail interpretive panels were installed at trailheads at Kathryn, Clausen Springs, Medicine Wheel Park, Lake Ashtabula and along a key trail segment just south of Interstate 94 where numerous residents walk daily from a housing development into Valley City. Constant hill slides on the Katie Olson segment north of Valley City on Lake Ashtabula necessitated a re-route of about a quarter mile of trail around the hill. This area has been moving every year causing severe mowing headaches until we finally had to close it last year and dead end. It is nice to have it open again. All built segments of our ever expanding miles of trail were mowed and maintained, signage improvements made, and some benching and rock removal made mowing some areas much easier and caused less wear and tear on the mowers (both machines and operators!). For 2014, we are hoping to develop approximately 10 miles of connector trail between Valley City and Baldhill Dam on Lake Ashtabula and about a mile from the Baldhill Creek Wildlife Management Area to the Wesley Acres trailhead. These connector segments were acquired under previous easement from the Barnes County Commission in the event we were unable to obtain private landowner easements cross country. Until we are successful in obtaining those easements, we will provide these connector trails. The North Dakota segments of the North Country Trail have a new funding source for future trail acquisition and development called the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Passed by the North Dakota legislature during its 2013 session, the
This Sheyenne River Valley crew is constructing boardwalk in the Sheyenne State Forest.
Outdoor Heritage Fund is designed to enhance habitat, public access, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation in the state. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is supported by funding from a slice of the state’s oil and gas production tax. In cooperation with North Dakota Parks and Recreation, Dakota Prairie Chapter and the Sheyenne National Grassland are proposing to hire another contractor to obtain easements for approximately 9 miles of new trail which we were unable to get due to lack of time under our 2009 federal Recreational Trails Program grant. This would not only include new miles, signage, boardwalks, etc. for the Dakota Prairie Chapter and the Grasslands but also a contractor to identify a proposed route from the north end of Lake Ashtabula to the McClusky Canal. Wish us luck in continuing our trail progress! —Becky Heise
The North Star 23
2014 Annual NCTA Awards Call for Nominees Recent Award Winners:
Dave Galbreath Trail Maintainer
Diane Winston Sweep
Dan Bickel Friend of the Trail
ut on your Stormy Kromer™ NCTA red plaid hat, read through the revised, updated category descriptions below, go for a walk on the trail and do some serious thinking about who is deserving of an NCTA Annual Award. Complete the application form that can be found at http:// northcountrytrail.org/members/awards/, being sure to follow the directions carefully. Then send in the nomination to nct@ northcountrytrail.org or email@example.com by May 1. E-mail announcements with full details and forms will be mailed to all chapter/affiliate/partner leaders in March. Any member or staff person can make nominations. Let’s honor all those individuals who are going the extra mile for the NCTA and the NCNST! Reminder: These are revised, updated category descriptions. Please be sure the nominee you are putting forth meets the new criteria, highlighted in red. Vanguard: A legislator or other public official whose leadership, actions and advocacy have substantially benefited the North Country Trail over a chapter/affiliate/partner’s area or larger, not just a short segment. Lifetime Achievement: An individual, in recognition of fifteen (15 ) years or more of true dedication, exceptional service and outstanding contributions towards the dream of the North Country Trail or the success and growth of the NCTA, not just local service. Service may be performed in a voluntary or paid capacity. Distinguished Service: An individual, in recognition of exceptional volunteer service in furthering the goals of the NCTA, and outstanding contributions toward the dream of the North Country Trail. Individual should have made a significant commitment and accomplishments over eight (8) or more years. Not more than one of these awards may be granted each year to an individual who is not a member of the NCTA or an Affiliate. Trail Builder: A volunteer, whose work in Trail planning, landowner negotiations, layout and design, and/or construction, have resulted in the development of outstanding new trail or facilities over a three (3) or more year period.
The North Star
Jan and Dave Cornell Blue Blazes Benefactor
Trail Maintainer: A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over a three (3) or more year period in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s). Leadership: A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional leadership over a three (3) or more year period leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events. Communicator: A volunteer, for exemplary work in promoting the Trail or the NCTA through a communications medium (newsletter, web site, brochure, etc.) or personal contacts over a three (3) or more year period. Rising Star: An NCTA member between the ages of 8 and 25, who has made significant contributions to the Trail and seems likely to continue, and whose dedication to the Trail and the NCTA sets an example to other youths and shows exceptional promise. Sweep: A volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail or the NCTA over a three (3) or more year period. Friend of the Trail: An employee of a unit of governance or an organization whose leadership, accommodations and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail or the NCTA, not working solely in the capacity of an NCTA member. TrailBlazer: A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contribution(s) to the NCT or the NCTA. Outreach: A volunteer, whose efforts to build coalitions, partnerships or other forms of local support have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the North Country Trail. Blue Blazes Benefactor: An individual or household demonstrating vision and generosity through significant monetary or in-kind contribution(s) to the NCT or the NCTA. Outstanding Private Landowner: A private landowner whose leadership, accommodation and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail.
Where In The Blue Blazes?
Board Nominations are Open Duane Lawton
Here’s the new mystery photo, and a clue for our readers: Our NPS Superintendant Mark Weaver would love to run across this art along the trail! Where can he find it? Email your guesses to editor Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol. com, and send her the next mystery photo, please! Vinnie Collins
At left is the mystery photo from last issue of North Star. We received several correct answers naming its location on the North Country Trail.
12/5 Tom Butler, Rochester, New York shared this memory: The photo is taken in Watkins Glen State Park (New York). The Park is closed at this time of year. I should know because I took my wife there in April of 2000 (our 6 month anniversary), a few weeks before the icy trails opened; we were rewarded with an arrest by a New York State Trooper. He gave us appearance tickets and escorted us from the still thawing trails. We used it as a teachable experience by taking our children with us to court a few weeks later, sharing laughs with the judge and trooper while we paid our $60 fine, and then walked the now open trails with the little ones. 12/6 Lois Judd, now living in Arizona, formerly from New York. 12/9 Don Godfrey, Toledo, Ohio. 12/9 Kahlista Lehrer, Newfane, New York. 12/13 Warren Devine, Oak Ridge, Tennessee remembered: The mystery photo is Watkins Glen State Park in New York. I visited there in 2011, and it was just as spectacular as it was when I was there as a 7-year old boy with my father, many years ago. 12/16 Gaylord Yost, Wisconsin.
The annual quest for qualified nominees to your North Country Trail Association’s Board of Directors is in full swing. Four members are rotating off the Board in 2014 and the Association will need to find persons to fill the open slots. NCTA and affiliate members and officers are requested to identify persons who meet the qualifications stated in the Board member’s position description and who are willing to take a turn helping to guide the Association in the coming years. The position description is available for downloading on the NCTA web site (http://northcountrytrail.org/board-resources-2/) or by requesting a copy from the headquarters office in Lowell, Michigan. Board members determine and set policies and other direction needed to meet the continuing and future challenges and needs of the Association. The Board of Directors currently consists of 17 members. There can be up to seven At Large members in addition to two representatives from each of the seven states through which the trail passes. In 2014, Board members from New York, lower Michigan, Upper Peninsula Michigan, and Minnesota will be leaving their seats open. Anyone who knows of possible Board candidates should read the position description before discussing the possibility with potential nominees. Nominees need to be fully informed about what will be expected of them. We also strongly recommend that nominees themselves carefully read the Board position description prior to agreeing to be nominated for a position. Anyone wishing to nominate themselves or someone else should forward names and contact information to Gaylord Yost, firstname.lastname@example.org, Tom Moberg, email@example.com, or Bruce Matthews, bmatthews@ northcountrytrail.org. The Nominations Committee will follow up with the nominee. Questions? Please call Gaylord Yost, 414-354-8987 or email him at the above email address.
