North Star Vol. 36, No. 1 (2017)

Page 1

January-March, 2017

The Magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

Ghost Hike Shane Peltonen’s End-to-End Hike 2016 State of the Trail 2017 NCTA Celebration in Marquette

Volume 36, No. 1

Dove Day

Those whose programs include a lot of kids will be thrilled to learn that HQ in Lowell has a good supply of these "tattoo" stickers, which do wash off eventually. A friend of photographer Dove’s is trying to get her grandchildren interested in hiking, so the tattoos help.

In This Issue


2016 State of the Trail............................4 Itasca Extended Outing.....................32 Chapter, Affiliate, Partner Honor Awards Winners.......................33 Poison Plant......................................34 Hike 100 Challenge..........................36 Building the New Mellen Boardwalk.....37 Ham Radio Helps Celebrate NPS’ Birthday...................38 Ghost Hike.........................................39 The Trail and the Arts..........................40 Welcome, New Board Members!.......41 Information from NCT Register Boxes..........................42 The NCT, End-to-End........................45 Stiklestad Lodge Weekend.................46 Annual NCTA Awards: Call for Nominees...............................47 Our Red Plaid Nation Revisited........48 Tahqua Trail Projects............................49 Take the NCT to the UP! 2017 Celebration................................50

Trailhead.............................................3 NPS Corner......................................44 Matthews’ Meanders.........................31

Departments Who’s Who Along the Trail?..............26 Hiking Shorts....................................42 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................51 Next Deadline for Submissions.........38

About the Cover:

Cover photo by Keith Meyers during one of his Hike 100 efforts, taken of hiking partner Mark Roberts’ dog Bela. They are on the NCT running to the southwest from Big Lake on Baraga Plains in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. While a hike with your dog is often good fun for all concerned, be sure you know the rules for dogs in effect from either the landowner or public land manager. It’s always YOUR responsibility to know the regulations.

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design Lorana Jinkerson, Becky Heise, Joan Young, Tom Gilbert, Amelia Rhodes, Duane Lawton, Editorial Advisory Committee The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 36, Issue 1, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.


The North Star


David Cowles Director of Development Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator Michelle Mangus Administrative Assistant Bruce Matthews Executive Director Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator, Wisconsin Alison Myers Administrative Assistant Amelia Rhodes Marketing/Communications Coordinator Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2017 Ruth Dorrough, President (585) 354-4147 · Jerry Fennell, At Large Rep. (262) 787-0966 · John Heiam, At Large Rep. (231) 938-9655 · Lorana Jinkerson, At Large Rep. (906) 226-6210 · Tim Mowbray, VP West (715) 378-4320 · Peter Nordgren, Wisconsin, and U. P. of Michigan (715) 292-3484 · Terms Expiring 2018 Mike Chapple, At Large Rep. (574) 274-0151 · Dennis Garrett, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 827-2350 · Tom Moberg, Immediate Past President (701) 271-6769 · Lynda Rummel, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · Paul Spoelstra, Michigan Rep. (616) 890-7518 · Jeff Van Winkle, Michigan Rep. Terms Expiring 2019 Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-4619 · Cheryl Kreindler, At Large Rep. 313-850-8731 · Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · Larry Pio, Secretary (269) 327-3589 · Doug Thomas, Treasurer, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · Steve Walker, Ohio Rep. 330-652-5623 · Terms Expiring 2020 Mark VanHornweder, Wisconsin Rep. (218) 390-0858 · Josh Berlo, Minnesota Rep. (574) 532-4183 ·

Trail Head

Ruth Dorrough President


he NCTA Board of Directors concluded two days of intense work in early December 2016. One full day was dedicated to open committee meetings. Board members observed committees to which they were not assigned, resulting in a broader perspective of all the intricate processes and hard work that occurs at that level to promote optimal board functioning.

Dan Dorrough

Andrea Ketchmark shared a cogent presentation regarding the current strategic trail development processes and progress. The Fund Development Committee strategized about means to invigorate board involvement in ongoing fund development efforts. During the Advocacy committee meeting, Bruce Matthews updated the board regarding efforts, progress, and the complex details surrounding the North Country Trail Route Adjustment Act currently in Congress. In the afternoon, the Executive Director Search Committee gave a presentation on processes, systems, and progress of the search. Tim Mowbray led a lively full board discussion on the topic. This session was followed by a financial question and answer period led by Doug Thomas and Laura Lindstrom. Questions were reflective of the range of financial expertise and interest board members bring to this area. They ranged from the very basic, “What is the best way for me to wade through the volume of financial data that is sent to us?” to sophisticated detail oriented queries. During the Governance Committee session, the committee introduced us to new potential board members and discussed issues germane to board governance. The work of the day closed with a lively focus group which examined strategies to position the NCTA best to support and promote long distance hiking. Discussion included past efforts, sharing of other trails’ best practices, and new ideas. That evening the group relaxed as Bruce and Linda Matthews graciously shared with us their home, hearts, and outstanding cooking talents. Early the next morning it was back to work again for a day of full board discussion, presentations, and action items. We met Corey Balkon, NCTA auditor from Hungaford and Nichols, welcomed Jack Cohen back to the board, and listened to Chris Loudenslager’s NPS report. We discussed financial challenges and passed the 2017-2018 budget. We discussed challenges associated with the shift to donation based membership, raised questions, and reiterated board support of this change. Chapter, Volunteer Council by-laws review, and a Chapter name change request were among other items of business. Two Celebration reports were given. Tom Moberg augmented very favorable subjective responses to the recent Fargo Celebration with detailed objective input gleaned from post celebration surveys. This data will be helpful in

ensuring the success of future celebrations. He described the benefits that hosting the celebration offered for those chapters involved in the effort. Lorana Jinkerson gave an update regarding progress on the July 2017 celebration to be held in Marquette, Michigan. At last, well into the afternoon of the second day, the end was in sight. I sighed as we reached the final agenda item, “For the Good of the Order,” and was surprised when Tom Moberg stood and walked towards me with something in his hands. He ceremoniously presented me with a camo shirt with a blue blaze painted on the front. I noticed that the blaze had been autographed by many previous NCTA Board Presidents. Amid applause and laughter, I quipped, “If I had known this was the NCTA Presidential uniform, I wouldn’t have taken the job.” Then, more seriously, “It’s a big shirt to fill.” And so it is. My life has been enormously enriched by walking the NCT and benefiting from the work not only of trail builders and chapter leaders but those who have served on previous boards. While stimulating and worthwhile, the work of the board, for me and I suspect for others, has a fun quotient significantly lower than that of hiking or trail building. The President’s shirt tradition is a reminder that the NCTA has a rich history of people who have contributed at all levels. If we do not take steps to capture that history better, we are in danger of losing it. The Hike 100 initiative has captured wonderful stories of the present. A trail connects not only places and people but time – the past, present, and future. Please continue to share your stories from our past. I would be particularly interested in hearing about the origin of the President’s shirt. “For the Good of the Order.”

Ruth in the ceremonial President’s shirt.

January-March 2017


State of the Trail 2016 Overview and Reports from the Field North Dakota The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter installed four boardwalks across wet ravines along Lake Ashtabula.

581 Miles 254 Miles

See pages 6 and 7.

Mileage indicated represented off-road trail.




See pages 9-14, and 16. Derrick Passe

he North Country National Scenic Trail is an elaborate project taken on by thousands of individuals across thousands of miles, all working in concert to bring the trail to reality. In the pages that follow, you’ll read stories from our Chapters, Affiliates and Partners that detail the incredible work they’ve done this past year. When considered separately, each of these stories is a triumph in its own right. When combined with the others, it becomes an extraordinary tale of our shared vision coming to life.

More than 50 miles of trail were cleared after devastating storms caused massive blowdowns and flooding across Minnesota, Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Each year we build, maintain and protect more miles of the North Country Trail. Although we may be far from completion, it’s the journey not the destination that counts, and we should celebrate each mile, challenge and triumph along the way.

131 Miles

WISCONSIN The Chequamegon chapter and the Rovers Crew collaborated to replace a 370-foot boardwalk between Copper Falls State Park and the Trail Town of Mellen. See page 13.


1,343 volunteers (a 23% increase over 2015) worked 69,708 hours in Fiscal Year 2016, a private sector value of $1,642,320.

28 new miles were put on the ground, 18 miles were rerouted and more than 130 miles were improved along with the general maintenance of the hundreds of more miles.

NCTA’s Field Grant program has funded more than $200,000 in trail projects since 1998.

We built 13 bridges, 800 feet of boardwalk, 15 new campsites, 2 shelters and 4 parking areas.

Trail Mileage Since 2002 2002: 1,879 Miles


The North Star

2007: 2,404 Miles

2012: 2,602 Miles


3,009 Miles Our Goal: 4,600 Miles

MICHIGAN Kenny Wawsczyk

The U.S. Forest Service constructed a 100-foot fiberglass bridge over the Big Sable River in the Manistee National Forest. See page 21.

New York The Central New York Chapter began the Optimal Location Review process to find the best location for the trail around the city of Rome. See page 30.

462 Miles 829 Miles

234 Miles 518 Miles

Buckeye Trail Association added several campsites along the trail and built a new Trail Shelter on the Pretty Run Preserve.

pennsylvania The Allegheny National Forest Chapter constructed a 24-foot bridge over Root Run.

Tina Toole


See page 28.

See page 24.

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


See the full Trail Progress Report at

Overview REPORT BY We are also striving to improve training for our volunteers with a new Crew Leader curriculum and making resources available to further develop the skills our volunteers need to do their jobs.

Ted Bentley

We have many more miles and projects in the years ahead. Closing the gaps in the trail remains a high priority. At the same time, we’ve got to make sure the trail we’ve already built is maintained, that it’s safe and navigable for the public and that it lives up to the title National Scenic Trail. We’ve got to strive to protect every mile of the trail on private land with permanent easements as well as protect the corridor from the many impacts from infrastructure development plans. In the coming year we’ll be working together to make a state-by-state strategy for the trail and an action plan to seek the resources needed to accomplish our goals.

Andrea Ketchmark

Looking forward

Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Bobby Koepplin

Horsemen packtrain, panniers full of gravel and children.

Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

NORTH DAKOTA - The Chapter still had $22,000 in Outdoor Heritage Grant funds to spend by September 30, 2016. Thirteen letters were sent out to landowners requesting a 20 year renewable easement to access, connect and protect approximately 11 miles of new trail in multiple segments to fill in gaps. Several were contacted more than once and one was personally visited to review the proposed route. It’s challenging to get trail easements across large agricultural properties, and this grant helped us with some earlier successes. However, no further easements were obtained. It is disheartening to say the least. The first hike of the season was held at Lake Ashtabula on May 7th. The weather was absolutely perfect for hiking, no bugs and few ticks! Fourteen of us started out at Ashtabula Crossing on the West side of the lake and hiked approximately 6 miles out to the Old Highway 26 Recreational Area and back. We saw lots of pelicans, wild strawberries in blossom, crocus out of bloom and Prairie Smoke that was getting ready to burst. We ended up with a picnic lunch back at the campground at the West Crossing. What a great day! May 12th the SRV Chapter held its Sawyer Training to recertify four sawyers. The group did well on their individual tasks and were well rewarded with a steak supper. Then the first monthly workday was held at Lake Ashtabula on May 21st with a great group of volunteers. We installed a record four boardwalks over some wet gullies draining into the lake. We had to carry tools and supplies in and out but only about a mile from our drop off point; however, by the end of the day it seemed much longer! We have a tradition with SRV that we get a photo of the volunteers posing on each boardwalk but pretty much everyone had already started back by the time we finished the last one. Last ones to the coolers were the rotten eggs! Thanks to the Corps of Engineers for lending us two great workers for the day. In celebration of National Trails Day, the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter met for a hike around Fort Ransom State Park. We had 42 people for this hike, including a group of eight Boy Scouts from Casselton. After the hike we ate our lunch beneath the trees in front of the Visitor Center before enjoying a leisurely canoe trip down the Sheyenne River to Fort Ransom. Park Manager Tyler


The North Star

Modlin joined us for the trip. The afternoon and evening were spent visiting with other chapter members, new faces and a trio of hikers who had decided to face the Hike 100 Challenge all in one weekend! They happened to be hiking through the park so we invited them to join us for supper provided by the Chapter. It was a gorgeous day to meet on the trail! This year we had decided to hold several family oriented evening hikes. The first was to be held May 14th from Medicine Wheel Park through Valley City to the Dairy Queen. It was raining so hard we decided to cancel the hike. We were so disappointed we ended up at the Dairy Queen anyway to drown our sorrows in ice cream! During our first hike at the beginning of May we realized that that segment of trail from West Ashtabula Crossing to the Old Highway 26 Recreational Area really needed some work. Our June workday was therefore dedicated to that area, re-benching some trail that had eroded somewhat and become overgrown by nearby shrubs. Some re-signing was also necessary as we have a problem with cattle breaking our Carsonite posts off at the ground. Every year, Doosan/Bobcat employees volunteer time for a Doosan Day of Community Service. This year they generously decided to give three days of their time. The first two days, June 21 and 22, 12 Doosan employees worked at the Sheyenne State Forest armoring trail, repairing damage caused by horse traffic, mowing, and reconstructing a decaying picnic table at the Mineral Springs Campsite. The third day they spent helping out the Dakota Prairie Chapter. July 14th the SRV Chapter enjoyed another family-oriented berry picking hike along Lake Ashtabula. There weren’t many berries left as it was a little late in the season but we all got enough for a taste! It was pleasantly cool and we enjoyed the short 3 mile hike on a beautiful evening along the lake. The July workday consisted of mostly mowing and trimming trees and shrubs for a clear tread along the trail. This workday, however, we were pleased to welcome a couple of visitors brought to us by the Fargo Meet-Up page! Kat and Luc later became active members of the Chapter. SRV Chapter held its August workday on the 13th, on three segments south of Valley City. The first involved replacing Carsonites through 2 1/2 miles of pasture. As mentioned previously, the cattle tend to break the fiberglass boards off at ground level with some frequency. We have come up with an alternative where we mount foot long pieces of carsonite on a steel

State of the Trail

Marissa pops a juneberry during our July hike.

Bobby Koepplin

Becky Heise

U-post. We also mowed the segment and trimmed trees through a lovely row of trees on the same property. After a picnic lunch in the grove, the group split up. One group mowed another 3/4 mile of trail just south of Valley City while the other group signed trail through the town of Kathryn. A new member and trail building recruit, Luc, got a course in trail signage and installation with the help of Stephanie Hoffarth. Stephanie hosted a cool little event on September 28th. She took her NCTA Rising Star award to school to show it off but her teacher had never heard of the North Country Trail. So Steph collaborated with her teacher to take the class on a field trip to the Medicine Wheel Park trailhead. Chris, Steph’s dad, brought the chapter tool trailer and with the help of Becky Heise, conducted a short workday on that section of trail to show the kids how the North Country Trail came about. Chris showed the kids the map on the side of the tool trailer and told them a little about the history and geography of the trail. Then he showed them the tools in the trailer and told them how they are used. After a short safety lesson and with each student armed with the tool of their choice, we set off down the trail. Chris gave a demonstration on benching and then let the students try their hand at whichever tools they wanted to try. They all seemed to agree it was

Stephanie and Luc install signage.

fun work! Then we tried trimming trees and branches and got a quick lesson on invasive species and cleared out as much buckthorn along the trail as time allowed. At the end of the trail the students got to use the hole starter and then pound in a Carsonite. The teacher came up with the idea of offering extra credit to the students if they talked their parents into a hike on the trail! Well done, Steph! Another generation of interest in hiking and maintaining the North Country Trail. In September Bobby Koepplin, Jerry Warner and Matt Gardner joined Tyler Maasjo, Vice President, and ten other members of the Backcountry Horsemen of North Dakota on a trail-armoring Dawn Ihry

project at the Sheyenne State Forest. That segment is a very popular destination for horsemen but it has been problematic at sensitive trail areas such as the clay sidehills or water crossings where the horses’ hooves cut into the soft soil and they sink in. We had previously had to reroute some stretches of trail that had gotten so cut up you couldn’t walk across them anymore. In other places we installed boardwalks for the hikers but the horses still had to walk knee deep in mud. This trail armoring project was the first of its kind in North Dakota. North Dakota Parks and Recreation is responsible for the maintenance of the Sheyenne State Forest and has a Memorandum of Understanding with the SRV Chapter to take care of the maintenance. Parks and Recreation has purchased three sets of gravel panniers (oversized saddle bags)

that they will make available for trail development and maintenance projects throughout the state. The Horsemen shoveled gravel into buckets, then into the panniers and the horses were led to the section of trail to dump the panniers. Two hitching posts were also installed at the water fall and mineral springs campsites for the horsemen who enjoy the trail. The signage and gravel was paid for with Outdoor Heritage Funds through North Dakota Parks and Recreation. The wood materials and sign post hardware were supplied by the SRV Chapter. A great project with great partners! —Becky Heise

Stephanies’s 6th grade class tries trail work.

