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April-June, 2017

The Magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

Register Now for Celebration! Hike 580 Miles with the Kids? Meet Our New Executive Director!

Volume 36, No. 2


Sarah Sutton

Shindagin Hollow shelter on the Finger Lakes Trail/NCT southeast of Ithaca.

About the Cover:

Along the North Country National Scenic Trail in New York, the trail passes through a fenced sheep pasture. Here hikers pause for lunch one lovely day in May. Photo by Jacqui Wensich.

In This Issue Celebration Program.............................4 Wisconsin Trail Protection Successes......13 Pennsylvania Hill: Trail Preservation Trials........................15 The Best Kind of Publicity...................17 Map Updates...........................................18 Protecting the Way..................................21 The Gravinos...........................................22 Closing the Gaps in Michigan................23 NCT Challenge Hike..............................24 Hike 100 Challenge Returns With a Brand New Patch!.......................25 NCTA Extended Outing: Pictured Rocks.........................................25 Winter Fun!.............................................26 Leave Poison Hemlock Alone.................30 Voyage Via Vermont................................31 Meet NCTA's New Executive Director...................................33

Columns Trailhead.............................................3 NPS Corner......................................20 Matthews’ Meanders.........................12

Departments Hiking Shorts....................................29 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................16 Next Deadline for Submissions.........12

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or treeweenie@aol.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design Lorana Jinkerson, Becky Heise, Joan Young, Tom Gilbert, Amelia Rhodes, Duane Lawton, Editorial Advisory Committee The North Star, Summer issue, Vol. 36, Issue 2, 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 dcowles@northcountrytrail.org Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator llindstrom@northcountrytrail.org Michelle Mangus Administrative Assistant mmangus@northcountrytrail.org Bruce Matthews Executive Director bmatthews@northcountrytrail.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator, Wisconsin bmenke@northcountrytrail.org Alison Myers Administrative Assistant amyers@northcountrytrail.org Amelia Rhodes Marketing/Communications Coordinator arhodes@northcountrytrail.org Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator mrowbotham@northcountrytrail.org Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2017 Ruth Dorrough, President (585) 354-4147 · rdorrough@hotmail.com Jerry Fennell, At Large Rep. (262) 787-0966 · jeroldvfennell@hotmail.com John Heiam, At Large Rep. (231) 938-9655 · johnheiam@gmail.com Lorana Jinkerson, At Large Rep. (906) 226-6210 · ljinkers@nmu.edu Tim Mowbray, VP West (715) 378-4320 · tmowbray@earthlink.net Peter Nordgren, Wisconsin, and U. P. of Michigan (715) 292-3484 · pnordgre@yahoo.com Terms Expiring 2018 Mike Chapple, At Large Rep. (574) 274-0151 · mike@chapple.org Dennis Garrett, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 827-2350 · dcgcag@gmail.com Tom Moberg, Immediate Past President (701) 271-6769 · tfmoberg@gmail.com Lynda Rummel, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · ljrassoc@roadrunner.com Paul Spoelstra, Michigan Rep. (616) 890-7518 · spoelymi@comcast.net Jeff Van Winkle, Michigan Rep. (616) 540-2693 · vanwink5@yahoo.com Terms Expiring 2019 Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-4619 · jcohen@zooninternet.net Cheryl Kreindler, At Large Rep. 313-850-8731 · ckreindl@ch2m.com Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · jnyhof@wnj.com Larry Pio, Secretary (269) 327-3589 · nalcoman1@aol.com Doug Thomas, Treasurer, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · dthomas7000@gmail.com Steve Walker, Ohio Rep. 330-652-5623 · nilesprinting@gmail.com Terms Expiring 2020 Mark VanHornweder, Wisconsin Rep. (218) 390-0858 · mvanhorn74@yahoo.com Josh Berlo, Minnesota Rep. (574) 532-4183 · joshberlo@gmail.com

Trail Head

older folks straining with mowers and confessing that they would “need to rest up for a day or two afterwards but it keeps us young.” We learned that trail registers are a very unreliable means of Ruth Dorrough tracking users of the trail. It was not unusual for us to encounter President fellow hikers and eagerly look into the next register for their comments and find they had made no notation. There are many users who are appreciative of the “national” Serving the Many Users of the aspect of the Trail. This group is best exemplified by a woman lost North Country National Scenic Trail in thought working on the trail in Pennsylvania. As we approached, she looked up and smiled. In the conversation that followed she e call it the ‘Blue Chip Trail.’ We hunt there all said, “When I am maintaining my little section of the trail, it the time. Never thought about how it got there or sometimes occurs to me that others across almost 5,000 miles are where it went.” doing the same thing and that if I so desired I could follow the trail The solitude of our long walk across the NCNST was on all the way from here to Vermont or North Dakota. It might sound occasion punctuated by chance encounters with other trail users, silly but that thought fills me with awe and lifts me up.” such as the one above. Some were surprised to learn that the small The antithesis of this view was also found along the trail. We section they enjoyed—like their “Blue Chip Trail”—was part of the were once warned, “Don’t use the term ‘North Country National longest National Scenic Trail in America. Scenic Trail’ around here. We don’t think much of ‘national’ in In Rockland, Michigan, we had stopped for ice cream at a small these parts.” We heard, “To tell you the truth, I’ve never been on store where accounts for regular customers are still kept by hand any more of the Trail than my five miles, and I have no desire to in a spiral notebook. Our chat with the cashier was interrupted do so.” We were questioned, “What do they do at headquarters, by a burly fellow who rushed in demanding a milk shake for his anyway? “What is the Board thinking and doing? We have no idea.” girl friend who was waiting “in my truck and it’s still running.” Such comments, while natural and without malice, coupled He slowed down a bit when the cashier told him that we had with a few recent efforts to encourage local rather than trail wide walked from Vermont to the U.P. on the North Country Trail. We donations, have me concerned. My time on the Board has revealed responded to his puzzled look by telling him where we had been that the complexity of the administrative side of the NCT mirrors walking in the area. “You’ve got to be kidding,” he exclaimed. He the complexity of the actual trail. Viewing the organization from proceeded to tell us that he and his buddies had named this favorite a broad perspective is not comfortable. The staff and board do not spot of theirs the “Blue Chip Trail.” have the luxury of retreating to a tidier, simpler perception. Every Several encounters celebrated older generations using the trail issue with which we wrestle is complicated by the bold scope and to pass on the gift of love of the outdoors to a younger generation. tremendous variety of the trail. In the midst of this complexity, Ending a hike on the Superior Hiking Trail, we spied a man with loyal staff and busy board members are held accountable to be the a small figure next to him. A closer view revealed a little boy bent guardians of the vision of knitting together the many, sometimes over at the waist holding a stuffed animal so that its feet touched conflicting parts to create a unified National Scenic Trail, an entity the trail. Beaming, the older man said, “Taking Teddy for a walk.” whose sum is greater than its components. We need to hear your Thru and distance hikers provide a sharp contrast to these local concerns and ideas for improvements. We also need your support. trail users. We had the great good luck to We are living in the trail’s time in history actually meet on the trail two “I’m-going-towhen a great transition is coming. Last year’s conquer-this-whole-thing-in a year” folks. Hike 100 initiative had 5,000 participants. Pike Lake State Park in Ohio was the For many it was a year of encountering setting for a delightful chance meeting the NCT for the first time. We have been with Luke Jordan (“Strider”). In Remer, focused on building and maintaining the Minnesota, we had the pleasure of sharing trail. Without losing that intensity, we a meal with James Lunning (“Attrition”). need to grow strong centrally to welcome Some say extraordinary coincidences like newcomers. We need to be able to meet their these are examples of “North Country expectations for consistent quality maps, Trail magic.” outreach programs for families and youth, The Trail’s reasonable access in many areas prevalent consistent signage, advocacy and Striding into a stiff wind in North invites non-super-hikers as well. Inspiring trail protection, trail products, training, a Dakota, Ruth felt as if she looked like stories of the “I’m-going-to-get-off-the couch Paul Revere with his tri-corner hat. state of the art website that consolidates folks” are being shared on social media. resources and a host of other services. Their smiles reveal the satisfaction found on the trail as they test “What is the board and staff thinking?” “What do we do and expand their abilities and improve their well being. In the Brule anyway?” Engaged in ongoing efforts to ensure the sustainability St. Croix area we met a solo backpacker breaking camp. She told us and healthy functioning of the organization, we look to the that she hadn’t hiked or backpacked in over forty years and was out future with a realization that it is critical for us as a unique trail for three days and nights, “..to see if I can still do it.” community to unite and support centralized efforts to serve all We met joggers and walkers for whom exercising in the users of the North Country National Scenic Trail. We hope you will tranquility of the trail is part of their wellness ritual. We met really join us in this endeavor.


Dan Dorrough


April-June 2017


Celebration HQ The headquarters of this year’s NCTA Celebration will be at the University Center (UC) on Northern Michigan University’s campus, just a minute’s drive from the deepest and wildest great lake, Lake Superior. Registration will be in the Superior Room, upstairs in the UC. NMU’s School of Health & Human Performance is co-sponsoring the Celebration.

Lorana Jinkerson

Take the NCT to the UP!

Wetmore Landing. Although overall the trail is heading west, this segment is mostly northbound and hugs the shoreline of Lake Superior through beautiful pines and hardwoods with views of the lake that are spectacular.

Marquette, Michigan, July 27th-29th Come join us in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula for a weekend of celebrating a joyous year on the North Country National Scenic Trail! We have much in store for participants in this year’s celebration, from guided hikes and scheduled non-hiking activities to evening programs and afternoon break-out sessions presented by hikers, interpreters, professors, and more! Visit the Celebration website (nctacelebration.org) to explore the myriad “on-your-own” activities this beautiful Trail Town has to offer. The Blueberry Festival, Art on the Rocks, and Outback Art Fair will also be happening on this busy weekend so get out and explore. Besides non-hiking activities, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday will offer what many of us have come here to do – guided hiking on trails that range from easy short hikes to long day hikes, some winding along Lake Superior’s rugged and sandy shores and others traipsing through northern forests and rocky outcroppings. If you haven’t already signed up, we encourage you to do so and mingle with others who love to build, maintain, promote, protect, and simply enjoy the North Country National Scenic Trail.


The North Star

Lodging and Food There are multiple lodging options in Marquette, including opportunities to stay in the dormitories on campus, campgrounds, motels, B & B’s, and short-term rentals. All of these options, including links to websites can be found on the NCTA Celebration’s website. Because of multiple other events happening this same weekend in the area, we highly encourage you to book your spot ASAP in order to secure a place to rest your head at night! All three days, there will be box lunches available for pick-up to be enjoyed while out exploring the town and Trail. For dinners we encourage you to check out the webpage for menus along with the evening programs we are sure you won’t want to miss. Transportation We will provide transportation to most of the hikes with school buses and/ or carpooling. We wish to discourage registrants from driving on their own to a hike. All of the State sites we will utilize require a State of Michigan Recreation Passport sticker to park your vehicle with prices as follows: $11 for a Michigan annual pass for a vehicle, $5 for a Michigan annual pass for a motorcycle, $32 for a non-resident annual pass, and $9 for a non-resident daily pass. In addition to the cost, there is limited parking at many of the trailheads. So please utilize our provided transportation, not only for practical reasons, but also for the opportunity to chat with fellow hikers and outdoor enthusiasts like yourself! And, for traveling to and from the Celebration, options are listed, complete with maps at nctacelebration.org/ transportation.


Each day during the celebration, a range of hikes will be available. Each hike has a code you will use to register for that hike. For example “Th-H1,” is short for “Thursday’s Hike # 1.” Visit nctacelebration.org/hikes for more detailed descriptions and maps. For all hikes, notice the difficulty level and mileage in order to pick the hike that best suits your abilities and desires.

Tuesday Pre-Celebration Hike PCT-H1: Copper Falls State Park, Wisconsin led by Laura Bethany Thomas Pre-celebration hike for those coming from the west: Tuesday 9:00 am CDT {Moderate, 8.2 miles} The hike commences at the picnic shelter at Copper Falls State Park. The first 2 miles will include two elevation changes and two creek crossings. Then we will hike on top of the Bad River bluff until the halfway point. We will pass the last Bad River overlook, turn east across a beaver-populated area, and end with one last hike uphill. We will cover the new 6.2 miles of Heritage Chapter trail. Pack a lunch so we can stop and enjoy this lovely area. Dogs not permitted in this park.

Wednesday Pre-Celebration Hike PCW-H1: Explore Historic Alberta & Canyon Falls Trail led by Ken Vrana, MTU Professor of Practice, School of Forest Resources & Environmental Science. Pre-celebration hike for those coming from the west: Wednesday 12:30 pm – 3:00 pm EDT {Easy, 0.5 miles into Canyon Falls, with another five miles available afterwards} Join Ken for “home-cooked” lunch and a guided tour of historic Alberta and the Canyon Falls section of the North Country Trail as you head towards Marquette. Provide input on plans to create a trailhead for the NCT at the Michigan Technological University (MTU) Ford Center. RSVP to Ken to secure lunch for $10. kjvrana@mtu.edu

Thursday, July 27 – Choose either one all-day hike, a combination of one morning and one afternoon hike, or either a morning or afternoon hike if you wish to keep a morning or afternoon free for non-hiking activities. Thursday Morning Hikes Th-H3: Iron Ore Heritage Trail Cliffs Shaft to Jackson Mine (Not on the NCT) {Easy, 3.5 miles} This section will begin at the Cliffs Shaft Mine Museum and head east, ending at the Jackson Mine Trailhead. Interpretive signs provide history of the area, and an interpreter from the Iron Ore Heritage Trail will be with us to provide additional information. Those who sign up for this hike and also for the afternoon hike Th-H7 will eat lunch at the Jackson Mine Trailhead.

