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July-September, 2017

The Magazine of the North Country Trail Association

Volume 36, No. 3

north star National Trails Day Along Our Trail A Closing Conversation with Bruce Matthews Skyline Camp North Country Prairie

Larry Blumberg

Taken along the Finger Lakes Trail, part of the North Country Trail in New York.

In This Issue Powell Twp. School Annual Hike............4 8th Annual Allegheny-100 Challenge.......5 A Farewell Conversation with Bruce........6 New Trail Tread for WMI Chapter..........7 Almost Finished!........................................8 Get Yourselves Some Scouts!...................10 Brave New Frontiers for the FLT............11 US Forest Service Honors 2 Chapters.....12 Trail Building in North Dakota..............14 More Shelters on Finger Lakes Trail........15 National Trails Day Events and Projects!..................................16 Skyline Camp..........................................21 Sheyenne River Valley BUILD IT!.........22 Adirondack Update.................................23 Allegheny National Forest Blowdowns.....23 Arrowhead Re-route News......................26 Catching Up with Harbor Springs Chapter..........................28 Mellen Boardwalk Update......................29 North Country Prairie.............................30

Columns Trailhead.............................................3 NPS Corner......................................20 Matthews’ Meanders.........................13

Departments Hiking Shorts....................................24 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................15 Next Deadline for Submissions.........10

About the Cover:

It is Onota Falls along a spur trail from the NCT to Laughing Whitefish Falls in the upper peninsula of Michigan, taken during a walk on National Trails Day for the NCT Hikers Chapter. It was the first time some of them had ever seen water running over it. By Eric Rehorst.


The North Star


David Cowles Director of Development dcowles@northcountrytrail.org Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org Tarin Hasper Annual Fund Coordinator thasper@northcountrytrail.org Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator llindstrom@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

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, Fall issue, Vol. 36, Issue 3, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.

Trail Head

In a very dynamic complex environment, the current Strategic Plan and work plans based on it have served well as a guide to decision making and progress assessment. Diligent leadership keeps the plan a living meaningful document. At the time they were developed the current five strategies were deemed to be equally important and presented in no particular order. The fourth strategy “Build Maintain, and Protect the NCNST” captures the traditional image of trail building.

Ruth Dorrough President


ike it! BUILD IT! Love it!

The phrase, “Building the North Country Trail” initially brings to mind the image of a team carving a path out of a hillside or hip deep in water placing the foundation for a footbridge. Indeed these are examples of much appreciated trail building. We have had the pleasure of encountering many folks who contribute to this aspect of trail building, people like Katie Blau, Derrick Passe, Lynda Rummel. We have been ever so grateful for bridges, walkways, and benches to aid us in our hikes. Upon reflection, however, it is apparent that many other activities are necessary to build a trail, particularly a National Scenic Trail that is over 4,600 miles long. Effective building requires a thoughtful plan that is followed, assessed, and revised as needed. Three years ago the NCTA engaged in an intensive in-depth process which resulted in the current Strategic Plan. The Plan and interesting documents pertaining to it can be found on the NCTA website under the heading About Us. The plan identifies five key focus areas designed to continue the process of effectively building not only a footpath but a vibrant organization to ensure continued trail growth and sustainability for future generations.

This primary reason for NCTA existence is supported by: Strategy 1: Increase Awareness of NCNST and Raise Visibility of NCTA’s Work Strategy 2: Develop a Larger and More Diverse Following and Increase Membership Strategy 3: Assure the Sustainability of NCTA Strategy 5: Build Capacity of NCTA Board of Directors To succeed in planning next steps for the NCTA, the board needs to hear the voices of as many NCTA stakeholders as possible. Please help us by responding to requests for input or by contacting me or any member of the Board of Directors. Our contact information is in the front of the North Star. We need to hear your priorities and creative ideas for addressing challenges as we move forward together in this bold adventure.


Dave Brewer

Dan Dorrough

Chuck Church showing Ruth how to run a DR mower, near Medicine Lake, Minnesota.

Because National Trails Day and Darlington, Pennsylvania’s, biggest town day are one and the same, Wampum's Dennis Garrett, member of NCTA's Board, was captured that day wearing a tux as he tried to juggle two roles. Read more about National Trails Day on page 16.

July-September 2017


Powell Township School Annual Hike on the NCT! Dick Bohjanen

By Lorana Jinkerson


he Powell Township School District in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has one K-8 school building, located in Big Bay, Michigan, with an enrollment of fewer than 60 students. Every morning all students and teachers walk a mile for physical fitness and prior to 2014, the 5th-8th grades would take a week in May to hike from Big Bay all the way into Marquette, roughly 25 miles on County Rd 550 (CR 550), the Big Bay Road. Note that this road is two-lane, curvy, hilly and has limited shoulders. As the new Eagle Mine became operational and was utilizing CR 550 to haul ore in big trucks, the powers that be decided it might be safer and more fun to hike a trail instead of the road.


The North Star

Michele Moran.

Contact was made with the NCT Hikers Chapter to see if they might have some members who would be willing to be guides for the treks. This began a new tradition in May 2014 with the students hiking four mornings on the NCT from the Elliott Donnelley Wilderness at the Little Garlic River all the way into Marquette. Each year members of the NCT Hikers have joined the students for portions of their hike and have expressed awe at the speed and endurance of the kids. On one such hike, I was dragging as we got to the beach between Little Presque Isle and Wetmore Landing when the teacher told the students they were free to walk the beach instead of the NCT (just a stone’s throw in from the beach proper). Many of the students removed their shoes and began running on the cool wet sand, and this was at the end of that day’s hike! This year in addition to doing their four morning hikes, ending on the last day at the Subway for lunch, the students engaged in fine arts projects upon their return from their hike. They took their photographs while on the hike and then used the photos to create a painting. Some will be on display during the NCTA Celebration in Marquette July 27-29.

Elliott Donnelley Wilderness

Eighth Annual Allegheny-100 Hiking Challenge By Shelby Gangloff


Front: Nikki Van Frank, Back: (L to R) Perry Muir, Dan Mock, Thomas Brody, and John Mock celebrate the end of their hike at the 50-mile mark.

Rich Glasgow

A record number of 152 hikers signed up to hike, with 77 signed up to attempt the 100-mile trek. Most hikers are from the local area, Pennsylvania, New York, and Ohio, but some came from as far away as Florida, Colorado, and Texas. Seventeen people completed the 100 miles, including two people who originally signed up to hike only 75 miles! Three people finished 75 miles, 67 people completed the 50 miles, and 58 people completed at least 25 miles. One-hundred mile completers this year were: Daren Allen, Mark Dingman, Lori Bean, Alisha Glasgow, Mark Meengs, Steve Bogart, Robert Gregg, Matthew Roane, Ryan Bollas, Russell Horne, Brian Smith, Nathan Boyle, Benjamin Hrycik, Nathan Tobik, Peter Burke, Christopher Janovich, and Lisa Wandel. Honorable mention goes to George Martynick for finishing the 100 miles around midnight Sunday (after the 8:00 p.m. official closing time) Beautiful weather contributed to the success of the event. A few hikers did report getting creative and taking shelter in the restrooms at the Red Bridge Campground during the storm early Saturday. There were other reports of trail magic, including a non-descript tote that tired and thirsty hikers were delighted to discover contained ice-cold beer. Bridget Walker commented, “Never knew this challenge existed—wow so grateful for a new-found passion! These trails are amazing and well maintained! The volunteers truly should be so proud. I am so very grateful for this challenge and hope to be back next year!” Fred Whipple, returning participant, had this to say, “I'd like to thank all of those supporters who did so much work to make this a successful event! I tried for 100 and made 50 for the second year, so I'm trying to find comfort in the fact that I've completed the 100.” His wife, Irene Barone, hiked out the trail about a mile prior to the start and put up a sign that read “Free Beer 99 Miles” to encourage him. Evie Kaszer, 75-mile completer, commented, “Much love and appreciation to everyone that makes the A-100 possible. It was amazing! Especially that burger and beer at mile 50!! I can't wait for next year!”

Angela Clarke

he Allegheny National Forest (ANF) Chapter held its eighth annual Allegheny 100 (A-100) Hiking Challenge from June 9th-11th. The A-100 is an unsupported endurance hiking challenge with no timekeepers, no aid stations, and no finish line other than the one hikers set for themselves. The event challenges hikers to traverse 25, 50, 75, or 100 miles along the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) through the ANF in 50 hours, beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 8 p.m. on Sunday. This year the event started in the north at the Willow Bay trailhead and ended at Route 66 in Vowinckel, Pennsylvania. The direction changes from year to year to give hikers a chance to see the whole trail.

The A-100 will return in 2018 the second weekend in June to give hikers another chance to conquer their chosen distance. The A-100 would not be possible without the help of the U.S. Forest Service, the NCTA, the many volunteers who put in countless hours throughout the year, and support from our sponsors and ongoing supporters including United Refining Company/Kwik Fill, Northwest Savings Bank, Crescent Beer, Betts Industries, D&R Transportation, Bluegill Graphix, the Warren YMCA, Shell Appalachia, Ace Hardware in Warren, and the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry.