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Dakota Prairie Chapter

NORTH DAKOTA - After just four years of existence, the Dakota Prairie Chapter now has 56 regular members and 5 landowner members, primarily in southeastern North Dakota. The DPC’s 75 mile trail range from Ft. Abercrombie to Lisbon includes about 50 miles of completed trail and 25 road connector miles. One of the Chapter’s biggest adventures of the year was hosting the 2016 Celebration in Fargo. The event was well attended, with about 275 people from 17 states participating in hikes and events in North Dakota and Minnesota. About 75 NCTA members from the Dakota Prairie, Laurentian Lakes, and Sheyenne River Valley Chapters volunteered to help with the Celebration. Working on the Celebration provided a big boost to the DPC in terms of enthusiasm for the NCNST, knowledge of the NCTA, familiarity with our entire trail range, and camaraderie and friendship among the Chapter members. Prior to the Celebration, the DPC built a new 3.4 mile section of trail on beautiful prairie, oak savanna, and pasture land near the Sheyenne River. The section has a river-side campsite (with table, benches, fire ring, and privy), 7 fence stiles, 2 puncheon/ bridges, 2 trailheads, scenic overlook benches, and extensive trail signage. The DPC had terrific help from volunteers from other NCTA Chapters, the Bobcat Company, North Dakota State University students, and several Boy Scouts. The Chapter also collaborated with the Forest Service in building an important 1.2 mile trail segment that connects several miles of new trail on private land with the existing 28 NCNST miles in the Sheyenne National Grassland. Besides helping to prepare the trail route, volunteers built a 16´ bridge, installed 2 horse gates, and planted 15 large wooden sign posts. Volunteers also significantly improved route signage along the entire NCNST in the Sheyenne National Grassland by nailing up more than 500 4”x4” NCT signs on existing sign posts. DPC volunteers now maintain more than 17 miles of new trail and, when possible, also help maintain the 32 miles of NCNST on the Sheyenne National Grasslands. On the prairie, mowing is the primary task of trail adopters but replacing signs knocked down by cattle, filling large holes dug by coyotes and badgers, and scraping off gopher mounds and cow poop are also major maintenance issues. The DPC holds monthly Chapter meetings and at least one organized hike every month, summer and winter. Fifteen of the DPC members completed the 2016 Hike100 Challenge and we expect many members will sign up for the 2017 Hike100 event. We are also sponsoring a North Dakota Hiking Challenge which will be to hike the entire NCNST in North Dakota, about 430 miles, in the next 4 years. For 2017, we have an ambitious trail building agenda that will address several trail gaps in the DPC trail range. We are hoping we can complete a new 7 mile section and get a good start on the Optimal Location Reviews for two other gaps. —Tom Moberg


The North Star

Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter

MINNESOTA - The Minnesota Waters and 4 Prairie Chapter has completed 9.8 miles of trail within the city of Fergus Falls in 2016. This required land use agreements with multiple individuals and agencies, City of Fergus Falls, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Minnesota DNR, the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club, Otter Tail Power Company, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and four private landowners. Our new miles included the assistance of two Eagle Scout candidates and many, many volunteer hours by chapter members. The trail is now being used regularly by many local and area citizens. They will be met on the trail in all seasons, at all times of day, and at all speeds from strolling to running. In 2017, our efforts will be focused on extending the trail out of the city of Fergus Falls to connect to the existing section of trail in Maplewood State Park north of Fergus Falls. The section of the NCT in Maplewood needs to be rerouted. We will also plan the extensions of this trail within the park to the north and south. Meanwhile, work of planning the route to the north of Maplewood is beginning. —Allan Schroden

Laurentian Lakes Chapter


MINNESOTA - The Laurentian Lakes Chapter (LLC) of the NCT began the year with the annual meeting in January, held at the Maplelag resort. In addition to the business meeting and speaker, members enjoyed cross-country skiing, a catered dinner and a fabulous silent auction made up of donations from chapter members. It’s an event members look forward to every year. LLC partnered with the Itasca Moraine Chapter and Itasca State Park for monthly hiking events to honor the Minnesota State Parks 125 Bike, Boot, and Boat Challenge and the National Park Service Centennial. Many of the guided hikes had 50 or more people in attendance. The Chapter also collaborated with the Friends of the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge to provide hikes for NCT’s Annual Celebration. It was a great opportunity to showcase the trails and some of the unique trail building structures the LLC built in Tamarac. LLC introduced additional people to the trails by sponsoring a booth at Tamarac’s annual festival in October. These two events at Tamarac would not have been possible without the dedicated Trail Adopters who cleared blowdowns from the summer storms. On just 1/2 mile of trail, 75 blowdowns were cleared. Another 20 trees were cleared from the causeway. Minnesota Public Radio interviewed the adopters on a hot, humid, mosquito filled day which brought attention to the conditions NCT volunteers work under to keep the trails clear. Readers can hear this interview by visiting the MPR website. The storms produced a lot of blowdowns in northern Minnesota and other dedicated LLC trail adopters faced many hours of clearing trees from the trails as well. Over 70 trees were

State of the Trail

Itasca Moraine Chapter

Continued on page 10

Florence Hedeen

MINNESOTA -The 4 Itasca Moraine Chapter had a season of the unexpected on the trail with logging clearcuts, vast blown down trees and resounding use of the trail documented by trail registers and record numbers of hikers on our monthly-guided hikes. A new kiosk was built in downtown Walker, Minn., to further promote the trail. No evidence of the Trail was left following two winter logging clearcuts. Slash piles and deep ruts were left behind. A Chapter trail crew scraped a new Trail on the barren land and erected Carsonite posts to follow the Trail. A brush mowing of rapidly growing saplings from an abundant summer rainfall has reshaped the Trail. In June, a spur trail was built from the Shingobee parking area off State Highway 34 in the Chippewa National Forest to the Trail. Chapter trail adopters traveled to North Dakota to help build trail with the Dakota Prairie Chapter. Three windstorms hit the chapter’s 70-mile section of the trail this summer with over 1,200 blown down trees in Cass County causing sections of the trail in the National Forest to be closed due to piles of trees down. Hundreds of trees in Hubbard County also fell. Sawyer crews made up of adopters cleared the Trail and Forest

Spring equinox on the Trail through a red pine forest, also called Norway pine in Minnesota.

Connie Cox, Minn. DNR

Connie Cox, Minn. DNR

cleared from one section and another 20 on another section. Some trees were small and easy to clear but many were very large and required the work of trained chain-saw volunteers to clear them. A training session was provided for new volunteers and the LLC Board approved the document "LLC Trail Adopter Responsibilities" to assist with the work of maintaining trails. It’s quite amazing how many hours NCT volunteers put into the trails and it’s always great to see members recognized. Two LLC members received awards at the Celebration in Fargo. Of the 84 members in LLC, 48 members volunteered 2629 reported hours in 2015. For the first year since the LLC formed, no new miles were added to the NCT. However, the Trail Construction Committee completed 2 spur trails leading to the NCT and began installing interpretive signage on the trail. Routered signs identifying the Laurentian Divide, White Earth Reservation, and Nicholls Chisholm rail grades have been installed. The Trail Development Committee was also hard at work to develop the last remaining section of trails the LLC is responsible for. Plans for 2017 include guided hikes in all sections of the LLC, beginning on April 29th and winding up on Oct 4. A new kiosk will be constructed at the south entrance to Itasca State Park in cooperation with the Itasca Moraine Chapter. The chapter will install 7 puncheon and bridges across wet areas in constructed trail and we are continuing efforts to identify a route between Hwy 34 and Frazee. The Chapter also plans to launch a newsletter that will be shared with a wide audience to continue informing people about the NCT and invite their participation. LLC representatives are serving on committees with other Minnesota Chapters to update the "Guide to the NCT in Minnesota" and produce a combined brochure covering all NCT Chapters in the state, both of which will be finished in 2017. As in past years, the LLC continues to sponsor booths at county fairs and area outdoor sports events and collaborates with the Itasca Moraine Chapter for a joint meeting in the early fall. —Barbara Jauquet-Kalinoski

Clearcut aftermath.

January-March 2017


State of the Trail

—Eric Haugland


The North Star

Kim Fishburn

Service crews with assistance from Chapter adapters reopened the Trail in the National Forest. In the midst of the trail work a new kiosk was built in downtown Walker, designated a Trail Town by the NCTA. A field grant was used to build it under the leadership of Jerry and Melinda McCarty. The Chapter has one side of the kiosk and the city and Leech Lake Area Chamber has the other. It is difficult to measure trail usage; another comment box was added this summer at a trailhead and hikers recorded a wide variety of observations. Chance meetings on two Saturdays this fall on a remote section of the trail saw runners, mushroom collectors and grouse hunters amongst hikers enjoying the fall colors who were locals, from Fargo/Moorhead, the Twin Cities and beyond. This year we joined with the Laurentian Lakes Chapter and Itasca State Park for monthly guided hikes on the Trail with over 50 snowshoers on January 2nd and 70 on a lady slipper hike in July. Chapter member Bruce Johnson also organized an extended outing following the Fargo Celebration, allowing ten hikers from New York and Michigan to discover our section of the trail with four days of hikes. A joint end of season Chapter celebration with the Laurentian Lakes was held in October where we honored national award winning Chapter members.

Star of the North: New puncheon with removable planks for mower passage over a space through the walking deck to allow beaver to pass, and not destroy the puncheon, we hope. Two months later it was still there.

Star of the North Chapter

MINNESOTA - We 4 participated in several events at REI where we had a chance to talk to a lot of people about the trail. We followed this by talking to more people at Midwest Mountaineering’s Spring Outdoor Expo, and had a chance to talk to end-to-ender James “Attrition” Lunning about his hike. He was taking a couple days off to see family and buy more supplies while they were on sale. Our first trail event had us completing some puncheon below a beaver dam. This gave us a chance to introduce the mayor of the town of Remer to our projects. It was great getting him involved as he’s also the school’s shop teacher. We left a gap in the puncheon for the beaver run which we can fill in with planks so we can get the mower across. So far it looks like the beaver are leaving the puncheon alone. This was followed by chainsaw training which we promptly put to use clearing trees on the trail in May, followed by mowing the trail at the end of June. Also,

taking place in June was the Bigfoot Festival in Remer. A number of people claim to have seen Bigfoot in the nearby woods and the town is making the most of it to draw people in. It gave us a chance to set up a table and talk to people about the trail. Since Animal Planet was in town filming a show there were plenty of people to talk to. Look for the show to air in 2017. Unfortunately, a wind storm hit the area in July and knocked a huge number of trees down on the trail. We’ve had some assistance from the Forest Service and other chapters but we’re still working on clearing trees this next spring. In August, the town of Remer had their Harvest Festival so we again set up a table and chatted with people about the trail. Unfortunately, there haven’t been many tangible results from attending the festivals but we need to start somewhere. We’ll be at it again next year as it would be of great benefit to find more local people to get involved, since the few of us doing all the work have to drive 3 hours each way to work. Either that or we hope to finally get more people in the Minneapolis area involved, either on weekends or weekdays. —Kim Fishburn

State of the Trail Ed Ambrose

Superior Hiking Trail Association

4 MINNESOTA - In 2016, the Superior Hiking Trail Association celebrated 30 years and completed construction on our final section of trail! The SHT now extends from the Minnesota/Wisconsin border to an overlook of the Canadian border. The SHT will connect to the North Country Trail in Wisconsin after a new spur trail is completed. Volunteers have dedicated over 8,000 hours this year to build and maintain the trail, a new record for the SHTA. We are working constantly to improve and protect the trail. In 2017 we look forward to finishing a big re-route north of Gooseberry Falls State Park and eliminating a roadwalk on the Cove Point Loop. We will be building several complicated bridges and publishing a new edition of our guidebook. —Jo Swanson

One intrepid crew who canoed and hiked deep into the wilderness at the northern end of Minnesota to clear miles of downed trees on the Kekekabic Chapter's part of the Trail.

Kekekabic Trail Chapter

The Border Route Trail Association MINNESOTA - The


Border Route Trail suffered extensive damage in late 2015 and in June 2016 resulting in an extraordinary number of trees down on the eastern 50 miles of the trail. We are very grateful for the turnout of eight weekend BRTA volunteer crews, the Minnesota and Iowa Conservation Corps crews sponsored by the Forest Service, the Forest Service crews doing campsites recovery, portages recovery, and controlled burn setup, and the Flathead Crew that did significant tree fall sweeps across the wilderness sections of the BRT. Hats off to the M & I CC crew that cleared most of the 300 downed trees on the two mile section of the Caribou Rock access trail in 8 days, complicated by several rain showers. — Tom Suter

Jo Swanson

MINNESOTA - The western 12 miles of 4 the Kekekabic Trail were ravaged by the June 19th windstorm and conditions are still very bad. The Superior National Forest is discouraging people from hiking this portion of the Trail which makes it difficult to hike the entire Kek. Crews from the Superior National Forest, Kekekabic Chapter and Vermilion Community College have been working this fall to clear it, but a great deal remains to be done. Plans are being made to attack it next May, and we are looking for many, many volunteers. There will be two American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation crews plus we expect a lot of help from a new source, a month-long crew of 18-25 year old young men who do community service projects from the Conservative Anabaptist Service Program. Contact us (kek@northcountrytrail. org or if you are interested in helping out in restoring the Kekekabic Trail. Trips will be held outside and inside the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and may involve swamping (working behind the sawyers to throw cut pieces off the trail), clearing with hand tools), and/or finding and flagging the trail.

Superior Hiking Trail Association: Mary Swanson enjoys the view from the Oberg Mountain Loop.

—Mark Stange, Chapter President

January-March 2017


State of the Trail WISCONSIN - The Brule-St. Croix Chapter celebrated its 20th National Trails Day with festivities in Solon Springs. Hiker options included a morning hike on the Brule Bog Boardwalk section and an afternoon hike on the Brule-St. Croix Portage section, with a pot-luck picnic in between. Special thanks to Stephanie Glass and Reed Schwarting, University of Wisconsin-Superior researchers, for serving as naturalists during the hikes. Besides the National Trails Day hikes, the Chapter offered 10 additional group hikes, organized in a late spring-early summer and a late summer-fall series. The hikes provided the opportunity for hikers to earn mileage towards the Hike 100 Challenge. All hikes were well-attended. Mother Nature kept us on our toes. While late winter was unseasonably warm, with the snow in the woods melting by midMarch, wind damage in July made the trail impassable between County Road S and Jersett Creek. A total of 10 NCT volunteers worked over three days, aided by a day’s work by two Brule River State Forest staff, to remove approximately 250 downed trees in a roughly one-mile stretch of trail. Other maintenance efforts include the installation of new NCT Wisconsin information panels at the U.S. Highway 53 and Lucius Woods trailheads, and an official NPS kiosk info panel with map at MacQuarrie Wetlands. Wooden destination signs were added at various locations along the trail in need of additional information. In addition, monthly maintenance outings throughout the summer focused on specific spots in need of work in order to bring trail sections back up to standards. Chuck Zosel, who passed away in the spring, was awarded one of the 2016 NCTA Distinguished Service awards. Chuck was a former Superintendent of the Brule State Forest and served as a Chapter officer for 18 years. Chuck’s efforts were vital in restoring the Brule-St. Croix Portage trail, a historic route between the Brule and St. Croix Rivers that connects Lake Superior with the Mississippi River. Rita Oswald received the Chapter Honor Award. Rita uses woodworking equipment to make destination signs seen along the trail. She also represents the chapter at community events, including the Chapter’s booth at the Head of the Lakes Fair in Superior, with her dog Sadie. Rita continues the Oswald volunteer legacy started by her late husband Atley, a founding chapter member and officer. The Chapter began 2017 with a First Day hike at Pattison State Park, cosponsored by the Chapter and the Friends of Pattison and Amnicon State Parks. The hike along the scenic Black River between Big Manitou and Little Manitou Falls followed the Beaver Slide and Little Falls trails, a portion of which includes the route of the NCT. Chapter membership has reached an all-time high. We look forward to continuing the momentum in 2017 by using the trail as a conduit to bring people, especially the younger generations, into contact with nature and the positive impacts that hiking has on a person’s mind, body, and soul. — Mark VanHornweder


The North Star

Phil Anderson

Brule-St. Croix Chapter

Brule St. Croix: The Brule Bog Boardwalk, slippery during a rainy hike for National Trails Day in June.

Brule St. Croix Rovers Crew Review

WISCONSIN - This was our nineteenth season as a trail crew and again, we held seven crew outings from April through November. Twelve crew members and twelve chapter members (on one project) accumulated a total of 1,534 hours, taking our grand total above 31,000 hours. Our crew worked on projects across the breadth of the state, from building tread on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border, to salvaging a bridge in Iron County that is within 20 miles of Michigan. Here are a few of this year’s highlights and most interesting crew times. For more details and pictures, request a copy of our Roving Trail Crew year end newsletter from me at bmenke@ One interesting event has to do with a Meetup respondent who stated that he wanted to work with us during June. I saw that he was from Manassas, Virginia, and thought, “Surely this is a mistake.” However, Mike Custudio confirmed that he wanted to see a bit of Wisconsin and Minnesota and a part of that was to spend the week with the crew. Mike proved to be a very motivated

State of the Trail

January-March 2017


Bill Menke

and interesting person. It turned out he heads an NPS trail crew at Prince William Forest Park and wanted to learn additional trail techniques. We provided him with variety, including small bridge construction, sign and blaze installation, and couldn’t let him get away without swinging some tools on tread construction. At the end of the week the crew bid our new friend farewell, sending him on his way to northern Minnesota for a quick visit to Voyageurs National Park. During this same trip we constructed a short (only 1/3 mile) key piece of new trail. This segment parallels the Saunders State ATV trail, which we had temporarily followed for a couple of years. The new construction eliminates about half of the Saunders Grade. Interestingly, on the second day of work, Dick Kroener shouted “Thru Hiker coming through.” We were in the right place, at the right time, for Dave Breinke, from Sacramento, Calif., to hear the crew working as he walked the nearby Saunders Grade. We immediately had our morning break to talk and share some of our snacks with him. A fun experience! Our July trip was also “interesting.” On July 11, northern Wisconsin experienced an intense rainstorm when up to 13 inches of rain occurred overnight. We were in the process of preparing supper when the storm hit. The sky blackened and the skies literally opened up. But our base camp tarps were up and we just shrugged it off. In fact, we cooked our brats over the coals of a wood fire (which is routinely located under one of the tarps). As the rain continued, we commented about this being the most intense and long lasting storm in all of our crew years. At bedtime, Mike and others working on the new Saunders bypass tread. the rain continued to drum on our tents, LULLING us to sleep. road crew wouldn’t say if the Clear Creek Bridge was open, instead By morning the rain had stopped, but we noticed that the nearby warning us that if we went back around and moved barricades Nemadji River was in flood stage. With no newscast, we didn’t without pulling them back in place we would be in big trouble. We realize how severe the storm had been. Leaving camp for work, we assured them that we were responsible. Again we turned the truck crossed the Clear Creek bridge and spent the day working on tread and trailer around and once again some 40 minutes and 30 miles construction about a half dozen miles away. It was a nice day and later we moved the barricades, crossed the Clear Creek bridge and we were as happy as clams. That evening, as we neared the Clear pulled into camp, only 1 ¾ hours behind schedule. Creek bridge near camp, a county road crew had just finished To top it off, while we were driving, we learned that the County installing barricades. “You can’t go down this hill—the bridge is Sheriff had been out searching for us. Hearing on TV about the out,” they said. “But we have a camp down there and we crossed storm’s severity, highway closures, and someone being swept away the bridge this morning and it was just fine. Did the water come in flood waters, one of the wives got worried and tried to track us back up today?” This wasn’t making sense, but the county folks down to assess our safety. The Sheriff found our camp (in normal insisted that we had to drive around and come in from the other condition) but then hiked four miles along the trail to search for us. end of the road. “OK”! Of course we were somewhere else. We called the Sheriff to assure Forty minutes and thirty miles later, we again were within a half him that we were fine and then placed several calls home to try mile of camp, this time from the opposite direction. The same and soothe worries. Lesson learned: no cell service in camp, but we county crew was installing barricades blocking our way from this had a SPOT Locator with us and could have triggered an “all OK” direction. “You can’t go down there. It’s too dangerous. We don’t message if we had known that the storm was on the news or that want the public in here.” But says us, “You just told us to come anyone might be concerned. around and get to camp from this direction.” “Well,” says they “you This storm was more severe further east, where it caused several can’t cross this bridge.” Sure enough, from here we could observe state highway closures and washed out almost every culvert between the Nemadji River Bridge and it was indeed impassable. But, unlike the middle of the Chequamegon National Forest and the Michigan the county employees, we DID know that we had a camp that was line. We actually had water a foot over the deck of a large A-Frame located between the Clear Creek and the Nemadji Bridges. The

State of the Trail Bill Menke

Mellen boardwalk "before," crooked and flooded.