This chance meeting of Ruth and Dan Dorrough of New York with Luke “Strider” Jordan in Ohio was shown in our last issue. The caption says that the photo was taken by an “anonymous passerby.” That is not true. The photo was taken by Cheryl Winningham (trail name “Quest Seeker”) who is hiking the Buckeye Trail. We hiked several hundred miles with her on the Buckeye Trail last summer. She is the one who saw Strider walking through the Pike Lake State Park, flagged him down, and brought him over to meet us. —Dan Dorrough
The North Star 25
Brule-St. Croix 2013
Roving Trail Crew
Wrap-Up Story and pictures By Bill Menke
n 2013, our sixteenth year, the crew worked on a wide diversity of projects and spent considerable time branching out into new territory. But only six crew outings took place this year. Eight were scheduled but we lost April due to heavy, late-season snow and October was lost due to the shutdown of the Federal Government. Despite losing these two months, the crew accumulated a total of 2,170 hours. This year, there were two individuals who made all of the six trips. Notably, Tom Hicks joined us for the first time in May and then went on to participate in every crew outing. A retired telephone line installer (project supervisor), Tom is a wiry addition to the crew. He has lots of skills when it comes to figuring things out and making work suggestions. Thanks to assistance from the National Park Service, we were able to obtain a new, larger tool trailer. For several years, the crew has operated out of two 6 X 12 foot trailers. We wanted to obtain a larger trailer so that we could haul both of our large pieces of equipment (DR Mower and DR Power wagon) at the same time when we had to. Coincidentally, The Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter was requesting a trailer from the NPS. Seeing a win-win situation for both chapters, Jeff McCusker asked us to transfer one of our existing trailers to them and we were able to obtain a larger 6 X 14 foot tandem wheel trailer. May 5-10: Our primary task for the month was to complete the relocation necessitated by the expansion of the Village of Solon Springs’ water system settling ponds near the Highway 53 Trailhead. Now that the construction is finished, we could build new off-road trail that is outside the limit of the settling ponds. The crew had to put up with extremely hot weather one day and rain on another, but nevertheless by the end of the week, the relocation was finished and hikers are now able to follow a very pretty section of new trail. In June, the crew built a large bridge across Spring Creek on the Dudeck easement. While the 32-foot clear span design of this bridge is identical to the Aden Creek Bridge (farther north on this same
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trail segment), the “Dudeck” bridge is the most complicated one that we have built due to the two angled ramps at the far end. Whenever cuts with compound angles have to be made in the field, it is very complex. But we had a large crew, with several skilled “carpenter” members who were able to solve the challenges. July 8-12 Tuesday, we worked for 2/3 of the day in a steady rain as we completed another small but significant job replacing the retaining wall that supported the trail across the large culvert at Leo Creek. The retaining wall was built in 2005 at the base of a deep fill that carried the old railroad grade (now the Wild Rivers ATV Trail) across the creek. But over the last couple of years, the ancient concrete culvert passing beneath the grade has separated at the joints. The result is that during peak flows, the fast flowing water sucks the sandy fill down into the cracks, causing our retaining wall to collapse. By the end of the day, a new 20-foot causeway spanned the entire culvert and eroding area. On Wednesday, the crew tackled the completion of the Aden Creek Campsite, mostly completed by Zach Davis last month. Our crew was to finish the trail to the wilderness latrine and install the register box. These tasks were completed by noon. During the afternoon, several crew members returned to the county yard to assemble campsite tables, while the rest of the crew began to haul them into nearby campsites for installation. The following day, part of the crew (including first timer Mikie Kuhman, long time Chequamegon Chapter member) continued hauling and installing tables, while five crew members remained in camp to inventory and transfer all of the trailer contents into the new trailer. As each item was moved to the new trailer, it was called out to Laura Nitsche who entered it on an Excel spreadsheet. This process provided an accurate inventory and value of the trailer contents. When all was said and done, we were amazed at the value of the tools and equipment used by the crew, almost $38,000. This demonstrates the commitment of the National Park Service and other partners in providing for our needs and it equally demonstrates just one small part of what is required to build this long, skinny park.
Rover’s Crew proudly lined up on the Dudeck bridge.
August 5-9: Once again, the crew tackled a variety of local jobs in preparation for moving to other parts of the state. More campsite tables were installed, and then we began the major job for the week, which was rebuilding portions of one of the oldest of our trail segments, Highway S to Jersett Bluff. Over time, any trail segment becomes worn from use plus we have also learned some better techniques over the years. So for two full days we worked removing berms, reshaping back slopes, widening a few areas, and rebenching the side hill below the Jersett Bluff Campsite. September 13-20: Throughout the summer, the Heritage Chapter has been building new trail within a new portion of Copper Falls State Park. The additional land, purchased jointly by the Wisconsin DNR and the National Park Service, was specifically acquired to facilitate the trail. One of the biggest benefits for the NCT is that when the five plus miles of trail are finished, it will eliminate the dead end that has existed ever since 1983. The Rovers Crew is handling the installation of all of the trail structures that are necessary to protect small wetlands and cross drainages within the area of the trail that Heritage has just finished. This arrangement works well, because the Rovers have all of the saws, power tools, and other equipment needed for bridge construction. During this first trip to the park, we began working west from Peters Road, following a purchased easement that leads to the park addition. Less than 50 feet from the road, a wooded wetland needed to be crossed so we spent the entire week constructing 420 feet of Type 3 Puncheon. November 4-8: Once again, we returned to Copper Falls State Park where we hoped to make up for the lost time in October. On Tuesday evening, as we cooked over the campfire, snow began to fall steadily. This continued throughout the night and by morning, we had three inches of winter wonderland. The only casualty was a collapsed tarp, which we were able to repair. The snow wasn’t bad
Our Rovers Crew on one of several bridges built in Copper Falls State Park.
On a boardwalk in Copper Falls State Park’s trail extension, carrying out all the equipment with a DR Power Wagon.
to work in but when it began to melt, the resulting mud was not particularly fun. Despite the snow and mud, the crew made really good progress, building 30-36 foot bridges at the rate of one per day, for a total of three new bridges. Two short sections of puncheon were also constructed during the week. Thanks to “crew hustle,” by the end of the week, all of the structures planned
for 2013 were completed and we had made up for the lost month of October. Now it is the depth of winter but some of us are already looking forward to another season of crew work. We anticipate working in widespread locations all the way across northern Wisconsin.
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The Minnesota Hiking Celebration Thursday, August 21st–Saturday, August 23rd at Spirit Mountain in Duluth By Florence Hedeen
What is the event?
The Minnesota Hiking Celebration is just that…a celebration of the great hiking found in Minnesota and the Duluth area, in particular. Sponsored by the NCTA’s four Minnesota Chapters with support from the Superior Hiking Trail Association and the City of Duluth, the event is also a celebration of the volunteer organizations and government agencies that partner to make all of this great hiking available! While we had originally planned this event to be the 2014 NCTA Annual Conference, we’re still going to gather the “Red Plaid Nation” to do some of the things we all love about Conference.
Why should you attend?