Thursday All Day Hikes Th-H1: Elliott Donnelley Wilderness and Little Garlic Falls, in and out, ending at Echo Lake Rd. {Moderate, 11.8 miles} We will hike through mixed hardwoods and evergreens on slightly hilly terrain along the Little Garlic River then up to the Little Garlic Falls where we will eat lunch. We will turn back and follow the NCT to the parking lot where anyone wishing to skip the last leg (4.2 miles) can be picked up by the bus. Those wishing to hike the full 11.8 miles will continue on the south side of the river then downhill to Echo Lake Rd.

Th-H4: Elliott Donnelley Wilderness In and Out {Easy to moderate, 5.4 miles) This trek is a simple in and out through the Elliott Donnelley Wilderness along the Little Garlic River. The terrain is hilly and will take us through forests of hardwoods and evergreens. Portions of the hike lie both low and high along the river.

Th-H2: Little Garlic River to Forestville including Hogback Mountain, elevation 1220 ft. {Moderate to difficult, 13.9 miles may shorten to 12.5 miles if necessary to meet time frame} Beginning near Little Garlic River, this hike will take us through hardwoods and pines as we trek towards Lake Superior and Little Presque Isle Point, a pristine beach location. Two sets of stairs will bring us up and then back down from picturesque views of Lake Superior. From the shoreline a rocky and steep hike up Hogback Mountain will offer worthwhile 360 degree views. Irene Szabo

Th-H5: Echo Lake Rd to Wetmore Landing {Easy to moderate, 4.7 miles} We will start this hike on an old logging road. After a ramble through the woods, we will come out along Lake Superior’s shoreline, and then work our way to Little Presque Isle. As we continue along the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline, we will ascend and descend stairs before coming up to Wetmore Landing, a tucked away strip of Lake Superior beach. Th-H6: Echo Lake Rd to Little Presque Isle {Easy, 3.1 miles} This is the same as Hike Th-H5 except we stop at Little Presque Isle, making for a shorter, more relaxed hike.

Left: Rocky Lake Superior shoreline just west of Marquette.


April-June 2017



Thursday, Hikes July 27 – continued Th-H8: Wetmore Landing to Sugarloaf Mountain parking, Sugarloaf elevation 1060 feet {Moderate to difficult due to climb up Sugarloaf Mountain, 1.4 miles} From Wetmore Landing we will hike uphill to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain via the NCT Spur on the backside. After sets of stairs and a steep grade, the top will offer us panoramic views of the surrounding Marquette area. The descent will be via the 304-stepped trail to the Sugarloaf Mountain parking lot.

Thursday Afternoon Hikes Th-H7: Iron Ore Heritage Trail Jackson Mine to Michigan Iron Industry History Museum (Not on the NCT) {Easy, 3.5 miles} This section will begin at the Jackson Mine Trailhead and hike east, ending at the Michigan Iron Industry Museum where you can take in the exhibits of the Museum. The hike will pass signs talking about the Negaunee Mine Cave-in, the Pioneer Furnace, Mules and Mining and the Carp River Watershed. An interpreter from the Iron Ore Heritage Trail will be with us to provide additional information. Irene Szabo

Lake Superior’s rocky shoreline just west of Marquette with both Sandy and Pearl enjoying the water, as always.

Th-H9: Repeat of T-H5 Echo Lake Rd to Wetmore Landing {Easy to moderate, 4.7 miles} See Th-H5 for a description of this hike. Th-H10: Forestville to Tourist Park {Moderate, 4 miles} From the Forestville Trailhead we will travel over hills and through valleys as well as climb a couple of rock outcroppings for great views. The trail shares portions with the Noquemanon Trail Network, a local cross-country skiing and biking trail system. Near the end, we will be along the Dead River Basin across from Marquette’s Tourist Park Campground.

Friday, July 28 There are only morning hikes on Friday as the afternoon is reserved for break-out sessions (which we encourage you to sign up for!) Friday Morning Hikes F-H1: Repeat of Th-H8 Wetmore Landing to Sugarloaf Mountain parking {Moderate to difficult due to climb up Sugarloaf Mountain, 1.4} See Th-H8 for more information on this hike. F-H2: Camel Back Bridge to Welcome Center {Easy, 7.1 miles} Hike along the Dead River, then the gorgeous Lake Superior Shoreline from Hawley Street all the way to the Welcome Center, passing by Shiras Park/Picnic Rocks, McCarty Cove, the Maritime Museum and Lighthouse, the US Coast Guard Station, Mattson Lower Harbor Park, downtown Marquette, Father Marquette Park, Founder’s Landing, and South Beach on the wide paved NCT that is shared with bikers.

F-H4: Hawley Street to South Beach {Easy, 3.8 miles} This hike is about half of F-H2, taking us from Hawley Street by Shiras Park/Picnic Rocks, McCarty Cove, the Maritime Museum and Lighthouse, the US Coast Guard Station, Mattson Lower Harbor Park, downtown Marquette, Father Marquette Park, Founder’s Landing, and ending on South Beach. The NCT, as it passes through the City of Marquette’s downtown area, follows Marquette’s Multi-use Pathway so there will be bikers. Lake Superior shoreline.


The North Star

F-H6: Vielmetti-Peters Reserve (Not on the NCT){Easy to moderate, 4.0 miles} The Vielmetti-Peters Conservation Reserve is a 123-acre working forest with nearly four miles of trails for visitors to explore, just on the edge of the City of Marquette. This Reserve features small waterfalls at the confluence of the Wood and Spring Creeks on their way to the nearby Dead River. There are three loops of the trail system where we will go “over the river and through the woods” in a variety of terrain and trail types. Irene Szabo

F-H3: Hawley Street to Welcome Center {Easy, 6 miles} See much of the same beautiful scenery along the shores of Lake Superior as F-H2, but a little shorter, starting at Hawley Street and walking to the Visitor Center.

F-H5: Hawley St to Presque Isle Park and Around (Not on the NCT){Moderate, 2.7 miles} Instead of following the NCT south through Marquette, this hike will head north from Hawley Street, passing Clark Lambros Beach Park, LaBonte Park, the working ore dock, and then continuinue around the perimeter of Presque Isle. Chief Kawbawgam’s gravesite is on the Isle where his family once lived. No dogs allowed at Presque Isle Park.

Saturday, July 29 – Choose either one all-day hike, a combination of one morning and one afternoon hike, or either a morning or afternoon hike if you wish to keep a morning or afternoon free.

Saturday All Day Hikes (2) S-H1: Welcome Center to Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park {Easy to moderate, 13.2 miles} From the Welcome Center, this hike will take us down the railtrail, Iron Ore Heritage Trail, and the NCT past the Chocolay Bayou where we will take the spur trail and might see a variety of bird species. We will then continue past the Chocolay Raptor Center, Lion's Field Sport Park, the Ojibwa Casino, then through Kawbawgam Pocket Park to Lake LaVasseur. After following the north shore from here, we will eventually return to the railtrail and arrive at the Hiker's Shelter at Lakenenland. The trail is crushed limestone, and we may encounter bicyclists along the first portion, but then the trail continues on sandy dunes. S-H2: Repeat of Th-H2 - Little Garlic River to Forestville including Hogback Mountain {Moderate to difficult, 13.9 miles - may shorten to 12.5 miles if necessary to meet time frame} See complete description under Th-H2 above. Saturday Morning Hikes S-H3: Welcome Center to Prince of Peace Church {Easy, 3.2 miles} From the Welcome Center, this hike will take us down the railtrail, Iron Ore Heritage Trail, and the NCT past the Chocolay Bayou where we will take the spur trail and might see a variety of bird species. From here, we will continue past the Chocolay Raptor Center and end at the Prince of Peach Church parking lot. The trail is crushed limestone, and we may encounter bikers along this stretch. S-H4: Prince of Peace Church to Kawbawgam Pocket Park {Easy, 4 miles} From the parking lot, we will hike down the railtrail, Iron Ore Heritage Trail, and the NCT to Kawbawgam Pocket Park passing the Chocolay Downs golf course, the Lion's Field sport park, and the Ojibwa Casino. The trail is crushed limestone, and we may encounter bikers along this stretch. S-H5: Kawbawgam Pocket Park to Lake LaVasseur {Easy, 1.5 miles} Leaving Kawbawgam Pocket Park, the trail travels over sand dunes left by receding Lake Superior many years ago. We will pass through private property, which the owner has fenced off except for openings for NCT hikers.


Lorana Jinkerson


Saturday Morning Hikes continued… S-H6: Lakenenland Trails at Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park {Easy, 1 mile} Take your time to stop and enjoy Tom Lakenen's junkyard sculptures as you walk around the Park on easy, mostly flat sandy trails that can be driven or walked. If you are lucky, Tom will be there to chat with you and share his story on how he came to develop the Park. Don't forget to stroll down to the NCT that crosses the south side of the property (south of the railtrail) and visit the nicest hiker's shelter on the NCT, complete with sliding glass doors, all thanks to Tom, a recipient of NCTA's Outstanding Private Landowner in 2014. Saturday Afternoon Hikes S-H7: Kawbawgam Pocket Park to Lakenenland {Easy to moderate, 6 miles} Fantastic creations abound at Lakenenland. Leaving Kawbawgam Pocket Park, we will travel over sand dunes. We will pass through private property, which the owner has fenced off except for openings for NCT hikers, before hiking along the north side of Lake LaVasseur and then on to Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park. S-H8: Repeat of S-H5 - Kawbawgam Pocket Park to Lake LaVasseur {Easy, 1.5 miles} See S-H5 for a description of this hike. We will end at the Michigan DNR boat launch for Lake LaVasseur. S-H9: Lake LaVasseur to Lakenenland {Easy to moderate, 4.5 miles} We will wind our way over rolling sand dunes, heading to the north side of Lake LaVasseur overlooking the water for a while. From here, we will head to the railtrail and an old abandoned county road that will take us to the Hiker's Shelter at Lakenenland. We'll end at the Junkyard Art Sculpture Park. S-H10: Repeat of Th-H8 - Wetmore Landing to Sugarloaf Mountain {Moderate to difficult, 1.4 miles} See Th-H8 for a description of this hike. Post-celebration Hikes PCS-H1: McCormick Wilderness "On Your Own" hike (Easy to difficult due to no blue blazes and no hike leader.) The McCormick Wilderness is an official National Wilderness, and as such, the NCT is not marked with the typical blue blazes so you need to watch for the "tunnel.” If you have never hiked an unmarked trail before and are used to watching for the blue blazes, it takes a little getting used to but it is a great experience knowing that you can do it. Go in as far as you wish then turn around and head back out.

April-June 2017


Breakout Sessions

Friday afternoon, July 28, will provide you a chance to rest your feet from hiking and take in some learning opportunities with three one-hour break-out sessions. Time frames for the sessions are 1:00-2:00 pm Session 1, 2:15-3:15 pm Session 2, and 3:30-4:30 pm Session 3. When you register, choose one break-out program from each time frame.

1:00-2:00 pm Breakout Session 1

F-B0: Towards a Climate-Ready Trail System by John Forslin and panelists Every plan and decision about the Trail now needs to include a climate issues checkbox. This session focuses on the nature of the climate challenge and our panel of trail volunteers will reflect on how planning for trail resilience can keep the NCNST a national treasure. Attendees will gain a sharpened focus on the specific threats and risks coming at us as we begin this new era. F-B1: Chocolay Raptor Center by NCT member Jerry Maynard Jerry and his friend, Bob Jensen, run the Chocolay Raptor Center. During this break-out, they will share information about the Center where they rehab sick, injured and orphan raptors as well as educate the public about these and other birds. They will bring a couple of their resident birds with them. F-B2: Working with Private Landowners by Andrea Ketchmark and Megan Olds Our progress developing the trail in future years will rely heavily on the relationships we build with private landowners. In this session, Andrea Ketchmark, NCTA’s Director of Trail Development, will give an overview of the resources available at NCTA to guide this process. And special guest, Megan Olds, will teach us best practices for successful landowner outreach. F-B3: Engaging New Audiences by Amelia Rhodes and Mark Weaver Engaging younger and more diverse audiences is important to the vitality of our organization and your ability to grow your Chapter volunteer work force. Join us as we discuss methods for reaching and engaging new audiences. In this session, the Park Service will also be sharing their new Chapter Outreach Guide to help us strengthen diversity and inclusion on the Trail. Bring your ideas and we’ll brainstorm activities, communication ideas, and more! F-B4: Comedy on the North Country Trail by Jo Oostveen Hiking solo at the age of 65, from Ohio to Wisconsin, provided many laughable moments. From nude sunbathers on Sand Lake near Mancelona, to having to step off the trail to allow a goat to pass near Hillsdale, hiking can be downright funny. Let's take a lighthearted look at backpacking the North Country Trail.