Bill Menke

bridge that we had installed in 2015. It must have been a sight to see the wall of water when six large beaver dams, upstream from this bridge, all washed out. But our bridge stood firm and we felt good about its design and our work. The storm also generated a couple months of unplanned work for the crew when the benched trail leading down to another of our A-Frame bridges slumped away. One slump was directly beneath this bridge, almost back to the supporting sill. The next two months were spent developing solutions that include installing a large framework, now resting on solid rock, under the end of the bridge and several sets of stairways to bypass the slumped trail. The flood on this creek moved boulders almost the size of a VW Beetle. Our most complex project of the year was replacing the dilapidated Mellen Boardwalk. After completing the planning and logistics, the crew arrived in early October with our two tool trailers full of equipment and tools. This month, only three regular crew members were available but we were joined by 12 Chequamegon Chapter members. After four full work days, this able force had almost completed the new 375-foot elevated walkway. Only some railings were left to install. This was the first time we used “Bog Pans” to support the structure. Most boardwalks are constructed using “friction piles” (posts set in post holes or driven into the ground). The pans eliminate this difficult and often less than satisfactory technique, resting directly on the surface of the ground or beneath the water in a deep marsh. According to the manufacturer, they don’t settle or heave. They are a lot easier to install than pilings and we have a high level of confidence that they will remain in place. —Bill Menke Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew 2016 Crew accomplishments include: 0.8 miles of new tread.

Mellen boardwalk "after," resting on "Bog Pans."

1 mile of tread repaired with drainage ditches installed. 80 feet of Type 3 Puncheon. 375 feet of elevated boardwalk. One 16-foot and one 12-foot bridge. Two 36-foot deck style bridges resting on pans. 200 yards of spur trail to a campsite and installation of a register box. 58 feet of stairs and reinforcement of a large bridge.

What Bill writes for us for the magazine is necessarily only a summary, omitting many details, including, this year, an interesting history of the Brule-St. Croix Rovers, now twenty years old. In fact, since most of the regular crew members are retired people already, those twenty years have cost a few people due to declining health and just plain old age. So the need becomes more pressing every year for younger people to join this crew. They’d be thrilled to add a couple 55-year-old young retirees, much less dream of a 40-year-old who would give up a week of vacation to join them! Interested in joining this wonderful crew and learning really advanced trail craft and bridge building? Contact Bill at, please. To see the whole summary of last year’s Rovers crew work, go to


The North Star

State of the Trail Vickie Swank

Ellie Williams

Chequamegon Chapter’s Mel Baughman uses a cutter mattock while benching new NCT on a re-route above soggy existing trail.

Chequamegon Chapter

WISCONSIN - The Chequamegon Chapter started the trail maintenance season with a “Spring NCT Cleanup” event with a different slant this year. Trail Adopters/ Volunteers maintained NCT on their own schedule and then met for an afternoon gathering on a set date at a local watering hole. This worked well! We had a great turnout and a lot of NCT was maintained. Heavy rains caused major flash flooding on July 11th & 12th that damaged major highways, roads, bridges and closed eastern sections of our NCT. They are opened now but you will need to use caution and some forest roads are still closed at this time. To see details of road closings and trail conditions please see our website at http://northcountrytrail. org/che/ and look under “Alerts” or “Current Trail Conditions.” The Chapter held one of its most interesting meetings ever, with our Annual Business/Planning Meeting on Saturday, November 5th. The chapter was privileged to have as guest speakers

Shane and Garrett Peltonen. Shane had just finished hiking the entire NCT on October 30th and gave a spellbinding and often funny presentation of his adventure. Garrett gave an inspiring presentation of possible 100 and 50 mile runs on our area NCT and garnered a lot of support including some from the US Forest Service. We also managed to hand out three awards and all recipients were present! The Chapter was also honored to have Copper Falls State Park Superintendent Todd Hintz attend our meeting, a first time for us. Our major focus for 2017 will be a trail re-route in the Rainbow Lake Wilderness for often wet, sometimes pond-like, NCT. This re-route is well over ½ mile long and is in a section of NCT where only non-powered tools can be used (cross cut saws, axes, etc.). Making trail tread all of the distance is essential because we are not allowed to do blue blazing in wilderness sections. The Chapter can’t thank our Trail Adopters/Volunteers enough. Without their dedication, the Chapter would be spending most our efforts on just maintaining NCT instead of making all of these gains. —Marty Swank

Other highlights of Chequamegon Chapter’s 2016 season: • Held a City of Mellen Trail Town Presentation on April 22nd, organized and presented by Rose Wooley, Chapter Trail Adopter/Volunteer. • Did ground work on proposed future designated campsites. • On May 21st and June 11th – Completed a trail re-route to correct wet, soggy (under water at times) NCT by benching new trail on nearby higher ground on NCT west of Beaver Lake Campground. • Installed new urban NCT signage in the City of Mellen. • Installed four new State NCT Interpretive Panels at various locations. • Removed and built new City of Mellen Raised Boardwalk. This was the most time consuming project for 2016. (See story on page 37.)

Garrett Peltonen gave a presentation to the Chequamegon Chapter about possible 100 and 50 mile trail runs.

Heritage Chapter Year-end Shout

WISCONSIN - 2016 was the blazing finale for the Heritage Chapter and its efforts to build new North Country National Scenic Trail in the newly acquired tracts at Copper Falls State Park. September 24 was the grand opening and celebration of the Chapter’s five miles of new trail along the top of the Bad River canyon at the north end of the Park. The Chapter has been working on this project for the last 5-6 years. The event coincided with the State Parks annual Open House and an Art in the Park show. A large crowd attended the Saturday events and many of the visitors hiked portions of the older North Country Trail and also went out to walk on the newly constructed trail. The Chapter completed the last one mile of trail in the Park during the 2016 season, while finding it necessary to repair damage occurring due to a violent storm that inundated the area in July. This storm damaged bridge structures and approaches but for the most part the trail tread had light damage. A number of small trees had to be cut out of the trail area. In addition to the new construction and repairs, the Chapter managed to build an additional new bridge and relocated another one while putting down new puncheon at several gooey places. Volunteers also blazed the NCT location from Upson Lake north to Foster Falls on the Potato River. Bill Menke’s Roving Trail Crew assisted the Chapter several times during the year to build bridges and make repairs to damaged structures. Their bridge building expertise was sorely needed by the Chapter as the area had a number of small

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Peter Nordgren

and large stream channels that obstructed the trail and required some complex bridging. And last, but not least, volunteers again attended North Country Trail Association publicity booths at the Iron County Fair in Saxon, Wisconsin, and the silent sports extravaganza, Canoecopia at Madison, Wisconsin. A crew of Sierra Club volunteers also pitched in to assist in the trail construction during the year. In addition, Chapter volunteers maintained various sections of already built trail and completed a link from Copper Falls SP’s recently completed mile to a public road, Stricker Road, where public parking will be easier. Hikers can now access the northeastern part of the State Park by parking along Sticker Road and traveling along the new North Country Trail construction until it connects with the trail’s previous dead end near the Park’s primitive camping site along the river. The Chapter is proud of its accomplishment at Copper Falls SP as previously hard to access Park areas are now within reach of the hiking public. The Chapter will now concentrate its trail building efforts toward connecting from Copper Falls SP east to Wren Falls and the trail end there. It will also be looking at building trail eastward from Upson Lake north along the Potato River to Lake Superior and thence to the Michigan state line near Little Girl Point. Several large bridges will have to be built across the Tyler Forks River at Wren Falls and at an area to be determined on the Potato River. Their construction will depend on financial assistance available from a variety of sources. It was a year to be remembered for our Chapter and its volunteers. —Gaylord Yost

Heritage Chapter’s volunteer booth at Copper Falls State Park during the celebration opening the new 5 miles segment.

Richard Swanson

Heritage Chapter’s Bethany Thomas leads a group of hikers along a boardwalk on the new 5 mile stretch of North Country National Scenic Trail at the north end of Copper Falls State Park near Mellen, Wisconsin. Peter Nordgren

Ni-Miikanaake: We build great bridges; storms do lots of damage.

Ni-Miikanaake Chapter

UPPER MICHIGAN - Having spent the later part of the cooler (winter to many) months working on a couple of long, drawn out projects, it was time to head out on the trail to see how much mother nature had tried to reclaim. We were not disappointed. One area had three very nice large cedar trees across the trail and a few wet areas in need of some work and a bridge that was washed into the drainage. All in all it was looking like a normal spring. Last year we had a ½ mile stretch that needed three short reroutes which we had permission to do, but too late the fall before, so we jumped right into that project on our first work outing of the spring. Next we removed the bridge from the drainage and did a reroute around the large drainage ravine to eliminate future problems. The Ottawa Forest had some sawyers who needed to be recertified so they cut up those three big cedar trees into short logs and what we call rounds. The logs were carried to an area where we needed to rebuild a boardwalk and the rounds were stacked to be used in some small wet areas as stepping blocks. 16

The North Star

State of the Trail

O Kun De Kun Falls on the Peter Wolfe Chapter’s section of the North Country Trail; photo by Peter Wolfe Chapter member and trail crew, Jim Belote.

Peter Wolfe Chapter

Then Ni-Miikanaake got hit with the July storm. We experienced high winds and lots and lots of rain. A 20 foot bridge we built about 5 years ago is now in the drainage 4 feet from the bank, but still 100% intact. We have yet to figure out how to move that bridge to another location. Another little drainage is now 5 feet across and 3 feet deep. We built a 10 foot bridge for that one. An area that was a little wet at the end is now very wet, so the 16 foot, 2 plank bridge that we removed from the drainage mentioned above will be used as a boardwalk over the wet area. We then spent 3 days, with a couple rest days in between, to carry lumber over ¼ mile through the forest to an area where a boardwalk needs to be replaced and added on to. This boardwalk, when completed, will be about 80 feet long with some built on supports and the rest placed on those cedar logs cut earlier by the Forest Service. We had many more days in August and September of rainy weather that also kept us from getting into the trail work. We did manage a few days of mowing, but it was in damp conditions that made it a lot more difficult. However, our volunteers persisted and got it done. — Richard Swanson

UPPER MICHIGAN - The Peter Wolfe Chapter is so lucky to have such great volunteers! We are a chapter small in numbers; our members help us financially, and we have a small number of volunteers who help us work on this very remote trail. Our population base is an hour or more from even the closest of our trailheads, so to help on the trail is a full day commitment. There is a need for both these types of members and volunteers, and we truly appreciate them all! This spring, almost all of our adopters had maintained their segment of trail by Memorial Day, in time for our spring hikers. Many hikers like to get out in early spring to “beat the bugs,” an early spring asset our trail workers also love! We also have many student hikers who, on the last day of exams, head to the NCT to relax with a long distance hike, so we find it very important to get our trail maintained early each season to keep the many spring hikers safe on the trail. After our spring trail cleaning blitz by our volunteers, we then had at least three separate major wind storms of 50+ mph winds go thru the western UP throughout the summer that brought down so many trees over all trails and access roads. We also experienced a nearly record setting rainy season; by Sept. 1st, we had 10 more inches of rain than the previous season! Add to that a very unusually warm summer; it was the perfect recipe for phenomenal vegetative growth all along the trail that was really hard to keep up with! We also had several places where extensive logging was done over the NCT which made for considerable work for our volunteers to establish a findable trail there again. So our trail workers did their best to keep up with logging disruptions and especially Nature’s Blast over and over this summer! We appreciate

January-March 2017


State of the Trail North Country Trail Hikers Chapter

UPPER MICHIGAN As with every year the NCT Hikers’ highest priority is to maintain the trail that we have built and we are proud to say that 100% of our trail was well maintained by a combination of our Trail Adopters and our more than fantastic Trail Crew headed up by our Trail Boss, Cliff Stammer. Without a dedicated handful or two of volunteers, it would take only a couple of years for our trail to be lost to the woods. Each year as the crew has worked, it has become easier, working a little more outside the box to make sure any encroaching vegetation is lopped back, all downed and leaning trees removed, and ferns and grasses weed whacked. With the Hike 100 Challenge this year, we have experienced an increased number of hikers wanting to check out some of our more remote segments of trail. We Lorana Jinkerson

Kristi Evans finishing her Hike 100.


The North Star

hope that what they saw encourages them to join us in maintaining the trail in the coming years. We were also lucky enough to secure donations or pledges from several businesses and organizations based on the Hike 100 Challenge. The businesses/organizations included the Sweet Water Café, Jon’s Auto, Superior Family Chiropractic & Wellness, 906 Technologies, Border Grill, Dead River Coffee Roasters, Beth Millner Jewelry, Doncker’s, Superior Odyssey, Nestledown Bed & Breakfast, Down Wind Sports, and the Superior Watershed Partnership. We thank them for their support. We hosted tables or booths at multiple events this year, bringing in new members and donations in addition to selling local chapter merchandise. Included in the events were Northern Michigan University’s Wellness Fair, the UP Sports Show, the Marquette Trail 50 Ultramarathon, NMU’s Fall Fest and XTERRA Lake Superior Shore Run. Our third Sunday hikes, National Trails Day, Big Mac Bridge Walk, the NCNST Day, Softies Hikes (spring and fall) and our Breakfast Social all brought in hikers, both seasoned and new, to learn about the NCT, the NCTA and our local chapter. We look forward to 2017, and along with the other four chapters across the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, hosting the 2017 NCTA Celebration right here in Marquette at Northern Michigan University, July 27-29. Join us! —Lorana Jinkerson Lorana Jinkerson

our hikers letting us know when they ran into these problems that developed after each storm in different areas so we could get them fixed back up as soon as we could. In 2016, the Peter Wolfe Chapter made a concerted effort to have at least one NCT hike a month on the PWC to help folks work on their 100 mile NCT Challenge! We have a number of members who achieved that goal this year! We just found out that the popular O Kun de Kun Falls NCT trail just north of Bruce Crossing was awarded a Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund grant to resurface this 1.4 mile section of trail! This work will be done on the slippery clay soil by a professional company to increase accessibility and reduce negative impacts to the natural environment from existing trail conditions. This is great news to the many year-round trail users who love to see the falls and spectacular suspension bridge over the Baltimore River there. This spring we will have a building project we could use help with, putting up 100+ foot of puncheon near one of the headwaters of the Sturgeon River. We could also use help with bringing a new rerouted section of trail up to standards along the East Branch of the Ontonagon River and building a half mile reroute out of the valley of the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River. Also in 2017, we hope to have more chain sawyers certified to help us with our many miles of forested trail! That will sure help in the spring when we have to cut our way through all the trees and branches that our 200-300 inches of annual snowfall bring down! (We have already over 10 feet of snow fall here in December!) If you would like to help work on any of our 100+ miles of forested NCT trail in the PWC, please contact us! pwf@ — Connie Julien

North Country Trail Hikers Chapter’s NPS interpretive sign in downtown Marquette, at the ore dock.

State of the Trail UPPER MICHIGAN - We established a trail relationship with the local Girl Scout Troop which has adopted a section of trail and is learning the art of trail maintenance. In addition we established a relationship with the local Boy Scout Troop, first for trail maintenance of a several mile section of the trail as an Eagle Scout project, the longer term goal to have the Troop adopt and maintain this section throughout the year. We also cleared 10 miles of trail blocked by trees that had fallen as a result of high winds, erosion along the Lake Superior shoreline and the aftermath of a wildfire in 2012. — Tim Hass

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter

UPPER MICHIGAN - Many thanks to all our volunteers! Know that you are appreciated! We also send a big thank to our members and business members for their support! HSS thanks Hiawatha National Forest, Eastern Upper Peninsula Ecosystem (formerly Superior State Forest), and Tahquamenon Falls State Park for their continuing support of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The year began with Vice President Tom Walker leading the “First Hike” kicking off the Hike 100 Challenge on the New Year’s Day. That was followed by a Winter Trails Day celebration that included a “Hike the Hiawatha” in the Hiawatha National Forest, an open house and a “Gros Cap Hike” at the USFS office on US 2, and a “Stomp the Park” hike in the late afternoon and evening at Straits State Park. The park provided a bonfire with s’mores and hot chocolate while the revelers enjoyed the lights on the Mackinac Bridge and a lantern lit trail back to the parking lot. Volunteers attended tri-county Wellness Coalition, Tahquamenon Scenic Byway, and Great Waters meetings. The results are often seen in the NCT being actively promoted in eastern Upper Peninsula media promotions. The NCT is now showcased in several of the EUP tourist guides, available at state highway visitor centers. Adopt A Section Coordinator, Walt Colyer, reported that HSS volunteers walked and cleared all 122 miles from the Big Mac Bridge to the footbridge at the Two Hearted River. The certified sawyers attended a chain saw training session in April. Over 200 small trees were removed from the trail tread in the Duck Lake Fire area (This area burned in 2012: Read our story in Wildfire on Your Trail in Volume 31 No. 3- 4) in the spring and again in September. Many hardy folks drive from 100 to 300 or more miles to maintain their section! Kathy Colyer writes and mails thank you notes to our members. A special thank you to Kathy for sharing her talent and time. HSS sponsored and assisted at several events. Bill Courtois built a new display background for Quiet Waters Symposium. He and Anne also manned the display, and Tom Walker shared a Tahqua Trail Project media presentation at the event. HSS assisted at the Two Hearted Trail Run (locally known as the “Mosquito Dash”) in June at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, providing road safety and a water station. The HSS display was manned at the busy

Tom Walker

Superior Shoreline Chapter

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter’s Stan Kujawa, Tom Walker, and Kenny Wawsczyk nailing decking at the beaver dam site.

Upper Falls parking area. The “Hike Between Da Falls” was cosponsored with Tahquamenon Falls State Park for North Country National Scenic Trail Day. A shuttle was provided between the Upper and Lower Falls Parking areas. In October the HSS display was manned by Walt and Kathy Colyer at the Hiawatha National Forest Open House. Several reroutes were evaluated and filed with the USFS and the DNR. A Curley Lewis reroute was walked with the USFS and Sault Tribe in May. A route for leaving the M123 parking area was assessed and filed to address the issue of a dangerous highway crossing. Getting off USFS road 3515 and improving the hike along the Niagara Escarpment were studied. A possible route around a beaver issue north of M123 was assessed by Tom Walker and Kenny Wawsczyk, NCT Regional Trail Coordinator. The NCTA office and HSS are working with DNR/Tahquamenon State Park Manager, Craig Krepps and DNR’s Kevin Dennis on that project. Funding is being explored, and a youth group is scheduled for the summer of 2017. Two possible reroutes were assessed to move trail off M123 south of the Tahqua River mouth. Our Chapter’s Roving Crew began the season with the construction of two switchbacks and a short section of tread at the north crossing of road C500 as a National Trails Day Project. New volunteer Paul Ignatowski from Sault Saint Marie joined us on that project. The USFS and the SCA youth group were assisted with the removal of a half mile of old puncheon and building trail tread on the Little Bear River Project east of East Lake Road. During Michigan Trails Week two hundred twenty feet of boardwalk were constructed and a half mile of tread north of Tahqua Trail was repaired and improved. The old blazes on the road and the temporary blazes were removed, and new blazes were painted on the Tahqua Trail Project. A half mile of new tread in the Little Bear River Project was cleared and constructed. The old Little Bear bridge was removed by the USFS, and HSS rerouted the trail east to USFS 3517. The proposed reroute to move the trail off the dangerous hill walk on Curley Lewis Highway was cleared by the Roving Crew, assisted by new volunteer Cyrus Unvala in updating and improving the switchback at the north crossing of the Campground Road (3108) crossing near Brevort Lake Campground. A small creek crossing structure was constructed in the Little Bear Project, and the tread and approach to the crossing was improved. The Chapter wrapped the year with a hike around Trout Brook Pond south to East Lake Road. The trek took them through the new half mile of tread built along the Little Bear River. A potluck dinner followed. —Kay Kujawa

January-March 2017


State of the Trail LOWER MICHIGAN - Our annual meeting in January featured Paige Perry, Michigan DNR Recreation Specialist, who presented “Michigan Trails: Jordan River Valley and Beyond.” Paige is our local representative of Michigan’s “Iron Belle Trail,” which shares the NCT in our area. The 10th annual “Jerry Allen Big Foot” award went to Dove and John Day, who did such an outstanding job in their first year as Trail Coordinators. Our chapter honor award went to Doug Seaney, “Mower Man,” who performs epic feats of trail mowing madness. In our annual election Jen Winnell and Mary Campbell were re-elected Trail Town Coordinator and Secretary respectively, and Duane Lawton was re-elected president for a routine by-lawsbusting third term in the absence of another nominee. We have a new communications coordinator and newsletter editor Bob Haack, with the departure of Amy Wilks. We again represented the NCTA at the Quiet Waters Symposium in East Lansing in March (along with Western Michigan and Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapters). On National Trails Day we held our Fourth Annual Petoskey Trail Town Celebration in the Bear River Recreation area with speeches, booths, food, prizes, music, games and hikes. Our Petoskey Trail Town Coordinator, Jen Winnell, was again successful in enlisting many local sponsors for the event. Our speakers were Chris Loudenslager of the NPS, Emily Meyerson of the Michigan DNR and Al Hansen of Petoskey Parks and Rec. We erected two new registration boxes along the trail at Starvation Lake Road (our southern boundary), and at Chandler Hill. In addition, we began installing road crossing marker posts patterned after those of the Western Michigan Chapter, and did 18 of an expected 50. These “plantings” were mostly made during our monthly “Hike 100” hikes led by VP Eugene Branigan, wherein we section hiked our entire chapter territory and beyond. Several of these hikes featured local Scouts working on their hiking merit badge. We are excited about Hike100 2.0 and will continue these popular hikes in 2017.