If you’ve never been there, Duluth is a truly amazing place. Nestled on a ridge at the head of Lake Superior, it is Minnesota’s fourth largest city. It features a wealth of cultural and tourist attractions plus there are 40 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail (to become a part of the North Country Trail through the Arrowhead Re-route) running through the city. There will be a variety of fun morning, afternoon, and full-day guided hikes on the Superior Hiking Trail in Duluth. Some of the hikes will actually leave right from Spirit Mountain as the SHT runs right through the facility. Are you thinking “More urban hiking? Yawn.” You shouldn’t be! Duluth is a WILD city with many near-wilderness parks up on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior and the St. Louis River estuary. It also has hikes where you can leave the wilderness and visit world class cultural attractions. We will also be hosting a Hiking and Outdoor Exposition to run all day on Saturday. This unique event will feature hiking and outdoor gear vendors, outdoor retailers, informational booths of nature and trail organizations, booths spotlighting regional environmental issues, and a visit from Backpacker Magazine’s wildly popular “Get Out More Tour” is being negotiated. The Exposition will be the place to visit to learn more about hiking, the outdoors, the latest and greatest gear, and to identify spots for your next outdoor adventures.
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How will the Hiking Celebration be different from NCTA Conference?
You will be making many arrangements on your own to suit your own needs, for example, lodging, meals, etc. One formal evening program and group meal is being planned on Thursday, for which you will be registering. The planning committee, however, aims to provide you with all the information you will need to put together the itinerary that best meets your needs. There will be more of an outreach focus to the event as we want more people in the region to join the “Red Plaid Nation,” to learn about the NCT and the outdoors, discover the joys of hiking, and learn about the volunteer opportunities in helping to build and maintain these trails.
We encourage you to come to Duluth early and/or stay late! Our planning team will help connect you with pre- and post-event recreational options ranging from sampler hikes in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, hikes on new segments of the NCT near Itasca State Park, and building a new segment of the North Country Trail/Superior Hiking Trail near the Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary. The event website contains a list of local lodging options in the area. Book ASAP because Duluth and the North Shore are very popular in the summer!
Plans for the celebration continue to evolve. For the most current information on this event, visit http://northcountrytrail.org/duluth/ or contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also join our event’s Facebook group at www.fb.com/groups/1374276859496625/.
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with the rich history found in Tucson created a wonderful climate for learning and professional development. The cloudless desert skies and warm temperatures in November didn’t hurt the appeal, either. The PNTS is an umbrella organization whose mission is to strengthen trail partners’ ability to develop, maintain, manage, protect and promote the National Trails System. Its twin purpose areas focus on securing adequate public and private funding for national trails, and facilitating communication and coordination among partner trails, their federal agencies and non-profit partners. One of the primary strengths of the Partnership is the effort brought to bear in Washington. These efforts target Congress in the appropriations process as well as advocate for legislative initiatives such as full funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and specific to NCTA, for willing seller authority (finally granted in 2010), for the Minnesota Arrowhead re-route and soon (we hope) the Vermont extension. PNTS also works in Washington with the national trails system’s major federal partners—National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and US Fish and Wildlife Service—in order to grow and improve relationships with the national trails as well as advocate for management policies benefitting the trails. NCTA has been a supporting member of PNTS since its inception. The 2013 Tucson conference followed three main program tracks: • Telling our stories and engaging new partners. • Preserving special places. • Strengthening our trail organizations and communities.
North Country Trail Delegation Attends Partnership Conference By Bruce E. Matthews
very two years the Partnership for the National Trails System (PNTS) hosts a conference of the 11 National Scenic and 19 National Historic Trails and their communities. Federal agency trail administrators, non-profit partners and supporters of the trails and trail system convene, with local hosts typically including the leadership of the national scenic and historic trails in that area. The location varies and is associated with the local trail sponsors. NCTA hosted the PNTS conference in Duluth in 2007. The initial Conference, held in 1988 near Heartland, Wisconsin, was the precursor for formally organizing the PNTS. Last November the 14th PNTS conference was held in Tucson, Arizona, with local trail hosts including the Arizona National Scenic Trail, and the Juan Bautista de Anza and Old Spanish National Historic Trails. North Country Trail representatives included NCTA’s Director of Trail Development Andrea Ketchmark, NPS Superintendent Mark Weaver, NPS Trail Manager Jeff McCusker, thru-hiker Luke “Strider” Jordan, and me. With a conference theme of “National Trails: Weaving the Tapestry of America’s Cultures, Histories and Landscapes,” and the juxtaposition of both scenic and historic trails coupled
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Workshops and plenary sessions were held throughout the week following these three tracks. I was invited to give a workshop entitled “Go Viral! Social Media and the North Country Trail: A Case Study” as part of Track 3. I described our efforts in 2013 to raise awareness via social media like Facebook, and to conduct our e-member marketing campaign. The session was very wellattended, with lots of interest by other trails wanting to do something similar and learn from our own efforts. An over arching emphasis on diversity brought a rich flavor to the experience for those present, from the powerful opening ceremonies led by a color guard from an American Legion post from the Pima Indian reservation (and other native American veterans) accompanied by a drum circle, to an amazing mariachi band from a local elementary school; from hearing perspectives on trails and outdoor recreation from an Hispanic/Latino perspective to being challenged by our young trail apprentices (including Luke Jordan). A fortuitous set of circumstances enabled Strider to attend the conference—the completion of his remarkable thru-hike about three weeks before the conference, the availability of scholarship funding to support his attendance, and the interest of the Partnership in having him attend. Luke represented the North Country Trail as well as the subset of long distance hiking users. He was a rock star, and represented NCTA well. The federal presence was important as well. Not only were our own NPS North Country Trail superintendent and trail manager in attendance, a number of NPS and Forest Service representatives from Washington were attending, and
importantly, listening to what we had to say. Issues experienced by our own NCTA volunteers were often mirrored elsewhere, and the combined weight of all the affected trails clearly makes a difference in communicating issues such as lack of coordination and consistency in management practices toward national scenic trails in the individual forests managed by the US Forest Service, as one close-to-home example. One important outcome of the PNTS conference occurred when representatives of the national scenic trails gathered to discuss the aggressive stance being taken by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) toward opening all national scenic trails to mountain biking. We agreed to discuss the issue from a system-wide perspective, considering a variety of factors and perspectives. We are working as leaders within the Partnership and we are committed to the partnership approach of thoughtfully addressing the issue in collaboration with other stakeholders. The Partnership recognizes the complexity of this issue and that one size does not fit all. Partnership members have agreed that appropriate uses for each scenic trail will be different depending on a variety of factors. We are committed, as individual partner groups, to supporting one another as we work independently to address issues concerning the nature and purpose of each trail. We are further committed to encouraging IMBA to engage in a less confrontational and more productive manner, a discussion actually held subsequently with IMBA representatives in attendance. In sum, the conference held great value in terms of sharing, growing relationships and learning about other trails’ experiences. For example, one session I attended, conducted by the Pacific Crest Trail Association’s (PCTA) Board of Directors chair and executive director, focused on board development, and shared the PCTA’s experience going down that path. This one workshop alone can save years of effort on behalf of NCTA’s Board as it struggles to initiate a board development program. Many of the workshops and presentations were uploaded to this website in order to share with others: http://www.pnts.org/ pnts-archives.
