The magazine of the North Country Trail Association
Volume 29, No. 3
Joan Young Finishes Walking the Whole NCT! Conference Highlights NCTA Awards for 2010 Doug Welker Interviews Ruth MacFarlane National Trails Day
In this Issue
Articles Sigrid Connors
NCTA Invited to White House Conference.............4 NCTA Welcomes Development Director..................5 Joan Young Day............................8 Promoting Our Trail by Inviting New Friends..................................9 Allegheny 100 Challenge............10 “I Did it for the Patch”...............11
Regional Trail Coordinator Ohio/Pennsylvania firstname.lastname@example.org
Director of Development
Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator
Sandy et Pearl Brûlent de Faire Portage à Brûle: Reminiscing
About The Annual Conference...12 Tour De NCT............................14 Tributes to Martha Jones ........... 15 Favorite Hike In PA's Allegheny National Forest........... 15 NCTA Awards for 2010............16 Keystone Trail Association Projects........................................24 Following Peter Wolfe: An Interview with Ruth MacFarlane........................25 National Trails Day....................26
Columns Trailhead.......................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.....................5
Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota email@example.com
Andrea Ketchmark, Director of Trail Development
Office Manager/Financial Administrator firstname.lastname@example.org
Bruce Matthews, Executive Director
Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin/Michigan UP email@example.com
Luna moth on black cherry tree above yellow Letchworth Branch Trail blaze, Finger Lakes Trail System, just a few miles north of the NCT on the main east-west FLT.
National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2010
Larry Hawkins, First VP, Lower Michigan Rep., (269)945-5398 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms Expiring 2011 Lyle Bialk, Lower Michigan Rep.,
(810) 679-2401 · email@example.com
Hiking Shorts...............................6 Who's Who Along the Trail.......20
Mary Coffin, VP East, New York Rep., (315) 687-3589 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Dave Cornell, Immediate Past President, At Large Rep., (239) 561-6512 · email@example.com
Garry Dill, At Large Rep.,
In contravention of all normal magazine practices, let's use the inside cover color capability, a factor of printing realities, to best advantage. So contents...and a color picture...are on page 2 this time, and the Presidential musings of Bobby Koepplin's Trail Head column on page 3. How do you like it? —Editor
(614) 451-0223 · firstname.lastname@example.org
John Heiam, At Large Rep.,
(231) 938-9655 · email@example.com
Lorana Jinkerson, Secretary, At Large Rep., (906) 226-6210 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Terms Expiring 2012 Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep.,
(724) 526-5407 · email@example.com
About the Cover
Cover Photo of Joan Young by Barbara Beal Schmid.
Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep.,
(724) 234-5398 · JCohen@zoominternet.net
Bobby Koepplin, President, North Dakota Rep., (701) 845-2935 · firstname.lastname@example.org
North Star Staff
Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or email@example.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Fall issue, Vol. 29, 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.
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Tom Moberg, Minnesota Rep., (701) 271-6769 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep.,
(763) 425-4195 · email@example.com
Lynda Rummel, New York Rep.,
(315) 536-9484 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Ray Vlasek, At Large Rep.,
(218) 573-3243 · email@example.com
Gaylord Yost, VP West, Great Lakes Rep., (414) 354-8987 · firstname.lastname@example.org
BOBBY KOEPPLIN President
ith approximately 50 miles of trail within the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter area to be completed which crosses privately owned property the SRVC has taken on an aggressive easement acquisition project to get more trail completed in our corner of North Dakota. The SRV Chapter is engaged in obtaining 25 – 35 miles of private easements in 2010. A local engineering firm has been hired with grant funds raised by SRV. A preferred route with alternates was created, land ownership researched, independent easements written (with attorney and NCTA staff inputs), landowner packets created with pictures, then mailings, public meetings, and a flurry of private visitations followed. Easements from private landowners are difficult to say the least. Because I have worked with many of these private landowners through my job, some for as long as 30 years, a number of them have requested a separate visit which takes considerable time but usually has been rewarding. At least they have not closed the door to discussion. Some landowners believe in and support outdoor activities and the NCTA cause by signing up on the first visit for which we are very grateful. However, many have raised questions and concerns:
Private Landowners On The Western Prairie Will hikers scare off game and ruin hunting? We’ve had bad experiences with snowmobilers who cut fences, leave trails and cut across fields, ruining hay production the following year. Hikers with pets may bring problems. During spring calving livestock may be aggressively protective and chase a dog, or the dog may scare livestock, who could run and ruin fences. Ninety-nine year easements? That’s a long time. Who keeps promises? We were promised our road would be paved years ago, but it never got done. Will privileges be abused? Many landowners have had snowmobilers, horseback riders, hunters and ATV riders abuse their privileges after they had been given permission to go on the land and these landowners now fear hikers will be the same way. Of course we respond that there is no need for hikers to cut fences, since we build stiles to help us across fences. We don’t use motorized vehicles, and most hikers pick up garbage as they walk, improving not trashing the route. However, there is no logic to fears of damage to one’s home property, so our logical answers don’t always work. The bottom line is that acquiring easements is about building trusting relationships. In my work in community development for a utility company, a number of folks have seen projects completed as promised and on time, and that has made all the difference.
Try to get to know something about prospect landowners, maybe even enlisting the help of their neighbors who agree with your mission. Listen carefully to the landowner, to identify what really worries each one; seldom will they be completely clear about it. Be watchful as you view their property, trying to learn things that need to be done that can be completed with volunteer sweat equity and some leveraged cash. Offers to fix fences, replace a fence post, repair a gate, place a little gravel in a pothole, or remove a tree along a road on private right of way are some of the things that can be done to enhance landowner relationships. Always deliver what you promise. Not every easement will be easy. Re-routing will be required to go around some landowners, while in some cases we may need to wait for a new landowner to sign, but in the meantime we can all strive to understand our landowners as well as respect that it is their property that we want to use. SRV identified over 52 landowners depending on routing, and so far 17 easements for 12.5 miles of trail are signed. However, a few critical connectors will require patience, hard work and a little luck to make all segments contiguous. SRV will be sharing processes used and lessons learned when this project is completed so that we can get more of the North Country Trail on the ground for all to enjoy.
