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July-September, 2016

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

Volume 35, No. 3

Ruth Dorrough

While Ruth and Dan Dorrough were in Akeley, Minnesota, Ruth captured this “theatre” across the street from the Paul Bunyan display on our cover. The upper midwest is full of such grandiose tourist creations designed to lure us there.

About the Cover:

The intrepid duo of Ruth and Dan Dorrough were hiking through Minnesota this summer, on their way to finishing their end-to-end saga near Fargo in September, when they persuaded a tourist to take their picture with the Paul Bunyan statue in Akeley. This oversized Paul is reportedly the largest anywhere at 42 feet, even crouching, and is supplemented by further riveting information at the adjacent Red River Museum.

In This Issue Trail Work by Boat: A Farewell............3 A Chance Meeting on the Trail Leads to ITM Chapter...........................5 Extended Outing..................................6 A North Country Trail Wedding!............7 Trail Safe!............................................8 Foxglove Poisoning..............................9 Onondaga Joy...................................10 2016 A-100 Hiking Challenge..........12 A Successful Work Hike....................14 Light Up the Trail: American Radio Relay League Update.........................15 Remer Esker Posts Still Intact!...........16 Finger Lakes Trail Spring Weekend....17 Harbor Springs Chapter Hike...........20 Tour de Clarion: Along the Allegheny River Trail.........21

National Trails Day Recap.................22 NCTA’s Hike 100 Challenge.............25 A Weekend In Zoar, Ohio.................27 The NCT in Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests.............28 What’s Up with Those Other Blazes?....30 New Urban Signage in Place.............31 Trail Re-route Finished......................31

Columns Trailhead.............................................3 Matthews’ Meanders...........................4 NPS Corner......................................18

Departments Where in the Blue Blazes?..................19 Hiking Shorts..............................16, 19

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, Christine Ellsworth, Amelia Rhodes, Editorial Advisory Committee The North Star, Fall issue, Vol. 35, 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.


The North Star


David Cowles Director of Development dcowles@northcountrytrail.org Jill DeCator Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator jdecator@northcountrytrail.org Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator llindstrom@northcountrytrail.org Michelle Mangus Administrative Assistant mmangus@northcountrytrail.org Bruce Matthews Executive Director bmatthews@northcountrytrail.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin bmenke@northcountrytrail.org Alison Myers Youth Outreach Intern yor@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 2016 Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · jnyhof@wnj.com Brian Pavek, At Large Rep. (763) 425-4195 · pavekb@comcast.net Larry Pio, Lower Michigan (269) 327-3589 · nalcoman1@aol.com Doug Thomas, Treasurer, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · dthomas7000@gmail.com Jerry Trout, Minnesota (218) 831-3965 · jjtrout@tds.net Gaylord Yost, VP West, At Large Rep. (414) 354-8987 · gaylyost@aol.com

Terms Expiring 2017 Ruth Dorrough, Secretary, New York (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, At Large Rep. (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, At Large Rep. (724) 827-2350 · dcgcag@gmail.com Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota (701) 271-6769 · tfmoberg@gmail.com Lynda Rummel, VP East, At Large Rep. (315) 536-9484 · ljrassoc@roadrunner.com Paul Spoelstra, At Large Rep. (616) 890-7518 · spoelymi@comcast.net

Trail Head



Trail Work by Boat Longtime trail volunteer Gene Cornelius was one of those rare people who made himself responsible for Trail sections in two states, a piece of the Allegheny National Forest Chapter’s section (Penna.) and a chunk of the Finger Lakes Trail (N.Y.) from the N.Y./Penna. border northward a few miles. Gene Cornelius working on the In May 2016, Gene Four Mile Run bridge last fall. suddenly died at age 75, to everyone’s surprise and sorrow. Just last fall we featured a bridge he had built in these pages. What your editor hadn’t known before this was that Gene had to take a boat to get into the middle of a long roadless section of the National Forest. Eleven miles of forest trail have highways only at the north and south ends, so Gene and some buddies would cross the sizeable Allegheny Reservoir in the Forest, created by a dam across the upper Allegheny River, to get into the middle of that long segment. Randy and Linda Thomas and Mike and Tina Toole also go in by boat to do a 2.5 mile segment deep in the woods between Johnnycake and Tracy Runs. Jeff Manelick

his will be my last article as “Trail Head” if the NCTA governance procedures roll along as planned. In September, the NCTA will have a new President who will presumably be writing this column. I plan to serve on the Board of Directors two more years before completing the full three terms allowed under the Bylaws, and as Past President (a position more honorary than functional), will serve on the Executive Committee for those two years if that seems useful to the Committee. The first Board meeting I chaired was at a tavern in Pennsylvania during the 2013 Conference. The last full Board meeting I chaired was at a tavern in Ohio during the 2016 Buckeye Trailfest. Perhaps there is some symbolism about those two “trail heads” on my hike through the presidency. During that first Board meeting as President, the Board voted (either too soon or too late, depending on your viewpoint) to suspend the annual conference in order to develop a better approach to such events. The Board accomplished that, and as I noted in my Trail Head column last quarter, the 2016 Celebration will be the first annual conference under the new guidelines. I like to think that getting to serve as Co-chair of the 2016 “gathering of the tribe” is a reward for helping preserve and enhance that important activity. Much has changed in the NCTA landscape in 3 years. In 2014, the Board completed a comprehensive Strategic Plan that continues to guide the organization. Both existing and new Board committees are working effectively to carry out the mission of the NCTA. For example, a Board Governance Committee was established that has helped create better policies and has successfully recruited a complement of excellent new Board members. To ensure that we are operating legally, the Board carried out a careful review and updating of the NCTA Bylaws as well as the Chapter Charter and Bylaw templates. As the Strategic Plan has led us to have greater ambitions for the NCNST, the NCTA budget has grown to almost a million dollars, fueled in part by a new commitment to fund raising by every member of the Board. I have been privileged to participate in these important developments. As I look back at my involvement with the NCNST, I realize that being an NCTA volunteer has been an excellent way to spend my post-career life. I started working on the NCNST after 40 years as a faculty member and senior administrator in higher education. Much of my career involved the implementation and use of information technologies, work that was often complex, demanding, and stressful. I retired primarily because I no longer had a real passion for my job. But I still had lots of energy. Working on the NCNST has given me a wonderful opportunity to invest my time and energy in something that is intrinsically valuable, has few ambiguities about it, and might even be considered a noble activity. Even in our contentious society, almost everyone agrees that trails are good things.

From Tom Moberg

Tom Moberg President

For me, the primary value of volunteer work on the trail is the simple pleasure of doing something outdoors that is fun, interesting, and free of unpleasant stress, while also helping create something special for the future. Without a doubt, the benefits I have gained from trail work far outweigh whatever contributions I have been able to make. I wouldn’t be surprised if many other NCTA volunteers feel the same way.

Contributed by Tina Toole

July-September 2016


Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director


ane Grey stories fired my imagination as a kid. I’d join Grey’s characters out riding the purple sage, sleeping out in moonlit desert campsites under a saguaro…and becoming savvy in the ways of nature and survival. I remember the old Indian guide trick, getting off his horse and pressing his ear to the ground not only to figure out whether we were being pursued, but by how many, and how far away. I also learned you could apply that trick to predict oncoming trains by listening to the rails…which horrified my mother, but that’s another story. It wasn’t the only thing about me that horrified her… That’s probably where the saying comes from—“ear to the ground”— where you connect with your surroundings and tune your senses looking for indicators for what’s about to happen. Holding your licked finger in the air to figure wind direction (or, if you’re a Zane Grey fan, slow-sifting a handful of trail dust while squatting squinty-eyed and staring at the horizon). So, actually, you don’t really need to press your ear to the ground to figure out that something really cool is happening for the North Country Trail Association! But if you like, here are some “ear-to-the-ground” indicators:


Number of NCTA Members



100 80 60 40 20 0 -40 -60





May’s membership is 13% higher than a year ago! Here’s a chart (yeah, we track these things) looking at membership numbers, April to May, since 2009. You can see May is usually a growth month, but May 2016’s growth is four times that of 2015, and far more than any May we’ve ever experienced before. “Hike It, Build It, Love It!,” NCTA’s spring fund-raising appeal, was the most successful ever, with donations as well as a response rate up 56%. We had more donors than ever, including an 80% increase in first-time givers! Visits to NCTA’s website continue to grow, with over 20,000 unique visitors in May 2016—a 35% increase over 2015! These visitors generated almost 91,000 page views—up 40% over last year.


The North Star

Yes, this is our Bruce!

From Bruce Matthews


Facebook followers have grown by more than 3,000 in the last year, with 1,600 of them coming just since January. We have 4,600 registrants for the Hike 100 Challenge, including more than 4,000 folks we’ve never had contact with before. To date there are 272 folks who’ve completed the challenge, representing 16 states. Preliminary National Trails Day reports from NCTA chapters, partners and affiliates are trending toward the largest participation ever. But, cool as they are, these are just stats. NCTA is WAY more than just statistics. Clearly the Hike 100 Challenge struck a nerve, and we’re seeing the results (including a look-alike program being run by the Appalachian Trail Conference and a number of other National Parks). Our next challenge is what to do with all these new folks learning about and using the NCNST for the first time. We’re working with NCTA’s chapters to help them convert these new hikers into new volunteers. We’re reaching out to these newest members of the Red Plaid Nation to invite and engage them more deeply with the Trail and the organizations that make it possible. Because, you know, all they are seeking is to build a quality story for themselves and for their families and friends. If NCTA can meet them at the nexus of story and the place where the story happens, we’ll not only be able to reinforce the story but to help it grow, help it be retold and create and support the community that’s building around the NCNST—the Red Plaid Nation. The aggregation of these stories demonstrates the common theme or thread, the trail running through it, to borrow and paraphrase from Norman Maclean’s lovely “A River Runs Through It.” So, our ears to the ground are telling us that wonderful things are happening. We’re looking forward to leveraging this increased interest and awareness into greater success as we build, maintain, protect and keep telling the story of our North Country National Scenic Trail. I hope to see many of you in Fargo—our next NCTA Celebration, held this year September 15-17. (True factoid: for whatever reason North Dakota is the only state Zane Grey never wrote about…) Postscript: After writing this I was informed by a couple members of my staff that they did not know who Zane Grey was. So I polled all of them and found, predictably I suppose, that their awareness of Zane Grey broke along generational lines. Duly chastised, I offer this brief summary: Zane Grey defined the western adventure writing genre during the first half of the 20th Century. A fascinating character, Grey was a prolific and highly successful writer, adventurer, and big game angler. He died in 1939, having written over 90 books, 50 of which were turned into more than 100 different western movies. “Riders of the Purple Sage” is probably his best known title.