Duane Lawton

Jordan Valley 45º Chapter

Jordan Valley 45º Chapter’s Skyline Camp Shelter taking shape. Jim Flick, left, and Doug Boor are pictured above.

The camper shelter (“yurt”) we erected at “Skyline Camp” on Doug and Pam Boor’s property near the trail south of Petoskey collapsed over the winter. Boy Scout Joe Farley stepped forward to make his Eagle Scout project to build a permanent shelter structure on the empty platform. He got plans made, raised money and procured materials. With our help his Scout troop built the shelter in the fall, and we look forward to putting on the finishing touches and opening for business next year. Chase Rawson, another Eagle Scout candidate, developed the spring which is the non-potable water source for Skyline Camp. Besides being a welcome stopping point for longer distance hikers, the Skyline Camp will be a draw for local youth groups and should increase awareness and interest in the NCT and the NCTA. Our efforts to forge agreements with landowners to reroute our trail off roads made no progress in 2016. In fact, we lost ground. Our focus for 2017 trail work will be to fix and improve many points in the Jordan Valley. Hopefully we can also resurrect at least one reroute opportunity for 2018. —Duane Lawton

Below: Jordan Valley 45º Chapter made this neat collage to show you their posts. Duane Lawton


The North Star

State of the Trail Jerry Marek

Grand Traverse Hiking Club built new campsite benches.

Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - This has been a year of exploring and planning rather than actual trail improvements. We have two road sections that were designated as priorities at an August meeting. The existing NCT from Wheeler Lake Road east to Sunset Trail has been identified as our highest priority. We would like to re-route the NCT off the busy County Road 612, and the mile east of Wheeler Lake Road is under new ownership. The new owners do not want hikers using the trail and they are encouraging beavers to flood the area. We have been exploring options and have finally identified a possible re-route. Starting west of Wheeler Lake Road we would go northeast to Wood Road, passing close to two small lakes nearly all on state property. We would then follow east and north on two-track roads about 3 miles, then east on a gravel road for just over a mile. Then we can again stay on state land most of the way to existing NCT. We are now in the process of mapping the optimum route and writing our proposal. We hope to have our proposal submitted to DNR late this winter. Our second identified priority is the 2.5 mile road walk from Baxter Bridge north and east to Dell Road. From the Gate at Dell Road the present trail generally follows the north side of the Manistee River to the Old US 131 State Forest Campground. We have tentatively identified a possible route going south past the Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground then easterly and mostly along the south side of the Manistee River. This route will include only about 0.5 mile walk on a little used gravel road. It will continue east along and overlooking the River on a single track pathway to a snowmobile bridge over the Manistee River just east of the Old US 131 SFCG. —Pat Brumbaugh

Spirit of the Woods Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - The 100-mile Challenge brought a noticeable uptick in participation and new faces. Our membership increased by 18%. Our monthly trail hikes continued to be well attended as we focused on the Challenge. Our Trail Adopters continue their good work maintaining sections over our 80 plus miles in the Manistee National Forest, and four new Adopters readily stepped up as replacements as others moved on. In the category of trail promotion, our part of the NCT played a small part in “North!” a presentation at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Chris Loudenslager, NPS Trail Planner, along with faculty and students hiked and camped together for several days along the NCT. Their play was an amalgamation of their experiences on the trail and with each other. Chris, along with Kenny Wawsczyk, NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator, and several members each from the SPW, GTHC, and JV 45 Chapters were in the audience at this well attended event. Our Chapter had one major work session during the year that lasted six weeks. The Vince Smith Memorial Bridge, a 100-foot span over the Big Sauble River and a critical part of the NCT, was replaced in the Manistee National Forest by the US Forest Service. USFS personnel led the construction effort with our volunteer and others helping in support. Along with the new bridge, portions of the trail were relocated with ramped boardwalks to meet up with the new grade and location. And, finally, the old structure was removed. The construction had to be done with minimal impact to the environmentally sensitive white cedar wetland/lowland area. So no heavy construction equipment was used and everything was carried into or out of the 1/4-mile long site by hand. Fortunately, the USFS had selected a relative light, pre-engineered, prefabricated, 100-foot long fiberglass bridge. It was delivered to the site labeled and disassembled in pieces light enough to handle. Despite setbacks due to high ground water and assembly problems with bolt holes not lining up, as one might expect with “some assembly required” stated on the plans, the project was completed successfully by the end of September. All our volunteers worked hard on the project. But stalwarts Brian Buchanan and Steve Webster along with new member Greg Anderson, who worked about every day out there, deserve special mention. And special thanks to the USFS Baldwin Ranger District Office and FS personnel who made this happen. Lastly, our Chapter leadership went through some changes in the fall. Brian Buchanan, our Treasurer, trail coordinator, and trail mower, has decided to step down. Loren Bach has stepped down as President. Fortunately for us, chapter life member Brian, and webmaster, newsletter editor, outing coordinator Loren are expected to stick around. Their chapter officer positions have been filled and we now have two new trail coordinators appointed to take us into what we expect to be a successful 2017. —Robert (Bob) Dunning Photos of Spirit of the Woods Chapter’s project are on the next page.

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Loren Bach

Spirit of the Woods Chapter’s new member Greg Anderson works on an abutment for a new bridge.

The Western Michigan Chapter

Loren Bach

LOWER MICHIGAN - Western Michigan started 2016 with three new board members and a slate of newly elected officers. From the previous year’s planning process we began work on our top issues: promotion and marketing, volunteer and board recruitment, engaging membership and trail development. The Western Michigan Chapter spans two counties, Newaygo County which has 61 miles of the NCT with only 25% road walk, and Kent County with 71 miles of the NCT with 65% road walk. Newaygo County has the Huron-Manistee National Forest to host the majority of the trail while Kent County has large commercial farms and the metropolitan area of Grand Rapids creating more road walks. We have the largest membership of any chapter and hold steady at about 300 members. In 2016 we divided the responsibilities of trail development leadership between two volunteers: Larry Meyer for Newaygo County, and Jim Bradley for Kent County. They met with the trails committee to set priorities and work dates for the year. In addition, the trails committee planned and held a maintainer’s meeting in March for all the maintainers in the chapter. Ten work days were planned and held by the chapter between Kent and Newaygo Counties. Beth Keloneva

Spirit of the Woods starts construction of the Vince Smith Memorial Bridge.

Loren Bach

Spirit of the Woods completed Vince Smith Memorial Bridge.

Loren Bach

Spirit of the Woods provides a ramped approach to the new Vince Smith Memorial Bridge.


The North Star

Western Michigan Chapter’s Bigelow Creek bridge extension project in Newaygo County.

State of the Trail Larry Pio

Here are Western Michigan Chapter’s highlights of 2016: • Installation of new kiosk panels at six different trail heads in conjunction with the Forest Service, coordinated by volunteer Paul Haan. • Construction and installation of 9 new sign-in boxes for an Eagle Scout Project by Sean Scsavnicki. • Constructed 1.5 miles of new NCT trail in Siedman Park and 1.5 miles new loop trail in Townsend Park in Kent County. • Reinforced and added boardwalk extensions to existing bridge over Bigelow Creek in Newaygo County. • Optimal Location Reviews completed for Tyler Creek, Fallasburg to Seidman, Cedar Springs. • Proposed reroute in Rogue River State Game Area. • Improved and extended boardwalk over small creek in Newaygo County. • Multiple meetings with Cedar Springs Development Committee re: trail reroute. • Planned and led six hikes between 5 and 12 miles in support of the Hike 100 Challenge. • Maintained and operated the NCTA School House for campers and hikers. • Trail Town Committees met to further develop the Trail Town concept in White Cloud and Lowell with Andrea Ketchmark. • Held Trail Town Event in White Cloud for the second year in row. Behind the scenes the chapter board met five times working toward the chapter’s goals and maintaining the budget. The year culminated in a well attended annual meeting at beautiful Camp Newaygo with 65 people in attendance. Luke “Strider” Jordan was the guest speaker. —Beth Keloneva

Finishing off a puncheon curb at Fort Custer National Cemetery, in Chief Noonday Chapter Section of NCT.

Chief Noonday Chapter

Beth Keloneva

Western Michigan Chapter’s small bridge reinforcement, in Newaygo County.

LOWER MICHIGAN - Our Chapter continued with one major project this year and a few smaller ones. We have continued upgrading puncheon in the Ft. Custer National Cemetery to replace deteriorating, slick and sometimes underwater older puncheon, converting approximately 150 feet to new puncheon this year. We’ve benefitted from assistance by more than 30 students and staff at the Battle Creek Academy School, a group of about two dozen young cadets from the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, numerous Chapter volunteers and a few other helpful “walk-ins” over the past year. Partners in Middleville completed extension of the Paul Henry Trail on the north side of that Trail Town, giving us an additional mile of trail that is no longer roadwalk. Elsewhere in Barry County, we’ve resolved a long-standing conflict by designating about three miles of seasonal roadwalk during the autumn hunting season to avoid a segment that is closed October through December. In Calhoun County, Marshall has become our chapter’s second Trail Town, and planning for the extension of urban trail in Albion continues. We have continued with numerous promotional and outreach opportunities, which at one time or another involves nearly all of our active chapter members. Invited guest speakers at our monthly chapter meeting has significantly improved attendance, especially by community members interested in what we’re up to. And this was the second year of our support for the program “Picture This” established by NPS Superintendent Mark Weaver to get urban youth in the Battle Creek area outdoors with cameras, then displaying some of their great photos in public forums. Attendance at our monthly hikes has continued to grow, typically averaging more than 20 hikers per session. These hikes have been successfully promoted by a local Meetup group, our Chapter Facebook posts and Chapter website. We will be starting 2017 with our 6th annual Shoe Year’s Day hike in partnership with Yankee Springs Recreation Area, an event that has enjoyed more than 70 hikers each of the last few years despite some inhospitable weather. Jane Norton won our 7th annual Chief Noonday Hiker Challenge for 2015 with 295 miles. Matt Smith currently leads our 2016 Challenge with over 600 miles, with three others over 200 and five more chapter members with well over 100 unique miles logged this year on the NCNST. Yours truly thought his nearly 200 miles might be close to the top mark this year – ha! — Jeff Fleming

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Janice Kessler

Local Boy Scout Troop helped build a new section of Trail in Osseo, for Chief Baw Beese Chapter.

Chief Baw Beese Chapter

LOWER MICHIGAN - This past year the Baw Beese Chapter joined the 21st century with its own Facebook page thanks to Jan Kessler. Our new trail work coordinator Chuck Hoard was busy outfitting our new trailer and getting all the tools to the site each work day. We are working with the city of Litchfield on Trail Town improvements and we got the website up and running thanks to Amelia Rhodes at NCTA Headquarters in Lowell. We built a new section of trail in Osseo thanks to two private landowners and the local Boy Scout troop. We participated in community festivals in Osseo, Jonesville and Litchfield. We organized group hikes and expanded our communication outreach by Facebook and email distribution. In 2017 we plan to rebuild a bridge and add new sections of trail in Osseo and Jonesville. — Bruce Dziadzio

Buckeye Trail Association

OHIO - This year was another busy year along the Buckeye/North Country Trail. Maintenance is always an issue but our dedicated Buckeye Trail Crew keeps plugging away! This year we opened a new section of trail east of the Wayne National Forest in Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve. Otherwise we did major maintenance blitzes along the trail in Wayne National Forest in Marietta Unit in late July and Athens Unit in September and also did a trail reroute near US 35 to make the trail better! We also added several campsites along the trail and built a new trail shelter on the BTA Pretty Run Preserve, all just examples of the work of our volunteers to make the BT/ NCT a little bit better! —Richard Lutz


The North Star

Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter

OHIO - The Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter began 2016 hoping to build new trail from the Pennsylvania/Ohio state line to Beaver Creek State Park and three miles of new trail in the Magnolia area. The good news is that all but two key landowners have been supportive. The bad news is one key landowner in each location has so far resisted giving us trail access. However this effort has generated good publicity for the NCT. We mailed over 1500 flyers promoting a National Trails Day Hike in Beaver Creek State Park. Many of the 50 plus folk who participated in the hike admitted they did not know there was a National Scenic Trail (NCT) in the area. Another hike was conducted in cooperation with the Buckeye Trail Association. We hiked 22 miles from the Malvern area to Zoar Village. The mayor of Magnolia gave us permission to camp in the Magnolia City Park. Bruce Matthews joined as for the hike into Zoar village the day the Buckeye Trail Fest began. Hopefully the good publicity these activities generated will help us in future trail access agreements. —Keith Brown

Wampum Chapter

PENNSYLVANIA - The Wampum Pennsylvania Chapter maintained a busy schedule of activities in 2016 to build, maintain, and promote the North Country Trail in Beaver and Lawrence counties, reaching out to more members of the community than we ever have before and recruiting and engaging new volunteers along the way. With the assistance of the Student Conservation Association, Wampum volunteers rerouted two half-mile segments of trail, one in each county of our range, and refurbished established trail sections at McConnell’s Mill State Park. Rigorous efforts were made to talk to landowners between the Trail Towns of Wampum and Darlington in 2016, reaching out to over a dozen of them in order to try to move the NCT route off-road. The chapter’s second hiker shelter is under construction, this one just west of Wampum thanks to the consent of Wampum Underground Storage. In Beaver County construction was started on an ADA compliant section of trail near the hiker shelter at Watt’s Mill along Little Beaver Creek. The NPS/ NCTA-provided 4´ x 3´ storyboard signs were installed near the Ohio state line and at McConnell’s Mill State Park. as bookends to our trail segment, and four chapter-designed storyboard signs were created for installation in our Trail Towns and at our two busiest trailhead parking areas. Also, three new trailhead parking lots were developed in Beaver County for easier access for our hikers. The Wampum Chapter kept a weekly group trail maintaining/project schedule and established a formal Trail Adopter program to ensure that our forty miles of treadway were in good shape throughout the season. An Adopter patch specific to the chapter was developed and awarded in recognition of all of the volunteers who maintained a segment of NCT and completed the NPS’s Trail Safe! program.

State of the Trail Tracy Hager

Wampum Maintainer Patch. Designed for our Trail Maintainers by Tracy Hager, this patch is awarded to those who take on a segment of trail within our range and who also complete the NPS’s Trail Safe program. Photo by Dave Brewer.

Butler County Chapter Wampum Chapter members marched in the 44th annual Wampum Christmas parade in December.

Amelia Rhodes

Dave Adams

The Wampum Chapter’s outreach activities included our attendance at seven different community events. We promoted the NCT and the Hike 100 program at these outings, as well as at the local Boy Scout District’s Backpacking/North Country Trail Camporee in the fall. In addition to scheduling a monthly chapter hike for the community and participating in two benefit hikes, we sponsored and led the First Annual Wampum Backpacking Trip, drawing a tremendous amount of interest through our Meetup presence. We developed a Wampum NCTA hiking stick Wampum Chapter Medallion medallion, added wooden NCT designed by Wampum Volunteer Tracy Hager, signing at two road crossings, the chapter’s hiking stick and promoted geocaching along medallion generates a six-mile segment of our trail excitement at our outreach range. events. The Chapter would like to thank our landowners who host the NCT, as well as the professional staff at both the Pennsylvania Game Lands and State Parks who bend over backwards to work with us. Financial assistance from the Lawrence County Commissioners, the NCTA, National Park Service, the Eaton Corp, the Wal-Mart Foundation, The Home Depot, and contributions by members and individuals from the community were greatly appreciated. In addition, we have great partners in the Tourism Bureaus of both Beaver and Lawrence Counties and their promotion of the NCT and the Wampum Chapter is a large part of the successes we’ve enjoyed! —Dave Brewer

PENNSYLVANIA - Our volunteers spent many hours clearing and DR mowing the trails in State Game Lands 95. We built a 30 ft. wooden bridge across a washed out culvert with SGL95 approval. We hosted a Keystone Trail Care Crew for a week in early May which allowed us to improve the trail tread in SGL95 near our Trail Town of Parker, Pennsylvania, and re-blaze all our road walk sections in Butler County. An SCA trail crew worked for a week in the summer improving water bars and repairing eroded trail tread in Moraine State Park. They also repaired the trail and applied tons of limestone gravel to wet, muddy sections of the trail south of Jennings Environmental Education Center and in Moraine State Park. Thanks to the Glacier Ridge Trail Ultra which donated funds for these improvements.

Butler Chapter gets a hand: Keystone Trails Association Trail Care Crew repairing the trail in State Game Lands 95 near Parker. …Continued on page 28

January-March 2017


Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail? If you have questions about the North Country Trail, there are many different places to go for information. When in doubt, try NCTA Headquarters: If you’re not sure whom to contact, your best bet is to connect with the NCTA’s National Office. Staff members are listed on page 2. North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605 Visit our web site. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and Trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the Trail itself! National Park Service: The NPS is an excellent technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official Trail administrator, the NPS sets Trail standards, determines Trail route, and provides the overall vision for the Trail. NPS-NOCO Office P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331 Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent • (616) 430-3495 Chris Loudenslager, NCNST Trail Planner • (616) 970-7026

Luke Jordan, NCNST Volunteer Coordinator • (616) 250-6714 NCTA Chapters: For information about local activities or volunteering, contact the Chapter representative for your area of interest. We have almost three dozen local volunteer clubs scattered along the Trail that are Chapters of the NCTA. Chapters build and maintain trail, host hikes and other events, and work to promote the Trail and the Association in their areas. Affiliate Organizations: The NCTA enters into affiliate agreements with other organizations who also envision the completed Trail. Trail Maintaining Affiliates are independent organizations who also work to build, maintain, and promote sections of the Trail. Supporting Affiliates are independent organizations who work with us to help fulfill our Mission, but are not responsible for a specific section of Trail. If you have questions about a section of Trail that is managed by one of these organizations, your best bet is to contact our Affiliates directly.