Darren Allen and Alisha Glasgow are all smiles after successfully hiking 100 miles in under 50 hours.


July-September 2017


A Farewell Conversation with Bruce By Editor Irene Szabo

Bruce Matthews has been our Executive Director for ten years now, obviously hard ones at times as you can see from his replies below, and he has earned our affection and respect. He retires officially on July 31st, to be replaced by Andrea Ketchmark, our current Director of Trail Development.

Mick Hawkins


y sheer happenstance, I was in Lowell for your interview by the search committee, and I remember you saying that you probably talked too much some times in your previous job. Do you think you’ve ever done that in this job?

Of course. But I’ve gotten better at it, I think. More selfaware; more conscious listening, more often catching myself and re-focusing away from instead of toward myself. I also remember responding to your interview query about my hiking boots by saying “which pair?” which I thought was a stroke of shatteringly unmitigated brilliance on my part. Oddly enough, I don’t remember that stroke. I will say that it was pretty clear that the whole room liked you and wanted you as our next Executive Director. So, has the job turned out to be anything like you expected? Yes and no. I was prepared for the administrative and management challenges, though didn’t quite anticipate the depth of financial difficulty NCTA was in. Probably would not have said “yes” had I known that…but yes, our mission and our people and the importance of what we do have aligned perfectly with my life’s work, centered around connecting people with the natural world in meaningful ways that foster a sense of self-worth, accomplishment and stewardship. It’s been a blessing, truly, to have been able to get to know and serve our community. I hope I’ve been worthy.

What accomplishments are you most proud of over these ten years? Overall that NCTA is growing, stable and poised to continue. Our capacity to address meaningful issues is growing, our board of directors’ maturation and shifting to governance is a very positive thing, our increasingly respected role on the national scene, and our advocacy relationships; our marketing focus and success, the quality of our staff team both as professionals and people, and the community (yes our Red Plaid Nation) that is coming together in important ways supporting a common effort in often uncommon ways. We’ve built and protected trail, we’re doing better at maintaining it consistently and we’re telling our story (and it's being told for us) in very meaningful, effective and often personal ways. I need to say again I am very proud of our staff team. And so very proud that you’ve chosen Andrea to lead you from here. And early on we survived some financial situations way worse than dire. Biggest disappointment? I hoped we’d be moving faster in our financial independence from the National Park Service. I hoped we’d have that NCNST Route Adjustment Act passed by now. I’d hoped we’d be moving faster in the Adirondacks. What now? Staying just down the street in Lowell? Retirement fun? Linda and I have no plans at present to leave Lowell, a community we love and where we’ve put down roots. Our kids and grandkids are on both coasts, so I’m guessing more travel’s in the offing—love being a grandpa! I’m hoping to do more with music and writing. I’m looking forward to more hunting and fishing and outdoor time. God’s blessed me in so many ways. Whatever chapters are left ahead of me will no doubt reflect His plan. Do you expect you can just hang out as a local chapter member and attend NCTA functions, or do you think your presence would give Andrea the whim-whams? I’d love to stay engaged with my NCTA friends as a volunteer. It’s always delicate when the departed ED hangs around, though, so I’ll be keeping conscious of that. More likely, though, is that with Andrea’s talent and learning trajectory our NCTA community will forge ahead way past wherever I’ve been able to bring it. As it should be! Thanks for this closing conversation, Bruce. Even if Andrea burps gold dust and lays golden eggs, we’ll still miss you personally. It’s been a good but too fast ten years.


The North Star

2017 Trail Season Means New Trail Tread for the Western Michigan Chapter Beth Keloneva

By Kenny Wawsczyk. Regional Trail Coordinator, Michigan



Jim Bradley

he Western Michigan Chapter has had their McLeods out and swinging early this trail season, completing new reroutes within each of the counties they cover. In early April volunteers teamed up with the trail crew from the Manistee National Forest to complete a 0.38 mile reroute near Croton Dam in Newaygo County. The route needed to be moved after it was determined to be on private property that did not align with the 33’ Forest Service Easement that was established over 30 years ago. The first official workday of the Chapter’s season brought out quite a few folks who wanted to get outside and smell the fresh dirt. With all the help they were able to get the tread done and blazed in time to enjoy a couple of beers before heading home for dinner. In May 2016 the Chapter broke ground within Seidman Park in Kent County starting at the southern end of the park. All their hard work is done and the NCT now travels through the park for nearly two and a half miles. For the northern half of the trail the Park asked for the new trail tread to be built four feet wide in order to allow maintenance vehicles into the area. Benching is already hard enough but the Chapter just kept swinging and the end result was beautiful sustainable trail. Groups outside of the Chapter lent a hand as well. According to the Western Michigan Chapter’s Vice President, Jim Bradley, “We had 32 volunteers on April 29th and 14 on May 6th. The April 29th group was primarily Kent County Park volunteers; they included 12 young people and a youth leader from Trinity Lutheran Church in Grand Rapids.  The May 6th group included 5 volunteers from General Electric Corporation.  We are very grateful for their help!!” Most recently the Western Michigan Chapter is finishing up the final touches on a half mile of trail constructed on two pieces of private property found in southern Newaygo County. This is the first step in improving the 14 mile road walk between the Rogue River State Game Area and Croton Dam. In an area surrounded by large agricultural fields and drainage ditches, laying down new tread is a rather large first step. The new route not only eliminates a half mile of road walk but also changes the route from 1.5 miles of paved roads to one mile of low use dirt roads. The hope is now that there’s a presence of trail in this area surrounding neighbors will be supportive in improving this challenging road walk section.

July-September 2017


Almost Finished! By Marty Swank


n Saturday, May 6th the Chequamegon Chapter started what will probably be our most ambitious effort for 2017 (if Mother Nature is kind), building two trail re-routes on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) in the MIDDLE of the Rainbow Lake Wilderness in the Chequamegon National Forest. A shortcut

Vickie Swank

to the work area does not exist so our walk in just to start working is over one hour. This also means over an hour walk out after working. Because this is a wilderness section of NCT we can only use hand tools and need to carry EVERYTHING in that we will need (not even a single wheeled cart is allowed). A few dedicated Chapter Volunteers spent another three full days of trail building that involved removing years of downed trees, lopping, stump and sapling removal and the beginning of building trail tread. The Chequamegon Chapter has done previous trail re-routes but this is the furthest we have had to walk in and the longest trail re-route to date (well over one-half mile long) and our first major wilderness trail re-route. This section of NCT needed a re-route because it is often soggy and sometimes underwater. On August 19th, 2015, a group of USFS personnel, Bill Menke, NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator, and I, hiked into the Rainbow Lake Wilderness. Bill did a GPS walkthrough on what would become the re-route we are currently building. Mel Baughman and I had previously marked a shorter re-route to the south of the longer one. After the GPS coordinates were given to the USFS we needed to wait for final approval from them. Approval would come in May of Kevin Schram (front) and Mel Baughman work on the new trail tread. 2017. We are allowed to use temporary blue tape to mark the new route, but The Chapter hoped to celebrate National Trails not blaze. Day (June 3rd) with the final completion of the Rainbow Lake Trail Re-routes but volunteer turnout was extremely low. We still need to clean duff down to bare earth for around one half of the actual trail tread on the longer section of the re-routes (northern). Building at least partial trail tread is necessary even where the re-route is fairly smooth because we are not allowed to use blue blazes on trees in the wilderness sections. How do you stay on the re-route without a scraped-out tread to follow and no blue blazes? Building the trail tread proved to be the most physically demanding part of the re-route, and the walk out for over an hour to our vehicles at the end of the day would leave most of us exhausted. Still there is a feeling of accomplishment. To highlight why we are doing this, a backpacker with his dog and a group of three backpackers visited with us along the re-route. Ellie Williams would sum this up best on a Wisconsin NCT Facebook post of the picture of the three backpackers: “This is why we do the work we Three backpackers would stop to visit while we were doing the Rainbow do…these folks were so appreciative.” Lake Wilderness. Greg Guess organized the backpacking trip for the Vickie Swank

group. They were shuttled by Chapter Volunteer/Trail Adopter Shawn Peyton earlier in the day. Left to right: Greg Guess, Marty Swank (not a backpacker!), Don Jackson and Rich Jackson.


The North Star

A slice of Chequamegon's portion of the Trail in the middle of far northern Wisconsin


July-September 2017


Get Yourselves Some Scouts By Barb Isom


van Cromell’s Eagle Scout Project began on one of my occasional encounters with Harry Lindquist, Scoutmaster for Boy Scout Troop 332, Munising, Michigan. He had a young man looking for an Eagle Scout project and knew I was part of North Country Trail Superior Shoreline Chapter. His idea for the project was the clearing and maintenance of a section of North Country Trail. Our chapter struggles with both minimal local members and Mother Nature to keep the trail in good shape, so I was instantly excited about the idea.

