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January-March, 2018

The Magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

State of the Trail NCTA Celebration at Buckeye Trailfest! New Fund to Honor Matthews’ Leadership

Volume 37, No. 1

Nigel Dyson-Hudson

One of four new shelters built along the NCT part of the Finger Lakes Trail in upstate New York last year, the post and beam framed Taylor Valley Shelter was a gift from Sigi and sons Eric (pictured) and Claus to honor ailing husband and father Horst Schwinge.


In This Issue

David Cowles Director of Development

State of the Trail 2017............................6 Passages.............................................19, 29 Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew..........28 Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge Returns....................................30 Love It! Photo Contest Winner...........30 Chapter, Affiliate and Partner Awards.....31 Extended Outing in the Adirondacks.....31 Celebration is at Buckeye Trailfest!..........32 An Americorps Member Does His First Trailwork ......................37 New Fund to Honor Matthews’ Leadership...........................39 Hike 50 and Hike 100 Challenges........39 Long Distance Hiking Awards................40 Meet Valerie Bader...................................41 A Thru-Hike on the Buckeye Trail........42

Columns Trailhead.............................................3 NPS Corner........................................4 From the Executive Director...............5

Departments Who’s Who Along the Trail...............22 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................41 Next Deadline for Submissions.........43

About the Cover:

Lois and I took out three young people from the University of Michigan on snowshoes. Megan our neighbor had brought her two friends Riley and Seeta home for spring break. The names of the people from front to back are Seeta Goyal, Megan Puckett, Riley Marshall, and Lois Goldstein. John Heiam, photographer.


The North Star

Valerie Bader Director of Trail Development

Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota Tarin Hasper Annual Fund Coordinator Andrea Ketchmark Executive Director Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator Nicole Murphy Administrative Assistant Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator, Wisconsin Alison Myers Administrative Assistant Amelia Rhodes Marketing/Communications Coordinator Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan

National Board of Directors Ruth Dorrough, President (585) 354-4147 · Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · Lynda Rummel, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · Tim Mowbray, VP West (715) 378-4320 · Larry Pio, Secretary (269) 327-3589 · Tom Moberg, Immediate Past President (701) 271-6769 · Josh Berlo, Minnesota Rep. (574) 532-4183 · Mike Chapple, At Large Rep. (574) 274-0151 · Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-4619 · Jerry Fennell, At Large Rep. (262) 787-0966 · Dennis Garrett, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 827-2350 · Cheryl Kreindler, At Large Rep. (313) 850-8731 · Paul Spoelstra, Michigan Rep. (616) 890-7518 · Jan Ulferts Stewart, North Dakota Rep. (701) 318-5180 · Mark VanHornweder, Wisconsin Rep. (218) 390-0858 · Jeff Van Winkle, Michigan Rep. (616) 540-2693 · Steve Walker, Ohio Rep. (330) 652-5623 · Quinn Wright, New York Rep. (716) 826-1939 ·

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design Kristi Evans, Tom Gilbert, Becky Heise, Lorana Jinkerson, Duane Lawton, Amelia Rhodes, Jeff Van Winkle, Joan Young, Editorial Advisory Committee The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 37, 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.


t’s a long drive from upstate N.Y. to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had been comfortably settling into a quiet home-centered winter. To tell you the truth I was not looking forward to the effort required to attend the recent NCTA Board of Directors’ meeting. I’ll also confess that I’d rather be hiking than writing this column, delving into organizational finances, pondering potential Federal budget cuts, being concerned about fund development, or any of the other myriad responsibilities attendant upon Board membership. Once the Board and staff gathered, all reluctance disappeared. I thought about the effort each had made to be present, all each had given, many for years, to the Trail. It was so good to see everyone in person and be reminded of the expertise and genuine goodness that gathers around the table to conduct the needed governance of the NCTA. During the two days prior to the full board meeting on Saturday, committees were active. Cheryl Kreindler, Chair of Trail Protection, facilitated a session between NPS Staff, Trail Protection committee representatives, and NCTA staff. During the NPS Open Forum in Marquette questions were raised regarding roles and responsibilities of each organization. These sessions are part of the process that is clarifying and formalizing these topics particularly as they relate to trail protection, Both Finance Committee, led by Doug Thomas, and Governance Committee, led by Tim Mowbray, conducted lengthy productive meetings. We welcomed two new board members, Jan Ulferts Stewart from North Dakota and Quinn Wright from New York. The Board passed the carefully prepared and meticulously scrutinized 2018 Budget. Andrea Ketchmark ably led a full afternoon Strategic Planning Review session. She presented an Environmental Scan and feedback from the staff retreat and the focus groups which reviewed the current plan. The Board and representative NPS and NCTA staff reviewed this input and discussed the plan in the light

Trail Head Ruth Dorrough President

of current challenges and possibilities. Andrea emphasized the importance for all of us to stay focused not only on the “How” and “What” of our involvement in the North Country Trail Association but especially on the “Why.” The army of those of you actively committed to creating and maintaining the NCT are undoubtedly familiar with the need to overcome the reluctance I described earlier. What motivates you to organize a Celebration, lead a chapter meeting, maintain and build trail during mosquito laden, heat saturated days? Surely you have asked, “Why am I doing this?” when you are driving home from a trail meeting on dark icy roads or return to Trail to find register boxes vandalized. As our Board discussion revealed, the answers vary. Your stories of ways in which the Trail has improved the quality of your life inspire and energize us. They remind us that our NCTA work is important at every level. We have the opportunity to be part of a community united by the potential to combat boredom, provide comfort, companionship, challenge, solace, and a sense of well being. We have an opportunity to be a part of something positive that is bigger than ourselves. The rewards are well worth overcoming any natural reluctance to getting involved. Once I began writing this column, I started seeing in my mind the faces of many of you we met as we walked the NCT. The task ceased being a chore. It assumed the pleasure of writing a letter to friends. As has been wisely said, “The North Country Trail connects not only places; it connects people.” Keep up the good work and keep the stories coming.

Dan Durrough

caption Ruth hiking with her husband Dan on the Finger Lakes Trail.

January-March 2018


From the Executive Director Andrea Ketchmark

The Possibility in Partnership


s one year comes to a close and a new one begins, we spend time pondering what we’ve done and making goals for what comes next. My goals for 2018 are many: eat healthier, spend time with family, hike more and stress less. We also have goals at NCTA: build, maintain and protect more Trail, get more people hiking and ensure the sustainability of the organization. One of the most important goals I wanted to share is a simple reminder to celebrate our successes and the people that make them possible. The Trail does not build and maintain itself. It’s the people, regardless of chapter or organization they belong to or the agency uniform they wear, who make the Trail what it is today. Volunteers and staff do the work. Partnerships make it possible. It’s easy to recognize that the Trail does not exist without partnerships. It’s harder to see the full breadth of what our partnership structure looks like and harder still to navigate a relationship that, like any other relationship, is about give and take. This year, I ask us all to focus energy on building positive and reciprocal relationships with our partners at all levels. Good partnerships are based on real people who respect each others’ needs and goals and perspectives.

21 Partnership Success Factors

Adopt a Shared Vision

Develop and continue to refine a shared vision of the work to be accomplished together. Only if we engage each other and come to agreement on what we are trying to accomplish will we have collective enthusiasm for the work and a shared vision of the outcome.


The North Star

Every organization has its own culture that is built over time, based on its mission, its practices, its people, its governing values, its traditions, and its institutional history. The most successful partnerships recognize and value their differences and find ways to integrate them into the partnership so every member feels valued and is able to accomplish something important for their organization.

Ensure Good Communication

The success of every partnership is dependent upon the structure, frequency, and quality of communication between the partners. The most successful partnerships incorporate regularly scheduled meetings or calls to review not only the progress on the work but also to discuss the relationship.

Maintain an Environment of Trust

Trust is an essential ingredient for successful partnerships and enables collaboration and contribution. Trust must be demonstrated and earned day by day through the consistency and integrity of your actions over time. And you have to trust your partners in order to be trusted.

Celebrate Success

This is my favorite! Successful partnerships look for every opportunity to celebrate, which allows us to recognize good work being done that re-enforces the goals of the partnership, can gain public recognition of the partnership, and can motivate and spur people on to new projects. Nowhere could this be more important than the North Country Trail. With such a big goal that will take decades to complete, it’s important to celebrate our successes regularly to remind us why we are doing this in the first place. These are great advice for any partnership, but especially one as far reaching, complex and diverse as ours. You can find the full list of 21 Partnership Success Factors online or request a booklet from us. This year, we are working with the Buckeye Trail Association to host a joint BTA Trailfest AND NCTA Celebration for both organizations. It’s a perfect chance to explore parts of the Trail you’ve never seen before and to celebrate one of our longest and most important partnerships with the Buckeye Trail Association. I hope to see you there!

Amelia Rhodes

Brian O’Neill, the former Superintendent of the Golden Gate National Park, was known as a champion for demonstrating how partnership is the key to building a community of stewardship. I regularly review his booklet of 21 Partnership Success Factors, which reflects two decades of collecting best practices, and pass out copies every time I get the chance. I won’t list all 21 here but I do want to share my top 5. These are his words, slightly adapted by me for the Trail.

Understand Each Partner’s Mission and Organizational Culture

National Trails System 50th Anniversary

National Park Service

My huge thanks to Tom Gilbert, whose research I have extensively drawn upon, and at times, copied from, for this article.

Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT


n 2016 we celebrated the one hundredth anniversary of the National Park Service. Now, in 2018, we get to celebrate again, this time, the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System!


Talk of a nationwide system of trails had begun in Washington in the 1960s. In 1962, Gaylord Nelson was elected to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin. The Appalachian Trail community reached out to him to sponsor Federal legislation to protect their trail. In 1963, the Outdoor Recreation Resources Review Commission took this trail protection idea a bit farther by recommending creation of a national system of trails. The following year, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation initiated the Interior Department’s nationwide trails study. In September 1965, the Study was completed, with North Country Trail as one of its proposed trails.


Shortly after President Johnson’s letter, the Interior Department published “Trails For America,” proposing further study of selected trails, including the North Country Trail. On October 2, 1968, the National Trails System was established

as Public Law 90-543. At that time, two trails were officially designated, the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. The law also authorized the study of 14 additional routes as potential National Scenic Trails, including the North Country Trail. In 1971, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation was assigned to study the North Country Trail. This exhaustive study took nine years, and on March 5 1980, North Country National Scenic Trail was authorized by Congress. Thirty-eight years later, North Country Trail is still a work in progress, but what success we have seen! Three thousand off road miles and counting. A thriving North Country Trail Association and over 1200 active volunteers making sure that there is trail to hike and things to do! Our sincere thanks to you all for your hard work, persistence and passion for this “line on the landscape” that we all love. Since passage of the law in 1968, Scenic and Historic Trails were periodically added to the National Trails System. Today, the National Trails System consists of eleven National Scenic Trails and 19 National Historic Trails administered by the National Park Service, the USDA Forest Service and/or the Bureau of Land Management. Check out https://www.nps. gov/nts for a complete listing, cool maps and more information about our National Trails. (By the way, we have PowerPoint presentations on the history and breadth of the National Trails System. We’re happy to share it with you so you can share it with others. Just give me a call.)

Celebrating The Trails System In 2018

This year, we celebrate! is your first stop to join in at the national level. There are resources to access, the anniversary logo, fact sheets, event guides, social media content to help promote your activities, and videos you can share. You can upload your local events to the national map. There’s even a place for you to share your Trail Story. The website truly is quite a resource. At the Trail level, we have the Hike 100 and Hike 50 Challenges! This will be year three for the incredibly successful Hike 100 program that is coordinated by NCTA. They have added a “Hike 50” component in honor of the 50th anniversary. Those who complete the mileage will receive cool patches. Check it out: http:// And, as usual, if you have any questions or comments, drop me a line: mark_ or (616) 319-7906 extension 3.

January-March 2018


Brandon Mulnix

In February of 1966, President Johnson offered his support for a national trails system in his Letter to Congress. In it, he states: The forgotten outdoorsmen of today are those who like to walk, hike, ride horseback or bicycle. For them we must have trails as well as highways. Nor should motor vehicles be permitted to tyrannize the more leisurely human traffic. Old and young alike can participate. Our doctors recommend and encourage such activity for fitness and fun. I am requesting, therefore, that the Secretary of the Interior work with his colleagues in the federal government and with state and local leaders and recommend to me a cooperative program to encourage a national system of trails, building up the more than hundred thousand miles of trails in our National Forests and Parks. There are many new and exciting trail projects underway across the land. In Arizona, a county has arranged for miles of irrigation canal banks to be used by riders and hikers. In Illinois, an abandoned railroad right of way is being developed as a “Prairie Path.” In New Mexico utility rights of way are used as public trails. As with so much of our quest for beauty and quality, each community has opportunities for action. We can and should have an abundance of trails for walking, cycling and horseback riding, in and close to our cities. In the back country we need to copy the great Appalachian Trail in all parts of America, and to make full use of rights of way and other public paths.


State of the Trail

2017 Overview and Reports from the Field North Dakota Dakota Prarie Chapter Developed 6.75 miles of new/ improved trail and eliminated 5 miles of trail from a busy road. See page 26.

693 Miles 252 Miles

Mileage indicated represents off-road trail.

133 Miles



WISCONSIN Heritage Chapter Extended continuous trail east from Copper Falls SP, reaching SR-169 and completed a graveled 6-car parking lot at SR-169. See page 20. Photo: Bill Menke

Photo: Kekakabic Trail Chapter

2017 was, once again, an incredible year on the North Country National Scenic Trail. Our network of 39 Chapters, Partners and Affiliates worked tirelessly across seven states to plan, build, maintain, and protect the North Country Trail. The stories highlighted in the following pages showcase just a small fraction of the dedication and passion of the individuals and groups who make the North Country Trail possible. Please join us in celebrating these stories and all of the accomplishments that made the NCT great in 2017 and looking forward to another great year in 2018.

Kekekabic Trail Chapter Volunteers cleared the last of thousands of trees that left miles of the trail impassable after a 2016 storm.


1,240 volunteers contributed 79,031 hours of their time—a value of $1.9 million.

49 miles of trail were constructed.

We built and repaired 2,964 feet of bridges and 2,114 feet of puncheon and boardwalk. 33 new campsites were established. We installed 173 signs and refreshed countless miles of paint blazes.

2,003 miles of trail maintained through Adopters and work days. Trail Mileage Since 2002 2002: 1,879 Miles


2007: 2,404 Miles

The North Star

2012: 2,602 Miles

2016: 2,880 Miles 2017: 3,009 Miles 2018:

3,123 Miles

Our Goal: 4,600 Miles

Photo: HSS Chapter FB

MICHIGAN Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Constructed over 900 feet of boardwalk and completed two reroutes, moving over 1 mile of trail off road. See page 17.

New York Central New York Constructed puncheon and staircase to bypass a major washout on the Gorge Trail Segment. See page 8. Photo: Mark Wadopian

462 Miles 841 Miles

236 Miles

Buckeye Trail Association BTA received funding to acquire 100 acres to connect segments in the Wayne National Forest and the Buckeye Trail Crew started the trail construction.

505 Miles


Photo: Dave Brewer


Wampum Chapter Constructed an ADA accessible trail segment near Watts Mill, utilizing 125 tons of crushed limestone. See page 11.

Looking forward Photo: Matt Rowbotham

Some of our major efforts this year will include: • Providing increased training opportunities to expand volunteer skills, including our Trail Crew Leader Training program. • Completing our Technical Series Maps, an innovative series of freely downloadable digital PDF maps which will allow trail users to access more easily and navigate the North Country Trail. • Continuing to identify state-by-state priorities and developing an action plan for priority project implementation. • Preparing for future Trail Protection efforts by engaging in the Land Trust Alliance’s “Assess your Organization” process.