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


The North Star


1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 2 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Bobby Koepplin • (701) 840-0250 3 Dakota Prairie Chapter Gail T. Rogne • (701) 428-3839 •


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

* * *

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):


(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 • 11 Superior Hiking Trail Association

Jo Swanson •


12 Brule-St.Croix Chapter Mark VanHornweder • 13 Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 • 14 Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • (414) 403-4575


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


20 Harbor Springs Chapter Jim and Nancy Stamm 21 Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Duane Lawton • Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Roger Gordon • 22 Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter Jill Nordin • (231) 360-7261 • 23 Spirit of the Woods Chapter Bob Dunning • 24 Western Michigan Chapter Beth Keloneva • (231) 215-3552 • 25 Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • 26 Chief Baw Beese Chapter Bruce Dziadzio •


32 Wampum Chapter Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • 33 Butler County Chapter Dave Adams • (724) 453-1685 • 34 Clarion County Chapter Dave Galbreath • (814) 226-5574 35 Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Mike Toole • (814) 723-4714 •



(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

38 39

Quinn Wright, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 Central New York Chapter Steve Kinne • (315) 882-3684 • Adirondack Mountain Club

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Wes Lampman •

27 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 28 Buckeye Trail Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Andrew Bashaw • (740) 394-2008 29 Adams County Chapter 30 Ohio Valley Chapter 31 Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 •

37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference


Middlebury Area Land Trust: * 40 (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Carl Robinson • (802) 388-1007 • January-March 2017


State of the Trail Butler County Chapter…continued from page 25 Tina Toole

Dave Adams

Butler County Chapter’s new 54 ft aluminum bridge across Muddy Creek in Moraine State Park.

Another milestone for the Butler County Chapter was the installation of a new 54 ft. Muddy Creek Bridge which allows a safe crossing of Muddy Creek downstream of the Lake Arthur Dam. The wet, muddy areas of that trail section were also improved by adding limestone gravel. We helped trail affiliate Butler Outdoor Club in hosting the First Day Hike with 120+ hikers who benefitted from mild weather while hiking a 6 mile out and back on the NCT in Moraine State Park. We partnered with Washington Trail 1753 at the February Cherry Pie Hike and had 400+ participants throughout the day in a variety of hikes and history re-enactments along the NCT at the Jennings EEC. Our monthly hikes were well attended throughout the year; many folks were working on their Hike 100 Challenge. —Dave Adams One crew of wire mesh installers celebrates a non-slip treadway for Allegheny National Forest Chapter.

Clarion County Chapter

PENNSYLVANIA - 2016 was another banner year for the Clarion Chapter including the Tour de Clarion twelve hike series to walk our whole section with great turnout. Chapter volunteers completed a 3/4 mile reroute off a high traffic roadway, eliminating a dangerous section. The reroute included three foot bridges that were constructed at a member’s home then disassembled for rebuilding on site. The Chapter coordinated three more Eagle Scout projects, an overnight shelter near Van, a kiosk with trail data and NCT placard at the Penna. Route 322 trail crossing, and a 24´ foot bridge on DCNR property near the Clarion River. Several Clarion Chapter members participated in the week long KeystoneTrail Association sponsored work week in June, working on several projects in the Butler section. —Ed Scurry


The North Star

Allegheny National Forest Chapter

PENNSYLVANIA - The most significant accomplishments that occurred on the 100 miles of trail that the ANF Chapter maintains were: • Registration for the 2016 A100 was filled in the first 6 days with 110 registrants. Registration was then expanded to allow up to 150 participants with a final number of 135. With dry conditions and moderate temperatures, a record number of 25 hikers completed 100 miles. • In June, a 24 foot long bridge was built over Root Run with financial assistance from Shell Appalachia and ANF Chapter funds. Volunteers from the ANF Chapter and Allegheny Outdoor Club (AOC) assisted the USDA – Forest Service and four men from the FCI-McKean Cooperative Inmate Work Program in moving the material to the site and building the bridge. • Installation of wire mesh on bridges occurred throughout the year. The wire mesh provides a nonslip treadway to prevent hikers from slipping on wet wood surfaces. A total of 1,886 feet of wire mesh was installed. This is over 74% of the total bridge footage to be covered. —Michael Toole

State of the Trail

Ed Olesky

Our first Alley Cat project completed this bridge plus boardwalked the approaches to the stream, to relieve hikers of dank goop underfoot. The same crew also built new trail in Elkdale State Forest, which eliminated a boring road walk near the west end of the FLT.

Finger Lakes Trail Conference

Tim Timbrook

NEW YORK - With census numbers for hours spent doing trail work starting to trickle in from our volunteers, we hope to eclipse 2015’s 2 total of 11,671 hours logged the previous year on the 434 miles of our trail shared with the NCNST. The total represents the combination of time spent on trail work, administration, interpretive activities, training, and general resource work. Along our shared trail, Alley Cat projects for the year included some important trail reroutes precipitated by new relationships with private property owners and New York state land managers, a beautiful new lean-to at Hoxie Gorge in Cortland County, and a 26-foot king-post bridge in Cattaraugus County. Alley Cat is the FLT name (Allegany to Catskills) for our roving band of volunteers doing special projects. The Finger Lakes Trail continues its efforts to reduce “roadwalks” to zero, and 2016 was no different. A 1.5 mile reroute in Tompkins County makes hiking a little more enjoyable through the efforts of trail volunteers and two generous property owners. One of the property owners contributed a recent article published in the FLT News which spoke to the great effect the Finger Lakes Trail has on our region, and he thanked US for all that we do for the trail and its travelers! What a nice turnabout! On other parts of the Finger Lakes Trail system, Alley Cat projects included construction of a new bridge in Chenango County just east of our NCNST part, and the construction of another along our Conservation Trail (also not part of the NCNST), funded and partially built by a local family as a memorial. The construction of another lean-to at the Finger Lakes Museum and Aquarium Center in Branchport was completed with the intention that this off-trail shelter would assist in our promotion of the nearby FLT system at a heavily visited site. In other developments, a portion of one of our most visited branch trails, the Letchworth Trail along the Genesee River, has been closed due to the dismantling of the famous 141 year old Portageville Viaduct iron-trussed railroad bridge (820 feet long, 240 feet high). At the same time, its replacement is being constructed just 75 feet south of the current span which involved rock blasting; hence the trail closure. The Letchworth Trail normally tracks beneath the eastern landing of the bridge which spans Letchworth Gorge. The bridge serves a busy line operated by Norfolk Southern

Railway, and the new bridge is expected to be completed in 2018. The largest number of Finger Lakes Trail End-to-Enders since 2011 completed their journeys in 2016. 28 completed hikes along the entire 570-mile trail, with 4 of those completing the journey as thru-hikers (a record!). Three of those hikers have done it more than once. 9 others completed their Branch Trail journey this year as well, accounting for another 400 miles of trail walking! Great job, End-to-End Hikers! The 2016 edition of the FLT county hike series took place in Cattaraugus County. Led by Marty Ruszaj, the 8-hike series covered 96 miles of Finger Lakes Trail across the stunning hills of the Allegheny Plateau in western New York State. Trail preservation efforts continue, adding one important permanent easement across a large private wooded property that is about to go up for sale. Most significant is that this easement protects our access from a public road to a long stretch of trail in state forest, meaning that this is a very important link. In 2016 FLTC personnel news, Quinn Wright, who held the Interim Executive Director position for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference since 2015, is now the full-time Executive Director as installed by the FLTC Board of Managers in October 2016. Quinn has been with the FLTC for many years and has also served as Treasurer and Director of Crews and Construction. Also, Paul Warrender succeeds Steve Catherman as FLTC’s Vice President of Trail Maintenance. Paul also serves as an FLT Regional Trail Coordinator in the Watkins Glen East Region. He is a former Vice President and Trails Committee Chairman for the Cayuga Trails Club of Ithaca. —Paul Warrender

A long section of trail west of Hornell has been adopted by the N.Y. State Association of Transportation Engineers, a great boon to the FLT since the prior club, which built this section back in the 1960s, had changed composition so much in recent years that they gave up their sponsorship. NYSATE volunteer John McCumiskey atop the new stile built it with Tim Timbrook, after Tim discovered the old one collapsed on top of a hot electric fence. Of course they wanted specifications first, but old hands helped them muddle past that stage.

January-March 2017


State of the Trail Kathy Eisele

Central New York Chapter volunteer crew hard at work repairing and replacing sections of a “floating bridge” in a low-lying, swampy area near Canastota.

Central New York Chapter

NEW YORK - Probably the biggest piece of news to report is our effort in the Optimal Location Review (OLR) process from the areas west of Rome, through the city of Rome, northeast to Clark 2 Hill State Forest and ultimately traversing that State Forest and gaining entrance into Pixley Falls State Park. It would then connect with the Black River Environmental Improvement Association (BREIA)trail heading north to Boonville. The reason for applying this OLR process is because the Congressionally approved route that presently exists includes a roadwalk on a busy highway with sections that have virtually no shoulder and prohibit pedestrian traffic! Instead, a much more optimal route would take hikers through the south side of Rome (using the city’s existing and future trail systems) and would include Fort Stanwix National Monument. It would then continue on to additional trails being developed by the Griffiss Land Development Corporation and would showcase the historic Griffiss Air Force Base. It would then utilize back roads to reach Clark Hill State Forest. This state-owned land is a beautiful forested area of varied terrain and represents the best of what the North Country Trail could offer to hikers. Although ideal in many respects, however, there are a number of challenges for this proposed routing. First is the need to coordinate with multiple entities including Rome city planners, Griffiss Land Development Corporation leadership, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, (DEC) NY Office of Parks Recreation and Historical Preservation, and (of course) both the NPS and the NCTA. We presently have three people working these areas…Mark Wadopian is working with the city of Rome and


The North Star

Griffiss, while Jack Miller and I are working on the routing through CHSF/Pixley Falls and coordinating with state and federal entities. The biggest obstacle that we are still working on is the crossing of Stringer Brook in the Clark Hill SF. This “brook” seasonally floods and has been designated as unsafe during high water periods for a normal foot crossing. Therefore, it would need a bridge to cross safely. Construction of a bridge would be tricky because of both logistics (it is an isolated area of sharply varied terrain) and cost. Discussions are now underway with both the National Park Service and the NYS DEC to decide whether this is a feasible option. One alternative that we are looking at is the potential for getting an adjacent landowner to allow use of his DEC-permitted bridge. This would require some sort of agreement between landowner and the National Park Service, probably involving a permanent easement, so we are looking at various incentives that we could offer this landowner to see if we could bring him on board. Even if we were able to gain access to his bridge for crossing Stringer Brook there remains still the additional obstacle of getting back onto state land as there is another piece of property in between. Several far less desirable options are also being considered, should one of the above solutions not be possible. In summary, re-routing the trail as described above would be a huge step forward over the existing route, both in terms of esthetics and safety, but a final OLR has yet to be determined or approved. A second important item to report for the last year is that we continue to build a productive partnership with the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historical Preservation (OPRHP). This has resulted in a cooperative working relationship and jointly-produced written agreements. It has also led to the reinstatement of trail stewards on most sections of the old Lehigh Valley Railroad (halted after the previous lawsuit against Parks was initiated). We anticipate a continued excellent working relationship with NYS OPRHP. We have also affirmed our long-standing and strong partnership with NYS DEC, having jointly developed a new Volunteer Service Agreement (VSA) with the Lands and Forests Division. We also read with interest that HQ DEC in Albany is looking to expand both access and usage on all its state lands, including Wildlife Management Areas. (WMA) We anticipate the development of a similar VSA with DEC’s Fish and Wildlife Division as they oversee the Tioughnioga WMA where the trail runs. Overall the physical trail is in excellent shape although we determined that in certain areas the blazing is less than ideal. Therefore one of the major projects for the coming year will be a complete inventory of the trail blazing and replacement where necessary. We continue to have regular and successful work-hikes and recreation-hikes. Lastly, promotion of the trail continues to be a challenge but we now have a full-time public relations person in Karen Campbell, who is making a very positive effort to use local media more effectively (both print and digital). Our membership continues to be stable and we are still looking for innovative ideas for reaching out to people, getting more folks to join the chapter, and generally support the trail. —Steve Kinne President, CNY Chapter/NCTA

Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director


CTA is shifting from its antiquated dues-based structure to a donations-based membership system. This move makes NCTA membership simpler, more flexible and more responsive. It’s also greener (less paper and mailing), is already helping us grow, will encourage more of a sense of community among our NCNST family, and is helping us increase and diversify our NCTA “belongers.” We’re excited by the possibilities. Best of all, we’re already well on our way with the transition and hardly anybody’s noticed! This is part of NCTA’s marketing effort designed to broaden and diversify the membership in our Red Plaid Nation. NCTA’s volunteers often bemoan the fact that so many of us are getting older; we’re well aware of the need to bring in younger folks and families, and be more inclusive of the demographics of our northern heartlands. Making membership easy is a critical part of that. And so are efforts like our 2016 Hike 100 Challenge, and in 2017 the “Hike It, Build It, Love It” campaign. We’re reaching out to the over 5000 Hike 100 participants, about 80% of whom have never been involved with the NCNST. Their donation nets them an NCTA membership; November 2016’s membership alone was 22% higher than November 2015. These are new NCTA family members who are feeling that tug to give back to something that is becoming important to them. How cool is that! And it’s because of the Trail! The North Country Trail, where our donors are hiking, or aspiring to hike. The Trail that’s firing their imagination. The Trail as the place where their stories are being made. The Trail that supports a pretty cool community to which they want to belong, and to be like. The common thread is that they donate because they believe in the importance of what NCTA is doing, they want to be seen as part of it, and they want to pay it forward. It’s a trust kind of thing, and we take that very seriously.

NCTA’s efforts are the umbrella that creates the space for chapters, affiliates and partners to build and maintain trail successfully, protect it, tell its collective story and pass it on to future generations. You might have heard National Public Radio’s fund-raising appeal, reminding listeners/donors of that “driveway moment” when what is on your car radio is so compelling you sit in your driveway to finish listening. “What’s that worth to you?” the NPR radio host would ask. We might ask the same here at NCTA, as we shift to the donor-based membership model. What’s it worth to you, to have this national coverage? Chapter funding and support? A quality place to hike and commune with nature, or your family? The connection with other members of the Red Plaid Nation? Being part of a national story with individual meaning and parts for each of us? Anyone can derive deep satisfaction from building a local trail. But the only way to get to call it the North Country National Scenic Trail is to join the Red Plaid Nation. So thank you for your membership donations and your continuing commitment to enabling something that much greater and larger than any of us.

January-March 2017


From Bruce Matthews

It’s all about the Trail--The Trail that our chapters, affiliates and partners are building and maintaining. Which is why, first of all, our NCTA policy is to share NCTA’s membership revenues with NCTA chapters and others, directly though a portion of the donation going into chapter accounts, and indirectly through access to field grants funded by these donations. In effect, the more NCTA’s membership grows, the more revenues are shared with chapters—a rising tide that floats all boats.

What else do these donations support that offer benefits to members and chapters? Here’s a sample list: • Publishing North Star magazine four times a year. • Maintaining maps and GIS data on the entire trail, and making it available to hikers and trail builders. • A cooperative agreement with the National Park Service that further supports, legitimizes, and enables us to sign the trail officially as a National Scenic Trail. • Working to protect the NCNST—even to the point of filing lawsuits against those who do not. • Advocating for the NCNST in the halls of the U.S. Congress, and maintaining relationships with all 38 Congressional offices in the states and districts through which the Trail passes. • Maintaining a national presence as part of the National Trails System community. • Obtaining grants, building corporate relationships and doing fund-raising campaigns. • Managing the financial resources of the entire NCTA, including chapters. Filing tax returns, maintaining a nonprofit status as well as the charitable registrations in all 7 states; managing membership, and managing the business so that chapters can focus on what they enjoy most. • Managing communications efforts such as the NCTA website and chapter website platforms; creating blogs, sustaining a growing social networking community including on Facebook (now at 13,000 “likers” and continuing to grow). • Training volunteers and chapters through workshops, online trainings and videos. • A national marketing effort that drives interest in local chapter participation (Hike It, Build It, Love It).

Jo Taylor

Stuart Lowe

Eric Haugland brought us a rhubarb and peach pie he made for our lunch.

Some of us rode this boat around Lake Itasca to see the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

Itasca Extended Outing By Sharon Galbraith

Itasca State Park Minnesota, September 18-22, 2016


onderful forests, eagles, trumpeter swans and jewel-like lakes awaited the participants in 2016’s North Country Trail Association Extended Outing. The Headwaters of the Mississippi River was one of the special features of the trip. We all saw this historic site from the land and some of us also viewed it from a boat tour of Lake Itasca. Daily hikes wound through forests and along lakes. Our well-informed guides, Bruce Johnson and Eric Haugland, supplied running commentary on the history of Minnesota’s forests and on the specific trees we were seeing. We also enjoyed many wildflowers, among them zigzag goldenrod, harebells, and many asters. Local trail maintainers Carter and Florence Hedeen also assisted with car shuttling, leading hikes and in general backed up Bruce and Eric. We stayed in cabins in Itasca State Park and enjoyed dinners at the main lodge, lunches on the trail, and breakfasts in our own quarters. The last day’s trail lunch was especially memorable as Eric shared a rhubarb peach pie he had made. Meeting and hiking with people from other places was a special part of the outing. Stories to share, laughter, and a general good time make extended outings memorable trips.


The North Star

Welcome Back, Native Swans! After seeing nesting trumpeter swans at Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge during the Celebration, a site southwest of Itasca State Park, I looked them up in one of my bird books. They aren’t even listed in my relatively modern 1980 Peterson Field Guide to Eastern Birds! So I looked them up in the only national book I’ve got, a battered one published in 1966, where trumpeters are listed as only recently coming back from near extinction, and inhabiting only the far west coast, north end! Great to learn of this progress for trumpeters, since hundreds of them were seen by our members this year, and in Minnesota, no less! —Editor

Stuart Lowe

NCTA Announces Fall 2016

Chapter/Affiliate/Partner Honor Award Winners By Lorana Jinkerson, Chair, NCTA Awards Committee

The Fall 2016 NCTA Chapter/Affiliate/Partner (CAP) Honor Awards were selected by each local organization, going to volunteers who demonstrate loyalty, commitment and hard work annually to the local organization’s chosen activities. This year 21 organizations honored the following individuals with an Honor Award. The 2016 CAP Honorees are: Our expert leaders on the Itasca Extended Outing identified trees for us as well as guiding us through the forest.