For those who are unfamiliar with earning an Eagle Scout Award, it is a rigorous endeavor designed to help a young person learn how to plan and implement a service project. Eagle Scout is the highest achievement or rank attainable in the program of the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). The designation “Eagle Scout” was founded over one hundred years ago, and since then only four percent of Boy Scouts have been granted this rank. The requirements necessary to achieve this rank take years to fulfill. Since its founding, the Eagle Scout rank has been earned by more than two million young men. Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges. The Eagle Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads and manages. Eagle Scouts are presented with a medal and a badge that visibly recognize the accomplishments of the Scout. Evan spent a total of 78 hours on the project. He and a crew of between two and eight individuals worked on the trail five times to accomplish the task of clearing and marking 4.3 miles of North Country Trail. The crew, under Evan’s guidance, clipped, cut and sawed trees and brush to clear the trail. They also added and replaced blue vinyl markers needed along this section. Upon finishing it was my duty to walk the trail with Evan. The day before our walk he had diligently gone out one last time to ensure all was perfect; however, that night we had a strong wind lasting hours. Anyone familiar with trail maintenance will appreciate how our walk unfolded the next day. As we traversed the section we encountered at least a dozen new treefalls. Evan was able to remove some, but others required a trip in the future with a chainsaw. This emphasizes the need for many volunteers. We at Superior Shoreline Chapter are grateful to Evan and his crew and are hoping for more young men seeking a similar project.


The North Star

Evan’s Mom, Lisa Cromell, took this picture of Eagle Scout Evan Cromell, and Barb Isom.

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. 4 is October 1, 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)

Brave New Frontiers For The Finger Lakes Trail (and its “hitchhiker” the North Country Trail for over 400 miles) By Irene Szabo


can speak with understandable maternal pride, since way back in 1994 when I was President of the FLT Board, it wasn’t easy to convince that Board that it would be okay if we held our own trail easements. To help them over their nerves, the Finger Lakes Land Trust of Ithaca, who was a very grownup conservation organization from the beginning, agreed to hold our first few easements temporarily while our board grew into acceptance of the responsibilities. Yes, you might have to defend an easement if a later owner decided it was all puffery, and wanted to build where it was forbidden, for instance. We would have to take him to court. Seldom do TRAIL easements, however, as opposed to full-property conservation easements, forbid normal owner activities, but there are rules for even our covered little pathways through a given property. Fortunately, so far, FLTC hasn’t faced any real challenges, and by now our easement count is up to ninety-one! That’s only a tiny bulwark against the sevenhundred-some private properties our trail enjoys using, but it’s a good start. Plus we own seven properties, ranging from postage stamp camping spots to properties of many forested acres. After FLTC’s first VP of Trail Preservation Ron Navik moved to retirement in North Carolina, where now he does real rock work on mountain trail, Dave Newman, another recent retiree, took on the job, and has done wonderful work. In our last issue I shared the good news that Dave managed to turn a twentyyear-old permission given to Ron into two easements, a land swap, and at LAST a way into a county park forest where we have had a shelter for years. More recently, again working with the Finger Lakes Land Trust whose Emerald Necklace project is trying to connect a crescent of public and private forested lands south of Ithaca, much of it including the Finger Lakes/North Country Trail in the middle of upstate New York, the land trust came up with some genius moves to save trail!

A large wooded property between two state forests that also covered a mile of the trail came up for sale, so the land trust was eager to buy it quickly. The N.Y. Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wants the property, too, to connect those state forests, but the state just cannot move quickly enough to prevent losing the opportunity. Neither did the land trust have enough liquid money right now to buy what is the Vaeth property. So they asked the Finger Lakes Trail to LEND them the money. For over a dozen years now, members have been donating to the Ed Sidote Trail Preservation Fund, started by Ed himself with a donation of $1250 worth of stocks. Ed was such a dedicated trail person that he received the NCTA Lifetime Achievement Award a few years ago, before he died at 93. Well, his modest donation has been multiplied many times by new donors of a similar amount to what we call the Forever Society. Several bequests and major donations have been put into the fund, and the FLTC’s Finance Committee has invested carefully to grow the fund even more, so by the beginning of this year, we had several hundred thousand dollars in the fund. Mind you, it’s still hard to come up with enough memberships and donations to keep the FLTC operating normally, but that good old Trail Preservation Fund was growing wonderfully. Apparently that’s what inspires donors! So when the land trust asked, FLTC’s board and finance committee agreed to lend them $181,000 to buy the Vaeth property. Eventually, when their budget allows, the state DEC will buy the property and our money will be returned to the fund, but we will have protected forever a mile of trail! Dare to dream big. There are even more exciting preservation projects in the works!

Luke Jordan’s first book was recently released! Thru And Back Again documents his journey over the 4600 mile North Country Trail from 2013. Follow along as he faces snow, swarms of mosquitoes, attacking animals, and some rough patches on his quest to promote the NCT. It’s available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle version, or at this direct link: https://www.createspace.com/7113408


July-September 2017


US Forest Service Honors Two Chapters

By Joan Young


he U.S. Forest Service regional award for Enduring Service is presented to volunteers who have engaged with the USFS in a sustained manner over many years. Nominees must show excellence in the quality of their volunteer work. One of the criteria is commitment to the Forest Service mission: “inspiring unforgettable experience and sustaining ecosystems and livelihoods.” This year, the two chapters of the NCTA which maintain the 120 miles of North Country Trail within the Manistee National Forest (Michigan’s Lower Peninsula) were joint recipients of this award. The Western Michigan and Spirit of the Woods Chapters were honored at the beautiful new Manistee National Forest, Baldwin District Ranger Station on April 15, 2017. Paul Haan, Western Michigan Trail Work Coordinator, reports, “The Western Michigan Chapter has partnered closely with the Forest Service for more than 20 years. In recent years, WMI volunteers have helped build five significant bridges of 30 feet or more (three in one year alone!), built the ten-mile Birch Grove Trail which connects the NCT to the unique Loda Lake Wildflower Sanctuary and the historic Birch Grove Schoolhouse, and built a three mile connector trail to the City of White Cloud, an official NCTA Trail Town. Two raised boardwalks have been built and hundreds of yards of puncheon and turnpike have been installed to keep hikers’ feet dry. A steady crew of volunteers has been maintaining the trail seasonally, and a dedicated crew tends to mowing more than 30 miles of trail in the forest every summer. Since 2000, an estimated 20 miles of trail have been rerouted to improve visual appeal or address major maintenance issues.” The Spirit of the Woods Chapter was chartered 19 years ago, and has built 600 feet of accessible raised boardwalk with a viewing platform in Dead Horse Marsh, and a half-mile of raised boardwalk through the challenging Sterling Marsh area. Many problematic miles of old and eroded trail have been repaired or moved. A number of small bridges have been rebuilt. Spirit of the Woods volunteers, including several


The North Star

Joan Young


Left-Right are Kristen Thrall (Recreation and Hydropower Program Manager and Forest Accessibility Coordinator), Beth Keloneva (WMI President), Bob Dunning (SPW President), Dave Jaunese (Forest Service liaison to the chapters on the Baldwin District), and Kathy Bietau (Recreational Planner).

with chain saw certification, maintain 80 miles of main trail and several spurs to campgrounds. Recently the chapter partnered with the Forest Service on an archaeology survey which was required before trail could be re-routed from a steep slope near High Bridge. Another major effort Beth Keloneva–Western was the complete removal Michigan Chapter President, and installation of a new and Bob Dunning–Spirit clear span bridge over the of the Woods Chapter Big Sable River, known as President, receive their chapters’ awards. the Vince Smith Bridge, in honor of an early NCT trail builder. Approaches and abutments were constructed by volunteers working with professionals. U.S. Forest Service staff present included Leslie Auriemmo, Forest Supervisor; Kathy Bietau, Zone Recreational Planner; Kristen Thrall, Recreation and Hydropower Program Manager and Forest Accessibility Coordinator; and Dave Jaunese, the current Forest Service liaison to both NCTA chapters on the Baldwin District. Jaunese is the person who made the nomination to the Forest Service. He also prepared a slide show of projects accomplished by the chapters, as he has worked closely with both of them for many years. A number of present and past officers of both chapters attended, along with other current volunteers. The National Park Service was well represented by Mark Weaver, Superintendent, Chris Loudenslager, Trail Planner, and Luke Jordan, Volunteer Coordinator. After the presentation of the award, Ramona Venegas, USFS retired, and recipient of the 2004 NCTA Friend of the Trail award, suggested we informally swap stories of some accomplishments and fun times. This turned into a wonderful chance to learn what each chapter had been doing, and meet new friends. Some good-natured roasting and back-slapping ensued. “It really is kind of a big deal,” said Kathy Bietau, nodding her head knowingly and shaking our hands. Kathy’s support of the North Country Trail has been a big help in the quest to provide hikers with a premier experience.

Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director



Don Slingerland.

t’s been decades since I remembered Herm Weiskotten. It was just this April; Linda and I were hiking the edge of an early-spring plowed field along the NCNST in Michigan, when suddenly Herm came to mind. I knew why right away. Herm Weiskotten was the man who showed me how the combination of an early-spring plowed field and a good rain would perch ancient Indian arrowheads on the furrow tops, ripe for the collecting. Herm’s memory surfaced as Linda and I hiked where the Trail skirts cultivated fields at the Kellogg Bird Sanctuary in Kalamazoo County. This section of NCNST has more than its fair share of Native American legacy, and is maintained by our Chief Noonday Chapter. As we hiked I contemplated this gift shared by Herm. I’d been a freshly minted outdoor educator in the full blush of early careerhood in the 1970’s, soaking up knowledge from my peers and mentors. Herm and I both served on the board of the New York State Outdoor Education Association, which, as I recall, was holding a meeting at the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, where Herm was the much-respected director. Somehow Herm and I wound up hiking through a nearby recently plowed and rained-on field, looking for artifacts*. I don’t recall if we found anything. What I do remember is that this iconic educator took his time to share his knowledge, and his joy and passion for archaeology and history and the outdoors, with me. I remember how he made me feel worthy. And it mattered. Last April as Linda and I hiked on that volunteermaintained section of the NCNST my thoughts moved toward this great collective gift the NCTA community is giving to our world, and not just for today, but for the future. In every community along the Trail our members—our Red Plaid Nation—are sharing their hearts and passion and joy on behalf of this ideal, this North Country Trail. With each adopted section, in each chapter area, our volunteers are linking not only the physical topography of American’s northern heartlands, but collectively connecting and intertwining our hearts and efforts with each other. As with my recall of Herm Weiskotten and his impact on me, the Trail enables and contains our individual memories of those with whom we’ve shared it, and our experiences in building, maintaining and hiking it together. And in so doing, in ways as simple as hiking or building a bridge or sitting around a campfire, or finding arrowheads together, we’ve mattered to each other. We are part of each others’ stories. And that, my friends, matters a lot. A lot. Herm Wieskotten passed at the age of 55 in 1977, not

long after that afternoon we spent together. He and his wife are buried in Cazenovia’s Evergreen Cemetery, only a couple blocks from the North Country National Scenic Trail. Herm is part of my story. And so are you, my NCTA friends and traveling companions. It’s been an immeasurable blessing to have served you, and shared some of our journey together. Carry on!

The late Herm Weiskotten (right), mentoring Rick Rogers, circa 1975. Herm was the first and founding director of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Rogers Environmental Education Center in Sherburne, N.Y., and a giant in the early days of outdoor education in New York State.

*Because it also matters, I need to note that Herm was a stalwart in the NYS Archaeological Association (NYSAA), a practicing “avocational archaeologist” whose collecting was done both in accord with NYSAA standards as well as in full reverence for the peoples who left the traces we sought.

July-September 2017


Volunteers from Doosan/Bobcat build a 14’ bridge on new trail along the railroad. Photo taken May 12, 2017.

Trail building in North Dakota

Boy Scouts doing tread smoothing on new trail along the railroad north of Walcott, North Dakota. Photo taken on June 7, 2017.

Story and Pictures by Tom Moberg


ver the past several years, the Dakota Prairie Chapter has built almost 20 miles of new trail sections to add to about 30 miles of existing trail in the Sheyenne National Grasslands between Fort Abercrombie and the Sheyenne State Forest. But there are still several large gaps that require road walks in the DPC trail range. The DPC is hard at work this summer trying to eliminate one of those big gaps.

Between Colfax and Walcott, two small towns near the western edge of the Red River Valley, a 7 mile segment of the North Country Trail runs on the right-of-way of a railroad. As the Trail heads west from there toward the Sheyenne River, the trail route has been an uninteresting 6.5 mile stretch of gravel road, with lots of pickup trucks and dust. Trying to eliminate that particular gap is the DPC’s trail building priority for this year. Since about 95% of the land in North Dakota is private, finding trail route options is very difficult. Fortunately, the North Dakota law on section lines (the map boundaries between 640 acre sections of land) has provided some interesting alternatives to road walks. Dating back to pioneer days, the law allows travel along section lines, even if there are farm fields right to the edge of the line. Section lines sometimes had roads on them, or might be considered for roads in the future, or had shelter belts planted there, or were allowed to remain as a strip of grass, brush, and trees. By using section lines, we have been able to find trail routes that are better than surfaced or gravel roads, even if the section lines are used as field access tracks by adjacent landowners. We work closely with Township Boards, who usually have jurisdiction over section lines, and make a point of talking to all the local landowners before we do any trail building on section lines. The DPC plan for the summer is to replace the 6.5 mile gravel road walk with 7 miles of new trail routes that will extend the trail northwest of Walcott along the railroad rightof-way by 1.1 miles and then head west along a section line where the new trail will include .4 miles of mowed trail along a grassy swale, 1.1 miles of very nice new trail through woods, 2.7 miles on grassy farm lanes, and about 1.6 miles on little 14

The North Star

Dakota Prairie Chapter members George Sinner and Bill Newman build a puncheon/bridge on new trail along the railroad. Photo taken April 29, 2017.

used gravel roads. Several groups of volunteers from the DPC, the Doosan/Bobcat Company, and Boy Scouts have completed 1.6 miles of trail construction already, including a 14’ bridge over a creek and several puncheons in wet areas. A Boy Scout is planning to construct a half-mile of woods trail as his Eagle Scout project in July. That will leave one major political and physical hurdle – crossing a County Drain that runs through a deep ravine with slumping sides. We are hoping we can get permission from the Richland County Water Resource Board to construct a foot bridge that will allow hikers to get across the ravine. If that isn’t possible, we have several other trail route options but all involve more use of gravel roads. All in all, we’re having an interesting summer of trail building. It requires lots of contact with landowners and local government groups, map work and route planning, working with wonderful groups of volunteers, lots of mowing, clearing brush and digging in the dirt, constructing trail structures and signage, and as usual, dealing with ticks. If we’re lucky, we’ll have one of our major gaps replaced by much more interesting trail segments by the fall.

Irene Szabo

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?

Build It:

More Shelters Going Up This Season On The FLT/NCT

By Irene Szabo

Shelters are popping up in several places across New York this year, on the NCT where it’s on the Finger Lakes Trail. In May a new one was built in Bucktooth State Forest about three days’ walk into N.Y. from the Pennsylvania border. This one is our new post and beam style, much faster and easier to build, as long as one can get a generator into the woods. Using hemlock lumber cut by our end-to-ender Mennonite member Mahlon Hurst, and sided with board and batten, it was all done in mere days. While most of our open-air fiberglass latrines have only a privacy screen, apparently these designers wanted to protect us at those vulnerable moments from any attack imagineable. This Ultimate Secure Crapper is far from the shelter, seen in the distant background.

If you know where these rock cairns appeared this year, send your answers before October 1 to Irene Szabo, at treeweenie@aol.com, or mail them to 6939 Creek Road, Mt. Morris, NY 14510. The correct answer to the location where this picture was taken will be published in the next issue of North Star.

Lori Chiarilli


July-September 2017


National Trails Day Events And Projects Across Our Trail The American Hiking Society has inspired trail groups across the nation to hold events on the first Saturday in June, sometimes hikes for the public, and in other places projects to improve trails. Here is a sampling of what happened on the North Country National Scenic Trail on June 3rd.

Finger Lakes Trail/NCT In New York

Our project was completed with all but the final flourishes, even though there was a lot of side-hill benching required to get us across a steep hillside. Hurray!

Jacqui Wensich.

Jacqui Wensich.

NCTA Board member and Vice President-East Lynda Rummel showing volunteers how to build benching. She is also the VP of Trail Quality for the Finger Lakes Trail.

Jacqui Wensich.

In our last issue of North Star there was an article about thirty years of frustrating history, trying to get the FLT/NCT over forested Pennsylvania Hill near Hornell instead of around it on roads, which ended with the good news of a solidly protected permission at last. So on June 3rd seventeen people were recruited to build new trail to get us on new properties to the desired goal, the Steuben County Forest. Many of the volunteers came down from the Rochester area from the Genesee Valley Adirondack Mtn. Club Chapter, while Pete Wybron organized the day.

Dave Newman, who negotiated the current permissions, land swap, and land gift for the Finger Lakes Trail that brought us to this place.

Frank Jones, left, and Larry Telle of Finger Lakes Trail Conference, chopping at that hillside. These are just two of the seventeen workers who built on National Trails Day.

Mary Rebert

Chief Noonday Chapter sponsored a 6 mile hike to celebrate. Of the 18 hikers, four were CND Chapter members, four were new to the North Country Trail, and the rest were guests. It was a beautiful sunny day walking from Kellogg Bird Sanctuary to Augusta, Michigan.


The North Star

Sara Cockrell

High Banks Rollway, where lumbermen of old sent logs rolling down into the Manistee River, starting the trip to the lumber mill. Grand Traverse Hiking Club began their National Trails Day celebration by making this scenic landmark a destination of their hike.