State of the Trail Chapter, Affiliate and Partner Reports follow this page


See the full Trail Progress Report at

Overview REPORT BY Photo: Max Bader

Each year we continue to grow, both in miles of trail built and maintained and in our volunteer contributions to the trail. We’ve got plenty of exciting trail projects again in 2018: more bridges, signs, campsites and miles of trail relocated off of roads. We hope the upcoming year will also provide us with greater opportunities to strengthen our community of supporters and to protect more miles of the North Country Trail.

Valerie Bader Director of Trail Development

January-March 2018


State of the Trail Eileen Fairbrother

Mary Coffin

Mark Wadopian and Scott Sellers work to reclaim materials to help with temporary crossing after a monster washout along the Lehigh Valley Railroad route north of Cazenovia.

Central New York Chapter One view from the top of Jones Hill in the Adirondacks.

New York’s Adirondacks

NEW YORK - Since the Adirondack route plan of 2007-08 volunteers have been GPSing, ground truthing and evaluating the approved route and reporting back to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). About 81 miles of the 158-mile route use existing trails but they are not connected. New trail (38 miles) 2 will be designed and built, a few miles a year, to connect these existing trails. The gaps are deep within the State’s 6 million acre Adirondack Park, crossing eight protected units designated Wild Forests and Wildernesses. As with any long distance trail, we need to accept some temporary road walks for now. ADK (Adirondack Mountain Club) and NCTA volunteers have been working with each of the eight DEC Forester/Planners to ensure that NCT route is included in the Unit Management Plans for each of the units (Wild Forests and Wildernesses) and finally to have each forester include the trail in his/her annual work plan. All these steps must be accomplished before any construction can occur on the ground in the Adirondack Park. And a trail section must span road to road before it can be marked as NCT. The good news is that the land managers are very supportive and slowly we are making progress developing road to road sections. Based on work accomplished in the fall of 2017, the NCT hiker can hike about 30 miles from Speculator to North Creek through Siamese Ponds Wilderness and Vanderwhacker Wild Forest. Also from the Inlet area and Moose River Plains Road in the West Canada Lakes Wilderness, one can hike approximately 20 miles to Perkins Clearing and Rt. 30, north of Speculator on the NCT route. In 2018 and 2019 we have National Park Service funding to construct new trail in Hoffman Notch Wilderness to connect the Hoffman Trail east to Hammond Pond Wild Forest using a preexisting wildlife tunnel under Interstate 87. ADK/NCTA volunteers have been clearing (no power tools allowed, and no trees larger than 3” diameter breast high may be cut) the flagged route to the summit of a small mountain, Jones Hill, in preparation for hiring the ADK pro crew with that funding to do the heavy work such as benching and rock steps to the summit. The summit of Jones Hill offers spectacular views of the Adirondack High Peaks. —Mary Coffin


The North Star

NEW YORK - Here the state of the trail is excellent. In general, all sections are wellmaintained and suitable for hiking activities. 2 Our volunteers have worked arduously to ensure a safe, relaxing and enjoyable hiking experience, contributing over 1330 hours toward this effort. Kiosks have been rebuilt, footpaths cleared of brush, fallen trees removed after major storms, trails surveyed, blazes reset, and a major washout mitigated. We have worked well alongside our land management partners and friends. As in the past year, our biggest challenge lies in the mitigation of a few specific yet critical areas. In a desire to provide a more serene and enjoyable hiking experience, the Chapter has endeavored to reroute at least portions of the trail off the major roadways and city streets, yet maintain proximity to the NPS National Monument at Fort Stanwix and designated state park areas. Thus, altering the route on both the north side and south side of the City of Rome became a key element as we continue to pursue the Optimal Location Review (OLR). We are working closely with both the Rome city planners and the Griffiss Business and Technology Park coordinators to improve the experience

State of the Trail

around and through the city. The prospect of using undeveloped land and a National Grid (power company) ROW south of the city to link up with the Mohawk River Walk, then continuing to the east and north via Griffiss Park and Floyd offers considerable improvement, even if not perfect. Removal of the hazard zone on State Route 46 near Delta Dam by utilizing state forest land at Clark Hill also promises to be a vast improvement. As with any major endeavor, there are complications and challenges to overcome. Stringer Brook cuts through the Clark Hill State Forest and cannot simply be forded on foot. Steve Kinne and Jack Miller have expended great effort scouting a route and contacting state forest personnel to consider options of bridging the gap, thus closing in on a footpath to Pixley Falls where the Trail can once again connect with the Black River Canal. The hardest thing we do is promote ourselves. This is a task that never diminishes, no matter how hard we work. We must find others to pick up the banner and carry forward the dream of a continuous Trail. With that in mind, the Chapter has distributed brochures to 36 locations as well as posting at trailheads, sent welcome packets to new members, participated in the Cazenovia Health and Wellness Fair, invited college groups to join our activities, and hosted theme and recreational hikes open to the public. Our Annual Meeting with guest speakers is also open and free to the public.

—Mark P. Wadopian, President

Irene Szabo

Right: Finger Lakes Trail Conference’s Bucktooth State Forest shelter framed and ready for hemlock board siding and metal roof. No more lifting heavy logs or trying to make them fit; this milled lumber is all the right sizes and fastens with power-driven 8" screws.

Finger Lakes Trail Conference

NEW YORK - Our biggest news for 2017 involves trail preservation. We had one property donation and did a first for FLT, an ownership exchange for permanent protection on it and the adjacent parcel, which eliminated a long road walk. We received two donated 2 easements. We made two mortgage loans to the Finger Lakes Land Trust so that they could purchase, with $243,000 of Finger Lakes Trail (FLT) funding, parcels containing over a mile of trail and a future hunting season route. Eventually the Land Trust will sell the properties for inclusion in adjacent State Forest land, and the mortgage from FLT will be repaid. And we took a huge step and made a $245,000 property purchase to protect the Trail, necessitating a subdivision and resale of residential structures as we retained 61 acres, with over a mile of Trail in a key link area. We plan to sell the parcel to the adjacent State Forest when New York State funds are available. Donors have been very generous to our Sidote Stewardship Fund, which has grown enough to enable us to make these big purchases. We consider our landowners members of the FLT, so they, too, received our recent annual appeal letter. One 92-year-old landowner wrote a note back that he didn’t have any money, but how would we like a permanent easement for the Trail on his property? Heartwarming stories continue to keep our spirits up, even though occasionally a permission may be lost because of unwanted biker trespass, for instance. Four new shelters were built, three of them much simpler and safer post and beam construction rather than the traditional logs, and one shelter on private land was refurbished with a new roof in a combination project utilizing our materials and both volunteer and landowner family labor. Three of the shelters’ typical $4000 material costs were memorial donations! A new 28 foot bridge was built near McGraw, replacing one that had dissolved during an 8 year period when our permission on that property had been lost. Happily the new landowner welcomed the Trail back. Also, we hikers were given special access to a private camping site on land near the Trail. In 2019 the International Trails Symposium will be in Syracuse, N.Y., and some of us are already involved. —Contributions from Quinn Wright, Mary Coffin, Irene Szabo, and Lynda Rummel

January-March 2018


State of the Trail

Allegheny National Forest Chapter

PENNSYLVANIA - Our chapter loves to host the popular Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge (A-100). When preregistration opened in February, the 150 available spots filled up in less than 8 hours! Shelby Gangloff reported, “The A-100 is an unsupported endurance hiking challenge with no timekeepers, no aid stations, and no finish line other than the one hikers set for themselves. The event challenges hikers to traverse 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles along the NCT through the ANF in 50 hours. Most hikers are from the local area, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, but some came from as far away as Florida, Colorado, and Texas. Seventeen people completed the 100 miles, including two people who originally signed up to hike only 75 miles! Three people

Dave Adams

Butler County Chapter volunteers repair the Dead Crow Bridge that was damaged by a fallen tree. Notice scaffolding set up above the raging stream below, certainly novel work conditions.


The North Star

Tina Toole

Lynn Espin

Mike and Tina Toole nail down steel mesh on the ramp to the Lower Sheriff Bridge, the last of 213 bridges or walkways needing mesh along the 100 miles of North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest.

finished 75 miles, 67 people completed the 50, and 58 people completed at least 25 miles. All participants should be proud of themselves no matter what distance they covered.” The project to cover 213 bridges and walkways with traction mesh along the 97 miles of Trail was completed in November. The chapter laid down 2771 feet of mesh; that’s Our youngest trail worker, over one-half mile! This is quite Asher, 18 months, along with his parents, Sharon and Nate, an accomplishment and a great helped place the new trail and trail improvement! road signs. Seventy three signs were purchased to mark trail and road intersections. Information is provided to the hiker about the name of the road and the distance to the next major road crossing. Two thirds of the signs have been put up so far. This project was funded jointly by the U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service and the ANF Chapter. Thirty three campsites were set up and marked along the Trail, complementing our four shelters. These will be regularly maintained by chapter volunteers. Construction occurred all season. Two informational kiosks were built. Twenty-one puncheon bridges or walkways were installed and a staircase was constructed at Red Bridge. A generous donation allowed us to purchase an Alaskan Sawmill and powerful chainsaw with appropriate sized bar and special ripping chain. This set-up allows us to cut boards in remote areas to use for walkways and bridges. The first project we did with the sawmill was to build six walkways at the northern swampy end of Hammond Run about 1.5 miles from the nearest road access. Routine trail maintenance is ongoing. Trail work days are held about twice a month for larger projects. Sixty-five work day participants and trail adopters worked to clear, drain and maintain 97 miles of trail. The 25 northernmost miles of Trail were blazed this spring as part of the effort to reblaze the 100 miles over 4 years. Also, ten of the thirteen informational kiosks were restained and had new posters installed. —Tina Toole

State of the Trail Butler County Chapter

Wampum Chapter

PENNSYLVANIA - Our year began on January 1st when we co-led with the Butler Outdoor Club (BOC) a 6 mile First Day Hike in Moraine State Park on the NCT from the Bike Rental Trailhead to Burnside Rd. and back. The weather was mild and there were 300+ hikers participating. On February 25 we joined Washington 1753 and Jennings Environmental Learning Center to host our annual Washington 1753 Cherry Pie Hikes. Jennings staff led 3 mile nature hikes every hour; Washington 1753 volunteers led short history hikes and we led 6 mile long NCT hikes from the 528 bridge back to Jennings and provided shuttles back after folks had their cherry pie and drinks and a short talk about the NCT and George Washington’s 1753 trip to Fort LeBoeff. Period re-enactors set up displays and and Indians shot at George as groups of history hikers walked by. There were 400+ attendees throughout the day. Also in February we had a table with the Butler Outdoor Club at the Moraine Winterfest event. In mid-May the Glacier Ridge Trail Ultramarathons are run mostly on NCT trails; members participated or helped volunteer to set up and run the race. This is a fundraiser for Moraine State Park’s organizations which use the funds to improve the park trails and for park projects. In May-June the Keystone Trail Association trailcare crew stayed at the Davis Hollow Cabin and completed trail and drainage improvements at McConnells Mill State Park between the Old Mill and Eckert Bridge on both sides of the gorge and at Moraine State Park on the Pleasant Valley Trail. In June we helped Butler Outdoor Club volunteers put on the Muddy 5k at the annual Bantam Jeep Festival at Coopers Lake Campgound. This is a fundraiser for the BOC and they donate funds back to the Butler Chapter. In July we repaired downed tree damage to the Dead Crow Bridge in State Gamelands 95 near Parker, Pennsylvania. Throughout the year we held monthly hikes and helped shuttle hikers from the Old Stone House to McConnells Mill. In October we attended the Washington 1753 Summit, a meeting of organizations and folks promoting the potential for a Washington 1753 Heritage Trail from Mount Vernon, Virginia, to Fort LeBoef, Pennsylvania, which follows Colonel Washington’s trip to warn the French to leave the area. —Dave Adams Dave Adams

PENNSYLVANIA - The construction of a 200 yard Americans with Disabilities Act certified section of Trail at Watt’s Mill (detailed in the October-December, 2017 edition of the North Star), the completion of a new hiker shelter along the NCT near the Trail Town of Wampum, obtaining a permanent legal easement for a half mile of trail in Beaver County, and the successful negotiation with seven landowners to build 2.5 miles of new Trail through the woods in Lawrence County in 2018 are the highlights of the past year for the Wampum Chapter. In addition the Wampum Chapter worked consistently to maintain and upgrade our range of Trail, including the replacement of two twelve-foot bridges, installing numerous aluminum and routed wooden trailhead signs, and participating in the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania by removing trash and tires along a road walk section near Wampum. We led groups of Student Conservation Association volunteers out of the Pittsburgh area over two spring weekends upgrading trail sections at McConnell’s Mill State Park, and maintained a regular group trail-maintaining schedule throughout the year to keep our Trail in great shape. Our individual Trail Maintainers were a force to be reckoned with in 2017, heading out to push back the spring and summer growth of weeds and briars, removing fallen trees from the pathway, and reporting on conditions that needed the attention of the larger group to resolve. An equipment trailer was outfitted to haul the DR mower and other trail maintaining equipment, improving our ability to get tools to where they were needed for various projects. The chapter continued to emphasize completion of the NPS’s TrailSafe! Program for all of our volunteers who take to the woods. Landowner appreciation was a priority of the Wampum Chapter with each of the benefactors who allow the Trail to pass over their property invited to our chapter meeting and given a custom-carved hiking stick and certificate of appreciation. Without the gracious support of these individuals, companies, and public landholders the Trail could not exist in southwestern Pennsylvania. To promote the North Country Trail, the Chapter continued its multi-pronged approach to getting people involved in hiking on and working with the NCT. We maintained our presence on various social media platforms, including the state and local Facebook pages and Meetups, and ensured that word of our meetings, hikes, and other activities were publicized by the local newspapers and tourism guides. The Chapter installed three new, custom-designed North Country Trail storyboards focusing on the local historical sites along our range of NCT, one each at the Hell’s Hollow Trailhead, and in our Trail Towns of Wampum and Darlington. Continued on page 12

Left: Butler County Chapter’s Keystone TrailCare Crew repairs trail in McConnell's Mill State Park, including sidehilling and rock work.

January-March 2018


State of the Trail Chuck Hoard

Monthly hikes were led for all members of the community to experience, NCT presentations were done at several groups’ meetings throughout our two-county area, we marched in local parades, supported our communities’ projects financially, and our volunteers ventured out to eight local festivals, setting up our hiking stick rigs, canopies, and displays to spread the word about the North Country Trail with the attendees. The chapter also purchased an Event Trailer to haul our outreach materials and equipment, which provides higher visibility to the NCT locally. Membership in the Wampum Chapter has doubled over the past four years, and recognition and awareness of the Trail through our section of Pennsylvania continues to grow. —Dave Brewer

Chief Baw Beese Chapter Dave Brewer

Wampum Chapter Night Hikers.

LOWER MICHIGAN - The chapter increased our membership and had several new members join us for work days, group hikes and community events. The local Boy Scout group worked with the city of Litchfield to plan and build a campground just off the trail near our Trail Town. There are several campsites, two fire rings and picnic tables. We added a new kiosk as specified by the city manager as a finishing touch. We purchased a new canopy and updated our chapter brochures, and participated in local community events throughout the summer. We enjoyed good weather as we spread the word on the entire North Country Trail and our local section. We had great participation in the many group hikes that were hosted throughout the year, with at least one hike in each season. Lastly, we completed work days in each month to maintain the Trail and provide a great hiking experience for all our members and everyone who passes through our section of the country on the NCT. —Bruce Dziadzio

Below: Wampum Chapter members reconstructed this bridge by Watts Mill, in Pennsylvania. Dave Brewer


The North Star

State of the Trail Larry Pio

The final “Golden Screw” on Chief Noonday Chapter’s puncheon project at Fort Custer National Cemetery.