Mary McDonald

Hikers enjoyed a sighting of Trumpeter swans at Waboose Lake, just one of many lakes we passed on the Itasca outing.

Mary McDonald

Naturally our hikes took us past many lakes in this land of 10,000 of them.



Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

Alicia Hoffarth

Dakota Prairie Chapter

Rennae Gruchalla

Star of the North Chapter

Kim Fishburn

Itasca Moraine Chapter

Jerry Trout, Carter Hedeen

Superior Hiking Trail Chapter

Larry Scanlon

Brule St. Croix Chapter

Rita Oswald

Chequamegon Chapter

Vickie Swank

Ni-Miikanaake Chapter

Morgan Grasso

Peter Wolfe Chapter

Mark Roberts

North Country Trail Hikers Chapter

Shirley LaBonte

Superior Shoreline Chapter

Barb Isom

Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter

Bill Courtois

Jordan Valley 45° Chapter

Mary Campbell

Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter

Dick Parks

Spirit of the Woods Chapter

Merl and Pat Schlaack

Western Michigan Chapter

Jim Bradley

Chief Noonday Chapter

Cal and Jean Lamoreaux

Chief Baw Beese Chapter

Chuck Hoard

Wampum Chapter

Dorothy Buquo

Allegheny National Forest Chapter

Bill Belikskus

Finger Lakes Trail Conference

Marty and Donna Ruszaj

January-March 2017


Poison Plant... What Does that Mean? Story and pictures by Joan Young


omeone says to you, “That plant is poisonous.” If you are in the presence of the actual plant you might think to ask “Should I not touch it?” Might you respond, “I don’t plan to eat it?” If you are only having a discussion or looking at pictures, you might neither respond at all nor ask for more information. This leads us collectively to a fuzzy body of semi-knowledge that labels hundreds of plants as off-limits with no clear understanding of why we leave them alone. The human body produces a number of different types of reactions to plants under the umbrella label of “poisonous.” In addition, a plant may not cause an adverse reaction when touched, but ingestion would cause physical distress or harm. The situation is further confused when some parts of a plant have beneficial uses while other parts are detrimental. Consider rhubarb (Rheum rhabarbarum), also known as the pie plant. Its stalks can be used to make wonderful desserts, while the leaves contain oxalic acid and can cause severe gastric distress and possible kidney failure. You might then conclude that oxalic acid is poisonous. In high enough quantities it is. But many plants we commonly eat contain lower concentrations of the natural chemical. Examples include spinach, almonds, chocolate and bananas. Apple seeds are “poisonous” in large enough quantities as they contain a chemical similar to cyanide. It’s why your mom may have said, “Don’t eat the core,” even if she didn’t know exactly why. There are a number of categories of adverse physical reactions to plants: skin reactions with contact, gastric reactions, cardiac effects, neurotoxicity and “other.” Increasing your knowledge of particular plants and their “faults” will keep you safer in the woods and on the trail. All specific plant examples given here can be found in North Country Trail states. Plants may cause contact dermatitis. Common examples are poison ivy (Toxicodendron radicans) and poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix). People with sensitive skin also react to the oils and/or sap of a number of other plants that don’t bother the majority of the population. Touching such plants causes reactions ranging from mild itchiness, redness and swelling to blistering and oozing pustules with generalized pain. Phytophotodermatitis is slightly different. This type of skin reaction is produced when the plant juices remain on the skin and are then exposed to sunlight. A plant menace much in the news in recent years is giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum). Severe blistering resulting in skin damage and permanent scarring can result from contact with this plant in the presence of sun. Wild parsnip sap (Pastinaca sativa) also causes phytophotodermatitis.


The North Star

Tatarian honeysuckle grows as a woody shrub and has pink or white flowers in May

Common nightshade is a vine with purple flowers and red berries. It is often considered as poisonous as many of its relatives, but most people would get only an upset stomach from eating these.

At least in North America we have no trees such as one encountered by a friend of the author on an eco-tour in South America. He reached out to lean against a jungle tree when the guide quickly stopped him, explaining that to touch the tree was to die. Gastric distress not leading to serious complications is a tough one to define. Easiest translation is that you will get a stomach ache with no long-term effects. But whatever causes the stomach ache might produce a more severe reaction in some people than in others. Common nightshade (Solanum dulcmara), often called deadly nightshade or bittersweet (which demonstrates the further difficulties of using common names), usually causes only a stomach ache if ingested. Many other plants in the Solanaceae family are fatally poisonous such as true deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) and jimsonweed (Datura stramonium).

Honeysuckle berries range from red to yellow and always appear as if two berries are stuck together.

I am 85% sure this is cow parsnip Heracleum maculatum. Field identification of the two can be difficult when they are not side by side, or fully grown, in which case the giant hogweed at 7 to 14 feet tall would become more obvious. The leaves on this pictured example were over a foot wide and about 18” long. So is it a normal H. maculatum or a small H. mantegazzianum?

Books about edible plants may list certain plants or mushrooms as inedible. This may not be the same as poisonous, but can simply mean there is no particular nutritional benefit or interesting taste. Tatarian honeysuckle (Lonicera tatarica) is an example. The red, yellow or orange berries won’t hurt you a bit, but they just don’t taste good. Many needless calls are made to poison control centers each year when children eat these harmless but somewhat foultasting fruits. Buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica) does not come by its scientific name without reason. Eating these visually appealing black berries will give you some serious diarrhea, but with no permanent adverse effects.

Many plants which are considered poisonous have also been used throughout history for medicinal purposes. The question is one of dosage. Various types of physical reactions occur in the body. Some plants contain sedatives which slow the heart rate or even cause cardiac arrest. Doll’s eyes, white baneberry (Actaea pachypoda) is an example. Foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), featured in an earlier edition of this column, causes an irregular heartbeat. Neurotoxins block the transmission of impulses along nerves. Plants which contain high levels of such chemicals are the most deadly. Ones which can be found in the northeastern United States include poison hemlock (Conium maculata) and monkshood (Aconitum uncinatum). Some plants cause kidney damage when ingested. Oxalic acid, as mentioned above, is often the culprit. Many mushrooms cause irreversible liver damage if eaten. There may be no immediate effect, but over time the toxins dissolve a person’s liver, resulting in death. Be extremely careful when identifying edible mushrooms and fungi. Additionally, each human may respond with different levels of severity. Some people can handle poison ivy with no adverse effects, while a few people are so allergic that death results. Do not assume that a bad taste is indicative of toxicity. Sampling a plant to determine if it is edible is a good way to get into real trouble. The idea that ingesting a small amount of a poisonous plant would only result a stomach ache, and then one would know not to eat enough to do real harm is a dangerous fallacy. Dosage might be proportional to gastric distress with some plants, but certainly not with neurotoxins. Getting accurate information about plant toxicity is difficult. The internet is a tangle of misinformation, and sites continually quote other wrong “authorities;” even medical sites may not be trustworthy. Scientific journal articles on specific plants can be expensive to read, sometimes costing over $20 apiece. Books dealing with this specific topic are limited and also expensive. The North American Guide to Common Poisonous Plants and Mushrooms, by Nancy J. Turner, is possibly within some budgets at about $25. The best guide, Toxic Plants of North America, by George E. Burrows, is considered the definitive work, but retails for over $300. The purpose of this article is not to scare people out of the woods or keep them from smelling the non-roses. It is hoped that this information would increase the desire of hikers to become more informed concerning the types of greenery encountered along the trail. Armed with knowledge about even some plants, a hiker can decide when it’s OK to forge ahead through the brush. In any event, wash thoroughly if you’ve contacted unknown plant sap, keep your hands out of your mouth, and don’t eat anything which you aren’t certain about!

January-March 2017


Hike 100 Challenge 2016 – What a Celebration! Janeen Wardie

Janeen Wardie

One of the heart-shaped objects Janeen began to find on the Trail.

That inspiring ray of sunlight that lifted Janeen’s spirits.

By Amelia Rhodes


e’ve closed the year on one of our most exciting ventures. Over 5,000 individuals joined the Hike 100 Challenge to celebrate the National Park Service’s Centennial Anniversary. Across our seven states, participants hit the Trail in hopes of earning the coveted patch. Nearly 1,800 hikers succeeded, hailing from 28 states plus Canada, so over 3000 others made at least a valiant stab at walking our Trail. That is a spectacular result of this program; in fact, the North Country National Scenic Trail was awarded a Centennial Plaque by the Midwest Region of the National Park Service for the outreach that lured so many onto the Trail. Congratulations to each of you, whether you hiked a few miles, or you reached your goal. 2016 was a year of celebration, and we’re so glad you joined us. Along the way, our participants shared amazing stories of what happened on the Trail, the Trail you work so hard to build, protect, and maintain. Over and over we heard “thank you” for your efforts. Your work is enabling thousands of people to re-connect with their families, experience emotional and physical healing, and walk their way to better health. Here are a few highlights from finishers’ stories: After completing the Hike 100 Challenge with her friend Ellen Whitehead, Janeen Wardie shared her powerful and healing experiences on the Trail during the year. "This has been 100 miles of ‘healing’ for me. I lost my son, Zechariah, to suicide a year ago on September 29th. My first hike after his passing was in the Jordan River Valley. On that hike a beautiful ray of light came through the trees and surrounded me while I was kneeling next to the river. My trail sister was with me and experienced this special moment also. I believe that ray of light was my son telling me he was OK now. That spot will always be special to me!! Hiking has become very therapeutic for me and it is where I feel my son closest to me. He walked beside me every mile of this challenge!" Janeen returned to that special spot in the Jordan River Valley, near the Landslide Overlook, to complete her Hike 100 Challenge. Throughout her journey, she noticed hearts all along the Trail and took them as a sign of comfort. She hopes all who are on a grief journey will be encouraged by her story and find comfort and healing in nature and out on the Trail. 36

The North Star

K.D. and TJ Norris during their hike of Kent County, Michigan, pause beside an urban blaze.

As NCTA newcomers, K.D. and TJ Norris decided to hike their entire county of Kent County, Michigan. “And hike every mile of it we did,” K.D. shared. “Some sections twice, as often logistics required out-and-back hikes. The ending total on the border-toborder hike was 112.5 total miles.” The duo plans to continue their trek with the 2017 Challenge. “We plan to strike north of Kent County as part of this year’s NCT miles,” K.D. said. You can read their full adventure on our website at Other hikers were inspired to take on bigger challenges as well. Greg and Cathy Brock decided that hiking would be their method to get healthier in 2016. They discovered the NCT nearby and joined the Hike 100 Challenge. They hiked at the Birch River Schoolhouse Loop in Michigan in April and the Shawnee State Forest in Ohio in May. Then the couple signed up for the Celebration in Fargo in September and their challenge turned into a quest to hike in all 7 states. “We made a vacation out of the trip and took our time coming home by way of the Upper Peninsula. But first we had to stop and walk across the Montreal River that borders Wisconsin and Michigan. You see, after hiking in Michigan, Ohio, North Dakota, and Minnesota, it only seemed logical to hike in Wisconsin since we were already there. Then we could make a vacation out of going to the Pennsylvania/New York border; that way we would have hiked in all the states of the NCT,” Greg shared. The couple took a trip to Bradford, Penna., and hiked the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania and the Allegany State Park in New York to complete their 7-states quest. Read their full story at: And then there’s Jim and Nancy Dornbush, who settled on a long-term big goal. Continued on page 38

Vickie Swank

Building the New Mellen Raised Boardwalk By Marty Swank


Small part of crew decking part of the new boardwalk. Left to right: Mary Stenberg, Mike Trieschmann, Cheryl Trieschmann and Dick Kroener. Cordless drills were the tool of the day.

Vickie Swank

The highway end of the boardwalk is finished with a ramp. The City of Mellen Hike & Bike Trail is on the other side of the highway across from this end of the boardwalk.

Vickie Swank

he Brule-St. Croix Roving Crew and Chequamegon Chapter Volunteers built a new 375 feet of raised boardwalk during the week of October 3rd through the 7th to replace an old boardwalk that had taken on a “sideshow” appearance and ran along highway 169 in Mellen, Wisconsin. The new boardwalk was built on higher ground further away from the highway. The resulting trail re-route was made possible by a recent cooperative NPS/DNR purchase of land leading to Copper Falls State Park. Reaching the point of actually building the boardwalk is a story of its own that involved a 10 year process that was almost derailed this year. A number of problems have plagued the process, one of them because this boardwalk is situated in wetlands. A 2013 “Proposal to Reroute Trail between Mellen and Copper Falls State Park” by Bill Menke, Regional Trail Coordinator for Wisconsin, would actually start the ball moving in a positive direction. Approvals would finally surface last year and if we could find funding, the new boardwalk would become reality! Bill managed to apply successfully for one grant for partial funding but other grants for the remainder of the funding were not successful. We were dead in the water. Enter dedicated Chapter Member Mike Trieschmann with funding from his family foundation to help make up the difference. The caveat would be that in order to meet the funding needed, we would have to re-purpose some of the lumber from the original boardwalk. On Friday, July 8th and Saturday, July 9th, 2016, Chequamegon Chapter Volunteers tore down the old boardwalk that had become an embarrassment to the City of Mellen. Nails were carefully removed from lumber planned for reuse (a time consuming effort) and the lumber was stacked in neat piles at two locations. We were proud of our accomplishment! On Monday, July 11th and Tuesday, July 12th thirteen inches of rain fell with resulting flash flooding. This extensive flooding closed major highways and did damage to a large number of secondary roads. The Bad River was not an exception, and a lot of our stacked lumber floated away along with our hopes of building the new boardwalk this year. We would eventually find some of the lumber out in a field but not enough to meet the budget for the project. Mike Trieschmann would step up to the plate again and pledge more money for the new boardwalk along with Chapter Member/ Volunteer Mel Baughman. The NCTA offered possible backup funding if needed. We were back in business again! On Saturday, October 22nd Chequamegon Chapter Volunteers would finish the boardwalk by completing railings, railing supports, upright cross bracing and a field end earthen ramp. A bridge was built on Tuesday, November 1st at the opposite end of the field by the Roving Crew and Chequamegon Chapter Volunteers on the new NCT heading to Copper Falls State Park. We will still need to smooth out this new NCT between the end of the Boardwalk and the new bridge next year. Building 375 feet of raised boardwalk is a feat in itself. Overcoming the obstacles to actually make this happen was an epic saga. We did it! …Continued on page 38

Finished decking on curve near Highway 169.

January-March 2017


Building the New Mellen Raised Boardwalk …continued from page 37 Vickie Swank

Mary Stenberg carries some re-purposed sticks of lumber to the pile on one end. The need to replace the old Mellen boardwalk is evident in this picture.

North Star Submission Guidelines Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please do not embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. 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. 36, No. 2 is March 25, 2017. Remember that 900 words equal approximately one page of dense text, so very few articles should exceed 1800 words in this size of magazine. Thank you! —Your editor, Irene (585) 658-4321)


The North Star

Hike 100…continued from page 36 Jim shared, “My wife and I first took note of the NCT when we were on a short 2-mile hike on part of the Trail for geocaching this summer. After a few weeks of discussing and researching the NCT we decided to start hiking segments of it with a 20-year goal of completing all of it (hopefully before we are 70). We started the ‘official’ work on our end-to-end hike in late August, starting at the NCTA headquarters, buying some maps, and then hiking north to Fallasburg Park. Over the next weeks we vacationed up north and completed a county (Antrim), joined a group hike, and continued sections north of Lowell. It was surprising to notice how we were acclimating to the hiking as the miles built up.” Jim and Nancy finished their Hike 100 Challenge at the Rogue River State Game Area at Long Lake Park. “We’re looking forward to putting our first achievement badge onto our hiking packs - just over 2% of the Trail done for us,” Jim said. We’ve heard countless stories, too many to share here. We’ve shared many of them on our Instagram account. Visit www. and click on the pictures to read the stories. We’ve also made a fun video using over a thousand pictures that the Hike 100 finishers submitted. View the fun video at: So what’s next?

Hike 100 and Build It Challenges for 2017

We’re excited to announce that we will be repeating the Hike 100 Challenge in 2017 with a brand new patch! We’re also adding a twist: an optional Build It Challenge that, if completed, will enter you in a special grand prize drawing at the end of the year. For details on the Build It Challenge, and to sign up for the 2017 Hike 100 Challenge, visit hike100challenge. We look forward to hearing your stories! Be sure to share on social media using #hike100NCT and #BuildtheNCT.

Ham Radio Contacts Help Celebrate National Parks’ Birthday By John Forslin KC8ULE

Congratulations to us all on making the North Country National Scenic Trail (aka National Park site “TR04”) the MOST ACTIVATED OF ANY of the 489 NPS sites during the just-concluded National Parks on the Air (NPOTA) adventure. Activation consists of making contact with ham radio operators anywhere in the world, while making the point that the person on “our” end is at a National Park site, in our case the Trail. For a list and activation statistics, see The world may little note nor long remember this, but we who had a hand are not likely to forget. Great fun, huge participation and comment after comment on the overall event how so many hams experienced and learned so much about so many Parks entities that they would never have done otherwise. Note: John wishes us to print a correction to his radio article on page 15 of the July-September issue of the magazine in 2016: there is a picture of a young woman mistakenly identified as Diane, N3WJN who is actually Laura Steinberger, WZ8C.

Ghost Hike

Story and pictures by Mike Goroski

Standing at the antique NCT trail head sign, front row, left to right: Donna Teegarden, Dezaray Varland, Jodi Swanson, Ginny Newman. Back row, left to right: Cory Enger, Jerry Warner, Steve Trangsrud, Berlin Nelson, Bill Newman, Tom Moberg, Gail Rogne. (not pictured: Mike Goroski)

The Dakota Prairie Chapter hosted an October 2016 hike in the Sheyenne National Grassland section of the NCT, in the southeast corner of North Dakota. It was aptly named the Ghost Trail Hike and was planned by Jodi Swanson and Cory Enger. The hike took place on what was possibly the best Saturday of October. With a mild fall temperature on a sunny day and a light breeze fifteen of us made our way through the prairie grass carpeted sandy hills of North Dakota. This section of the NCT was abandoned years ago following a reroute; hence, the name “Ghost Trail.” With maps in hand Cory was able to retrace the route, leading us on a 10 mile séance for the lost soul of our beloved trail. The trail in this section was rerouted in 2003-2006 in favor of higher ground to avoid frequent wet spots during wet years that made hiking difficult. One hears of areas that were under water for the whole season. The “trail” was a series of posts to follow. There was no improved tread to walk on like there is today on the reroute. We discovered posts indicating the locations of homesteads, the pond where folks gathered to swim and cool themselves from the summer heat, and cattle grazing off the prairie grassland. Along the way we found the “tomb stones” of the trail, wooden trail posts that demarked the old trail, many of which had succumbed to the forces of nature. Nails, plastic, and paint remained as evidence to the posts’ purpose. These posts are now covered with lichen and prairie grasses to be reclaimed by the earth. Our greatest find was the NCT sign at the north border of the Grassland. It, too, bears witness to the years of neglect and weathering. While we didn’t conjure any Halloween ghosts on the trail we did pay our respects to the efforts of those who came before us to construct a trail for all to enjoy. So here’s to this section of the North Country Trail, abandoned, but not forgotten.