Grand Traverse Hiking Club

Sara Cockrell

Thirty members and 6 guests celebrated National Trails Day with a hike on the NCT to High Banks Rollway, then a potluck at the Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground. Thanks to Mike Schaeffer and Debby Page for setting up and cooking hot dogs, Dave and Patty Warner for providing the shuttle for the shorter hike, and all those in attendance for the great food and camaraderie. Dick Naperala asked what comes to mind when we think of the trail, and many shared that they enjoy discovering what's around the bend, the peace and solitude, being outside, and the change of seasons. — Sara Cockrell, retired GTHC Publicity and Programs volunteer

NCT Hikers Chapter Sharing thoughts about what they enjoy about the trail was part of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club's outing.

Sara Cockrell

Hot dogs prepared by members and a pot-luck gives welcome sustenance to Grand Traverse Hiking Club's hungry hikers at Baxter Bridge State Forest Campground.


NCT Hikers Chapter celebrated National Trails Day with a hike from Rumely Road to Laughing Whitefish Falls: although our numbers were small, just twelve of us, we came from across the central Upper Peninsula, three ladies from Bark River, two from the Superior Shoreline Chapter, four non-members from Marquette and three members of the NCTHikers Chapter. We hiked through wild-flowered woods including lots of trillium and forget-me-nots, crossed overflowing streams, passed by and enjoyed over five rushing waterfalls and a few additional ones that our leader, Lorana, had never seen flowing before and we beat the thunderstorm that came soon after we finished. A total of 5.2 miles with 2.2 on the NCT, 2.2 on the Laughing Whitefish Falls Spur trail and the rest on the access trail for the Laughing Whitefish Falls parking lot. (Look at the front cover for a glimpse of their National Trails Day scenery.) — Lorana Jinkerson {Wow, you ARE further north! Our trillium in western N.Y. blooms a month earlier. Editor} July-September 2017


Peter Nordgren

Mark Vanhornweder and his son Jasper celebrate with a stroll on Brule-St. Croix Chapter's new boardwalk.

Brule-St. Croix Chapter

More than 35 gathered at the headwaters of the Bois Brule River to dedicate a new boardwalk spur from the North Country Trail. The spur leads to the historic portage landing used by Native Americans, European explorers, and Canadian voyageurs to travel between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River watershed. The new boardwalk and a memorial bench with plaque were dedicated to the memory of Chuck Zosel, former superintendent of the Brule River State Forest, also a founder of the North Country Trail Association’s Brule-St. Croix Chapter. BSC president Mark VanHornweder, member of NCTA's Board of Directors, pointed out the long history of the portage, illustrated by a traveler’s description from 1767. Current State Forest superintendent Dave Schulz spoke about Chuck Zosel’s dedication to the portage trail and his personal qualities as a leader and mentor. Chuck’s son David Zosel expressed thanks on behalf of the family for Chuck’s memorial. Following the dedication, many in the group shared a potluck picnic at the St. Croix Lake Trailhead. More hiking followed on the Brule Bog Boardwalk, following the route of an NCT section first envisioned by Chuck Zosel.

Phil Anderson

— Peter Nordgren

Minnesota Waters And Prairie Chapter

Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter celebrated completion of a new 10 mile portion of the North Country Trail through Fergus Falls, Minnesota, a project that celebrates the contributions of many partners, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the City of Fergus Falls, Otter Tail Power Corporation, private landowners, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, and the Fergus Falls Fish and Game Club. Hikes were held of differing lengths both before and after the mid-day program at the Prairie Wetlands Learning Center.

The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Memorial bench in honor of Chuck Zosel, former superintendent of the Brule River State Forest, also a founder of the North Country Trail Association’s Brule-St. Croix Chapter.

David Ellis

Minnesota Waters and Prairie Chapter celebrated by cutting the ribbon on a new 10-mile section of Trail through Fergus Falls.


The North Star

The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter hosted another successful National Trails Day in cooperation with Fort Ransom State Park. The day began with a ranger-led hike through the beautiful wooded trails at the Park. We had 26 hikers. After lunch 16 people enjoyed a canoe/kayak excursion from the Park to the village of Fort Ransom. Subaru was there for the day with their "Leave no Trace" (LNT) program. LNT representatives Junaid Dawud and Amanda Jameson even managed to pull a tire with rim out of the river in keeping with their mission on our canoe trip! That’s not as easy as it sounds! Junaid and Amanda are Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, a mobile education and training unit responsible for delivering free outreach and education to groups across the nation. They give presentations, do booth outreach, and teach Trainer Courses to spread the word about Leave No Trace and empower others to do the same. Their stops are scheduled through the Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics via request at http:// LNT.org/request-a-visit, though they are currently scheduled

Bobby Koepplin

Sheyenne River Valley Chapter's day began with a ranger-led hike through the beautiful trails at Fort Ransom State Park

Deb Koepplin Cory Enger

The Dakota Prairie Chapter took a hike in the Sheyenne National Grasslands on a 90 degree day.

Becky Heise

After lunch 16 people paddled their way from the Fort Ransom State Park to the village of Fort Ransom.

through December. According to their website, the Leave No Trace Center For Outdoor Ethics strives to educate all those who enjoy the outdoors about the nature of their recreational impacts, as well as techniques to prevent and minimize such impacts. After getting all the canoes and kayaks back to the park, it was time to just sit back, share some food and refreshments with good friends, watch a pick-up volleyball game after supper (six kids against three adults - rules optional), and enjoy a campfire complete with popcorn popped over the fire! We had 22 people stay for the picnic supper provided by the SRV Chapter. Great times with great people! —Becky Heise Stephanie Hoffarth, last year's "Rising Star Award" winner, makes popcorn to share, at the close of the day of celebration for Sheyenne River Valley Chapter.


July-September 2017


National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT


ast year we celebrated the 100th birthday of the National Park Service. We truly appreciate everything that you all did to help bring awareness of our national parks (and trails!) to the people of our nation and the world. By the end of the Centennial, the National Park Service recorded a 5% increase in visitation during the Centennial year. Now, that doesn’t seem like a lot, but if we estimated that one million people hiked on the North Country Trail, that would translate to an increase of fifty thousand visitors. Not bad, eh? The Centennial called it a wrap last fall. Now we have something that is even bigger (in my opinion): the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System. For those of us old enough to remember who Lyndon Johnson was, you’ll be surprised to know that he was the inspiration for our national trails. His letter to Congress in 1965 kicked everything into gear, leading to the October 2, 1968, public law 90-543 which established the National Trails System and created the mechanism to establish national scenic, national historic and national recreation trails. Today we have trails all over the nation, from Hawaii (Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail) to Alaska (the Iditarod National Historic Trail), to Mississippi (the Natchez Trace National Scenic Trail), Florida (the Florida National Scenic Trail) and everywhere in between (including North Country Trail!). Check out www.nps.gov/nts for more information on our national trails. The 50th anniversary celebration was officially kicked off at the International Trails Symposium in Dayton, Ohio, in May. We have between now and October 2,

2018 (the “real” 50th anniversary) to bring awareness and appreciation of North Country Trail and all the other national scenic, national historic and national recreation trails. The National Park Service has websites, Twitter and Facebook sites to help you promote any celebrations you may be planning. On the website, www.trails50.org, you’ll find toolkits, fact sheets, and opportunities to share your favorite trail photos. It is actually quite a cool thing. On https://www.doi.gov/video/findyourway you’ll find videos promoting our Trails anniversary, and also videos celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Check them out and share. The videos will be rolling out regularly so check in now and then to see the latest. If you’re into Facebook, check out “trails50.” On Twitter, it’s #findyourtrail. This is the year to really bring North Country Trail to the attention of everyone you work and play with. Share the digital sites, host an event, and most of all, be sure to have fun on your national scenic, historic and recreation trails. And as usual, if you need some help with pulling off an event or activity, drop me a line. I can’t guarantee anything, especially with our anticipated tighter budgets in the next fiscal year, but if we can help out, we will! Mark Weaver

With his camera, Tom Reimers actually caught a fisher in the wild, at the Roy Park Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust. No, it's not on N.Y.'s NCT but it's not far away, and seeing any fisher is amazing enough. What a fierce face!


The North Star

Skyline Camp Story and pictures by Duane Lawton


ordan Valley 45o Chapter has wanted to build a camp shelter for years. Building one on state land isn’t in the cards. Our gracious partner landowners Doug and Pam Boor allowed us to set up a campsite on their property just off of the City of Petoskey Skyline Trail (part of the NCT). The site has a view of the Bear River valley south of Petoskey. We built spur trails to the campsite and to a nearby spring in 2014. The Boors donated a wood-framed canvas shelter (“yurt”) which we set up in 2015. The winter of 2015-2016 did away with that: snow load collapsed and tore the yurt beyond repair. Left with an empty platform, we knew we needed a more robust structure on it. Eagle Scout candidate Joe Farley came to the rescue; he adopted construction of the Skyline Camp shelter as his Eagle Scout project last year. He raised $3500, got an architectural sketch, procured materials and we all pitched in to build it. The initial work bee was November 12th, followed by 13th, 26th, and 27th. We had an enclosed structure with a metal roof and windows shortly after the first snow. The main platform is roughly 14´ x 16´, with a 14´ x 8´ “deck” in front. There is a small sleeping loft above a 4 foot porch overhang, and the front door is flanked by two large screened openings with shutters. There are also windows on the sides and in the loft. It’s intended to have a bank of bunks, providing total sleeping space for perhaps ten. This will make it a nice venue for scout outings. We have had one work bee so far this year (April 15th), and rustic siding is going on. What’s left is completing the siding, and building the bunks.


