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October-December, 2017

The Magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star Annual NCTA Awards What To Do If You Become Lost in the Woods Fourth Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day Washout on the Gorge Trail!

Volume 36, No. 4

Patti Prusilla

Staff The picture of the birches with the red maple background was taken during a fall fun hike in the Mirror Lake area in Wisconsin, Chequamegon Chapter.

In This Issue What to Do If You Become Lost.............3 Follow the STOP Rule...........................4 NCT Truly Does Connect People...........5 Two Friends – NCTA and Bobcat/Doosan...................................7 Marquette Celebration Revisited............10 Annual NCTA Awards............................12 Fourth Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day........................16 Sheyenne River Valley Youth Excel!........19 Brewing Up a Perfect Partnership.............20 McGraw Bridge Project on the FLT.......21 2018 NCTA Awards Call for Nominations...........................25 Clearing Minnesota’s Kekekabic..............26 Welcoming Hikers of All Levels of Mobility..............................28 The Gorge Trail Washout........................30


David Cowles Director of Development dcowles@northcountrytrail.org Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org Tarin Hasper Annual Fund Coordinator thasper@northcountrytrail.org Andrea Ketchmark Executive Director aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator llindstrom@northcountrytrail.org Nicole Murphy Administrative Assistant nmurphy@northcountrytrail.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator, Wisconsin bmenke@northcountrytrail.org Alison Myers Administrative Assistant amyers@northcountrytrail.org Amelia Rhodes Marketing/Communications Coordinator arhodes@northcountrytrail.org Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator mrowbotham@northcountrytrail.org Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org

National Board of Directors Ruth Dorrough, President (585) 354-4147 · rdorrough@hotmail.com Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · jnyhof1@gmail.com Lynda Rummel, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · ljrassoc@roadrunner.com Tim Mowbray, VP West (715) 378-4320 · tmowbray@earthlink.net Larry Pio, Secretary (269) 327-3589 · nalcoman1@aol.com Doug Thomas, Treasurer, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · dthomas7000@gmail.com Tom Moberg, Immediate Past President (701) 271-6769 · tfmoberg@gmail.com Josh Berlo, Minnesota Rep. (574) 532-4183 · joshberlo@gmail.com Mike Chapple, At Large Rep. (574) 274-0151 · mike@chapple.org Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-4619 · jcohen@zoominternet.net Jerry Fennell, At Large Rep. (262) 787-0966 · jeroldvfennell@hotmail.com Dennis Garrett, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 827-2350 · dcgcag@gmail.com Cheryl Kreindler, At Large Rep. (313) 850-8731 · ckreindl@ch2m.com Paul Spoelstra, Michigan Rep. (616) 890-7518 · spoelymi@comcast.net Mark VanHornweder, Wisconsin Rep. (218) 390-0858 · mvanhorn74@yahoo.com Jeff Van Winkle, Michigan Rep. (616) 540-2693 · rvanwink@gmail.com Steve Walker, Ohio Rep. (330) 652-5623 · nilesprinting@gmail.com

Trailhead.............................................3 NPS Corner......................................18 From the Executive Director...............9

Departments Hiking Shorts....................................22 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................17 Next Deadline for Submissions...........9

About the Cover:

Bob Dunning of the Spirit of the Woods Chapter in lower Michigan walks his dog, Lily, along the Trail on the Manistee River one fine fall day. Photo by John Pottenger.


The North Star

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or treeweenie@aol.com 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, Winter issue, Vol. 36, Issue 4, 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.

Trail Head

Ruth Dorrough President

What To Do If You Become Lost In The Woods By Mary Coffin

Previously published in the Adirondack Mountain Club Onondaga Chapter newsletter. any veteran hikers have experienced becoming disoriented, separated from the group or temporarily lost in the woods. Planning on the part of both hikers and hike leaders can prevent this from happening. But if it does you should know how to take care of yourself until you are found. Preventive measures include telling someone exactly where you plan to go and return time, sticking with these plans, signing trail registers, not hiking alone, knowing the area and its possible hazards, appropriate dress for the weather (warm, dry, layers) and packing properly including a survival kit. Below are suggested survival kit items that will be necessary if you become lost. • rain/wind jacket, hat, gloves, extra socks, poncho or space blanket or tube tent, garbage bag • food, gorp, full water bottle • first aid kit: Band-Aids, pain reliever, antiseptic, moleskin, ace bandage, plastic gloves, sunscreen, insect repellent • map, compass, small signal mirror, flagging tape, permanent marker • GPS with extra batteries, or SPOT type locator. Even a fully charged phone may be useless so do not count on it. • candle, matches/lighter, knife, metal cup/tuna can • flashlight, extra batteries • whistle • water purification tablets or filter



Photographer Unknown

I am pleased to report that the organization remains strong during this time of Executive Director transition. A dynamic balance exists between stability and examination of all aspects of organizational function in order to serve the NCTA mission better than ever. Thoughtful strategic plan review is underway as board, staff, and members work together to prepare for a strong future in uncertain times. Special thanks to those of you who have accepted my invitation for input on how you see us progressing. I appreciate your calls and emails and the invitation remains open. The title for this column, Trailhead, while catchy is really a misnomer. Just as there is not one trailhead on the NCT, there is not one trail head in the organization. I am proud to be part of an organization rich in extraordinary knowledge and leadership. I recently read an excellent article by Mary Coffin about what to do if one gets lost in the woods. I am pleased that she agreed to share her expertise as a guest Trailhead columnist. —Ruth

Prevention against becoming lost means taking careful note of surroundings and landmarks, staying on a marked trail, looking in both directions (behind as well as in front), watching your time (when will it get dark?) and keeping an eye on the weather (sky conditions). When you discover that you are lost and do not recognize where you are, use your number one survival tool, your brain. STOP. Stop, sit down and Think about your situation. Observe your surroundings then make a Plan. Consider time of year, time of day, proximity to roads, and rivers and your map and compass skills. In most cases, it is best to stay in one place and wait to be found. Most people are found within 24-48 hours Mary taking GPS readings to keep and very near a trail. herself located. Children are told to hug a tree. It keeps them in one spot while rescuers search for them and gives them the comfort of a “friend.” Lost hikers should stay together (do not separate) in that one place and stay warm and dry. Some mark their spot with flagging tape to prevent getting further lost. While waiting they should be out of rain and wind (space blanket or tube tent) but near a clearing where they are more easily spotted. It is important to drink plenty of water but DO NOT drink untreated water from lakes or streams. In the clearing (sometimes difficult to locate in the Adirondacks) make an X in the soil with a boot or with branches or display brightly colored clothing. Blow your whistle at regular intervals. If you must spend the night, take precautions to prevent hypothermia. Wear a hat, put on layers of clothes (avoid cotton), huddle close to your hiking partners, stay dry and out of the wind and eat your food and gorp. Build a fire and keep it going all night. Stay put in your shelter. A bed or insulation against cold ground can be made from dry leaves, branches or evergreen boughs. When search and rescue teams are heard one should go into the clearing to wave arms and bright clothing, signal with the mirror (day) or flashlight (night) or blow a whistle and make lots of noise.

October-December 2017


Tony Rodriguez

And here is a story from the North Country Trail that was on our blog this past summer.

Follow the S.T.O.P. Rule By Susan Herrick

Susan Herrick, an avid North Country Trail hiker and NCTA member, nearly got lost on the NCNST. Susan did many things right, and we asked her to share her story.


emember to educate yourself before going on the Trail, take a map and compass, let someone know where you are going, and always carry the 10 Essentials, every time you go on a hike, no matter how short. Geraldine Largay’s story, her loss and family’s heartache shook me up. She got lost on the Appalachian Trail, and in her own words said “Got off trail to go to br. Now lost.” Her remains were only recently discovered, two years after her disappearance. Two weeks before her story became news, I too went off the Trail to “take a pee.” The path I took away from the Trail seemed clear enough at the time, and maybe I didn’t go the recommended 200 feet distance. After taking care of business I headed back to the Trail, and it didn’t take me long to see that I had made a wrong turn.

How I Re-Found Myself On The North Country Trail

I stopped and took a moment to understand the predicament I was in. Yeah, I panicked a little bit and had to force myself to stay put. Later, when I was safely at home and in front of a computer I did some research about wayfinding. The first rule in the event of getting lost is to stop where you are.

Follow the S.T.O.P. Rule.

Easy to remember: Stop. Think. Observe. Plan. This is a good rule and I got the first part right, STOP. Then I thought. How much time before dark? It was near 7:00 p.m. My second thought was about supplies: water, snack, jacket, cell phone, light, heat source, and map. Check. Next I observed the area. There are woods all around, and was starting to look pretty much the same in every direction. Panic again. It is very hard to manage while stressing out. I didn’t want to be lost, so how was I going to find my way? No way was I ready to use my phone a friend option. Last fall I took a hike with a respected promoter and maintainer of the NCT. I was talking about my casual attitude toward hiking and was reminded that if I was going to hike in these woods I might want to up my game. So true. Plan. Yes I had a plan. At my new starting point I laid out a cross-hatch with sticks and marked the direction I walked with more sticks. I kept walking back to the crosshatch, and tried the other directions. This method soon got me to the Trail in probably less than 10 minutes.


The North Star

Mary and another hiker pore over maps, making sure where they are as they bushwhack new routes in the Adirondacks.

While my situation was nowhere near as dire as Geraldine Largay’s, it did make me think that this could happen to other people too, and probably has. I promised myself that next time I went off trail for any reason I would mark my steps with a bandana, or whatever else I had, so I won’t take a wrong turn. Other markers at hand when marking your path off the trail might be sticks, head bands, dew rags, spare compression straps, bungee cords, facial tissue – fresh or used, umbrella, or even a bra. Remember to leave no trace; you’re going to pick the markers up on your way back to the trail. Make notes on your map of things like the giant beech surrounded by pines, the tree gall that looks like a bear cub, or where the river stones lay along the trail. Mark whatever stands out as a sign post that you will recognize. And be sure to look back periodically to remember things from both directions.

2018 Extended Outing – Save the Date The next extended outing featuring supported day hikes and one overnight in the woods will be Sept. 23-29 in southwestern N.Y. and northwestern Pennsylvania, along the North Country Trail in both Allegany State Park and Allegheny National Forest, both of them heavily forested, moderately hilly, lovely wild places. For an extra treat, one day will be spent in nearby Letchworth State Park where a branch of the Finger Lakes Trail travels forest above a spectacular river gorge with major waterfalls. Yes, our guide will be the same Allison Powell who wrote of her family's hike in North Dakota on page 5. Contact guide for detailed itinerary and application packet. Guide: Allison Powell, NYS Licensed and Insured Guide Hikeyourownhike1@gmail.com 602-451-1269 NCTA membership required

The North Country Trail Truly Does Connect People from the States of New York to North Dakota!

Tracy Briggs of The Forum

This story is reprinted with permission of The Fargo Forum.