Chance Meeting On The NCT Leads To Itasca Moraine Chapter The combined recollections and scribblings of Minnesotans Beth and Jerry Trout, and Florence and Carter Hedeen. Photos by Carter and Florence Hedeen, October 2000


uth and Dan Dorrough, while hiking in Minnesota this summer on their way to finish the whole trail, were intrigued by Carter Hedeen telling of his chance meeting with Jerry Trout on the North Country Trail on October 3, 2000, so urged them to share their story in North Star. Carter, newly retired, was on day four of a five-day east to west hike. Jerry, retired and a new resident of the area, was on day two of a four-day west to east hike. Jerry recalls that they met at the campground between the first and second crossing of the Woodtick Trail in the Chippewa National Forest. In Carter’s journal entry for October 3 he notes: At 7:00 am in the dim light and typically moist air of the tent – I remember feeling my usual conflicts – of wanting to get up and move about again to relieve my somnambulant stiffness and start another day – yet needing to leave my down womb to do it. I also needed to depressurize my bladder. The stiffness, new day, and my bladder won and I went through the contortions of delivering myself from my womb which enveloped all but my face. After finding and releasing two drawstrings and opening two zippers I emerged into the cool air of my thin-walled domicile to go through the ritual of quickly stripping off sleep wear and appropriately dressing for the colder air outside (all this time ignoring my bladder’s cry for relief.) The sky looked clear in the very early light of morning setting a positive tone for the day. A clear sky is better than the fabled “powder-milk biscuit” in giving me the energy to “do the things that need to be done.” Breakfast was quickly made (quick is the only speed one cooks anything on a Bunsen burner and titanium cookware). Soon I’m packed and ready to go. The map shows about only 10 miles to go! My heel (yesterday crying out from the pain of tendonitis from my boots) feels OK in my tennis shoes. If my heel continues in a nonpainful mode I decided to go to Hwy 371 www.northcountrytrail.org

Jerry Trout and friend Arden Woodrum at NCT campsite in Chippewa National Forest.

Carter Hedeen beginning five day hike in Chippewa National Forest near Remer, Minn.

and out, where I can catch a ride to Walker and call for a ride – or whatever – rather than walk another 7(?) miles and camping one more night near Shingobee where there is less chance of getting to a phone. I took off – my heel doing well – blue sky, cool wind – could have used gloves, but they were in the bottom of the pack. Took several more pics, trying to space them out to finish the roll of slide film near Hwy 371. One highlight was to meet a pair of “honest to God” hikers on the trail – a couple of self-described “old farts” – hiking W to E. Spent ½ hour with them as they sat down in a sunny spot by a man-made water impoundment for lunch. By that time I had already traveled 6 miles and had lunch and hiked further – so this half-hour with these friendly two men seemed well spent, one from Hackensack [Jerry Trout], the other his friend [Arden Woodrum] from Iowa. Both are active in biking, canoeing and hiking, and now out for 4-5 days or so like me. Jerry told Carter about Jack Gustafson who showed him where trail work was being done. Later, on meeting Barry Babcock, keeper of trail equipment and a member of the Leech Lake Watershed Project, Carter shared his picture of Jerry from the trail, also a member of the group. Jerry’s wife, Beth, described a Trail cookout NCTA’s Rod MacRae hosted for the group at the same water impoundment in June, 2002, that featured a full menu, printed on cards, in French.

It was through these connections that Jerry first became an at-large member of the NCTA. The Headquarters had recently moved from White Cloud to Lowell in Michigan and his first application had been returned undeliverable. Undaunted, he bought a new pair of hiking boots and stopped at Lake Erin to hike. It was there that he truly got the spirit of the trail and has since devoted his retirement time to bringing it to fruition in Minnesota and across the nation, currently as an NCTA Board member. The next time Carter and Jerry met was on September 13th, 2001, when they both participated in a work crew organized by long-time trail supporter, John Leinen, from the Star of the North Chapter. Harlan Liljequist and Jerry Johnson were among the group that joined with local trail supporters, to camp at the Akeley, Minn., campground. The crew of about a dozen people laid about two miles of improved footpath. It was a somber time, as just two days earlier the Twin Towers in New York City and the Pentagon in Washington were attacked, and a plane in Pennsylvania was brought down by terrorist attacks. The ITM (Itsaca Moraine Chapter) Annual Hike for Hope, held each first Sunday of October, was also born out of these events. Carter and Jerry both attended a Headwaters Canoe Club Annual Meeting in March 2002 where Bill Menke spoke about the North Country National Scenic Trail. Following that meeting and responding to Jerry’s invitation, enough attendees, including Ray Vlasak, joined

…Continued on page 6

July-September 2016


Matt Davis


Extended Outing September 18-23, 2016 Following the NCTA Celebration in Fargo, North Dakota


ike the North Country Trail in and around Minnesota’s Itasca State Park, home of the Headwaters of the Mississippi. Lodging and meals will be centered from Douglas Lodge in the heart of the Park. Come and help celebrate Itasca State Park’s 125th birthday. It is the 2nd oldest state park in the USA. The area’s topography is gently undulating and relatively easy hiking for the average hiker, young and old. We will hike with only daypacks daily, returning to the lodge each evening. Points of interest in the area include hiking on the watershed between the Mississippi and Red Rivers. Precipitation on the west side of the NCT flows into Hudson Bay (via the Red River) and on the east into the Gulf of Mexico (by way of the Mississippi River). The NCT also passes through mature mixed deciduous and northern conifer forest. It passes by numerous glacial lakes that dot the landscape, one of them a crystal clear designated trout fishery. Sept. 18 and 23 are travel days, Sept. 19, 20, 21 and 22 are hiking days in and around Itasca State Park on the NCNST. Also you can celebrate the National Park Service Centennial and grab a few miles toward your NCT 100 with some like-minded people. North Country Trail Association trips are known for the camaraderie and lasting friendships that develop during hiking experiences. Contact Bruce Johnson, brucej@arvig.net, (218) 255-1924. https://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/special-events/ extended-outings/


The North Star

Chance Meeting Leads to ITM Chapter… continued from page 5 together to form a new Chapter of the NCTA in the spring of 2002 at the Akeley School, and thus was born the Itasca Moraine Chapter. Jerry was elected as President and Carter as Vice President. The chapter's goal: build 45 miles of trail between the Chippewa National Forest (Chip) and Itasca State Park. NW Minnesota DNR naturalist, Harvey Tjader, suggested the name Itasca Moraine, honoring the glacial formation that hosts this section of the North Country Trail. Through Harvey and fellow DNR employee, Darin Miller, additional resources were made available for the building of the trail, including access to funding with Federal Highway Transportation Grants. That funding allowed the new Chapter to hire Minnesota Conservation Corps crews who worked with ITM volunteers “fast-tracking” the trail. The “Regulars” was the group that joined Jerry and Carter. Harvey’s and Darin’s participation became reduced. Arlen Damlo joined the regulars as did Darrel Rodekuhr, followed later by Bruce Johnson and Byron Knapp. Concurrently Ray Vlasak was putting together the Itasca Crew and they grew in numbers enough to form the Laurentian Lakes Chapter in 2006. The Itasca Moraine Regulars were building the trail from the edge of the Chip west. Ray Vlasak and his crew were building the trail east from Itasca toward the Chip. In the late fall of 2009 two crews met and the Golden Spike was planted. It stands tall just east of Spider Lake Forest Road marked by one of many routered signs made by Phoebe Alden. Jerry and Carter’s dream had become a reality. With the “Regulars’” effort, many members and local citizens for a day or more, one long weekend of work by Bill Menke’s Rovers crew, Hubbard County Sentence to Serve crews, and the very significant contribution of the Minnesota Conservation Corps, the North Country Trail was completed between the Chippewa National Forest and Itasca State Park, 45 miles. It took 8 years and, Jerry notes, “The trail continues to take over our lives.” Florence Hedeen, Chapter Historian, also noted that the first ITM Chapter photo album she’d made was pored over with more enthusiasm by the two couples than she’d ever seen, as the “Chance Meeting” in 2000 was discussed at their home in June, 2016, and the “facts” confirmed from the collection of “historic” data.

A North Country Trail Wedding! By Jean McKinney-Huwar

To Jon and Laurie McKinney of Winston-Salem, North Carolina, the North Country Trail in Clarion, Pennsylvania, will always hold a special significance. Having met in graduate school and later accepting teaching positions in North Carolina, Laurie and Jon, both natives of western Penna., enjoyed hiking the NCT above the Clarion River when visiting family and friends in Clarion. On one such hike on a snowy Thanksgiving morning, Jon proposed to Laurie on the Scenic Loop of the NCT. A year and a half later, a mile’s hike from where they had become engaged, Laurie and Jon were married in a gazebo situated beside the Wildflower Trail Section of the NCT at Anchor Village, a Clarion County wedding venue. A map of the complete North Country Trail was displayed at the venue, trail maps were included in guest gratuity boxes, and a local portion of the trail map lined the inside of the wedding invitations. It was a two-day event, with a picnic at Anchor Village and hiking and water activities on the Clarion River on the second; sack lunches were provided. Jon and Laurie and several of their friends stayed in tents beside the NCT that night. Over two dozen guests were treated to guided hikes of the local NCT by Dave Galbreath and Ed Scurry of the NCTA Clarion Chapter, while another fifty or so hiked on their own. 300 guests came and went, some staying by the river for a whole week. There was music both days, and a bonfire and s’mores on Saturday evening, and the weather cooperated! Their story continues as Jon, Laurie, and their dog Gator still enjoy hiking the North Country Trail on visits to Clarion.

Laurie and John at Clarion Chapter's milepost 62.3.

A trail display at the wedding.

The author, Jean McKinney-Huwar, is the groom’s mother. Photos by Whitling Photography, Shippenville, Pennsylvania. Displays and Artwork by Ann and Elisa Grant, mother and sister of the bride.

Invitations which were lined with local trail maps.


July-September 2016


Trail Safe! By Dan Watson, NPS Volunteer Coordinator


reetings! The colorful logo you see associated with this article is one that I hope becomes very iconic for all of us over the days and months ahead. Whenever a North Country Trail volunteer spots the Trail Safe! logo, it should be as familiar and commonly recognized as the trail emblem or a blue blaze. Allow me to explain what Trail Safe! is all about, and how it evolved. For too many years, the National Park Service has experienced an extremely poor employee and volunteer safety record, in fact, one of the worst accident and injury rates among more than 130 federal agencies. Between the years 2005-2010, more than 3,800 employees and volunteers of the NPS were injured on the job to the extent of missing at least one day of work. Several years ago, the NPS developed a different type of safety training program called “NPS Operational Leadership.” Operational Leadership is not the typical safety program most of us expect. It doesn’t focus on things such as proper handling of specific tools or dictate what type of Personal Protective Equipment is mandated for a certain work activity. Instead, Operational Leadership focuses on the human factor of safety. Situational Awareness, Stress & Performance, and Effective Leadership are just a few of the topics explored. In other words, Operational Leadership adds a behavioral component to our existing safety policies and procedures. Completion of Operational Leadership training is mandatory for all NPS employees, and the course involves two full days of classroom learning facilitated by certified instructors. Personally, I was so motivated by what I learned in my Operational Leadership training as a student that I went on to become certified as a facilitator. However, throughout my time as a student and as a facilitator, I constantly grappled with the question of how to share NPS Operational Leadership with the thousands of volunteers who build, maintain, and nurture the North Country National Scenic Trail. After all, how could we possibly coordinate enough two-day training sessions across 4,600 miles of trail route for 1,200+ volunteers? And even if we did find a way, how would we keep up such an effort year by year to reach the constant influx of new trail volunteers? Out of this challenge, Trail Safe! was born. Trail Safe! is a series of eight video lessons which cover all of the core learning objectives found in NPS Operational Leadership. Trail Safe! is something that every trail volunteer can access. If you have a home computer, a tablet device, or a smart phone, you can participate in Trail Safe! As long as you can access the internet, you can play the Trail Safe! video series from any place at any time, from the comfort of your own home at all hours of the day or night, or even during a lunch break out on the trail itself. Each of the Trail Safe! videos run in various lengths from 18 minutes to about 40 minutes. Watch them one or two at a 8

The North Star

time over the course of several weeks as time allows, or “binge watch” the entire series in about three hours total…whatever you prefer. Consider watching them with some of your fellow trail volunteers in a small group to generate discussion on how particular learning points may be important along your stretch of the trail. Perhaps even decide that your chapter or trail group will view a new Trail Safe! video lesson at each of your scheduled membership meetings. It’s up to you; just be creative and have fun with it! Completion of Trail Safe! is not mandatory for North Country Trail volunteers, but I do invite and encourage each of you to please find the time to participate. I won’t promise that every single core learning objective presented will change your life, but I am confident that along the way every person will find at least a few things that resonate with them, making their time commitment to Trail Safe! worthwhile. To join in, simply go to the National Park Service’s website for the North Country Trail at www.nps.gov/noco. Scroll down the main page and click on that iconic Trail Safe! logo, and the next page will offer you all eight lessons to choose from. Please watch them in numeric order as each lesson builds upon the learning points of the previous lesson. At the very bottom of the Trail Safe! menu page, please note the Training Verification Roster link. After viewing each lesson be sure to fill out and submit the Training Verification Roster. Once you have completed all eight lessons and the verification rosters for each lesson, you’ll receive a Trail Safe! pin in the mail along with other job aids discussed in the video series. Thank you in advance for not only participating in Trail Safe!, but also for being an ambassador of this training initiative by helping to spread the word and encouraging other volunteers to participate as well! Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at daniel_watson@nps.gov.