January-March 2017


Interlochen Arts Academy

Interlochen Arts Academy

The Trail and the Arts Chris Loudenslager

By Chris Loudenslager, National Park Service Trail Planner



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Interlochen Comparative Arts students hiking the NCT.

Interlochen Arts Academy

uring the 2016-17 school year, the Interlochen Arts Academy Comparative Arts Studio will be collaborating with the National Park Service and North Country Trail Association to explore the natural artistry of the North Country National Scenic Trail in northern Michigan. “This is an exciting part of our Comparative Arts program,” says Nicola Conraths-Lange, Director of Comparative Arts for Interlochen Arts Academy, “where we combine several of our fine arts disciplines to examine a central theme. With the North Country Trail in Michigan in our own back yard, it is an excellent way for our local students, and especially our daystudents (those local students who live off campus) to feel a connection to the project.” “Each year we try to create an overarching theme in which arts, academics and outside organizations are effectively integrated into a collaborative curriculum,” continues ConrathsLange. “This year’s theme of ‘Pilgrimage’ will be an actual quest, a journey to help students find their artistic voices. By integrating both academic and artistic viewpoints, we hope to create conversations and spark ideas about big, global concerns through scientific, humanistic and artistic lenses.” Following a long list of artistic pilgrims and naturalists such as John Muir and Ansel Adams, Interlochen students, artistic and academic faculty, guest artists and alumni will use artistic workshops and scientific experiments to examine the trail in three capacities: Identity, to understand the artist and the muse as an artistic medium; Essence, studying the broader context of the trail in a liberal arts and scientific context; and Outreach, wherein students will play the role of global visionaries. Dr. Mary Ellen Newport, Director of Math and Science at Interlochen Center of the Arts, is leading the expeditions and developing projects for upcoming Earth Day celebrations in April. Poet Jennifer Steinorth has guided the group through writing exercises on the trail and beyond, navigating the concept of “body as pilgrimage.” Ilya Vidrin, a neuroscientist, musician and dancer, created movement sequences that were inspired by concepts of deep listening, reciprocity and improvisation. Lott, and indie composer Son Lux, will also lead a collaborative project culminating during Interlochen’s Composers Forum in April of 2017. On December 1st, the Comparative Arts students shared their first artistic response by producing North! For the sake of art,

or something. The performance was well attended and included nearly a dozen North Country Trail Association volunteers representing the Spirit of the Woods, Grand Traverse Hiking Club, and Jordan Valley 45º chapters, as well as Michigan’s NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator and the NPS Trail Planner. The pilgrimage-inspired performance, which emerged from a September camping trip and hike along the North Country Trail, used storytelling and the visual arts to interpret the thoughts, emotions, and perceived symbolism of what the students experienced during their outing. Rather than a depiction of the Trail in and of itself, the audience was presented with a variety of themes and topics that the students’ experience evoked, to include personal relationships, hardships and challenges, comfort and security, and working cooperatively with others to overcome challenges.

The nonprofit Interlochen Center for the Arts is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and the only organization in the world that brings together a 2,500-student summer camp program, a 500-student fine arts boarding high school, opportunities for hundreds of adults to engage in fulfilling artistic and creative programs, two 24-hour listener-supported public radio stations (classical music and news), more than 600 arts presentations annually by students, faculty and world-renowned guest artists, a global alumni base spanning eight decades, including leaders in the arts and all other endeavors. For information, visit online at www.

Mark VanHornweder

Mark grew up in South Range, Wisconsin, which is a rural area south of the Twin Ports of Superior, Wisc., and Duluth, Minn. A graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth, he spends his professional life as a CPA and assurance manager with RSM US LLP. Mark became a member of the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew in 2004 and is the current president of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter. Mark has a long volunteer history with the Superior Hiking Trail Association, including as a trail designer for the Duluth to Two Harbors section and as the current section maintenance leader for the Ely’s Peak section, and has volunteered with the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Mobile Skills Crew. Mark also serves as the current president of the Friends of Amnicon and Pattison State Parks and is actively engaged in several land conservation efforts within the surrounding Lake Superior watershed. Mark’s volunteer visions and interests include increasing youth, family, young adult, and young professional trail usage, promoting citizen science and other conservation efforts, maintaining a system-wide focus in which the North Country Trail System as a whole is greater than its Chapter parts, and devoting time to any activities that support the National Trails System. Mark, his wife Rachel, and their son Jasper reside in South Range, where they are within an hour’s drive of 200 miles of completed NCT/SHT.

Mary Ellen Polak

About Interlochen Center for the Arts

Welcome, New NCTA Board Members! Rachel VanHornweder

While references to the NCT were mostly subtle and symbolic during the performance, the students’ new connection to and appreciation of the Trail were clearly articulated during the post-performance question and answer session. When asked to describe the meaning or inspiration for certain aspects of the performance, the students’ responses were infallibly preceded by the phrase, “…when we were hiking the North Country Trail,” “…while we were out on the North Country Trail,” and so on. The NCT has become a part of who they are, and this project has provided memories and experiences that these students will carry with them and will influence their art, perspectives, and lives from this point forward.

Josh Berlo

The NCT is an incredible piece of our country. As an avid and accomplished hiker, I am excited and interested in growing the NCT both in the quality of the trail itself as well as the awareness and recognition of it. Personally, I have been a long time board member of the Jordan Valley 45º Chapter of the NCT, tend their website, and got involved after hiking the Jordan River Pathway. Hiking has always been a big part of my life. Some of my fondest memories are from the peaks, woods and boardwalks with family, friends and our Alaskan Husky Skip. I have had the pleasure of hiking all over the country including all 48 peaks above 4,000 feet in the state of New Hampshire as well as almost 400 miles (some many times over) of the NCT to name a few. It is an honor to support the trail, its mission and great benefits to all who use it. Josh Berlo Director of Intercollegiate Athletics University of Minnesota Duluth Mary Ellen Polak took the photo from the summit of Mt. Lincoln, elevation 5,089, on the Franconia Range of New Hampshire.

January-March 2017


Hiking Shorts Sara Cockrell

LOWER MICHIGAN - We just enjoyed Grand Traverse Hiking Club’s Annual Muncie Lakes Holiday Celebration, XC ski, hike or snowshoe in the woods with 40+ friends, then dinner together at Peegeo’s. Mike Schaeffer, who started this event 20 years ago, wasn’t able to attend this year, but generously cleared the trail of five downed trees, along with Debby Page, earlier in the week. And, we had two more closing in on their Hike 100 Challenge, Cyndi and Terry Dickey, who snowshoed out and back on the NCT for another 5+ miles! —Sara Cockrell

PENNSYLVANIA - VFW Post 1835 in Franklin, Penna., was the prime sponsor of the Tour de Clarion, donating $1500 to cover the cost of the long sleeve shirts awarded to more than 100 participants who completed the Tour de Clarion, a series of monthly hikes in 2016 encompassing the entire 93 miles of the Clarion Chapter. The first hike beginning in Parker in January had 152 hikers, and had the most participants, while in February, with wind chills below zero, there were 32 hikers, the lowest turnout. Throughout the year there Jim Wray, the were 412 hikers who took part, causing a bit of Commander of VFW a nightmare in terms of shuttling. As a result Post 1835 and Ed local volunteers shuttled hikers to the start of Scurry on the right. each hike, letting the hikers walk back to their vehicles. Most of the hikers survived, though we did have a few get lost in August. After several hours of searching the wayward gadabouts were located, only to find that the driver misplaced her car keys. Ninety-seven people finished the whole series. Most of the hikes were from six to eight miles with the longest at eleven miles. A tureen luncheon was held on December 11 to award the t-shirts and plan for 2017. —Ed Scurry

By Richard Naperala, Trail Coordinator, Grand Traverse Hiking Club


ast spring the Grand Traverse Hiking Club had an opportunity to assist a Boy Scout with his Eagle Scout project. Club member Jerry Marek designed a trail project for 17 year old Austin Coggin. Austin built four trail boxes, two benches, rerouted a small section of trail, and cleared an area for a camp site. The club members were very pleased and grateful for Austin’s work, which earned him Eagle status this fall. The GTHC was also delighted with the information we received from the register boxes. The four boxes were placed on the NCT from June 20th to October 31st. The purpose was to discover who is using the trail and where people are coming from. The first box was placed on the southwest end of our 100 mile NCT section near Northern Exposure Campground in Wexford County. Eighty-eight people completed the surveys that were in the trail boxes. Forty-seven people were backpackers, 37 were day hikers, 2 were bikers and 2 were runners. Eighty percent of the trail users were from Michigan and 20 percent were from out of state. The second box was placed on the Fife Lake/NCT Loop Trail midway between the two state forest campgrounds. The information gathered from the recorder boxes indicates that this area is becoming a popular destination for backpackers. There were 198 entries. Of these, 150 were backpackers, 37 day hikers, 7 bikers and 4 runners. Ninety percent of the people were from Michigan. The third box was located in the Valley of the Giants along 22 Creek in Grand Traverse County. This is a very popular spot with local day hikers because of the recent newspaper and magazine articles highlighting the natural beauty of the area. The data from


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the record box supports this assertion with 98 day hikers, 19 backpackers, 2 bikers and 3 runners. Eighty percent of the people using this section of the NCT lived within 25 miles of Traverse City. The fourth recorder New info box built by Austin box was placed along the Coggin for his Eagle project. NCT near Guernsey Lake State Forest Campground in Kalkaska County. Most of the people using this section of trail were day hikers (36), probably from the nearby campground. They were followed by backpackers (12) and bikers (12). Most all of the trail users were from Michigan, and 50% were within a 25 mile radius of the location. In summary, we can conclude that 92% of the users are from Michigan and out of the 92%, 43% are locals living within 25 miles of the trail. Another result from the collected data shows that different sections of the NCT are more popular with particular users. For example, the Fife Lake/NCT Loop and the area along the Manistee River are becoming very popular with backpackers while the pathway in the “Valley of the Giants” is commonly used by day hikers. Furthermore, the NCT in Kalkaska County is heavily used by bikers. The other remarkable result from the collected data is that so many trail users commented positively about the trail. People are definitely using the trail and are enjoying the experience.

Jerry Marek

Information from North Country Trail Register Boxes

Bernice Wray

Grand Traverse Hiking Club

Tour De Clarion

Hiking Shorts Bill Massa

Early group of 100 mile completers. Left to Right: Chris Janovich, Ben Hrycik, Pete Burke, Eli Zabielski, Kimberly Hrycik. There is a yellow Finger Lakes Trail trailhead sign on this bulletin board at Penna. 346 because this spot, a mile south of the N.Y. border, is the real beginning of the FLT.

The A-100 Hiking Challenge

PENNSYLVANIA - The Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association will hold the eighth annual Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge (A-100) on June 9th - 11th, 2017. Come join us for this adventure through the beautiful scenery of the Allegheny National Forest. The A-100 is an endurance challenge met through unsupported hiking. It is not a race, but an individual challenge of stamina, determination, and resilience. As an unsupported hike, there are no first aid or water stations. Hikers are responsible for supplying their own food, drinks and equipment. Participants must recognize that cell phone reception is very spotty along the length of the trail. The adventure covers a 100-mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Allegheny National Forest. Hikers will climb over rolling hills and pass through many beautiful stream valleys. The A-100 challenges hikers to traverse 100 miles, 75 miles, 50 miles or 25 miles in a fifty hour time period. This challenge is for anyone, regardless of skill level, who wants to test him or herself against the trail. Everyone needs to “hike their own hike,” moving at their own pace and resting when necessary. For the 2017 challenge, hikers will travel north to south, from the Rt 346 trailhead, near Willow Bay to the Rt 66 trailhead, between Marienville and Vowinckel. Those who pre-register will receive a membership in the North Country Trail Association, shuttle service to the start of the hike and a T-shirt. Pre-registration begins on Monday, March 6 and continues to May 12, or when 150 hikers have signed up. Cost is $55 for non-members and $32 for members. In 2016, a record number of 100 milers, 25, completed their challenge. Perfect weather was a big factor. Four hikers completed 75 miles. Fiftytwo hikers reached 50 miles, and another 19 completed at least 25 miles. Many met their personal challenge and many more vowed to be back next year to attempt to achieve their goals after learning so much out on the trail. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of the Allegheny National Forest, the friendships formed on the trail and the hospitality of the area. For more information or to register, visit the NCTA website at https://, the ANF Chapter Facebook page ANFChapterNCT/ or email

Glacial Edge Chapter Name Change MINNESOTA - The Board of Directors of the North Country Trail Association approved a name change for the previously known Glacial Edge Chapter to Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter. The chapter made the request recently to better identify with the varied geography in Otter Tail and Wilkin Counties.


The reason for this is three-fold, as the Chapter explained: • First, to avoid a point of confusion. The City of Fergus Falls is in the process of developing a multi-use, paved trail titled the “Glacial Edge Trail.” This is part of a city councilman’s vision to have a “Trails Nexus” in Fergus Falls, which will link the “Central Lakes” paved state multiuse trail, the “Otter Tail River” water trail, the “North Country Trail,” and the proposed “Glacial Edge Trail.” This would then be used to promote the city as a trails destination. This has generated a certain amount of media coverage, which is being confused with our chapter’s new North Country Trail segment, and the effort of our Glacial Edge Chapter. • The second is financial. The city’s “Glacial Edge Trail” is a governance driven project, subject to bureaucratic involvement, large budgets, public funding, and ability to access significant grant funds. A feasibility study alone is budgeted for $30,000.00. In contrast, we are thrilled to have Lake Region Healthcare Foundation award a grant for $3500.00. This is in contrast to the NCTA, which is a “grassroots,” volunteer driven, minimally budgeted association. We feel that we are at a significant disadvantage from a funding and fund-raising position. If we approach a group for assistance with trail adoption, or financial assistance, we stand to be confused with the “Glacial Edge Trail.” I personally have been congratulated on the $5,000,000.00 to $6,000,000 expected. Ha! • And lastly, our local chapter stands to lose its identity to the “Glacial Edge Trail.” Though we (chapter members) all know we are building a National Scenic Trail, locally we stand to be confused and thus overshadowed by the efforts of the city, the state, and a local bicycle advocacy group in our local media coverage. —Allan Schroden Minnesota Waters & Prairie (MWP) Chapter President

January-March 2017


National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT Looking Forward To 2017!


n hopes that 2016 was an eventful year for you, I wish you even greater successes in 2017! Here is a brief rundown of what NPS hopes to accomplish this year. Some of it is purely bureaucratic but we won’t bore you with those things here! We’ll focus on the things that are tangible and important to all of us: NPS, NCTA, our volunteers, affiliate trail organizations, and public and private partners. The operative word is “Relationships.” Memoranda Of Understanding. These documents set the stage for how NPS and NCTA communicate with each state or set of agencies within each state. It may seem like a simple thing, but we all operate under separate laws and policies, which at times may conflict with each other. Then, layer upon that our human nature to make a mistake or a poor decision from time to time, and you can see how having a written framework of how we are going to operate to manage the Trail best is a real necessity! We have three MOU’s on the books: an updated MOU with the Forest Service, the recently signed New York MOU, and the long standing Michigan MOU. This year we will be updating the Michigan MOU in light of the Iron Belle Trail and the state’s enhanced support for the NCT. In addition, the North Dakota MOU lacks signatures from a few state agencies. This year we will work to complete this one. Then we will start the conversations with one or two other states, to be determined. Tribal Nations. This past summer we invited our regional Tribal liaison to visit. He provided Bureau of Indian Affairs tribal data layers which we overlaid upon our NCTA Trail maps. The result: we cross SEVEN Tribal Nation Boundaries! (Not to mention thirty-something areas of tribal interests.) It is imperative we develop a solid relationship with each Nation and respect their laws, policies and regulations. I have made contact with one nation this past year and will be working with the local chapter to ensure that the Tribe is aware and supportive of our efforts to plan, design, build and maintain the trail. Please bear with me as I make contact with the other six. If you have had any communication with any Tribes, please give me a call. NPS Assistance To The Field. Thanks to NCTA’s Andrea Ketchmark and the NCTA Regional Trail Coordinators, we are working to identify in-the-field planning, design, construction and maintenance needs of the states and the chapters or affiliates. Most of the initial inventories have been done, helping to identify what work is highest priority within each chapter or affiliate and identifying where NPS or NCTA can help. One area where this process has been valuable is in identifying the most important areas to plan trail route (aka Optimal Location Review). We have identified highest priority OLR areas and NPS Trail Planner Chris Loudenslager is taking the lead, assisting chapters on this.


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Certification. Keeping an accurate inventory of completed trail is also on our agenda this year. The Certification process is our way to identify which trail segments are reasonably permanent and in place for the long term. This data is incredibly important when we report to Washington on the progress of the Trail. They have great interest in knowing “how much of it is done” and “how much more we have to go.” Certification is one way to measure the Trail’s success. Luke is reviewing the certification status of all trail segments and will be reviewing all outstanding Certification requests. Plans are to complete this work in at least two states this year. Utilities And Cell Towers: It is imperative that we review each proposal and offer our comments or concerns regarding impact upon the Trail. Not only are we now on more and more Utility and Tower company “radar screens,” they are being built with increasing frequency. Chris, as the NPS’ sole respondent, is concurrently doing an excellent job and is overwhelmed. If you learn of any activities in your chapter or affiliate area, please give Chris a heads-up. Diversity And Outreach. The successful Picture THIS!! program in Battle Creek (HUGE thanks to the folks at the Chief Noonday Chapter for all their hard work) is budgeted once again. Ben Giese, Park Ranger extraordinaire, will again take the reins and help the chapter pull off another successful program getting kids out on the trail, getting them a little healthier and a little smarter about nature. Ben is working on a diversity and outreach strategy for the entire trail as well, so if any chapters or affiliates are interested in building upon the success of Picture THIS in Battle Creek, give us a call! Best wishes to you all. Enjoy the snow! Congratulations to all of us, NPS, NCTA, and in particular, Chief Noonday Chapter, and the American Radio Relay League for noteworthy recognitions recently received in 2016. Two BIG accomplishments: National Parks on the Air, coordinated by the American Radio Relay League, records North Country National Scenic Trail has having the most NPS Centennial activations in 2016. (Activations are places where ham radio “stations” are set up along the Trail). 489 NPS units, trails and other sites participated, with NCT finishing in first place with 443 activations, followed by Trail of Tears NHT with 399 and Appalachian Trail with 392. Congrats to all our radio partners who braved mosquitoes, flies, rain, snow and curious land managers! North Country Trail was the recipient of the fourth quarter NPS Midwest Region Centennial Award, recognizing the outstanding efforts supporting the centennial goal to “connect with and create the next generation of park visitors, supporters, and advocates.” NPS and NCTA programs jointly contributed to this honor through the Picture THIS program in Battle Creek (millions of thanks to Chief Noonday Chapter folks, and NPS’er Ben Giese!), Boy Scout and Girl Scout outreach (thanks, Alison!), and The Hike 100 Challenge (thanks, Amelia!)…and everyone else involved, many thanks!!