Come Visit Us! The Lowell office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT • (616) 897-5987 • Fax (616) 897-6605 The North Country Trail Association develops, maintains, protects and promotes the North Country National Scenic Trail as the premier hiking path across the northern tier of the United States through a trail-wide coalition of volunteers and partners. Our vision for the North Country National Scenic Trail is that of the premier footpath of national significance, offering a superb experience for hikers and backpackers in a permanently protected corridor, traversing and interpreting the richly diverse environmental, cultural, and historic features of the northern United States. www.northcountrytrail.org
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Pictured Rocks Guided Hike
North Country Trail Association Invited To White House Conference the invited leadership of 450 national conservation Joining and outdoor recreation organizations, on April 16 NCTA’s
executive director Bruce Matthews participated at the White House Conference on America’s Great Outdoors. Hosted by President Obama, Nancy Sutley, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, and Tom Vilsack, Secretary of Agriculture, the White House Conference addressed the challenges, opportunities and innovations surrounding modernday land conservation and the importance of reconnecting Americans and American families to the outdoors. The Conference kicked off the President’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, an administration-wide effort to engage more Americans in outdoors activities as well as preserving the places where they occur. The Conference was capped by President Obama signing a memorandum establishing the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative to develop a conservation agenda worthy of the 21st century and to reconnect Americans with our great outdoors. With the launch of the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative the administration is hosting a series of listening sessions around the country, which are designed to identify and highlight community efforts as well as build a national agenda for protecting America’s special places. The CEQ’s Nancy Sutley said, “Too many of these places are disappearing. In launching this conversation, we strive to learn about the smart, creative community efforts underway throughout the country to conserve our outdoor spaces, and hear how we can support these efforts.” For a schedule of sessions, go here: http://www.doi.gov/americasgreatoutdoors/. The national trails community is being urged to show up and participate at these listening sessions in order to make sure the trails agenda is being heard. In addition, there are opportunities to comment on the America’s Great Outdoors website here: http://ideas.usda.gov/ago/ideas.nsf/ “We are honored that the President invited the North Country Trail Association to be present at his signing of the memorandum establishing this initiative, and we’re grateful to be included among the leadership of America’s conservation organizations at this Conference,” commented NCTA’s Matthews. “Our efforts must continue, through participating at the listening sessions, engaging in the online dialogue and ensuring that the trails message is heard as this new agenda is developed.” 4 The North Star
NCTA’s second annual Extended Outing will feature sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Starting the day after next year’s NCTA conference, the dates for the hike are August 8 - 13, 2011. The hike trip leader is our own Mary Coffin, long time NCTA Board member and stalwart hike leader. It is a day hiking and camping trip along Lake Superior’s south shore and will include Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Each day we will hike with day pack for 6-10 miles using vans to shuttle between campsites and trail heads. We will set up tents in state parks and cook and eat outdoors. Wilderness Inquiry, a not for profit outfitter, will take care of logistics. Points of interest along the way include scenic Grand Sable Dunes, picturesque Au Sable Lighthouse, remote Twelve Mile Beach, interesting rock formations at Chapel Rock and the most famous rock formation, Miners Castle. Contact leader for detailed itinerary and application packet. NCTA membership is required. Mary has 20 years experience leading group trips as a volunteer. Contact: email@example.com (315) 687-3589
Yes, I'll Lend a Hand to the North Country Trail! the North Country Trail Association to Join support our volunteers in building the trail and
telling its story in communities nearby. Happy Trails! Become a member today by calling (866) 445-3628 or visit our website and click on Become a Member.
Please choose your Chapter Affiliation: I want to be a member of my local Chapter: I want to be a member of the Chapter closest to my home. I want to be an At-Large Member. (Not affiliated with any Chapter) I want to make a tax deductible contribution of Name Address City State
EMail Day Time Phone
n today’s increasingly sophisticated fund-raising environment, 501(c)3 organizations like the North Country Trail Association must be smarter, wiser and more efficient in order to compete successfully. In the last ten years, the number of notfor-profit groups like NCTA has grown by 53%. The number of households being asked to give to groups like NCTA has increased by only 12%. It doesn’t take an Einstein to see we’ll be smelling fumes if we can’t keep up and grow our capacity to raise private dollars. NCTA’s strength will always be its people—the families, friends and communities united behind the notion that a simple footpath linking America’s northern heartlands—our red plaid nation—is an enduring and worthy thing to build and pass on to the future. A strong and growing membership is key to the success of any endeavor: people like to stand next to winners. Yet membership dues make up only about 15% of NCTA’s revenues. And raising dues is a clear non-starter in this economic environment. So is expecting NCTA’s partner, the National Park Service, to continue to step up and grow their support to keep up with our needs. Your NCTA Board has recognized that reducing our dependence on public dollars, which in 2009 made up 55% of NCTA’s revenue stream, is a sound fiscal policy. That leaves only a couple other possibilities for diversifying and growing NCTA’s revenues. They include sales of NCTA products like maps, books and logowear, targeting the corporate sector for sponsorships, licensing fees, ad space purchases and other partnership ventures, grants development and individual fund and friend-raising. We’ll focus some on the corporate and retail sectors with initiatives designed to generate revenues, and we’ll continue to seek grants where project outcomes align with NCTA’s. But the greatest potential by far lies in cultivating
MEANDERS BRUCE MATTHEWS Executive Director
individual relationships and friendships with those who share NCTA’s values and mission. Why? 75% of all charitable giving is done by individuals, with another 7% in individual bequests. Only 5% of giving comes from corporations, rounded out by the 13% from foundations. A strategic, well-organized funding development effort is needed, focused on friend-raising within and outside of NCTA’s immediate family and the communities we link. Recognizing this, your Board of Directors embarked on a national search to identify a special individual to fill the role of Development Director. Elsewhere in this North Star you’ll find out more about David Cowles, who began his NCTA tenure at our annual conference in Ashland. David Cowles’ job will be about building relationships that lead to the large and small gifts needed to support and grow NCTA’s efforts. As our point man in developing the annual appeal, planned and major giving initiatives and unrestricted grant funding, David will be building and nurturing relationships through NCTA’s Board of Directors, chapter leaders and others with an interest in our mission. He’ll be working in tandem with our marketing and communications efforts as we tell our story more effectively. I know you’ll join me in welcoming David and his family to ours and to helping us all reach our greater potential in developing the diverse funding and revenue streams that enable us to build and maintain our North Country National Scenic Trail.
NCTA Welcomes Development Director
ttendees at NCTA’s Annual Conference in Ashland observed a new face among NCTA’s staff. David Cowles started his tenure as NCTA’s Development Director with a total immersion in all things North Country, kicking things off with the NCTA Board of Directors meeting, and throwing himself into meeting the membership as his first official duties. NCTA’s executive director, Bruce Matthews, observed that “Annual Conference is the best possible way for us to give David a short course in the trail, the Association and the special people that make it all happen. It’s great that our NCTA family gets to meet David here!” Selected from a highly competitive group of applicants, David Cowles comes to NCTA from the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) in Lander, Wyoming, where he has been Associate Director of Development since 2003. David’s development experience with NOLS will serve him in good stead as he cultivates relationships and friends on behalf of the NCTA. David and his family will be returning to their Michigan roots, where David’s work in non-profit organizations formed the basis for his development expertise. West Michigan will be welcoming home the Cowles www.northcountrytrail.org
family as the NCTA launches a new and empowered era in development work. David’s training includes a Master’s in Nonprofit Management from Regis University and several decades in senior leadership in the nonprofit community. In addition to his professional experiences he volunteers his time as a fundraiser to churches and small nonprofits and he’s quick to claim a short stint volunteering on a trail crew. He’s been a presenter at a number of conferences focused on nonprofit administration and, you guessed it, fundraising. When he’s not raising the big bucks, he and his wife Anita and two children Gabe and Bryana can be found enjoying the outdoors…hiking, biking and canoeing. “The single most transformational outdoor experience I have ever had was a 90 day trek on one of our National Scenic Trails back in the seventies,” stated David in his letter of introduction. “That trip chiseled memories and life lessons into my life that still guide my values today.” The NCTA is looking forward to David guiding our fund-raising efforts and enabling many thousand more to build new stories on the North Country Trail. July-September 10
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Photo: courtesy of Kevin Stankiewicz
HIKING SHORTS Willis Run Shelter Outhouse NEW YORK – Any time you criticize somebody else's
trail or its facilities, somebody's feelings are hurt and/or they defend their creation, bristling with disagreement. Like Fred Szarka always used to say during trail building workshops, “Nobody intentionally builds bad trail.” Or is it Bill Menke who says that? In response to Rachel Frey's article in the last issue of The North Star “Is the North Country Trail Beautiful?” John Malcomb bristled over her criticism of the above cited outhouse for its “mosquitoes buzzing up from a watery grave.” He sent a picture of its well-constructed self and listed all the experienced builders who had participated in its birth along the Finger Lakes Trail. Obviously the mosquitoes think it's a grand edifice.