Foxglove Poisoning: Take This One Seriously Story and pictures by Joan Young


he beautiful foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, is one of the more poisonous plants you are likely to encounter anywhere along the North Country Trail. The plant contains a classic poison. For example, the death of Cangrande della Scala, Lord of Verona, Italy, who died in 1329, has been attributed to murder by foxglove. Although it’s often planted in gardens because of the gorgeous blossoms, it can grow wild in most any sunny location with well-drained soil. It especially likes to pop up in places that have been disturbed. It’s a biennial, so it will have leaves the first year and flowers the second year on two to four foot spikes. The color of the flowers ranges from bright magenta to white, with some shade of purple being most common, as you might expect from the scientific name. The huge bell-shaped flowers have freckles in the throat. The problems with poisoning usually arise when the plant is not flowering and is more difficult to identify. All parts of the plants are poisonous to ingest. It’s a very good idea to wash thoroughly if you touch the plant. That said, critical reactions are most often seen from people sampling the seeds and leaves. You may wonder why people would do such a thing. It seems the young leaves are easily confused with comfrey, Symphytum officinale. Comfrey tea is a popular herbal remedy for many ailments. If you brew a tea from the leaves of any plant it will extract and concentrate the chemicals present. In the case of foxglove, that’s a hefty dose of digitalis glycosides. Yes, that’s digitalis as in the heart medication. In 2010, a group of nine people were non-fatally poisoned by drinking what they thought was comfrey tea. You guessed it... it was foxglove. It has been known for centuries that ingesting foxglove will affect the heart rate. Controlling that effect is the problem since there was no way, in the early days of folk medicine, to determine the strength of the chemical in a tea or poultice made from the plant. Symptoms of eating foxglove leaves/seeds/ blossoms or drinking foxglove tea include a wide-ranging list that reads like the disclaimers on TV commercials for medicines you may suspect you are better off not using. They include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headaches, stomach aches, increased heart rate, decreased heart rate, hallucinations such as seeing blue or green halos around lights, or seeing everything tinted yellow. (Interestingly enough, there is a theory that Van Gogh’s yellow period may have been caused by a low dose exposure to foxglove). Other reactions include dizziness, disorientation, weakness, fatigue, rashes, and tingling sensations. Adults rarely die from foxglove ingestion, but it will definitely put you in the hospital for several days with treatment of some symptoms being the only real aid, until your body clears the digitalis. The digitalis glycosides interfere with potassium and


calcium receptors in the heart. So what? The interchange of electrons by these elements across cell walls is how electric currents are created in the body. The heart’s natural rhythm of exchanging electrons is disrupted, and that’s why sometimes the heart speeds up (tachycardia) and other times it slows down (bradycardia) in reaction to foxglove poisoning. This disparate combination of reactions is one reason foxglove poisoning is so difficult to treat. If a drug to slow a fast beat is administered, but the body suddenly slips into a phase of slow rhythm, the drug might fatally enhance that opposite reaction. Children, with smaller bodies and less discrimination than adults, may carelessly eat a flower or leaf or two of the plant, even though it tastes terrible. (I haven’t sampled them, and don’t plan to; I’m taking someone else’s word on this.) If a child vomits, and there are pieces of leaves or flowers seen in the vomitus, by all means go directly to the ER and give them this information. For a heart-wrenching story of a two-year old who ate two foxglove leaves, see Esme’s story at https://outfoxgloved.wordpress. com/2016/01/26/esmes adventure with foxgloves/. She survived with no ill effects, …Continued on page 26

July-September 2016


Onondaga Joy Shackham Pond.

By Rachel H. Frey All photos by Rachel, Merv, or Josie

This hike took place on the Onondaga Trail, the branch of the Finger Lakes Trail that carries the North Country National Scenic Trail from the FLT toward the segment hosted by the Central N.Y. Chapter of the NCTA. 42 miles of blue-blazed trail are shown on FLT Maps O1 and O2, southeast of Syracuse.


Merv on road walk.


The North Star

ow's the foot?" I asked my husband, Merv. He had injured his big toe in an accident at work some days earlier. A bit uneasy about his foot recovering in time for our planned September hike, we did not want a repeat of last year when a five-month problem with plantar fasciitis on my foot kept us guessing up to the last minute about the advisability of doing a 15-mile trip up and down New York's highest, Mt. Marcy. Because of my foot issues, we had decided to wait until 2015 to hike the Onondaga Trail. "I think it will be OK," he said. It was September. My favorite time to hike. Not so hot and with fall approaching, who would not just love this trip? Merv and I, along with our hiking friend, Josie Swartzentruber, were in for some fun! With limited time off from our jobs, we decided a four-day hiking adventure, which included a weekend, would be enough for us to finish the Onondaga Trail. Leaving southern Pennsylvania where we live, and travelling from Ohio, Josie met Merv and me the next morning at a Sunoco station in Truxton, N.Y., within five minutes after we arrived. It was a good start! Our last backpacking trip had ended at Midlum Spur on the Onondaga two years ago and we planned to start there on our way to Shackham Road.

Loving photography, we recorded the great view at Midlum Spur and joyously began our hike. Remembering our past backpacking hikes, we were glad we were only day hiking. What a difference! Down a nice lane past purple and white wild asters, we spied the first of many apple trees we would see on this trip. Then, a stream. Which one? Opening my fanny pack for my map, I exclaimed, “Uh, oh, where is my map? I must have left it on the car seat.” Since we were only fifteen minutes down the trail, Merv left his pack with Josie and me and we caught up on the events of the last year. He returned with the missing maps. He should have returned with his sandwich, too, as we discovered at snack time! With age increasing, we laughingly discovered these were not the only things we had forgotten. Misplacing glasses, forgetting to bring along utensils, neglecting to bring along a needed hat...we accept each other as we are and rejoice in the moment. Hiking on, we saw red fruit on a low plant and later figured out it was the fruit of a jack-in-the pulpit! Then little red fruit on a tree? Hey, a crab apple. Then there was a fir or spruce tree. Checking my photo later, I decided it was a Norway spruce with those long cones. Walking by hay fields and what looked like a food plot for deer, we viewed Cuyler Cemetery, adorned with white flowering bushes and an American flag. Crossing the Tioughnioga River, we nostalgically remembered our dairy farming years as we passed a huge red barn where cows lined up eating forage. Some plants with lantern-like orange fruit grew by a corn field. Later I determined they were ground cherries, also called husk tomatoes. Apparently they are poisonous when unripe, good to eat when ripe. We were photo-happy. Woodpecker holes, a trail register, dry stream beds…it’s all joy. A waterfall in Hemlock Glen was important enough for us to take posed photos beside it. A wonderful day to start our trip! Camping at Adams Eden Campground each evening was a good base for our hike. After a vicious rain storm during the night, the stars of Orion were brightly shining early in the morning. The ground was dry, anyway. A man walking his dogs told us it had been extremely dry in New York and the ground just “soaks it all up…” We snapped shots of a nicely constructed stone bench in Labrador Hollow State Unique Area. After the beautiful overlook at Labrador Pond, we came to extensive wooden steps to the rim of Tinker Falls. There was just a bit of water running over the falls. We passed a rock cairn and a wooden teepee before coming to beautiful Spruce Pond. We framed ourselves in the corner of a photo while gazing at the reflection of the evergreens in the pond. Shackham Pond with blue water, goldenrod and purple asters was next! That made three beauties in a single morning! We were delighted. We ate our lunch on the shore of Shackham Pond and were rejuvenated. This week is a great time to become recharged from work situations that “take things out of us!” Returning again the next morning to Cowles Settlement Road, we were dressed for the cold. It was in the upper 30s at the


Merv and Rachel, at the end of their hike.

campground this morning and we wore gloves, jackets and hats. This day's hike was another relatively easy one. Highland Forest was quite close to Cowles Settlement Road and parks always seem to have nicely groomed trails. On an easy trail, we passed a head-sized white fungus attached to a likewise big tree on the way to Skyline Visitor Center. A path lined with spruce trees led to the Center which overlooked clouds tucked in the valley below. Today's hike seemed to be as uneventful as yesterday’s was full of beautiful views! The county park led to DeRuyter Lake, which was nice but not nearly like the breathtaking views of yesterday’s ponds. Up the hill on “gentle switchbacks,” we came to a surprise by the road. Armstrong Pond gave us nice photos when we walked in to the other side. Next, we peered at the view from abandoned ski slopes, took photos of us beside big trees and descended to Webber Road on a long series of nearly a dozen switchback legs that local volunteers dug out of the steep hillside. The last morning was brisk and we were brisk. So were deer. We saw deer by the road in a field before we began hiking. All of us felt ready to tackle 20 miles today but soon we had to stop! Such are the restrictions full-time jobs make in today’s world! But off we went joyfully taking in a spot of bright yellow woodland sunflowers. Passing a dairy farmer’s operation who gave the trail permission to cross his farm, we heard the familiar sounds of milking. We wished we could have talked to him. Farming must stay in your blood! A sign on his barn announced this was, in fact, the NCT. We skirted fields and took beautiful early morning photos of the flowers and fields and the barn we had just passed.

…Continued on page 12

July-September 2016


2016 Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge Held June 10-12 By Tina Toole

T Asters and goldenrod at Shackham Pond.