By Allison Powell


pon discovering that the NCT was a forty-minute drive from my home in Ashville, New York, I began the quest of hiking every mile within the Allegany State Park in New York and the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania. Subsequently, I became a member of the North Country Trail Association, joining the Allegheny National Forest Chapter, due to the ANF Chapter being closer to my home than New York’s Finger Lakes Trail. In December 2016, I contacted Deborah Koepplin, a member of the Sheyenne River Chapter and requested information about the NCT in North Dakota. Deborah promptly responded to my request for information. She also mentioned the Dakota Prairie Chapter, stating that Rennae Gruchalla was the contact person, should we decide to hike in the Dakota Sheyenne National Grasslands. After months of research, I decided the Ekre Grasslands Preserve and the Sheyenne National Grasslands would be ideal for my family’s 2017 backpacking adventure. In February, I contacted Rennae Gruchalla by email. I explained that I had acquired the Sheyenne National Grasslands map, but had a few questions such as road access to trailheads and the availability of water along the trail. As with Deborah Koepplin, I received an immediate response from Rennae. Rennae said she could answer all my questions and that her Chapter would be willing to assist in any way possible. However, she did have one question, “Why did you pick our section of the Trail?” I explained that I picked the NCT because I was familiar with the Trail in New York and Pennsylvania. Also, that I was planning a “family” hike, due to a request from my sister Debby, who has been fighting a battle with terminal cancer for almost nineteen years. I thought it would so meaningful, that she and I had walked on the same Trail, even though we live over 1400 miles apart. Due to years of chemo treatments and a compromised immune system, Debby recently experienced damage to her lungs. Debby’s oncologist encouraged her to start doing things she enjoyed, because with the lung damage, when the cancer comes back, it is going to be a true-life battle. Debby said she wanted to hike and that began the planning of the NCT hike in North Dakota. My brother Kim and his wife Sandy, who live in Phoenix, Arizona, my sister Tricia who lives in San Diego, California, Debby’s son Kelly, who lives in Grand Forks, North Dakota, Debby and her dog Rinny, who live in Deering, N.D. and I all agreed to meet in Fargo on June 25, 2017, to participate in a five day, four night backpacking trek. Although Tricia’s idea of camping was to stay at the Hilton, her contribution to the trek would be to meet us each evening with a cooked meal. Therefore, I needed to know, where were there areas along the Trail that could be accessed by vehicle? www.northcountrytrail.org

Allison Powell Family.

I reviewed the Sheyenne National Grasslands map. It showed roads that appeared to meet up with the Trail; however, when I discussed these roads with Rennae, she knew that many of the roads were forestry roads and were not accessible. Rennae mailed me maps and provided locations where Tricia would be able to meet us each evening. This information was “key” to planning our successful outing! Rennae and I corresponded for six months, working out the details as to how to hike 40.2 miles, in five days ending each evening at a location where Tricia would be able to access us by vehicle. One would think that Rennae and the Dakota Prairie Chapter (DPC) would have far exceeded their hospitality by now, but oh, it had just begun! On June 25, upon all family members arriving at the hotel in Fargo, Rennae and Gail Rogne came to the hotel and reviewed the maps with my sister and me. Their information was invaluable. As anyone knows who lives in a rural area, some of the instructions were “look for the small bridge and then turn right, at the dirt road turn right again, then look for the big rock and turn left…” And, as if Rennae and Gail hadn’t already gone far out of their way to make us feel welcome, they offered their help getting us all to the trailhead the next day. Rennae asked if we would be receptive to having the local newspapers, The Fargo Forum and The Ransom County Gazette, write about our trek and the reason for choosing the NCT. My siblings agreed and on the morning of June 27th, members of the DPC and the Fargo newspaper met us at our campsite. My family and DPC members were interviewed and numerous photographs and a video were taken. The article with photos was published June 30th on the front page of The Fargo Forum. In addition, the article, photos and the video were posted on the Forum’s web page. How special it is to have Debby’s voice and a visual of her talking about her cancer memorialized forever on a video, a gift none of us had considered at the time! During our hike, we all talked about how beautiful the prairie was. Debby stated that the prairie had always called to her. For me, it’s the mountains and the trees that call; however, I must admit that the prairie was beautiful. The Bur Oaks had twisting gnarly looking limbs and branches. They were the type of tree you remember seeing as a child in an animated Disney movie. There were gentle rolling hills, formed by ancient sands from when the area was cover by water thousands of years ago. Continued on page 6 October-December 2017


The NCT Truly Does Connect People

…continued from page 5 The sky was crystal clear and a beautiful shade of blue. There was a breeze most days and the temperatures ranged from the low 70’s to high 80’s. On the second day of our trek, the weather forecast was for strong thunderstorms with the possibility of severe lightning and hail during the evening. Rennae kept us updated, texting the weather forecast throughout the day, also offering to come retrieve us if the weather became dangerous. Shortly after pitching our tents, a Forest Ranger named Casey arrived in his vehicle. Casey said, “Are the people hiking the NCT?” I responded “Yes. How do you know that?” Casey explained that he too was a DPC member. He said Rennae had sent an email to all the members about our family hike and that he had been hoping to see us. Casey said, “I will keep an eye out for you along the Trail. If you need anything just let me know.” I thought, now we even have our own personal Ranger watching over us. As evening approached, we watched the storm build and then watched it move away from us. Tricia arrived and we all enjoyed a great meal of pork ribs and homemade potato salad. Thanks to Tricia, there were no dehydrated dinners on this hike! Then, late into the night, another storm rolled in. Fortunately for us the lightning was horizontal in the sky, because the storm had stalled directly over our campsite. The thunder roared. The lightning lit the sky. The wind blew and it poured heavily for about one hour. Thankfully, our tents remained waterproof and securely anchored and eventually we were able to relax and fall asleep. On day three, we woke to a gray sky and on and off drizzlings of rain. But, oh what a great day of hiking it was. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I wouldn’t have believed it. On day one and two, it had been taking Debby about one and one-half hours to cover a mile. On day three, she walked a thirty-minute mile and we completed thirteen miles. I asked Debby, what happened? She said, “I guess my lungs like the Trail. I feel like my lungs have just opened up.” On day four, I received a text from Rennae wanting to know if it would be okay if she and Gail met us on day five to walk the final miles of our trek with us. Of course, we said yes. So Rennae and Gail met us on the Trail. We all hugged and walked the final three miles together, completing our 40.2-mile backpacking trek with new friends, friends who have become “family.” Who knew, that six months after sending an email to a Dakota Prairie Chapter member, lifelong friendships and memories would be made? The NCT truly does connect people from New York State to the beautiful State of North Dakota and its warm, friendly and caring members of the DPC! I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention that the DPC members had mowed and cleared the Trail of any debris within 24 hours of our hike. My family and I would like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Gruchalla, Gail Rogne, Ginny Newman, Mary Moberg, Margaret Sinner, Ranger Casey and all the members of the DPC who helped make our family hike a “hike of a lifetime.” Thank you from the bottom of our hearts! 6

The North Star

Corporate Partnerships Along the Trail By David Cowles, Director of Development, NCTA

In this issue of the North Star, two articles feature unique and beneficial relationships with corporate partners, Bobcat/Doosan Corporation in North Dakota (opposite page), Perrin Brewing/ Hopcat Brewpub in Michigan (page 20). The Wampum accessible trail project also benefitted tremendously from local businesses’ contributions (page 28). These are great examples of local or regional businesses who wanted to link their brand and employees with the North Country Trail. In each case, the business or corporation provided revenues or product to support the Trail and in return they received promotional recognition on Facebook or here in North Star. In the two rather unique western examples, they also both received a “wellness” benefit since their employees were able to enjoy an organized work day on the Trail. NCTA Chapters can enjoy the benefits of these local business or corporate partnerships and should seek partners who can provide one or more of the following benefits to the Trail or Chapter: Financial support – many businesses will make a substantial donation to the NCTA. Product support – businesses and corporations often manufacture a product that would be a benefit to attendees at an event or workday. Recent examples include: hammocks, water bottles, t-shirts, boot scrapers, work shirts, caps, food and beverage. Worker support – as mentioned, wellness days are popular in bigger businesses and employees enjoy the opportunity to spend a “work” day away from the office and get paid. Some businesses will “loan” you employees to work a special event or trail promotion. Social or marketing promotion – some of the best support the Trail or Chapter can get from a business is their promotion – often the business or corporation will briefly include the NCTA name and logo on their Facebook page or website and reach thousands of new faces. Creative or technical support – large businesses and corporations often have in-house departments for printing, engineering, machinery, project management, marketing and design and they will loan you an employee or team to help with your special project or need. And the list goes on. One caution in partnering with a business or corporation – expectations on both sides can differ so it is critical that you lay out exactly what each partner gives and receives. This is best done in a one-page “partner agreement” that each signs. Since most collaborations operate best on the “I’ll scratch your back, you scratch mine” principle, you will need to determine what you provide for the corporation that they don’t already have. Fortunately you only have to look at the mission of the North Country Trail and the Association to find your answer. You are giving them the opportunity to align with the premier long distance hiking trail in the northern United States, not to mention the longest National Scenic Trail in the country. You might have to throw in a wellness day and few Facebook posts, but they’re getting a pretty good deal if you ask me. If you would like some help maximizing a local partnership and writing up a basic “partner agreement,” contact David Cowles, NCTA Director of Development. He will be happy to help you.

Two Friends – The NCTA and Bobcat/Doosan Relationship By Jerry Warner, Dakota Prairie Chapter Daniel Ellsworth

Meet the Acronyms

If you attended the NCTA Celebration in Marquette in July of this year or in Fargo in September of 2016, you may have heard phrases such as “Day of Caring,” or “Doosan Day of Community Service.” Or you may have read those words in recent issues of this magazine. But do you really know exactly what the Doosan Day of Community Service (DDOCS) is? Let me give you a little history on it and how it is associated with the NCTA in North Dakota. I believe it was 2007 when I joined the NCTA and started doing trail work. By about the third work day, I realized that there is machinery at my job (Bobcat, Product Engineering Department) that could make this stuff a whole lot easier. And the cool thing is that I can sign out this equipment for personal use. So I asked: “What is our next project? Could a small machine help us out?” I don’t remember whether the very first project was using the post-hole auger or if it was transporting gravel down the Trail, but that little Bobcat MT52 (Google it; it’s a cute but powerful little machine) worked great. And that was the beginning of Bobcat’s prowling on the NCT, which has been going on for several years. I would strive to stay in-the-know about work projects in the area and determine whether Bobcat equipment could help us out. If so, I would see about signing out the equipment.

Two Friends

Then, in early 2014, Bobcat’s parent company, Doosan, rolled out a new program called Doosan Day of Caring, now called Doosan Day of Community Service. So I got this email explaining the new program as an opportunity for employees to do 8 hours of volunteer work and they would get their regular pay for it. The email also asked for volunteer project suggestions. I thought, “This is perfect!” Submitting my idea for a volunteer project, I don’t recall the exact words, but it went something like: “The North Country Trail Association is nearly 100% dependent on volunteers. The Trail is roughly 4600 miles long and is just over half complete, so there is plenty of work to do.” I floated my idea connecting NCTA trail needs with potential Bobcat/Doosan volunteers, and my project suggestion was accepted! It’s a win-win-win situation! Why? Because: 1) The NCTA gets help building the Trail. 2) More people will become aware of the NCT, generating interest that could grow the NCTA membership. 3) Doosan gets the volunteer projects it is asking for. 4) I get more Trail to hike on (and so, yeah, that’s four wins). That email sparked the beginning of what I call a great relationship between Bobcat and the NCTA. It felt like I had two friends who had never met and I had just introduced them to each other.


Miles and Smiles

The first DDOCS-NCT project was trimming brush and renewing blazes on 4 miles of Trail in the Sheyenne State Forest. It went great; everyone arrived with a smile and left with a smile and some pride in a job well done. Since then, the short list since the first DDOCS NCT event shows that Bobcat/Doosan Volunteers: • Built a boardwalk and puncheons. • Benched new or renewed existing benched areas. • Rebuilt picnic tables. • Smoothed gopher mounds. • Installed benches on scenic overlooks.

Global and Grassroots Reach

Doosan is a global company. In North America, more than 300 volunteers from all seven sites participated in various activities for 39 different partner organizations, and contributed more than 2000 total volunteer hours throughout the companywide event. That’s a lot of stats to take in, with some big numbers. Feel free to reread. Now, in addition to NCT work, DDOCS projects consist of (this the short list again) working at food shelters, maintenance work at municipal parks, entertaining residents of the North Dakota Veterans Home, and helping elderly folks with tasks that would otherwise go undone. One afternoon after one of our DDOCS events, while I was still wearing my “Helping Hands” t-shirt passed out earlier by Doosan to volunteers, someone stopped me on the street and thanked me/us/Bobcat for helping an elderly friend of hers do some cleaning and repairs on her house. What a wonderful feeling that gives you! It may not come as a surprise to learn that Human Resources at Bobcat tell me that the NCT projects are usually a very popular choice for the volunteers.