Deb Koepplin accepts the Special Merit award from Kevin Stankiewicz of the ND Parks and Recreation Department at National Trails Day event, Fort Ransom State Park.
Sheyenne River Valley Award NORTH DAKOTA – The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter was awarded a Special Merit Award from the North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department at the National Trails Day event at Fort Ransom State Park on June 5th. The nomination for this award, submitted by Kevin Stankiewicz, ND Recreation Program Coordinator, reads in part, “The Sheyenne River Valley Chapter (SRVC) of the North Country National Scenic Trail has and is still spearheading the North Country Trail effort in North Dakota. The chapter is comprised of dedicated and passionate trail volunteers who are eager to develop this 4600 mile trail stretching across seven states. The SRVC hosted the North Country Trail Association annual conference in the summer of 2009, a sizable task that would require a number of volunteer hours, time and effort, an even larger task as a result of winter flooding.” “Valley City endured its share of setbacks during the
6 The North Star
winter of 2009. Mother Nature was unforgiving and wreaked havoc on levees, bridges, roads and parks in and around the Valley City area. All members of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter were affected in some shape or form by the floods. Not only did they have to take care of their own homes, they also helped maintain the safety and sanity of others by filling sand bags, coordinating and implementing emergency disaster plans, and trying to sustain a sense of normalcy despite all the chaos. And in the back of their minds through it all was, ‘how are we going to host the NCTA annual conference?’” “It was their determination to follow through on their commitment to host and their willingness to work collectively and incessantly that enabled this group of leaders to overcome the odds and host an extremely successful conference. Over 150 people attended the four-day conference.” Kevin Stankiewicz presented the award to Deb Koepplin, president of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter “for their tireless efforts to benefit the people of North Dakota and hikers around the world.”
Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Castle Rock Projects UPPER MICHIGAN – April 24th was the kickoff of the Castle Rock project just outside of St. Ignace, as the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter (HSS) celebrated Global Youth Service Day. Tara Amarose, from the Sault Ste. Marie United Way, planned and supervised the event. HSS volunteers were joined by extra people, who weeded invasive plants, carried boards for an upcoming boardwalk, and built 400 feet of new trail. The project continued the week of May 17th with nine HSS members who camped at the ponds off Castle Rock Road. They worked for five days completing over a half mile of new tread and restoring several sections of
Wampum Chapter members and AmeriCorps helpers build the floor of Watts Mill Shelter. (Story, page 8)
Lee Fairbanks directs the crew.
the old. Bill Menke, Wisconsin/Michigan Upper Penninsula NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator, headed up the training for the nine dedicated volunteers for the first two days of the week. “It was fun to be a part of the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter’s work week as they began the reconstruction of the ATV damaged Castle Rock segment of the North Country Trail," said Bill. “The chapter fielded a very hard-working and fun crew as they made great progress,” he said. Bill trained the volunteers in trail design, construction, and restoration. Overall, the volunteer crew completed about .6 miles of new trail in the week using all hand tools. While walking in and out each day, they enjoyed primitive camping at the ponds on Castle Rock Road at night. (The author had used the expression “dry camping” which your editor didn't know, so Kay Kujawa explained: “Dry camping is camping without any hookups usually on state or federal forest land. Some folks call it boondocking.”) Volunteers included Stan and Kay Kujawa, Marilyn Chadwick, Charlene DeWitt, Bill Courtois, Bob and Pat McNamara, DeWayne and Joan Cox. Arriving on Friday was Jim Ozzenberger (USFS), and Wendy Wagoner (Weed Management Council Coordinator). “It is amazing what God and a few dedicated, hard working people can accomplish. Being one of the babies of the group, I personally am in awe of all that was done,” said volunteer Marilyn Chadwick. The crew began breaking trail with the brush hog. Some volunteers scraped and painted, while others applied the final sprinkling of pine needles. Other crew members were instrumental in cooking meals, bringing community dinners daily. Volunteers continued to get up early, go to bed late, and worked hard the entire week. “We were amazed at the people working through pain and aches and age. The new trail is awesome and looks like it has been there forever,” stated Joan Cox. “It sure is a good feeling at the end of the day to hike back on the new sections. We should be in good shape by November if we can keep this pace going,” commented Kay Kujawa. Charlene DeWitt, HSS President, continued to head up work days through June and July. If you would like more information on this project or the HSS, please contact Charlene at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore website at www.northcountrytrail.org/hss/index.htm. —Kim Alford, chapter newsletter editor
Hiking Shorts Continued on Page 8
Doug Turner and Cathy Garrett at the finished shelter. Yes, those are Cathy's bumble bee wings; as Bumble Bee Supervisor she was in charge of keeping pests off the workers but the bugs mostly ignored her and did as they pleased.
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Hiking Shorts Continued from Page 7
Wampum's Watts Mill Shelter PENNSYLVANIA - Four miles
from the Pennsylvania and Ohio border, landowners Dennis and Cathy Garrett helped us build a backpackers' shelter on their land, by working with us and donating materials. Chapter President Lee Fairbanks planned and directed the crews, procured materials, and did as much pre-construction offsite as possible. An NCTA Field Grant provided the funding to make the project possible. In total, sixteen Wampum Chapter members and friends along with thirteen AmeriCorps volunteers contributed their cheerful labor over two days in May to haul in the material and build the shelter. Thanks to Julie Watson, Pennsylvania NCT Communications Coordinator and AmeriCorps volunteer, for getting her peers involved in the project. —Dave Brewer
Allegheny National Forest Reroute PENNSYLVANIA - Keith Klos, ANF Chapter
President, reports that seven years of bureaucratic difficulties in gaining permission to move more than a mile of the NCT route off road and into the National Forest were finally relieved by some innovative thinking by a district ranger, Tony Scardina, who found a creative way to unblock the project and sidestep the delays in time for a big work party over National Trails Day weekend this June.
District ranger Tony Scardina cut through red tape to get the trail off road in time for National Trails Day, so that ANF Chapter volunteers, Boy Scouts and their leaders could build this 20 foot bridge with an NCTA field grant. Camping was provided by US Army Corps of Engineers.
Free camping for volunteers was obtained from the US Army Corps of Engineers at Kelletville campgrounds. Ten chapter volunteers, 14 Boy Scouts and four leaders, five Student Conservation Association workers, and one US Forest Service worker attended, and accomplished most of the task, which included building a 20 foot bridge! An NCTA field grant paid for bridge materials. —Keith Klos 8 The North Star
Joan Young Day
(photos, page 7)
Whereas Joan Young has been a member of the North Country Trail Association in good standing since 1995; and Whereas Joan Young’s service to the North Country Trail Association at the state and national levels has been both exemplary and extensive; and Whereas Joan Young is a widely recognized author and lecturer, including on the North Country National Scenic Trail; and Whereas Joan Young’s tireless efforts to promote the North Country National Scenic Trail and tell its story have contributed immeasurably to public awareness about the Trail; and Whereas Joan Young is widely known among members and friends as the “Spirit of the North Country Trail;” and Whereas on August 3, Joan Young will complete her final miles in her quest to hike the entire designated North Country Trail, thus becoming the first woman known to have done so; and Therefore be it resolved and known to all that the Board of Directors of the North Country Trail Association has designated August 3, 2010 as “Joan Young Day” on the North Country National Scenic Trail. Approved and Resolved July 22, 2010 —NCTA Board of Directors —Bobby Koepplin, President
isit the North Country Trail Association at the New York Metro Travel & Adventure Show New York Metro Area, October 16-17, Meadowlands Expo Center. The 7th Annual New York Metro Travel & Adventure Show invites you to attend the largest travel marketplace showcasing hundreds of travel destinations including the North Country Trail! Plus, try hands-on adventure activities and meet travel experts such as Arthur Frommer and so much more. To receive your FREE admission ticket, visit www.adventureexpo.com/consumer and enter PROMO CODE: NCT. See you there!