Chief Noonday Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - As we finish 2017, our Chapter has four members who have hiked more than 400 unique miles of the NCNST this year, with Jane Norton leading at about 640 unique miles. Led by our Chapter Trail VP, Jeff Fleming, we finished our puncheon project in Fort Custer National Cemetery, and also installed 3 new kiosks to promote the Trail in our area. Our hike committee, led by Bobbi Jo Gamache, Jane Norton, and Mary Brinks, has hosted more than a dozen hikes this year, exposing many new folks to our Trail. Our other outreach activities continue, including perhaps the final year of the “Picture This!” program in Battle Creek to get kids out on the Trail taking pictures. —Larry Pio

Western Michigan Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - Speaking as the President, I am most proud of our chapter volunteers and 340 members who support our goal of “building and maintaining the NCT in Kent and Newaygo Counties here in Western Michigan.” We have two trail coordinators (one for each county), 35 dedicated section maintainers, several certified sawyers, and many volunteers and groups who have assisted us throughout the year. We have a seven member board that meets quarterly and actively tends to chapter business, as well as working on the Trail and chapter events. The Board has much pride in their annual meeting, which for two years now had an attendance of 65 people. This year we held the annual meeting as a fund raiser and did indeed generate some additional funds for the chapter! We’re really no different from other Chapters regarding trail building, hikes, promotion and Trail Towns. However, one “feather in our cap” in 2017 is our new partnership with PAWN, Parkinson’s of West Michigan. Member Paul Spoelstra initiated the partnership by submitting a grant proposal to PAWN. Our Chapter and the NCTA both received $2500 grants to promote the NCT as a “healthy destination” for people with Parkinson’s. Two specialized hikes were planned and implemented as well as establishing the Hike 100 Patch project for Parkinson’s. A special thanks to Paul and the PAWN organization for their vision and initiative for this project. Paul can be contacted at spoelymi@ if your Chapter would like more information. Continued on page 14

Beth Keloneva

Western Michigan Chapter Hike for Parkinson’s group September 24 at Barb and Glen Cazier’s near 22 Mile Rd. in Newaygo County. Several of the folks in this group have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s, while the others are hiking in support or they know someone with the disease. Founder of the group, Paul Spoelstra, is pictured in the front row on the left in the red cap.

January-March 2018


State of the Trail Robert Dunning

Spirit of the Woods Chapter National Trail Day Event, Invasive Species Training.

Western Michigan Chapter's Vision for 2018 Our vision is as it has been throughout the years: to continue to refine our Trails, create fewer road walks and prioritize our projects. We serve two counties in Western Michigan with over 115 miles of Trail which on average is a little over half off road. For the past couple of years we have been working with Cedar Springs and their Community Development team to establish a new route through Cedar Springs, so this will continue to be on the agenda for the coming year as well. White Cloud continues to develop as a Trail Town, and Lowell will be developing their Trail Town vision as well. As the Board reflected on 2017 we all concluded that “time” to volunteer is a challenge to all of us. Our Chapter has seen healthy growth in the past two years and meeting the needs and interests of the Chapter continues to be a challenge. Prioritizing goals for the Chapter will be our first order of business for the coming year. Recruiting additional volunteers, and training and planning for succession of chapter leadership are always on our minds. —Beth Keloneva


The North Star

Spirit of the Woods Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - The Spirit of the Woods Chapter started off with a celebration in April, when the Spirit of the Woods and Western Michigan Chapters of the NCTA were honored at an award ceremony hosted by the USFS at their Baldwin District Ranger Office. Both Chapters were awarded the “2016 Enduring Service” award for their many years of volunteer work, service and partnership with the Forest Service. The ceremony was followed by a reception, where the Chapter volunteers, and USFS and NPS personnel in attendance continued their jovial reminiscences over the 20 or so years of working together on the Trail. At about the same time, the Chapter started our Trail maintenance season, where as usual we had a lot of windfall over the winter on our 78 miles here in the Manistee National Forest. Usually our trail adopters and certified sawyers make a pass and clear what they feel comfortable with and then call in the USFS to handle the more challenging situations later. This year, Steve Sawyers, one of our Trail Coordinators and a certified sawyer, was able to orchestrate a joint effort with personnel from the USFS out on the Trail. This enabled us to complete the clearing operation much earlier than normal, something we hope to duplicate in 2018. We continue to hold year round monthly events. Our hikes and snowshoe events remain very popular, mainly as a result of the NCTA’s 100 mile Challenge. We set up our events so the participants have the opportunity to select their own distance and pace in reaching whatever goal they have. This year, in addition to our monthly outings, we added a series of more challenging hikes, at the suggestion of Joan Young. From May through October, Joan planned and led a series of 13 hikes on the NCT, starting at the southern boundary of the Manistee National Forest and then traversing the entire 130 mile length of the Trail within the Forest. Each hike averaged 10 miles in length. The Chapter also held a special event on National Trails Day in June. Upon learning of the partnership of the USFS, NCTA, and the Michigan DNR to protect recreational trails in the State from invasive plant species, we invited Vicky Sawicky of the North Country - Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (NC-CISMA) to join us on our monthly outing. NC-CISMA, under a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, had completed a survey of 48 miles of our Trail and was also, under the same grant, scheduled to perform up to 30 acres of the targeted high priority invasive species removal on our section. We invited here all of our members, our trail adopters, monthly hikers along with the general public on our email lists to learn how we could make a significant impact in keeping a large portion of the NCT free from the priority invasive plant species after her work is completed. We learned that, although there are

State of the Trail Sara Cockrell

quite a few invasive species within the survey, we were in relatively better shape than other areas on the NCT, with only two high priority species (garlic mustard and multiflora rose). We also learned how to identify the priority species and how to report new infestations or re-emergence of targeted species using the Michigan Invasive Species Information Network (MISIN) smart app. Going forward in 2018, we anticipate joining the effort and participation in NC-CISMA’s “Adopt a Spot” Program where interested Chapter members, trail adoptors and members of the public can adopt a section to monitor as they hike or work on the Trail. —Robert Dunning

Grand Traverse Hiking Club points with enthusiasm, “Which way, New York or North Dakota?”

LOWER MICHIGAN - In addition to this year's trail maintenance and mowing, Richard Naperala and Ed Morse have been working on rerouting two sections of the North Country Trail in Kalkaska County. In the spring of 2017, a trail proposal was submitted to the DNR to reroute the NCT off the 612 Road. This busy six mile paved road was not a safe place to walk. Furthermore, the two track that was on the west end of 612 Road flooded every spring. So to alleviate the problem, we are moving the Trail around to the north side of Manistee Lake. This will definitely be a more enjoyable experience for all the people hiking this section. A second proposal recommends moving the NCT along the North Branch of the Boardman River and around Guernsey Lake. This reroute is very scenic and it will get the Trail off the forest two tracks which are heavily used by bikers and ORVs. Most of this proposed trail will be on a single pathway which meanders along a beautiful stream. We are hoping that the DNR will approve these proposals by the spring of 2018. This will provide plenty of fun trail work for the summer and fall of next year. — Pat Brumbaugh

Duane Lawton

Grand Traverse Hiking Club

“You Are Here” JV45° Bulletin Board Sign planting at Warner Creek Trailhead. Pictured, left to right: Linus and Eugene Branigan, Duane Lawton, Bob and Sheridan Haack, Denise and Jim DeKett.

Jordan Valley 45° Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - Our annual meeting in January featured Kenny Wawsczyk, NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator for Michigan, who presented on his efforts. The 11th annual “Jerry Allen Big Foot” award went to Eugene Branigan, our VP, who organized 2016 monthly group hikes that covered all our Trail in support of “Hike 100.” Our Chapter Honor Award went to Mary Campbell for Adopter Dinner cookery. We re-elected VP Eugene Branigan, Treasurer Todd Winnell, website maintainer Josh Berlo, and Trail Coordinators Dove and John Day. We also elected Denise DeKett who graciously agreed to replace Mary Campbell as Secretary, while Mary took off to thru-hike the AT. For outreach, we again represented the NCTA at the Quiet Water Symposium in East Lansing in March and also hosted an aid station at the Stafford’s Top of Michigan Community Marathon on May 27th at a point on the Little Traverse Wheelway marathon route that is shared with the NCT. Continued on page 16 January-March 2018



The North Star

State of the Trail Harbor Springs Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - The Harbor Springs Chapter is located in the northernmost part of the lower peninsula of Michigan and we maintain 46 miles of Trail from the Mackinaw Bridge south. With Lake Michigan to the west and Lake Huron to the east and the stiff breezes they bring, we are on constant lookout for blow downs. Our dedicated volunteers do chainsaw work and brushing even in the winter months. We try to keep the Trails open year around because we have beautiful snowshoe opportunities with the “lake effect” snow that piles up! We have purchased several chainsaw backpacks for those dedicated to hiking with their chainsaws. One of these individuals rides his bike, carrying his chainsaw! Our local biking club has been helpful in maintaining the parts of our section that allow bikes. In April a group of volunteers extended the boardwalk about 350´ on Section 3, our high water table section. The local TV channel caught them in action and produced a segment for the 6 o'clock news! We are excited that our section has been chosen for an “Optimal Location Review” by the North Country Trail Association. A grant from Michigan DNR has enabled the NCTA to hire a planning firm to assist in the process. Megan Olds from Parallel Solutions is working on getting our 6 miles of road walk into the countryside and off the road. In October our Chapter sponsored a hike where 16 people trekked a nearby section maintained by our neighboring JV45° Chapter. We visited their campsite and scenic overlook. It was great! Finally, at our October meeting we installed new officers. Long time president Jim Stamm passed the gavel to Shari Sanderson and Shari our secretary handed over her duties to Doreen Jagodnik. We are looking forward to more winter hikes and the adventures 2018 will bring! —Judy Conrad

Shari Sanderson

On National Trails Day we held our Fifth Annual Petoskey Trail Town Celebration in downtown Petoskey, with speeches, booths, food, prizes, music, games and hikes. Our Petoskey Trail Town Coordinator, Jen Winnell, along with Dove Day, enlisted many local sponsors. Our speakers were Mark Weaver of the NPS, Matt Claucherty of the Tip of the Mitt Watershed Council, Eagle Scout Joe Farley who led construction of the Skyline Shelter, and Mary Stewart Adams of the Headlands Dark Sky Park. We set out to make great strides in sprucing up the Jordan Valley Pathway… in April we met with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to plan for several projects, 505´ of puncheon, 92´ worth of steps, 163´ of benched trail, and extensive signage. Kenny Wawsczyk joined us in scouting and documenting the sites, and Paige Perry of the DNR compiled and submitted permit applications to the Michigan Natural Rivers Program and to the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) in June. We got the first permit in two months, the second we are still waiting for. The good news is that the signage does not require a permit; it’s covered by the NCTA/DNR agreement. Meanwhile, the NPS donated $6500 for material which we bought and stored at the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery. In addition, the DNR produced “You Are Here” map signs for the Jordan Valley. Our DNR Recreation liaison Tom Copenhaver obtained a revision to our DEQ permit for the beaver deceiver at O’Brien Pond, to increase its flow capacity fourfold: between the beavers and the rain our boardwalk was floating! On NCNST Day weekend in September, we planted 8 road crossing marker posts, 18 “You Are Here” map signs, three 3'x4' “You Are Here” map bulletin boards, two NCTA Jordan Valley interpretive panels, and upgraded the O’Brien Pond beaver deceiver! We again had monthly group hikes throughout our territory. 100% of our trail sections are adopted. Our third annual “Adopter Appreciation Dinner” was a cookout held October 15th in Boyne Falls. Bi-monthly chapter meetings continue, mostly. We continue to publish our chapter newsletter on opposite months, thanks to our editor Bob Haack. Our website has been converted to the new NCTA format, thanks to our maintainer Josh Berlo, who is now an NCTA Board of Directors member. —President Duane Lawton

Harbor Springs Chapter hiked in the Jordan Valley 45° Chapter’s section south of Petoskey in October, and visited their new Skyline Camp shelter.

State of the Trail

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter’s Winter Hike. Here they cross the Point Aux Chenes River, in Hiawatha National Forest, on Winter Trails Day 2017.

Superior Shoreline Chapter

UPPER MICHIGAN - They say a picture is worth a thousand words. A few miles of trail located throughout the 2012 Duck Lake fire area disappear at least twice a year due to strong winds. Three sawyers removed in excess of a thousand fallen trees. The following picture demonstrates the work needed to make the Trail a Trail again. —Barbara Isom Barbara Isom

UPPER MICHIGAN 1. Early spring: 47 Adopt A Section and Roving Crew volunteers maintained and cleared the North Country Trail (NCT) from the Mackinac Bridge to the Two Hearted River Campground bridge. 2. Bill Courtois and Roving Crew volunteers refreshed the blue blazes on several miles of Trail. 3. Our Chapter’s Roving Crew volunteers with the Great Lakes Conservation Corps completed the Tahquamenon Falls Wolf Lake and Wolf Lake associated projects that resulted in a mile of new trail tread, over twelve hundred feet of boardwalk with curbing, and spread ground cloth and gravel for a quarter of a mile at the west park boundary. The park assisted with grant writing, DEQ permits, and general support for the projects. 4. The above projects removed safety issues, greatly improved the hiking experience, and created more interest in the Muskallonge and Tahquamenon Falls “Park to Park Hike!” 5. Our chapter’s Roving Crew volunteers led by John Texter removed windfalls throughout summer and fall. (Many thanks to the hikers who report downed trees!) 6. Fifteen thousand brochures were designed and purchased with the cost covered by business advertisements. Five thousand were designed for Trail Town St. Ignace and supported by local businesses. 7. Volunteers manned the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter display at the Great Waters Symposium, Great Lakes Relay finish line, Wal-Mart health fair, and Lakerpaloosa at Lake Superior State University. 8. Volunteers attended numerous USFS, DNR, Wellness Coalition (sponsored by the Sault Tribe) meetings and the Sustainable Built Environment Initiative Group presentation of a plan for the Recreation Pathway on the Railroad Grade for the Saint Ignace Planning Commission meetings. By hosting a hike, we helped the town get a Sault grant for exercise stations along the Trail. Saint Ignace is a North Country Trail Town and the North Country Trail has been included in the city planning for the pathway. 9. Twelve HSS volunteers camped and assisted at the NCT Annual Celebration in Marquette. They found time to join in many of the scheduled hikes and activities. 10. Scheduled hikes led by old and new volunteers were held each month! 11. Other special hikes were “First Hike on the First,” January 1st at Tahqua Trail, National Winter Trails Day, Paradise Winter Carnival Hike, Valentine Hike, National Trails Day, Mackinac Bridge Warm-up and National NCNST Day’s Hike Between the Falls. This is an annual event co-hosted with Tahquamenon Falls State Park. It is the most attended hike of the year, often having over 200 hikers using the free shuttle! 12. The chapter met monthly and had speakers: Tom Funke from Trailspotters, Betsy Dayrell-Hart from the St. Ignace Planning Commission, and an Invasive Species presentation by Nick Cassel - Invasive Species Program Coordinator, Three Shores Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area, and Alex Maier - Video Documentary of hike across the UP. 13. The NCT was moved off busy Curley Lewis Hwy. Most of the work was done on National Trails Day. This included two short boardwalks and a half mile of new trail tread along the Lake Superior shoreline. 14. Volunteers assisted at the Great Lakes Relay and the Great Lakes Endurance runs on the NCT. —Tom Walker

Tom Walker

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter

Superior Shoreline Chapter has been endlessly cleaning up the aftermath of the Duck Lake fire a couple years ago.