The North Star

F-B5: Mapping / GIS One-on-One by Matt Rowbotham Stop by the Peter White Lounge (first floor of the University Center) between 1:00 pm and 4:30 pm to ask Matt Rowbotham, NCTA’s GIS Coordinator, your questions about map updates, GPS, GIS and more. Contact Matt directly at mrowbotham@northcountrytrail.org to schedule a specific time. 2:15-3:15 pm Breakout Session 2 F-B6: Yooper Tours: On the North Country Trail by Alex Maier “…Every time I wanted to go a little bit farther than last time and photograph the adventure, so eventually I just decided to hike across the whole U.P…” Join Alex as he shares his episodes “Yooper Tours: on the North Country Trail,” of hiking across the whole Upper Peninsula. F-B7: Timber Management by Chris Loudenslager Join us for a panel discussion to explore best practices for timber management along the NCT, where we will learn how we can be part of the process to ensure protection for the trail. Moderated by Chris Loudenslager from the National Park Service, our panel guests will include representatives from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, US Forest Service and a commercial timber company. F-B8: Trail Town Forum by Andrea Ketchmark Join Trail Town enthusiasts to learn best practices, share your stories, and get ideas on what has worked well in other trail towns. We’ll begin with a brief overview of the new NCT Trail Town Handbook and spend ample time sharing and brainstorming. F-B9: Chapter Fund Raising Basics by David Cowles NCTA Director of Development David Cowles will discuss successful strategies and common pitfalls of fundraising for local and regional projects. Some actual trail fundraising case studies will be presented, and time will be made to brainstorm some of your current projects and ideas as well. F-B10: Meet the NCTA Board of Directors led by Ruth Dorrough Venture into the business-like but necessary realm of the NCTA Board of Directors. Representatives from the Board will be available to introduce themselves, explain Board processes, answer your questions, and welcome your input. F-B11: Social Media One-on-One by Amelia Rhodes Stop by the Peter White Lounge (first floor of the University Center) between 2:15 pm and 4:30 pm to ask Amelia Rhodes, NCTA’s Marketing and Communications Coordinator, your questions about social media, email marketing, meetups and more. Contact Amelia directly at arhodes@ northcountrytrail.org to schedule a specific time. F-B12: Mapping / GIS One-on-One by Matt Rowbotham (This session is continued from the 1:00-2:00 pm Session 1 break-outs)

Breakout Sessions


3:30-4:30 Breakout Session 3 F-B13: Lightweight Backpacking along the North Country Trail by Andy Mytys This presentation will focus on lightening one's load when packing for a multiday trip along the NCT, carrying less stuff, lighter stuff, and smarter stuff with emphasis on the safety and comfort of the trip. There will be opportunities for questions and answers, as well as a show-and-tell, using sample packs outfitted for the spring/fall, summer, and winter months. F-B14: Long-distance Hikers by Joan Young NCT long distance hikers Dan and Ruth Dorrough, Luke Jordan, and Joan Young will host a panel seminar with a brief overview of the challenges of planning a long hike on the NCT. Currently available resources will be demonstrated. An open Q & A session will follow. F-B15: Round Table Discussion with Bruce Matthews and NCTA's New Executive Director This Round Table discussion with NCTA's retiring and incoming executive directors offers a forum for sharing ideas, asking questions and getting acquainted.

Non-Hiking Activities From sipping blueberry beer at Blueberry Fest to visiting one of several museums rich in local history, you are encouraged to get out on your own in appreciation of this gem of an area tucked away along the NCT. Visit (nctcelebration.org) for information on many different experiences you can take home from this Trail. If you would like to join a pre-scheduled activity, in order to experience even more with the knowledge and expertise of some wonderful guides, read on about several pre-scheduled activities you can register for! For the scheduled non-hiking activities please register using the code and pay any additional fees (some are free) when you register for the celebration. Visit the NCTA Celebration website for more details and directions regarding these activities.


F-B17: Social Media One-on-One by Amelia Rhodes (This session is continued from the 2:15-3:15 Session 2 break-outs and ends at 4:30 pm) F-B18: Mapping / GIS One-on-One by Matt Rowbotham (This session is continued from the first two session time frames and ends at 4:30 pm)

Thursday Non-Hiking Activites Th-NH1: Maritime Museum & Marquette Lighthouse Tour Thursday 10:00 am – 11:00 am {$8 total for both the Museum and Lighthouse, limit of 20 people} The Lighthouse is located on an active U.S. Coast Guard Base and therefore there is no public access to the Lighthouse except through a tour from the Maritime Museum. Tours last 45-50 minutes, and requires visitors to walk many steps up to the lighthouse. The lighthouse tour brings visitors through the publicly inaccessible Coast Guard grounds, providing a short history on the Life Saving Crews of the Great Lakes. Please see the website for additional information. Th-NH2: Historic Marquette Bus Tour Thursday 1:00 pm – 2:30 pm {$20 per person, limit of 31 people} Take an entertaining, narrated journey across many decades, through Marquette and hear the stories of colorful characters and their time in our Queen City of the North. The Historical Bus Tours are a great way to see the town as it is today, while reflecting on the early days of bustling Marquette. Historic characters come on and off the bus to meet you, and you will have a tour guide along for the entire ride. There are no refunds or returns on tickets. Duane Lawton

Wednesday Pre-Celebration Activity PCW-NH1: National Park Service Updates with Mark Weaver, NPS NCNST Superintendent, Chris Loudenslager, NPS Trail Planner, and Luke Jordan, NPS Outdoor Recreation Planner Wednesday 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm This conversation will take place in the Peter White Lounge (first floor of NMU’s University Center). You do not need to register for this activity. Just show up! Join NPS staff for a Q & A open discussion session. We’ll fill you in on the latest National Park Service news, topics and programs of interest to you. This is a great opportunity for you to get clarification on issues and learn a bit more about your government partner.

F-B16: Engaging Students in Nature Art Projects by Jacquie Medina Art projects are a wonderful way to help students connect and make meaning of their experiences in nature. Join us as we explore different ways to create and integrate art along the trail and as a means of reflection. During this session, we will “play with art” and view Nature Art Projects that have been implemented with college students and K-12 programs.

Shoreline along Lake Supeior.

April-June 2017


Non-Hiking Activities


Friday Non-Hiking Activity F-NH1: Walk/talk Marquette County Courthouse: Anatomy of a Murder & More by retired Judge Tom Solka, NCTA member Friday 10:30 am - noon {Admission: Free} Join a walking tour to the historic Marquette County Courthouse guided by retired Circuit Court Judge (and NCTA member) Tom Solka. The courthouse, built in 1904, has been the scene of wellknown trials, including President T. R. Roosevelt’s libel case against a local newspaper publisher, and the murder trial that served as the basis of the national best seller “Anatomy of a Murder” written by local author John Voelker (nom de plume Robert Traver). Judge Solka will provide a short history of Marquette and the construction and architectural details of the courthouse on a three block walk. On arriving at the courthouse we will go into the circuit courtroom where the judge will talk about its features, the Roosevelt and “Anatomy of a Murder” trials and answer any questions you might have. Saturday Non-Hiking Activities S-NH1: Chocolay Raptor Center by Jerry Maynard, NCTA member. Saturday 10:00 am - noon {Admission: Free, donations appreciated} When visiting the Chocolay Raptor Center, you may get the opportunity to interact with what the center terms "ambassador birds," birds that are in rehab, or have gone through rehab, but are not releasable into the wild. Two birds that the center currently cares for are a Peregrine Falcon and Red-Tailed Hawk. Visitors will get the opportunity to learn about the roles these incredible birds of prey have in their environment.

Kenneth Keifer Dreamstime. com

S-NH2: Maritime Museum & Marquette Lighthouse Tour (Repeat of Th-NH1) Saturday 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm {$8 total for both the Museum and Lighthouse, limit of 20 people} The Lighthouse is located on an active U.S. Coast Guard Base and therefore there is no public access to the Lighthouse except through a tour from the Maritime Museum. Tours last 45-50 minutes, and requires visitors to walk many steps up to the lighthouse. The lighthouse tour brings visitors through the publicly inaccessible Coast Guard grounds, providing a short history on the Life Saving Crews of the Great Lakes. Please see the website (nctacelebration.org) for additional information.

Marquette Harbor Lighthouse.


The North Star

Evening Programs

Following the days’ activities, you are encouraged to head back to the University Center’s Great Lakes Rooms for an evening of socializing, dining, and entertainment, including some fabulous evening programs. Check them out below, but be sure to visit http://nctacelebration.org/evening-programs/ for what’s on the menu and more details.

Thursday Evening Program Thursday 8:15-9:15 pm Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park by Bob Wild, Park Interpreter You do not need to register for this – consider it a bonus! Around 25 miles of NCT pass through Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. This presentation will cover the efforts to make the Porkies a National Park, some of its unique characters, threats of development, plane crashes, mining operations, wilderness legislation and so much more. There will be a period of Q & A to follow, so stick around! Friday Evening Program Friday 8:30 – 9:30 pm Tangled Roots: The Appalachian Trail in Photos, Story and Song, Sarah Mittlefheldt, NMU Assistant Professor, Department of Earth, Environmental & Geographical Science & John Gillette, North Star Academy Middle School Teacher. Sarah's dissertation research took her and John on a hike of the Appalachian Trail for their honeymoon. She tells the story of that trail’s creation through story and photos with John adding music he composed on their hike. Saturday Evening Program Saturday 7:00 – 8:00 pm 7:00 pm Michigan NCT / Iron Belle Trail Update, Kristen Bennett, Michigan Department of Natural Resources, State Trails Planning Specialist and Andrea Ketchmark, NCTA Director of Trail Development. Michigan's Iron Belle Hiking Trail coincides with the NCT from downstate Albion in Calhoun County all the way to Ironwood on the western end of the Upper Peninsula. Kristen and Andrea will share the history of the Iron Belle and how this sharing of tread helps both trails get miles of trail off road. Registration Registration is required to attend all Celebration activities. Register by mailing in the following form, or by visiting the Celebration website (nctacelebration.org) to register online. The registration deadline is July 15th. The price for the full weekend is $40.00, for two consecutive days is $30.00 or one full day for $20.00. Children 16 and under are free but must be registered separately. If you are mailing in your registration, please include a check payable to North Country Trail Association for the total amount due. This can be mailed, along with your registration form to North Country Trail Association, 229 E. Main St., Lowell, MI, 49331.



Registration Form

DEADLINE for registration is July 15, 2017. Please Complete One Registration Form For Each Person. First Name:

July 27-29 After July 15, add $20 here $

Last Name:



State/Province/Region Zip: e-Mail: Home Phone: Mobile Phone: Are you currently a North Country Trail Association member? ¨No ¨Yes, my Chapter or Affiliate is If you are not a member, you can join by donating $20 or more ¨Yes, make me a member............................my donation amount is $ Which Chapter or Affiliate? ______________________________________ Lodging: Northern Michigan University dormitory: ¨No ¨Yes Will you share a room? ¨ No ¨ Yes If sharing, name of roommate: ______________________ What nights? ¨W ¨Th ¨F ¨S Number of nights____ x $30 =  $ No charge for children aged 16 or under if staying in room w/ parent. Name of child(ren): ¨ Camping? ¨ No ¨ Yes (where) ¨ Motel/Hotel? ¨ No ¨ Yes (where) ¨Other? (where) REGISTRATION: (No fee for children age 16 or under, but they must register separately) ¨ Full Weekend Registration........................................................................................................$40 $ Two Days Registration–Check days ¨Thursday & Friday ¨Friday & Saturday....................$30   $ Per day Registration–Check days ¨Thursday ¨Friday ¨Saturday Number of Days x $20 =  $ MEALS Breakfast: at NMU University Center Wildcat Den (All You Can Eat for $7.25 per day: Child $4.25) Check days All You Can Eat ¨ Thursday ¨ Friday ¨ Saturday Number of All You Can Eat breakfasts Child Breakfast (age 12 & under) ¨ Thursday ¨ Friday ¨ Saturday Number of Child breakfasts

x $7.25 = $ x $4.25 = $

Box Lunches: (come with kettle chips, fruit & cookie) $8.50 Check days and sandwich choice below: ¨ Thursday ¨ Smoked Turkey ¨ Ham & Swiss ¨ Veggie ¨ Friday  ¨ Roast Beef & Cheddar ¨ Tuna ¨ Veggie ¨ Saturday ¨ Smoked Turkey ¨ Roast Beef & Cheddar ¨ Veggie Number of box lunches

x $8.50 = $

Dinners: Evening social hour, hors d’oeuvres, and buffet style dinners - salads, hot sides, veggies, rolls & dessert. Cash bar. Check days ¨ Thursday Herb Baked Chicken & Florentine Stuffed Shells ¨ Friday Atlantic Salmon & Lentil & Wild Rice Stuffed Peppers ¨ Saturday Grilled Beef Hanger Steak & Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms Number of Adult Dinners x $25.00 = $ Number of Child Dinners (age12 & under) x $10.00 = $

HIKING CHOICES (either choose one all day OR one each in am and pm. Refer to hiking, non-hiking & breakout descriptions for details.) Tuesday July 25

¨ PCT-H1 am Wed July 26 ¨ PCW-H1 ¨ Lunch ($10 on site)

Thursday July 27 ¨ Th-H1 all day ¨ Th-H2 all day) ¨ Th-H3 am ¨ Th-H4 am ¨ Th-H5 am ¨ Th-H6 am ¨ Th-H7 pm ¨ Th-H8 pm ¨ Th-H9 pm ¨ Th-H10 pm