Promoting Our Trail By Inviting New Friends Irene Szabo
n the spirit of Pennsylvania’s Tour de NCT, which will spend two years hiking all of the NCT within the state with one and twoday walks scheduled monthly, other host groups are catching the fever. For instance, the Itasca-Moraine Chapter is ambitiously holding weekly hikes over 16 weeks this summer, May through August, designed to cover all of their trail in Minnesota. A dozen hikers are showing up due to press releases in local papers, which is great in an area with no hiking culture, according to Jerry Trout. Beth Trout is writing the accounts which are luring those new people to their hikes. A sample from late May: Hikers in past weeks have watched the march of spring flowers across the forest floor and even experienced the sounds and sights of cracking trees during a wind storm. The colors, textures, and fragrances of the forest have surrounded the hikers. Hikers have experienced the ever-changing, subtle differences in light and vegetation as they move from primarily aspen, to pine, to hardwood forests as they hike. This past Saturday the hikers were treated to yellow lady slippers and carpets of maturing trillium turning from white to pink. One of a dozen posts being installed for the Passport Hikes, with the metal The Finger Lakes Trail Conference plaque on top with raised map number, and a mailbox, too, with a tablet continues its hugely successful cross-county inside for a trail register. Digging post holes in the forest is a real chore! hike series, designed to enable people to These high schoolers are doing a science class service project, along with the dismiss the logistical difficulties of shuttling nature trail interpretive booklet their teacher and classmates keep up to date in remote areas by using busses. However, for this loop along the orange-blazed Bristol Hills Branch, part of the Finger these tough 10 and 12 mile hikes aren’t Lakes Trail system. serving brand new hikers well enough, so descriptions, little snippets of maps for each, plus spaces at two new programs are aimed at serving a different crowd. the back of the booklet for people to “prove” they’ve walked For the second season, Hiking 101 Samplers are being the walk. Hence, the “passport” idea: somewhere in the offered to the public. Walks that are modest in length, say middle of each walk, ranging from 2 to 5 miles, is a post 5 miles, relatively easy walking, less than hour’s drive from with a metal plaque on top. The plaque has a raised number an upstate NY city or big town, and especially scenic are of the appropriate FLT Map on it, so rubbing the number being publicized, with the intent of introducing new people with a pencil will put the “stamp” into each passport to the trails available not far from home. It’s working, and booklet for that hike only. With enough of the twelve hikes new members have resulted! Some parents are even bringing completed, customers are entitled to great coupons from children, who surprise themselves by having fun. each of the sponsors. Another project has just been launched with the Extra attention to a high level of trail maintenance has financial and publicity support of a major supermarket been asked of these several caretakers, and a great deal of chain, a car repair chain of stores, an outdoor outfitter, skilled work was donated by the two mapping volunteers, and a campground near the trail. Called Passport Hikes, Don McClimans and Joe Dabes, plus twelve nasty postholes this is a series of twelve modest walks within a geographic had to be dug in root-filled forest soil deep in the interior of slice of upstate NY (for starters), hikes chosen for scenic various hikes! bang, plus ease of walking and finding the trailhead. So, yes, extra work is required to be hospitable and In other words, these are hikes designed to make invite new people to hiking, but the results are always worth participants want to do more. the effort. With the financial support of these companies, the FLT has published 15,000 booklets with the twelve hike
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Allegheny 100 Challenge Hike a Great Success Cyclists can ride a hundred miles and ultra-marathon runners can run that far, but what would it take to hike the same distance in a 50-hour period? Jim Tower
Back Row Left to Right: Mike Merry, Art Gazdik, Eric Chapman, John Walker, Chuck Gray, Piper Lindel, Brianna Osborne, Chad Gray and Steve Bastow. Middle Row: Bert Nemcik, Jennifer Melarchik, Preston Van Curen, Mandy Meyers, Cindy Smith, Keith Klos, Allegheny Forest Chapter President. Front Row: Ken Vail, Christina Felger, Joe Cobb, Teresa Brownlee, Sara Brooks. Not Pictured: Cathy Pedler. Bert Nemcik
n Friday, June 18th, twenty backpacking adventurers, ten men and ten women, gathered at the trailhead of the North Country National Scenic Trail at Willow Bay at 6 PM and headed south into Pennsylvania to see if it could be done. Their mission simple: to hike the distance by Sunday, June 20th at 8 PM. Unlike the cyclist who can coast down a hill or the ultra-marathon runner who has supply stations and can run unencumbered, the Allegheny 100 hikers were self-contained. They had to carry their own food, water and gear. Some knew they couldn’t do the full distance so they opted to hike only 25 miles and enjoy that challenge. A few more focused on fifty miles, still a great distance to do in 50 hours. Eleven were going for broke. Hiking long into the night, they pressed on. Hot and muggy Saturday told the tale. The constant pounding of feet on ground took its toll. Suffering with blistered feet and pain at every step, some called it quits. “I need to bail out, Bert,” one of the young women told me after she hiked 8 miles with blistered feet so raw they looked like hamburger. I gave her a hug and called for some support. Six hours later, she trudged out of the forest and got into a car and rode home. “I’ll be back next year,” Mandy said. “I’ll be in much better shape and my pack will be a whole lot lighter.” Base pack weight was the predominant issue. Many of the hikers were carrying too much gear and it caused excessive strain on the entire body and especially the feet. “Every pound
10 The North Star
on the back is like five on the feet,” some of the hikers were advised before starting out. “Get rid of anything you don’t absolutely need.” Hikers chucked tents and substituted tarps. Nalgene containers were exchanged for plastic soda bottles. Every ounce was shed that didn’t jeopardize health and safety. For some it just wasn’t enough. On Sunday, two hikers made it 85 and 82 miles. They were beat up but elated that they nearly completed the challenge. At 10:30 PM all the hikers were safely off the trail and the 2010 Allegheny 100 Challenge Hike was a memory. “I’ll be back next year,” Christina said. “But I’ll be back much better prepared. I know what I need to do now.” “You don’t know how far you can go until you set the goal and step off the sidewalk and go for it. I am heading out to California to do the John Muir Trail in August and now that I’ve done 50 miles in two days, I think I’m ready,” said Art from Pittsburgh. Allegheny Outfitters of Warren was the sole corporate sponsor. Owner Piper Lindel participated in the event. The site for the event was the 100 miles of the NCT that run from the New York border to just south of Marienville. The Allegheny Forest Chapter was the sponsor for the Allegheny 100 Challenge Hike.
Parts of this article were published previously in newspapers local to northwestern Pennsylvania.