In addition to the shelter, our campsite has a fire ring and a latrine. The small spring about ¼ mile away is a non-potable water source, which has been developed with a spring box and piping installed by Scout Chase Rawson as his Eagle project. Joe Farley was a speaker at our Petoskey Trail Town Celebration on National Trails Day, describing his project, and the value of the camp for the local Scouts. We know that it will also cement appreciation for the longest National Scenic Trail in the minds of the Scouts. There’s talk of holding Joe’s Eagle Scout Court of Honor ceremony at Skyline Camp.

July-September 2017


Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

Build It!

Story and picture by Becky Heise


heyenne River Valley Chapter in southeast North Dakota plans to build and install three boardwalks over small creeks and drainages into Lake Ashtabula. No more will hikers have to try to leap over the creek or jump from hummock to hummock to ford a water crossing. Many have tried and many have fallen! We are working with dedication to make our crossings safer and more pleasant. The SRV Chapter is also adding what is called a “nearby trail” or what we like to call a “spur” to connect the Trail from Mill Road just north of Fort Ransom to three nearby historic sites – Mooring Stone Pond, Writing Rocks and the Fort Ransom State Historic Site. This will be an approximate ¾ mile of additional trail, ending at interpretive panels describing the sites. Mooring Stone Pond is said to be a mooring site for a ship’s repair. Also on the site are the remains of a large dugout with walls of stone and a smaller dugout, possibly a food cache, connected to the other by a deep path. Some think it is of Viking origin. Ships, you ask? After all, this is only a tributary of the modest Sheyenne River! There are hundreds of these “mooring stones” across the United States. Mooring stones are medium to large boulders with small holes chiseled in them, often found near bodies of water. In 1907, writer and lecturer Hjalmer R. Holand suggested that the stones were proof of a Viking visit to the region. Holand knew that Norwegian and Swedish fishermen chiseled holes in the steep rock walls of the deep fjords of Norway to allow a spike with an attached ring to be inserted to moor their boats He posited that the Vikings followed the Red River down from Hudson Bay and others in this region suggest that they then turned and followed up the Sheyenne.


The North Star

So how did a Viking ship make it up a small creek nearly 200 feet above the Sheyenne? Well, Valdimar Samuelsson of Reykjavik, Iceland, a researcher who specializes in cairns, suggests that the higher elevation stones could also be boundary stones, but the Viking mooring stone theory is the reason for the name of this pond. Writing Rock is thought to contain pictographic inscriptions and is located near the foot of Bears Den Hill across the ravine from the old fort site. Fort Ransom, from which the town and State Park take their names, was established on June 18, 1867, and was one of a chain of forts in Dakota Territory built to protect wagon trains on their way to the gold fields of Montana, along with pioneer settlers and railroad workers. Its buildings were of log construction and provided quarters for 200 enlisted men and seven officers. The post was protected by two blockhouses, a breastwork of log and sod construction, and a dry moat eight feet deep. The fort was abandoned on May 27, 1872. Other projects for 2017 include finalizing the Chapter segment maps and installing the local trail segment interpretive panel at Fort Ransom State Park. Three work days have been scheduled along with a Doosan Day of Caring at the Sheyenne State Forest. Doosan/Bobcat is a manufacturer of machinery that is often useful for original trail construction, so has become quite the benefactor of our North Dakota Chapters, sharing equipment and volunteers with us. These work days will focus on making our existing segments easier and more comfortable to traverse and will include some benching and re-routing a slide area, reinstalling signage in Valley City and some pasture areas, fill in low spots where puddles form after rains, completion of a new brochure (when maps are done) and installation of brochure boxes all along the trail route.

Adirondack Update By Mary C. Coffin


ne would expect that since the Adirondack Plan for the NCNST route across the six million acre Adirondack Park was approved by the New York Department of Conservation (DEC), Governor and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in 2015 that considerable progress would have been made on the ground. Considerable progress has been made in the background working through the levels of New York State and Adirondack Park procedures. But there is no new trail on the ground and no NCNST markings yet posted. But volunteers have been setting the stage for new construction in 2018 and NCT marking of approved sections. The trail route crosses eight units of NY State protected Forest Preserve land (Wilderness Areas and Wild Forests) and several private timber company easements. Each of the eight units requires the trail route to be included in a Unit Management Plan (UMP) or amendment and permission must be obtained for recreational use in each of the timber company easements. One Wilderness UMP has been approved, Hoffman’s Notch Wilderness, and that is where we will flag trail and complete prep work in 2017 and start construction in 2018. We were awarded enough funding via National Park Service efforts to support two weeks of trail construction work in this unit. The Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) Professional Trail Crew will be contracted. ADK’s “pro-crew” is a professionally trained youth trail crew. Most are college students trained and supervised professionally and will construct trail according to DEC and NCTA/NPS standards.

Volunteers are working closely with NYS DEC foresters and planners who are including the North Country National Scenic Trail in several more UMPs which will be put out for public comment in 2017: Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Hammond Pond Wild Forest, Black River Wild Forest. They are also working with several timber companies to obtain recreational easements. The forester/planners are very enthusiastic and supportive. So we remain very optimistic about on the ground progress in 2018 and 2019. ADK might sponsor a volunteer week in 2018 or 2019, and we have set up a trail steward program with ADK for existing trails on the route. So we have volunteers who have adopted trails. When complete the NCNST will span about 150-160 miles across the rustic Adirondacks. At present about 80 miles are on existing trails but the undeveloped gaps are deep in the forest and crossing many streams. Since there are few roads, connecting temporary road walks are lengthy. Off trail bushwhacking is discouraged due to the remoteness and lack of bridges. Those wishing to hike the Adirondack Park end to end can obtain from NCTA a temporary route using non NCNST trails and roads to piece together a continuous route. The actual plan with maps at the end can be obtained from: <www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/ncnst001.pdf.

Mike Toole

Allegheny National Forest Blowdowns When we had high winds come through at the beginning of May, we had several scattered areas of multi-stem blow-down along our 100 miles of trail in northwest Pennsylvania. —Tina Toole ANF Chapter Tina Toole

On top of Bliss Hill we cleared a blow down of about 10 trees. Tina Toole is standing right near the trail. In the background you can see where several trees were snapped off. In the foreground, the chainsaw is sitting on the spot where Mike Toole is cutting a step out of a giant half buried black cherry tree.


This is Beaver Run where there were two large blowdown areas. Many trees were snapped off about 30 feet up their trunk. In the photo, Eric Bayless (left) and Mike Toole (right) are standing on the trail, surveying part of the mess and planning how to cut through to the blue blaze that you can see in the distance behind Mike’s back!

July-September 2017


Hiking Shorts

Cal Renner Award For Excellence

Given annually, the Cal Renner Award of Excellence recognizes an individual, group, or business whose efforts have contributed substantially to furthering the goals of the North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department. The 2016 Cal Renner Award was presented to Bobby Koepplin, Valley City. Koepplin’s creativity and hard work provided solutions to numerous challenges, as he worked tirelessly to improve facilities and provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Most notable are his contributions to the installation of electricity for the horse corrals at Fort Ransom State Park, construction of the North Country National Scenic Trail through Fort Ransom State Park and the Sheyenne State Forest, and leadership efforts with the North Dakota Scenic Byway Program and the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway. Bobby has been a longtime heavy duty volunteer with the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter of the NCTA, and was President of the NCTA Board of Directors for two years in the past.


The North Star

Richard Lutz

Andrew Bashaw was awarded “Outstanding Trail Leader” by American Trails at their recent biennial conference held in Dayton, Ohio. Bashaw is Executive Director of the Buckeye Trail Association, an important trail maintaining partner of the North Country Trail Association. Ohio’s Buckeye Trail hosts the North Country National Scenic Trail for about 880 miles in Ohio. Bashaw has been the BTA’s full-time executive director since 2013, prior to which he served as NCTA’s regional trail coordinator responsible for Ohio and Pennsylvania. At BTA’s helm, Bashaw has led efforts to protect the BT/NCNST when threatened by management decisions to open the trail to multiple uses. He has negotiated major reroutes in places like the Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve. Under his lead the BTA now sponsors a highly effective annual TrailFest, which in 2018 will co-host the NCTA’s annual Celebration. For the past several years, Bashaw has urged all of Ohio’s trail groups to speak with one voice in order to solidify their political impact. The Buckeye Trail’s mantra is “Together We Can,” and Bashaw’s efforts are the glue that keeps their efforts channeled. At the American Trails conference in Dayton, members of the NCT community were there for the recognition ceremony, when Bashaw received the “Outstanding Trail Leader Award.” In noting this recognition and thanking his constituents, Bashaw shared “I’m informing folks that it is now more appropriate to address me as ‘Your Outstandingness.’ I thank you; you certainly make me look good!” —Bruce Matthews

Francie Rowe

Andrew Bashaw Receives Award

Denny Caneff, Table Mountain, Capetown.