January-March 2018


State of the Trail North Country Trail Hikers Chapter

Lorana Jinkerson

UPPER MICHIGAN - The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter is proud to have maintained 100% of our Trail with the support of our Trail Adopters and our intrepid crew led by our Trail Boss, Cliff Stammer. The determination and dedication of a couple handfuls of volunteers to put in multiple hours and days in remote, rugged terrain is to be commended. With the NCTA Annual Celebration at the end of July including hikes within 20 miles east and west of Marquette, they worked especially hard during the first half of the season making sure our visitors would have a memorable experience. Then this fall, we had a major wind storm that has necessitated multiple trips to saw up the blowdowns. Hosting the Celebration took many hours of preparation prior to the event and many volunteers leading and sweeping hikes, doing presentations, manning the registration desk, Trail Shop, etc. Although we had some help from other chapters, the majority fell upon our members who did an outstanding job. We hosted North Country Trail booths at several events again, the UP Sports Show, Northern Michigan University’s (NMU) Health & Wellness Fair, Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon, NMU’s Fall Fest, and NCNST Day. We had drawings for free NCT Hikers t-shirts, gained some new members and provided lots of information to those who stopped and chatted with us The Softies Hikes, led by Marge Forslin, continued their eastward trek across the UP in the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter area in the spring and fall with multiple hikers from other chapters. Other hikes included a National Trails Day Hike along five waterfalls in the Laughing Whitefish area and the Big Mac Bridge Walk in September. Chapter General Membership meetings included presentations by Sarah Mittlefehldt and John Gillette on the Appalachian Trail through story, song and photos, by Kathy Peters on the history of the Chocolay Bayou Project which includes a spur trail off the NCT, and by Doug Barry and Kay Countryman, Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources, on our partnership with the DNR, wildland fire training, and backpacking gear. We are looking forward to receiving five NPS panels to be installed at Laughing Whitefish Falls, Tourist Park Trailhead, Little Presque Isle, Elliott Donnelley Wilderness and Craig Lake State Park this coming spring. —Lorana Jinkerson

“The Trail turns right,” proclaims NCT Hikers Chapter rock cairn blaze, and points the way.


The North Star

Peter Wolfe Chapter

UPPER MICHIGAN - The Peter Wolfe Chapter (PWC) had their hands full this year with the wet weather! The local weather station said in mid- August we had not had four days in a row without rain all summer! And these wet conditions continued into the fall. With the soil being so saturated, tree roots had nothing to cling to and many trees just toppled over making lots of work for our certified chain sawyers. We were fortunate that several of our members were able to complete chain saw certification class by the NPS in Marquette this spring! Some members of the PWC attended the wonderful NCTA annual Celebration in nearby Marquette this summer and volunteered at that great event expertly coordinated by Lorana Jinkerson of the NCT Hikers Chapter in Marquette. This spring, we had the Superior Watershed Crew work on the tread of several miles of new Trail we had cut through and ribbon blazed last summer along both sides of the East Branch of the Ontonagon River in order to bring the Trail to the Gardner Road bridge rather than forcing hikers to make a treacherous wade across the muddy river. We had a very successful work day on the NCT Canyon Falls trail on NCNST Day. We had a pile of gravel donated by Michigan Tech, who owns the property there. Our PWC volunteers then hand shoveled the gravel into wheel barrows and rolled down the Trail one by one, until the entire 6 tons of gravel was carted and raked onto the Trail. We all slept well that night! And we hope to do it again next summer along with some repair and replacement of puncheon and bridges on that very popular trail which we call the Grand Canyon of the UP! We replaced most of our 8 trail registration/info boxes along the Trail; the old ammo boxes seemed to leak and leave our log books soggy, so we are now using regular mailboxes. Our biggest accomplishment this summer was the completion of a 100 foot puncheon near the headwaters of the Sturgeon River that was coordinated by PWC members Doug Welker and

State of the Trail Morgan Grasso

Jim Waters

Left to right: Ric Olson, Ken Nikula, Dave Kauppi, Cal Kangas, Norman Bishop, Karl Jensen, Char Herron-Jordan work on a boardwalk along a steep hillside, overlooking the Black River in early May for Ni-Miikanaake Chapter.

Ni-Miikanaake Chapter

New 100 foot puncheon built on the Ottawa National Forest near the headwaters of the Sturgeon River: Doug Welker of Peter Wolfe Chapter discusses details of the puncheon with his dog.


Kalista Lehrer, longtime member of New York’s Buffalo area Foothills Trail Club, the Finger Lakes Trail (FLT), and the North Country Trail Association, who walked a total of 6979 miles with her local club (records are kept for their annual Bunion Badges), died unexpectedly, November 29, 2017. She was last featured in the FLT News two years ago for donating several two-man crosscut saws that she and husband John had used in their own trail work years ago, saws At the 2015 NCTA Celebration in New he owned from 1930s Civilian Conservation Corps York, Kalista tried out camp. Kalista had been an NCTA member since 1982, so even with a six year lapse in membership, she one of her donated crosscut saws. was a 29 year member. Locally she was active in many nature and church groups, edited her hiking club newsletter, and was a well known nature educator. With her husband she maintained a section of western N.Y.’s Conservation Trail, a branch of the Finger Lakes Trail, from Warner Hill to Humphreys Roads on Map CT6, and then after his death, she maintained the north end in Niagara Falls, from Grand Island Bridge to the Rainbow Bridge. —Tribute by Irene Szabo

January-March 2018

Tony Rodriguez

Jim Waters with material costs provided by a Field Grant and Chapter funds. The Ottawa National Forest (ONF) had a 16 man crew of volunteers from an Amish contingent of the Conservative Anabaptist Service Program working on ONF campgrounds and trails in October and six members of this crew were a great help to us one day on the new puncheon project. This crew also walked nearly half of the PWC in the ONF with hand tools, cutting and lopping trees that had fallen across the trail since PWC chain sawyers had gone through earlier in the season. Doug and Jim were very impressed with their work ethic and friendliness the day they helped work on the puncheon. We have been very pleased with the turnout for our monthly hikes on the PWC led again this year by Mark Roberts. —Connie Julien

UPPER MICHIGAN - Under the leadership of new President Cal Kangas, the group focussed on trail maintenance near Black River Harbor and between Black River Harbor and the Porcupine Mountains State Park. In April and May the group built a 120-foot boardwalk near Conglomerate Falls. The group worked in cold and muddy conditions over a steep incline. The new boardwalk will offer safe passageway for hikers along the Black River segment of the Trail. Later in the summer the group repositioned a washed out bridge, and used material from another washed-out bridge to lengthen a boardwalk. We re-opened a neglected six-mile segment of Trail east of Black River Harbor, which was littered with windfalls from a July 2016 storm. A little farther east the group brushed and mowed the six-mile segment along the Presque Isle River. — Karl Jensen


State of the Trail Heritage Chapter

Todd McMahon

WISCONSIN - The Heritage Chapter built two more miles of Trail, including completion of 1.4 miles of new Trail to a new trailhead at Hwy 169 (with parking for 5 cars) and 0.6 miles of new Trail to an incredible vista overlooking Upson Lake. Construction of new Trail was in addition to regular maintenance by our dedicated members who also built 4 sections of puncheon between Copper Falls State Park and Stricker Rd. We began 2017 energized by a substantial financial contribution for trail construction by the NCTA Blue Blazes Benefactor award recipient and our own Heritage member, Ron Horn. This gave us the ability to continue funding our Intern Program with Northland College and to construct the new trailhead at Hwy 169 and to plan confidently for trail construction for the next two years. Heritage Chapter generally plans seven work weekends during the year (15 work hours each) from May through November. In 2017 we were fortunate to have exceptional member-volunteer turnout plus an average of two Northland College interns on hand for most work weekends. Additionally, the Sierra Club planned two service outings to work with Heritage member-volunteers, one outing in June led by Kelly Ramstack and a second in September led by David Thomas. The Heritage Chapter greatly appreciates the energy, dedication and camaraderie these Sierra Club Outings bring to our Heritage events. Plus, Heritage member and 2017 Chapter Honor Award recipient Todd McMahon secured and led an eight-member AmeriCorps Youth crew in September that built a 0.6 mile section of trail to a vista overlooking Upson Lake. Finally, we cannot express our appreciation enough for the efforts and skill of the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew led by Bill Menke. The Rovers constructed over 600 feet of boardwalk puncheon just west of Hwy 169 and they relocated and reconstructed a damaged bridge just east of Wren Falls over what we call the Goldmine Creek. Our 2017 accomplishments inspire us to continue and grow the momentum in 2018. This next year we will collaborate with Iron County Forestry to construct a bridge over the Tyler Forks River just downstream of Wren Falls. We are also planning to connect the trailhead at Hwy 169 to this new bridge, thus eliminating the road walk on Hwy 169 and Vogues Rd. These two major initiatives along with repairs and re-routes will keep our crews busy throughout 2018. Stay tuned and even join the fun as the Heritage Chapter moves more of our Trail off the highways and into the forests. For information on Heritage plans and events, check out our page on the NCTA site. —Michael Stafford

Heritage Chapter’s AmeriCorps crew “Cedar 7.”


The North Star

Chequamegon Chapter

WISCONSIN - The Chequamegon Chapter’s main efforts for 2017 focused on completing a major trail re-route in the middle of the Rainbow Lake Wilderness, which required over a one hour hike, carrying tools and other needs, just to start. The re-route had to be completed with hand tools because this is designated wilderness, but we did it after six trips. Other major trail milestones: • Installed four Native American interpretive signs on NCT along Lake Owen in the Chequamegon National Forest and prepared that section of Trail for a USFS sign dedication ceremony and hike held on September 27, 2017. Chequamegon Chapter member Rick Pomerleau built the frames for the signs. • Held a City of Mellen Boardwalk Celebration that included a ceremony, hike and potluck for North Country National Scenic Trail Day. • Assisted a local chamber of commerce with an October 4th “Walk with Walker” media event on our section of NCT leading to Juniper Rock Overlook and spruced up this section before the event. • Started a push for designated campsites in the Chequamegon National Forest. Possible campsite location searches started in 2016 and continued into early 2017. An official proposal was presented to the USFS this year and a meeting was held at the Great Divide District office on October 20th. The USFS is favorable to this effort! • Chapter Members shuttled a record number of hikers this year. Surprisingly many people asked for shuttle service on our most eastern sections of NCT that were damaged by flash flooding in July of 2016. Was it the added challenge? These major trail problems will be repaired under contract by the USFS but not until 2019-2020.

State of the Trail Peter Nordgren

The Chapter was under the pleasant influence of the NCT Navigators again this year. They are a group of women who get together for almost weekly hikes on sections of NCT. Their exploits in pictures usually bring in a great response on the Wisconsin NCT Facebook Page (http://www.facebook. com/NCTinWI). The last upload on the Facebook page had a count of 920 people reached as I write this! The Chapter has gained many new Members/Trail Adopters/Volunteers from this group. Ellie Williams put this best in a recent “comment” on a NCT Navigators post: “We are so lucky to have such an enthusiastic, dedicated hiking group enjoying our trail. They not only support us but act as our roving ambassadors!” The Chapter is “under new management” for 2018. Kevin Schram was voted in as the Chapter’s new President. The Chapter also has a new Vice President, Mel Baughman. The future is looking very bright! The Chapter will continue to work toward obtaining designated campsites and making our sections of NCT truly shine for 2018.

—Marty Swank Sara Balbin

Brule-St. Croix volunteers keep the Trail mowed in the University of Wisconsin-Superior MacQuarrie Wetlands.

Brule-St. Croix Chapter

NCT Navigators enjoy snowshoeing on new snow on Chequamegon Chapter’s trail. Front to back: Jackie Kruse, Diane Menard, Mimi Crandall, Kasse Tomasula, Kathy Bergin, Vivianne Hanke, Emily Stone and Elizabeth Holland.

WISCONSIN - The Brule-St. Croix Chapter celebrated National Trails Day with festivities in Solon Springs. Hiker options included a morning hike on the Brule-St. Croix Portage section and an afternoon hike on the Brule Bog Boardwalk section, with a pot-luck picnic in between. The morning hike included the dedication of a new boardwalk spur to the Chuck Zosel memorial bench at the headwaters of the Bois Brule River. Chuck, who passed away in 2016, was a former Superintendent of the Brule River State Forest and served as a Chapter officer for 18 years. Chuck’s efforts were vital in restoring the Brule-St. Croix Portage Trail, an historic route between the Brule and St. Croix Rivers that connects Lake Superior with the Mississippi River. We are motivated to continue his legacy. Besides the National Trails Day hikes, the Chapter offered 10 additional group hikes, organized in a late spring-early summer and a late summer-fall series. The hikes provided the opportunity for hikers to earn mileage towards the Hike 100 Challenge. All hikes were well-attended, especially the Evening Solstice hike, cosponsored by Chapter and the Friends of the Bird Sanctuary. Trail maintenance efforts included the installation of a new official NPS kiosk with NCT Wisconsin information panel at Pattison State Park. Wooden destination signs were added at various locations along the Trail in need of additional information. In addition, repainting deteriorating blazing markers was this year’s trail improvement focus. Chapter efforts also expanded into land conservation with the planting …Continued on page 24 January-March 2018


Visit our web site. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and Trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the Trail itself! National Park Service: The NPS is an excellent technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official Trail administrator, the NPS sets Trail standards, determines Trail route, and provides the overall vision for the Trail. NPS-NOCO Office P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331 (616) 319-7906 Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent • ext. 3 • cell: (616) 430-3495 Chris Loudenslager, NCNST Trail Manager • ext. 2 cell: (616) 970-7026 Luke Jordan, NCNST Outdoor Recreational Planner • ext. 1 • cell: (616) 250-6714 NCTA Chapters: For information about local activities or volunteering, contact the Chapter representative for your area of interest. We have almost three dozen local volunteer clubs scattered along the Trail that are Chapters of the NCTA. Chapters build and maintain trail, host hikes and other events, and work to promote the Trail and the Association in their areas. Affiliate Organizations: The NCTA enters into affiliate agreements with other organizations who also envision the completed Trail. Trail Maintaining Affiliates are independent organizations who also work to build, maintain, and promote sections of the Trail. If you have questions about a section of Trail that is managed by one of these organizations, your best bet is to contact our Affiliates directly.


Future official route of North Country National Scenic Trail pending Congressional approval.


The North Star

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North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605



If you have questions about the North Country Trail, there are many different places to go for information. When in doubt, try NCTA Headquarters: If you’re not sure whom to contact, your best bet is to connect with the NCTA’s National Office. Staff members are listed on page 2.

North Dakota ¼

Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail?



Minnesota 1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 Minneapol 2 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Bobby Koepplin • (701) 840-0250 3 Dakota Prairie Chapter Mary Moberg • (701) 271-6769 • MINNESOTA

4 Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter Allan Schroden • 5 Laurentian Lakes Chapter Barb Jauquet-Kalinoski • 6 Itasca Moraine Chapter Eric Haugland • (218) 732-3910 • 7 Star of the North Chapter Kim Fishburn • (612) 810-3732 • 8 Arrowhead Chapter Doug Baker • (218) 326-4030 • 9 Kekekabic Trail Chapter Mark Stange • 10 Border Route Trail Association

* * *

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):


(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 • 11 Superior Hiking Trail Association Denny Caneff, Executive Director


12 Brule-St.Croix Chapter Mark VanHornweder • 13 Chequamegon Chapter Kevin Schram • (715) 765-4789 • 14 Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • (414) 403-4575


15 Ni-Miikanaake Chapter 16 Peter Wolfe Chapter Connie Julien • 17 North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • (906) 226-6210 18 Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Hass • 19 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Tom Walker • (906) 440-0831 •





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Harbor Springs Chapter Shari Sanderson • (231) 838-9744 Cincinnati Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Mary Campbell • Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery


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(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):


30 Wampum Chapter Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • 31 Butler County Chapter Dave Adams • (724) 453-1685 • 32 Clarion County Chapter Dave Galbreath • (814) 226-5574 33 Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy

Roger Gordon • 22 Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter Jill Nordin • (231) 360-7261 • 23 Spirit of the Woods Chapter Bob Dunning • 24 Western Michigan Chapter Beth Keloneva • (231) 215-3552 • 25 Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • 26 Chief Baw Beese Chapter Bruce Dziadzio •


(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Tom Duvendack • (800) 951-4788 28 Buckeye Trail Association

36 37

Quinn Wright, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 Central New York Chapter Mark Wadopian • Adirondack Mountain Club

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Wes Lampman •

27 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Andrew Bashaw • (740) 394-2008 29 Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 •


35 Finger Lakes Trail Conference


Middlebury Area Land Trust: * 38 (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • 34 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Mike Toole • (814) 723-4714 •

Jamie Montague • (802) 388-1007 • January-March 2018


State of the Trail Matt Davis

Brule-St.Croix Chapter State of the Trail …continued from page 21 of 1,000 red pine seedlings around the Rovers Lake campsite during the May Rovers Trail Crew outing. Peter Nordgren received the Chapter Honor Award. Peter is a founding chapter member and officer and has been actively involved in many chapter activities and leadership efforts for over 20 years. Peter also recently completed a term on the NCTA National Board of Directors and is continuing service at the national level as the chair of the Advocacy Committee. The Chapter began 2018 with its second First Day hike at Pattison State Park, co-sponsored by the Chapter and the Friends of Pattison and Amnicon State Parks. The hike was one of 18 First Day events held at Wisconsin State Parks. The hike along the scenic Black River between Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls followed the Beaver Slide and Little Falls trails, a portion of which includes the route of the NCT. Participants braved temperatures that barely climbed above zero. — Mark Vanhornweder

Star of the North Chapter

Brian and Barb Pavek install new signs for Star of the North Chapter.