“I Did It for the Patch.”
t was the summer of 1995. I had discovered the North Country Trail a few years previous, and was attending my first NCTA Conference at Watson Homestead in western New York. My plan was to check out this group to see if I wanted to be involved on any level beyond that of occasional hiker. I met Bill Menke who had sent me great notes to help guide three friends and me (Marie Altenau, David Castro, and Mathilda Nance) through western North Dakota. Bill and I began a friendly race for miles hiked on the trail.
if I could. Now, with a patch to earn, there was never another doubt in my mind. But I was in no hurry. The following summer, Marie, Mathilda and I headed to the Adirondacks of New York to see the eastern end of the trail. By the end of 1999 I had added some miles in each of the seven NCT states and had walked 1453 miles. However, the 3200-mile trail was not going to deliver up a patch so easily. The truth was that “everyone” knew that putting actual trail on the ground was going to stretch this wriggling monster into something like 4200 miles. On top of that, the Arrowhead Reroute (Minnesota) was being proposed and the Superior Hiking Trail Association, the Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail Club had all embraced the idea, adding 400 beautiful miles. Suddenly my quest had developed the growth hormones of a teenaged boy and was nearly outpacing my ability to keep up. I had hiked 1453 miles, to be sure, but the trail had grown by 1400 miles. My net gain in all those years was only 53 miles! I resolved to hike faster. But not too fast... I wanted each experience to soak in.
Continued on page 22
The speakers that year were outstanding. Bill Irwin, the first blind hiker of the Appalachian Trail, spoke, and Steve Newman, Worldwalker, who walked around the globe, gave a slide show the next evening. On top of those treats, endto-end NCT hikers #2 and #3, Ed Talone and Chet Fromm, were there. (Peter Wolfe, the first person to hike the trail had already passed away). Ed was the first person to hike it in one continuous walk, a thru hike. In a brief ceremony, both were presented with an embroidered patch, created in honor of their accomplishment. Other hikers of note were mentioned. I learned that the first person to follow the entire trail was Carolyn Hoffman, who both hiked and used a bicycle to follow the proposed route of the trail in 1978, and that another woman, Sue Lockwood, had hiked 2800 miles with Ed Talone. That did it. I was hooked. As a life-long champion of impossible projects and unrealistic goals I knew this patch had to be mine. I’d already purchased a round turquoise and gold patch offered by the NCTA. The previous summer I’d hiked Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest with Marie and David and earned the Allegheny Outdoor Club patch for that accomplishment. We were hikers #42-44 to complete that quest, and our 10-day trek was the fastest completion yet (a record broken many times since). Having just visited the western NCT terminus at Lake Sakakawea at the end of a 131mile hike in July, I knew that I wanted to hike the entire trail www.northcountrytrail.org
August 3rd: Joan Young’s final steps to finish the NCT near Petoskey, Michigan, accompanied by some of those who hiked with her over the years: Marie Altenau (on the right) walked well over half of the trail with her, her son David Castro, (on the left), was along for major hikes in North Dakota and Pennsylvania. Now his daughters Anja and Mia lead the way. Bess Arden, hidden behind Joan, flew in from NY for the occasion after joining one of their treks in NY back in 2000, and Lyle Bialk, who joined 2009's hike on “the Kek” in Minnesota, hides behind Bess. July-September 10
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Sandy Et Pearl Brûlent De Faire Portage À Brûle! Reminiscing About The Annual Conference Irene Szabo
wo hundred thirty people enjoyed the NCTA Annual Conference in Ashland, Wisconsin, and, yes, my welltravelled dogs, Sandy and Pearl, made it yet again this year. Even though our activities were centered in a resort hotel on the shore of Lake Superior, Ashland is never far removed from the surrounding north woods. Clouds of Connecticut and black-andwhite warblers foraged in the bushes and birch off our lakeside patio windows, while a bear with three cubs ambled along the cart path near the second hole at Chequamegon Bay Golf Club for one member who played hookey during workshops. Hikes included a chance to walk the recent benching improvements along the balsam fir and maple lined approach to the Brunsweiler River we've read about in these pages, to a bridge over the small but fast-moving dark tea-colored waterway. Another day and an hour west, the Portage Trail has been a footpath for untold hundreds of years as the two-mile overland
Working lighthouses are an appealing feature of the Lake Superior shoreline. This one was seen from the boat ride to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
NCTA members and staff enjoyed a chartered boat ride to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore out in Lake Superior, northwest of Ashland. Staff cartographer Matt Rowbotham and his wife Brigid debark.
12 The North Star
carry between two watersheds (or flowages as they say in this area), the Brule and St. Croix Rivers, more "recently" trod by French explorers and trappers starting in the late 1600's. Our trail's presence there is just the latest layer of history. And at last we were privileged to walk the Brule Bog Boardwalk, a monumental project recorded in these pages over the last few years. While the Portage Trail approaches the Brule River's valley on firm higher land, actually CROSSING that valley through a wide goopy forested bog is another matter. However, the beautiful surroundings justify the effort expended to enable us to walk there, in addition to the necessity of getting from A to B. Pearl preferred to lie down in the black ooze at the bottom of little streams, nonetheless. Because nobody could take every tour or hike offered, we sampled the Black River area in the far western end of Michigan's Upper Peninsula on the drive back eastward, inspired by Norm Bishop's cover photo on our last issue of the magazine. Conglomerate Falls is indeed spectacular with rushing water splitting around monstrous reddish boulders, and must have been bizarre for that winter wedding mentioned in issue #1 this year! It's a wonderful treat to enjoy places we've only read about before this. First, however, we drove further west just into Minnesota to sample the Superior Hiking Trail's recently added trail segment above Duluth. While most of us find it hard to imagine enjoyable hiking within a major city's borders, this one has it all, mostly because Duluth is built along a steep hillside rising abruptly from its river and lakeside harbor edges. Within one trail mile we climbed from a paved safe parking area up a gnarly hill with boulders, numerous small streams flowing bumptiously due to fierce rains the night before, acres of alder thickets (with good maintenance through such difficult bushes!), and patches of birch and maple forest. Mere hundreds of feet from the parking area near major city roads the trail crossed roaring Miller Creek on a bridge rather fabulous by our usual povertystricken standards, and beyond that the trail featured excellent layout enabling us to climb gradually, and long stretches of bog bridging, rock work, and little wooden bridges. There are even views of ore docks in the St. Louis River, hundreds of feet below, with the view smudged by fog, a frequent Duluth feature. Actual flocks of both winter and house wrens followed us up the hill. Even though one member golfed with bears instead of attending workshops, the latter were very useful. My pages of notes include many good suggestions learned from how other groups do things we all need to deal with. Our first evening program included the annual National Park Service sponsored awards for volunteer hours; how I wish we could print all your names! When the list reached the rarified levels of achievements like 2500 cumulative hours, Ohio's Garry Dill was heard to say, as he went up front to receive his special jacket, "If it weren't for this organization I wouldn't have any new clothes." Dan Watson informed us of an NPS award the whole NCTA won, the 2009
Ohio and Pennsylvania Regional Coordinator Andrew Bashaw missed last year's conference because his first child was arriving, but she was here this year!
Superior Hiking Trail Executive Director Gayle Coyer led a hike on the fascinating trail section high above Duluth, starting out the day in fog that obscured the port below.
The annual fund-raising auction of items both precious and absurd was handled by the team of Bruce Matthews and Bobby Koepplin, in this case modeling the ever-popular moose and baboon hats up for spirited bidding.
George & Helen Hartzog Outstanding Volunteer Group for the Midwest region of the NPS, something we were nominated for by our own NPS partners. Board President Bobby Koepplin reported to us during the annual meeting on some of the ongoing projects the Board of Directors is engaged in, like revamping the NCTA Strategic Plan, exploring how we can gather and update our private landowner permission lists, energizing communication with chapters and affiliates, and encouraging the NPS to move their office from Wisconsin to Michigan. Our guest speaker for the conference, Arctic explorer Frida Waara, was excellent. Sure, she and a handful of other crazy women went cross-country skiing across moving ice floes to the North Pole, a tad insane in itself; after all, they couldn't wash their hair for 30 days! Ew. But she was deliciously funny, irreverent, and genuinely enjoyable, so provided a winning evening program. Thanks to the host committee for finding her! Our last evening together featured the annual NCTA awards presentations, and closed, before the square dancing began, with Ohio's invitation to us to come to Dayton next year over August 4th through 7th. If you've never attended one of these long weekends, please join us in 2011. Sandy and Pearl recommend them highly. Thanks again to Larry and Mick Hawkins for conference pictures.