Onondaga Joy… Continued from page 11 Passing more apple trees and cornfields we ascended to the upper view of the fertile valley. After a woods walk past huge dead trees, we got a glimpse of fall's red leaves. We guessed that the Damon Road and Smith Road part of the trail was the result of land closures because the guide called it “temporary.” We hoped so. A cat began Jack-in-the-Pulpit fruit. following us which was quite unusual. We have often had to avoid dogs, but never a cat. We tried to chase it back and walked as fast as possible before we lost it. Passing an organic farm in the valley and more apple trees, we entered the state’s Tioughnioga Wildlife Management Area. Almost immediately we heard a busy noisemaker but it was only a chipmunk. Coming to Holmes Road was the official end of the Onondaga Trail, and we needed to follow the Central N.Y. Chapter’s Link Trail to our car on Irish Hill Road. An uneventful short walk brought us to our car and sadly, we had to end. The best part of the end was that there is still more! The North Country Trail is long! We have finished all of the NCT we will likely do in New York, but in 2016 we will be in the Wayne National Forest of Ohio and then comes North Dakota in 2017!


The North Star

he Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge (A-100) is an endurance challenge. It is not a race, but an individual challenge of stamina, determination and resilience through the unsupported hiking of 100 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. This year the challenge started at Willow Bay in the north, heading south to Route 66 below Marienville. Hikers climbed over rolling hills, crossed ridgelines and passed through many beautiful stream valleys. The A-100 challenged hikers to traverse 100 miles, 75 miles, 50 miles or 25 miles in a fifty hour time period, starting Friday evening at 6 p.m. and finishing by 8 p.m. on Sunday. Perfect weather for the whole A-100 weekend brought in a record number of finishers. Twenty-five hikers completed the 100 mile challenge, almost double the previous high of 13 in 2013! 2016 also had the most number of participants, at 113, and the most number of 75 mile completers at 4. The fifty mile mark welcomed 52 completers with hamburgers and cold drinks. Finally, 19 hikers finished 25 miles. Most of the hikers hail from Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio, but others came from as far away as Florida and Colorado. Eli Zabielski, a hiker from Colorado, found out about the A-100 from a fellow hiker as he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail two summers ago. He was intrigued by the Challenge and decided to fly to Pennsylvania and attempt the 100 miles. He succeeded in his hike, logging the 100 miles by early Sunday afternoon. He echoed the thoughts of many hikers when he stated, “That was hard. Thanks for putting on such a unique event.” Another 100-miler, Kim Gustafson (Penna.), had her father join her for the last 50 miles of the adventure to offer support and encouragement. She said, “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Great people and organizers. One of my favorite events. Holly Gilligan (Connecticut), actually walked 110 miles after getting turned around and hiking the wrong direction until another A-100 participant got her turned back in the right direction! She was “So glad to have finished this year, thanks in large part to excellent weather and wonderful volunteers! Next time I’ll try not to walk an extra 10 miles.” Eric Chapman (Penna.), a five time finisher, commented, “That’s an A-500. I feel good about that. The weather and hikes were both great. I want to say thank you to all the people of the (NCTAANF) chapter and especially the trail workers for making this great event happen. I had another wonderful year. Thanks for all the great memories.” George Grzyb (N.J.) had this to say, “My first 100 miler! The excellent appeal of this event was both the hiking and the challenge elements, not a form of competition. Finishing matters as well as the experience leading up to it! The experience was phenomenal with everyone being super helpful – organizers, trail angels and locals alike. Company on the trail was great and it was nice to team up. Thank you for organizing this!” Brian Smith (Penna.), a three time 100 mile finisher, was excited to report that “This year I got to see the prettiest bruin within 5 minutes of the finish . . . great ending!”

Bill Massa

A group of happy Allegheny 100 mile hike completers! Front row, Left to Right: Kim Gustafson, Dave Rothrock, David Huffman, Peter Burke. Back row, left to right: Brian Smith, Ben Hrycik, Eric Chapman, Kim Hrycik, Eli Zabielski. This location is a mile south of the N.Y./Penna. border, so has a trailhead sign for the Finger Lakes Trail, too, because it begins here. Eli Zabielski came in from Colorado for the event, and did 100 miles in 44 hours. His blog is worth reading if you have the slightest inclination to try the A-100: http://elizabielski.blogspot. com/2016/06/allegheny-100.html.

Tina Toole


Left: A very happy Brian Smith arrives at the 100-mile finish. Bill Massa

At the 50 mile finish, hikers enjoyed burgers and cold drinks and had a chance to talk about their experience. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of the Allegheny National Forest and the chance to meet and learn from other hikers. Many are looking forward to returning next year for the 2017 A-100, which is scheduled for June 9, 10 and 11. Prior to the Friday evening start, Jeff Manelick, event coordinator, and Mike Toole, NCTA-ANF Chapter President, welcomed the participants to the A-100 Challenge. The ANF chapter appreciated support from United Refining Company, Shell Appalachia, the Warren YMCA, Crescent Beer, Bluegill Graphix and the Warren County Chamber of Business & Industry. More photos can be found on the Allegheny National Forest Chapter NCTA or Pennsylvania NCTA Facebook pages.

Tina and Mike Toole on the “stidge� (stairs on bridge) midway through their 50 mile challenge.

July-September 2016


Kathy Eisele

A Successful Work Hike By Kathy Eisele and Donna Lynch


Doug French finishing up a trailhead kiosk.

Kathy Eisele

Laying telephone pole sections on top of landscaping brick on top of slimey black goo. A board deck will be nailed on top.


The North Star

hirteen Central New York Chapter members and friends responded to Mike Lynch’s call for work hike volunteers on a hot Saturday, June 18, 2016. Two projects were underway to complete and a third one started for completion at an upcoming July work hike. The 30 ft. floating bridge across a seasonal marsh on the NCT, just south of the village of Canastota, needed to be replaced after approximately 13 years of service in a heavily used section of trail. In particular, the decking supports had rotted, and thus some boards came loose and became hazardous. The second project was to complete the installation near the trailhead of a kiosk built by Doug French. Doug and friend Blaine Longnecker installed the kiosk on June 15. This Canastota section of trail is located near the Mt. Pleasant Cemetery, whose Board gave permission for the kiosk. One side will display trail information, and the other, cemetery information. The third work project was to begin replacing some rotted wooden steps further down the trail. Mike Lynch was the Project Leader. The success of the work hike was due not only to the enthusiastic volunteers but also to Mike’s great planning beforehand. Just a sampling of what was done ahead of the volunteers’ arrival: scouting the old floating bridge to determine needs; planning for the new bridge including determining how to support it; measuring for supports and decking; purchasing and delivery of all hardware and lumber; retrieving utility pole lengths; pre-cutting all lumber and supports; obtaining bricks to support the mud sills; obtaining pallets so volunteers constructing the bridge would not sink to their knees in muck; checking the tool supply; obtaining buckets to store small tools, nails and screws at the work site. Planning for safety: spray painting all poison ivy in the area and putting up signs; First Aid kit easily visible; coolers of water and iced tea; supply of trail bars, apples and oranges. Planning for record-keeping: sign-in sheet; appropriate insurance forms for non-member volunteers. The crew started at 8:00 a.m. and before noon all work was completed. The new 30 ft. bridge was supported by 4 ft. long sections of old utility poles that served as mud sills. Bricks were placed under the mud sills. By the end of the morning, all projects were accomplished, and now the kiosk awaits notices from our CNY Chapter and from the Cemetery Board. And further on the trail, one new wooden step was installed with others to follow. For our CNY Chapter, this work hike was a wonderful example of great leadership and great volunteers. Participants that day were Mike Lynch, Donna Lynch, Doug French, Cheryl French, Jack Miller, Dean Bartholomew, Mark Wadopian, Kathy Eisele, Tom Sigle, Randy Davies, Bruce Revette, Al Larmann and Kathy Disque. A total of fifty-seven volunteer work hours were accomplished that day.

American Radio Relay League “Light Up The Trail” Update By John Forslin

Jody Nelis, K3JZD set up his radio in Pennsylvania.

Rick Kevish, K3ETK


David Vollenweider, K0JRS


n the last North Star we highlighted this partnership to promote North Country Trail, the NPS Centennial and ham radio. Now we get to report the incredible success of American Radio Relay League (ARRL)’s recent “Light Up The Trail” event. • On National Trails Day weekend, June 4 and 5, ham operators went on the air at 38 North Country Trail locations from Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota to Crown Point, N.Y. and everywhere in between. McKean County, Pennsylvania, Fort Ransom State Park in North Dakota, Dam State Park in Ohio, and more. They collected 2,409 contacts over the weekend using both voice and Morse code. Here are some highlights from our operators: • Jody, K3JZD (ham radio call letters), packed his station and a golf umbrella a mile up to a high point along the trail in Pennsylvania. He chatted with two groups of joggers and a solo hiker warming up for a 34-miler. Didn’t need the umbrella. • Bruce, NJ3K, hiked in about 150 yards in McKean County, Penna., near the N.Y. border, and did get rained on. • Ross, N0MSS and the Three Rivers Amateur Radio Club were on the trail at Fort Ransom State Park in North Dakota. Used a fishing pole to throw antenna wire into a tree. 25 hikers came by. Got invited over for bratwurst. • Keith, NE9KM, was at Independence Dam State Park in Ohio. In role reversal, he was able to share his maps, and inform two local hikers who had hiked the trail in Michigan that much of the Buckeye Trail was part of the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) system. • Ted, W8KVK, reports that the NCNST has rocketed up to the second most activated National Trail, after only the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail! • Rick, KE3TK and wife Diane, N3WJN, hiked in “a few miles” to a high point in northern Pa., and used a slingshot to get their wire antenna up in the trees. • Russ, N8MWK, and his club (Sunday Creek Amateur Radio Federation, club call KC8AAV) were one of the very few stations trailwide operating full power (100 watts) from Burr Oak State Park in Ohio. This made it possible for stations nationwide and world-wide to play with them. Busy park: lots of visitors stopped to chat about the event. • Sam, K7SAM, was at the western trail terminus at Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota. The eastern terminus, Crown Point. N.Y., was fully occupied. Tom N2TOM, Bernie N1NDN and Marc WA2FON scored a combined total of 855 contacts. That’s eye-popping!

Diane Kevish, N3WJN, hiked in a few miles to gain higher elevation and used a slingshot to get the antenna up in the trees, in northern Pennsylvania.

Light Up the Trail was a very fun, very successful radio event. We got a lot of national publicity in the amateur radio community through magazines, local club newsletters and on Facebook. There has been some chatter among the activators about possibly doing it again in the fall (hoping for better weather) and possibly making this an annual event. In any case we are very pleased with the way this worked out, and we added quite a bit of sizzle to the National Parks on the Air celebration.

July-September 2016


Katie Jo Blau

Remer Esker Posts Still Intact! NCT Update from the Remer Esker section, Milton Lake Boat Landing to Forest Service Rd. FS2321B Katie Jo Blau

After vandals bent down this post holding the “NO All Terrain Vehicles” sign, it was replaced with two posts bolted together, anchored in cement.

Dan Dorrough

Four heavily anchored posts wrapped in barbed wire protect the entrance to this part of the NCT from ATV and snowmobile traffic.