Friday July 28

¨ F-H1 am ¨ F-H2 am ¨ F-H3 am ¨ F-H4 am ¨ F-H5 am ¨ F-H6 am

Saturday July 29

¨ S-H1 all day ¨ S-H2 all day ¨ S-H3 am ¨ S-H4 am ¨ S-H5 am ¨ S-H6 am ¨ S-H7 pm ¨ S-H8 pm ¨ S-H9 pm ¨ S-H10 pm

Sunday July 30 ¨ PCS-H1 "On your own"

Add all lines above for Total Amount Due: $ NON-HIKING CHOICES Choose instead of hiking options: ¨ Wed July 26 PCW-NH1 Thursday July 27 ¨ Th-NH1 am $8 ¨ Th-NH2 pm $20

Friday July 28

¨ F-NH1 am

Saturday July 29

¨ S-NH1 am ¨ S-NH2 pm $8

BREAK-OUT CHOICES Friday July 28 Afternoon – Choose one in each column

¨ F-BO ¨ F-B1 ¨ F-B2 ¨ F-B3 ¨ F-B4 ¨ F-B5

¨ F-B6 ¨ F-B7 ¨ F-B8 ¨ F-B9 ¨ F-B10 ¨ F-B11 ¨ F-B12

¨ F-B13 ¨ F-B14 ¨ F-B15 ¨ F-B16 ¨ F-B17 ¨ F-B18

Please make your check for your Total Amount Due, payable to North Country Trail Association. Mail your registration form with your check to: North Country Trail Association, 229 E. Main Street, Lowell MI 49331 Waiver–Please read and sign the following: Those persons enjoying the North Country Trail (NCT) and/or activities sponsored by the North Country Trail Association (NCTA) or any chapters/clubs conducting activities on behalf of, or in support of the NCTA, accept full personal responsibility for their own well being, or, for the well being of a minor when acting in the capacity of parent or guardian. Further, users of the NCT accept and understand that hiking is a rigorous activity often conducted in rugged outdoor conditions subject to variations in weather and terrain conditions which may involve the risk of injury or death, and, that these persons are fully responsible for their own safety and selecting activities that are consistent with their physical capabilities. Print Name



April-June 2017 11

Matthews’ Meanders


o you ever have a “bad” day? You know, the kind where discouragement piles on, encouragement heads south for the winter, your mope meter starts pegging and you wonder why you do what you do?

I’ll admit it. It happens. Not very often, and usually not for the whole entire day, but sometimes stuff happens that I wish didn’t. Sometimes it’s hearing about a valued volunteer being seriously ill or passing on, or a bad weather event devastating a section of trail. Congress fails again to pass the re-route bill. A cell tower suddenly pops up. A chapter leader misinterprets an e-mail and the damage seems serious. You get cross-wise with a Board member… This may be a surprise to some of you, but I don’t always get everything right here at HQ. It’s true—I’m not making this up! Sometimes the blues are the result of something we could or ought to have done better. There have been those days at NCTA’s helm that left me beating myself up. Now, I do try to be a “glass half full” kind of guy, so when I’m discouraged I’ve found it pays to look for the good, to find reasons to be grateful. Sometimes I need to make a list and write it down. You know the best part about serving the North Country Trail Association? I never have to look very far to fill a page full of gratitude. I get to work with some of the most dedicated people on the planet. So many wonderful volunteers and hard-working chapters, partners and affiliate groups, our hugely talented NCTA staff, a highly qualified Board that’s not afraid to take on the tough issues, our colleagues on other National Scenic Trails… an incredible concentration of commitment. The effort, the long uncompensated hours, the hard work and sweat, the blood given (to bugs as well as projects), every bit of it with an eye toward the future, gifting to the next generation a simple completed and protected hiking trail connecting 4600 miles (FORTY SIX HUNDRED MILES!!) of America’s northern heartlands. It is beyond awesome. Just look at our 2016 Trail Progress Report or our 2016 Annual Report—there’s bucketloads of reasons for gratitude there! And yet, even that pales when I think about individual people, many of whose names I’ll never know, who year in and year out patrol their two miles of NCNST, making sure it’s well marked and clear of debris. There are the Trail Angels making life-changing gestures for hikers they’ve never seen before and likely never will again. And then, there ARE the names—the John Heiams, Al Larmanns and


The North Star

Use Our Website To Plan Your Hikes! Remember, we now have two sites for helping both hike planners and trail maintainers: When planning your hike, read about major closures and reroutes: https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/trail-alerts/ Or to report a problem, for which news our maintainers will be so grateful: https://northcountrytrail.org/trail/report-trailcondition Andrea Ketchmark, Trail Development Staff at HQ, said, “The trail alerts page has allowed us to better communicate with the public about major reroutes, trail closures and storm damage along the trail. With more than 1,600 page views to date, we hope hikers are finding this information very useful in planning their hikes.“ And reporting problems on the “trail condition” site gets them fixed so much faster, so please use these sites both before and after your hikes.

North Star Submission Guidelines Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol.com, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please do not embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. 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. 3 is June 15, 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)

Irene Szabo

Bruce Matthews Executive Director

Quinn Wrights who get way outside their comfort zone, treading the hallowed halls of Congress on behalf of the Trail. The Lorana Jinkersons and Duane Lawtons, the Bobby and Deb Koepplins, the Kay and Stan Kujawas, Tom and Mary Mobergs and Marty Swanks and Mike Staffords who’ve been leading their chapter efforts forever. The Dave Cornells and John Leinens who have led NCTA so well in the past. The Irene Szabos and Joan Youngs and Mary Coffins, legendary heroes among the Red Plaid Nation. And so many, many more. What, me having a bad day? Not hardly.

Recent Wisconsin Trail Protection Successes

By Bill Menke-Wisconsin Regional Trail Coordinator


nyone involved with permanently protecting the trail across private lands knows it is a long and tenuous process. For about a dozen years (2001-2013), great strides to protect the trail took place across Wisconsin. The National Park Service benefitted from a Congressional earmark allocating $500,000 for land or easement acquisition starting in 2000. Using this allocation, National Park Service (NPS) collaborated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), who matched the funds using their renowned Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund. As part of the agreement, the DNR coordinated almost all of the real estate transactions, negotiating with landowners, appraisals, surveys, payment, and eventually holding the land. Because land prices were relatively cheap in northern Wisconsin, the initial allocation lasted almost 10 years. Even after the NPS funding was exhausted, the DNR continued to purchase land and easements for the trail. They were outstanding partners in this regard. Even though land purchase activities have really slowed during the last couple of years, an


analysis completed in 2015 shows only about 15 more miles of private property need to be crossed to create a protected trail route entirely across the state. Unfortunately, due to changes in the state’s political climate, NCTA no longer has the land acquisition support from the Wisconsin DNR that we once had. Since late 2014, we are kind of on our own. We do not have a wealth of money for real estate purchases and this isn’t our expertise. Nevertheless, we still keep our eyes open for trail protection opportunities and occasionally, we score a success. This article will share a couple of successes we have had within the past year. One huge advantage that allows us to move forward with confidence is that all of these potential acquisitions are within an area where a NPS Planning Process is completed. That process identified the best route for the trail throughout the county and beyond. As a Regional Trail Coordinator, I am super fortunate to work with some highly motivated and perceptive volunteers. One of these, NCTA Board Member Peter Nordgren, is interested in trail protection and keeps a close eye on the

April-June 2017


Douglas County online property records covering the west end of our Wisconsin trail. He discovered two tax forfeit parcels that meshed with our trail route. When the county holds a tax forfeit parcel, their goal is to resell it and return it to the tax rolls. We recognized that if this happened, we would have a much tougher time in dealing with a new private owner than with the county. Thus, it was timely to see what we could facilitate in the way of permanently protecting these two parcels. Parcel #1: This is an 80-acre parcel, within a multi-owner area, where we had previously done some trail scouting. We knew all along that this parcel was owned by the county, but Peter discovered that it was not owned by the county forest, where we can almost always work together on trail placement. Because this was a tax forfeit tract that could be sold to anyone, we decided that the best approach would be to work with the Town and County Boards to secure a permanent easement that would protect the trail route even if the parcel was sold. We made a formal written proposal to the County and various Brule-St. Croix Chapter members attended a couple of meetings to answer questions and encourage the granting of the easement. The result was that Douglas County gave us a permanent 200-foot wide easement and in return, we paid the administrative fee to cover the deed recording, etc. This fee amounted to about $600, with chapter members donating half and NCTA’s Trail Protection Fund providing the rest. Compared to what an easement can cost, paying the administrative fee was a bargain. See map showing potential future trail route. From the map you will see that there are still more parcels that are private both north and southwest of our new easement. We still hope to see these fall into place at some future time.


The North Star

Parcel #2: While the aforementioned planning process identified a route that was primarily on public lands, certain areas also created definite barricades to completing the trail. Where paved roads cross the potential trail route, the lands on both sides of the road are often in private hands. One of these areas was along County Road M, southwest of Solon Springs. In this area, long narrow strips of private land line the road. Many of these are only 150 feet wide, but stretch Ÿ mile back from the road. Once again, Peter’s record search determined that one of these narrow strips (that just so happened to align closely with the planned trail route) had gone into the tax forfeit rolls. Just north of these narrow strips, the County Forest is widespread. Therefore, in this case,

we decided our best approach would be to work with the County Forest Administrator to attempt to have the forfeited parcel transferred to the forest. With a lot of scrambling, the titles were finally cleaned up and the parcels shown on the map on page 13 were transferred permanently to the County Forest. Now they are available for our use when we get ready to build the trail across County M and access the expansive public land to the north. While the acreage is small, these two parcels are huge in terms of protecting the trail corridor. In addition, they call to mind that proverbial race between the turtle and the hare. Land protection is like the turtle but if we just keep plugging along, we will eventually reach the goal.

A view from the Levitan property overlooking the valley below Pennsylvania Hill, which is off to our left. Hidden below us is an Interstate highway and a Corps of Engineers’ impoundment in the Steuben County Park. Photo by Dave Newman.

PENNSYLVANIA HILL: Trail Preservation Trials By Irene Szabo


ome trail routing problems may persist for a generation or more, but trail builders never stop trying. Patience and persistence, grasshopper.

Back in the early 90s, the Finger Lakes Trail (host to the NCT for 420 miles across upstate N.Y.) kept getting thrown off property after property on Pennsylvania Hill, a forested lump northwest of Hornell, mostly by new landowners from “the city” (Rochester) who had bought their woods as private hunting retreats. No amount of talk could convince any of them that the presence of the trail before and after hunting season wouldn’t harm hunting prospects, or that they might actually enjoy having a tidy trail to walk. Poor Ron Navik, trail chair of the Genesee Valley Hiking Club who tended this section, kept trying to convince new owners to let us walk there, but no sooner would he get the trail moved to a new property when another landowner would block us off from that spot. It was mighty discouraging. In this neighborhood, many miles of FLT/NCT came from the west through a lovely long stretch of state forests, so after all that protected trail, we were stymied by the last


nice woodsy stretch before the trail had to descend to the outskirts of Hornell. Ron negotiated an actual easement with one earnest young farmer, but the bank owned this farmer’s soul so thoroughly that they would not let him “encumber” the property with a trail easement. He did lose the farm. South of there I tried to talk another new landowner into selling us a thin strip along the north end of his property, or at least selling us an easement, but he and his wife finally decided against it for reasons unknown. Most discouraging was that the Steuben County Forest occupies a major part of that hill, where we were welcomed and had already built a shelter! But after enough years of the above bad luck, we were stuck with only a long rural road walk north around that hill, and eastbound hikers had to walk backwards from the far side to get into the county forest to use the shelter. Dumber than roller skates on fish, right? I had been lucky enough to backpack through this area one sunny Easter weekend in the mid 80s, so did experience some of the treats while hiking on private land there. This was before I had ever lived near a wetland with spring peepers, those teensy frogs that make so much creaking

April-June 2017


noise early in the season, so I had no idea what the racket was, and kept looking on pond water for ducks. Duh. I remember coming upon daffodils blooming in the middle of woods, now a nowhere spot but once some farm yard next to yet another tiny dot of a pond. It was an enchanting hike, and even included a small road walk past a country church having an Easter service. Couldn’t have been nicer, and then we lost the route. But if you live long enough, and your trail people persist in trying, eventually the nicest things can happen. Dedicated Ron from the first paragraph, after working the job of our Trail Preservation Vice-President for a while and succeeding in places, finally retired to North Carolina and trail work with lots of rocks, but his successor, Dave Newman, has stumbled on some wonderful changes among landowners, almost thirty years later, in the same neighborhood as Pennsylvania Hill. All those state forest miles to the west ended at a large property owned by the Levitan family, where our access to all those miles of trail was separated from the road by this 62 acre wooded private property. In 2016 the matriarch of the Levitans, before her heirs put the property up for sale, put an easement there to protect the trail that has been there for over fifty years, a great gift. We even moved part of the trail so that it didn’t cross the middle of the tract, thereby making the easement more attractive to a future owner who might want to build there, and then featured the property for sale in our magazine, Finger Lakes Trail News. In that magazine we offer our permitting landowners the chance to feature their property if they want to sell it; nearly 700 landowners receive the magazine as members of the organization. And it does work once in a while: back in the 90s, two of our members bought a large road-edge property in another county from just such an ad, and they have now added a permanent easement for the trail to cross there forever. While working in this neighborhood on the Levitan easement, Dave Newman discovered on adjacent property maps that there were a couple small landlocked properties that could lead us into the lower portion of the desirable county forest, so he started asking and making proposals, which led to a permission, a land swap, and an actual GIFT of one small parcel, all of which is great good news! Dave was even able to utilize a 20-year-old permission that was “banked” for the future by Ron when he couldn’t get past that spot in 1997. Miraculously, the same owner is still agreeable today to hosting the trail. When we are done building new trail there on National Trails Day, the grotesque road walk around Pennsylvania Hill can be eliminated and we’ll have sensible access to our old shelter again. What a relief. Patience.