Stat City with Lunch

A couple of years ago, I started keeping some stats specifically on DDOCS-NCT projects. To date, we have had 17 individual projects with 96 Bobcat volunteers (mostly one timers but a few repeat offenders), all adding up to well over 700 volunteer hours. One more stat: How many people get to eat lunch next to a waterfall and get paid for it? The answer to this question is 8.

October-December 2017


Amelia Rhodes

Daniel Ellsworth

Nicole Murphy, New Staff This Season

The following is a “Thank You” note sent out to volunteers who worked on DDOCS-NCT projects in three locations this year alone (includes some feedback from volunteers): Sheyenne State Forest Crew of 3 NCTA volunteers and 5 from Bobcat cleared a tree from our gravel stockpile, renewed a stretch of Trail that had eroded, hauled and applied gravel to the renewed area. Thoughts from Jerry Warner (NCTA project leader and Bobcat volunteer): Our crew was a good balance of the right people. We had some trail building experience from the NCTA volunteers, and outstanding ambition from the Bobcat volunteers. In my opinion the highlight of the day was looking back at what we had accomplished, and lunch next to the waterfall was pretty cool, too. The work we did was a huge improvement on a small section of Trail with big erosion problems. Hopefully this will last for years to come and you can all go back there someday… for recreational purposes. Walcott Area Crew of 2 NCTA volunteers and 4 from Bobcat benched some new sections, and refreshed an old benched area, replaced some broken signs, cut some firewood for a campsite, and removed debris from the Trail. Tom Moberg, project leader, shares these observations. We had a very good day. There were 4 Bobcat employees (Lance, John, Eric, Owen) and 2 DPC volunteers (Ed, Tom) on our project along the Trail on the Berg land. The Bobcat guys were excellent, hard working, interested in the project, fun to work with, and quick to grasp the details of what we were trying to accomplish. We did new and remedial Trail benching in 3


The North Star

places, replaced 7 broken sign posts along the Trail, cut a big supply of firewood for the campsite, and cleaned tree debris and cow poop from several stretches of the Trail. That amount of work was just right for the time we had and the size of the crew. Having the Bobcat utility vehicle for hauling tools and supplies was very helpful. Ed and I appreciated the lunches provided by Bobcat. All in all, a very successful trail project. McLeod Sheyenne National Grasslands Area Crew of 5 Forest Service employees and 4 Bobcat volunteers installed a reinforcing material on damaged trail areas, hauled gravel to the work sites. Comments from Greg Morel (Forest Service project leader): We greatly appreciate the volunteers at the work day, all of the coordination you provided, and Bobcat for making our project possible. We would not have been able to complete the entire project if we had not received the second piece of equipment so it was very fortunate to have it delivered on such short notice. Every one of the volunteers was hard working and had a great attitude which made the day very enjoyable for me and the other Forest Service employees. From Scott Jacobson (Bobcat Volunteer): Everything went well, and everyone pitched in to help complete the work. I think everyone came away with more information on the Grasslands area and the Trail system. To my fellow Bobcat employees, I hope you can get out to hike the Trail we worked on or other portions of the North Country Trail. Please tell others about it so they can go out to see what we have done. You might even hear about the Trail from others, and you can say, “I worked on that Trail.”

By David Cowles We would like you to meet our new NCTA Administrative Assistant, Nicole Murphy, who joined our staff team in Lowell in mid-September. A native Canadian, Nicole comes to us most recently from California, where she worked with an environmental nonprofit, Save Mount Diablo. Her passionate interest in conservation programs and land protection combines well with the strong administrative skills she brings to our team. She has more than twenty years of experience in administration, data entry, office management and executive assistance. She is also a certified trainer in a wide range of fitness and cycling programs. Nicole and her husband and daughter recently moved to Lowell where they are settling in. When asked recently about her passions, Nicole had this to say, “I am passionate about nature, being outdoors and keeping active. My husband and I are working hard to teach our daughter the importance of these things. I have been fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel and live abroad and love meeting people and experiencing new cultures. We are currently hosting two exchange students from Mexico and France and love what we are learning from each other. I also love to work on DIY projects, whether it be around the house or garden or crafting or sewing. I also work to stay positive and smile and laugh as life is too short and fragile.” She will work alongside Alison in serving the staff and volunteers primarily in the areas of volunteer tracking, database management and fund development. She will hit the ground running as we head into one of our busiest seasons each year for volunteer and year end donor tracking. Please join me in welcoming Nicole to our Trail community.

From the Executive Director

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 treeweenie@ aol.com, 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. 1, is 1 January 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!

Andrea Ketchmark

Telling Our Stories



builders and hikers. In this issue, you’ll read about our volunteers, people who give their lives to make Trail a reality and people who make our lives better by being part of our community. For those whom we honor in this issue and to all of those we don’t, I thank you. If you aren’t yet a volunteer, we hope these stories inspire you to work with us to make a difference. It’s important that we share these stories to connect with each other and to inspire others to get involved. It’s also more important than ever that we share these stories as advocates for public land and trails. Without strong support from elected officials, our land management agencies and volunteer partners like us do not get the resources we need to do our jobs. We must make our voices heard on the national, state and local levels so decision makers understand that the North Country National Scenic Trail, and other recreational resources like it, are the keys to a healthy lifestyle for all Americans, to protecting natural resources for the future, and to building a strong economy. Whether you share your story with us, a loved one or a stranger, I urge you to continue to share. It’s what brings us together and what keeps the Trail and our community growing.

Your editor, Irene (585) 658-4321)

Amelia Rhodes

could not be more excited to step into the position of Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association. As Director of Trail Development, I’ve spent the past eight years working with our volunteers and partners across the Trail. I know firsthand of the dedication our volunteers bring to their work and the love our trail users have for the experience we provide. It’s your passion that will fuel me as I step into this new role. NCTA is not a group of hikers or trail builders. We are people who understand the critical role the Trail can play in people’s lives. The Trail provides an experience that cannot be simulated and we cannot underestimate its impact on the world. Lives change while hiking it, while building it and while connecting with others who share our love of it. Although the Trail cannot be experienced in print or online, our stories can. Social media allows everyday people a platform to share stories of growth, adventure, resilience and hope. When I scroll through Instagram, I learn about the experiences of others from across the globe and of different backgrounds. On groups like Outdoor Nation, Unlikely Hikers, Outdoor Afro, Native Outdoors and Women who Hike, I read stories of transformation through outdoor recreation, stories that have me nodding my head in recognition of our shared journey on this earth. In the North Star magazine and online, we have the chance to share stories from our community of trail

October-December 2017


Lois Judd

Lake Superior shore, just southeast of Marquette, typical for its free public access.

Marquette Revisited, July 2017 By Irene Szabo


Vickie Swank

fter months of too-rainy weather over most of our Trail states, the four days in late July that nearly 400 of us spent in Marquette were absolutely perfect, low 70s and sunshine. What a gift! So hikes had no weather issues, and evening programs were fascinating. Our visit to Porcupine Mountain Wilderness State Park was a revelation about the forests and Trail there, and the next night we heard from Sarah Mittlefehldt, who wrote Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail and American Environmental Politics, a wonderfully enlightening history of how National Scenic Trails’ unique partnerships with public agencies have evolved. I thought I knew a lot, but that book taught me bales of new information. We awarded our top North Country Trail Association volunteers one night (see page 12) and bid farewell to Bruce Matthews, too, when he was presented with a specialized fishing kayak. Did you know he has written books on fishing equipment and tactics? Enjoy a blog below from Sharon (Yogini) King, a first-timer at one of our annual Celebrations, who seems to have captured well the utterly enjoyable atmosphere at these gatherings. I myself finally visited Lakenenland, featured before in these pages, where one creative man has created an extensive trail of metal sculptures in the woods, AND has built an all-puncheon walk through swampy woods by himself! He is also a permitting Trail landowner who has built a welcoming shelter in his back woods. Everywhere the shoreline of Lake Superior colored our days there, and I continue to enjoy how much of the lake shorelines here and along Lake Michigan are publically accessible. Would that the Finger Lakes in New York were so accessible, but most of those shores are private. Here it’s heaven!

Yoopers, Fudgies and Trolls: North Country Trail Celebration By Sharon Yogini

Marquette Lighthouse. Just for a little background information, the long walkway with the railing led to the fog horn building (the pipes carried steam). The sad thing is that when use of the fog horn was abandoned the crew blew up the fog horn building. Really?!!!


The North Star

Two years ago when I was hiking in North Carolina, I ran into a couple who was very active in the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. They told me I should check it out. Promises of meeting like-minded people and getting inspired to hike the Appalachian Trail really attracted me to the idea but I never got on the ball to make plans to go. So, when I saw that the North Country Trail Association had a Celebration, I registered on the first day it was open. I was so excited! I planned my vacation around the weekend festivities in Marquette, my new favorite place. I also prepared myself to create a Plan B in case I got there and didn’t feel comfortable. I do get socially anxious sometimes when I’m around new people, so I never know how it’s going to go. Besides, all these folks know each other, so I was a little unsure if I’d feel like a fifth wheel. So, Plan B was in place, and I showed up Thursday morning for the first hike.

Kevin Schram Amelia Rhodes

It was a lovely hike to Little Garlic Falls on the Little Garlic River. The Trail reminded me so much of the Appalachians. The beautiful little stream snaked through a dense forest with rocks and evergreen trees. Although it wasn’t as hilly as North Carolina, it was every bit as beautiful and not nearly as welltraveled. We sat on a boulder and had lunch at the waterfall while the others crawled over the boulders and crossed to the other side of the stream. It was easy to talk to people on the hike, but I was a bit worried about dinner. I arrived at the social hour at 5 PM, and there was no one there but me. Eventually, a few other people arrived, and I started to talk with a couple from the eastern Upper Peninsula. Pat and Bob were long-time members and very active in trail work. We talked for awhile, and they invited me to sit at their table. I met the rest of their group, and happily I met my “family” for the week. Every night we dined together and enjoyed the programs. As we talked, they each held up their hands to show me where they live in Michigan. If you’ve ever noticed, Michigan is shaped like a pair of mittens. The Lower Peninsula is one, and the Upper Peninsula (UP)is the mate. They also informed me that there were two kinds of people in the world – Yoopers and people who want to be Yoopers. (A Yooper is a person from the UP.) Furthermore, they said that anyone from below the Mackinac Bridge (me) was a troll. If a Troll moves up to the UP, they are then called a Fudgie. Apparently, you are only born a Yooper…you can never become one. So, any dream of becoming a Yooper was dashed at that point. However, I can certainly visit. I liked pretty much everybody I met up there, and the Celebration was highly educational and entertaining. The first night we had a phenomenal presentation on history of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It has the largest stand of old-growth forest in the country. I cannot wait to get over there and do some hiking. I attended a long distance hiking session, a “comedy on the trail” session and a fascinating session where Alex Maier showed his documentary about hiking across the UP. I gasped out loud when I saw the stars and the Northern Lights, and I made a mental note to get out to see that as soon as I can. It is worth watching to see this beautiful country through the lens of a great filmmaker. He even has some great footage of his winter backpacking. I don’t know if I’m up for that yet, but it was really interesting and beautiful to see! Have a great week, y’all! Don’t ever be afraid to try something new. You never know how it might change your life. https://midlifemoments.me/2017/07/30/yoopers-fudgies-andtrolls-north-country-trail-conference/ https://www.youtube.com/user/wakebrdwnder30

Hikers assault immense rocks for access to great views.


October-December 2017






Annual North Country Trail Awards

Rising Star


Trail Maintainer

Jessica Bale

Trail Blazer

John Woollam

Trail Builder

Tony Orsini has been a one-man crew for several years now, inspired to move three miles of Finger Lakes Trail/NCT road walk into the woods and fields onto a park-like setting that he created! Every road walk deserves a saint like Tony, who obtained permissions and even bought one property in order to create the route, then bought trees Tony Orsini to line a field path, cobbled portions with stones, built a 20 foot bridge, and created a lovely campsite, all along an attractive creek, refusing any reimbursement.