By Katie Jo Blau, Remer, Minn.


his is an update from my article in the January-March 2012 issue of North Star. In the fall of 2011, I decided it was necessary to take drastic measures to deter ATV and snowmobile traffic on the beautiful Remer Esker section on the Trail, from Milton Lake boat landing to FS2321B. At Milton Lake, I repaired the larger step that was vandalized by securing the two posts together with pieces of rebar, and then securing the steps to the hillside using the dead man principle used in the landscaping industry for securing retaining walls. I attached a chain to the top log, which was then attached to a cement block that I buried in the ground. I also upgraded the “NO ATVs” sign post which was bent over. I bolted two heavy duty posts together and cemented them into the ground, right in front of the large step. I also hired a local contractor to add more boulders to the trail entrance. At the trail entrance off FS2321B, I cemented in four big wooden posts, supplied by the Forest Service. Since the posts are wooden, I had to make it almost impossible for someone to cut off the posts, so I wrapped the posts in barb wire, securing the wire with large fencing staples. I also needed to make sure the posts couldn’t be pulled out of the ground easily. I cemented them in, using four rebar pieces stuck into the posts to secure the posts to the cement. In the open post hole I also pounded rebar into the ground a ways, to secure the cement to the ground itself. Try pulling that out! I mentioned in the article from 2012 that I had a dream after the project was completed, that someone took the time to pull the barb wire off my posts and then cut them off with a chainsaw in order to get through on an ATV or snowmobile, leaving a note that said, “RIDE ON!” Thankfully, I am very pleased to report that ALL my work is still intact. HIKE ON!! 16

The North Star

Ruth and Dan Dorrough, with Katie Jo in the middle. Head nets are critical in Minnesota! The Dorroughs’ meetup with Katie Jo Blau during their hikes was fruitful, because it reminded us to ask her how her anti-ATV measures have succeeded since her previous article.

Hiking Shorts Correction:

In our last issue, we incorrectly listed the facebook address of the Peter Wolfe Chapter of the North Country Trail. The correct address is: https://www.facebook.com/ NCT.PWC.Michigan.

North Dakota Proposal at Mile Marker 54

During the spring weekend held by the Finger Lakes Trail in Montour Falls, there were many hikes involving streams and waterfalls, since the steep hillsides on either side of Seneca Lake and Queen Catharine Marsh are riddled with gorges large and small. Here hikers cross a stream above Excelsior Glen, which falls off beyond them.

Finger Lakes Trail

Spring Weekend Centered at the N.Y. State Fire Academy dormitory in Montour Falls, the Finger Lakes Trail spring weekend enjoyed hikes in the region featuring a lot of hikes along streams and gorges, all heading downhill into the deep valleys of both Seneca and Cayuga Lakes (or uphill out of them!). Elevation changes challenge all thighs in this neighborhood. We also enjoyed visits to the Lab of Ornithology at Cornell’s Sapsucker Woods, and walks within the Queen Catharine Marsh, she a local tribal leader long ago who ruled the neighborhood.

Lucy Leung

hat better place to propose marriage to the love of your life than at Mile Marker 54 paralleling the North Country Trail? For Dirk Churchill and Lindsey Meyers, there is no better place. On December 5, 2015, that’s where Dirk popped the question! Considering the path their relationship began on, it really makes sense. The couple met while working on a research project in Yellowstone National Park for North Dakota State University about five years ago. The two were assigned to work together to collect data in the field. Lindsey Meyers is an Ecologist and Project Manager with the Environment division of the Midwest Region for AECOM, where Dirk Churchill is also an Environmental Scientist with the Environmental Division of the Midwest Region. AECOM (Architecture, Engineering, Consulting, Operations, and Maintenance) is an engineering and environmental consulting firm. It wasn’t long before Dirk and Lindsey realized they both loved to camp and hike. The first summer they started dating, Dirk, who had an internship with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, lived in McClusky, North Dakota. The two biked, hiked, and camped along the North Country Trail and the McClusky Canal, which the NCT follows for 74 miles. Since then, Dirk and Lindsey have been to Bryce Canyon and Zion National Park, as well as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. They enjoy hiking the badlands in Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the surrounding US Forest Service land including the Maah Daah Hey Trail. “We have hiked quite a few sections of the North Country Trail in North Dakota, along the Sheyenne River (north of Valley City), Sheyenne National Grasslands (near Lisbon), and the Albert Ekre Grassland Preserve (south of Fargo),” Lindsey says. But they hadn’t been back to that part of the North Country Trail around McClusky where they’d first started hiking together for several years. So when the idea came up last December, it seemed pretty natural to Lindsey: it was a sunny, mild day, and they just decided to get out on the Trail. They had been hiking for a couple of miles when at Mile Marker 54 on the gravel road along the Canal, Dirk suddenly dropped to one knee. “I was excited,” Lindsey says, “and kneeled down next to him because it all was so sudden and I didn’t know what else to do. He had already called both of our parents earlier in the day, so when we got back we had a lot of excited family to talk to,” Lindsey says with a smile. “It was such a happy day.” Lindsey says that Dirk hadn’t planned on proposing at Mile Marker 54; that’s just where it felt right at the time. But now, for the couple who will wed on September 17 this year in Fargo, there’s a sign where their journey together really began. And that symbol—the Mile Marker at 54—will be there, forever. Where I come from, that’s the definition of romantic ! www.northcountrytrail.org

Lucy Leung


Dirk Churchill

By Christine Ellsworth

Famous She-qua-ga Falls in the village of Montour Falls, along a branch trail off the Finger Lakes Trail.

July-September 2016


National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT


he Appalachian, Ice Age and Pacific Crest Trails follow significant geographic/geologic features that create an identity unique to each of them. So what’s the story behind North Country Trail? What we find is that North Country’s distinctiveness lies in not a specific story (it’s way too long for that!), but rather, in the diversity of them. Stories of perseverance. Stories of the prairie, mountains, and the lakes. Stories of original peoples, Europeans, African freedom seekers, and more! That’s what is so cool about it. Every step tells a different story. While we all agree that the hiking experience is good in and of itself, many people need to know more about the place where they are hiking. They need to know the story behind what they see and they need to connect personally with that story in a way that has meaning to them. When one can connect to a place, one takes ownership or stewardship of that place. The more people who can fall in love with the Trail as we already have, the better, right? Recently, the Trail received special funding to research the stories of the Trail in anticipation of developing a plan to interpret the stories and share them with the public. I asked a few NCTA members and staff to identify story titles that are important to their particular geography. And what a list. More than I imagined (and special thanks to Bruce Matthews!): Adirondacks • Pre-European indigenous peoples: travelways, use for hunting, tribal conflicts • American colonists—frontier wars, battles, American Navy (French & Indian War, Revolution) • Gilded Age—Great Camps, Great North Woods, outdoor recreation • Lumbermen


The North Star

Central New York • Iroquois Confederacy • Leatherstocking Tales—frontier wars • Erie Canalers—Irish canal builders, commerce, immigration westward • Land Grant settlers Finger Lakes/Western New York • Iroquois Confederacy • Land Grant settlers • Vineyardists • Outdoor recreationists • Early aviation (Glenn Curtiss) • Oil industry • Native Americans Western Pennsylvania and Eastern/Southern Ohio • Allegheny National Forest • Canalers • Native Americans • Moonshiners Western Ohio • Canalers • Underground Railway Southern/Western Michigan • Underground Railway • Lumbermen • Hardscrabble farms • Native Americans Michigan’s Upper Peninsula • Great Lakes seamen • Lumbermen • Lighthouse keepers • Native Americans • Mining and Miners— Scandinavian, Cornish • Great North Woods Recreation

Wisconsin/Minnesota • Voyageurs • Early European explorers • Lumbermen • Lighthouse keepers • Native Americans • Mining and Miners • Great North Woods Recreation North Dakota • Native Americans • Prairie Westward migration (The list is in no way complete, so if you have any other suggestions for stories to be researched, let me know!) Over the next year or so, a professional historian will begin researching these stories, gathering bibliographic information, graphics, and quotations, for all of us to use in sharing our love of this incredibly long and experientially deep line on the landscape. If history is a passion of yours, PLEASE, contact me. I’d love to share the details of what we hope to do with this. Other News and Notes Hike 100 Challenge. I am somewhere near mile 60 of my personal Hike 100 Challenge. I’m not sure EXACTLY my current mileage since someone who shall remain nameless at NCTA informed me that my regular route between Lowell and Fallasburg Park isn’t as long as I thought it was. Regardless, I expect to be wearing my blue patch proudly in Fargo this fall! I’ve got a bad knee and a bad back. After 60 miles of hiking I can honestly say the knee and back are significantly better. With a 9 month old granddaughter at home I can pick her up and not make those old-guy exertion grunts many of us may be familiar with!!! And to top it off, hiking is my best thinking time, much to the consternation of NPS and NCTA staff, who wonder who is texting them at 7:00 am on a Saturday with “another cool idea.” I think I’m preaching to the choir, but if you haven’t begun your personal 100, start today. IT CAN BE DONE and the results will be noticed by you and the people around you! And as usual, if you have any questions or comments, give me a call at (616) 430-3495 or email me at mark_weaver@nps.gov.

Hiking Shorts


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 unique location be found? pparently you won’t see this oddity unless you look over twenty feet into the air above the trail. This picture was provided by Tracy Hager. Thank you. So, hikers, where is it?


Send your guesses and answers to the editor at treeweenie@aol.com and please provide our next mystery photo! 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. Ed O’Shea

A Pat On The Back Sometimes all that work to create nice trail DOES get you an “atta boy” from somebody actually using and enjoying the trail. On May 1st Mike Toole, President of the Allegheny National Forest Chapter in Pennsylvania, emailed this note to his members: Yesterday, a group doing trail work east of Minister Creek Road met up with a backpacker from Oregon who was hiking the 100 miles in the Allegheny National Forest. He was originally from this area and had worked on the trail in the Hemlock Run area many years ago. He was very appreciative of the wire mesh on the foot bridges. He commented that the trail was in really good shape. Then Mike shared with the chapter a subsequent response from new member David Van Baak. David stated in his email: I’ll second that opinion; I’ve moved to Buffalo, N.Y., from Michigan, and switched to the Allegheny Chapter of the NCTA, and have walked in the practice hikes for this year’s A-100 challenge. And I have found the blazing to be really superb – never any uncertainty, rarely needing a second glance – and the surface has been really well kept. I saw a set of lovingly built stone steps out of a little rivulet near Guiton’s Run that was a real work of art, up to the standards of a Zen garden, and thought, hard, about the dedication of the team who built it – no commemorative sign, no public credit, no one but hikers on a remote section of trail to admire it – and was inspired by their unadvertised work. Best wishes to all who make this such a gem of 100 miles of NCT.

About the photo published in our last "Where in the Blue Blazes:" Ed O’Shea was just seized by the idea one day to tell hikers what this unique ground cover is, one of the so-called running ground pines, Lycopodium. It remains green throughout the year. The sign is on the Finger Lakes Trail portion of the North Country Trail, south of Syracuse on FLT Map M21. Oddly enough, only one person sent in a correct answer, and that was Jon Bowen of N.Y., even though hundreds have hiked by this sign since Ed installed it.

July-September 2016


Judy Conrad

Harbor Springs Chapter Hike By Judy Conrad

Margo Hodder Judy Conrad


The North Star

The sought-after pink lady slipper.

Treasurer, acting as “sweep,” all 21 hikers returned safely to our starting point on Cecil Bay Road with 4.6 miles under their belts, or rather under their boots. We enjoyed meeting the hikers who joined us for the first time at this outing. We look forward to seeing them again, as they told us they planned to register as new members of the NCTA, Harbor Springs Chapter.