The North Star

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? Cheryl Ross brought us the fun creepy guy in the last issue’s Where in the Blue Blazes feature. She said, “I've got an interesting submission. This past July, I discovered this creepy guy marking a two track that crosses over the NCT about a mile south of M55 near Wellston, Michigan, in the Huron Manistee 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!” Well, at last, we used one that lots of people had seen. Here are the answers we received: Ha! …Too easy for Spirit of the Woods volunteers. The post changes outfits with the holidays. Near Wellston (or Manistee, but Wellston is closer) South of M55 in the Manistee National Forest. — Joan Young, 2/13 Really is a creepy sign to walk by...Have done so several times! —Elaine Bush 2/15 Hi Irene, I have seen the scary mask on the post quite a few times. I often hike this part of the NCT and did so last week getting in my first two miles of the Hike 100 2017 Challenge. I am a member of the Spirit of the Woods local group of the NCTA. — Steven L. Rogers Manistee, Michigan 2/17 I took a friend on a shakedown hike for an Appalachian Trail section hike last June. We hiked from Freesoil to M-55 in Michigan and passed this guy. —Geoff Koglin, NCT Member - Baw Beese Chapter, 2/20 I know that location. It’s a mile south of M-55 near fire tower road in the Manistee National Forest. —Julia Davidson 2/21 Hi Irene, I saw it! Was I ever surprised. One Saturday morning I read my North Star, then I went on a hike and there it was! — Brian Laarman, West Michigan Chapter 3/20 We have no item this time to puzzle you with, so please send in trailside oddities to the editor, Irene Szabo, at treeweenie@ aol.com, or mail them to 6939 Creek Road, Mt. Morris, NY 14510.

The Best Kind of Publicity By Joan Young


hen promotion becomes a phenomenon that isn't generated from an advertising campaign, everyone can smile and agree that something must be right in the world. With the formation and growing popularity of the Facebook group, Michigan Hiking and Backpacking, that something is hiking on the North Country Trail.

The group is the brainchild of Jeff Kindy (outdoor lover, teacher of survival and winter camping skills) and Chris Hillier (Triple Crown … Appalachian, Continental Divide, and Pacific Crest Trails … and Iron Belle hiker). One day about four years ago they were walking the Kal-Haven Trail and wished for a place where people could share their passion for hiking, get questions answered, learn about local trails, perhaps even arrange meet-ups. Facebook provided an easy venue to create such a group. Other administrators who may sound familiar are Tom Funke (2000 NCT miles, author of 50 Hikes guides, and owner of Trailspotters of Michigan) and Joan Young (first woman to hike the entire NCT and author of the book North Country Cache). In just four years, the group has grown to over 4000 members. Experienced hikers, people who simply would like to hike more, day hikers, backpackers, casual strollers, etc., come together to share. The rules are simple: have an interest in hiking, be polite, no spam. There is no requirement to live in Michigan to join, but most members are from the Midwest since local information is a priority. Southeast Michigan has the most members, and several group hikes have been organized in that region. Because so many miles of the NCT are in Michigan, our trail pops up in the conversations quite often. New hikers have learned of the many places to access trailheads. The Manistee River Trail/NCT and Fife Lake loops are being hiked regularly by people who heard about them through this group. Shared pictures lure many to discover the NCT for themselves. Would that every state had a welcoming clearing house like this! Check it out! Search on Facebook for Michigan Hiking and Backpacking.


Facebook Hiking Sites There seem to be hundreds of Facebook hiking groups. Here are some that are state centered or regional. • Michigan Hiking and Backpacking 4,267 members • Northern WI and Western U.P. Hiking – 297 members • Arizona Hiking – 12,431 members The goal of Arizona Hiking group is to provide a forum for hikers of all levels to share experiences and tips. • Hike The Smokies – 28,522 members • Florida Hiking Syndicate – 3,069 members • Hiking South Dakota – 5,609 members • Hiking Utah – 3,962 members • Hiking Oregon – 5,659 members • Hiking Our California – 3,165 members • Arkansas Hiking – 4,926 members • Hiking the Adirondacks – 5,404 members • Tennessee Hiking Group – 2,626 members • Hike Kentucky – 5,294 members • Maine Hiking – 878 members • Oklahoma Hiking – 822 members • Hiking & Backpacking Pennsylvania – 9,503 members • Hiking New York State and Beyond – 2,088 members • North Georgia Hiking & Adventure – 4,011 members • Camping / Hiking / Backpacking - in Colorado 17,431 members • Missouri Hiking & Outdoors – 2,730 members

April-June 2017


Half-mile divisions on a map in North Dakota.

Map Updates

By Matt Rowbotham, Staff GIS Coordinator


he most exciting mapping resource at the NCTA continues to be the web mapping system built in ArcGIS Online (AGOL). Many in the NCT community are familiar with this tool, in fact very familiar, as is evident by the usage statistics. The most popular map gets consistently around 500 views per day! Beyond the primary web map there are number of other tools available at northcountrytrail.org/trail/maps/ that can aid in trip planning. These include an elevation profile generator and a tool for locating what traditional hiking maps may be available for an area of interest. This system will continue to evolve with added functionality and improved information. Over the past year a hike-able route has been added through the Adirondack Park in New York as well as a route that connects to the Long Trail in Vermont. Working closely with our partners at the Buckeye Trail Association, Superior Hiking Trail Association and Finger Lakes Trail Conference there is now route information available for each of these sections of NCT co-located within these affiliates’ areas. Users in the trail community have let the NCTA know that one of the major shortcomings of the AGOL system is the cumbersome tool used to measure distances along the trail. As a work around, the mileage index of generic half-mile waypoints, used in the NCTA’s “Technical Series” hiking maps has been ported to AGOL creating an easy to use reference that makes determining distance along the trail very simple (similar to highway mileage markers). Currently, these waypoints are available only for North Dakota but the remainder of the trail will be added


The North Star

At top of opposite page: Converting the trail on a topo map to an elevation profile. Very cool.

state by state throughout 2017, culminating in an end-to-end mileage index covering the full length of the NCT. By visiting the following <http://arcg.is/2nNLMpX> link on a web browser the AGOL system will automatically respond to the type of device you’re using. Using the Explorer for ArcGIS app on mobile devices, tablets or a computer also makes for a high quality experience. The correct app for your device can be found by visiting http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/explorer. Additionally, the NCTA put together the following resources to help users get started with AGOL: <http://bit.ly/2n0nggG> The public trail data served through AGOL should be the first stop for anyone planning a trip on the NCT. This data is generally updated a number of times per month. These updates include everything from reroutes and new trail construction to improvements and corrections in trail data. AGOL can be a great resource, but because of the fragile nature of mobile devices and lack of dependable cellular data service a backup map should always be used in the field. To that end, the development of the “Technical Series” maps that were launched for North Dakota in 2016 <northcountrytrail.org/NDMaps>, will continue across the rest of the trail in 2017. As always the map data used at NCTA is available for use in other devices and platforms or in custom maps and apps through the NCTA’s Open Data Portal: gis.northcountrytrail.org Find out more about the open data portal here: <https://vimeo.com/134120543> and here: <https://northcountrytrail.org/docs/gis/Open_Data_Portal_ Tutorial.pdf> Stay tuned to the NCTA’s website for the latest updates and release to our navigation resources.

Showing the maps one can obtain for a portion of the trail.


April-June 2017


National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT


hen the United States Congress authorized the North Country National Scenic Trail, it required us to follow all applicable laws and subsequent planning documents pertaining to the Trail. It also authorized us to work in partnership with NCTA and all of you. It also authorized (some of) the funds to get it done.

So, given the complexity of the government and the laws it has created, the complexity of our partnerships along the Trail, the Trail’s enormity, and our limited staffing capacity, setting up clear processes for getting from point A to point Z are important to ensure we are doing not only what Congress intends, but that we are doing the “right thing” too. Clear processes also help with maintaining sanity. That is my personal goal. What processes are we talking about, and more importantly where will these processes lead us? To what goal? The goal is permanent and protected Trail. That is, Trail that all our volunteers in the field don’t have to build and rebuild, and relocate, and become disheartened with every mile of trail that has to be “redone.” So first, let’s look at how the Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) sets things up. The CMP is the official policysetting administrative document of the National Park Service guiding the management of the North Country National Scenic Trail. On the maps in the CMP, specific trail routes are clearly identified in some locations. In others, all we have is a broad gray band that suggests “the trail goes around in here somewhere.” These corridors are the gaps where we need to consider trail route opportunities and constraints. We need to have agreement between the partners where the best route for the Trail should go and then work together to see that it happens. What process have we set up to ensure thoughtful consideration of the best trail route? Yes, you guessed it: The Optimal Location Review (OLR). This process at its most basic level reflects an inventory of the area, an analysis of the qualities of those things inventoried, and development of alternative routes connecting those quality inventoried elements that can then be compared and the best route determined. In some cases, the OLR may have to be more complex, while in others, a very simplified version can be undertaken. In all cases the final OLR must be approved by the NPS. Once the strategy for the best route is in place, the hard work begins, developing and cementing partnerships with the land managers, managing authorities, landowners and communities along the route. With public land managers we cement our partnership with Memoranda of Understanding. MOUs are not legal documents, but they document that NPS, NCTA and the land managers all agree the trail has value and we will collectively strive to build and maintain the trail. On public land, at this time, MOUs are the most formal


The North Star

means we have to secure permanence of the trail. We are now researching the concept of permanent easements across some public lands. Stay tuned. On private lands the traditional approach to securing a route for the trail has been incremental, starting from a handshake, with permissions growing into short term access agreements, to permanent easements or fee simple purchase. The goal in this progressive movement forward is to reach permanence. And if over time, reaching a permanent easement or purchase just isn’t going to happen with certain landowners, it may be time to step back a bit and explore other routes. Once we have studied an area, determined the best route, worked out relationships with property owners (and most probably have had to jiggle the route here and there due to terrain, changes in relationships, discoveries of things like dumps or quicksand, tribal issues, and yes, even politics), and we have permanently protected the Trail route through easements or fee simple purchase. We’re now done, right? Almost. Congress and NPS leadership requires that we report on the progress of the Trail. Real progress can be denoted in terms of trail segments being “done.” This is where Certification comes in. It documents the process, ensuring that the route was thoughtfully considered, the route is protected and that everyone along the route is supportive of this segment being part of the North Country National Scenic Trail. We can report to Congress new miles of certified Trail and demonstrate that the funding they provide is going toward the goal they determined, a long distance trail across the northern tier of the country. OK. NOW we’re done, right? Nope. Every day the Trail is potentially impacted by external development pressures such as utility lines, cell towers, wind turbines, drilling, housing developments and other intrusions upon the scenic quality and recreational experience of the Trail. The Trail has some clout in terms of its response to these pressures when the segment is permanent and certified, but when a route is along a road or exists via a handshake, our clout is severely diminished. Can we actually STOP such development? Probably not, but in some cases where we have certified trail, we may be able to convince the developer to modify its design, or reroute or relocate the development. In the article opposite, Chris Loudenslager, our lead Outdoor Recreation Planner for issues such as this, will give you a more detailed look at this very complex subject. As always, if you have any questions, give me a call. We have a real landline now: (616) 319-7906.

Megan Olds

Protecting the Way By Chris Loudenslager, National Park Service


ow would a person best describe the North Country Trail’s relationship with utility developers? Let’s just say “it’s complicated.” Since beginning my position as a planner with NOCO (NOrth COuntry), I have been slowly but steadily working to develop a system for monitoring and responding to proposed development projects that would be located near the Trail or within its associated viewshed. I don’t believe anyone intended or expected me to adopt this responsibility when I came to the North County Trail…I certainly didn’t…but once I got settled in and began to understand the many challenges such a mighty trail faces, this was one need that became evident: it emerged as an unmet need, and it was added to the list of all the other things to worry a planner for a 4,600 mile trail. When I refer to “utility developers,” you may be wondering specifically what sort of projects I’m talking about. Cell towers and pipeline are obvious proposals you’re probably all aware of. I would also include exploratory drilling and mining in this. In the last year and a half, I have responded to projects in all three of these categories. Other projects that I know are just a matter of time include energy transmission lines, wind towers, and maybe even solar farms. What else? Only time will tell, I suppose, but what is for sure is that as the demand for services increase, and as the NCT continues to gain more trail on the ground, the frequency of conflicts will certainly increase exponentially. And here’s where it starts getting complicated: the difficulty we’re faced with is that in almost every instance, there are different laws, regulations, and permitting requirements regarding each specific type of utility, and different agencies who have jurisdiction over the various types of projects. In some instances, such as with mineral exploration or extraction, the land manager may not have ownership or authority for the resources that may be above or below the “land” they manage,


From left front, clockwise around the table: Luke Jordan, Dove Day (Jordan Valley 45° Trail Coordinator), Duane Lawton (JV45° President), Eugene Branigan (JV45° Vice President), Chris Loudenslager, Kenny Wawsczyk, Ed Morse and Richard Naperala (both Grand Traverse Chapter Trail Coordinators), all working on prioritizing the gaps in northern Lower Michigan.

and are obliged to provide access to those resources. Who is required to notify whom by law, and who “should” notify whom per agreements is a complex puzzle. While we are making progress in putting the pieces together, the best I can say about our current reality is that sometimes we are notified of projects that have been proposed near the Trail…but not always. To be more effective, I need your help. If you hear of a project being proposed in your location, please let me know so I can start researching the project, make contact with the planners, and ensure our interests are represented. As Mark suggested in his article, however, representation of our interests is no guarantee that the NCT will be protected: the presence and status of the North Country National Scenic Trail in a particular location does not suggest that we have any authority or special clout to allow or deny a proposed project. We are working hard to ensure that the developers consider alternative building sites in order to avoid affecting the trail and hiking experience, but in most cases, there are very legitimate reasons the proposed site was selected. The bulk of my efforts, then, are to coordinate with both the local trail stewards and developers to mitigate impacts to the trail and associated resources. While the issue remains complicated and seems very likely to be one that will demand even greater diligence, communication, and effort on everyone’s part, we are making progress, and we have achieved successes that would have been impossible not that long ago.