Harlan Liljequist

MINNESOTA - 2017 had the Star of the North Chapter still trying to recover 4 from a wind storm in 2016. Some money was found to pay professionals to clear some of the fallen trees, but it still left many miles of Trail untouched. Trail adopters were able to finish clearing their own sections, but with several sections needing adopters it left more work up to us. I’d like to thank the volunteers who helped us in May for a 3-day work trip. We managed to clear 6 miles of trail, but that still left us with a 4-mile section to clear, and it turned out to be the worst. Three of us spent 85-man hours and barely cleared a mile of Trail, leaving us with 3 miles to clear. The remaining 3 miles look to be easier. We finished up the year putting in new trail signs. 2018 promises to be much better. It looks like we may have found adopters for those orphan sections. We’re also planning a work trip in May to finish clearing the remaining parts of the Trail, and a section heavily clogged by brush. — Kim Fishburn

Star of the North Chapter muscled their way through heavy damage from winds in 2016 along many miles of their trail.


The North Star

State of the Trail 4

Gary Narum

Itasca Moraine Chapter

MINNESOTA - We met with the Laurentian Lakes Chapter for our annual joint meeting at Northern Pines Camp in Park Rapids on October 27. We celebrated a season with no straight-line wind storms whereas over 1200 blowdowns were cleared last year. There were also no major timber clear-cuts this year along the Trail compared to having extensive ones last year. Chippewa National Forest Forester Mitch Bouchonville acquired lumber for the Chapter to build puncheons in the forest and also enough for a consistently wet area of the Trail near Schoolcraft River in Hubbard County. Bruce Johnson and Byron Knapp led in laying a 127 foot puncheon over the wetland. Jerry McCarty led a 0.4 mile reroute of the Trail, taking the Trail off the forest road, now making the Chapter’s entire seventy mile length off road. Jerry McCarty also routed and stained six new lake signs to replace on the Trail. We also celebrated Mitch’s many years of help he gave to the Chapter at his retirement party and now look forward to working with Recreation Technician Ray Burpo. In addition to maintaining our section of the Trail, many chapter adopters helped the Star of the North Chapter on their trail workdays. Many chapter members also went to the Marquette, Michigan, Celebration in July and were proud to see Jerry Trout being presented the Lifetime Achievement National Award. Those not attending the Celebration were able to celebrate Jerry’s recognition at the Portage Brewery in Walker in August. Regional Trail Coordinator Matt Davis, Chapter members Linda Johnson, Bruce Johnson, Eric Haugland and Laurentian Lakes Chapter President Barb Jauquet-Kalinoski, Star of the North Chapter President Kim Fishburn, Brian Pavek and others have been meeting to make a new united three chapter map brochure. Cartographer Cody Bartz designed the map and 21,000 were printed in Fargo and were available in October. This will save the three chapters a great deal of printing costs and will provide a map brochure for Star of the North Chapter for the first time. This group is also working on redesigning the out of print Guide to the North Country Trail in Minnesota. Past editor Linda Johnson, Barb Jauquet-Kalinoski, and Matt Davis have been working hard on rewriting and redesigning and formatting the material. NCTA GIS Coordinator Matt Rowbotham is going to provide color maps for the book. Sally Rauschenfels from There and Back Books in Duluth and the editor of the latest Superior Hiking Trail guidebook will design our book this winter and hopes to have it published by early summer. Byron Knapp led the outreach events at local festivals with a new tent this year. The Chapter held monthly guided hikes this year which are also planned for 2018. Portage Brewery brewmaster and chapter member Jeff VondenKamp on 10/28/17 drafted a new beer Trailhop IPA and 5% of the sales will go to the North Country Trail Association. We anticipate the celebrating will continue in 2018. — Eric Haugland

Left to Right: Laurentian Lake Chapter’s Ken Mattson, Jim Rakness, Willis Mattison, Ed Gunderson, Wally Sizer, Gary Narum, Ray Vlasak.

Laurentian Lakes Chapter Hiking with Stile

Matt Davis

Itasca Moraine Chapter celebrated Jerry Trout’s NCTA Lifetime Achievement Award at the Portage Brewery in August.

MINNESOTA - The Laurentian Lake Chapter’s NCT 4 section begins in Itasca State Park in north central Minnesota and advances in a westerly direction before turning south toward the Trail Town of Frazee. The lands for the first 60 miles are largely publicly held by the State of Minnesota and by Clearwater and Becker Counties and are nearly easement free. However, once the Trail crosses Minn. Highway 34, trail builders encountered private land and a new obstacle, barbed wire fences, thus the need for fence stiles. Fortunately for the Chapter, Jon Holzhauer, owner of the first section of land adjacent to the Department of Natural Resources Hubbel Pond Wildlife Management Area, was willing to work with the Chapter in favoring the use of fence stiles to cross the four barbed wire fences which traversed the pathway. Since the Trail crossed pastureland, the owner stipulated that the stiles be sturdy enough to withstand cattle rubbing against the structures. Consequently, each stile needed to be substantial with regard to materials and also be anchored in concrete. In addition, stiles would be adjacent to cropland and thus needed to be no more than twenty inches beyond the center line of the fence to provide clearance for farm machinery.

January-March 2018


State of the Trail With the twenty-inch limitation in mind, the Chapter’s construction committee researched fence stiles on the internet and came up empty. They concluded that the design of the four fence stiles needed to be vertical in nature. Consequently, each side of the final stile design essentially became a four-step ladder. This approach allowed the stile builders a way to protect the hikers by concealing each strand of barbwire behind one of the 2x6 steps. The infill between the top steps provides adequate space for a hiker to stand and turn before descending. To assist in climbing and descending each “ladder,” two 3/4 inch galvanized pipes provide vertical handholds. The handholds are spaced to permit the hiker to turn even while wearing a back pack. Questions regarding stile construction and materials may be directed to either author at or

The Dakota Prairie Chapter

NORTH DAKOTA - The Dakota Prairie Chapter (DPC) is proud to support all four components of the NCTA mission to “build, maintain, protect and promote the NCNST.” We have a very active Leadership Team that meets monthly to coordinate the Chapter activities. Our 2017 building and maintaining accomplishments included developing 6.75 miles of new or improved Trail. We replaced five miles of Trail on a busy, unpleasant gravel road with 3.75 miles of off-road Trail, one new mile on a minimum maintenance two-track, and two new miles on a lightly used gravel road. The new route is fully mapped, signed, and maintained. Our primary activities for promoting the Trail included holding monthly meetings, sponsoring a very successful Mini-Expo about backpacking, organizing a Hike Every Mile event for the national NCNST Day, staffing a booth at various community events, and leading at least one hike every month. In 2017, the DPC sponsored 22 hikes ranging in length from 2 to 10 miles, nearly all on the NCNST. A total of about 340 people hiked more than 2,100 miles on the NCNST while participating in DPC-sponsored hikes. In addition to other promotional activities, the DPC is sponsoring a “North Dakota Challenge” to encourage people to hike the entire NCNST in North Dakota by 2020. The DPC plans to continue the same type of promotional activities in 2018, and will add some events such as a two-day Beginners Backpacking trip on the Sheyenne National Grasslands.

—Ray Vlasak and Gary Narum Gary Narum

Next year trail maintenance projects will include sign replacements due to cattle damage, extensive trail smoothing to deal with gopher mounds, better training for trail adopters, and further investigation of effective, reliable trail mowers. The DPC is working with the Forest Service to take over more of the mowing of 32 miles of trail in the Sheyenne National Grassland. This will require more equipment from the Forest Service as well as ATV training for DPC volunteers. We must relocate .3 miles of Trail north of Colfax due to construction of a new housing development. The new route will probably be on one of the new city streets, and will involve conversations with city officials, removing two puncheons, moving a kiosk, installing new urban signage, and updating trail maps and brochures. Tom Moberg

Jerry Warner

Jon Holzhauer worked with Laurentian Lakes Chapter to allow our Trail to cross his land. Four fence stiles assist hikers to cross barbed wire fences safely, and are built to withstand rubbing from his pastured cattle. The narrow profile allows Jon’s farm equipment to pass as well.


The North Star

Volunteers from Doosan bench a new trail segment for Sheyenne River Valley.

State of the Trail NORTH DAKOTA - On February 4th the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter (SRV) held a special Executive Committee meeting at Fort Ransom State Park. After meeting with park staff and others to discuss 2017 work projects, the committee and family members stayed overnight at the yurts. They are rubberized canvas circular houses with insulation between inner and outer walls, and are heated by a propane furnace. We encourage everyone to check them out for themselves! Then on February 22nd our annual meeting was held at the Woodland Lodge at Valley City with a great turnout! SRV member Stephanie Hoffarth contributed a family hiking story and was published in American Hiking Society’s Families on Foot. Our youth members continued to excel this year as both Steph and another member, Luc Albert, entered North Country Trail displays in the Project Expo Contest and their respective counties’ Achievement Days' competitions. Steph won Grand Champion and Luc won Reserve Champion! Marisa Hoffarth exhibited her handcrafted hiking stick which also received Reserve Champion honors. Steph and Marisa went on to compete at the North Dakota State Fair where both won Awards of Excellence! Bobby Koepplin received the Legend Award in Tourism Leadership from North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum on April 19. This is awarded to an individual who has demonstrated leadership in the tourism industry statewide and beyond in which leadership needs to be demonstrated in multiple areas: tourism policy formation, advocacy, collaboration and participation in industry events and associations. A few hikes were held in cooperation with the Dakota Prairie Chapter through Valley City north to Faust Park, the Fort Ransom State Park area, and a Lake Ashtabula weekend hike the entire length of the Lake and beyond! These hikes were part of the Dakota Challenge which is a challenge to hike all 437 miles of the NCT in ND over the next 4 years. North Country Trail Day was also held in conjunction with the Dakota Prairie Chapter with their Hike Every Mile event. Other chapter hikes included the Berry Picking Hike and a hike around Clausen Springs Lake. We celebrated National Trails Day at Fort Ransom State Park with a morning hike, an afternoon canoe trip and an evening picnic, campfire and popcorn popped over an open fire! Doosan/Bobcat held their first Day of Caring workday at the Sheyenne State Forest in April. Some of the group did some benching, cleared two trees and rock removal while others installed three benches at scenic overlooks and others rebuilt the picnic table at the waterfall campsite. During the September workday they widened, shored up and armored a clay cut-bank which had been eroding and cleared up a downed tree on the trail. Our sincere thanks to Bobcat and their hard working employees for all their help with the NCT! During our Chapter's June workday, we installed three boardwalks up at Lake Ashtabula. We also installed Carsonite blazes on U-posts until we ran out. The July workday consisted of maintenance and mowing of several segments along the lake.

Deb Koepplin

Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

Sheyenne River Valley's Bobby Koepplin teaches Luc Albert how to run the DR mower.

Besides mowing, we re-blazed some sections, cut away a downed tree, and removed some rocks to save on the mowers. During the August workday we spent the day replacing fence stiles along the lake as a couple of them were in kind of tough shape. In one place, a rancher had used one of the uprights as his gate post! Lots of post hole digging but most of the time we were able to use the walk behind Bobcat supplied by Doosan. Those guys are great! And thanks to Jerry for getting it for us to use! In October the SRV Chapter said goodbye to Clyde Anderson, one of its most beloved chapter members. Four chapter members were pallbearers at the funeral. After sharing memories of all the good times on the Trail at the memorial service attending chapter members raised a frosty bottle of Corona in Clyde’s honor. (See Passages, page 29) In November Matt Davis came to Valley City to help us solve some of our mapping issues. We were greatly impressed with Matt's use of the GIS mapping software and we believe we are now well on our way to getting updated maps, not only for the NCTA website but also for our own use in brochures, kiosks and informational panels. —Becky Heise

January-March 2018


Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew – 2017 In Review Story and pictures by Bill Menke


n his weekly “looking back” columns, a long-time newspaper columnist in northern Minnesota would recount the towns' happenings of 25 and 50 years ago. He always concluded with, “Time marches on—but not very far.” This was his way of saying that the changes occurring over a period did not seem to be as significant as the amount of time that had transpired. The marching of time struck me as I prepared to write this annual update for the North Star. The BruleSt. Croix Roving Trail Crew has just concluded its 21st season as a trail crew (a considerable passage of time) but when looking back, in some ways not a lot has changed: we still gather monthly, we still accomplish complex but fun projects, and even some of the very same crewmembers still participate. In other ways, a lot has changed over the course of years with 117 different individuals rotating through the crew. As the crews' leader, it has been an honor and a privilege to experience the wide variety of personalities and talents brought by each of these different individuals, as they pitched in to contribute a whopping total of 33,425 hours of their personal time on behalf of a project that is far bigger than any of them could probably envision. Nevertheless, it caught their imagination and as so many of them say, “I wanted to give something back” or “I want to leave something meaningful for the enjoyment of my grandchildren and future generations.” The camaraderie, fellowship, and skills embodied in a group of individuals who have such diverse backgrounds is unbelievable. May that never change as time marches on. In threading its way across Wisconsin, the North Country Trail passes through the state’s four northernmost counties, Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, and Iron. In 2017, our crew worked on projects in every one of those counties and interestingly, there was at least one large project in each of them. Some of the larger, more demanding projects include: Douglas County: One trip was consumed with moving the Trail in Pattison State Park, which lies directly south of the city of Superior. Here the major portion of the project involved the construction of a large and wide set of steps that included a bridge and elevated boardwalk across wet areas at the bottom. The park wanted each step to be six feet wide and have an 18inch tread. Excavating and reshaping the terrain to accommodate these parameters was time consuming, even before we got started on the actual construction of the new structure.


The North Star

Jane Leedle marching equipment to our work site.

Pattison State Park wide and deep steps over a damp area.

Bayfield County: Two work trips were spent clearing and rough grubbing a 1.2-mile long relocation that will move the existing trail from an old road. This relocation happened because the county forest could never keep the steel pylon barricades at each end of the road in place in order to keep hunters and others using 4x4 pickups off. The crew will finish this relocation in 2018. Ashland County: The construction of 620-feet of Type 3 Puncheon across a private easement, between Copper Falls State Park and Wren Falls, took slightly over one work trip (July and August). Beginning with our first trip, in early May, we have switched over to using rough sawn boards for the walking surfaces on boardwalks, puncheon, and bridges without railings. We have finally located a source for this material that is not exorbitantly more expensive than the milled material used in the past. The reason for this change is that the milled boards become slick, after a few years of exposure to the weather, due to algae and moss. Some of our local agency partners insist this will not happen with the rough sawn material. Additionally, it is

The Iron County new bigger bridge over Gold Mine Creek. Ashland County puncheon to give hikers a muck-free walk, now 38 inches wide!

thicker so should theoretically last longer. Another change is that we are now making our puncheon 38-inches wide instead of our historic 36-inch width. This no-brainer switch came about because our lumber supplier prefers to deal in 16-foot long boards. Cutting this length down to five three-foot long boards would waste a full foot. However, lengthening the cut boards to 38-inches yields a waste scrap of only two inches. This width makes it even easier for the passage of the power wagon and mowers, and most importantly wheelchairs, but is still too narrow for an ATV. A win-win!