Nancy Orsini

The North Star

Al Larmann


Fred Walker, ND Tourism

Mary Lee Nielson was nominated by the Sheyenne River Chapter for her longtime and tireless promotional efforts as the Marketing Director of the Valley City, North Dakota, Convention/Visitors Bureau. For years now she has made sure that any tourism publication she arranged coverage in included the local NCT, so the Trail has Mary Lee Nielson been accorded coverage in a wide variety of publications and tours. She also helped immensely the two times the Sheyenne River Chapter hosted the annual NCT event. Every chapter needs a friend like this. Greg Owens, the Central New York Chapter’s primary contact on state forest lands, has been a long term friend and supporter, from helping them get a new Greg Owens bridge across a stream 18 years ago that enabled 1.75 miles of Trail through an important swamp, to adding an interpretive loop trail in that area, and includes leading walks and supporting the Chapter’s projects locally. Craig Krepps, Park Manager at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, has been key to truly helpful relations between the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter and the Park. Not only does the Park

Matt Davis

Friend Of The Trail

Reggie and Lucia Krueger have become a valued pair of maintainers in the North Country Hikers Chapter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Not only do they tend their own miles admirably well, but Reggie and Lucia because they have to walk an extra three Krueger miles from the east just to get to their section, they are also often maintaining that section, too. On work parties they are a cheerful addition to the crew, and show up to a high degree on routine trail crew weekly sessions to help tend the Chapter’s 120 miles. Chris Hoffarth of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter in North Dakota not only organizes all trail care and their tool trailer, and maintains the tools, he also does every task Chris Hoffarth required to tend their miles of Trail, which includes mowing literal miles of prairie. Even though he remains one of the younger members, he has been this committed for years now! Phil Nimps tends his own section of the Chippewa National Forest for Star of the North Chapter, but he also goes to extraordinary lengths to help elsewhere, like Phil Nimps mowing 31 miles of Trail in the Lonetree Wildlife Management Area in N. Dakota, 500 miles away from home, and joining projects in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, also hundreds of miles from home. What a gift!

Stephanie Hoffarth


The John A. Woollam Foundation has donated $70,000 over five years to fund several trail development projects in different ways, by matching other donations, by leveraging partnerships with, say, the Land Conservancy, and hiring an intern, in addition to outright cash donations. Thank you!

Craig Krepps

Lorana Jinkerson

Jessica Bale was a Northern Michigan University intern this past winter, putting her Outdoor Recreation major to work helping the NCT Hikers Chapter prepare for hosting this year’s Celebration in Marquette. She wrote press releases and represented the NCT at several public displays, and helped Lorana Jinkerson prepare materials, learning along the way which parts of such a job she’ll like better in her future.

assist with major public outreach hikes, but he enables volunteers to camp free at the park during projects, and has been an enthusiastic supporter of the Chapter’s project to move six miles of Trail off a busy gravel road and back onto a scenic route along the river, a supporter with both materials and manpower. Craig is as proud of that section of Trail as the Chapter is!

Theresa Neal DNR

The Awards Committee is glad to report that we get more nominations every year, which reflects our members’ appreciation of others’ contributions, but it is also becoming impossible to choose the winners, so this year the Board of Directors approved rewarding up to three nominees in each category. Hence, a bit larger happy list of honors this year:



www.youtube.com/user/skalleyweg/videos provides dozens of his hikes on the NCT plus “how-to” videos on, say, winter camping. Marty Swank exhibits special communication skills for his Chequamegon Chapter in Wisconsin. He sends out a monthly newsletter, creates press releases to local media, and is especially noteworthy for his warm recognitions of members’ skills and Marty Swank contributions. Nobody gets left out of his praise and notice, which has created a good atmosphere in that Chapter, which is now 100 strong in an area of modest population. He also provides much of the liaison with agency partners like the Forest Service.

Sara Cockrell


Kevin Smith

Kevin Smith


October-December 2017


Peter Nordgren

Marilyn Hoogstraten

Karen Stenberg of Minnesota’s Laurentian Lakes Chapter seems to do everything the Chapter needs…trail work, publicizing and leading hikes, writing publicity articles… but always in the background and quietly so that her nominators were surprised when they added up everything she does. She and Karen Stenberg Beth Trout created and led the 165 mile consecutive hike series that has brought the Chapter new members, and is now being repeated in the opposite direction. She even fed a trail work crew lunch once! Of JoAnn Pearson her nominator said that “her behind-the-scenes initiative is a model for the role of Sweep.” Anything BruleSt. Croix Chapter does, she’s there and contributing, from distributing brochures JoAnn Pearson to trail work to leading hikes to putting up posters at trailheads. In other words, JoAnn is the person everybody can count on.

GAry Narum

Supplied by Debbie Stabenow


Joe Dabes could qualify for many of our awards for his years of service to the Finger Lakes Trail/NCT in New York, not only because he has hiked the whole FLT many times, essentially invented the FLT’s Joe Dabes modern mapping system AND bought the program for it, and maintained Trail for years, but he also bought a large parcel of wooded land when he retired, a parcel that included the Trail. We are glad that he then put a trail easement on the property, protecting “his” Trail in that location forever, a half-mile on private land that connects two large state forests. Of course, since then he and friends have built two fun loops off the main trail on his property.

John A.X. Morris

Outstanding Private Landowner

As the junior Senator from Michigan when she was first elected in 2000, Debbie Stabenow’s efforts on behalf of the NCNST were overshadowed by Senator Levin, who set the bar very high. However, since his retirement in 2015, she has become Michigan’s go-to Senator, her advocacy for the Trail equaled only by Debbie Stabenow Senators Gillibrand and Klobuchar. Senator Stabenow helped get the 2009 Willing Seller Legislation passed, and has co-sponsored every NCNST Route Adjustment Act that has been proposed. Her support has enabled a host of other gains for which we are so grateful. Marilyn Hoogstraten is valued by her Grand Traverse Hiking Club for her communication skills with both the written word and photography. As editor of their newsletter for five years now, she has increased membership and local awareness of the Trail and the group’s activities, plus she made their current brochure. Kevin Smith of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter in Wisconsin has produced a host of high quality videos about the Trail, showing off beautiful places and sharing how-to information for viewers. His YouTube channel has 445 subscribers, and some videos have had 3500 views!


Vickie Swank

Tom Walker


Beth Keloneva,

Jim Charvat not only lovingly maintains his own section of the Manistee National Forest but also participates in most of the Western Michigan Chapter’s projects, whether maintaining or building new Trail or facilities like bridges. Jim also cares for the chapter tools, from sharpening hand tools to tuning the mower, a major job. He Jim Charvat also aims to help others to see more of what they are passing in the forest. Bob McNamara from the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter seems to live to improve the Trail and its structures. For years now, he has been an integral part of huge projects, for which he and his wife Pat set up their RV, create sawing stations for building tasks, cook for crews, and do all the work required out on the Trail. For Bob McNamara the Castle Rock relocation he was part of that ambitious project from the beginning, when the Chapter was very young, but the group grew in their capabilities, often due to Bob’s contributions at benching, building boardwalks, building switchbacks.




Ronald Horn

Lorana Jinkerson

Jerry Warner

Mary Rebert

Jane Norton

John and Dove Day

Jerry Warner works on both Sheyenne River Valley and Dakota Prairie Chapter Trails to an admirable degree, and leverages his own enthusiasm to bring others into the fold. He has lured co-workers from Doosan/Bobcat to work on the Trail during the company’s annual Day of Caring, converted a few of them into members, AND convinced his employer to donate free use of machinery on several occasions when the projects required it. As he hikes toward this year’s Hike 100 miles, he dedicates each mile to friends on Facebook, luring them, one by one, to come see “their” mile. Jane Norton of the Chief Noonday Chapter in lower Michigan is the embodiment of Outreach. Not only does she greet each new person at meetings but she participates in all of the many public events when the Chapter has a display. Jane also works on the Chapter’s monthly hike schedule, which has tripled participation in recent years. John and Dove Day clearly LIVE North Country Trail, so even though millions drive by the trail and don’t even know it’s there, nobody who passes the Days’ home in Jordan Valley 45o territory can miss the huge NCT logo on their barn. Dove has started a Facebook page, too, which lists events, tries to lure viewers onto the Trail, and lets us know when long-distance hikers are in the neighborhood. They both work hard to lure people to the annual Celebration, too.

Becky Heise

Jen Smith

John and Dove Day


The Wampum Chapter’s Dennis Garrett is an excellent leader. Although he first learned of the Trail as a landowner, in just a few years he has cheered the Chapter into increased membership and volunteerism. As an early negotiator with other landowners, he has led chapter members into handling that job themselves, resulting in six miles of


The North Star

Ronald Horn of the Heritage Chapter donated a major five-digit gift to the Chapter last year in order to keep their college intern program going, which is critical to keep building new Trail. Ron is a longtime environmental activist who knows that the Chapter’s membership and volunteerism will grow as more real Trail appears on the ground. Now that Lorana Jinkerson is no longer chair of the Awards Committee, we can enthusiastically honor her longtime philanthropy. Not only does she herself give thousands of dollars annually to various NCTA fundraising efforts (and is often the silent mystery donor who doubles others’ donations) she also works hard to urge others to donate, too, which is actually harder than writing a check. Lorana often works with our Development Director, David Cowles, to dream up additional creative ways to raise more money.


Chuck Hayden


Lorana Jinkerson

This new award honors those who expend extra effort to get new people out on the Trail. Marge Forslin of the NCT Hikers in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula may well have inspired this award, for it is she who has kept organized the “Softies Hikes,” a twice-annual Marge Forslin 3-4 day hike, always sleeping in civilized places and eating well, all the way across the wide Upper Peninsula. By now the “Softies” have crossed all those miles several times, but she continues to publicize the hike to other chapters and the public, makes all the plans and arrangements, and pre-scouts many locations to make sure of driving intricacies. That’s service! Chuck Hayden is the owner of Fortune Bay Expedition Team, whose goal is to involve more people in outdoor activities and sharpen their skills. This year their goal is a 210 mile hike within lower Michigan on the NCT, stretched over 21 hikes, with both local Chuck Hayden members and the public invited. He is an active member of the Western Michigan Chapter, in addition to this outreach project that he has led for 21 years now. Jennifer Catney from the Central New York Chapter astounds with her enthusiasm for bringing others to the Trail. It all started with her own kids and Boy Scouts, which escalated into her leadership for the boys to earn their Hiking Merit Badge, culminating in a 20-mile hike on the NCT. Yes, she Jennifer Catney broke her leg just before their final big hike, but nonetheless she met them at every road crossing and cheered them on, even playing loud theme music for their final assault. Now she has discovered she faces breast cancer, but everybody is betting on her continuing energy and enthusiasm.

Blue Blazes Benefactor

Irene Szabo

Boots On The Trail

2017 NCTA AWARDS Gaylord Yost

Loren Bach

Steve Webster of Michigan’s Spirit of the Woods Chapter has long been a valued volunteer for the Chapter, but once he retired, he seemed to be working on the Trail all the time, helping out in undertended sections, and for special projects, he arrives early by days, Steve Webster works every planned day with everybody else, and then stays afterwards to clean up! His extra hours have enabled several major projects to be finished on time


Dennis Garrett




Lifetime Achievement

Bill Menke

Larry Hawkins of the Chief Noonday Chapter was on the national Board for seven years, two of which he was the President. One of his primary accomplishments in that latter role was to initiate a new Strategic Plan and then to insist that the Board follow Larry Hawkins the plan and invent ways to measure their successes, which our Directors still practice. Larry also instituted many progressive programs for his Chapter, including browbeating his brother Mick into handling their website, instituting monthly hikes and work days, and insisting on safety. He also created a program, “Backcountry Medicine,” which he has presented at two annual Conferences.