Right: Sandy on the Portage Trail, playing voyageur after she went up the Brule River anyway, obviously without a paddle or canoe.
Dancing to live music after our final program, Marty and Vickie Swank duck under Carter and Florence Hedeen's arch. July-September ď&#x153;˛ď&#x153;°10
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Tour De NCT: Stages 11, 12, & 13 A two-year project to hike all of our trail in the state of Pennsylvania continues, with growing numbers as publicity brings in new people. Stehle, organizer and host of Stage 11 on April 17-18, writes: “Just John when you think it’s safe to put away the Polartec fleece and gloves, Mother
Nature says, ‘Not so fast.’ After a month of nice weather, we got some raw spring weather to test our mettle. Well, my mettle might have been a little rusty, but we hiked 20 more miles in the southern half of the Allegheny National Forest. Fortunately when it snowed Saturday night, we were glad we had decided to stay at the Microtel in Marienville instead of camping out.” Continuing their practice of hop-scotching around the trail, Stage 12 on May 1st was held on a paved rail trail known as the Allegheny River Trail, along whose route the NCT is temporarily located. Where once the Pennsylvania Railroad wiggled along with the Allegheny River in a frequently narrow valley, now there are miles of trail aiming toward Pittsburgh. It’s so narrow and rocky that this hike began at Rockland and immediately went into a tunnel so long that walkers in the middle could not see light from either end. Once out of the tunnel, though, the spring wildflowers were fabulous and orioles, tanagers, and indigo buntings sang for the walkers. Stage 13 in June skipped a section of the Allegheny National Forest to avoid the expected influx of hundreds of, uh…buck naked old hippies?… and walked south from ANF into the Baker Trail, enjoying multiple bridges, both log and suspension, and beaver dams both interesting and trail-flooding. On August 1st, Stage 14 expected to bicycle 26 more miles of the same rail-trail just for something different. The series isn’t done yet, so contact John Stehle for info on upcoming autumn stages: email@example.com, (724) 256-0674.
Below: Rockland Tunnel on the Allegheny River Trail, Stage 12. Tammy Veloski
14 The North Star
Tributes Martha Jones
President of the NCTA 1990-92 21 September 1919 - 15 April 2010
artha Jones already had the Ashland, Wisconsin, conference written on her calendar, according to her daughter Cindy, who had been talking on the phone to Martha when her mother died instantly of a heart attack on April 15th. She had been downhill skiing just months before, and according to Mick Hawkins' account on the Chief Noonday website memorial page, hiked faster than he cared to, just last summer in North Dakota, so left him behind. Her cheerful countenance graced nearly every annual conference, she was active and happy through her last moments, and she will definitely be missed by the many members who loved her. Tom Gilbert—Martha was one of the most focused and energetic people I have known. I never saw her walk away from a challenge. She served the North Country Trail Association faithfully in the 1980s as a member of their Board of Directors. In 1990, when no one else would step up to the plate to serve as President, Martha did. She was the right person at the right time. The Association was poised to evolve from an all-volunteer organization and hire its first staff member with all of the process and responsibilities that entailed. Martha made it all happen—writing a position description, advertising and recruiting, interviewing, and then supervising that person at long distance. Martha handled it admirably and professionally. I have always admired Martha as the person who “took it to the next level” for the Association. She was always friendly, cheerful, and upbeat. We are all the better for having known Martha and we have a sense of loss that she is no longer personally present. Bruce Matthews—I received a letter in early July from Martha Jones' daughter, Cindy, in which she shared that our Martha provided $10,000 for the North Country Trail Association in her will. Significantly the NCTA's naming was in the section of her will entitled Distribution to Family. Indeed. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be seeing Martha at our conference in Ashland, going on a hike with her, sharing a lunch with her (as happened to me in Bemidji when I'd been on the job about 6 weeks and had no idea who this lady was who plopped herself down next to me when we took a lunch break). What a force of nature! Conference just won't be the same without her. I'm sure I won't be the only one in Ashland in August who takes a blue sky moment under some cathedral pines or along the Superior shoreline to just stop, look up, and plain old miss Martha Jones. We're deeply grateful to Martha for remembering us in her estate, and to Cindy for sharing this news with us.
Kirk crossing the creek at the triple forks area, picture taken with a timer. The hill in the background rises up to form the ridge between the two main forks of Minister Creek.
Favorite Hike in
Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest Minister Valley, Forest Road 116 to Minister Road NCT Map PA-01 Allegheny National Forest, South Segment Story and pictures by Kirk Johnson
he section of the North Country Trail I am most familiar with is the 5.5 mile segment in the Allegheny National Forest passing through the proposed Minister Valley Wilderness Area, a 7,500 acre tract of stunning wild forest that has been popular with hikers and backpackers for decades. Story Continued on page 19
Minister Creek runs close to, and parallel with the trail here.
The rock in the right foreground is an example of the conglomerate/sandstone sedimentary rock that is so common in the Allegheny National Forest. Also present in the frame are a number of Pennsylvania's state tree, the hemlock. July-September 10
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NCTA Awards for 2010
Honoring A Few Of The Many Deserving Volunteers And Groups Who Were Nominated
Ed continues to write s usual, the Awards an article for the FLT News Committee, consisting of encouraging end-to-enders, Pat Leinen, Joyce Appel, Irene sends emails with even Szabo, and Chair Lorana more bright marketing ideas Jinkerson, spent an agonizing to board members, and is evening sorting through many active with a local club that nominations, and ended up he founded ten years ago banging our heads against where there had been none. the walls in frustration. How He’d wanted to create FLT choose? Know at least that Chapters like the NCTA, these are very fine winners. whose structure he admires, We offer you the 2010 but since local hiking clubs awards, presented at Ashland, already tend many miles Wisconsin. of the FLT he had to settle Where would you for founding one in his like us to start? Shall we neighborhood, the Bullthistle dispense with suspense Club. For the 90th birthday and go right to our highest party the FLTC held for volunteer award, Lifetime him during a fall campout, Achievement? Ed Sidote, he gave THEM a birthday a 92-year-old still-active present of $1250 worth of volunteer with the Finger stocks, which kicked off Lakes Trail in NY, is our the Forever Society. He also choice. Lifetime? Absolutely. invented the Trail Angels When he discovered the list of those who will offer a FLT over 40 years ago, he ride or a place to stay to help jumped in with both feet, those hiking long distances hiking daily in all seasons, from home, and naturally doing trail maintenance, and bent over backwards to help spreading the good word like Nimblewill Nomad last year. an impassioned missionary. Ed Sidote has truly Even though he lives east of left his mark upon the the NCT portion of the FLT, Ed Sidote, recipient of 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award. hiking trail in New York, he joined the NCTA back in and is responsible for so many good ideas we practice today. 1987, before most of us even heard of the trail. Denied the Understandably he declined to travel all the way to Wisconsin, benefits of NPS Challenge Cost Shares in his own area, he so George Zacharek made a video of the presentation that was learned to find local grants to build shelters. played for the crowd in Ashland. Twenty years ago, soon after his term as President of Many of us enjoy trail work as an antidote to our the FLT Board, he finished hiking the entire 560-mile workday lives, but not Daryl Heise, who puts his skills main east-west FLT, only the third to do so, and entirely in construction at the service of North Dakota’s Sheyenne by dayhikes. That’s when he was just a lad of seventyRiver Valley Chapter. Daryl gets the nod for Trail Builder something. Since then Ed has continued to present outreach for his leadership, planning, and hard work creating miles programs to every group that will have him, but surely his of new trail, customized bridges, trailhead barricades, and best inspiration was the notion of advertising a cross-county even recreating both trail and infrastructure after the floods hike series along the FLT. From modest beginnings with no of 2009. His input has been invaluable to the chapter, both local club to support him with hike leaders, he advertised for his hard work and his knowledge about equipment and locally and got a great turnout. Eighteen years later, we’re tools. The list of trail segments he has planned and worked on still marching across upstate NY with the cross-county covers an awful lot of the SRV production for some years now! series, now grown so popular that we hire busses! Hosts of Cliff Stammer of the North Country Trail Hikers is new members and volunteers have grown out of these hikes, our Trail Maintainer this year, honored for his leadership including quite a few who have gone on to hike the whole as chapter Trail Boss and for being part of nearly every work FLT, and now some of them have turned west onto the NCT party on their 120 miles of trail! He insists that the trail be in Pennsylvania and Ohio. 16 The North Star
Tom Schackman and Mitch Bouchonvillle accept their Vanguard Award.