Rover's Crew Accomplishments for 2017 Include:

• 1.2 miles of trail cleared and rough grubbed. • One 6-foot wide stairway with attached bridge and elevated boardwalk. • 826 feet of Type 3 Puncheon. • Two 16-foot bridges (one was 6-feet wide). • One 32-foot clear span bridge with 22-foot flat elevated approach.


It was with heavy hearts that North Dakota’s Sheyenne River Valley Chapter (SRV) said goodbye to Clyde Anderson, one of its most beloved chapter members. He was only 64. Four chapter members, Bobby Koepplin, Chris Hoffarth, Daryl Heise and Scott Tichy, were pallbearers at the funeral on October 28. Clyde started walking to improve his health after suffering two heart attacks. He survived esophageal cancer and a problem with one eye, but despite numerous health problems Clyde was the most cheerfully dedicated member of the SRV Chapter. He accrued over 700 volunteer hours over 14 years and received Trail Maintainer of the Year award in 2011. He donated countless items to the chapter from trailer repair parts to gas containers and tools. He carried a folding saw in his back pocket and was always on the look-out for improvements to be made along the Trail. Clyde’s small stature and strength were deceiving but his heart was big and his humor legendary. The SRV Chapter considered him family. When speaking of his many health issues, Clyde always said, “If something should happen to me, just roll me off to the side of the Trail and I can die a happy man.”

Bobby Keopplin

Iron County: The first week in October saw the crew constructing a massive bridge across Gold Mine Creek. In 2011, we built an original bridge at this location that was 22-feet long. That bridge, built on a narrow berm between the creek and a logging road, turned out to be a less than ideal location. In the ensuing five years, an abundance of 100 and 1000 year rainfall events have taken place. The resulting high water levels from these repeated large storms began to undermine one of the bridge cribs. The straw that broke the camel’s back finally occurred in July 2016 when 13 inches of rain fell overnight. The original bridge was washed out and deposited just across the old road where it was salvaged and preserved while awaiting incorporation into the new bridge.

In the meantime, we located a better bridge location. The new bridge is much more substantial and at a higher elevation above the creek. It consists of a 32-foot A-Truss clear span across the creek channel, with the old 22-foot bridge incorporated as a flat, elevated approach. The new bridge incorporated one of the old bridge’s 16-foot approach ramps and the other old ramp was torn apart for its components.  For more details and pictures, request a copy of our Roving Trail Crew year-end newsletter.

—Tribute by Becky Heise

January-March 2018


Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge to Return in 2018 By Shelby Gangloff Shelby Gangloff


he Allegheny National Forest (ANF) Chapter of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) will hold its ninth annual Allegheny 100 (A-100) challenge on June 8-10, 2018. The A-100 is an unsupported endurance hiking challenge with no timekeepers, no aid stations, and no finish line other than the one hikers set for themselves. The event challenges hikers to traverse 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles along the North Country Trail through the ANF in 50 hours, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 8 p.m. on Sunday. This year it will start in the south at the Route 66 crossing near Vowinckel, Pennsylvania, and go north to Route 346. The direction changes from year to year to give hikers a chance to see the whole trail. A record number of 152 hikers signed up to hike the various distances in 2017, with 77 signed up to attempt the 100-mile trek. Each year, more than half the participants sign up to attempt the 100 miles, but of those who do, only about 20% are able to reach their goal. Most who fall short of the 100 miles complete their hike at the 50-mile mark for various reasons including injury, time, and energy. The ANF Chapter encourages participants to consider carefully their chosen mileage goals, as no transportation is guaranteed except the shuttle from your chosen end point to the starting line. The ANF Chapter will again host a series of training and preview hikes in the spring before the event to help potential participants familiarize themselves with the Trail. There will be six “beginner” hikes that will traverse shorter distances, and will all be in the southern half of the Trail. The beginner hikes are geared towards those contemplating the shorter distances of the A-100. There will also be six “advanced” hikes that will cover longer stretches of Trail in both the northern and southern halves of the Trail, including two night-hikes. The advanced hikes are geared towards those planning to do the longer distances of the A-100. Both the beginner and advanced hikes are open to everyone, and no one will ever be left behind. Hike dates, times, and locations will be announced on our Facebook page and on the North Country Trail Hikers of Pennsylvania Meetup page. Registration for the A-100 opens in late February or early March on the NCTA website. Please watch for announcements on our Chapter Facebook page for the exact date that registration will open. Registration filled up within the first day in 2017! For more information or to register, visit the NCTA website at get-involved/special-events/allegheny-100-hiking-challenge/ the ANF Chapter Facebook page ANFChapterNCT/ or email


The North Star

2016 A-100 25-mile Participant Daniel Gangloff and dogs Wendell and Oliver in Little Salmon Creek Valley.

“Love It” Photo Contest Winner

Thank you to all who participated in the photo contest announced in the previous issue of North Star. Roger Mazzarella wins the prize with this photo of him and his granddaughter Amelia relaxing in the water where the NCT crosses Tom's Run in the Cook Forest in Pennsylvania. Roger and Amelia love to play in the water whenever they get to this spot. Roger even said, “She'll ask anyone walking by if they would like to join us donations are 50 cents for kids and $1 for adults. She tells people that the money goes to help bring wildcats back to Pennsylvania. A couple people actually gave her money (even with me behind her trying to wave them off). We took the $1.50 she collected down to the park office with a note to use the money for ‘restoration.’”

Alison Powell

NCTA Announces Fall 2017

Chapter/Affiliate/Partner Honor Award Winners By Larry Pio, Chair, NCTA Awards Committee

In the fall, every trail-hosting group, whether Chapter, Affiliate, or Partner is given the opportunity to honor someone who has made a worthy contribution to the local group effort. Presentation of their NCTA Honor award is usually taken care of locally. The 2016 CAP Honorees are: Chapter/Affiliate/Partner


Sheyenne River Valley

Clyde Anderson

Dakota Prairie

Gail Rogne

Minnesota Waters & Prairie

Bob Hubbes

Laurentian Lakes

Ruth Berquist

Itasca Moraine

Eric Haugland

Star of the North

Mark Gravelle

Kekekabic Trail

Derrick Passe

Brule St. Croix

Peter Nordgren


Jim Crandall


Todd McMahon


Gerald Anderson

Peter Wolfe

Jim Waters

NCT Hikers

Dick Bohjanen

Superior Shoreline

Tim Hass, Barb Isom

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore

John Texter

Jordan Valley 45°

Steve Schnell

Grand Traverse Hiking Club

June Thaden

Spirit of the Woods

Margaret Strobel, Bill Barclay

Western Michigan

Frank Lynn

Chief Noonday

Bob Cooley

Chief Baw Beese

Chuck Hoard, Bruce Dziadzio


Bob Apger


Sister Lyn Szymkiewicz


Brian Loutzenhiser

Butler Outdoor Club

Carol Detrie


David Miller

Allegheny National Forest

Tina Toole, Rich and Alisha Glasgow

Finger Lakes Trail Conference

David Newman

Our hike will take us to New York’s Letchworth State Park overlooking the Genesee River Gorge and three waterfalls.

NCTA Extended Outing: Hiking in New York’s Allegany State Park and Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest September 23-29, 2018 The 2018 North Country Trail Association Extended Outing will feature sections of the NCT in New York’s Allegany State Park (ASP) and Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest (ANF), with a day’s outing to Letchworth State Park (LSP), voted the best park in the USA in 2015. This outing includes three day-hiking adventures, where you’ll trek 6 to 10 miles per day. You will also backpack two days, covering 7.5 to 9 miles each day, with one overnight camping at an NCT lean-to. If you enjoy hiking in the pristine woods, observing waterfalls and wildlife, rustic cabin living, wilderness camping and want to walk a few more miles on the NCT, this is the Extended Outing for you. All three places have a rich diversity of plant life, wildflowers, hardwood trees and an abundance of wildlife, such as bobcats and black bears. There are many species of birds, including bald eagles, osprey and great blue herons. Letchworth State Park offers spectacular scenic overlooks of the Genesee River Gorge and its three breathtaking waterfalls. The hikes are on remote trails and the topography is mostly rolling hills. The elevations are around 1300 to 2250 feet. You’ll know you’re hiking during the fall season when you observe the vibrant colors. You will be shuttled to and from the trailheads and stay in two rustic cabins within Allegany State Park (a step above tent camping). Depending on enrollment, there will be four to five participants per cabin and occupancy will be co-ed. Contact guide for detailed itinerary and application packet. Guide: Allison Powell, NYS Licensed and Insured Guide (602) 451-1269 NCTA membership required. January-March 2018


NCTA Celebration!

Hosted by Buckeye Trail Association April 25-29, 2018 in Ohio’s Hocking Hills Andrew Bashaw

Buckeye Trailfest Is The Largest Annual Gathering of Buckeye Trail Hikers, Volunteers, Members And Enthusiasts. On April 25-29, 2018, we are proud to host our friends from all along the North Country National Scenic Trail for the Annual North Country Trail Celebration, all this during the peak of spring wildflowers and waterfall flow in the heart of Ohio’s Hocking Hills at Camp Oty’Okwa!


hio’s crown jewel, the Hocking Hills region, is an incredible area of Appalachian Ohio known for its massive rock formations, tranquil waterfalls and cascades, and jaw dropping vistas. Created by the receding waters of the last ice age that never reached this far corner of Ohio, this region is part of the unglaciated Allegheny Plateau. Formed during the Mississippian Period (325 - 360 million years ago), Ohio was near the equator and many layers of sand settled and hardened to form the distinct Black Hand Sandstone you see towering above. As the glaciers melted, their waters carved these massive gorges and hollows you will be hiking in and around as you explore and enjoy this wonderland. By our records the North Country Trail has never had an annual gathering in Ohio’s Hocking Hills, so after nearly 40 years we’re happy to combine our annual events to rectify that situation. Each year and each venue provides something new. In combining two great events of supportive trail families we have made some accommodations to each, so this gathering will not be exactly like either has been before. There will be many hikes and outings, presentations and time to gather and celebrate our accomplishments plus time to explore what excites you. We understand that many people attend to add Buckeye Trail (BT) and North Ccountry Trail (NCT) miles, so we will have plenty of “on trail” opportunities each day. This area also offers an amazing number of natural areas that are not on the official BT/NCT. We will be offering hikes in these areas as well. In fact, some of the “off trail” hikes will be offered only because you attend TrailFest Celebration. They will explore geological wonders on private property that owners are willing to open up to our event participants. One difference you may notice here is that Buckeye TrailFest has always been a first come first serve system for hike sign up. For this event, we will borrow an NCTA Celebration practice and offer a selection of pre-registration hikes, below. All hikes will have a limit on capacity to improve the hike experience and limit our environmental impact in sensitive areas. These are just a few of the many outing opportunities that will be available when you arrive. Also, this year we will embrace the world of technology and have only online registration so that we can manage hike and accommodation capacities well. For those of you not quite ready for the full embrace, let us know. Mark Heise who has volunteered to be our TrailFest Celebration Registrar will give you a hand with pre-registration. He can be reached at (937) 802-4002 or trailfest@


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Location: Camp Oty'Okwa in Hocking County, Ohio Lodging: Dormitory and cabin lodging as well as tent camping will be available at Camp Oty'Okwa. Accommodations at Camp Oty'Okwa include: Tent Camping, Heated Lodge Rooms, Unheated Cabins, and Dorm Style Bunk House. Warm showers for everyone! Bring your own bedding, linens and towels. Lodging at the camp will go fast! Camper trailers and RV's are not an option at Camp Oty'Okwa, but there are some great options nearby. Several hotels are located in Logan, Ohio, 15 miles northeast of camp. Many additional lodging options can be found in the Hocking Hills Area. Meals: Camp Oty'Okwa is able to handle dietary restrictions. Registration: Additional information on all of the above, event registration and lodging information can be found at

About Camp Oty’Okwa

Camp Oty’Okwa is a special place, serving Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Ohio for 75 years. We are happy to have our event at their camp and support their great mission of supporting underserved youth. Camp Oty’Okwa is also a privately-owned 700-acre nature preserve. This means that as a TrailFest Celebration attendee, you have access to one of the “secret” wonders of the Hocking Hills area and don’t even have to leave the property. If you don’t feel like hopping on the bus again, or are looking for a little more downtime, hikes led by camp naturalists will run continuously throughout the schedule through the maze of split rocks, under the canopy of mature hardwoods, past waterfalls, sandstone cliffs and recess caves. A Special Thanks to Hocking Hills Tourism Association (HHTA)! They are a key sponsor for our event. Karen Raymore and staff have been there with us all the way, helping to bring our event back to the very first miles of the Buckeye Trail laid out in 1959 with the help of Grandma Gatewood herself. HHTA has also been instrumental in developing our Friday afternoon and evening programming by securing an Urban Air event in downtown Logan as part of our event. What’s Urban Air? See below, Friday evening. Interested to hear details about our TrailFest Celebration? Read below! It all starts on Sunday with a pre-event 5-day hike. As details continue to get worked out, updates will be provided at and on our facebook page, https://www.

Sunday April 22 through Thursday April 26

Hike the Old Man’s Cave Section Map - If your goal is to complete miles of the Buckeye Trail or North Country Trail you may be interested in our planned hike of the entire Old Man’s Cave Section Map, 51.4 miles through the Hocking Hills region from Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve to Tar Hollow State Forest, Sunday, April 22 until Thursday, April 26! We will camp in Hocking Hills State Park and do day hikes only. Contact John Rethman at (513) 398-9527 or to register, for free! This counts toward your 2018 100 Mile Challenge on the NCT. EXTRA BONUS – if you hike all 5 days, you’ll qualify for the 2018 50 Mile Challenge Patch.

Trailfest Celebration Officially Starts Wednesday, April 25

3 pm - Registration Opens 7 pm - A Shared Vision: A Land Managers Roundtable hosted by the North Country National Scenic Trail, National Park Service.

Thursday, April 26

Meals at Camp Oty’Okwa begin with breakfast. Hikes only on Thursday. Thursday pre-registration hikes include: AM: The Grandma Gatewood Trail: Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls to Ash Cave - Named in honor of the first female solo thru hiker of the Appalachian Trail and founding member of the Buckeye Trail Association, this is the highlight of the Hocking Hills, one of Emma “Grandma” Gatewood’s favorites. Down into the Gorge of Black Hand sandstone carved by the melt waters of receding glaciers the trail leads around Civilian Conservation Corps stone work through the giant recess cave and on to Cedar Falls. Towering cliffs, waterfalls at their peak flow, hemlock trees, rare wildflowers and remnant plant communities from the glacial epoch make this one of the most popular outdoor destinations in the state. The hike continues past an historic fire tower, still accessible, and ends at the spectacular Ash Cave, the largest recess cave in the Midwest. [BT/NCNST - 6 miles. Moderate. Pts. 18-21 on BT Old Man’s Cave Section Map] PM: Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve - Located in northern Hocking County at the edge of the Hocking Hills Region, Boch Hollow provides an excellent opportunity to see a wide diversity of habitats ranging from riparian corridors to mature wooded hills, ridges, and old field remnants. The most notable botanical feature at Boch Hollow is the extensive population of the endangered Running Buffalo Clover, the largest such population in Ohio. In the past few years the Buckeye Trail Crew has worked with Preserve staff to construct 4 miles of the Buckeye Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail through the preserve highlighting the sandstone rock outcroppings. A Boch Hollow naturalist will provide a permit only visit to scenic Robinson Falls during this educational hike. [BT/NCNST - 6 miles. Moderate. Includes Pts. 33-34 on BT New Straitsville Section Map] All Day: Hocking Hills Hiking Highlights. Rocky Fork to Ash Cave - This day long hike includes everything on the Grandma Gatewood Trail above and more! This hike adds 9 more miles of less used trail including views of Rocky Fork, Big Pine Creek, Table Rock, Big Spring, and the rock climbing area. The trail wanders through deep water carved gorges, forested slopes, moss covered sandstone and sparkling waterfalls surrounded by tall ferns. [BT/NCNST - 15 miles. Strenuous. Pts. 14-21 on BT Old Man’s Cave Section Map] 7-9 pm - National Park Service Volunteer Awards and Welcome and Introduction to the Hocking Hills by Hocking Hills State Park Naturalist Pat Quackenbush.