October-December 2017


Mick Hawkins

Dennis Garrett


Alicia Hoffarth

Dave Brewer

Jim Bradley

Chuck Vannette of the Western Michigan Chapter has more than two decades of service to the Trail, which have brought him to this level of appreciation by his chapter members. He has been active at trail building, learning methods necessary to keep a tread in their sandy soil, he was president of the Chapter for ten years, and he has worked especially to bring Boy Scouts to the Trail. He also participates in public relations events designed to spread the good word. Becky Heise of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter has done yeoman service researching and writing everything the Chapter needs…grant applications, promotional Chuck Vannette and publicity texts, articles, and even nominations for several of these awards. Her work is always accurate and well-written. In addition, she works on the Trail, and jumps in to do tasks that are critical but with no volunteer for them. She is one of the chapter event planners and is working with several towns to create their Trail Town status. Dave Brewer of the Wampum Chapter at the west edge of Pennsylvania has been a critical volunteer Becky Heise for fourteen years now. Even with a full-time job, he is their Trail Coordinator, maintaining all of the equipment, transporting it in his truck, and organizing all of the field work. Dave is also the Communications Coordinator, hike leader, and a few other jobs. Everyone enjoys his humorous writing on the website and Facebook, and he always makes others feel appreciated for their work, too.

Jerry Trout was one of the founders of the Itasca Moraine Chapter in Minnesota, and also one of the chief inspirations to build new Trail between Itasca State Park and Chippewa National Forest, a 45 mile accomplishment between 2001 and 2009. Not only does he participate in Jerry Trout hikes and trail work, but he has also contributed for years to chapter management, and obtained grants that brought in Minnesota Conservation Corps crews to accomplish a lot of that new Trail. Jerry served on the national Board of Directors until recently.

Beth Trout

Distinguished Service

Bobby Koepplin was visible to all as President of the Board of Directors for two years, but has provided constant leadership to the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter before and after. He obtained grants for materials and construction, plus another Bobby Koepplin to help defray expenses of trying to get easements from private landowners, all of which has resulted in miles of new Trail, even if the easement program was only partially successful. Each year he organizes multiple improvement and construction projects along the trail, where his work has been recognized by North Dakota’s parks and tourism agencies.

Becky Heise

Bert Courson

off-road Trail. Dennis maintains relations with public agency partners, makes sure Wampum participates in multiple public events to spread the Trail’s reputation, AND makes sure that others in the Chapter work on each of these to spread capabilities Chapter-wide. Sara Cockrell of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club is noteworthy for her commitment to getting people out on the Trail and active in their Chapter. She has led over 90 hikes over the years, including special series and group events that bring in a lot of new people, has been their publicity chair for five years, does a lot of public programs, sometimes about her own hikes all over the world, and uses electronic media to attract even more Sara Cockrell new people. Her energetic and welcoming nature is her biggest lure for others. Mike Stafford is an effective leader of the Heritage Chapter in Wisconsin, a Chapter faced with unusual logistical problems since most of the members live far from their Trail. He was responsible for their first college interns, a program that has continued to provide the Chapter with local helpers for both trail building and marketing, he leads an exploratory backpacking trip Mike Stafford every spring to seek out good routes for additional Trail, and he has been the sparkplug responsible for changing the Chapter’s focus from maintenance of existing Trail to building new miles, too.


Keith Meyers

Peter Wolfe Chapter hike on North Country National Scenic Trail Day.

Fourth Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day September 23, 2017 By Mary Coffin


Peter Nordgren

he idea of celebrating a special day for the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) is catching on. Many outdoor organizations are competing for our participation on the National Trails Day in June, so it is fitting for North Country Trail Association (NCTA) to host its own Trail Day, the fourth Saturday of September. Also most years we concurrently celebrate September’s National Public Lands Day which is appropriate since many trail sections are on public lands. NCTA Chapters, Affiliates and Partners host a wide variety of events to raise public awareness of and interest in the Trail. This year Chapters and Affiliates hosted many hikes but also picnics, potlucks, trail work, camping and information booths in public places along the Trail. One of the most unique events was the partnership between the Parkinson’s Association and Western Michigan Chapter demonstrating the NCNST as a “health travel destination.” Also, the Dakota Prairie Chapter once again offered hikes on all 90 of its miles of Trail. Both N.Y. and Michigan covered over 40 miles of trail with a variety of hikes. Wampum Chapter’s hike stick carving to attract people to their display was clever.

As I looked across the venues offered I noted that they represent great diversity, which is a signature of our Trail: vistas, waterfalls, rock formations, boardwalks, forests, ponds, mountains, prairie, wildlife, historic features. For those who like statistics here are some with only half of the events reporting in at the time of this writing: 6 of our 7 states participated, 21 events, 145+ participants and 215+ miles of NCNST covered on foot. In N.Y., there were hikes and work trips in three Adirondack Wilderness venues, CNY Chapter explored new trail routes and two trips were on the North Country Trail (NCT)/FLT Onondaga and Finger Lakes Trail. Allegheny National Forest Chapter in Pennsylvania hiked on the ANF Cherry Run section accompanied by one dog and followed by a cookout, Wampum Chapter set up an exhibit at the McConnell's Mill Heritage Festival while Butler Chapter hiked the Parker section of Trail following a kiosk dedication. In lower Michigan the Chief Noonday Chapter planned a “2-in-1” hike with both long and short options in the Middleville area, Western Michigan Chapter sponsored the Parkinson’s hiking event near Lowell, Spirit of the Woods Chapter offered long and short hikes on the NCT Manistee River Trail and in the Upper Peninsula, Superior Shoreline Chapter had a camping and work trip, while the annual “Hike Da Falls” event at Tahquamenon Falls was organized by Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter. The NCT Hikers Chapter set up a booth on the Trail in Marquette to promote the NCTA, hoping to attract new members, and signed up several on the spot. Peter Wolfe Chapter in the UP led a hike in the Trap Hills of the Ottawa National Forest. The Wisconsin crew sponsored two trips: Chequamegon Chapter celebrated the completion of a new boardwalk near Mellen and Copper Falls State Park and the Brule-St. Croix Chapter explored Trail in the MacQuarrie Wetlands. Superior Hiking Trail Association led a trip on the Superior Hiking Trail/NCT in Minnesota. Finally, in North Dakota 90 miles of the Dakota Prairie Chapter’s sponsorship was hiked in sections between Fort Abercrombie and the Sheyenne State Forest. So that covers well over 200 miles of NCNST!

Brule-St. Croix Chapter: Hikers walking through the University of Wisconsin-Superior's MacQuarrie Wetlands.


The North Star

Tina Toole

Where In The Blue Blazes? 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?

Allegheny National Forest Chapter takes us to the "rock city" they hiked to, and shows the climbing required here!

Steve Kinne

The Central New York Chapter needs to cross a serious stream gully within Clark State Forest north of Rome. Here the hikers are down in the gully when Stringer Brook is quiet, but sometimes it becomes a serious threat; hence their explorations for a...bridge?


Have you seen this Yeti yet? Where? Send your answers before January 1, 2018, to Irene Szabo, at treeweenie@aol.com, or mail them to 6939 Creek Road, Mt. Morris, NY 14510. The correct answer to the location where this picture was taken will be published in the next issue of North Star. These rock cairns next to a stream prompted a few answers: some local guy named Bruce Matthews said they were near Lowell, Michigan, "as you head north of Flat River Drive toward Fallasburg Park in the Lowell State Game Area." Another correspondent said that they had been demolished by later in the summer. (Let’s all take this as a reminder to leave no trace—not even rock cairns.) Bernard and Phyllis Senske of Rapid City, Michigan, had seen similar ones well north on the Fife Lake part of the Trail. Close, but no cigar. Unfortunately, your dingbat editor has misplaced some information this time, and cannot even tell you who took the original picture!

October-December 2017


National Park Service Ben Geise


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT

On The Spirit Of Diversity and Inclusion


The North Star

So next time you’re heading out to the Trail, invite people you normally wouldn’t think of inviting. Such an intentional act of inviting has the power to enrich us all. Consider for example, Wampum Chapter's ADA Trail (Story on page 28), Chequamegon Chapter's celebration of Interpretive Panels (Story on page 24), and Kekekabic Chapter's trail work alongside Conservative Anabaptists (Story on page 26). Many thanks. And as usual, if you have any questions or comments, give me a call (616) 319-7906 x3 or email mark_ weaver@nps.gov.

Brandon Mulnix


Ben Geise leads a hike in summer’s Picture THIS program in Battle Creek, aiming to get city kids outdoors by letting them use cameras, courtesy of the National Park Service.

Maya L. Age 5

hen the words “Diversity and Inclusion” come up, what comes to mind? I’m quite sure we all would have distinctly different interpretations. For the National Park Service it means that the employees, volunteers and visitors to all our National Parks and Trails should reflect the cultural and ethnic diversity of the nation. For the Trail, we may think that a particular segment is in a pretty culturally and ethnically homogeneous area, but if you really dive down, you’ll find that there are many different communities along every segment. And these communities may not necessarily be based upon race or ethnicity: Latinos, African-Americans, Native-Americans, LGBTQ-Americans, Asian-Americans, Muslim-Americans, Veteran-Americans, Youthful-Americans, even Pokemon-Go-playing-Americans. The list can go on and on. What types of Americans do you see using the Trail? Does it reflect a diversity of communities? When I was completing my Hike-100 last year at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, I passed a few Latino and African-American families hiking between the upper and lower falls. I was actually quite surprised seeing people of color on the Trail. I was also saddened that I was surprised. It took all my resources to not make a spectacle of myself and stop to ask them about their reasons for hiking the Trail. I resigned just to smile and appreciate seeing so many people enjoying the day outside. The challenge for the Park Service and all of us that love the North Country Trail is to consider thoughtfully if we’re overlooking any community that can enrich, or be enriched by, the Trail. For the NPS staff, we have decided to focus upon one community for now: we are reaching out to Veterans’ organizations, linking them with NCTA chapters and exploring projects they can engage in with us. So, the next time you’re scheduling group hikes for example, take a moment to consider sending a personal invitation to a local church, synagogue or mosque. Maybe there is a chapter of the Urban League, YMCA, Boys and Girls Club or an Indian tribe. The Outdoor Afro and Latino Outdoors organizations arrange group hikes to encourage young people of color to get outdoors. Simply contacting a local representative may be all you need to do. At worst, you’ve spent a little time reaching a dead end. At best, you have made a few new friends and opened up a whole new world to a few folks.

Sheyenne River Valley Youth Members Excel at Their County Fairs, and at North Dakota State Fair Alicia Hoffarth

Catherine Albert

Luc Albert’s presentation about wayfinding on the NCT earned an Award of Excellence at his 4-H Club's Project Expo Contest, and Reserve Champion Award in his county's Achievement Days competition.

By Becky Heise



Stephanie's Outdoor Skills Project earned an Award of Excellence in her 4-H Clubs Project Expo Contest, and Grand Champion Award in her county's Achievement Days competition. She went on to win an Award of Excellence at the State Fair.

Both Steph and Luc entered their displays from the Project Expo Contest in their respective counties’ Achievement Days competitions. The posters were exhibited as Outdoor Skills projects (a subdivision of Environment and Earth Sciences). The item or display can be on camping, hiking, or other outdoor adventures for exhibitors age 8-12. The projects are judged on general appearance, workmanship, appropriate project materials, original and/or Marisa Hoffarth shows off her creative, and knowledge of Reserve Champion award and project. Steph won Grand handcrafted hiking stick. She Champion and Luc won went on to win an Award of Reserve Champion! Excellence at the State Falr. Marisa Hoffarth exhibited her handcrafted hiking stick which also received Reserve Champion honors. Stephanie and Marisa went on to compete at the North Dakota State Fair with their projects, both winning an Award of Excellence!