Good News for “Attrition” James “Attrition” Lunning, featured in our last issue as the man who tries to get 2600 miles out of a T-shirt, arrived at the western terminus of the North Country Trail on June 21st, completing his NCT End-to-End. He intended to keep hiking west. Supplied by James Lunning

On June 11th the Harbor Springs Chapter of the North Country Trail Association sponsored their third hike of the year. We met at the township hall in the center of our county and carpooled to the trailhead. The adventure took us to the start of Section 10 of our trail, which is less than 9 miles south of the Mackinaw Bridge (the Mighty Mac) that separates the lower peninsula of Michigan from the upper. The Yoopers (upper peninsula people) call us the Trolls because we live below the bridge ;-). We were in search of the elusive Lady Slipper that has been known to be out this time of year in the area of our beautiful Wilderness Park. We were not to be disappointed! They were there in abundance in all of their glory. One of the hikers told us that there was a Native American Legend about the Lady Slipper, in which a young Ojibwa maiden saved her people from a dreaded disease. At her death her foot wrappings turned into Lady Slippers! The group of 21 hikers gradually separated into three different speed groups, those who were there for the exercise and wanted to reach French Farm Lake and the picnic spot near the dam at the south end of the lake, those who enjoyed looking at the flowers yet wanted to keep up the pace, and finally those who were eager to record their hike by photographing each unique grouping of the many different wildflowers. At one mile in from the trailhead one of our hikers, Judy Conrad, met her 100 mile challenge goal. At the dam the hikers found many turtle nests that were victimized by a Judy’s 100th mile! predator, presumably a raccoon. A beaver house was also in full view near the dam. At our shady lunch spot the 21 hikers showed true restraint! Nancy Stamm had brought only 16 of her famous cookies. No hike of the Harbor Springs Chapter would be complete if Nancy did not share her huge delicious cookies. She never dreamed we would have such a great turnout for our hike. But in the end, she still had one cookie left after the hikers shared! With Jim Stamm, our Chapter Nancy Stamm with one of President, leading the group, her famous cookies. and Dennis Fay, Chapter

Tour De Clarion Along The Allegheny River Trail Photos by Tammy Veloski


he Tour de Clarion started in January and has continued ever since, offering monthly hikes covering all 93 miles of the Clarion Chapter’s section of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Pennsylvania. We are treated to a few of the sights along the Allegheny River Trail that follows the bed of an abandoned branch of the once-mighty Pennsylvania Railroad because Tammy Veloski and her camera have been on some of the hikes. The river winds tortuously, so in a few places, to avoid taking a several mile detour around a finger of rock, the railroad built tunnels through the ridges and they remain intact today. The caboose is from the January hike, and serves as one community’s tourism info spot, while the rest are from March Tour #3. Interstate 80 flies far overhead at Emlenton, and Tammy’s sons Kyle and Dale show off the mile-long Rockland Tunnel. “Freedom” waterfall is on State Game Lands, just up the road from the Rockland Tunnel trailhead on Shull Run. For a hike schedule, contact Dave Galbreath at 814-226-5574, or dgalbreath@zoominternet.net.


July-September 2016


Matt Davis

Becky Heise

Hikers with the Glacial Edge Chapter stop for a break before going down "Big Bertha." Notice how the trail disappears behind us? Yes, it's that steep that you need to break before going downhill. We hope to relocate the NCT off this unsustainable trail segment.

The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter had a sizeable group enjoy both hiking on the prairie (see photo below) and boating on their river after lunch.

National Trails Day Recap Becky Heise

By Amelia Rhodes

On June 4, trail enthusiasts from across the country gathered in their local communities for the nation’s largest celebration of trails. Many of our chapters hosted great events. Through group hikes, workdays, and potlucks, the North Country National Scenic Trail was well represented. Thanks to each of you who hosted or participated in an event! Here are a few highlights:

Karen Stenberg

The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter met for a hike around Fort Ransom State Park and had 42 people participate, including a group of eight Boy Scouts from Casselton, N.D. After the hike they ate lunch beneath the trees in front of the Visitor Center before enjoying a leisurely canoe trip down the Sheyenne River to Fort Ransom. Park Manager Tyler Modlin joined the trip! The afternoon and evening were spent visiting with other chapter members, new faces, and a trio of hikers who decided to face their Hike 100 Challenge all in one weekend! They happened to be hiking through the park so the Chapter invited them to join in for supper provided by the Chapter. It was a gorgeous day to meet on the Trail! The Glacial Edge Chapter hosted three different hikes on National Trails Day. The morning one was on the NCT within Maplewood State Park while the afternoon ones were held on the future NCT at the One Mile Prairie and Prairie Wetlands Learning Center in Fergus Falls. Approximately 40 people participated in the hikes. The Laurentian Lakes and Itasca Moraine Chapters hosted a joint hike on the NCT at Itasca State Park that is part of the monthly hike series throughout 2016. Approximately 40 people hiked from Spider Lake Trail to Itasca's South Entrance trailhead.

About 40 participated in Itasca Moraine Chapter's group hike through Itasca State Park.


The North Star

The Star of the North Chapter held a group trail maintenance campout weekend on their trail section in the Chippewa National Forest.

Phil Anderson Dove Day

Cedars line the boardwalk as hikers join the Brule-St. Croix Chapter in the drizzle for a hike. Obviously it was very chilly for June!

Hikers came from as far as the Twin Cities to join the Brule St. Croix Chapter in Wisconsin for their 20th annual NTD celebration. University of Wisconsin– Superior researchers, Stephanie Glass and Reed Schwarting, shared their knowledge of trailside botany.


The Grand Traverse Hiking Club (GTHC) celebrated at Scheck’s Place State Forest Campground with a hike to Valley of the Giants along 22 Mile Creek, and a potluck picnic afterwards. They had 28 GTHC members and guests, 16 who completed the full 4-hour out-and-back hike, including 2 octogenarians, wow! Great hike and delicious food shared with wonderful friends! Thanks to Patty and Dave Warner for reserving the campsite, setting up the tent and cooking the hot dogs! Sara Cockrell

The Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter enjoyed a wonderful hike between the mouth of the Two-Hearted River on Lake Superior and Culhane Lake Campground. The countryside is recovering from the fire that happened in 2012. Their hardworking trail adopter, Larry, has his hands full every time he walks the section as the burned, dead trees will fall with every heavy wind. He has done a great job keeping up on this section! Eric Moll was section hiking and arranged to meet and hike with them as part of his weekend of hiking. Find his hikes and wonderful pictures on http:// ericshikes.blogspot.com/

The Jordan Valley 45° and the Harbor Springs Chapters enjoyed group hikes on the North Country Trail with lunch and live music to follow. Several sponsors John Oom and Tamera Dean finished their 100th mile on Trails Day. set up booths to provide kids’ activities and trail information, and guest speakers entertained with helpful information and story telling. Before the day was through, Hike 100 finishers were honored, raffle prizes were passed out, and the “Guess the weight of the backpack” winner was announced. Thanks to all who came and celebrated!

Sara Cockrell

The Peter Wolfe Chapter joined the Old Victoria Restoration group for an interpretive hike around the ruins of the Victoria Mine village on the NCT. Despite the rainy day, a large group showed up to hike the NCT as it winds thru the old mining village and structures and hear the guide tell the history of the Victoria mining days of 1858-1922.

Petoskey celebrated its 4th annual Petoskey Trail Town Celebration.

Dove Day

Approximately 30 people participated in the Superior Hiking Trail Association's two guided hikes on National Trails Day despite the poor weather conditions. They also hosted a trail maintenance event.

JV45º Chapter's finishers of the Hike 100 were honored during the Petoskey NTD celebration, from left to right: Eugene Branigan, Bob Courtois (not to be confused with his brother Bill; they are twins and in the last North Star his name was changed in the article because they thought he was his brother) Duane Lawton, Jennifer Winnell,Todd Winnell, Dove Day, John Day. Not pictured: Jordan Valley 45º finishers Linus Branigan, Tamera Dean, John Oom, Jim Flick.

Grand Traverse Hiking Club celebrated National Trails Day at Scheck’s Place State Forest Campground with a hike to the “Valley of the Giants” along 22 Mile Creek, and a potluck picnic afterwards.

July-September 2016


Mike Toole

Thomas Walker

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter's Bill Courtois, Lesley Akre, and Greg descend into the burned out forest.

Allegheny National Forest Chapter's Shelby Gangloff mowing near Four Mile Bridge; new sign can be seen on right. Clever how she’s carrying gas and a chain saw on the mower deck, because you never know when you’ll need them! Thomas Walker

The Spirit of the Woods Chapter hiked out and back from the Udell Hills trailhead on M55 and Fire Tower Road east of Manistee. After the hike they enjoyed a finger food potluck at the trailhead. The Chief Noonday Chapter (CND) co-hosted an event with the Thornapple Trail Association in Middleville, which included presentations on preparing for a hike. 27 hikers traveled south from the Middleville event, while 4 others traveled north, to get some unique miles in for the CND Hiker Challenge.

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore: Enjoying that fabulous Lake Superior shoreline. Right to left: Jennifer Miller Martin, Paul Ignatowski, Eric Moll, Kay Kujawa, Stan Kujawa. This was Paul's first hike with us. He runs the printing company that prints our chapter's brochures and maps. After years of printing he finally took the time to check out the trail! Eric was section hiking and arranged to meet and hike with us as part of his weekend of hiking. (We slowed his pace a LOT!)

The Baw Beese Chapter also had a fantastic turnout with 30 people in attendance and weather that was near perfect. Some of the group forged ahead and continued on the Trail while others stayed after for hot dogs, chips, cookies and water.

Peter Zelinka

Great Trail and Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter had a fantastic turnout with almost 50 hikers for their hike through Beaver Creek State Park! They started at the Group campsite and hiked to the Pioneer Village, then returned after a break to complete about 7 miles. The Allegheny National Forest Chapter hosted a very productive work weekend in preparation for the Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge the following weekend. They mowed a number of places including Amsler Spring shelter. They also weed whacked, lopped, installed a sign at the new Four Mile Creek bridge and new Carsonite posts at Henry’s Mills!

Great Trail Sandy Beaver Chapter’s Rick "Handlebar" Ostheimer leads a group up the first big incline.


The North Star

Jeff Fisher

Hike 100 Challenge: Building Better Stories By Amelia Rhodes

Photo courtesy of Darren Klemens.

We are only halfway through the Hike 100 Challenge, yet we’ve surpassed 300 finishers hailing from 16 states, with 4,600 signed up for the Challenge. Beyond the statistics, the stories are incredible. As Bruce mentioned in his Meanders Column, the NCTA and the Hike 100 Challenge are helping people build quality stories with the Trail at the center. Darren Klemens from South Lyon, Michigan, is one of the few who completed his 100 miles in one trip. He also put some extra meaning into his hike. After serving 23 years in the Army, Klemens retired to Michigan. When the NCTA announced the Hike 100 Challenge, friends from church began brainstorming how to get their 100 miles completed. “I think I’d seen the signs and read about the North Country Trail, but this was my first time committed to hiking the NCT,” he said. Then his friends “chickened out” of the Hike 100 Challenge and hiked on the Appalachian Trail instead. That didn’t stop Klemens. He ordered maps and began to plan his big adventure. “I looked for a colorful part of the Trail nearby and settled on Lake County and north. It made sense to hike over my holiday [Memorial Weekend].” Darren at the end of his 100mile tribute hike. Once that decision was made, Klemens thought it only made sense to turn his adventure into a tribute hike. “As a veteran I find Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day very important and a time to reflect and be grateful. Doing a tribute hike and spending a long holiday weekend outdoors was a win-win…It was a good fit to me to also reflect and honor our patriots.” Klemens got on the Trail north of Baldwin Thursday, May 26 around 9 a.m. He hiked north through 5 counties and finished at 1:15 p.m. on Memorial Day. He called it his “100 miles in 100 hours” hike. Klemens will be going back on the Trail in July, this time with one of his sons’ Boy Scout Troops. Using experience gained on the NCT for the Hike 100 Challenge, he planned a 50-miler trip for the Scout group that includes hiking and paddling. “We will hike 35 miles, 25 of them on the NCT in the Manistee River Loop, then we’ll paddle 20 miles on the Manistee River.” To complete their 50-miler badge, the scouts also need to do a conservation project. Klemens is talking with the Western Michigan Chapter to help support their service project. www.northcountrytrail.org

Jeff Fisher with Jay and Michael during their Pictured Rocks hike.