North Country Trail 50 Mile Challenge patch.

January-March 2018


Andrew Bashaw

Friday AM and early PM: Educational and inspiring presentations at Camp Oty’Okwa! All Day: Hocking Hills Hiking Highlights: Big Pine to Ash Cave - A slightly shorter version of Thursday’s day long hike includes everything on the Grandma Gatewood Trail above and more! This hike adds 5 more miles of less used trail including views of Table Rock, Big Pine Creek, Big Spring Hollow and the rock climbing area. The trail wanders through deep, water carved gorges, forested slopes, moss covered sandstone and sparkling waterfalls surrounded by tall ferns. [BT/NCNST - 11 miles. Strenuous. Pts. 16-21 on BT Old Man’s Cave Section Map] Little Cities of Black Diamonds Tour - The Little Cities of Black Diamonds region is named for the late 1800s coal boom towns that sprang up in the Hocking Valley Coalfields. This tumultuous era saw an influx of industry, immigrants, and union organizers, mine strikes and deliberate mine fires. After industry cleared the forested hills and poisoned streams with mining waste, Ohio’s only National Forest, the Wayne, was created and the forest regenerated around these villages. Join us on a tour of our cultural and environmental heritage, from Camp Oty’Okwa to the historic Village of Shawnee and back again, that may change your view of Appalachia and learn how our Buckeye Trail/North Country National Scenic Trail is part of its future. Some walking involved.

Friday, April 27

Friday pre-registration hikes include: AM: Crane Hollow Nature Preserve - Crane Hollow is a 2000 acre privately owned dedicated state nature preserve adjacent to Hocking State Forest protected by William and Jane Ann Ellis beginning in 1977. The mission of Crane Hollow is to foster preservation, understanding, and appreciation of the plants, animals, and ecology of the hollow and surrounding area. The Preserve features a stunning community of native vegetation, along with soaring cliffs and ravines formed in Black Hand Sandstone. Because of the fragile ecosystem Crane Hollow has restricted access to protect the health of the hollow and provide a scientific research baseline for the Hocking Hills region.  Join Preserve staff on a sponsored hike just for TrailFest Celebration registrants! This educational hike will lead down into the gorge and back to view and learn about the geology, waterfalls, wildflowers, and wandering without an organized trail system. [3-4 miles. Strenuous.]


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Friday PM: TrailFest Celebration Goes to Town! - What better way is there to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act of 1968 and the designation of 2018 as Ohio’s Year of the Trails by the Ohio General Assembly? On the day that the Buckeye Trail was designated as Ohio’s state trail in 1967, which was then chosen as the official Grandma Gatewood Day, we will take the Trail to town and invite our friends from Urban Air to take over main street in Logan, Ohio. Thanks to Hocking Hills Tourist Association there will be local food trucks, a showing of the inspiring Grandma Gatewood Story documentary, Trail Magic, a book signing by Ben Montgomery author of Grandma Gatewood’s Walk: The Inspiring Story of the Woman Who Saved the Appalachian Trail and more. Urban Air, an Airstream travel trailer user event that loves to follow the NCT (did you know that the idea for Urban Air was incubated in Rockford, Michigan, right along the NCT?), will gather in Logan during our TrailFest Celebration weekend. Just imagine more than 70 shiny Airstreams lined up along the downtown streets of Logan with a festive atmosphere full of local food trucks, local music and craft beer together to create their own urban campout in partnership with our BT/NCT event. There will be no supper served at camp on Friday, so come prepared to purchase some great local food and craft beer before we head back to our own campfire and a nighttime hike at Camp Oty’Okwa.

Saturday, April 28

Saturday AM and PM will be filled with more hikes and workshops. In addition, we will be offering a special Family Day to entice a new generation to the wonders of the outdoors. Our evening programming will focus on land protection, with Josh Knights, the Executive Director of the Ohio Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, as our keynote speaker. Family Day at Camp Oty’Okwa - We want to make sure the next generation of hikers and trail supporters is made to feel welcome into the family of the Buckeye and North Country Trail Associations. To this end, registration and onsite lodging for those 17 and under is free, meals are free for those 11 and under, and we have a full schedule of fun, family friendly programs on Saturday at Camp sponsored by Crane Hollow! The program includes short hikes on the camp preserve to amazing rock features, nature study with professional naturalists and a nature drawing workshop with local artist and instructor Norm Fox. Saturday pre-registration hikes include: AM: Bison Hollow Preserve - Join renowned naturalist Paul Knoop on a guided hike to this older growth wooded preserve close to Ash Cave of Hocking Hills State Park, the reported location of one of the last native Ohio bison. The bison is now a memory but the wild beauty of Bison Hollow remains. Thanks to our friends at the Appalachia Ohio Alliance land trust these wooded acres will forever protect the singing waters of the east branch of Queer Creek, act as a buffer to Ash Cave and the nearby Buckeye Trail and provide a home for locally rare plants such as the recently discovered Autumn Coral Root Orchid. [3-4 miles. Moderate.] PM: BTA Pretty Run Preserve - Purchased thanks to the Clean Ohio Trails Fund beginning in 2010, these rugged 230 acres are a showcase of the resilience of Ohio’s hardwoods. Join BTA Volunteer Land Stewards on a loop hike around the preserve, past the 1830s log cabin, hiker shelter house, wildflowers and trickling streams. Come hear how this northern Vinton County property was saved, and has since been managed to serve hikers. [BT/NCNST - 4.5 miles. Rugged/Strenuous. Includes Pts. 23-25 on BT Old Man’s Cave Section Map]

All Day: Wayne National Forest, Village of Shawnee to Dutch Ridge Hike - Join us as we hike all day through Ohio’s only National Forest! Beginning in the historic Village of Shawnee, home to the BTA office, the relationship between history and nature is apparent. The boom and bust of the late 1800s coal mining era can be seen in historic buildings on main street, and in the scars hidden in the surrounding landscape. And yet, thanks to one of America’s first restoration projects and benign neglect, a beautiful and biodiverse forest has returned on these once barren hills. Join us and learn of our big plans and progress to “Re-Boot” the Wayne as we hike through the rugged hills of the Little Cities of Black Diamonds region. [BT/NCNST- 11 miles. Rugged/Strenuous. Includes Pts. 22-27 on BT New Straitsville Section Map] Little Cities of Black Diamonds Tour - A repeat of Friday’s tour in case you were busy! Join us on a tour of our cultural and environmental heritage, from Camp Oty’Okwa to the historic Village of Shawnee and back again, that may change your view of Appalachia and learn how our BT/NCNST is part of its future. Some walking involved. 7-8 pm An evening of Trail Preservation and Land Protection - with Josh Knights, Executive Director of the Ohio Chapter of The Nature Conservancy. 8-9 pm Passing of the Torches - Buckeye TrailFest and North Country Trail Celebration 2019

Sunday, April 29 7 am Chapel

Breakfast, last meal at Camp Oty’Okwa 9 am-10 am - BTA Annual Meeting Haven’t had your fill of hiking? Plan your own hike on your way home! For many of you there are a lot of opportunities beyond the Hocking Hills to enjoy one more day hike on the Buckeye and North Country Trails. If you missed an opportunity during TrailFest Celebration now is your chance to bag one more hollow, waterfall, cliff or village in the region before hitting the road. Old Man’s Cave, Devils Bathtub, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Whispering Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Natural Bridge, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House, Airplane Rock, Little Rocky Hollow, the new John Glen Astronomy Park, the Historic Village of Shawnee, Boch Hollow Nature Preserve, Little Cities of Black Diamonds, Wayne National Forest, Main Street Logan Ohio, BR3W3RY 33, Lake Logan, Split Rocks, Counselors Cave, BTA Pretty Run Preserve, Hocking Hills State Park and Forest and more! Need more information? Check out the Area Attractions page on  or   Please like our Facebook page and visit for many more details on the schedule, accommodations, nearby attractions, directions and more. Thank you for joining us, and remember, take only photos, and leave only footprints.

January-March 2018


Thank You Trail Supporters! The year-end “Hike More, Worry Less” campaign for financial support for the Trail was very successful due to so many wonderful donors. We couldn’t do it without ALL of YOU!

610 Donors!! $127,900!!! Hike More, Worry Less How We Got an Americorps Crew By Todd McMahon, Heritage Chapter

Getting an Americorps NCCC (National Civilian Conservation Corps) Crew to work on a Chapter Project is no small task. First you have to fill out a 4 page document called the Project Concept Form. Then the Americorps NCCC contacts you several weeks later, and if approved, they invite you to submit a full application. The full application is 15 pages long. The Heritage Chapter had different people write sections so it wouldn’t be such a burden on one person. Besides the paperwork, here are some of the other obstacles in having an Americorps Crew. First you need a place where they can stay. We were lucky because the White Cap Ski Resort is not very busy in September, and they gave us a great rate for the Crew for two weeks. Then Tom Podlesney and Bobbi Rongstad, two Heritage Chapter Members, gave us a great donation by housing them at the Olympia Cabins for the last week. Americorps labor is free because it is a government program to improve communities. In fact, the Americorps Crew Members don’t actually get paid an hourly wage. Each member has a $5 daily allowance for food. Then, at the end of their 9 month assignment, they get $5700 which they can use for college, or to pay off their previous student loans. So housing will be your biggest expense for having a Crew. Other obstacles include training the crew. The Heritage Chapter assumed the Crew would be fairly well versed in trail building, and that the Crew would work together well. That all proved to be wrong. The Crew arrived on a Tuesday evening, we did an orientation on Wednesday, then they were working on building trail on Thursday and Friday. On those two days, five of the crew members ended up working very well, but three of them were struggling. Then on that Saturday we had a Heritage Chapter Work Day. We had over 10 Heritage Chapter volunteers who worked with the Americorps Crew. Each Cedar 7 Crew Member was assigned a Volunteer to work with for the morning, then we switched


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them to work with another volunteer in the afternoon. This worked well in training the Crew and became known as Shakedown Saturday. In retrospect, I should have had the first day of work be with many volunteers. The Heritage Chapter also provided a Volunteer to work with the Crew each day of the project. Other obstacles include having enough rainy day projects for the Crew. Whenever the weather is too nasty to work safely on the Trail, we needed to have indoor projects lined up for them. One of the indoor projects our crew did was to repair 30 picnic tables for the Iron County Forestry Department. On another rainy day they did a deep clean of two non-profit theaters, Historic Ironwood Theater and Theater North in Ironwood. Bethany Thomas was instrumental in getting the Rainy Day Projects lined up. After all the obstacles, was it worth it? Yes. We built the North Country Trail up to a beautiful overlook of Upson Lake. That project would have taken the Heritage Chapter many work weekends to complete. With all the other stuff we do the project would not have been completed until at least a year later. Plus we received great media coverage for the project. The Ironwood Daily Globe did a front page article about it, and the Iron County Miner did another really good article with a map. On the last day that Cedar 7 worked on the Trail, they installed a Trail Logbook box on the way up to the overlook. We checked the logbook four weeks later and over 30 hiking parties had visited the overlook. That is very good considering the Town of Anderson, the township the project is in, has only 53 residents. Another positive is we are helping to build a good relationship with the Iron County Forestry Department by repairing 30 of their picnic tables. The Heritage Chapter has about 20 miles of trail to build and most of that is going to be on Iron County Forest lands. And lastly, there were eight young adults in Cedar 7 who had never heard of the North Country National Scenic Trail before coming to Upson.

Todd McMahon

Chris at the overlook, goal of their new trail.

The whole Cedar 7 crew at Foster Falls, a future destination for the Trail. Todd McMahon is the grownup in the middle. Picture by a passerby.

An Americorps Member Does His First Trail Work By Chris Watt


etween September 1 and September 29, 2017, was my first time ever building trail, not just with the Heritage Chapter, but the first time in my whole life. Previously, I had never heard of the North Country National Scenic Trail. I had never done anything trail PERIOD. So, it came as a totally novel opportunity when I, along with our AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team, Cedar 7, was assigned to work with the Heritage Chapter of the NCTA in Upson, Wisconsin. Our team was from all along the east coast. Our lead, Aliza Mendelowitz, was from the Baltimore/ D.C. area. We also had two from New York, one named Regina Guan from New York City and Kim Snyder from Ithaca. Other members from the northern part of the Eastern seaboard were Levi Breier of Thomaston, Connecticut, and I from Boston. The final three members were all from the southern part of the eastern U.S., consisting of Joy Graves from South Carolina, Ashli Hollis of Kentucky, and Ramion Smith of Atlanta, Georgia. While I can’t speak for the others,

my story of how I came to be in AmeriCorps began in 2016, when I got tired of working at a tea shop just outside of Boston, Mass. I had been struggling to pursue the opportunities I wanted in life and went after a pretty big one that would eventually lead me to be a trail-builder in Wisconsin. The other members of Cedar 7 had a mixture of reactions to the news that we were going to do trail building in the far north. Some were excited, some were neutral, and some were not at all thrilled. It was clear that this was not going to be like any project we had done yet, physically, mentally, emotionally or technologically. None of us had ever been trail-building, except for one day during a project in Wisconsin earlier in the year. None of us had ever been in a place as remote as Upson for an extended period, with a half hour car ride being the only way to acquire groceries within our food budget. Some would struggle with the remoteness of the area, the lack of cell reception, and inconsistent internet access. Others would be outright

uncomfortable with the amount of time spent in such a natural environment. And others still would be struggling with the intense manual labor of trail building and the learning curve of the project, having only weeks to complete our assignment. Not everyone was cut from the necessary cloth for this kind of work. In early September, after a seven hour drive, we arrived in Upson, and things began pretty well. We met the President and the Vice President of the Heritage Chapter, Mike Stafford and Bethany Thomas, respectively. During the orientation we had a robust introduction to the organization and the nature of the project, one that built on what AmeriCorps staff had told us back in Iowa. Mike and Bethany gave us information on the section of trail we were tasked with working on, about a mile long. My favorite part of that day was the biological, economic and cultural history of Iron County, including its mining days, and the importance of the Trail in finding new economic activities to January-March 2018


Todd McMahon

Setting the post for a log book holder: author Chris Watt digging, while Levi, Ashli, and Joy look on.

bring to the area. The most unique and reassuring aspect of the evolution of forestry in Iron County was an account of how the County Forestry Department strives to avoid clearcutting, instead working to cut trees selectively in the name of preserving longterm forest health, outlined by Eric Peterson, Administrator of the Iron County Forest. We began building the Trail to the Upson Overlook with Mike Stafford, one of three site supervisors we would have over the course of our three weeks in Upson. Challenges emerged quickly and abruptly. First and foremost was Mike Stafford learning, via casual conversation, that AmeriCorps members do not get to choose their project and must go on whatever assignment their team gets and are encouraged to stick with it. This was not something he had known before applying for a team. This directly flowed into our first major hiccup while trailbuilding in Wisconsin. Our varied reactions to the notion of trail work became a matter of tension in the project between the team and the sponsor and was a challenge we were going to have to overcome. It was decided to have an intensive training day with seasoned volunteers who come together once a month from May to November to get our team into trail-building shape and maximize the potential we would have during our time in Wisconsin. The team was temporarily broken up and everyone was assigned to two volunteers over the course of the day, to evaluate and improve our trail-building experience. Team members needing the most improvement were given one on one supervision by senior project managers. Fortunately, it managed to work out during what came to be known as “Shakedown Saturday.” I had a great day of trail-building! I got the opportunity to work with two amazing volunteers, one nicknamed “the Griz” (who was as cool as his name implies) and Sienna, a trail building intern from Ashland, Wisconsin’s Northland College. It was honestly one of the happiest and most eye-opening, days of my time in AmeriCorps. And by the end of it, Cedar 7 and the Heritage Chapter had managed to come together to ensure the success of the project. Furthermore, when we returned to White Cap Resort for the night, where we stayed for the first half of the project, we met community members like Janet Rice, who had caught on to the project and made pie for the group to share, getting us more connected to the community.