Superior Hiking Trail Association Has New Director

Denny Caneff begins his service as the Superior Hiking Trail Association’s new executive director on June 1. Denny comes to the North Shore by way of Madison, Wisconsin, where he held many professional positions in land and water conservation, mostly recently completing a 13-year stint as executive director of the River Alliance of Wisconsin. “I’m really excited to bring my nonprofit management experience and my passion for conservation and the outdoors to the Superior Hiking Trail Association,” Denny said. “The North Shore has always drawn me in, and what better way to answer that call than this work to keep the Superior Hiking Trail a regional and national gem.” Denny is a Minnesota native, born and raised in Hastings. He’s a graduate of St. Cloud State University and holds a Master’s degree in journalism from the University of WisconsinMadison. The father of four children, he’s an avid kayaker and hiker, canoed the entire length of the Mississippi River, spent time in over 20 foreign countries, and served in the Peace Corps in West Africa. When he’s not on a trail or river, he loves to be in his kitchen cooking and sharing those creations with friends. The Superior Hiking Trail Association is an important partner to the North Country Trail Association in building and maintaining the 300plus miles of the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). The SHT will be sharing their tread with the North Country National Scenic Trail whenever Congress finally approves the NCNST Route Adjustment Act, although already the SHT is a de facto part of the NCNST insofar as most thru-hikers are concerned.

Hiking Shorts Matt Gardner of N.D. Parks & Rec

Don Feola

End of the Trail

New Western Terminus sign at Lake Sakakawea State Park. It was installed just in time for National Trails Day.

—Becky Heise

Hikers Stop on Red Signal

Notice the lighted railroad crossing signal in front of Rob Shoemaker’s house along the former Lehigh Valley railbed in central N.Y. just outside of Canastota. Rob controls the signal from his house and lighted it, much to our surprise, when he saw our group of hikers from the Central N.Y. Chapter! Pictured are Matteo Paoluzzi, Jack Miller, Karen Campbell with Lady, Terri Feola, Martina Losardo, hike leader Scott Sellers, and Kathy Eisele. Matteo and Martina from Italy are studying at Syracuse University and discovered our hike via the on-line service Meet-up. —Kathy Eisele

Use Our Website To Plan Your Hikes!

They’re back!


Tarin Hasper

Tarin Hasper and her beloved beagle Baxter are back with NCTA, this time in a new role as the Annual Fund Coordinator on the Development staff. Tarin comes to us with a B.S. in Sustainable Business from Aquinas College and two prior years with the NCTA team in Lowell. She served as an Administrative Assistant with a brief hiatus working in the animal rescue industry, another personal passion.  Tarin is looking forward to learning a new role and supporting the trail in a different and exciting way!  She will work closely with David Cowles, the Director of Development, who had this to say about her return to the NCTA. “Tarin was a definite asset to our team in her administrative role but I saw lots of potential to do more with her ingenuity and her relational skills. She was the natural choice when it came time to grow the NCTA development department. I know that she will elevate our fundraising efforts to new and broader horizons.” Tarin and husband Bob recently welcomed a newborn son, Maxwell, to the Hasper household. Along with Max, their home in Lowell includes two beagles, two cats, four ducks and lots of chickens, with a garden where they also enjoy preserving their yields.  Tarin and Bob are excited to introduce Max to all things outdoor, which of course includes the North Country Trail.  —David Cowles

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-trail-condition 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.

July-September 2017


Brief update on the

NCNST Route Adjustment Legislation

Thanks to our champions in the House and Senate, route adjustment bills have been introduced in both the Senate and the House. H.R. 1026 has 32 bi-partisan co-sponsors (for a list, visit https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/ house-bill/1026/cosponsors) while S. 363 has 9 co-sponsors (see list at https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/ senate-bill/363/cosponsors), has been voted favorably out of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and awaits action by the full Senate. We would like to obtain additional co-sponsors from across the NCT. You can help! Check out the list of targets and how to make contacts at https://northcountrytrail.org/ house-advocacy/.

Arrowhead Re-route News By Matt Davis

Update on the Arrowhead Chapter’s Activities

Over the last five years the small Arrowhead Chapter has developed the roughly 3.4-mile long Prairie River Trail which runs north of Grand Rapids, Minnesota, on lands owned by UPM-Blandin Paper Company and Arbo Township. It runs along the scenic Prairie River (a tributary to the Mississippi), goes past a very large mine tailings pile, and the Greenway mine pit lake to the CR-61 trailhead for the Mesabi Trail. In 2017, the Chapter plans to sign an extension of the Prairie River Trail between the City of Grand Rapids’ Sports Complex and its current southern terminus. This new piece will cross the University of Minnesota’s North Central Research and Outreach Center (NCROC) property. This property mixes historic research, hands-on educational opportunities for Itasca Community College students, and public recreation research visible along the trail is done on forest management and also with apple trees. The NCROC facility features an existing trail system used by the public. Most of the Prairie River Trail's route across the NCROC will utilize these existing trails, including a short stretch through majestic old-growth pines. The Chapter has also done some preliminary route planning elsewhere in the immediate Grand Rapids area including a route within the Cities of Grand Rapids and Cohasset. There are plenty of willing partners including the Minnesota Historical Society’s Forest History Center, the City of Grand Rapids, and existing trail segments like the Tioga Trail which runs from Tioga Beach on Pokegama Lake to the edge of Grand Rapids. Another area where the Chapter has explored route options includes the southwest corner of Itasca County from the edge of the Chippewa National Forest to


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Tioga Beach on UPM-Blandin and county tax forfeit lands. This route would traverse undeveloped forestland and pass by the southernmost mine pit lake (the Tioga Pit) of the Iron Range. Update on the Kekekabic Trail Chapter

In recent years the Kekekabic Trail Club has celebrated its 25th anniversary and reorganized as a Chapter of the NCTA. The decision was made because the Club had become inactive and the few volunteers remaining were unable to focus on both the organizational tasks and the Club’s trail clearing mission. The Chapter has held trail clearing trips for the last three years, several of them American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation crews that pulled in volunteers from near and far. Another crew in 2015 featured NCTA volunteers from all across the trail. The initial volunteer efforts focused on the eastern half of the Kekekabic Trail which was affected by the 1999 blowdown and subsequent wildfires which led to thick brush obscuring the trail. More recent efforts have switched to the trail’s west half which has been hit by powerful windstorms leading to impenetrable blowdown. Crews from the Chapter, Vermilion Community College, an American Hiking Society vacation crew, and a Conservative Anabaptist Service Program crew have all worked hard in the last year. This spring’s work included clearing blowdowns from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) boundary east to Thomas Pond, a distance of 9 miles. Much of that trail features incredibly thick blowdowns. The KEK Chapter is in dire need of additional crew leaders to lead future trail clearing trips out into the BWCAW. Significant trailwork and wilderness camping experience are necessary but you don’t need to be an expert paddler. If you have an interest, please contact us. The NCTA and Superior National Forest are talking about doing a crew leader training sometime in the near future.

Peggy Schaefer

Update on the Border Route Trail Association

The same powerful windstorms that hit the Kek also wreaked havoc on the Border Route Trail further to the east. Areas hit particularly hard included the Rose Lake Cliffs/ Stairway Portage, South Lake Trail, and Daniels Lake spur trail. Timing, however, was on the side of the Border Route Trail Association (BRTA) as the Superior National Forest was able to dedicate firefighting crews that were in the area last summer for prescribed burns toward blowdown removal on the BRT and spur trails. Clearing was mostly complete by last fall and BRTA clearing trips have gone out this spring to tackle more clearing and also brushing. A winter ice storm in 2015 left a lot of brush drooping across the BRT. Learn more at http:// www.borderroutetrail.org/conditions.html. The BRTA is always looking for more volunteers to participate in their trail clearing trips. See http://www.borderroutetrail.org/trailclearing.html. The Border Route Trail Association is planning an update of their BRT guidebook in the near future.


Update on The Superior Hiking Trail By Jo Swanson, Outreach Coordinator

Great progress has been made on the Superior Hiking Trail in the last five years. Several new permanent easements have been secured, with others to follow we hope. The two southernmost sections between Jay Cooke State Park Visitor Center and the Minnesota/Wisconsin border have been constructed. Some loops along the trail have also been constructed or improved in recent years. Of particular note is the Brewer Park Loop in the city of Duluth, a popular year-round hike. A major re-route north of Gooseberry Falls State Park is also nearing completion. This re-route brings the trail off private and onto public land. Storm clean-up has been a major challenge in recent years. Since a destructive flood in 2012 hit the Superior Hiking Trail, massive trail rehabilitation has taken place. This year a previously-closed route will re-open, along with a spur trail and a trailhead which were damaged in that flood. A 2015 ice storm brought significant brush and fallen trees onto the northern end of the trail while in 2016, one storm alone caused over 400 trees to block the trail in the Duluth area. The Superior Hiking Trail Association has been taking steps toward the replacement of several aging bridges. Due to the intensity of recent storms and eroding banks, new bridges must be longer than previous designs. Several bridge replacements are planned for 2017.