Carolyn Peltonen

The North Country Trail, End-To-End By Shane Peltonen from Ashland, Wisconsin


Carolyn Peltonen

he North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) is long…very, very long. With this length comes the need for a large number of volunteers out on the trail putting in countless hours of work. These individuals allow people like me to get out and do what I did. So, first and foremost, a big Thank You to everyone involved with the NCNST, everyone out there making the trail what it is today. Thru-hiking the NCNST end-to-end poses a number of challenges. One is its overall length, 4,600 miles (4,700 if you start on the Appalachian Trail). Others include its east-west direction, its northern location, and its numerous remote sections that offer up few resupplies. When I began this undertaking I was aware of these more obvious challenges, but little did I know the number of less obvious ones that were also there waiting for me. What I found, however, is that each of these challenges just made the finish all that more rewarding. With the trail so long and not having a terminus in a southern location, you have to move fast or you WILL be cold at some point, and for those who know me, one thing I hate is being cold. That said, I knew my best chance of finishing this trail would be to go light and fast. The plan was to carry a base weight of 15 lbs. With this weight I could go from a minimum 15 lbs. (just pack and gear) to a maximum 30 lbs (pack, gear, water, food) when a resupply was 7+ days out; the 15-30 lb weight allowed me to travel relatively fast. Never taking a zero day, 20-40 mile days from start to finish were standard, with a lot of that being fast hiking and running. Vermont, N.Y., Penna., Ohio saw a lot of 20-30 mile days; Mich., Wisc., Minn. a lot of 30s, and N.D. almost all 40s. One of the less obvious challenges that awaited me, and that altered this plan significantly, was the Minn. blowdowns. On the Border Route and Kekekabic Trails forward progress was slowed to a literal crawl. Trying to navigate through a devastated forest, climbing under, over, and around 20 foot high piles of bent and broken trees, and not lose an unblazed trail, I was reduced to 5-10 mile days even though hiking 12-14 hours. It was here in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area where I actually shifted focus from thoughts of finishing the trail to that of simple self-preservation. There was a point on the Kekekabic Trail where I had to make the conscious decision of whether to keep moving forward or turn back. After a restless night of sleep deciding on the best option, I chose forward progress. Up early, I kept moving west and was now committed (from this spot I had enough resources to get myself back out to the east Trailhead where I entered, but after a day or two of hiking further in on the trail would not be provided this opportunity). With a new found optimism after my decision, it was west I went, but as the day unfolded, it was proving to be more and more discouraging, and the optimism quickly turned to despair. Covering only 5 miles, I knew I was going to have another night’s sleep under a canopy of snapped and uprooted trees. It was here, after asking myself what Bear Grylls would be doing, I proclaimed out loud, “Bear Grylls would be 5 miles

Two pictures of Shane in upstate New York, taken by his mother Carolyn. First he is obviously along one of the tributary canals the Trail follows, north of the Erie Canal, and in the other he is enjoying the beginning of spring in the woods.

back on the trail crying his ass off.” “Shane,” I said “you have to get yourself out of the situation you got yourself into!” From my days of bicycle racing and ultra running I knew there was a point in every race where quitting was easier than continuing. To counter this I just made quitting not an option. It was this philosophy I now had to adopt, the trail now proving to be the toughest challenge I had ever faced. A day later, gear and clothing destroyed, cut and bruised, I made it to the west trailhead. Since finishing the hike, three questions keep reappearing when people talk to me about the trail. “Why did you decide to hike the NCNST?” The second, “How many shoes did you end up going through?” The third, “How much weight did you lose?” As for the “Why?” first and foremost, I have always embraced challenges. When I am “out there” involved in an undertaking I am focused on the here and now, living in the present. Not to sound selfish, but I did the trail because it was there for me to do. Everybody needs a form of motivation for their activities. For some, this motivation may be to raise money for a charity or awareness for a cause. For me, I wanted to hike the trail just to hike the trail; it was something I needed to do for myself. …Continued on page 46 January-March 2017


The NCT, End-to-End continued…

Stiklestad Lodge Weekend in North Dakota By Rennae Gruchalla

The Dakota Prairie Chapter of the NCT sponsored a wonderful weekend of hiking and camaraderie at Stiklestad Lodge near Fort Ransom. Our first hike was at night on New Year’s Eve on the North Dakota prairie. Because of the lack of trees, we were able to gaze into the starry sky, featuring a beautiful orange crescent moon, and because we were miles away from the nearest city, the night sky was brilliant!! We had 17 hardy hikers on the 2 mile trail that was carved out by the manager of the lodge. We all met in the lodge afterwards to celebrate the NCT with several toasts and goodies. On January 1st, we were able to record miles on both the whole-state Dakota Challenge, and the Hike 100 mile challenge as we hiked a good part of the day on the North Country Trail. Several people joined the Stiklestad group to make 21 hikers, plus Sloan the Golden Retriever, and we hiked 7 miles on the NCT. We met at Jerry Warner’s home (he led the hike and lives a quarter mile from the trail), and hiked a snowy out and back trail on a 15 degree day. 11 hikers continued to hike an additional 4 miles on the trail to make 11 miles, all on the NCT. The evening was wonderful, with a delicious pot luck supper, visiting around a roaring fire in the huge stone fireplace, and several folks taking advantage of the sauna and outdoor hot tub. The next day we were met with about 6 inches of fresh, fluffy snow. It was beautiful, but being North Dakota folks, we know what can happen when the wind comes up, so we decided to forgo the Monday hike. When the roads were cleared, we all took off for home. Even though the weekend was shortened, everyone had a wonderful time hiking and spending time together. With much encouragement from participants, I have tentatively reserved Stiklestad for the same time next year. There will be different hikes, some of which will be on the NCT, so mark your calendars. Have fun playing and hiking in the outdoors, and remember, it’s not about the temperature, it’s about the clothes you wear. Happy Hiking!

Connie Burns

The North Star

Connie Burns


Tom Moberg

Additionally, by thru-hiking the NCNST end-to-end, I was privileged to see a large part of the country, each region unique in its own way. By simply placing one foot in front of another I was able to witness how each of these regions was united, and how one region transitioned into the next. Whenever I am hiking a trail I often find it difficult to stop, always wanting to see what’s around the next corner. Number of shoes I went through—six. I used my familiar ultra running shoe the Altra. Though lightly built (in terms of hiking standards), and thus easily broken down, I developed not one blister the entire 6+ months. I started out at 135 lbs., lost 15, and was then able put on 5, finishing at 125 lbs. Putting on 5 lbs. ended up being relatively easy after I shunned my low carb, high fat diet, adopting an eat whatever you can get your hands on diet. If you encounter only a convenience store once every 5-10 days you can’t say no to candy corn, a loaf of white bread, and Cheez Whiz and wait to see what is in the next town; you simply have to embrace the opportunity to consume a calorie. And consume calories I did. At the beginning hiking was the focus. As my journey progressed however, I found that it was more than just hiking that was the reward; it was the encounters I had with the people along the way that provided me with the most satisfaction. Though relatively few, almost every encounter proved to be extremely memorable and rewarding. To everyone who offered up their support, and most of all to my Mom and my Dad, this trail was about the people and not just the Blue Blazes. I took my first step of this journey April 10, 2016 on the Appalachian Trail at Killington, Vermont, ending October 30, 2016 at Lake Sakakawea State Park, North Dakota. I developed somewhat of a routine and an efficiency in the way I would begin and end each day, and the process I would invoke to best tackle the trail before me, but for 6+ months I never did the same thing twice. Fast hiking and running, I was able to cover every section of the 4700 mile trail in 6 months 20 days, but for me the reward was not the finish…don’t get me wrong, I was soooo happy to take my final step onto the concrete of the Lake Sakakawea State Park Visitor Center…but the reward was the calm that I developed while I was out there. I guess there is something to be said for simply placing one foot in front of another.

Call for Nominees—2017 NCTA Annual Awards


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.

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.

Bruce Johnson Outreach

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.

Beth Keloneva Communicator

Matt Rowbotham Friend of the Trail

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.

Bill Menke

Trailblazer: A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contributions to the Trail or the NCTA.

Trail Maintainer: A volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over a three (3) or more year period in maintaining or restoring preexisting Trail segment(s).

Matt Rowbotham

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.

Gary Narum Trail Builder

Jim Mitchell

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.

Trail Builder: A volunteer whose work in Trail planning, landowner negotiations, layout and design, and/ or construction has resulted in the development of outstanding new trail or facilities over a three (3) or more year period.

Recent Award Winners:

Florence Hedeen

Nominate your candidate for the following awards:

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.

Karen Stenberg

hether you are curled up in front of the fireplace or are outside going for a snowshoe hike, it is that time of year again to don our thankful hats and consider whom we know who is deserving of an NCTA Annual Award. So, 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? Nominations are due May 1 and can be completed online at, via the e-mail form sent to all chapter, affiliate and partner leaders or by sending the following information to or mmangus@ 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 compare your nominee adequately to others in the selected category. Give us details, examples or stories to support your nomination. And, the NCTA Board approved a new award category, Boots on the Trail, for hike leaders.

Bethany Thomas Blue Blazes Benefactor

January-March 2017


Our Red Plaid Nation—What’s It All About? By Bruce Matthews

Many of you have read this 2013 piece before, but let’s give Bruce a re-run in his tenth season. It’s good to remind longtime members about our “brand” and to inform new members, too. Besides, Bruce likes it.


The North Star

When we consider iconic images connecting people and North Country places where they live, what could be clearer than a swatch of red plaid wool, the timeless standard for outerwear in colder climates for generations? What says the active enjoyment of the “Great North Woods” better than a red plaid wool coat? And what else says North Country more uniquely, to differentiate us from the rest? We’re not the first or only ones to recognize the iconic potential of red plaid. A swatch of it is Woolrich’s trademark. The standard Kromer Mackinaw cap is red plaid (what says U.P. better??). These companies know their market, and the deep-seated and timeless emotional connections their customers have with red and black buffalo plaid. They’re authentic, the real deal, not a poseur or wannabe in the bunch! Best of all red plaid resonates across generations and is as hip and trendy today as it is standard wear for older generations. The North Country has its share of “place” icons. North Star, northern lights, loons, wolves, tall pines, lonely windswept shores to name a few. But the North Country Trail is more than just the places it goes through. Unlike many of our other national scenic trails the North Country Trail does more…way more… than follow a mountain range or trace a geo-political boundary. The NCNST connects diverse and varied northern places with the rugged peoples past and present who have managed to survive here and make it their home, as well as the people drawn to the great north woods for fun, adventure, recreation and spiritual reconnection with the land. Our trail celebrates the collective story of those who live, persevere in, enjoy and protect America’s northern heartlands. And so we are the Red Plaid Nation. We’re authentic. We’re in it for the long

Supplied by Matt Davis


imply, the “Red Plaid Nation” is a branding term for our North Country Trail community—the people who build, use, maintain and find adventure on the trail, and tell its story. Our story. In marketing terms, a brand is a promise, communicating the value and desirability of belonging to and identifying with the North Country Trail community. At NCTA our branding tools include the North Star and the “7-State” logos, our tagline “Your Adventure Starts Nearby,” and the trademark “Red Plaid Nation.” We use all of these to support our branding efforts. Ideally, branding defines and creates both a core identity and a differentiation from similar organizations or communities. It ought to be recognizable, memorable, authentic and evoke deep emotional connections. It ought to resonate among priority target audiences. A good brand makes you want to belong to the community it represents, proudly displaying the symbols identifying you as a member. Nation branding is not a new concept. We’re Americans. We know what it means and what it feels like to be an American. Nation branding has been used in the bioregionalism movement, Salmon Nation being one example. More recently we’ve seen the success of ESPN (no slouch in marketing!) in nationbranding consumer communities—NFL Nation, B.A.S.S. Nation. Sports teams at all levels have communities of fans connected under the “nation” banner; i.e., Packers Nation, Steelers Nation— You belong, you feel deeply connected, you defend it, and it helps define who you are.

Matt Davis, our Minnesota/North Dakota Regional Trail Coordinator, with some of his red plaid-clad children and his friend with a son similarly arrayed in sartorial splendor.

haul and durable as the red plaid we wear for both work and play. We are united beneath a banner of red plaid in our love for building a trail to further connect us, a simple hiking trail stitching us together. We need to grow awareness of the North Country Trail dramatically. Branding helps us evoke an emotional connection and create a desire to belong, to be seen wearing or standing next to a blue blaze, a trail emblem, an NCTA logo. Your adventure starts nearby on the North Country Trail, which is built by and tells the story of our Red Plaid Nation. It’s a worthy story, and our trail is a source of deep pride among all of us connected with it. We are a community engaged in an effort to give something of immeasurable value back to America. We are the real deal. We are the Red Plaid Nation. Wear it proudly.

John Texter

Left to Right: Gail Glendon, Pat McNamara, and Bob McNamara sawing decking for the Tahqua Trail beaver dam project. Bob and Pat purchased a stand for his saw for this project and hauled and set up all the equipment as well as sawing all the decking! They did the sawing for all three fall work sessions and the hand rail sessions and a couple of 200 foot boardwalks along Curley Lewis! They also do the lion’s share of the cooking!

Tahqua Trail Projects By Kay Kujawa


ahqua Trail is a gravel road just north of Tahquamenon Falls State Park River Mouth Campground at the east end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Six miles of the Trail was moved onto the road around 2002 because of extensive off-road vehicle (ORV) use. At that time the park manager planned to meet with the NCTA to discuss a possible solution to the problem, but she moved to another assignment, and the issue was dropped. Eventually Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter (HSS) discovered that the Trail had once been along the river and was allowed to restore it back to its old tread, which became our Tahqua Trail Project. Planned as a five year undertaking, it opened to the hiking public at the end of the third year and was completed at the end of the fourth year, 2016. The chapter worked closely with Tahquamenon Falls State Park to plan and bring the project to completion. In September during Michigan Trails Week the HSS Chapter’s Roving Crew attacked a beaver issue north of Tahqua Trail that has plagued the chapter for several years. Tahquamenon Falls State Park provided the funding for the materials through an Iron Belle grant and was an ardent supporter of the project. The eleven day work Kay Kujawa

Larry Bryan, Gail Glendon, Mark Glendon, Stan Kujawa, and Pat McNamara at Tahqua Trail Beaver Dam materials site.

session included beefing up an existing bridge so that an ORV could be used to ferry materials to the work site, where the decking was sawed. Trail tread was improved on the reroute and the soil disturbance by the ORV use was repaired. Two small water crossing structures and over 200 feet of boardwalk over an old beaver dam were built. Moving materials, preparation of the dam site area, and repairing the trail tread were the most time consuming parts of the project, while the construction of the boardwalk took only a day! A beaver deceiver was also installed: beaver always try to plug what they perceive as leaks in their dams so this device still permits water to escape even though the beaver goober it up with mud, thus maintaining the water level WE want. Volunteers for the project came from as far away as Lansing, Ann Arbor, Manistique and as near as Sault Saint Marie. The group camped at the River Mouth Campground. At the end of the day they enjoyed dinner together around a bonfire. NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator Kenny Wawsczyk joined the Roving crew on the project. To the delight of the volunteers several backpackers and day hikers as well as a photographer who was making a media presentation about the NCT in the eastern Upper Peninsula hiked through the project while the work was being completed. The boardwalk project is one mile north of the Tahqua Trail and opened October 10th, 2016, with a ribbon cutting ceremony and a hike through the project. The project provides hikers with a safe stroll along a proposed National Scenic River and the opportunity to experience a beaver dam and the surrounding natural environment. Day hikers, River Mouth campers, and backpackers are enjoying a scenic adventure. The short walk north from the parking area to the beaver dam is a special highlight for children and adults. Tahqua Trail area is becoming a year round destination day hike for visitors to the area. The projects provided spectacular river scenery for those unable to handle the more challenging and busier hike between the falls. There …continued on page 51 January-March 2017


Take the NCT to the UP!

2017 NCTA Annual Celebration, July 27-29 Story and pictures by Lorana Jinkerson

Please join us as we celebrate the National Park Service and North Country Trail Association volunteers.


• Arrive Wednesday evening, July 26 • Celebrate Thursday, Friday, Saturday, July 27-29 • Presentations, workshops, round tables • Hikes • Non-hiking activities • Dinners • Leave Sunday morning, July 30 • Activities east, west and south of Marquette as you travel to and from the Celebration.


Northern Michigan University’s University Center in Marquette, Michigan 49855

At least we get to visit the Marquette lighthouse in a kinder season!


NMU dormitories $30 per person per night. Sign up when you register for the Celebration. Camping Reserve your space beginning January 1 for Marquette’s Tourist Park as it gets full quickly. http:// The park is just 1.25 miles from the University Center. There will be other camping options available too. See our website at www. or Facebook page for a list. Bed & Breakfasts and local motels Two art fairs will be in town the same weekend so if you plan to stay at a B & B or local motels/hotels, you might want to reserve your room early. See our website www. or Facebook page for a list.


Sponsored by the five Upper Peninsula chapters of the NCTA: Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore, Superior Shoreline, North Country Trail Hikers, Peter Wolfe, and Ni-Miikanaake.


Registration materials will be online at by April 1 with details in Volume 36, Issue 2 of the North Star. You can “like” our Facebook page to follow the planning – Facebook. com/NCTA2017 and contact Lorana Jinkerson, 906-226-6210, for more information or to volunteer to help plan and execute the Celebration.


The North Star

The North Country Trail goes through this lovely park on the Lake Superior shore on the west side of Marquette, Michigan. Come Celebrate with us!

Tahqua Trail Projects …continued from page 49 are several small pull offs along Tahqua Trail road that allow for quick and easy access to the paralleling Trail. It provides visitors an opportunity to experience a short hike on the NCT and creates interest in hiking more of the NCNST. Tahquamenon Falls Campground rangers report that more and more campers are enjoying the walk along the river and are inquiring about more NCT hiking in the area. HSS extends special thanks to Larry Bryan for his dedication to the Tahqua Trail Projects and his outstanding care for the NCT between the Two Hearted River Campground and Culhane Lake Campground. Larry’s section was hit by the Duck Lake fire four years ago and has needed much more than the usual maintenance. Larry drove from East Lansing to maintain and improve his

section and assisted with all three of the Tahqua Trail work sessions as well as two follow up “add handrails” sessions! Larry and Kay are retiring to live on the road in a new RV! Happy Trails! The chapter is grateful to Tahquamenon State Park for their constant and continued support of the North Country Trail! Together we have provided a premier hiking experience in Tahquamenon Falls State Park.

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? From a for now anonymous member, "I’ve got an interesting submission for Where in the Blue Blazes? This past July, I discovered this creepy guy marking a two track that crosses over the NCT about a mile south of highway ___near ________ in the ______________National Forest. A faded sign on a nearby tree reads “no hipsters or yuppies.” I really want to share a beer with the poster of these signs! "

Jeff Fisher dips his bandana in a cold creek on a hot day.

Send your answers before March 25 to Irene Szabo, at, 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.

January-March 2017


North Star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Matt Davis

Evening recreation while camped beside a lake in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, for a crew working to clear miles of downed trees in far northern Minnesota.

Come Visit Us! The Lowell office is open to the public Tuesday-Thursday 1:00 to 4:30 and Friday 10:00 to 4:30 Other hours by appointment. Please call ahead M-F during working hours. 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.

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