North Star Submission Guidelines
Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at email@example.com, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. PLEASE DON’T EMBED PICTURES WITHIN YOUR ARTICLE, BUT SEND THEM SEPARATELY AS .JPG ATTACHMENTS. In all cases, please supply photographer’s name. Front cover photo candidates: prefer vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi or greater than 3000 pixels, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Inside pictures look much better with one dimension over 1000 pixels, too, preferably 2000. Next deadline for Vol. 34, No. 2 is April 1, 2014. Remember that 900 words equal approximately one page of dense text, so very few articles should exceed 1800 words in this size of magazine. Thank you! —Your volunteer editor, Irene (585) 658-4321
Minnesota Chapters Partner On A New
For The North Country Trail! By Matt Davis
partnership among the four NCTA Chapters in Minnesota will lead to the first ever guidebook for the North Country Trail in Minnesota. Co-edited by Susan Hauser and Linda Johnson and written by about 40 volunteer contributors, the guidebook will be published by Trails Books, an imprint of Boulder, Colorado-based Big Earth Publishing. Map illustrations for the book were developed by NCT hiker and volunteer Todd “Tman” McMahon from Madison, Wisconsin. Release of the paperback book is anticipated for some time this spring/summer with a volunteer-produced e-book to be released later as well. While our contract with Trails Books calls for the NCTA to earn modest royalties on book sales, the Chapters’ bigger goal is to provide good information to help more people get out safely and enjoyably onto the NCT. The guidebook will cover in great detail the new NCT segment within Maplewood State Park and the 163-mile continuous section from Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge through the White Earth State Forest, Itasca State Park, and Paul Bunyan State Forest to the Chippewa National Forest near Remer. That amounts to only 165 miles of the NCT’s 775 miles across Minnesota…what about the rest? It also describes suggested routes for the temporary connector (roadwalk) segments from Abercrombie, North Dakota, to the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge, from the NCT in the Chippewa National Forest to the start of the Mesabi Trail in Grand Rapids, and from the northern end of the Mesabi (bike) Trail to the Kekekabic Trail’s western terminus. Brief introductions are also provided for the Kekekabic Trail, Border Route Trail, and Superior Hiking Trail. Look for the guidebook in the Trail Shop by next summer and order yourself a copy! http:// northcountrytrail.org/trail/states/minnesota/mnguidebook/
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Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director
ast fall I had the privilege of having phone conversations with each of NCTA’s active Chapter presidents. With 28 calls my compiled notes covered over 30 typewritten pages. I condensed and shared with the Board almost 15 pages of our discussions, ranging from the future of annual conference, to how well HQ was supporting chapter efforts, using NCTA’s brand and logo more effectively to chapter plans for capturing the new e-members. I was pleased at the constructive nature of the discussions, the affirmations as well as the suggestions and new ideas generated. Any member wanting a copy of the summary of these calls can e-mail me with “chapter summary” in the subject heading. One chapter president made a wistful comment about “wishing we could go back to being a grass roots organization,” echoing a few others with similar feelings. For sure, things used to be simpler. But in the immortal words of Don Henley, “Don’t look back, you can never look back” (Boys of Summer). Our world, including our non-profit landscape, has changed dramatically in the last 10 to 15 years. But the comment did make me wonder how we might better communicate what today’s Association is about, and the services it offers members and chapters, perhaps mitigating some of the longing for days gone by. The North Country Trail Association’s trajectory is increasingly national in scope. We are one of the few grassroots organizations effectively working with federal partners in breathing life into a national scenic trail. The NCTA is taking its place alongside a few of its sister trail organizations in an increasingly meaningful way, while at the same time striving to meet local and increasingly important needs in trail protection, chapter capacity building, and fund development. In effect, NCTA’s efforts are focused on creating an umbrella beneath which our chapters and members can most effectively focus on the things important to them—especially building trail—and not have to worry so much about the things better accomplished at the national level. Another way to look at it is from a marketing perspective, and to define the “value proposition” NCTA makes to its members. What are the values accrued on behalf of the membership? What do members get for their money? The answers to these questions can be divided into three levels of benefit.
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National Representation: • NCTA ensures your place at the table where the national dialog is happening with the National Park Service as well as Forest Service and Fish & Wildlife Service. We are consulted, and able to influence policies affecting the trail. • NCTA builds relationships with the offices of the 41 Senators and Representatives within the U.S. Congress who represent states and congressional districts through which the NCT passes. • NCTA has relationships with our sister organizations and the Partnership for the National Trails system, and with national organizations such as the American Hiking Society, Outdoor Alliance, National Parks Foundation, International Mountain Biking Association, etc. • NCTA’s relationships also extend to the state house level and include the legislative and executive branches of state governments. The relationships built, greater status and recognition for the trail accrued, appropriations made and the policy discussion and advocacy accomplished, all create a place that enables, empowers and funds chapter and member activity. Translated, it means more dollars for local projects, more chainsaws and DR mowers and tools in volunteers’ hands, and more training and certification, as just some of the benefits. • National funding sources become available, from foundations like the National Parks Foundation or the National Environmental Education and Training Foundation, and corporations such as Red Wing, Plum Creek and Scheels All Sports pay more attention to the growing national cachet. • And finally, from a marketing/branding perspective, the awareness generated about the North Country Trail and the NCTA at a national and regional level not only grows membership (like the 300+ new members from last summer’s campaign) it creates a promise about the cool things that happen as part of the NCTA community, the Red Plaid Nation. Simply, it makes people want to belong, to stand next to and be part of this cool thing we’re doing. Chapter Support–NCTA’s HQ serves chapters by providing: • Financial and administrative management services under a single 501(c)3 umbrella. Chapters don’t have to submit Form 990’s, register as a charitable organization, deal with the IRS, write annual reports…if you’ve ever been part of an organization that has to do this you KNOW what a service and time-saver this is to our local chapters. • 20% of all member dues returned to chapters, with an additional 10% of member dues available to chapters competitively as part of NCTA’s Field Grants. • NCTA liability insurance covering all chapter activities. • Loss insurance for all chapter assets. • Chapter resources online, including the Chapter Leadership Handbook here: http://northcountrytrail.org/members/ volunteer-resources/ • Technical assistance and training in effective trail building, maintenance and protection techniques. • Mapping services and GIS analysis of the entire trail.
Left: Wampum Chapter members install roadside signs in western Pennsylvania. They are out there doing what Chapters do best, promoting and marking the trail, not worrying over filing IRS form 990 each year!
NCTA 2014 Extended Outing Hike NCT Onondaga Trail and Finger Lakes Trail in New York
Member Benefits for individuals include: • North Star available in paper or e-copy, and regular e-communications such as the Blue Blaze Bulletin. • 30% off all NCTA maps, and 10% off other Trailshop merchandise (hats, shirts, etc). • Awards and recognition for service. • VIP insurance coverage through the National Park Service, and VIF coverage through the US Forest Service, insuring volunteers in the event of accident or liability lawsuit in pursuit of their activities on the Trail. • Access to training opportunities and certifications. • Use of tools and Personal Protective Equipment. • Opportunities to serve, give back and pay it forward. • Fellowship and recreation with like-minded individuals. Simply, NCTA membership offers the chance to be part of and identify with a lasting legacy, making a difference today and in the future, and enabling others to do likewise. We sometimes are asked about NCTA’s revenues and expenses, sort of a “where does my money go” question. Each year in February or March NCTA publishes an annual report, which is available online here: http://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/ how-to-give/annual-report/. By the time you read this it’s likely the 2013 annual report will be completed. In 2012 membership dues accounted for 12% of NCTA’s revenues. Only 14% of NCTA’s expenses cover administrative costs (keeping the lights on and the wheels on the bus, so to speak), and another 11% funds our development work. 75% of NCTA’s expenses are directly returned to members in the form of chapter resources and funding, public outreach, trail building and management, mapping and advocacy. Perhaps we could take a less complex approach to what we do at NCTA. Your Board of Directors is currently engaged in a strategic planning effort, and I’m sure would like to hear your ideas and feelings about the direction and operation of your Association. In the meantime take a look at what your membership is buying, on behalf of the Trail and your interests. I hope you agree it’s a pretty good deal!