And Sometimes Our Attention Helps!

There were two proposed cell phone towers where we questioned the potential impact to the viewshed. In both instances, the project developer agreed to conduct a balloon test (a tethered balloon floated up to the proposed height of the tower), with NCTA observers situated at various viewing points along the trail where we suspected there would be adverse effects on the trail experience. On-the-ground observations suggested that the tower would not be visible from the trail. There is one pending cell tower proposal where further questions and discussion with both the developer and land owner may result in project relocation. Secondbest scenario is if the tower does go ahead as proposed, the NPS has coordinated with NCTA trail stewards, the land owner, and the project planners to develop a trail protection and impact mitigation plan to protect the trail and users during project implementation, minimize the effect of the project on the surrounding landscape, and use landscape architecture methods to mitigate the visual impact of the facility once it has been completed. For one pipeline, the project planners accepted and incorporated a trail protection, mitigation, and site restoration plan developed by NPS and local trail stewards. In the big picture, I'd say the fact that we are getting increased numbers of notifications is in and of itself a success. In my first fiscal year with NOCO, I responded to two utility notices. In fiscal year 2016, we were notified of seven project proposals. So far in fiscal year 2017, we've received notice of eight. While I'd rather we not have all these projects going on or along the trail, at least we starting to find out about them and getting the chance to provide our input before they're built.

April-June 2017


Sarah Gravino

Sarah Gravino

8-20-11 Ethan, Christian, Jade, Mr. Hook and Jadin. Landowners along the Finger Lakes Trail/NCNST, Mr. and Mrs. Hook gave us popsicles. The kids still talk about this five years later.

Christian, Simmi and Ethan 8-16-16.

The Gravinos

Finger Lakes Trail End-to-Ender Numbers 414 Ethan, 415 Christian, 416 Sarah Previously published in the FLT News; reprinted with permission.

By Sarah Gravino


ome people make excuses; others make memories. This is not an end-to-end article about hills, sweat, rain, a bear, or pack of coyotes. This is for all of you young parents patiently waiting for the kids to grow up so you can “have fun again.” Did you know kids are fun? They’re hilarious actually. If you both put down your phones, turn off the television and spend some time together you might just learn a little more about the humans they are trying to become and the Finger Lakes Trail is the perfect place for magic like that to happen.

Bet you can think of so many reasons why you and your 5 year old can’t go backpacking or even hiking.

They’re too young. Says who? We started when my boys were 7 and 9. Did we start off with 18 mile days? Nope. Seven miles to the first lean-to in Allegany State Park was pushing it, but they made it. For the next year or two we never pushed more than 12 miles between camps or cars but on the FLT that works fine. I’ve never done anything like that before. Well, guess what? Neither have your kids. You’ll learn together. And even if you screw up it’s the adventure that makes it fun. Remember the time we walked 3 miles in the wrong direction on our 20 mile day? Or 22

The North Star

when our boots froze overnight? Be prepared for the unexpected; it’s a great life lesson. Spend a winter learning how to throw a bear bag, how to pack a backpack and how to use a compass. The internet is wonderful… sometimes. I don’t have any equipment. What do you actually need? Our first year the boys wore crocs and I had old sneakers with a hole so large I had to tape 2 toes together to prevent my little toe from sticking out. The kids used school backpacks and fleece blankets. Our budget was so low we ate rice, mac and cheese and instant oatmeal. So what do you actually need? • Good light weight tent, and remember, kids are small. • A way to purify water • A way to cook (light weight stove and pot) • Patience As time went on the boys grew stronger and our gear improved. It will be boring. What are the kids supposed to do? Walking quietly is not something that happens until adulthood so be prepared.

This is the master list I wish someone had handed me five years ago. • Alphabet listing game. • I’m thinking of a number. • Count small toads. • Count red efts. • Play “Would you rather…?” • Play with road tar. • Pick up road junk; kids love road junk. • Make berry or mud face paint. • Make jam; in your mouth is less messy. • Ask “What would you like to have right now?” • Sing. And if you’re my kid you’d sing the same song for two weeks straight. • Pretend you are a giant. • Limbo under maple sap lines. • Have a belly button sing along. Get weird. It’s okay. • Yahtzee–dice are lightweight. • Have a conversation. Weird, I know. But talk to your kids. There’s a lot going on in those little heads. It took us five years of hiking through nettle and briars, up and down mountains, in snow and blistering heat but those are not the things the boys talk about when I ask about our adventures. They remember hitting grandma in the head with

Closing the Gaps in Michigan

an apple, belly button songs and the best ice cream they’ve ever had. Life is short and kids grow fast. Enjoy it. Stop making excuses and start making memories. Thank you Finger Lakes Trail for giving us an excuse to make time for each other, for giving my boys a reason to be proud (580 miles before the age of 13 is pretty cool) and the perfect place to make memories. If you want to read more about our adventures check out our blog at http://shortstrides. blogspot.com/ and while I’m a bit sad we’re done and I promised them no backpacking this year, I have a feeling it’s in their blood and the branch trails are next.

By Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan


Wouldn't it be wonderful if this fun family started to get enthused about continuing west on the North Country Trail? —Editor Sarah Gravino


Megan Olds

Vincent Gravino

Christian, Sarah, Ethan and Simmi, 7-17-14.

ith just over 830 miles of established North Country Trail in Michigan and an estimated goal of 1,150 total miles, our local Chapters have been working hard to close the road walk “gaps.” With 10 gaps over 10 miles long, that requires finding the best route through the Optimal Location Review (OLR) process. Then we work with multiple landowners, not only to gain access but to protect it permanently where we’re able. As many of you know this takes a lot of time and effort and often yields little or slow results. Chances are North Country Trail volunteers didn’t sign up to do landowner outreach or write a lengthy planning document, so how can the NCTA help our volunteers with this process? Last spring we received a grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) for $30,000 to hire a planning firm to help lead us through this process in two separate gaps. In June we prioritized the gaps in the Lower Peninsula with the Chapters, then hired Megan Olds of Parallel Solutions to assist our Harbor Springs Chapter with a six mile road walk and Dave Austin of Williams and Works to coordinate with the Chief Noonday Chapter for a 16 mile gap in southern Barry County. After several months of work, some promising opportunities seem to be emerging. Once consensus on the best route is reached, the firm may also engage in landowner contact and

NCTA's Director of Trail Development Andrea Ketchmark, Emily Meyerson (Michigan DNR, Northern Lower Peninsula Trail Coordinator) and Jim Stamm (Harbor Springs Chapter President) work on trail plans with the DNR.

negotiation to secure the rights to the corridor. In the end this will create two Optimal Location Review documents that the National Park Service or NCTA can refer to in the future if called upon. Most importantly, this process will lead to a safer and more scenic route, resulting in more trail miles and eliminating the temporary road walk. In the Upper Peninsula in Baraga County we’re looking to close a large gap with the acquisition of 2,553 acres primarily along the Sturgeon River just east of Canyon Falls. Doing so will not only close half of a current 15 mile road walk, but also protect the trail’s corridor and viewshed. Funding for this property, which is currently owned by Weyerhaeuser, is being sought by the National Park Service though the Land and Water Conservation Fund and we are now looking into the possibility of the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund. Our tireless volunteers are always looking for ways to add more trail miles in their section. The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter has been reaching out to landowners to close another 15 mile gap east of the Silver Lake Basin and we’re working with the Marquette County GIS department to identify parcel data. Back down in the Lower Peninsula the Jordan Valley 45° Chapter is constantly working with private landowners, the DNR, and the local land conservancy to help close their gaps, while the Grand Traverse Hiking Club has already submitted two proposals this year to the DNR that will eliminate an unsafe road walk and vastly improve the hiker’s experience. Further south, the Western Michigan Chapter has two completed OLRs, and is working on the next steps to get trail on the ground. These efforts show that signing up to be a North Country Trail volunteer can involve so much more than just maintaining or building trail. People of all backgrounds are needed to help complete the vision of a 4,600 mile National Scenic Trail. Of course if private landowners do allow the Trail on their property then we will need those trail building volunteers!

April-June 2017


Courtesy of the Fortune Bay Expedition Team

NCT Challenge Hike By Chuck Hayden


he low, muffled roar of a sleeping industry provided the background. The streets were quiet, the air was cool, and the city was peaceful. I walked to the back of the Jeep and opened the gate. The clunk and numb squeak suited the silence. Every sound of preparation was crisp and in harmony. I was the first to arrive at the rendezvous for the first hike through five counties in western Michigan. 21 hikes (and 210 miles later), we will be at the northern border of Newaygo County. We will hike this as a team and we will step on every foot of trail. We won’t “pick and choose” mileage according to our mood or the route’s popularity; we will just lean forward and walk. Until you go outside your norm, you never learn anything interesting. Walking every foot of trail has the potential to be more rewarding than just hiking the popular parts. This will be the third time in the past decade our team has undertaken a long distance section hike of the North Country National Scenic Trail. We keep coming back because it offers a lot of interesting perspective of urban, suburban and rural terrain. We invite anyone who would like to join as we march north through the backyard of Michigan. We will see our own towns, cities and parks in a different light…as if we are just visitors. It is as surreal as it is rewarding. We meet new people, hear their perspective and learn from each other. We have a couple hundred miles to get to know each other, a couple hundred miles to get to know ourselves. Our plan is to hike 210 miles in 21 section hikes, through 5 counties, one city, a dozen towns, a National Cemetery, National Forest, State Parks, State Game Areas, County Parks, City Parks, railtrails, and much more. We will do every step of the published route. We will visit local restaurants and local businesses. We will tell stories, share knowledge and experiences. We will share our knowledge and skills with newer hikers, and draw together like-minded people. We intend to provide opportunities for participants to gain miles in the Hike 100 Challenge and to achieve our common goals. Our schedule will be flexible. We will schedule the next hike after the conclusion of our first, with a couple of weeks in between. We invite you to join us in our journey. More information about the hike can be found at the team’s website: fortunebay.org 24

The North Star

The Fortune Bay Expedition Team is an outdoor skills school and exploration group dedicated to encouraging members to gain countless skills and experience in the outdoors and wilderness. The team runs the School of Expeditionary Sciences that offers a full curriculum of basic to advanced expedition and outdoor skills.

Hike 1

Today was the first leg of our journey north for 210 miles. The grey expanse of sky was fitting. Winter is a bit surreal without the leafy green comfort of vegetation that hides the depressing view of old siding, scraggly branches and muddy lawns. Winter on this day was a bit misleading. There was no snow and the temperature was in the 40s. We were striding on the North Country Trail past urban parks, back yards, and along the river. This year, Fortune Bay Expeditions has implemented a 210 mile challenge from Marshall, Michigan, to the northern border of Newaygo County. The 2017 North Country Trail Challenge route will follow the route published on December 31st, 2016 by NCTA. Today (Feb 11th) was the first leg of the challenge. Our start point was the historic Bridge Park, off South Wattles Rd. (UTM Coordinates – 16T 0655575E 4683621N). Interesting place. There is a variety of retired bridges from around the state, which formerly served as road bridges spanning different water features; today they stand, close together in various directions serving more recreational purposes as walking paths. We crossed the Charlotte Highway Bridge that used to stand in Ionia County and was constructed in 1886 by Buckeye Bridge and Boiler Works. The bridge was the entry/exit point of the park for the 4,600 mile North Country Trail. After leaving the park, we crossed Wattles Road and headed north on the Calhoun County Trail which shares its route with the North Country Trail. The trail winds through Kimball Pines Park where, a few years ago, the park used to be populated by towering pines. However, due to a wind storm, the majority of pines were toppled. Chief Noonday Chapter President, Larry Pio, described the aftermath as we walked. The NCTA chapter helped with clean up. Hundreds of fallen trees stacked up to 10 feet high, blocking the entrance to the park. This carnage continued for acres. Today, only the carcasses of those trees remain as grey rotting logs pushed to the side and piled for nature to reclaim.

Leg Miles: 9.3 Total Challenge Miles: 9.3 Trail Hosts: Chief Noonday Chapter of the North Country Trail Association Trail Condition: Very Good Trail Environment: Urban, Urban City Parks Facilities: Plenty of Parking at various places, restaurants, shopping, lodging and much more.