July-September 2017


Catching Up With The Harbor Springs Chapter Story and pictures by Judy Conrad


arbor Springs has had a busy start to the 2017 year. Located in the northernmost part of the lower peninsula in Michigan, we maintain 46 miles of trail south of the Mackinaw Bridge almost to Petoskey.  We had three winter snowshoe hikes in February and March before the snow melted.  They were organized by our chapter secretary Shari Sanderson.   On April 20th we had our first meeting to gear up for the spring hiking season and to discuss the trail maintenance necessary to offer our hikers a great outdoor experience.  We found that through the help of several volunteers most of the work of clearing downed trees was already done.  Several volunteers however made a plan to work on a section of boardwalk through one of our wettest sections.  Their work caught the attention of one of our local TV stations.  You can see the video clip of chapter president Jim Stamm, Gary Rigby and John Texter at http://upnorthlive.com/ features/the-great-outdoors/volunteers-connect-boardwalk-onnorth-country-trail Also at the meeting a report of the log entries at our trailheads was given.  It revealed a 31% increase in trail usage from the previous year!  Nearly 40 of the people using the trail were working on their Hike 100 Challenge.  Over half of our log entries were hikers from out of our local area.  We had hikers from 23 other states as well as 3 other countries (Japan, England and Canada).  We had many positive comments about our well-marked and well-maintained trails.   A guest attended the meeting, Burr Mitchell from Wilderness


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State Park. Many miles of our trail travel through this treasured wilderness.  He told us how much he appreciated the dedicated work that our chapter does to maintain the trail through the park and that he had received permission to construct two additional rustic campsites along the trail for through hikers.  He indicated that the trailhead log usage data would be helpful for future improvements within the park to enhance the hikers’ experiences.  We discussed how we could encourage hikers to sign in more consistently at the trailhead when using each section. Perhaps better signage near the log books? April 22nd was our next hike. 14 hikers joined us for our beautiful section 4 from Larks Lake Road to Robinson Road, 4.25 miles.  During the hike we were excited to learn that a

Rose Wooley

This flooded boardwalk picture was taken on May 19, 2017, when flash flooding was again a threat.

Mellen Boardwalk Updates By Marty Swank

Mike Trieschmann

couple that had joined us were more experienced than most of us. Keenan and Rebecca McFall had taken six months off last summer to hike the entire Appalachian Trail! They agreed to tell us all about it at our next meeting on June 15th. Nancy Stamm provided us some of her delicious home baked cookies as usual.  A number of the hikers were working on their Hike 100 Challenge for 2017. Then on May 8th we had our annual Mothers Day hike. The spring flowers were opening for the 19 hikers along our beautiful Section 2 from Brutus Road to Stutzmanville Road. Several members from our neighboring chapter to the south (Jordan 45°) joined us.  A couple of the hikers had already completed their 100 mile challenge!!! A wonderful Mothers Day dinner was enjoyed afterwards at Northwoods in Oden. In order that the father hikers don’t feel slighted we will be hiking Section 1 and having dinner following on June 18th.   Finally on June 3rd we hiked our beautiful Section 10 from Cecil Bay Road to the French Farm Lake Dam. We plan this hike annually hoping to catch the abundant lady slippers in full bloom. We were not disappointed. We saw both pink and yellow varieties as well as many other spring flowers.

Newly tilled trail.


he newly built 370´ raised boardwalk (fall of 2016) had a flooding test already! The boardwalk is part of the North Country National Scenic Trail leading from the City of Mellen, Wisconsin, into Copper Falls State Park. Bill Menke inspected the boardwalk after the flood waters receded and says the Boardwalk has not moved at all. Sigh of relief on the Chapter’s part!! The second picture shows newly tilled NCT that will take hikers from the boardwalk to Copper Falls State Park and was taken on June 10th, 2017. This was newly created NCT in an existing field and was really rough to walk on. Russ Karow of Mellen spent two five hour days with his tractor and tiller smoothing out the newly created NCT to Copper Falls and went on to smooth out existing trail all the way to Copper Falls State Park, a mile long! What a labor saving effort. Thank you Russ!! Mike Trieschmann lined up the effort and had to remove some downed trees and make room for the tractor and tiller on the existing NCT to the park.

According to Joan Young, it’s a regular lady’s slipper, moccasin flower, Cypripedium acaule in its rare white form. That’s what makes it cool. It is pretty rare.


July-September 2017


Bill Menke

Douglas County Wildlife Area in Wisconsin. The heliotrope flowers are rough blazing star and the white ones may be flattopped white aster, according to Joan Youngâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best guess.

North Country Prairie By Bill Menke and Matthew Davis


he North Country Trail is the only National Scenic Trail that crosses major portions of the prairie biome, or major ecological community type. While various versions of prairie used to cover vast stretches of the upper Midwest, much of it has succumbed to the plow and various intrusions of civilization. The Trail crosses the tallgrass prairie in northwestern Wisconsin, western Minnesota, and eastern North Dakota and the mid-grass prairie in central North Dakota. Shortgrass prairie is found further west in the Little Missouri National Grassland and Theodore Roosevelt National Park of North Dakota. The three types of prairie to be found along the NCT are generally classified by the height of the grasses and plants that grow in them. The three types, tallgrass, mid-grass (or mixed grass), and short grass can also be classified by gradients in the annual precipitation, with the taller grass prairies being found further to the north and east where annual precipitation is greater. It is also on this eastern fringe where the prairie ecosystem blends with the central hardwood forest, forming savannah types of habitats, where scattered trees are mixed in with grasslands. Tallgrass prairie is found on the eastern edge of the prairie biome, from the Red River Valley in North Dakota east to southwest Michigan, and occurs where annual precipitation is the highest and annual temperatures are coolest, compared to other prairie areas.


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Five hikes through the prairie are suggested: 1. From the Jensen Campground to the top of Teepee Ring Hill within Lonetree Wildlife Management Area in North Dakota, a hike through mid-grass prairie. http://arcg.is/2fReQYS will take you to an NCTA map with half-mile increments shown. By zooming out, you can easily find where you are in N.D., walking along the Sheyenne River after it turns westward. 2. Another hike along the Sheyenne River valley edge within Lonetree WMA is found here: http://arcg. is/2fRhnT1 3. Hike from the Middle Trailhead to the East Trailhead within the Sheyenne National Grassland in southeast North Dakota: http://arcg.is/2fR6GzN in tallgrass prairie. 4. Hike the NCT within the Prairie Wetland Learning Center (http://arcg.is/2pb5Q1X) and/or One Mile Prairie (http://arcg.is2pb7dxX)) in Fergus Falls, Minnesota, more tallgrass. 5. Hike across the Douglas County, Wisconsin, area from the Hwy 53 Trailhead to Prairie Lane/Twin Bridges Road: http://arcg.is/2fSNC0O, featuring both tallgrass and savannah.

Tom Moberg

Mary Moberg along the NCT in the Sheyenne National Grassland, N.D., in winter’s tallgrass.

Matt Davis

Things you probably didn’t know about the prairie: • Prairie is the most endangered ecosystem in North America. Less than 1% of the presettlement tallgrass prairie is intact. • Prairies relied upon fire and grazing by large ungulates (like buffalo) to maintain themselves.  Fires kept trees and woody shrubs at bay while simultaneously regenerating the grasses which survived because, unlike woody plants, growth occurs at the ground level. • Prairie grasses actually photosynthesize at night or in the early morning in order to save water.  They can store the energy they receive from the sun in their cells during the daytime hours and then use it to photosynthesize. • A prairie has as much or more bio-mass below the ground as it does above ground. This is due to the extensive and deep roots that enable it to survive in harsh conditions. • Prairie and savannah plants support a wide variety of life. For instance, a bur oak supports a community of over 350 different species while a non-native tree, such as Ginko, supports only a handful. To learn more, visit these sites: • Tallgrass and midgrass prairie in North Dakota (http://ndstudies.gov/sites/default/file/prairie_ web_0.pdf) • Matrix of tallgrass prairie, pothole wetlands, oak savannah, and northern hardwood forest in western Minnesota (http://www.dnr.state. mn.us/ecs/222Ma/index.html) • Pine barrens in northwestern Wisconsin (http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/EndangeredResources/ Communities.asp?mode=detail&Code=CTSA V006WI)

Matt Davis

Prairie: A Natural History by Candace Savage (2011, Greystone Books) is a great natural history primer to the prairie biome in North America

The NCT winds through the tallgrass prairie and savannahs of the Sheyenne National Grassland, N.D.

https://www.fws.gov/prairiesconservation/ http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/habitats/ grasslands/

The NCT winds up Teepee Ring Hill through mid-grass prairie in Lonetree Wildlife Management Area, N.D.


July-September 2017


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North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Sara Cockrell

Dutchman's Breeches bloom in early spring, these in Michigan.

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. 3 (2017)  

North Star Vol. 36, No. 3 (2017)