Jeff Fisher’s Hike 100 Challenge also had a unique impact. Fisher teaches history and coaches track in the tight-knit community of Pittsford, Michigan. After spending spring break on the Appalachian Trail with a friend, he began to look for other long trails and discovered just how long the NCT really was. When Fisher told his students about his A.T. hike, a couple graduating seniors approached him about doing a hike together. “You come up with it and plan it, and we’ll tag along,” the young men told him. “I’ve coached and taught these guys for years, and they excel in the classroom. One’s going into National Guard and received a scholarship to the University of Michigan. The other received a scholarship to Trine University in Angola for electrical engineering,” Fisher explained. “I really knew them. We’re a tight community.” Yet hiking on the Trail with these graduates took their relationship to a new level and built something for the future. “This trip took everything we had done together in their Middle School and High School years into an accumulating event where we could be friends, not just teacher-students. It was a great accomplishment to do together.” The trio enjoyed the trip so much they took one more trip together, hiking the Manistee River Loop. They also made plans for the future. “When the one [student] gets back from basic training we’ll plan to do another hike. We see this as a long term thing where we potentially do a trip together every year.” Fisher is even thinking of starting up a hiking club for the school. “The Trail through Pittsford is really nice. On a sunny day there are people all over that Trail. It’s nice to get out and over the bridges and streams and over tall hills. You just wouldn’t think it was there. It’s good to get away a little bit.” Sandra Kivela from Marquette, Michigan, has a personal mission to get as many of her friends involved in the outdoors as possible. As a leader with the organization Becoming an Outdoors Woman, she helps put on programs and outdoor activities and is always encouraging people to do things with her outdoors. “I grew up with parents who camped, and we would canoe to wherever we were going. You don’t realize that’s not in someone July-September 2016


Foxglove Poisoning… continued from page 9 but no one is really sure why. By the way, it is NOT advised that vomiting be induced for suspected foxglove ingestion except under the direction of a trained health care provider. If you are taking certain heart medications, ingesting even small amounts of foxglove can produce a stronger reaction. There have also been reports of allergic reactions from breathing foxglove pollen. Unlike many problem plants that affect only humans, foxglove is toxic to dogs, cats, horses, cows, chickens, and other livestock. There is an ASPCA pet poison hotline if you suspect foxglove poisoning, (888) 426-4435. A fee may be applied for calling. There are at least two important messages to take away from this article. If you are going to sample wild foods and make herbal teas, be really sure you know plant identification. The other one is pretty straightforward. If you have been around foxglove plants be sure you wash thoroughly. Using them as cut flowers may be a poor idea, and breathing in the pollen is illadvised. Pretty to look at, not so good to handle.

else’s comfort zone,” she explained. “So when you do something with someone and you do it a few times, it becomes more natural and becomes a way of life for them.” When Kivela heard about the Hike 100 Challenge she knew she needed the patch for her backpack, and that it would be a great way to get more friends out on the Trail. “I would invite friends for coffee to go over the maps and figure out where we wanted to go next. Half the fun was planning the hikes!” Kivela said she hiked with at least a dozen different people, and shared the Challenge with even more friends on Facebook. The Challenge also encouraged her to explore new areas of the Trail. “We hike on the NCT quite a bit, often the same areas over and over, so we started getting maps and talking to friends to explore new areas of the trail where we’d never been.” One special hike was a weekend trip through Pictured Rocks with her daughter who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. “It was nice to spend that time with her and accomplish a goal together. We saw these interesting places that you can’t see unless you’re out hiking.” So why does Kivela love the Trail so much? “Spending time on the Trail is different. When you’re outside, I think you’re just happier, and people are more willing to open up about their day. It’s a good time to decompress for a couple miles after work, and it makes everything better.” We couldn’t agree more. The North Country Trail just makes everything better. And that’s exactly what our hope for each of you is as you hike on the North Country Trail and work toward your 100 miles: better stories, relationships, and memories, all with the Trail running right through the middle of it all. View more inspiring stories and photos in our Hike 100 album here: http://bit.ly/298BzgH

http://www.rightdiagnosis.com/f/foxglove_poisoning/symptoms. htm Photo courtesy of Sandra Kivela

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20171590 http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/ poisoning/plant-poisoning# http://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/toxic-andnon-toxic-plants/foxglove https://outfoxgloved.wordpress.com/2016/01/26/esmesadventure-with-foxgloves/ http://whatscookingamerica.net/Information/Foxglove.htm https://www.researchgate.net/publication/269761676_A_ medieval_case_of_Digitalis_poisoning_the_sudden_death_of_ Cangrande_della_Scala_lord_of_Verona_1291-1329 http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/digitalis.htm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Cullen https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002878.htm

End of our trip with my daughter Shelby. We still love each other after 42 miles.


The North Star

All of the houses of Zoar are charming and beautiful. Yes, this is the route of the Trail!

A Weekend In Zoar, Ohio Story and pictures by Irene Szabo

Below: One of several workshops was held behind the Town Hall, one of many historic buildings on Main Street, now part of the Trail.

The Buckeye Trailfest over the weekend of May 12-15 was in the village of Zoar and included hikes, workshops, and presentations, which attendees enjoyed despite chilly wet weather on some days. Zoar is a lovely old village, the remnants of a communal settlement whose members maintained a unique lifestyle for years until they died out. Charming old houses and a huge central garden make it a lovely spot, plus it was built along the Ohio and Erie Canal on the far side of the adjacent Tuscarawas River, where a towpath carries the Buckeye and North Country Trails, blue blazes, and the most astounding poison ivy anywhere. Now Zoar is a Trail Town for both trails, and features blue blazes along the main street. The Board of Directors of the North Country Trail Association even met in a very old canalside tavern for their spring board meeting, and Main Street became the first mile for some of us whose Hike 100 plans were off to a slow start.

The center of Zoar Village is this large formal garden, just getting underway in mid-May.


The Ohio Historical Marker near the center of the photo informs: Zoar Town Hall—The Society of Separatists of Zoar built the Zoar Town Hall in 1887 when the village was formally incorporated. Establlished in 1817, by German Religious dissidents, Zoar became on of the most successful experiments in communal living during the 19th century. Early hardships encouraged the Zoarites, in 1819, to establish a communal system to ensure economic and social security. The Society disbanded in 1898. The Zoar Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1969.

July-September 2016


The NCT in Hiawatha and Ottawa National Forests Chris Tews

Volunteers from the Land O Lakes Fish and Game Club fight off the bugs to maintain a section of the Trail for the Peter Wolfe Chapter.

By Eric Sandeno, Region 9 Wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Historic and Scenic Trails Program Manager, with input from Kenny Wawsczyk, Tim Hass, Connie Julien, Dick Swanson and Tom Walker.

Hiawatha National Forest t almost 1 million acres, the Hiawatha National Forest, located in the eastern and central Upper Peninsula of Michigan, plays a distinctive and important role in supporting the quality of life in the Upper Peninsula. The Hiawatha National Forest was established in 1931 to address resource impacts caused by poor logging practices, which left much of the Upper Peninsula devoid of timber.



The North Star

Kenny Wawsczyk

While Hiawatha National Forest has many similarities to other National Forests across the country, it’s the only National Forest with lands touching Lakes Superior, Huron and Michigan, resulting in distinctive wetlands habitats, “lake effect” recreation opportunities, and Great Lakes-influenced resources such as islands, heritage sites and earning it the nickname, “The Great Lakes National Forest.” Hiawatha National Forest offers an impressive array of campgrounds, trails, historic sites, and interpretive programming, soaring cliffs and sandy beaches of Grand Island National Recreation Area, the monarch butterfly research plots at Peninsula Point Lighthouse, the meandering fall color drive along Whitefish Scenic Byway, tranquil campsites at one of the eighteen developed campgrounds, over 160 miles of designated snowmobile trails, and stellar cross-country ski trails. There is truly something for just about everyone!

Kenny Wawsczyk

The North Country National Scenic Trail crosses over 680 miles of National Forest System Lands. This article finishes our trek on the NCT through Michigan’s National Forests as we continue our journey from east to west to introduce you to the National Forests and Grasslands along the Trail’s route.

The Forest manages 644 miles of trail, of which 302 miles are managed for motorized use and 342 miles for non-motorized recreation uses such as hiking, skiing, horseback riding and mountain biking. Included in the non-motorized trails are 104 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail, which is managed primarily for hiking and backpacking use. The Hiawatha National Forest is divided into an East and a West section, allowing three chapters of the NCTA to partner with the Forest Service to manage the Trail. The Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter maintains approximately 80 miles in the east. Here the Trail goes along and crosses numerous rivers and creeks and to the north follows the Lake Superior shoreline. From south to north hikers will cross the Brevoort River and follow the Trail on the west side of Brevoort Lake. Other river crossings include the National Wild and Scenic Carp River, its North Branch and Naomikong Creek. Tom Walker, Vice President of the Chapter, says, “The Trail offers a varied topography from fixed dunes in the south to glacial bogs, fens, and ridges in the north” with “something new to see around every bend! The Trail also follows an exposed face of the Niagara Escarpment near East Lake.” In the west, the Superior Shoreline Chapter maintains just over 18 miles of the NCT in the Hiawatha. Chapter President, Tim Hass, likes to showcase the diversity of natural and cultural experiences along this section, “The Trail passes through the popular Valley Spur cross country skiing, snowshoeing and mountain biking venue before continuing west. It undulates past long forgotten railroad yards, remnants of With easy access from earthen foundations of old period settlements, a CCC camp Whitefish Bay National Forest Scenic Byway, hikers and German prisoner of war can cross Naomikong Creek camp, Camp Au Train. Hikers on the 100 foot suspension go through a mature forest and bridge to find an overlook of the Lake Superior shoreline experience significant elevation in the Hiawatha National changes before coming to the crystal clear trout fishing creek of Forest. Buck Bay Creek.” Before leaving the Forest heading west, the Trail follows the road through the Rock River Canyon Wilderness. The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter and Kenny Wawsczyk, the Michigan Regional Trail Coordinator, are working on a proposal to submit to the Forest A steel bridge spanning the Brevoort (sometimes Brevort) Service to move the NCT off River downstream of the the road and into this beautiful dam at Brevort Lake in the section of federally designated Hiawatha National Forest. Wilderness.