Brian Pavek receives his Award for Outreach.
Cliff Stammer receives an appropriate tool for the Trail Maintainer Award.
Steve Bade accepts his Vanguard Award.
clear and tidy so that visitors will enjoy it, and their section shows the effects of his philosophy. Until recently their only sawyer, also power weedwhacker operator, and now DR mower operator, Cliff puts in 12-14 Daryl Heise, hour days, which really Trail Builder Award. embarrasses this fat old author who had thought she was a pretty good trail worker. The Vanguard is bestowed upon public servants who serve above and beyond the call of duty and have a positive influence on the North Country Trail. Steve Bade is a Real Estate Specialist in Wisconsin who has negotiated with willing landowners to acquire properties and easements for the trail over the last 10 years, spending from a fund that Wisconsin brilliantly made available. Due to Steve’s hard work, the DNR owns a nearly continuous corridor for the NCT across the state, totaling 833 acres of ownership. Steve also volunteers his own time to attend local government meetings in order to explain and promote the trail. Another Vanguard award went to Mitch www.northcountrytrail.org
Mike Trieschmann, Sweep Award.
Bouchonville and Tom Shackman, Kathy Eisele, Distinguished USFS employees with the Chippewa Service Award National Forest in Minnesota, most of all for their collaborative work with both hikers and ATV riders to diminish the amount of ATV riding on the hiking trail. Their negotiations have resulted in dramatically improved trail conditions. Our Leadership nod goes to Annette Brzezicki of the Finger Lakes Trail. You read of her good work in our last issue to bring inactive members into the fold, giving them useful roles to play, simultaneously improving her local club’s trail section while discovering new talents among members. Annette has been personally responsible for large numbers of her club’s membership joining both the FLTC and the NCTA, and for their frequent group forays to weekend events. No one who has been around Brian Pavek for long will disagree with his award for Outreach. He is the Minnesota volunteer who staffs nearly every public outreach function, whether at an outdoor store, exposition, state fair, or local show. He travels to nearly every event held by chapters in Minnesota, and even some in North Dakota and July-September 10
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Barb Pavek, Sweep Award Irene Szabo, Communicator Karen Larsen, Friend of the Trail Jacqui Wensich
Lynne Nason, Distinguished Service
Barbara Boyle, Friend of the Trail
Jim Weiske, Blue-Blazes Benefactor
Jessie Rideaux-Crenshaw, Rising Star
Wisconsin, demonstrating the support and interest of his Star of the North Chapter. There is even an NCTA brochure box on a tree in his front yard along a busy sidewalk! That boy has the missionary zeal that made this year’s Lifetime Achievement awardee, Ed Sidote, who he is, and Brian’s a half century younger! It’s exciting to think how many people he’ll infect with trail fever for years to come. Friend of the Trail honors public agency employees who positively affect our trail through extra effort and contribution. Barbara Boyle, with the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Minnesota, has gone to great lengths to support the establishment of 14 miles of NCT through “her” preserve. While such a trail is a new facility within an NWR, Barbara and her staff have recognized its value, so they have truly supported the volunteers during the route-planning stages, and even offered summer interns to help build the pathway. Another Friend of the Trail winner is Karen Larsen in USFS service with the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest in Wisconsin. Karen attends many chapter planning meetings, including those planning this conference, and has thereby opened up communications with the USFS management to everyone’s advantage. Not only has she arranged chainsaw certification courses, but she is also a frequent volunteer during trail work She has even helped the Chequamegon Chapter treasurer prepare grant applications to eventual success! 18 The North Star
Annette Brzezicki, Leadership
The Itasca County Trails Task Force was established in 1982 by the Blandin Foundation to foster trail development in this northern Minnesota county. Blandin’s recent five-year grant of $200,000 will have resulted in over $2 million dollars worth of trails development, promotion, facilities, and equipment when all the matching funds and volunteer efforts are factored in. The Trail Blazer award went to both the Task Force and Blandin Foundation for their contributions to start-up of new trail route, help with outreach in an area where we previously had no presence, and assistance to our new Arrowhead Chapter. Local efforts to create more NCT route between the Chippewa National Forest and Grand Rapids Minnesota have been given a great initial boost! Rising Star was a hard choice among several young candidates who sound like they’ll grow up to be great volunteers, but Jessie Rideaux-Crenshaw impressed us with her major commitment to North Country Trail projects. A St. Paul area high school senior, Jessie was required to create and carry out a 300-hour independent project, so she chose to work with the Arrowhead Chapter to scout and map new route southwest of Grand Rapids, Minnesota. Jessie also helped organize a week-long service trip in April for students from her school to work with Bill Menke and his Rovers Crew in northwest Wisconsin. According to Bill, “Jessie organized a 15-member team from Avalon HS to assist with trail construction in Wisconsin for three full days.” Our hope is that this partnership will continue when Jessie goes off to college to pursue a degree in environmental science after working for the Conservation Corps in Minnesota this summer.