October-December 2017


Alicia Hoffarth

he younger members of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter are spreading the word and doing us all proud! Stephanie Hoffarth, age 10, a member of the Better Livestock 4-H club from Valley City/Barnes County, and Luc Albert, 11, a member of the Guys and Gals 4-H club from Galesburg/Traill County, both competed in their respective counties’ Project Expo Contest. Both Steph and Luc exhibited displays with North Country Trail themes. Steph’s display was entitled “A Day on the Trail” and featured photos on all aspects of trail building (including lunch break!), her school class workday, and basic information on the North Country Trail. She displayed several copies of the North Star, the Trail Construction and Maintenance Notebook, large NCT logo sign, signage stickers, our chapter and National Park Service brochure, and last but not least her “Rising Star” award! Steph received Grand Champion honors! Luc’s display was entitled “Follow the Blue Blazes” and had photos and captions on the various signage found throughout the Trail including, of course, the blue blazes, what the offset blazes mean, urban signage, painted blazes on trees, where you can find blazes and the fact that they should always be within line of sight. He also included an actual Carsonite post with the NCT emblem and private landowner sticker, large and small logo signs, and our chapter and National Park Service brochures. Luc received lots of positive comments on both the poster exhibit and items on display. Luc’s mother, Cat Albert, reported, “The judges were pretty impressed with Luc’s knowledge of the Trail. They knew nothing about the NCT before meeting with Luc!” Luc also received an Award of Excellence at the Project Expo Contest. For the Project Expo Contest, the students had to study a topic of their choosing for a year and create a presentation about that topic. The objectives of the contest are to provide youth with opportunities for self-expression and preparing and sharing information.

Brewing Up a Perfect Partnership: Perrin, Hopcat and the NCTA By David Cowles and Tarin Hasper


hen Ben Stark, Brand Manager for Perrin Brewery and Rick Martinez, Beer Director and Event Coordinator for Hopcat Brewpub get together, they spend as much time talking hiking as they do about beer. As a result, the North Country Trail Association was chosen to benefit from a giving program that Hopcat sponsors monthly where a charity receives a donation for every sale of a designated beer, in this case, Perrin. Perrin Brewing Company is a Michigan-based brewery with a national distribution while Hopcat represents a series of over a dozen and a half brewpubs in the north central US. On the kick-off event for the month-long promo, patrons Both companies are currently experiencing significant growth enjoyed the Perrin beer “Thank You Berry Much.” There regionally and nationally. was tangible excitement that evening around supporting Both Rick and Ben grew up with the Trail nearby; the the NCTA amongst patrons, including non-hikers. Ben NCNST literally runs through the backyard of Rick’s pointed out, “Even if you aren't a hiker or a hardcore outdoor childhood home. “We knew we had to partner with an enthusiast, chances organization that was are you still value the committed to the “All three partners agree that the one month outdoors and the ethics outdoors and trail promotional was both fun and mutually beneficial.” that encompass it, and systems,” said Ben. “The drinking a local beer is a pretty great way to help support it.” North Country Trail was our first choice and I'm thrilled it As a part of the event, Hopcat and Perrin employees and worked out.” patrons had the opportunity to participate in a work day Here’s how the promotional partnership worked: Perrin on the Trail. Teaming with NCTA Michigan Regional Trail brewed, Hopcat sold, and NCTA benefitted with a donation Coordinator, Kenny Wawsczyk, volunteers worked tirelessly to for every glass sold as well as an employee and patron workday convert 1.5 miles of roadwalk into ¾ mile of Trail. Wielding on the Trail. David Cowles

NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator, Kenny Wawszcyk (far right) is joined by a volunteer team of Perrin Brewing Company and Hopcat Brewpub employees for a hard day’s work on the Trail in west central Michigan. 20

The North Star

McGraw Bridge Project Finger Lakes Trail Map M20

Adirondack Mountain Club - Onondaga Chapter By Mary Coffin, Project Coordinator and Cheerleader


end, and one end was cabled to a big cottonwood so that no flood will sweep it away. We had eleven volunteers up to this task, each helping to plan our strategy, obtain bids and materials and furnish personal tools and construction expertise. It was truly a cooperative team project. All I had to do was organize the crew and stand back as cheerleader. ADK-Onondaga was the recipient of a grant from Cooper Industries which was designated for local trail projects. This grant funded the $1,200 cost for materials (lumber and hardware). So we were able to build it without Finger Lakes Trail or NCTA funds.

Mary Coffin

hanks to a new landowner we were able to move Trail off road and reestablish Trail that had been closed and overgrown for more than eight years. Rick Williams, who recently purchased the property, was most supportive of the Trail and permitted us to reconnect Underwood Hill Road to Baker School House State Forest. This Trail is both Finger Lakes Trail and North Country National Scenic Trail so we were delighted to move it off road once again. This reopened trail section, although on private land, included a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) protected trout stream that required a bridge and of course a DEC permit. The former bridge was long gone. So we applied to the DEC for the required permit. Ken Kaufman, a retired engineer and frequent Adirondack Mountain Club volunteer, drew up the design and materials list. DEC accepted our plan for a 28 foot long x 30 inch wide bridge. It is supported by two three-ply 2”x 12” beams, bolted together and sturdy indeed. We could not get a good Laminating beams for McGraw Bridge, to delivered price on utility poles so follow the design by retired engineer and we made these laminated beams. ADK volunteer Ken Kaufman. Rock-filled cribs supported each

Mary Coffin

McLeods and handsaws they eliminated branches and brush, creating a new trail tread across a local landowner’s property and off the county road. Following the workday, all participants were invited to Perrin Brewing Company for a tasting of complimentary beers and appetizers. All three partners agree that the one month promotional was both fun and mutually beneficial. We are already looking for new ways to continue the partnership, perhaps in a wider region along the Trail where both Perrin and Hopcat have a strong presence. Perrin and Hopcat, the NCTA thanks you berry much!

Our appreciation goes to the permitting landowner, DEC, ADK-ON volunteers and Cooper Industries, all of whom supported this project. The result is a 28-foot-long, sturdy, well-designed foot bridge. Thanks to all for a job well done.


October-December 2017


Hiking Shorts Raising Awareness of the Trail

Grand Traverse Hiking Club Adopt-a-Highway Gets the Word Out Marilyn Hoogstraten

The 50th Anniversary of The National Trails System Act

Left to right, standing: Jerry Freels, Becky Beach, Deena Barshney, Marilyn Hoogstraten, Dave Warner, Jim Smart, Pat Delaney. Left to right, kneeling: Jerry Marek, Patty Warner, and Bette Jackson.

as it parallels a portion of the Manistee River and the even more scenic Fife Lake Creek. Not only was it possible to improve the North Country Trail but the old trail was retained to create the heavily used Fife Lake Loop trail. And so the partnership continues. The North Country Trail was routed to a safe highway “crossing” and it goes through the roadside park where there are toilets and a hand pump for water. The Chapter was permitted to establish a trailhead in the park and a kiosk was erected to provide information about the Trail. Not as a payback to MDOT, chapter members are simply doing their part to keep Michigan beautiful and are part of the statewide cadre that has picked up more than 2 million bags of trash since the adopt-a-highway program began in 1992. Satisfaction in a job well done is its own reward. —Jerry Freels, Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter

Right: New President of the Central New York Chapter Mark Wadopian led a July Work Hike to reclaim a 0.3 mile section of Trail buried under grape vines and weeds. Look who’s running the DR mower, 91 year old Al Larmann! About five years ago Al started talking about slowing down, but it hasn’t happened yet!


The North Star

On October 2nd 1968, President Johnson signed the National Trails System Act, recognizing the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails as the first two National Scenic Trails. Since then, 9 other National Scenic Trails, 19 Historic Trails and hundreds of National Recreation Trails have been designated across the country. 2018 is the 50th anniversary of this historic act. Join the NCTA, the Partnership for the National Trails System, American Hiking Society and our Federal Agency partners in celebrating the National Trails System. Explore www. trails50.org to learn more about the history of the act, the trails that are part of the system and how you can celebrate next year.

Nancy Wadopian

It’s a rite of spring. And summer. And fall. Three times each year, beginning in 2013, volunteers from the Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter of the North Country Trail Association put on their work gloves to help beautify the landscape. These volunteers are not building new Trail but rather are helping maintain a state highway. They participate in a program, sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation, called “Adopt-AHighway.” Those members who have worked in the program are Jerry Marek, June Thaden, Marilyn Hoogstraten, Bette Jackson, Dave Warner, Patty Warner, Deena Barshney, Dick Parks, Jerry Freels, the late Bob Rudd, Debby Page, Mike Schaefer, Darlene Warren, Richard Naperala, Heather Peyton, Burt Courson, Jan Ealy, Patricia Smith, Pat Delaney, Becky Beach, Jim Smart, and Roger Evens. The actual crew on a given day is variable but the cleanup area is the same, one mile north and one mile south of the Manistee River along US 131 highway near Fife Lake, Michigan. This Chapter’s partnership with MDOT started out as simply a public outreach but it has been beneficial in maintaining an excellent relationship with that state department. About 10 years ago the North Country Trail crossed US 131 highway about a mile north of the Manistee River. However, work was underway to extend the freeway portion of the highway northward so this pedestrian crossing would become illegal. A reroute of the Trail moved it to the west and was in use there for about 6 years. Then it was proposed to place the Trail under the Manistee River bridge where it would not be impacted by the freeway extension. This arrangement was approved by MDOT and the reroute was accomplished about 4 years ago. This new Trail has been hugely successful

Hiking Shorts

Judy Conrad

Jim Stamm. He and his wife Nancy hosted our picnick potluck at their home.

Rebecca and Keenan entertained us with a tale of their six-month hike on the Appalachian Trail.

Judy Conrad


Harbor Springs September hike. That is Lake Michigan behind us.

Judy Conrad

The Harbor Springs Chapter of the NCTA is the northernmost Chapter in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Our members enjoyed a special presentation at their meeting on June 15th. Keenan and Rebecca McFall had taken 6 months off last summer to hike the Appalachian Trail. They told us of their many adventures and shared the highs and lows of such a long distance hike. They showed us pictures of the gear they started out with and that which in the end was really necessary. They shared the expenses they incurred for the hike and brought along some of the gear they used. They told us on the last few days of the hike how they had agreed they would NEVER do a hike like that again, but then on the ride home how they started talking of where they would like to hike next! Their PowerPoint presentation was very interesting and informative. Thank you, Keenan and Rebecca for sharing! On August 17th we had our annual picnic/potluck at Jim and Nancy Stamm’s home. It was great fun and food. Our chapter secretary, Shari Sanderson, had a video she played for us on her recent 100 mile trek on the Appalachian Trail with her brother and a friend to celebrate her brother’s 50th birthday. They hiked 100 miles in 7 days in very rocky terrain. A few days after the potluck, even though Shari’s feet were still recovering, she led a chapter hike on August 19th. 14 hikers trekked over 5 miles through the woods on our section 6 along the south side of Wycamp Lake east of Cross Village. The huge eagles’ nest near that section delighted the hikers and some said they could see young eagles in the nest! Then on September 16th we hiked our most challenging section 7 between Sturgeon Bay Trail and Lakeview Road. The Trail is very hilly as it is old sand dunes that are now forested but have steep inclines and declines. The bench that our dedicated chapter members placed at the top of one of the hills a few years back was much appreciated by some of our hikers since it was a very hot, humid day. We had guest hikers from Colorado and lower Michigan. 18 hikers joined us for this adventure. If you visit northern Michigan, check out the Trail in our area. It is beautiful! —Judy Conrad

Shari Sanderson

Harbor Springs Happenings!

September 16th was hot and humid. We were sure glad our Chapter had built this bench on section 7, atop one of the most challenging hills of our Trail.