2017 NCTA Extended Outing: Pictured Rocks Duane Lawton

After Kimball Pines, the trail parallels Michigan Avenue (a busy street) and turns at a McDonalds restaurant. We stopped there for bathroom breaks and a few small coffees. After our short visit, we headed north into the Ott Biological Preserve. This time of year, the preserve is quiet and grey. Without a covering of snow, the preserve seems dead. We wound through the park on a large board walk and across a bridge placed with a helicopter by the National Park Service over two decades ago. Upon exiting the preserve, we emerged at another busy street, East Emmett Road. We followed the road over the massive Canadian National Railway Yard. The rail yard is quite a sight with rail lines fanning out from dozens of switches. Then we crossed over the actual Battle Creek, entering the Battle Creek Linear Park. From where we entered the park, the linear parkway is quiet and passes through wooded areas dotted with housing. After a short distance of board walks and interpretive stops, the park passed a homeless camp. Soon after the camp, we passed a monument for the Underground Railroad that honored the men and women who operated the Railroad, as well as courageous fugitives who fled north to freedom. Eventually, the park transitions to a modern downtown cityscape. There are many interesting sights as you stroll along attractive Battle Creek. Just before our hike ended, we passed the Michigan Central Railroad Depot which has been converted to a restaurant. We ended the hike with lunch and some local brew at Arcadia Brewing Company.

July 30-August 3 Following the NCTA Celebration in Marquette

Join NCTA members to hike the North Country National Scenic Trail in the UP along the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore from Munising to Grand Marais. This is a backpacking trip along the Lake Superior shoreline, one of the crown jewels of the NCNST. Views of the lake and rock formations from the trail are spectacular. Our experienced leader, Andy Mytys, is open to communicating with hikers prior to the trip to answer any questions about terrain, weather, gear, meals etc. NCTA Extended Outings are known for the camaraderie and lasting friendships that develop along the trail. To obtain complete itinerary, cost and application packet contact leader Andy Mytys: amytys@followtheblazes.com, (248) 935-6486.

Hike 100 Challenge Returns For 2017! Exciting new patch design!


ver 5,000 people attempted the Hike 100 challenge in 2016 with nearly 1,500 individuals from 26 states completing it.

In 2017, the NCTA will again offer the Hike 100 Challenge with an extra Build It Challenge to celebrate the 4,600 mile National Scenic Trail and the stories of its thousands of volunteers and hikers. Anyone who hikes 100 miles on the NCNST during calendar year 2017, in aggregate or all at once, will be eligible for a special patch. In addition, the NCTA will be offering prizes and free resources for those who sign up for the challenge, and a special grand prize drawing for those who complete the Build It Challenge. In the Build It Challenge, participants can complete two simple activities to help spread the word about the NCNST and get more people involved. Sign up at northcountrytrail.org/ hike100challenge. April-June 2017


Tammy Veloski

Winter Fun For Some Of Our Trail Groups Ray Recchia

The photographer looks down on hiker Larry Blumberg in Little Rock City.


The North Star

Tammy Veloski Jennifer Mott

While many state parks close up in winter, here in western New York the Allegany State Park has cabins and miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. It’s a hilly park, maxing out at more than 2000 feet of elevation, and trail groups from both New York and Pennsylvania enjoyed the place this winter. The Triple Cities Hiking Club from the Binghamton area, who tend miles of the Finger Lakes Trail, rented a few cabins in late January. While two counties away there was no snow at all this odd winter, lake effect snow off Lake Erie does blow far enough inland to give Allegany State Park a good dose, plus the park’s elevation helps. The club socialized in the Art Roscoe Warming Hut, and skied and hiked both within the park and along nearby miles of the Finger Lakes Trail/NCT at a delightful place known as Little Rock City, a state forest where house-sized rocks that were never glaciated are great fun to walk among. However, as you’ll see from their pictures, that January Sunday was foggy everywhere in western N.Y. The Butler County Chapter of the NCTA was there over February 17-19 on a trip organized each year by Joyce Appel. They, too, rented the Summit cabins, and enjoyed the groomed loop trails which range from Easier to Most Difficult. Tammy Veloski reported on their weekend: "We really lucked out on the snow for our weekend. Snow was perfect Friday afternoon and still good Saturday morning despite the warming temperatures. By Saturday afternoon there were many bare spots showing and most everyone found alternate activities for Sunday before heading home. I know some completed miles toward the NCTA Hike 100 2017 Challenge. Story continues on page 28

Tammy Veloski


t is so good to see hiking people outside in the winter! Luckily there are a few lodges which offer a place to stay then, like North Dakota’s Stiklestad Lodge featured in our last issue, or Ray Vlasak’s High Pines Resort in Minnesota, where the quiet of snow-covered woods and roads is not marred by the noise of snowmobiles.

Right: Following the FLT/NCT through Little Rock City in a nearby state forest.


April-June 2017


Larry Blumberg

Larry Blumberg

Fog was terrible for the Triple Cities group on Sunday.

One of the Summit cabins, which both groups used.

Tammy Veloski

Tammy Veloski

The Banana Boat was a favorite in the cardboard sled competition although it needed a bit of help getting started.

The Butler County Chapter was indeed lucky. We had such warm weather for the rest of February that I was painting blazes on a reroute on the 22nd, just days after their skiing. Enjoy pictures from both groups. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Editor


The North Star

Tammy Veloski

Late Saturday afternoon is the cardboard sled competition. Some are especially creative with their cardboard sleds. The Banana Boat was a favorite although it needed a bit of help getting started. We have a potluck dinner Saturday evening, and other meals are on your own. There is a good fish fry Friday nights at the restaurant in the park. My sons Kyle and Dale both enjoyed the weekend. They are more daring than I am on the hills."

Tammy Veloski

Winter Funâ&#x20AC;Ś continued from page 27

Hiking Shorts Shelby Gangloff

Washington Cherry Pie Hikes In Pennsylvania Feb 25, 2017 Eric Chapman

Apparently the Allegheny National Forest Chapter can’t wait to get to work on their trail. On March 12, nine people braved cold temperatures to install steel mesh on the bridges just north of the Rte. 66 trailhead. They also cleared the southernmost 5 miles of trail.

Allegheny National Forest Chapter's Early Work Sessions

Christina Zettel

Tina Toole

Tina Toole

Two weeks later, in better but still mucky conditions, the chapter was out again, still adding steel mesh to puncheon to render the boards less slippery. Their future plans include fording a knee-deep creek in later April to save a mile carrying materials. Ugh!

There were 76 folks in 2 groups on the long 7 mile 2-3 hour hike, 60 on the three 1 hour nature hikes and 130 on the six 30 minute history hikes. Jennings Environmental Center has lots of graveled trails, so can handle the crowds.

Left: Here's a photo I took of husband Mike last night fording Chappel Creek with his chainsaw pack. We were out there twice this week to get a bunch of blowdown from that wind storm a few Thursdays ago. Both times we forded back after dark. It was fun!

The weather cleared at the start of the Washington Cherry Pie Hikes and 266 participants enjoyed nature hikes, history hikes and a long 7 mile hike along the NCT from the 528 bridge to Jennings Environmental Education Center. Reenactors, displays and informational talks were held at Jennings and cherry pie, cookies, hot cider, coffee and water were served. Thanks to all our volunteers and sponsors including the staff at Jennings, Washington Trail 1753, Butler Chapter NCTA, Butler Outdoor Club, Butler County Tourism, the Harmony Museum and North Country Brewing who provided cherry pies for 180 people, while Harmony Museum donated the rest. Wow. —Dave Adams, Butler Chapter

—Tina Toole Mind you, this was taken on 3/29 when the water is still in the thirties.

Trail Angels Update If you are planning a hike and would like some logistics support along the way, contact nct@northcountrytrail.org identifying the location you will be hiking and what support you need. The Trail Angel group will provide you with contacts that meet your needs. And, if you are someone who would like to support hikers through your area, whether spotting a vehicle, offering a meal, a bed, a chance to do laundry, transport around, or whatever else, please send your information to the above address. As we get inquiries in your area, we will pass the information along. Let’s all work together for a fun hiking season.


Re-enactors portraying young George Washington, his guide Christopher Gist and their Indian guide pose with a history hiker during the Washington Cherry Pie Hikes event Feb 25, 2017.

April-June 2017


Growth habit of poison hemlock in bloom, Conium maculatum, on the banks of the Ohio and Erie Canal.

In this closeup, note the dark green triangular fern-like leaves, and coarse smooth hollow stems with purple mottling

Leave Poison Hemlock Alone Story and photos by Joan Young


he man...laid his hands on him and after a while examined his feet and legs, then pinched his foot hard and asked if he felt it. He said 'No' then after that, his thighs, and passing upwards in this way he showed us that he was growing cold and rigid. And then again he touched him and said that when it reached his heart, he would be gone." This account by Plato concerning Socrates’ death is generally accepted as factual because the description of the creeping chill and paralysis is consistent with symptoms leading to death from ingesting Conium maculatum, poison hemlock. An infusion of the plant was so deadly it was used by ancient Greeks to carry out capital punishment. Native to Europe and north Africa, this beautiful but dangerous member of the carrot family is now found in all North Country Trail states. It has become naturalized throughout the United States and Canada. Also called carrot fern or spotted hemlock in some regions, this is another wild plant you don't want to fool around with. Accidental deaths have occurred from people eating the roots thinking it was wild carrot, Queen Anne's lace, Daucus carota. Although they both have a flat umbrella (umbel) of tiny white blossoms, a bit of careful observation can easily distinguish the


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two plants. It has no relationship whatsoever to the coniferous tree, eastern hemlock. In the first place, almost all plants in the carrot family (Apiaceae) have similar flowers. You must train yourself to look beyond the flower shape. The first clue is found in the name— maculata. Don't be put off, claiming you don't know Latin. We commonly use the word which is the opposite of this— immaculate, meaning pure or clean. Maculate thus is impure or spotted. The stems of poison hemlock are often streaked and spotted with purple. If you find tall, carrot-like plants with spotted stems, steer clear. However, the stems may not always have the purple mottling, so you should learn to look for other characteristics as well. Poison hemlock leaves are lush, dark green, and finely divided. They look very much like a fern. The overall form is triangular. If crushed (use a stick) they have an unpleasant odor. If you suspect you have broken this plant and gotten any juice on your hands or transferred it to cooking utensils, be sure to wash thoroughly. Particularly sensitive individuals may have a severe reaction from inhaling the chemical released by broken plants. Stems of this plant are hollow. It can be 4-10 feet tall and adapts to grow pretty much anywhere, although it prefers moist soil. The pictures accompanying this article were taken on the banks of the Ohio and Erie Canal on the Buckeye Trail, north of where the NCT joins at Zoar, Ohio. The chemicals in this plant which are problematic are alkaloids, particularly coniine (named from the plant genus, Conium). In chemical structure, it is similar to nicotine (also a deadly poison), and binds to receptors in the body causing disruption of the central nervous system. Paralysis proceeds from the extremities to the core until the muscles controlling respiration and the heart are affected. It actually works on the body in a manner similar to curare. We've all seen enough bad movies with death in the jungle by poison dart to understand what this looks like. Whether the movies were good or not, the slow death part would be unpleasant. It is usually possible to recover from hemlock poisoning if respiration by artificial ventilation is maintained until the chemicals work their way out of the body. Prompt medical diagnosis and treatment are critical to survival for both humans and pets. Birth defects in cows and pigs occur if the plant is eaten at critical gestation periods. Sheep and goats are less affected, but are not totally immune to this effect. It is possible for the alkaloids to enter the human food chain through milk and eggs. You will find this plant referenced in homeopathic medicine. Many herbs are medicinal in small doses and poisonous at larger amounts. This is not a plant to fool around with. The seeds and roots are more toxic than the leaves, but doses as small as one-tenth gram of the alkaloid can be fatal. Leave medicinal preparations of this to experts. Watch for the flowers of Conium maculatum in early summer, and foliage throughout the growing season. By learning to look at more than one aspect of a plant, identification becomes easier. The carrot-like flowers, coarse but smooth hollow spotted stems, and dark green ferny leaves are the keys to recognizing this dangerous plant.