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The next week and a half passed by in an exhausting but amazing blur of sweat, dirt, and draining levels of physical exertion as we raced to complete this roughly one mile of Trail to the Upson Overlook, first with Todd McMahon as our supervisor and then Bethany. During our time with Todd, we had ample opportunity to work hard and take breaks as needed, often combined with lessons and tips useful in life, all the while continuing to learn about Iron County and the Trail as we worked our way toward and past the first uphill segment of the project. Notably, it was at this point we were connected with Peter Nordgren from the University of Wisconsin-Superior, who passed on some much needed post-AmeriCorp advice for continuing our education. As tired as we all were, we frequently had our afternoons and nights booked with such activities and made full use of them. As the weeks progressed, we hacked, banked and finished the first uphill segment, repeating the process for the ground between it and what came to be known as “the Nasty Switchback,” riddled as it was with alternating bare swaths of bedrock and extensive hummocks. During this part we met NCTA Chequamegon Chapter volunteers Kevin and Ellie; I had the chance to work side by side with them and they were the volunteers I easily learned the most trail-building techniques from. Seeing the desire to cooperate across NCTA chapters was also really encouraging and this was strengthened during the Chequamegon Boardwalk Celebration, where Todd, Bethany, Kevin, Ellie and several other NCTA members and volunteers came together to enjoy the completion of a new boardwalk. As our time in Wisconsin reached its final stage, we moved to Olympia Cabins, a previous winter Olympics village. We learned more about issues facing the area, from the village owner Bobbi Rongstad, including new plans for a taconite mine that could affect the whole forest and the entire watershed. During the day, we worked at a blistering pace to make our way down the Nasty Switchback and then up towards the Overlook, an area we finally reached with four days left in the project. Even the weather seemed to be against us, as one day we got rained off the mountain and ended up doing indoor work the rest of the day. When we at last got to see the Overlook, Bethany and my team took some time to enjoy the view and made sure we visited it daily. We even got to make a video about the whole experience as a team, celebrating our accomplishment and it rounded out to our time in Upson. In hindsight, I was so invested in getting this project done that it didn’t even hit me how much had happened; I didn’t realize how important this project was to my growth as a person until after it was over. I would do it again in a heartbeat, not one bit differently. I would love to see the northern forests, Lake Superior, and the friends and mentors I made in Bethany, Todd, Sienna and many others. I left those forests a changed person, more than I had changed them. I can’t wait to do it again!

New Fund to Honor Bruce Matthews’ Leadership By David C. Cowles

Amelia Rhodes


n the eve of Bruce Matthews’ retirement following his ten years faithfully leading the North Country Trail Association, the organization wanted to do something special to honor Bruce. A gold-plated hiking stick or a red plaid going-away party wasn’t the answer nor would they leave the legacy Bruce deserved. This needed something special that would have a lasting impact on the organization and would symbolize what Bruce stood for. What came about was a special fundraising campaign for a first-of-its-kind, endowed fund named in his honor. At Bruce’s official retirement event at the annual NCTA celebration in Marquette, Michigan, this past summer, the “Bruce E. Matthews Marketing and Outreach Fund” was announced. This fund would remain invested in perpetuity and be available to fund important trail promotion initiatives annually. That evening an impressive $16,000 was committed to launch the fund. In the weeks that followed a devoted volunteer “campaign” team raised another $7,000 bringing the grand total to over $23,000. Co-chairs, Tom Gilbert, retired National Park Service Superintendent, and former NCTA Board member Pat Allen led this important initiative and current and former NCTA board members Mary Coffin and Jack Cohen filled out the campaign committee. These four individuals were champions and supporters of Bruce’s leadership over his ten year span and were also firm believers in one of Bruce’s main objectives – promoting the Trail.

The way the fund is chartered to work is much like an endowment where the main corpus of the fundraised dollars will be invested. Over time the fund will grow with earned interest and additional outright donations to the fund. When the fund hits a substantial threshold, a certain percentage will be made available to the organization each year for the express purpose of marketing and promotional outreach for the North Country Trail and the NCTA. The fund’s goal is two-fold: to achieve key marketing projects annually and to grow over time so it can continue to help meet its objective. Bruce was a marketing champion for the Trail from day one of his tenure. In his early years, the NCTA logo was changed and new branding standards were established. The tagline “Your Adventure Starts Nearby” was coined and red plaid became the official color scheme of the organization. Over the next several years, marketing plans were developed through a professional and academic network with nearby Grand Valley State University. Marketing interns were employed over time to assist with marketing efforts. The mixed look and feel of all the various Chapters’ marketing efforts were eventually brought under the “one roof ” of the NCTA’s branding standards and as of last year, all shared a single NCTA website. Bruce knew the power of single message and a single brand and worked hard to achieve it. Now we are proud to say that his legacy will continue through the Bruce E. Matthews Marketing and Outreach Fund and the important work it will accomplish in the years to come.

If you would like to contribute to this important fund, please contact Alison Myers at NCTA headquarters, or (616) 897-5987 ext 1. Or go online to: and indicate the B. E. Matthews Fund.

Hike 50 and Hike 100 Challenges for 2018 By Amelia Rhodes

Over the past two years, thousands of people have joined and completed the Hike 100 Challenge. In 2018, the North Country National Scenic Trail will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the National Trails System Act with the addition of a Hike 50 Challenge. The rules remain the same for both Challenges. And yes, if you complete 100 miles, you will receive both the 50 and the 100 mile patch! In addition, the NCTA will be offering prizes and free resources for those who sign up for the challenge, and a special grand prize drawing at the end of the year. Learn more and sign up at

January-March 2018


Long Distance Hiking Awards

Jerry Krause - In 2015, a buddy from college and I were on one of our many canoe trips. He mentioned that he was planning to head up to the North Country Trail and wondered if I’d be interested in going, too. I’d done a fair amount of walking through the years but hadn’t done any serious hiking in over 45 years. June 1 [2017], I finished Wisconsin. I am now in the process of working my way along the NCT in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I’ve seen an incredible variety of wildlife along the way including several bear, a gray wolf, red fox, coyotes, numerous deer, eagles, hawks, trumpeter swans and many more. And the geological formations along the trail are equally impressive with the hills, bluffs, overlooks, rivers, streams and the amazing waterfalls. For the whole blog account, see: https://

By Joan Young


nyone who hikes all the miles (including roadwalks) in an entire state or 1000 unique miles is eligible to begin their patch collection. Therefore, the shortest way to get a patch is to hike all of Wisconsin, at 212 miles. Continue collecting rockers by completing other states or reaching 1000-mile increments. A complete End-to-End hike or trip is recognized with the outer bar rocker. Find the application at index.htm. Electronic submissions appreciated. Meet The Most Recent Applicants For North Country Trail Long Distance Hiker Awards.


Kenneth Holst - I decided to start hiking at the age of 54. Why? Because I’m not getting any younger. But as a kid I loved being in the outdoors and exploring. I was in Boy Scouts. I loved hiking and camping. But when I got older I just lost interest. A friend introduced me to the North Country Trail in Pennsylvania. My son and I took a 7 mile hike from the Ohio-Penna.line, and that’s when I decided to start hiking more.  I bought the maps for Pennsylvania and started planning my attack on the Trail. I hiked all the off road stuff up to Hwy 80. Then started hiking from the N.Y. state line south, trying to make those overnight hikes because of the travel from southwest to north Pennsylvania. This year in January I decided to do all the road hikes. Miles were adding up. Before I knew it I had one hike overnight left to do. My last hike was from Henry Mills to Kelletville, 28 miles.  265 miles completed in Pennsylvania. Woot. Some of it twice. Someone asked me what my favorite hike was. My answer: Every inch of it. For the whole blog account, see:

Jerry Krause pauses on the NCT, near Beaver Lake in Wisconsin’s Chequamegon National Forest. He completed miles in that state and is working his way through Michigan.


The North Star

Joan Young

Julie Holst

Kenneth Holst hiked from the New York state line south through the state of Pennsylvania.

Start working on a collection of patches representing your own miles on the North Country Trail.

In this regular feature of North Star, we challenge your knowledge in a friendly competition to name the location of a detail or point of interest along the 4600+mile North Country Trail. Any of our readers can submit a photo for consideration for the next puzzle, or play our game by answering the question: Where in the Blue Blazes can this location be found? In our previous North Star (Oct.-Dec. 2017) your editor confessed that she had lost the name of the photographer who submitted the photo of rock cairns from Lowell, Michigan, from an even earlier issue. So we received this note from Jim Bradley of Michigan: “I’m responding to your ‘Where in the Blue Blazes?’ column in the recent North Star. I’m pretty sure I’m the one who took the rock cairn photo. I recall taking a photo of the rock cairn with the intention of submitting it to you, but I’m not 100% sure I actually did. So you may be the dingbat editor, but I’m the dingbat photographer!” So maybe we’ve set the record straight. None of us knows for sure. Also in that last issue we ran a new mystery picture, this one taken by Paul Spoelstra, an NCTA Board member from the Grand Rapids, Michigan, area, of a life-size Bigfoot cutout. “It was hand made by a retired man who recently moved from Alaska. He wouldn’t give his last name, but I got ‘Bob’ out of him. He wanted to have a conversation piece and to tell his family and friends where his driveway is. It is on a paved section of the NCT, Knapp Ave.” —Spoely There were several other guesses offered, some wrong and others right. Apparently yeti are popping up all over the trail. Barb Zelinski said she passed it at Castle Rock in St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but that must have been a Big Foot relative. Both Karen Walker and Kate Darnocoeur correctly identified THIS one on Knapp Ave., near Grand Rapids, Michigan. And our next mystery candidate? The photo at left was also taken by Jim Bradley, but NOT in the Grand Rapids neighborhood! Can you tell our editor where on the NCT it is? Contact info on page 2.

Nicole Wooten

Where In The Blue Blazes?

Max Bader

Valerie works to remove a tree on the Continental Divide Trail near Jones Pass, Colorado.

Meet Valerie Bader, Director Of Trail Development


alerie Bader joined the NCTA team in January 2018 as the new Director of Trail Development. Valerie is a Pennsylvania native who grew up camping with her family in Pennsylvania and N.Y. and has recently moved back after spending several years working on trails in the western U.S. She’ll reside in Pennsylvania but will travel across the Trail in her new position. Valerie is no stranger to National Scenic Trails. She has worked with the Pacific Crest Trail Association, both as a Technical Advisor and Associate Regional Representative in the Northern California/Southern Oregon region, and with the Continental Divide Trail Coalition as the Trail Operations Manager. She has also had the pleasure of building trails on Colorado’s high peaks with the Colorado 14ers Initiative and working with youth at the Southwest Conservation Corps and Student Conservation Association. Most recently, she has been working in Western Pennsylvania as the Trail Program Manager for a local land trust and a trail stewardship group. Outside of work, she is an avid hiker and backpacker and enjoys anything that keeps her outdoors. Valerie also enjoys gardening, particularly growing and preserving food. Valerie is looking forward to time spent on the Trail and particularly enjoys meeting and working with volunteers, both digging in the dirt and teaching trail skills. Her duties at the North Country Trail will include management of the Field Grants program, compiling volunteer accomplishments and working with the Regional Trail Coordinators and Chapters to identify and implement state-by-state and trailwide priorities. She will also be finalizing the new Trail Crew Leader program this year as well as working on some other existing training programs. Most importantly, Valerie is excited to meet all of the volunteers, friends and partners who make up the North Country Trail community and to hear your North Country Trail stories. Drop her a line at vbader@ January-March 2018


Captain Blue On The Blue Blazes by Andy Niekamp The First Solo Thru-Hike of Ohio’s 1444 Mile Buckeye Trail Lisa Powell, Cox Media Group/Dayton Daily News

Would I find the same adventure on the Buckeye Trail that a wilderness hike brings? Hiking 1444 miles around Ohio surely would be an adventure, wouldn’t it? I was born in Ohio; I was raised in Ohio; I went to school in Ohio; I went to college in Ohio; I worked in Ohio, and Ohio is boring. Believe me, Ohio is not exciting. How could this be a great journey when Ohio is so boring?


ayton’s Andy Niekamp launched his 2011 hike anyway, even though, as most of our readers know, a trail that forms a complete circle of Ohio must necessarily include a lot of flat land in the north and a lot of civilization, too. But don’t we also know that it utilizes numerous state parks and segments of the hilly Wayne National Forest? And readers of these pages have seen that long historic canal routes up and down each side of the state offer many miles of trail, too. I myself am a bit of a canal geek, so have enjoyed reconstructed canal locks near Napoleon on the west side of the state, and at the north end of the Cuyahoga Valley National Park on the east side and more canalside trail in the Zoar area. And anything historic pleases me; after all, it was near the Miami and Erie Canal in Defiance that Joan Young and I sampled a pork brains sandwich in an old Prohibition-era speakeasy. As Andy himself says, “The Buckeye Trail…is about discovering Ohio.” In truth there is a lot of road walking, but his journey took him up to the shore of Lake Erie in northeast Ohio and down to the Ohio River in the southwest in a giant circle from and back to Dayton. Because it was spring and early summer, he endured both cold and heat, and way more rain than he could have wanted. Some streams were at flood and he just waded across, hip deep. Apparently he started almost every day with wet boots. In fact, around Zoar and the Tuscarawas River flooding was so bad that roads and schools were closed and the trail route had to be cobbled out of safe alternatives. The Buckeye picks up the North Country Trail near Zoar and the two stay mostly together from the middle of the east side, down across the south side of the state, and up north again to Napoleon in the northwest, about 800 miles shared. Along the east side the Trail goes through a rare 22-mile wooded stretch on American Electric Power (AEP) land, demonstrating remarkable good will after strip mining had left a devastated land with poisoned streams. AEP has restored 60,000 acres with 63 million planted trees, hundreds of campsites and ponds intended for recreation. Indeed, the company calls the area ReCreation lands. In 2011 Captain Blue, his trail name, ran into parts of the southern route that just plain weren’t well maintained, nearly whipping him by making everything extremely


The North Star

Captain Blue (Andy Niekamp) at the finish of his hike, in Dayton, Ohio.

difficult. With all the rain, chest-high soaking weeds and slimy descents made every mile sheer torture. However, our NCTA Board President, Ruth Dorrough, an end-to-ender with her husband Dan on the whole North Country Trail, cautioned me that Andy’s hike was, after all, seven years ago, and that many improvements in maintenance had been made in the interim. So heed Ruth’s happier assessment when you read THOSE chapters. In late May Andy was persuaded by Andrew Bashaw, executive director of the BTA, to attend the annual meeting since he was nearby, something the author originally resisted since he had never before been involved in the organizational part of any trail despite four trips on the Appalachian Trail. Thus began Andy’s eventual deep involvement in BTA affairs which is rare for a long distance hiker in my experience, and which thrilled me no end. So hurray for Andy Niekamp for dedicating himself in a major way after his hike to ongoing Buckeye Trail projects and to the Dayton Hikers. As he says himself, “I want to contribute. I want to give back.” Buy the book at for only $15. Book Review by Irene Szabo

Andy Niekamp

Upper Falls at Hocking Hills State Park (two miles from Camp Oty’Okwa.)Â

Irene Szabo

Left: A reconstructed manually operated lock gate near the north end of Cuyahoga Valley National Park, along the Ohio and Erie Canal.

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, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please do not embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. We will no longer accept embedded pictures. 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. 37, No. 2, is 1 April 2018. 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 editor, Irene (585) 658-4321)

January-March 2018


north star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Photo by daughter and mother Erin Towsley

Grandpa and Mathew: Tom Walker and grandson Mathew on the NCT in the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter territory in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This little guy was only 2-1/2 years old and walked 5 out of the 6 miles that we hiked that day. (He took a nap in the middle of the hike riding in a baby carrier on his mom’s back!) He did well keeping up with the group as well!

Come Visit Us! The Lowell office is open to the public Monday-Friday 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT • (616) 897-5987 • 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.

North Star Vol. 37, No. 1 (2018)  
North Star Vol. 37, No. 1 (2018)