October-December 2017


Hiking Shorts “A Trail To The Past” Interpretive Panels Depict Native American Life

NCTA Chequamegon Chapter Volunteer, Vickie Swank, poses near one of the newly installed interpretive panels along the North Country Trail.

The North Country Trail (NCT) can be accessed from the connector trail that leads from the Lake Owen Picnic Grounds off of Forest Road 213 (Lake Owen Drive), south of Drummond, Wisconsin.


The North Star

On September 27, 2017, a gathering was held at the Lake Owen Picnic Grounds to celebrate the completion of a special project that began as just an idea back in 2011. Four interpretive panels depicting the history of Native American life have been installed along the segment of the North Country Trail that follows the Lake Owen shoreline south and east of Drummond, Wisconsin. Four key individuals contributed to the success of the project: Teresa Maday – US Forest Service, Project Manager, provided the leadership, guidance and coordination for the successful completion of the project. Edith Leoso – Bad River Tribal Historic Preservation Officer, completed the research and provided the historical and cultural information for the panels. Susan Nelson – US Forest Service, Interpretive Services Specialist, assisted in the layout and design of the interpretive panels, provided support and helped to secure funding. Rick Pomerleau – North Country Trail Volunteer, built the wooden frames for the panels and led the team during installation of the panels along the North Country Trail. The accomplishment is an example of the power of partnerships. Great things happen when people representing various agencies and groups work together for a common goal. “A Trail to the Past” is the theme for the four interpretive panels that include photos, drawings, and written words depicting the life of the Native American people who hunted, fished, gathered, and traveled to seasonal encampments in the Lake Owen area thousands of years ago. Tribal elder and former Northland College Professor, Joe Rose, opened the celebration with a traditional ceremony to bless the site and to honor the early Native America people who lived in this area. Following the ceremony and comments from contributors, a delicious lunch of traditional Native American foods was served. Participants then hiked along the North Country Trail to view the new interpretive panels. Members of the public are encouraged to take a hike along the well-marked North Country Trail and view the four new signs. The hike is approximately 2.7 miles long, one way, and can be accessed from the Lake Owen Picnic Grounds off Forest Road 213, (Lake Owen Drive). A map of the area accompanies this article. —Mary Stenberg For more information contact: Teresa Maday at tmaday@fs.fed.us or Marty Swank at martynct@gmail. com. More photos of the event can be found on the Wisconsin NCT Facebook page at http://www.facebook. com/NCTinWI.

Call for Nominees – 2018 NCTA Annual Awards Starting Now; Ending February 1


ecause the NCTA Celebration is being held in April of 2018, we need to open up for nominations sooner, to get all the tasks done by mid-April. We have many volunteers, and others, who should be recognized for their activities on behalf of our Trail, and this is our big chance to do just that. Please don’t get discouraged if your nominee didn’t receive the award last time, and submit them once again, with maybe a little more information. The Committee is allowed to select 3 nominations in each category for recognition. With almost 40 Chapter and Affiliate entities possibly having a nominee in each category, it would take 13 years to honor one from each Chapter or Affiliate. So beat the rush, and get your nomination in this year. Who are you thankful for in your local chapter, state or region, someone who is special in their commitment and enthusiasm for the NCT, volunteering their time, money, materials and energy to further our mission but who also meets the criteria for one of the following award categories? Nominations are due February 1 and can be completed online https://northcountrytrail.org/members/awards/, via the e-mail form sent to all Chapter, Affiliate and Partner leaders or by sending the following information to Nalcoman1@aol.com or nmurphy@northcountrytrail.org: Chapter/Affiliate/Partner name, award category nominated for, nominee’s name, address, city, state, zip, phone and e-mail as well as your name, address, city, state, zip, phone and e-mail. Include a one to two page statement that explains the reason why this person should receive this particular award. Anyone can make a nomination, but be sure you give the NCTA Awards Committee enough detail to adequately compare your nominee to others in the selected category. Give us details, examples or stories to support your nomination. Boots on the Trail: A volunteer who regularly leads hikes that are well advertised and promoted to the public (non-NCTA members) as a way of building NCTA membership and support for the trail. A nominee would typically lead more than one hike per year and make them interesting by sharing their knowledge with groups or being helpful to new hikers, or organize and lead a whole series of hikes like cross-county or even cross-state events, over a 3 or more year period. Vanguard: A legislator or other public official whose leadership, actions and advocacy have substantially benefited the North Country Trail over a Chapter/Affiliate/Partner’s area or larger, not just a short segment. Trailblazer: A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contributions to the Trail or the NCTA. Lifetime Achievement: An individual, in recognition of fifteen (15) years or more of true dedication, exceptional service and outstanding contributions towards the dream of the North Country Trail or the success and growth of the NCTA, not just local service. Service may be performed in a voluntary or paid capacity.


Jim Charvat Trail Builder

Jessica Bale Rising Star

Recent Award Winners

Bobby Keopplin Lifetime Achievment

Distinguished Service: An individual, in recognition of exceptional volunteer service in furthering the goals of the NCTA, and outstanding contributions toward the dream of the North Country Trail. Individual should have made a significant commitment and accomplishments over eight (8) or more years. Not more than one of these awards may be granted each year to an individual who is not a member of the NCTA or an Affiliate. Trail Builder: A volunteer whose work in Trail planning, landowner negotiations, layout and design, and/or construction, have resulted in the development of outstanding new Trail or facilities over a three (3) or more year period. Trail Maintainer: A volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over a three (3) or more year period in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s). Leadership: A volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional leadership over a three (3) or more year period leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events. Outreach: A volunteer whose efforts to build coalitions, partnerships or other forms of local support have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the Trail. Communicator: A volunteer, for exemplary work in promoting the Trail or the NCTA through a communications medium (newsletter, web site, brochure, etc.) or personal contacts over a three (3) or more year period. Rising Star: An NCTA member between the ages of 8 and 25, who has made significant contributions to the Trail and seems likely to continue, and whose dedication to the Trail and the NCTA sets an example to other youths and shows exceptional promise. Sweep: A volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail or the NCTA over a three (3) or more year period. Friend of the Trail: An employee of a unit of governance or an organization whose leadership, accommodations and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail or the NCTA, not working solely in the capacity of an NCTA member. Outstanding Private Landowner: A private landowner whose leadership, accommodation and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail. Blue Blazes Benefactor: An individual or household demonstrating vision and generosity through significant monetary or in-kind contribution(s) to the North Country Trail or the NCTA. October-December 2017


Clearing the Kek in Northern Minnesota Story and pictures by Derrick Passe


ANG! The distinctive sound of an aluminum canoe being dropped on to rocks at a portage notified me that someone had arrived on Parent Lake, my temporary home for the beginning of May. Because it was a week before fishing opener, I was reasonably sure that it was my trail crew arriving. I glanced at my watch and noted that they were about an hour ahead of when I expected them. I finished cutting the log that was obstructing the Kekekabic Trail (Kek) near Snowbank Lake, packed up my crosscut saw and hiked the quarter-mile to my campsite on Parent Lake. I expected my crew of six Conservative Anabaptists and two USFS Wilderness Rangers to arrive about the same time, but I beat them to camp. Not wanting to offend the senses of my new crew, I changed into clothing that I had not been wearing the previous week. I was mildly irritated when they hadn’t arrived after a half hour thinking that I could have cut a couple more of the trees off the Trail. Those last six trees represented the last work remaining to reopen the Kekekabic Trail from the Parent Lake Campsite to the Trailhead at Snowbank Lake. Let me back up a step here and provide a little background. In July 2016, hurricane force winds swept through the Ely area causing many trees to blow over. Not to be confused with the 1999 blowdown which affected 477,000 acres and had no


The North Star

fatalities, the 2016 storm affected only 65,000 acres but sadly caused two fatalities. One of the hardest hit areas was at the end of the Fernberg Road and the Snowbank Lake Area. This is also the location of the Kekekabic, Snowbank and Disappointment hiking trails that provide a popular backpacking opportunity in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. I was contacted in October 2016 by Jamie Lowe at the USFS to help flag the damaged Trail and assess the impact of the windstorm on the Kekekabic Trail, an important link across the Boundary Waters Canoe Area for the North Country Trail. This initial flagging trip grew into three October clearing trips of certified volunteer chainsaw sawyers and USFS crews to begin the work of reopening the Kekekabic and Snowbank Trails. By May 2017, all non-wilderness sections of the Snowbank and Kekekabic Trails had been cleared. On my 57th birthday in November, I ventured by canoe into Parent Lake with my spouse to assess the blowdown damage to the Trail within the Wilderness. That hike (south on Snowbank Trail South to the Kek and then west toward Ely) was less than a mile but failed to reach even the Wilderness Boundary. We were forced to go around, under, over or through the hundreds of trees that had fallen on the Trail. Somewhere during that hike, the seed was planted for what became my month in the Wilderness. In keeping with a tradition established by the Kekakabic Trail Club (KTC), May was the month that I chose to work on the Trail. Being in the Wilderness, all work had to be completed using hand tools, loppers, Silky Saws and crosscut saws. The first week in May, I worked with six KTC volunteers. We cleared one mile of Trail and flagged a couple more. With 10 more miles of Kekekabic Trail to clear to the end of the blowdown at Thomas River, the outlook for reopening the Kek by the end of May was bleak. Back to the arrival of the Conservative Anabaptist Service Program (CASP) Crew. Their program director contacted the United States Forest Service in December after hearing about the need for work on the Kek Trail, thinking that it might fit in with their program which is intended to provide alternative government service for conscientious objectors. Since there is no draft currently, they are still looking at establishing (and completing) projects if a draft does emerge. I expected six youth coming for four weeks beginning on May 7th. I cleared my schedule of other volunteers for the end of May, finding other groups or leaders that they could work with and committed myself to providing technical leadership for an unknown group of 19-22 year old kids. Finally, I saw a canoe come in sight of the camp. It was a Kevlar canoe containing two US Forest Service Wilderness Rangers. Terry and Matt were to work with us for the first two days, bringing our group size temporarily to nine. They were on shore and talking with me well before three aluminum canoes came zig zagging into view. They did not take the direct route getting to shore, choosing to see the whole lake while they were there. As it turned out, Terry and Matt had taken them on a roundabout route to get to the campsite since this hiking site did not show up on their map.

The three aluminum canoes all seemed to arrive at the same time, all struggling to get out at the small boat landing simultaneously. We created a human chain to move a seemingly endless supply of Duluth packs, backpacks and bags from the canoes to the campsite. Eventually Micah, Jonathan, Dallas, Phillip, Shane and Leland were all on shore and the canoes and packs had been secured. I was somewhat surprised to see six little blue tents going up as I had thought that the USFS was going to provide them with one large tent. CASP had chosen to provide each crew member with his own tent. While stretching the limits of a small campsite, ultimately having individual tents provided a safe and warm location for everyone. For many, it was the first time that they didn’t have to share their bedroom. After setting up camp, the long overdue lunch was located in one of the two coolers, but not without looking through the two food barrels first. The cryptic note about “not forgetting the condiments” on top of a food barrel wasn’t fully understood until later when they were discovered in one of the other Duluth packs along with the pots, pans and other dinnerware that sat in a heap in the middle of the campsite as the crew ate their shredded pork on pita bread. After lunch, Terry suggested that I take the crew out and discuss the trail work and get some hands on training with the crosscut saw. I was questioning my sanity when I couldn’t find the leaner or stepover on the spur from the campsite to the Trail. Turns out that Matt, in his enthusiasm to work on the Trail, had cleared them while the CASP crew was setting up camp. We didn’t have to go far before we found other trees that were across the Trail that I had initially stepped around and later purposely left for the CASP crew to practice on. We discussed safety, binds and escape routes for each of the trees


and then stood aside as two of them cut the tree. My initial trepidation over their ability and desire to work was soon allayed. This crew was going to get a lot of work done. The two pictures in this story represent the first and last times that I saw this crew. The frenetic paddlers that I had witnessed coming across Parent Lake had evolved into a calm and confident work crew. My “Month in the Wilderness” was at an end, so on Wednesday May 31, I was off to a shower and meal in Ely. It was with mixed emotions that I left my friends to complete their four weeks of service on Friday, June 2nd. Having completed the primary goal of reopening Kek, they could have relaxed, hiked, camped and fished as most people do in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. (BWCAW) Instead they spent their remaining time continuing to work on other connector trails. Their efforts in May, combined with crews from the American Hiking Society and Kekekabic Trail Chapter, resulted in: • The reopening of the Kekekabic Trail.* • Clearing 12 miles of Wilderness Trails (all with hand tools). • Rehabilitating 8 hiking campsites (including 1 new latrine). • Flagging 2 miles of Trail for future clearing. • Showing 27 new volunteers (and one USFS employee) the beauty and challenges of hiking trails in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. • Bringing together individuals of vastly different beliefs and locations to work together as a team for a common goal. The Conservative Anabaptist Service Project is already making plans to come back to the BWCAW in 2018.