Voyages Via Vermont Hammond Pond

By Adam D. Heckle

The feeling of being at home never ceases to arise when your feet hit the trail, and you wonder what took you so long to get out there. he 2016 Hike 100 challenge was unsuccessful for my fiancé Catherine and me; however, it pushed us to explore as many trails as possible. Since I hadn’t hiked the NCT since moving to Vermont in 2008, I was eager to hike the Trail’s newest extension in Vermont and the new route through the Adirondacks that is still in progress. In N.Y. the sections we hiked were within corridors that followed existing trails. On a summer Friday, we fled to the Paradox Lake State Campground in New York’s Adirondacks. After nearly hitting a deer on the last mile of the drive with our rental car, we arrived at our campsite before dusk with enough time to set up tent and prepare a fire. The next morning a 30 minute drive southwest left us in Hoffman Notch Wilderness under cloudy skies. We hid our bikes near Loch Muller Rd. and then drove back to the E. Hoffman Rd. trailhead to hike 7miles back west along the Hoffman Trail. Within the first mile we came across a beaver dam and soon after took a side trail to Big Pond that was lined with blueberries. The trail seemed scarcely used and over-grown with ferns in some stretches, forcing one to rely strongly upon trail markers. We crossed Buck Hollow, E. Brown Trout Brook and Hoffman North Brook which appeared to be reliable drinking water sources, as well as prime fly-fishing territory. A sudden pain hit the backs of both legs and I ran down the trail unsure of what it was. It was likely a ground bee nest



Adam D. Heckle

but the dizziness and pain put my nerves on edge, clouding my judgment. As the hike ended, so did the pain and the nervousness about the incident. The 30 minute bike ride back was downhill, relaxing and free of cars. Later in the day, we drove back to Schroon Lake and stopped at the pub Flanagan’s for a pint of local beer from the Paradox Lake Brewery. Heading north to our campsite we stopped to climb Mt. Severance. This steep trail was short and rewarding, leading us to a wide overlook of Schroon Lake, backdropped with forested mountaintops. On Sunday morning, we stuck around Paradox Lake to kayak to the Peaked Hill Trail, accessible only by water. The trail passed a serene and secluded pond, which had very muddy edges. The trail eventually deadends at a summit without any scenic viewpoints. On our drive home to Vermont, we stopped at Ensign Pond Rd. and hiked 1mile towards Moose Mountain Pond, where a river has been turned into wide slow moving wetland called Berrymill Pond. In the fall a short 1.5 hour drive brought us back to the Hammond Pond Wild Forest where Ensign Rd. meets Black Brook, leaving us in October’s prime foliage territory. We first hiked to Moose Mtn. Pond where we met a few groups of hikers at the lean-to and tent sites. Instead of staying there, we hiked back to camp along Berrymill Brook. The forest and waterways along these trails were heavily influenced by beaver activity and during the night we heard them slapping their tails. Due to the beavers, hardwoods are a rare sight along this trail that parallels the water, making the openness of the pond best for viewing the foliage in its golden glory.

April-June 2017


Catherine Hinojosa

Adam D. Heckle

Adam D. Heckle

The author beside Hammond Pond.

Big Pond on Hoffman Trail.

Catherine on the 15th of December.

Adam D. Heckle

Schroon Lake from the summit of Mt. Severance.

Our car-free winter adventure before the New Year required an early morning bus ride within Vermont from Burlington to Middlebury and a second ski commuter bus from Middlebury to E. Middlebury. A storm swallowed the sky as we road-walked to the trailhead at Moosalamoo Recreational Area, hiking 5miles south on Oak Hill Ridge to camp for the night.


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Beside the trail we found many very large American Beech trees that were free of any signs of bark disease, a great sign for future resistance to the disease that is decimating this important nut producing tree species. The next morning, we hiked mostly on pavement the 12miles back to Middlebury, once out of Moosalamoo. One part of Creek Rd. has been turned into a snowmobile trail surrounded by

refurbished homesteads and farmland that allowed for great views of the Green Mountains and Otter Creek. Icy trails and bitter winds pushed us along the road-walk until we came to the TAM (Trail Around Middlebury) part of future intended NCT route. Here we saw a marsh hawk hovering overhead, as we crossed an icy boardwalk over a man-made cattail marsh. With pressure to keep moving all day to reach the last bus home at 6p.m., we were relieved to reach Rt. 7 with an hour to spare. After passing through Jeffrey Murdock Nature Preserve, we took our turn off the trail toward town, succeeding in Catherine’s first winter hike. This year we again plan to incorporate more NCT hiking into our summer months. I look forward to completing the miles in Vermont and getting back to the Adirondacks to hike in the Siamese Pond Wilderness, another section of the ‘Dacks filled with pristine forests, fresh waterways, gorgeous landscapes and true adventures waiting to be found. Author Adam Heckle resides in Burlington, Vermont, after graduating from the University of Vermont with a Bachelors in Natural Resource Ecology and a minor in Forestry. He works seasonally with the Winooski Valley Park District, including a recent hire as Grand Isle State Park’s newest park interpreter as he gains experience toward a career in the land conservation management field.

Andrea Ketchmark Named Executive Director for North Country Trail Association! Amelia Rhodes

building of a trail protection program and the addition of an online Volunteer Resources Center, providing guidance to chapters, members and volunteers on all aspects of trail management and protection. Andrea has engaged in building countless partnering relationships at state, national and local levels, and representing NCTA in the larger trails and recreation community. Mark Weaver is National Park Service Superintendent of the North Country National Scenic Trail, the major partner with the NCTA in the planning, building, maintaining, protecting and telling the story of the NCNST. “We’ve worked closely with Andrea in many partnership efforts together,” says Weaver. “I truly couldn’t be happier to know she will now assume a new role as Executive Director. Congratulations to Andrea!” “Trails can change the world!” exults Ketchmark. ”Nowhere is that more evident than in the North Country Trail community where I have witnessed the most inspiring stories of transformation, and have worked alongside those who have dedicated their lives to something bigger than all of us.” She continues, “I’m honored to be chosen to lead NCTA into a new and exciting era.” In addition to her extensive work experience Ketchmark has a Colorado State University degree in Natural Resources Recreation and Tourism. “Andrea’s rigorous approach to policy analysis and commitment to research-based best practices is a reflection of her academic training,” says Bruce Matthews, NCTA’s current executive director. “She’s a quick study, a great manager and her work has elevated NCTA to national prominence. She’s got a personal passion for public lands stewardship and trails advocacy. We’re very proud of her— NCTA is going to be in great hands!” Ketchmark was recently honored in her selection as a member of the next class in the prestigious Great Lakes Leadership Academy, a rigorous and highly competitive program for natural resources and public policy professionals. The North Country Trail Association will be filling Ketchmark’s former Director of Trail Development position as she transitions to executive director upon Matthews’ announced retirement on July 31st. Her early love of the outdoors and hiking was fostered by a lifetime of summers spent on a lake in Michigan and her college years exploring the Rocky Mountains of Colorado and the Southwest canyon country, and she still works hard to make time to get outside with her family whenever she can.


fter a thorough and exhaustive search, in mid-April NCTA’s Board announced the selection of Andrea Ketchmark as NCTA’s new Executive Director. Ketchmark, who has served as NCTA’s Director of Trail Development since 2009, will assume executive director duties upon the July 31st retirement of Bruce Matthews, NCTA’s executive director since 2007. In announcing the Board’s decision, President Ruth Dorrough said “we couldn’t be more pleased and excited that Andrea Ketchmark has agreed to move into this leadership role for our Association. The NCTA board underwent a rigorous four-month search and recruitment effort to arrive at this point,” said President Dorrough. “We were all pleased that Andrea surfaced at the top of a highly qualified list and was unanimously confirmed and endorsed by our board. “ When Matthews announced his retirement plans in 2016, the Board formed a search committee, which then led a seven month process leading to the selection of Ketchmark. The Committee cast a wide net for applicants, with outreach to 48 potential sources of candidates. Initially 45 candidates responded, which after screening the committee narrowed to sixteen, and eventually to four for the final interviews. “Andrea clearly surfaced as our top candidate, and the committee was very excited to recommend her to the Board,” said Dorrough, who chaired the search committee. Andrea Ketchmark has served as NCTA’s Director of Trail Development since 2009. Prior to this she worked at the American Hiking Society as Volunteer Programs Manager, bringing the AHS’s Volunteer Vacations program into national prominence. Her extensive experience in trails development, management, protection and advocacy served her well as NCTA’s Director of Trail Development as she led and managed a team of regional trail coordinators as well as NCTA’s mapping and GIS coordinator for the past 7 years. Among the numerous accomplishments under her leadership include the establishment of NCTA’s trend-setting Trail Town program,


April-June 2017


I was hiking west of the trailhead on Co Rd D, north of Lake Namakagon, when this cute little stump caught my eye, and also led me to discover another mystery!

Stories of Scale Article and photos by Emily Stone Naturalist/Education Director at the Cable Natural History Museum in Cable, Wisconsin


’m not sure why the small, brown bump on the twig caught my eye. I think I was reaching down to pick up my backpack after having extricated myself from the bushes where I was attempting to get a photo of a cute mossy stump. This hike on the North Country Trail had started to feel a little like whiplash. I was motivated to hike fast in the cold, damp weather, but neat things kept catching my eye and stopping me. First I stopped for the most elegant scat I’ve ever seen. Pure white fur cascaded down a mossy stump, its arrangement clearly indicating its origin. Any mucky parts had washed away in the thaw. I wished well to the spirit of the snowshoe hare, and to the belly of whichever weasel ate it. Mushrooms, woodpecker holes, evergreen wood ferns, leaf molds, and cracked ice also called to my camera before the lens settled on that last moss-covered stump. And then, those small, brown bumps on the twig. How did I ever spot those?


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The size, coppery color, and slight sheen of the bumps closely resembled the ironwood tree’s own buds, but the bumps were scattered along the twig. One brushed off in my gloved hand, and I discovered white fuzz inside the little hollow dome. Its former place on the twig was marked by a faint spot of white residue. After snapping a few photos, I moved on. But the mystery bumps kept “bugging” me. Who made them? A friend suggested scale insects, and that had been in my mind, too, although I realized I couldn’t even tell you exactly what a scale insect is. As it turns out, their life story is pretty fascinating, and—typical of insects—a little weird. The little brown domes I found affixed to the twigs may have belonged to sub-adult females, but from the looks of them, females that didn’t survive. On one shell I noticed a pencil-point hole, the telltale sign of a parasitic wasp escaping after doing its (very important) dirty work. Another possibility is that these scales had simply matured and reached the end of their natural lives. What are their natural lives? When successful, female nymphs overwinter on twigs. In the spring, if all goes well, they will finish maturing and then lay eggs (sometimes more than

1000 of them!) with or without the help of a flying male. The eggs are laid underneath the protection of their mother’s stationary shell, and the female herself then dies and dries. The eggs hatch about ten days later, and small, yellowish “crawler” larvae migrate to leaves. At this stage, the crawlers might be blown by the wind or even transported on the feet of birds to new locations. Like their relatives the aphids, the scale larvae insert sucking mouthparts (called stylets) into the plant and start drinking. In order to get enough nitrogen, they must drink an excessive amount of the sugar-rich sap, which they excrete as “honeydew.” Ants take advantage of this just like they do with aphids, and can often be seen drinking honeydew off the scale insects. As the nitrogen and sugar fuel their growth, the scale larvae molt. With each molt, their bodies become larger and their legs become smaller. Finally, in late summer before their legs completely disappear, the nymphs walk back down the leaf stalk and onto their winter home on the twig. They build their waxy, protective shells, and do not move again. Spring brings maturity, reproduction, and death. Males do occur, but their larvae and nymphs are flat and nearly transparent. Adult males are tiny, winged, and have no eating mouthparts. I can’t even begin to tell you what species of scale insect these might have been. After starting my research, I wished that I’d looked under more scales and brought some home, too. Apparently, the variation in appearance within a species of scale is sometimes greater than the variation between different species. Some species feed on only one or two host plants, but many other species are generalists. There are both “armored” scales and “soft” scales with slightly different life histories. Occasionally, outbreaks of scale insects can damage trees, but they are not always a problem. Whether it’s hairy scat on a mossy stump or tiny brown bumps on a twig, every bit of the world tells its very own story if we’re able to listen.

Smart Outreach By Sara Cockrell

Scale insects create a waxy shell to help protect their soft bodies, but the small hole on the upper left corner of the shell indicates that a parasitic wasp broke through the defense. Yes, those are my gloves in the background.

The Grand Traverse Hiking Club, a Chapter of the NCTA, invited both their members and all area Hike 100 finishers to a party in Traverse City, Michigan, in late March, complete with a celebration cake. A lot of new faces joined the party, many of whom shared tales from the trail during their 2016 hikes. Several new people signed up to help the Trail Crew do maintenance, while others signed up for group hikes. The chapter hopes to do this again in 2018 for the Hike 100 finishers in 2017. One finisher who described her Michigan section hike for her 65th birthday invited a newbie to join her on some beginner hikes, so many present made new hiking friends before and after our short meeting and trail tales. Happy comments followed the evening: “Big thank yous going out to the Grand Traverse Hiking Club for hosting this, and to Ms. Sara for being such an entertaining MC!! What a great time with such inspiring stories and welcoming people!”

Raised hands of those who completed the challenge.

White furry scat: This is the most elegant scat I’ve ever seen.

Special Note: Emily’s book, Natural Connections: Exploring Northwoods Nature through Science and Your Senses is here. Order your copy at http://cablemuseum.org/natural-connectionsbook/. For 50 years, the Cable Natural History Museum has served to connect you to the Northwoods. Come visit us in Cable, Wisconsin! Our new exhibit: “Better Together–Celebrating a Natural Community” will open on May 2.


April-June 2017


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North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Sarah Sutton

Deep in a state forest, it's fascinating to come upon evidence of a prior time there. This was a very large stone-foundation barn or house a long time ago. Shindagin Hollow State Forest in the middle of upstate N.Y.

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 â&#x20AC;˘ (616) 897-5987 â&#x20AC;˘ Fax (616) 897-6605 The North Country Trail Association develops, maintains, protects and promotes the North Country National Scenic Trail as the premier hiking path across the northern tier of the United States through a trail-wide coalition of volunteers and partners. Our vision for the North Country National Scenic Trail is that of the premier footpath of national significance, offering a superb experience for hikers and backpackers in a permanently protected corridor, traversing and interpreting the richly diverse environmental, cultural, and historic features of the northern United States.

Profile for NCTA Staff

North Star Vol. 36, No. 2 (2017)  

North Star Vol. 36, No. 2 (2017)