Ottawa National Forest The almost one million acre Ottawa National Forest was also established in 1931 to improve watersheds after over-logging. The forest is located in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan and extends from the south shore of Lake Superior to the Wisconsin border. The area is rich in wildlife viewing opportunities, breathtaking views of rolling hills dotted with lakes, rivers and waterfalls, and spectacular fall colors. The water resources play an important role in the natural appeal of the Ottawa National Forest. In addition to many miles of Lake Superior shoreline, over 500 named lakes and nearly 2,000 miles of rivers and streams provide canoeing and kayaking opportunities, prime trout fishing, plus spectacular waterfall viewing. There are numerous developed and undeveloped boat launch facilities as well as numerous walk-in lakes to provide for a wide variety of fishing experiences. Elevations on the Ottawa National Forest range from 600 feet at the Lake Superior shoreline to more than 1800 feet in the Sylvania Wilderness. The most dramatic changes are noted near Lake Superior where the upward shift of the land with its exposed bedrock and resulting bluffs provide homes for cliff nesting Peregrine Falcons. There are several alpine ski areas along the northern portions of the forest. Portions of the Ottawa National Forest receive over 200 inches of snow annually. Referred to as “Big Snow Country,” winter sports enthusiasts will find alpine and Nordic skiing, snowmobiling, dog-sledding, and ice fishing for several months of the year. There are over 485 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and numerous cross-country ski trails. About 116 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail cross the Ottawa National Forest including nearly 8 miles that cross the McCormick Wilderness. The Trail is managed primarily for hiking and backpacking use. Here, the Forest Service partners with three NCTA Chapters to manage the Trail, which include some of the most remote locations in its entire length. From east to west the North Country Trail Hiker’s Chapter maintains the McCormick Wilderness, where the unblazed Trail skirts the southern border. In the Peter Wolfe Chapter’s section www.northcountrytrail.org

Jim Belote

NCTA is working with the Forest Service to make major improvements to the trail leading to O Kun de Kun Falls to create a more sustainable and accessible section of trail.

O Kun de Kun Falls, on the Baltimore River, is a popular destination along the NCT in the Ottawa National Forest and one of the most impressive plunging falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

you can hike some short spur trails to view Sturgeon River Falls, enter the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness, or get a 360º view atop Silver Mountain. Further west, the Peter Wolfe Chapter is responsible for developing, maintaining, protecting and promoting their 115 mile section of the North Country National Scenic Trail from Baraga County to Bergland, including the scenic and popular O Kun de Kun Falls. NCTA recently helped submit an application to the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund for an exciting project in this area. If funded, it would “Adjust the trail location and improve the trail tread to increase accessibility and reduce resource impact, resulting in a more sustainable trail that allows more people to enjoy the falls and the many miles of trail that lie beyond,” says Ottawa National Forest District Ranger Susanne Adams. Northwest of this site Connie Julien, the Peter Wolfe Chapter President, says, “The NCT goes right thru the restored old mining village at Old Victoria where the mine operated from 1858-1922 and then Lookout Mountain overlooking the Victoria Dam Reservoir.” Approach Ni-Miikanaake’s section by traversing the Trap Hills that Connie describes as “one of our best trail scenic views, with one spectacular view after another from the cliff tops with forest and hills as far as the eye can see, so remote there is no sign of humans in any direction.” Ni-Miikanaake’s Chapter President Richard Swanson agrees about this area’s remoteness and suggests, “From M 64 west to the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park is some 13 miles of the most remote scenery you will want on the trail.” Once in the far western U.P., besides all the waterfalls, including five along the Trail near the Black River National Scenic Byway, you will find as Dick describes, “some of the oldest hemlock trees around.” July-September 2016


What’s Up With All Of Those Other Paint Blazes On Trees Along The NCT? Story and pictures by Doug Welker, Peter Wolfe Chapter


ooner or later most of us will be hiking on the North Country Trail and discover that it’s not only our trail maintainers who have been painting trees. I’m not talking about side trails that may have blaze colors different from NCT blue, or sections of our trail that coincide with other trails like the Finger Lakes Trail (fortunately, it doesn’t snow in upstate N.Y. so white on the mainline FLT is not an issue! ha.)Instead, I’m talking about trees that are not blazed with a tidy standard 2˝ X 6˝ high paint blaze, but with bigger messier splotches or streaks of color. This is how forestry consultants mark an intended tree harvest, telling loggers which to cut and harvest, or to cut and just drop, and sometimes in a different color or pattern, to delineate the boundary of the harvest. But just to keep the potential for confusion at a high level, in many areas (here on the Ottawa National Forest in western Upper Michigan, for example), blue is the standard color for blazing trees to be cut. And not just blue, but the same exact color of blue (that of Nelson Blue Boundary Paint) that we use on the NCT. Why then do we use blue on the NCT? First, Nelson Blue Boundary Paint is a standard color, is readily available, and is of high quality. Second, when was the last time you saw blue snow, blue leaves, or blue bark on trees? So, how do you avoid confusion when following the NCT through a woods full of blue painted trees that are to be cut, when it’s the same color blue as our blazes? At first glance NCT blazes can seem to blend in with all of the other blue. First, it would be almost unheard of to find a harvest tree marked by a forester with a single blue 2˝ X 6˝ vertical rectangular blaze. They use a paint gun which doesn’t make such a tidy mark with crisp edges as our blazes. However, while backpacking once through a logging operation on the NCT west of Marquette I found one of our blazes on a tree. Someone involved in the logging had painted a big question mark next to the blaze. So perhaps in that case he or she was confused by our blue blaze. To understand logging blazes it helps to understand when blazing is needed at different stages in the logging process. Property boundaries must be marked to assure that only trees owned by the landowner or land-managing agency are cut. It would be nice if there were consistency, but these lines may be painted in red, blue, or other colors, depending on the company or agency that owns the timber. Timber sale boundaries are marked with orange, red, or other colors. Cutting units (subdivisions of timber sale areas) may also be marked by a variety of colors, and there may be different marking patterns on trees along boundaries, even on the boundary of the same timber sale. Often corners of a boundary are marked with triple paint slashes. Trees to be cut are marked with blue, orange, yellow, or whatever. There are different marking patterns for trees to be cut, even within the same color scheme, in the same timber sale. Trees to be left uncut may have a different color or pattern. In addition, especially where variations on even-aged timber management are involved, trees to be cut may have no blazing at all, with the prescription in the logger’s contract perhaps being


The North Star

Trees with blue slashes. These trees are marked for cutting, with a blaze at chest height and one extending to ground level.

Trees with orange slashes. These trees identify a cutting boundary, and are no-cut trees.

to cut all of species A, B, and C, but not to cut species D and E, within the marked timber sale boundary. Where specific trees are to be cut, especially with higher-value trees, it is common to see two paint blazes (or more) on the tree, with a slash or dot about chest height and another slash extending at least a foot down the trunk, from partway up the tree to ground level. Why? Timber sales typically go out on bids. Loggers making bids will have checked out the sale, noting marked trees, and estimating what they could make by cutting and selling those trees. In an ideal world, the logger would cut only marked trees (if they cut unmarked trees they would be getting trees “for free,” and the taxpayer or landowner would lose out). So, after logging, the agency or landowner or consulting forester will check the sale to make sure that the stumps of all freshly-cut trees have paint slashes on them, at ground level. So, what’s to keep a logger from painting ground-level slashes and cutting more than he is supposed to? Since 1988 the US Forest Service has added special chemical tracers to the paint it uses to mark trees for harvest. Usually it is possible to check for the presence of that tracer in the field. The nature of that tracer is a “trade secret.” So, if no tracer if found in a paint slash at the base of the tree, the logger is suspected of theft. So, how does this help the hapless hiker? Clearly, almost none of loggers’ paint marks on trees are the same shape and size as trail blazes. Also, paint slashes and other marks on boundary trees and trees to be cut are made with a paint gun, not a paintbrush, so the edges will be rough. In the end, though, a hiker will need to spend some time initially looking for trail blazes in an area with trees painted for other purposes, but with a little practice the NCT blazes will stand out, and the mind will begin ignoring other blazes.

Mike Trieschmann

Ellie Williams

New Urban Signage in Place

One of three new urban signs installed by Mike Trieschmann on wooden posts placed by City of Mellen workers. The Mellen Library/Senior Center is in the background on the left.

Rick Pomerleau benches new NCT on the re-route with a Pulaski as Mary Stenberg approaches.

By Marty Swank, Chequamegon Chapter

Trail Re-Route Finished!


By Marty Swank

On Saturday, June 11th the Chequamegon Chapter finished a trail re-route started on May 21st west of Beaver Lake Campground. We completed benching on higher ground next to a long wet A Blue Spotted Salamander saved from soggy (sometimes a Pulaski! underwater) section of the Trail. Volunteers also finished building one rock crossing and completed another new rock crossing a short distance heading east of the initial trail re-route. The use of the rocks kept intact the natural wild beauty of the wet crossings, with some beautiful wetland plants. We try to keep the “wild” alive and well in our sections of NCT without making this a burden on the hiker and trail maintainer. This was a personally much needed Trail update for me. I once fell in the water here at this location, trying to cross. Most of us wore bug shirts and head-nets or at least 40% Deet for the mosquitoes and black flies but nature always seems to provide a “wow” moment for us, to make this all worthwhile. In this case it was a blue spotted salamander saved from the sharp edge of a Pulaski. One of the reasons that I am still doing this: I love nature and the animals that inhabit this special world that we call the NCT! (Note: I am not including all of the insects that bite in this statement.)

July-September 2016


Ellie Williams


ike Trieschmann installed much needed new urban signage in the Wisconsin City of Mellen along Main Street in the first weeks of June. The City put up new wooden posts in pre-determined key positions and Mike added a white covering/cap and installed the new urban signage with pointing arrows. The white post covers and caps really make the NCT stickers and arrows show up!! The white post coverings and caps were Mike’s idea. The original banded steel urban signs, installed by Mike and Bill Menke in 2008, were removed by the City when new lampposts were installed. The City of Mellen decided they did not want signs installed on the new lampposts so an alternative method had to be found. A City of Mellen Trail Town Presentation was held on Friday, April 22nd and organized and presented by Chapter member Rose Wooley. The presentation took place at the Mellen Library/ Senior Center. Bill Menke gave a power point presentation on the importance of the NCT and Trail Towns and Marty Swank gave a brief presentation of the Chequamegon Chapter’s contributions to the City of Mellen as a Trail Town and future possibilities. The City of Mellen Mayor and some Council Members were present at the presentation. Also present were Chapter Members from both the Chequamegon and Heritage Chapters of the NCTA and Mellen residents. After the Trail Town Presentation key members of the Chequamegon Chapter, Mellen City Council and Bill Menke walked along the downtown NCT and decided on new post locations for urban sign placement. The City of Mellen officially became the first Trail Town in Wisconsin in April of 2013 and is the gateway to Copper Falls State Park and the Chequamegon National Forest. The City of Mellen Hike and Bike Trail is a certified section of NCT that runs along the scenic Bad River. Mike Trieschmann is the Chequamegon Chapter’s Eastern Trail Manager/Quartermaster.

north star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Duane Lawton

Chippy on blazed stump.

Come Visit Us!

The Lowell office is open to the public Tuesday-Thursday 1:00 to 4:30 and Friday 10:00 to 4:30 Other hours by appointment. Please call ahead M-F during working hours. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT • (616) 897-5987 • Fax (616) 897-6605

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

Profile for NCTA Staff

North Star Vol. 35, No. 3 (2016)  

North Star Vol. 35, No. 3 (2016)