When: July 13-19, 2014 Cost: $610 This is a day hiking trip on the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. Each day we will hike a section of the NCNST on the Finger Lakes Trail’s Onondaga with day pack for 6-10 miles using vans to shuttle between campus and trail heads. Our group will stay and eat at Cazenovia College in the small picturesque village on Cazenovia Lake. The FLT/NCT Onondaga Trail travels over the glacial ridges and valleys that form the Finger Lakes. Hikers will experience gradual ups and downs through picturesque forested land with spectacular overlooks and valley views, many streams, ponds and water falls. We will also see remnants of past days, foundations, artifacts and cemeteries along the trail. If you are interested in bagging a few miles of North Country National Scenic Trail and concurrent Finger Lakes Trail, this might be the trip for you. NCTA trips are noted for the camaraderie and lasting friendships that develop during hiking experiences. Please contact the leader of this Outing: MaryCCoffin@Gmail.com, (315) 687-3589
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The Importance of Chapter History Marty Swank
While maintaining the North Country National Scenic Trail is very important, some factors contributing to the success of a Chapter’s Trail Maintenance may be overlooked. The “History” of a Chapter may be one of these sometimes “overlooked” aspects of future highly successful Chapter-wide trail maintenance. This would be a Chapter Scrapbook. The Chequamegon Chapter has been fortunate to have dedicated members who have preserved the early history of the Chequamegon Chapter in a “scrapbook” format, and they continue to do so. The importance of the history of a chapter, as illustrated in a Chapter Scrapbook, is the culmination of the dedicated volunteer accomplishments of the past and a glimpse of future accomplishments that are possible, all represented in pictures. If you are a trail maintenance leader and cannot “chew gum and walk at the same time” (like me!) pass the camera off to a dedicated volunteer. You will usually be amazed at the photos that they have taken. The Chequamegon Chapter has been blessed, first with the early beginnings of our Chapter scrapbook by Tana Turonie, and now with the installment of a second, third and the starting of the fourth scrapbook by the Chapter Historian, Vickie Swank. Many chapter members have contributed pictures that have made these pages truly shine. These pictures are an inspiration for those who may come in the future, from something as simple as lopping the NCT to building a log bridge in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness. The pictures reflect the dedication of the volunteers of the Chequamegon Chapter of the North Country Trail Association.
Chequamegon’s first scrapbook, one of several, was started by Tana Turonie to record the Chapter’s history.
There are times that I personally seek renewal of the spirit and inspiration from the daunting task of trying to keep up with what seem to be relentless wind events. I find the inspiration to “carry on” in the Chapter Scrapbook and the pictures that adorn the pages. They are truly inspiring! These are very dedicated individuals who put a capital “V” in Volunteers. I am truly proud to count myself among their numbers.
Chequamegon’s current historian Vickie Swank is continuing the latest Chapter Scrapbook.
I want to help build the North Country Trail! Join the North Country Trail Association to support our volunteers in building the trail and telling its story in communities nearby. Happy Trails! Become a member today by calling (866) 445-3628, mail this form with your check made out to NCTA or visit our website home page. Use the Get Involved pull-down menu to choose Become a Member. Please choose your Chapter Affiliation: I want to be a member of my local Chapter: I want to be a member of the Chapter closest to my home. I want to be an At-Large Member. (Not affiliated with any Chapter) I want to make a tax deductible contribution of Name Address North Country Trail Association City 229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331 EMail
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Faith is being sponsored by Ruff Life Pet Outfitters in Petoskey, Michigan, owner Gary Albert. They have given her a pack, booties and are helping with high-calorie, freeze-dried food called Stella & Chewy’s. She will be sporting a Ruff Life Pet Outfitter patch on her backpack, as well as a Hiking with Faith patch that Gary Albert is having created especially for Faith. Ruff Life is a pet store which is constantly supporting local shelters, rescues, and dog events in our community. Portrait of Faith by Amy. Picture of Faith with Amy by Bob Kwiatkoski.
Hiking With Faith
A Senior Dog’s Journey on the North Country Trail By Amy Stull Kwiatkoski
Hi! My name is Faith. I am an eight year old Husky-mix, who was rescued from an animal shelter in Kentucky. My mom, Amy Stull Kwiatkoski, and I are hiking the NCT, to bring awareness to the plight of senior shelter dogs in America. We are hoping to become the first female and, more importantly, the first dog to thru-hike the entire trail in one hiking season! Amy has wanted to do a long-distance hike ever since she read Peter Jenkins’ book, A Walk Across America, when she was twelve years old. After graduating from college, she moved to Colorado and became a White Water Raft Guide. This is where she met Bob, the Head Boatman of the rafting company, who is now Amy’s husband. Four years ago they relocated to northern Michigan. Amy has been having trouble finding steady work as a Special Education Teacher. Last year, she had a one year teaching position on Mackinac Island, but Bob and I stayed in Cheboygan and missed her terribly. So, now the time seems right for her and me to knock that long-distance hike off her bucket list! Our family is very active in animal rescue. We have fostered many dogs and helped to find them “forever” homes. We work with Northern Michigan Animal Rescue Network (NMARN) and The Au Sable Valley Animal Shelter. It is estimated that there are 7 million healthy shelter pets currently available for adoption in the United States, with 2.7 million being euthanized each year. Although we support all homeless animals, we have a special place in our hearts for senior dogs. Some of the very best pets available are dogs that are beyond their middle-age years! Here are just a few of my thoughts as to why senior dogs make great adoptees: Most senior dogs have lived in homes before and know the “house rules,” unlike many younger dogs, especially those unruly puppies. Most senior dogs are content to chill out and lie around (usually in a comfy spot), unlike many young dogs who www.northcountrytrail.org
constantly tear through the house, pestering their humans relentlessly. That is just shameful! Many senior dogs have a long healthy life ahead of them. Hey, just look at me! As Amy and I hike the NCT, we will be spreading the word about senior shelter dogs by chatting with people we meet, notifying local media and animal shelters. With 40% of Americans living within one hour’s drive of the NCT, we hope our message reaches many caring people! I am a very friendly and well-mannered dog. I would love the opportunity to meet and hike with others of the Red Plaid Nation…and your dogs too! (Amy is making a red plaid bandana for me to wear on the trail!) Please be sure to follow my blog hikingwithfaith.com. Starting March 1st, I will provide day-by-day updates and dog wisdom as Amy and I begin our epic thru-hike of the NCT! Although we would love to hike a true end-to-end, due to above average snowfall in the Adirondacks, we will probably start our hike in southern Ohio and hike east to New York, then come back to southern Ohio and hike west to North Dakota. (Maybe my trail name should be “Flip-Flop Dog?”) Please check the blog for our itinerary. From Amy: Faith is an amazing dog. When I taught elementary special ed., I used Faith in the classroom as a therapy dog. Especially at the beginning of the year, many students realized they were not strong readers and would be reluctant to read aloud to me. I would ask them read to Faith, and then I could discretely stroll by assessing their reading abilities. If a child became distracted and stopped reading, Faith would gently paw at the page! I could go on and on with numerous ways she helped me as a teacher. She is also incredible with helping me socialize and train the foster dogs we’ve had in our home.
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National Park Service
Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT
More on the Foundation Document As I noted in the previous North Star we are continuing with the development of the Foundation Document. I asked you all to think on the Trail Purpose and Mission. I am hoping that by the time you read this, we will have these statements honed to perfection, or nearly so. Next comes the fun stuff, developing the Primary Interpretive Themes; that is, identifying those stories that have application Trail-wide. Rather than identifying a Theme as, for example, the story of the construction of the Mackinaw Bridge, rather, we should identify a theme much more broadly, such as “Water: The Tie That Binds –how water served and continues to serve as lines of transportation, communication and environmental stability.” This broad-brush story could be told trail-wide, supplemented with site-specific stories: Michigan may focus on the Great Lakes and the Bridge. New York may focus on the Erie Canal and the Finger Lakes, etc. Thanks to some great brainstorming with the Board, participants at the Slippery Rock Conference, and at the recent webinar, we have come up with a few thoughts on “Primary Interpretive Themes.” I have two requests of you: • Put your creative thinking caps on and either improve and wordsmith the themes noted below, or better yet, come up with some new ones. • Offer site-specific suggestions for any of the themes to strengthen their importance (I’ll save them for later applications).