* Subsequent reports to the USFS in September 2017 indicate that the blowdown impacted additional areas of the Kekekabic Trail further east of our clearing limits.

October-December 2017


Wampum Chapter Welcomes Hikers of All Levels of Mobility Story and pictures by Dennis Garrett


ou would feel great if you allowed a fellow citizen with impaired mobility a stroll in the woods along the Little Beaver Creek, wouldn't you?” So asked Mike Troy, Wampum Chapter member and Instructor at McGuire Memorial’s Life Enrichment Adult Program (LEAP). This was one of the rallying cries that went out over social media and brought over two dozen volunteers to the shores of the Little Beaver Creek over three days. This activity turned what had been a sometimes impossible looking proposal for a year and a half into a completed project. As of late August, 200 yards of the Wampum Chapter section of the NCT are wheelchair accessible. The original concept for this project was initiated by Cathy Garrett, who had spent many years working with the special needs children at McGuire Memorial; she wanted to offer a section of the Trail for those with disabilities. In seeking advice and possible funding from local government officials for such a project, the idea was reinforced that the county did not have adequate recreational facilities for those with disabilities. As a member of the Knights of Columbus, Dennis has been involved in fundraisers for people with disabilities, including an annual Golf Outing and Health Hike, with which the Wampum Chapter is partnering in this year. The Health Hike occurred October 1st and featured the “grand opening” of this special trail section. Funds raised by hikers benefit St. Anthony School Programs, a Catholic-based inclusive educational environment for children ages 5-21 with Down’s Syndrome, Autism Spectrum Disorder and/or other Intellectual Disabilities, and McGuire Memorial, a not-for-profit, non-denominational facility that has, since 1963, served those who are physically and developmentally challenged. Located in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, McGuire Memorial has unique programs that include the care of those with profound disabilities. Other chapter members are also close to this cause: both Mike Troy, an educator and Tina Harkins, a Registered Nurse, work for McGuire Memorial and can foresee many client outings to the trail section. Many questions arose from that initial planning conversation, including: Would the volunteers of the Wampum Chapter like to be involved in creating this kind of facility/trail? Where should it be located? What are the requirements for percentage grades on a wheelchair accessible trail? Surface material? Widths and clearances? Parking areas? Would there be funding available from the county to build an ADA certified trail? Can the Chapter obtain grants or donations to defray the costs? Do we need to involve any of our landowners in the planning process? Are there construction permits required? These questions were answered over the course of a year and a half of scouting locations and routes, researching regulations, and consulting with experts who donated their time. The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) trail project was kicked around and redesigned several times, including help from Landscape Architect and Trail Designer extraordinaire John Buerkle, who has done numerous park projects in


The North Star

Wampum Chapter members, along with hikers with disabilities, gather at the official opening of the ADA Trail.

Sue Grubb tests the Trail prior to the official opening.

western Pennsylvania, and Steve Smith, engineer and Butler Chapter member who traveled numerous times to the site for consultation. Joe Demuzio had been involved in scoping out several areas for this ADA Trail and volunteered his time and equipment to help us create it. In July 2017, the project was commenced with Joe Demuzio taking the lead role in excavating the proposed creekside site owned by Chapter President Dennis Garrett and his wife, Cathy. Spearheaded and organized by Mr. Garrett, the Chapter solicited donations from other local businesses. It was then up to the chapter volunteers to complete the job. After the initial grading, volunteers cut up and removed the brush piles created during excavation and planted the reconstructed stream bank with grass seed. Then a month later, over three days, the ground was compacted, geotextile cloth was laid down, and stone dust gravel was spread, hand raked, then compacted with a donated rental roller. The 125 tons of crushed limestone were actually laid and compacted in one day. Then the top layer of the limestone sand was spread, raked and compacted. Rocks were also moved and arranged around the site and new grass was planted around the section. Even children enjoyed getting their hands dirty helping out during what ended up being a lovely summer weekend. There is the possibility of a second phase of this project, which could extend the Trail down the creek towards the historic Watt’s Mill bridge and installation of benches, tables, and interpretive signage are being considered.

Left to right: Wampum Chapter volunteers Rich Eiler, Rich Ostheimer, Brian Hager, Herb Adams and Kim Parrott finish the final section of the Trail, laying cloth and limestone.

Left to right: Tracy, Kathy Rea and Sabrina Brewer finish work on a wall exposed during the building of the Trail.

United Rentals donated the use of this brand new 3000# roller needed to compact the earth, the crushed limestone and the limestone sand used for the top layer.

Cathy Garrett accompanies Sue Grubb through the Trail entrance designed to allow access to wheelchairs and walkers, while excluding ATVs.

PROJECT DONORS The Wampum Chapter would like to acknowledge • Land area for spur trail donated by Dennis and Cathy Garrett. • 100,000 lbs. of limestone donated by East Fairfield Coal, North Lima, Ohio. • Trucking of the limestone donated by Kim Parrott of Bessemer Concrete, Petersburg, Ohio. • Excavation donated by Joe Demuzio of Joe Demuzio Developers, Beaver Falls. • Additional limestone sand material donated by Amerikohl Mining of Wampum.


John Buerkle, landscape architect with Pashek Associates, inspects the completed Trail for ADA certification.

For detailed information on rendering portions of your Trail more accessible to those of differing abilities, be sure to look at our own website. For links to additional information on accessibility standards for outdoor recreation facilities, go to http://northcountrytrail.org/members/volunteerresources/trail-design-construction-and-maintenance/ and also check out the Forest Service guidelines at https://www. fs.fed.us/recreation/programs/accessibility.

October-December 2017


The Gorge Trail Washout Eileen Fairbrother

Kathy Eisele

Scott Sellers and Mark Wadopian set a tie to stabilize the stair landing surrounded by 3-foot deep muck.

Kathy Eisele

Watch out for that first step! This photo sure does show the disastrous blow-out of an overburdened culvert.

By Mark Wadopian


he Gorge Trail, north of Cazenovia, N.Y., is a scenic and peaceful path that overlays a section of the abandoned Canastota & Cazenovia Railroad built in 1868. In the mid 1890s it became part of the Lehigh Valley Railroad (LVRR) spur through central New York from Ithaca to Camden. The LVRR had been established in the mid-19th century primarily for delivery of coal to support the burgeoning iron and steel industry and was a major player between ports in New Jersey, coal fields in central Pennsylvania and foundries in Buffalo, N.Y. Lehigh Valley industries prospered until the Great Depression of the 1930s. Business further declined with the advent of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System and infrastructure devastation by Hurricane Agnes in 1972. By the mid 1970s market forces and federal intervention culminated in creation of the CONRAIL and AMTRAK systems. For the LVRR, this meant divestiture of many small or unprofitable subsidiaries and the sale of assets, to include some of the railbeds. Niagara Mohawk Power Company (NMPC, now National Grid) acquired rights to a section of this property. The segment now known as the Gorge Trail was purchased from NMPC by the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF) in 1985 and designated for recreational use. This three-to-four-mile stretch of raised bed


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Scott Sellers and Mark Wadopian work installing puncheons.

follows scenic Chittenango Creek north from the Village of Cazenovia along the steep gorge wall. When the North Country Trail Association/Central New York Chapter (NCTA/CNY) was formed, an agreement was reached with CPF that allowed the Gorge Trail to be accessed as part of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) system, thus bridging a critical gap with a resource of outstanding quality. Abnormally wet weather during the spring of 2017 produced saturated soil conditions. This was followed by excessive rain in May and June, creating slides and debris flows that overwhelmed drainage culverts, some dating


Show Us How You Love the North Country Trail! Send us a fun or creative photo of how you love the NCNST, and be entered in our photo contest. Maybe you adopt a section, write a newsletter, or take a group of kids hiking. There are countless ways to love the Trail! Send photos to arhodes@northcountrytrail.org by December 15. The winner will be published in the next issue of the North Star, and receive a prize pack worth $50 from the Trail Shop.

Nancy Wadopian

back nearly 150 years. Unintended at the top of the slope to provide for retention pools formed putting a header. It was locked in place by tremendous pressure on the uphill driving 5´ fence stakes into the gravel side of the historic railbed. Sometime bed. Once the header was leveled, during the July 4th holiday, saturation the stairs were installed with minor caused the clay beneath the old railbed adjustment. Two puncheons were to slide and a section of it gave way, laid in to provide dry access across creating a breach fifteen feet deep and the muck area. Over the course of thirty-five feet across. two full days, the crew, consisting of On July 11 representatives of CPF Mark Wadopian, Scott Sellers, Eileen and NCTA/CNY responded on scene Fairbrother, Kathy Eisele and Albert to assess the damage and consider a Larmann of NCTA/CNY and Judy course of correction. The team (Judy Gianforte of CPF, worked rigorously Gianforte and Sam Shotzberger for to provide a safe route circumventing CPF, Mark Wadopian, Scott Sellers the breached area. and Al Larmann for NCTA/CNY, The temporary mitigation was and concerned neighbors/trail users enhanced with the installation of Julia Smith, Jocelyn Gavitt and Paul construction hazard fencing to warn Little) determined that two things people of the dangers and direct them were readily apparent: First, since this to the by-pass. Even before the project was a tremendous hazard to users of was completed, several nature lovers, the Trail, some immediate measures runners, hikers and bikers passed were needed to mitigate the dangers through, many expressing appreciation and return the Trail to safe function. for the efforts. The saga continues as Second, a long-term, more permanent CPF diligently works with state parks solution would be necessary, but that and others on a plan for complete would take time and funding. NCTA/ restoration of this site and other CNY volunteered to address the most erosion zones, an enterprise with cost immediate problem by installing a estimates in the low six figures. by-pass of puncheons, a staircase, a log riser and safety fencing so that the Trail would not be interrupted. Preparation and design began in earnest. Acquisition of funding was made possible with the assistance of Christopher Loudenslager and the NPS/NCNST Planning office. Materials were acquired and construction commenced by the end of August. The stairs were prefabricated off-site then delivered for installation on September 1st via access granted by the adjacent land owner, Ken Coleman. Assembly of a suitable landing for the stairs was an arduous task. First, the three-foot deep muck soil had to be stabilized. This was accomplished by acquiring three original rail ties that had been washed out and were lying in the debris plume. They were quite heavy and had to be muscled back up through the cut. Once the ties were embedded and leveled, Stairs installed (CREW: Foreground, right: decking was installed as a landing Judy Gianforte (CPF); NCTA/CNY: Scott and as a lock to keep the stairs in Sellers, Mark Wadopian, Kathy Eisele, Albert place. A third tie was embedded Larmann, Eileen Fairbrother.

October-December 2017


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North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Myah L. age 5

Children in Battle Creek are awakened to amazing sights along trails during the National Park Service's Picture THIS program, which lends them cameras to chronicle their adventures. Pictured is Joseph G. (age 6).

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.

Profile for NCTA Staff

North Star Vol. 36, No. 4 (2017)  

North Star Vol. 36, No. 4 (2017)