Primary Interpretive Themes:
1. Character And Diversity of the Landscape • The Diversity and Distinctiveness of the terrain, geology, flora and fauna. Stories of glaciation, species rarity, etc. • The Natural Beauty of the North Country. Idyllic vistas; Pennsylvania farmland, the Great Lakes, grasslands and prairies, escarpments, etc. Seasonal variations. • Water–The Tie that Binds. Major waterfalls (Tahquamenon, Chittenango, Monkton Glen), the Great Lakes, the Mississippi, grand canals and towpaths, the Finger Lakes, etc., and how they served and continue to serve as lines of transportation, communication and environmental stability.
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2. History, Culture And Community Of The North Country From Native American civilizations through European settlement to the diversity of today, this continuum weaves a rich tapestry of the American story. Specific interpretive themes include: • The Land Before the Europeans. The rich cultural history of Native Americans, their displacement/genocide and disassociation/assimilation with the arrival and settlement of the Europeans. • European Settlement. The distinct European religious and ethnic movements and settlements, predominantly from northern Europe: Amish, Finnish, Swedes, Germans, English, etc, and their imprint upon the landscape. • Westward Migration and the cultural transition from New England agricultural traditions to the Voyageurs, and the wild west cowboys in North Dakota. • Underground Railroad. How the peoples along this northern tier, including Native Americans, supported the flight of slaves to freedom. • Industrial Revolution and the Apparently Endless Bounty of the North. The comparatively short-lived economic prosperity for the new European inhabitants via extractive processes including lumbering, mining, agriculture, trapping and hunting, coupled with the eventual realization of limited resources. • Impacts of European Settlement Upon the Natural System: bison, passenger pigeon, wolves and moose, loons, eagles, and the loss of cover through overgrazing and agriculture. • Mythological Figures and Larger-Than-Life Real People who Embody the Northern Lifestyle and Culture: Sitting Bull, Black Elk, Paul Bunyan, Johnny Appleseed, Ernest Hemingway, the Wright Brothers. • Sacred Places of the North. • The Art and Act of Hiking. History and mythology of the Hero Quest. The mental and physical therapeutic value of hiking, enriching one’s body and filling one’s soul. The philosophy of hiking. Tech on the Trail: from following the stars to following the Garmin … did we lose something somewhere, or maybe find something on the way? • Northern Nicknames. Yoopers and Trolls, Cheeseheads, Jack Pine Savages, Mud Ducks, Hillbillies–how names can distinguish and connect peoples and communities of the north. • Ghost Towns of the northern tier. The impermanence of life on the northern tier. Faded settlements, past social programs (CCC) and wartime internment (WWII POW camps). • Music, literature, entertainment on the northern tier. From native drums to Bob Dylan. From native story tellers to Ernest Hemingway. • Volunteerism and Community Involvement. The importance of civics and individual contributions to the larger society. • Recreation and Health. The transition from trail as transportation route to trail as recreation route to better health. • Tales of Winter. Stories of survival, strength and triumph.
The next section of the Foundation Document is a little more pragmatic, and perhaps a little boring, but of HUGE importance. That is, what are the issues that confront you in your efforts to support the Trail? I’d like your thoughts on such things as operations and staffing, finances and money, partnerships, community engagement, trail use and users, bureaucratic paperwork, trail protection through land acquisition, trail construction resources, signs, accessibility, certification, safety and safety training, volunteer demographics, trail construction and maintenance training, GIS…this list can go on, I’m sure. But please, try to be brief. So, drop me an email, give me a call. And thanks in advance. —Mark Weaver NCNST Superintendent Mark_Weaver@nps.gov (616) 430-3495
NCTA Announces Fall 2013 Chapter/Affiliate/Partner Honor Award Winners NCTA Chapter/Affiliate/Partner Honor Awards go to an individual or household who demonstrates loyalty, commitment and hard work annually to the local organization’s chosen activities. Twenty-eight of the thirty-eight chapters, affiliates and partners of the NCTA selected a volunteer to honor this fall. Each was presented with a photo frame at a local event. Congratulations go to all the winners for their work on behalf of the NCNST and the NCTA.
Sheyenne River Valley
North Dakota Prairie
Star of the North
Superior Hiking Trail
Ellie Williams and Kevin Schram
North Country Trail Hikers
Hiawatha Shore to Shore
Jordan Valley 45°
Friends of the Jordan River Fish Hatchery
Grand Traverse Hiking Club
Spirit of the Woods
Brian & Barb Buchanan
NW Ohio Rails to Trails Association
Butler Outdoor Club
Allegheny National Forest
Finger Lakes Trail
Sigrid and Jim Connors
Central New York
Boy Scoot Troop 43 (Canastota) and Boy Scout Troup 18 (Cazenovia)
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North Country Trail register; author Paul Shaw in center.
A Tale Of Two Trails Story and pictures by Paul Shaw, NCTA Member and VP of Keystone Trail Association
n October, I led a small group of four NCTA members on an introductory backpacking trip along the North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest in northwestern Pennsylvania, as advertised in this magazine earlier last year. The North Country Trail in this section has two faces. While much of the landscape is verdant forest and tumbling streams, much of the land is strewn with oil and gas wells, pumping stations, pipelines, and constant truck traffic. With so much pressure to expand gas production in Pennsylvania’s northern tier, our hike served as a cautionary tale, reminding participants of what we will lose if gas drilling continues to expand on public lands. The four of us (Todd, Ann, Sue, and me) met at the Bucktail Hotel in Marienville for dinner and a pre-hike orientation to review our equipment. Unfortunately, two others had had to cancel at the last minute. Ann and Sue were experienced hikers but novice backpackers, so we managed to extract many non-essential items from their packs to save weight. The next morning, we left two vehicles at our final destination, Fox’s Dam, and proceeded to the trailhead near Dunham Siding, 29 miles to the west. Several hours hiking through beautiful forest land, much of it on old logging rail beds, led us to our first campsite, the scenic Triplefork. As we approached the campsite, it was obvious this was a very popular location, so we selected a more private site upstream from the largest camping areas. After setting up camp, we hiked the spectacular Minister Creek Trail which leads up, over, and through enormous rock formations high above Minister Creek with excellent views. Later in the afternoon, after we had returned to camp, several Scout troops and a large, raucous group of adults with dogs poured into the Tripleforks. It proved to be a long, noisy night. The next day, we hiked through more pristine forest, passing a very nice campsite at Lower Sheriff Run where I had camped last spring. We had more miles to cover, so we continued on to the gorgeous campsite at Upper Sheriff Run. We elected to set up our tents rather than sleep in the pleasant Adirondack shelter, but made use of the excellent cooking area by the shelter. We built a fire in the shelter’s fire ring and enjoyed the ensuing conversations as we kept warm.
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The following morning, soon after leaving Upper Sheriff Run, we began to encounter evidence of oil and gas activity. This was mostly in the form of small, old pipelines that dated back many years. As we descended Messenger Run to Henrys Mills, we passed the rusting hulks of old machinery, relics of past energy extraction. After crossing the highway at Henrys Mills, we began a steep ascent with an attractive pine forest on our left. When we reached the top of the mountain, we were jolted out of our reverie by a large clearcut for a gas drilling pad that obliterated the trail. Picking our way through the clearcut, we heard a nearby explosion which we assumed was a test for gas. Eventually we found the trail on the other side and continued, glad to leave the eyesore behind. Gas and oil wells, pipelines, and pumping stations became our constant companions as the NCT led us to another fine campsite along the South Branch Tionesta Creek, near the confluence with Cherry Creek. While our campsite was hidden from the Cherry Creek access road, we could hear nearly non-stop noise from heavy trucks accessing new gas drilling sites in the Cherry Creek watershed. In the distance we could hear the muted hum of a pumping station. Our last morning, we gradually ascended along Cherry Creek with abundant evidence of drilling activity old and new. At the top of the watershed, we explored an interesting rock formation that formed a natural corral. We pictured cattle rustlers using this spot for a hideout. Soon after, we entered the Tionesta Scenic Area, site of a devastating tornado in May 1985. Signboards along the trail provided details about the tornado, and stillstanding trees that had been snapped in half attested to the tornado’s fury. We descended to an old logging railroad grade along East Branch Tionesta Creek, and followed the grade through beautiful fall foliage with the creek at our side. Eventually, we reached our trail’s end at Fox’s Dam.
Clearcut for drilling pad coming to the National Forest.
A working pump at an oil well; these have been scattered throughout the Allegheny National Forest for years.
Overlooking the valley of Minister Creek.
Including our side trip on the Minister Creek Trail, we hiked almost 35 miles in four days. In some areas, the trees had dropped their leaves, while in others we were treated to outstanding fall foliage. We agreed there was a stark contrast between the beautiful section of trail between Dunham Siding and Upper Sheriff Run, and the industrialized section further east, especially from Henrys Mills to Tionesta Scenic Area. We completed our short journey on the NCT having had an enjoyable and educational backpacking experience in the Allegheny National Forest, along with first-hand witness to the impact of intensive energy development on public lands. Paul Shaw and Todd Lange lead â€œhiking adventures of a lifetimeâ€? to international destinations through their company Treks & Trails International. For more information, visit www. treksandtrailsinternational.com or call (717) 215-8339.
Association Announces North Country National Scenic Trail Day By Mary Coffin
The NCTA Board passed a resolution to support initiating the first Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day to be held on the 4th Saturday in September annually, starting Sept. 27, 2014 in conjunction with National Public Lands and Hunting and Fishing Days. Mark your calendars and include a promotional trail event sponsored by your chapter or affiliate. Promotional material will follow. Start brainstorming potential events that fit your trail sponsorship. Imagine the profile NCNST will gain when all sponsoring organizations host an event on the trail the same day in seven states! There is a comprehensive list of outreach event ideas on the website: http://northcountrytrail.org/members/volunteerresources/volunteer-management/
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hen I decided I wanted to attempt a thru-hike of the NCT, I knew it would probably be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and I knew I would be tested every step. What I didn’t expect is how much support I would get along the way. Everything from trail magic to interviews with local papers and TV crews were a complete surprise when I finally got out there. Serious planning involving many hours studying maps and distances enabled me to be organized about this. I even mailed myself packages of maps and supplies to a few places along the trail where it passed near post offices, then tried hard not to get to that spot on a Sunday! I worked several years beforehand so that I could save up $5000 for the journey. My hike began on March 27 on a sunny forty degree day at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. The snow was almost completely gone and I had high hopes for a good start. Of course we all know it didn’t turn out that way. On the fourth day of my hike it started to snow and I had to break out the snow shoes, and it continued to snow every day until May 1st. Thus the first five weeks of my hike were much more challenging than I ever thought they would be. I had expected maybe two weeks on snowshoes when I planned for the hike, but not five. The days were painfully slow, so I was able to log only twelve to fourteen miles through three foot deep snow on heavy snow shoes. I had the first rough patch of my hike as I passed through Itasca State Park. Some blow downs had obstructed the trail causing me to miss a critical turn. Instead I kept hiking straight, only to come to a dead-end peninsula surrounded by brush and blow downs. To navigate through the mess more easily I took off my snowshoes so they would not get caught on the tangled brush. When I reached the far side, however, they had frozen and I could not get them back on. At this point I was only a mile away from the shelter where I had planned on staying that night, but I was losing daylight fast and the temperature was dropping. I decided to backtrack and try to find my way around the lake and pick 40
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Sheyenne National Grasslands, North Dakota
Journey Story and Pictures by Luke “Strider” Jordan
Kawashiwi Falls along the Arrowhead reroute
up the trail on the other side. However, without snowshoes I was post-holing past my knees in snow and would often lose my balance and fall. After only fifteen minutes of struggling like this I was soaking wet and worried about getting hypothermic if I got trapped out there for the night. Just as darkness was about to set in I gave Ray Vlasak a call and he kindly came and picked me up on the highway outside the park so I could get inside for the night. After that incident I decided I had had enough. This winter had no signs of ending and I was already many days behind schedule so I decided to continue my hike on roads until the snow melted. The next day as I was heading east on Highway MN-200 near Lake George I got a call from Andrew Skurka himself. He had heard about my struggles with the relentless winter and decided to help me out any way he could. We talked for about twenty minutes and he told me about his very similar experience back in 2005 during his C2C trek and gave me some advice. Be patient, he said, and things will eventually turn in your favor.
The times when you feel like giving up but you don’t, those are the times that you remember the most and get the most benefit from. He convinced me to return to the trail and that’s exactly what I did. Over the next several days the temperature got up into the high 60s and the snow melted very rapidly so I was able to continue with much less trouble. I am incredibly thankful to Andrew for his support and encouragement during that difficult time. By the time I reached Ely in northeast Minnesota the snow was almost completely gone but I was eleven days behind my planned itinerary. I took two rest days in Ely to allow my feet to recover from the pressure of the snow shoes and to be fully rested when I tackled the Kekekabic and Border Route Trails (BRT) across the Boundary Waters. The BRT coupled with the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) turned out to be one of the top three experiences on the entire trail. The scenery of this area is breathtaking and the SHT holds a special place in my heart as it is where my love of hiking began, first as a day hiker, then as a volunteer, and finally as a thru-hiker. Because of the rapidly melting snow most of the trail north of Silver Bay was flooded and a lot of the boardwalks and puncheon were either submerged or floating depending on how they were constructed. Despite the incredibly wet conditions it was a very enjoyable part of the hike. I was able to use my family cabin as a base camp for nine days so I slack packed most of the SHT. Several friends from college came up to hike with me for a few days, so I had some companionship on the trail for the first time which was a real treat. As soon as I left Minnesota summer settled in. In Wisconsin it was 75 degrees pretty consistently and the ticks and mosquitoes came out. I also had two major wildlife encounters. The first was an angry goshawk who attacked me as I passed through Pattison State Park and the other was a huge black bear in Copper Falls who retreated only after I waved my trekking poles around to make me look bigger. www.northcountrytrail.org
When I entered Michigan I encountered the second rough patch of my hike and got to experience most of the hardships of the entire hike all at once. I completely lost the trail in the Ottawa National Forest for lack of maintenance and markings which turned into a 13 mile bushwhack. I had to travel almost an entire month through the worst mosquitoes I have ever encountered in my lifetime, clouds of them. As a result of this I also had my first encounter with heat exhaustion because of the long sleeves, bug net, and lack of rest from trying to escape the horrible biters. Despite the hardships of my hike across the Upper Peninsula it also was the second of the best highlights of the hike. Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore has some of the most breathtaking and unique scenery found anywhere along the trail and it’s so close to the lake that the bugs weren’t bad. After crossing the Mackinaw Bridge into Lower Michigan conditions improved dramatically. The bugs disappeared, the terrain was more forgiving, and trail magic was in the air. I was able to do several 30 mile days to catch up somewhat to my original itinerary. Several of the highlights include the opportunity to spend the night at the NCTA schoolhouse in White Cloud, meet some of the local trail stewards and share stories around a campfire. I got to attend the dedication
Every bridge and boardwalk was flooded after all that snow along the wet Superior Hiking Trail.
Rainbow Falls in Ottawa National Forest, western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
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thought they were just specks of dirt. After this unpleasant encounter two heat waves came back to back and I was on the verge of getting sick until some trail angels brought me in right in the nick of time. Despite the many negative conditions of the trail I also had some of the best trail magic in Ohio. The staff of the BTA were very generous and allowed me to stay at their office in Shawnee. The director of the BTA, Andrew Bashaw, also invited me to spend the night at his place as I passed through his area. I got off trail for three days to attend a wedding back home in Minnesota which would not have been possible without the help of several trail angels who picked me up and drove me over 100 miles back to Cincinnati, allowed me to stay multiple nights, then picked me Luke at Tahquamenon Falls in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. up from the airport when I returned, and drove me back to the trail so I could continue my hike. To ceremony of Lowell as a trail town and meet the amazing staff at those extremely generous trail angels I am very grateful. the NCTA office, without whose help my hike would have been After the nasty heat waves and the tick infestation, needless a lot more difficult. My time in Michigan ended with the first to say I was happy finally to reach Pennsylvania. I was greeted of four major heat waves that I encountered during my hike, instantly by trail angels who put me up in their home for the where it reached a scorching 103 degrees. A few days after this I night. I was also impressed by the quality of the trail and was also had the unfortunate experience of being chased out of town happy to be back in the north woods that reminded me of home by the police because I looked suspicious to some of the locals. back in Minnesota. McConnell’s Mill and Cook Forest were Nevertheless, some of the most incredible trail magic I received some of my favorite parts of the trail. A short section of the came to me as I hiked across Michigan, mostly folks who were trail in the Allegheny National Forest was over grown with wild aware of my hike ahead of time and were eager to meet me. I flowers so I got stung many times by yellow jackets, a first for received several care packages at trailheads and spent the night in the hike. My last day in Pennsylvania began very early as I told many kind peoples’ homes. Usually either a home-made meal at myself I was not going to stop that day until I reached the New home or dinner at a restaurant was provided. York state line which was over 30 miles away. I made it across My hike through Ohio started out as a pleasant hike along the border just before dark and set my tent up within sight of the old canal towpaths. Once I reached Dayton I took a half the sign. day to rest and sent my pack in to get repaired since it had If I had to pick one part of the trail that had the best scenery begun to fall apart along the seams. Some very generous trail it would have to be upstate New York. My hike across the Finger angels provided me with a loaner pack until mine got repaired Lakes Trail was very enjoyable and the trail was in great shape. and sent back to me about three weeks later. However, once I The gorge at Watkins Glen was one of the most breathtaking reached the Shawnee State Forest section of the trail everything sites I have ever seen. There is more Civilian Conservation Corps started to go bad. A lot of the off-road trail was overgrown history here than anywhere I have seen in northern Minnesota. with multiflora rose and many sections were impassable. By the The Adirondack Mountain Club, Onondaga Chapter, one of time I got through Ohio I had walked about 40 miles further the FLT’s trail sponsors, held a reception for me at Highland than planned and wasted two days because of getting lost or Forest County Park, with the Park’s aid and cooperation, where having to turn around because the trail was not passable. I’m I got to meet many of the volunteers. not trying to bad mouth the people involved with the Buckeye Above all the final leg of the journey was the best part. The Trail, because I know they are all dedicated and work very hard route through the Adirondacks is only 50% on existing trail to try to maintain over 1400 miles of trail with a shortage of and the other 50% connecting these trails is yet to be built. So manpower, which is nearly impossible. But I wanted to include I had the opportunity to make my own route. After taking two this because the difficulty of hiking parts of the BT was the rest days in Old Forge I headed up the Northville-Placid Trail biggest road block of the hike. Ohio was also the place where before heading east through the High Peaks. For the hiker with I had the worst tick infestation I have ever had. I found nearly the time, I would highly recommend a High Peaks diversion as a 100 of the little buggers on me at one time. I didn’t even realize fitting finale for any hike. they were ticks until I felt one moving. They were so small I
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Watkins Glen State Park in upstate New York along the Finger Lakes Trail.
In the footsteps of Nimblewill Nomad I climbed over the summit of Mt. Marcy and could see Lake Champlain in the distance, and the finish line of the trail. It is unfortunate that Mt. Marcy cannot be the Katahdin of the NCNST but the trail continues on to Vermont so there is no mountain at its terminus. The next day, October 13, after 201 days of hiking I reached the end of the NCNST at Crown Point. But my hike wasn’t over; I still wanted to hike the approximately 50 miles through Vermont to connect to the Appalachian Trail (AT). For the next four days I hiked through Vermont on the proposed future extension of the North Country Trail. From the Lake Champlain Bridge I hiked on backcountry roads to the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM) and from there hiked along busy VT-125 to the Long Trail. After that it was a journey south along America’s first long distance trail to Maine Junction, where the Long Trail joins the AT. At last my hike was over, and I got to finish it in the company of none other than Ron Strickland, creator of the Pacific Northwest Trail and the Sea-to-Sea Route who came up to visit me for the day. My journey had come to an end, and after a rest day in Rutland it was time to board a train back to Minnesota. My thru-hike over the NCT was a life-changing experience. Despite the incredible scenery and the personal journey, the best part was meeting the people. I had the help and support of hundreds of people along the way and for that I am extremely grateful. I would recommend the NCT for anyone thinking of doing a thru-hike. It has its challenges just like any trail but it is unique in its diversity. It truly is the crown jewel of the National Trail System.
Crossing the Adirondack Mountains…for Now By Mary Coffin
There is an approved route or at least a corridor across the Adirondacks and that is what we have been GPSing and evaluating for the past five years. The problem for hikers is that only 50% is on existing trails while the other 50% is on yet to be constructed connectors that are currently bushwhacks. I send those who inquire a list of existing trails and road walk connectors. I do not feel comfortable having those unfamiliar with the Adirondack Wilderness follow it by GPS or compass especially if they might be hiking in winter. There are just too many rescues annually as it is, several per week. Also the Department of Environmental Conservation is tweaking the route a bit so that amendments can be included in all UMPs (Unit Management Plans). The amended document is due out in January 2014. The original plan link http://www.dec.ny.gov/ outdoor/39658.html, is on our NCTA website, New York page. The NYS DEC and APA (Adirondack Park Agency, second bureaucratic level) will never permit the trail to go over the heavily used High Peaks, unfortunately, so supporting that Mt. Marcy route would just delay getting trail on the ground.
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NONPROFIT U.S. POSTAGE
North Country Trail Association
Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340
229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331
Usually rare here, snowy owls have appeared in great numbers this year south of their usual range. Photo taken south of Ithaca in central upstate New York by Tom Reimers (president of NCTA in 1990).
Come Visit Us! The Lowell office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT â€˘ (616) 897-5987 â€˘ Fax (616) 897-6605 The North Country Trail Association develops, maintains, protects and promotes the North Country National Scenic Trail as the premier hiking path across the northern tier of the United States through a trail-wide coalition of volunteers and partners. Our vision for the North Country National Scenic Trail is that of the premier footpath of national significance, offering a superb experience for hikers and backpackers in a permanently protected corridor, traversing and interpreting the richly diverse environmental, cultural, and historic features of the northern United States.