As much as Jim Weiske will object to his nomination for Blue Blazes Benefactor, he made respectable donations to the NCTA and the Superior Hiking Trail Association as well as to three of the chapters in Minnesota at the time of the donation. The money contributed went to telling the story by publishing and sending the newsletter to chapter members, to pay for material to build and ship a registry box and brochure holder, and to help two of the chapters provide matching funds for grants. However, as Jim has said, “I would rather hide in the weeds than be recognized for something like this.” Two Sweep awards were bestowed on those faithful members whose constant efforts in the background are vital to our organizational health. They become so utterly necessary to our functions that it would be a crime if we failed to appreciate them. Barb Pavek of Star of the North Chapter in Minnesota is one of these hyper-helpful souls who enables group projects to go smoothly by providing what we hear are bales of good food, arranging the details of events like auctions and meetings, and even working extra to earn money to make donated objects. Mike Trieschmann of Wisconsin’s Chequamegon Chapter is the other Sweep, whose many roles help keep that group functioning. His adopted trail at 8 miles is longer than others’ segments, he is one of the chapter’s few certified chain sawyers, plus he is the quartermaster, maintaining all of their equipment, both mechanized and manual. We have also read in these pages of his patient work with the City of Mellen to reroute ATV riders off the NCT. Finally, we honor three devoted members with the Distinguished Service award. Those of us in Ashland benefited from Lynne Nason’s locally well-known penchant for organizing events, publicizing them, and then carrying them out smoothly, since she was the chair of this year’s conference, hosted by a combination of five chapters. Apparently she’s been doing this for years for the Brule-St. Croix Chapter, knocking off both their National Trails Day events and their involvement with the local Voyageur Days for a decade, plus handling all chapter communications, including designing brochures! Kathy Eisele of the CNY Chapter is the kind of constant, steady contributor who can ALWAYS be counted on. She has been a trail steward for both the Finger Lakes Trail and the CNY Chapter’s newer trail, has worked as the coordinator for a bigger area’s stewards for both trails, at times keeping 60 trail workers organized, and has been an officer and board member for both the FLTC and the CNY Chapter. One could bet money that she would be prepared for all meetings and provide thoughtful written comment when required…and on time! We are glad that her chapter valued her “team player” qualities, in order to recognize at last this quiet but steady quality volunteer with the Distinguished Service award. Stan Kujawa of the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is another such hardworking but unheralded member. Not only is he their treasurer, but he may also be the hardest trail worker they have, long involved in new trail building, acting as their lead sawyer anywhere, any time there is a need, and can “probably
Continued on page 27
Favorite Hike in PA's ANF continued from page 15 Though I have been hiking this segment for nearly 15 years, the reason it has recently become so familiar is because five years ago I was privileged to become the formal adopter of the segment, clearing the trail of fallen tree limbs and other debris at least twice a year. I am grateful to NCTA Allegheny National Forest Chapter President Keith Klos for giving me the opportunity to do this work. This has been a fun way to experience the trail, get some exercise (a lot more interesting than sitting on the stationary bike at the YMCA for an hour!), and to become very familiar with every last foot of the segment. My equipment for this work is not complicated, just a fold-out Corona pruning saw, and some Corona hand-pruners plus sometimes a small bow saw. The NCT trailhead on the west side of Minister Valley is located along Forest Road 116, about a quarter-mile south of Hearts Content Road. The trailhead on the east side of the area is located along Minister Road, about two miles south of Hearts Content Road. As you walk this segment west, about a mile from Minister Road the NCT intersects with the Minister Trail, a popular 6.6-mile loop that features well-known rock outcrop sites. On the west side of the valley, the NCT follows the edge of an area hit by a tornado in 1985. (This is the same tornado that went on to knock down approximately 800 acres of the Tionesta Scenic Area old-growth forest 15 miles to the east.) Saplings now dominate this area. As the NCT nears Forest Road 116, it follows an old logging railroad grade, used to transport timber around the beginning of the 20th Century. Whether you start your hike on the west or east end of this segment, you will begin on flat terrain at about 1,800’ in elevation. You will gradually drop down into the valley until reaching Minister Creek at a location popularly known as “triple forks,” at approximately 1,400'. Though not an official Forest Service campground, due to the highly scenic nature of triple forks and an abundance of drinking water, this is perhaps the most popular camping spot along the entire 95-mile length of the NCT in the ANF. The aforementioned Minister Trail loop diverges from the NCT at triple forks, heading south down the west bank of Minister Creek. The Minister Valley area was proposed for National Recreation Area status by Friends of Allegheny Wilderness in 2003 as the ANF began their Forest Plan revision process. The agency ultimately concluded that the area in fact qualifies for wilderness protection under the Wilderness Act of 1964 as a result of the revision process. It is now up to the U.S. Congress to pass a law to protect the area permanently in its natural condition as part of America’s National Wilderness Preservation System. For more information about protecting wilderness in the ANF, check out www.pawild.org. Wildlife you might expect to see while walking the NCT through here includes white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), black bear (Ursus americanus), fishers (Martes pennanti), and during the summer months a wide variety of migrant songbird species. So bring your binoculars and your camera when you go! You’ll never know what you might get to see. . Kirk Johnson is a ten-year member of the North Country Trail Association, and executive director for the Warren, Pennsylvania, based non-profit organization Friends of Allegheny Wilderness (www.pawild.org) July-September 10
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Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail? If you have questions about the North Country Trail, there are many different places to go for information. This directory provides you with key contacts. When in Doubt, Try NCTA Headquarters: If you’re not sure whom to contact, or prefer to talk with our office instead of contacting a volunteer at home, your best bet is to connect with the NCTA’s National Office. If we can’t help you, we’ll be able to put you in touch with someone who can. Staff members are listed on page 3 (table of contents page). North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605 www.northcountrytrail.org HQ@northcountrytrail.org Visit our web site; it’s a sure bet that you’ll find most of what you need. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the trail itself!
National Park Service: The NPS office in Madison is an excellent technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official trail administrator, the NPS sets trail standards, determines the trail route, and provides the overall vision for the trail. 700 Rayovac Drive, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53711 (608) 441-5610 Fax: (608) 441-5606 Tom Gilbert, Superintendent: firstname.lastname@example.org Ken Howell, Land Protection Specialist: email@example.com Dean Gettinger, Acting Trail Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org
NCTA Chapters: For information about local activities or volunteering, contact the Chapter representative for your area of interest. We have more than two dozen local volunteer trail clubs scattered along the trail that are Chapters of the NCTA. NCTA members can affiliate themselves with any Chapter they’d like. Whether or not the member volunteers, a portion of their dues will help support Chapter activities. Chapters build and maintain trail, host hikes and other events, and work to promote the trail and the Association in their areas.
Affiliate Organizations: The NCTA enters into affiliate agreements with other organizations who envision the completed trail. Trail Maintaining Affiliates are independent organizations who also work to build, maintain, and promote sections of the trail. Supporting Affiliates are independent organizations who work with us to help fulfill our Mission, but are not responsible for a specific section of trail. Each has its own membership program, so we encourage NCTA members to support them as well. If you have questions about a section of trail that is managed by one of these organizations, your best bet is to contact our Affiliates directly. 20 The North Star
1. Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 email@example.com 2. Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Deb Koepplin • (701) 845-2935 firstname.lastname@example.org 3. North Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter Ron Saeger • (701) 232-1612 • email@example.com
4. Star of the North Chapter Brian Pavek • (763) 425-4195 firstname.lastname@example.org 5. Laurentian Lakes Chapter Ray Vlasak • (218) 573-3243 • email@example.com 6. Itasca Moraine Chapter Bruce Johnson • (218) 732-8051• firstname.lastname@example.org 7. Arrowhead Chapter Doug Baker • (218) 326-4030 • email@example.com 8. Kekekabic Trail Club (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Mark Stange • firstname.lastname@example.org 9. Border Route Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 email@example.com 10. Superior Hiking Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Gayle Coyer • (218 )834-2700 • firstname.lastname@example.org
11. Brule-St.Croix Chapter Tim Mowbray • email@example.com 12. Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 CHE@northcountrytrail.org 13. Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • GBPACKR@aol.com 14. Ni-Miikanaake Chapter Dick Swanson • (906) 229-5122 firstname.lastname@example.org 15. Peter Wolfe Chapter Doug Welker • (906) 338-2680 • email@example.com 16. North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • firstname.lastname@example.org 17. Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Haas • SSC@northcountrytrail.org 18. Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Charlene DeWitt • HSS@northcountrytrail.org
48 5 3
6 3 42
95 10 14
11 9 13 8 12
LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted
23 24 19. 20.
Harbor Springs Chapter Jerry Keeney • (231) 526-9597 email@example.com Tittabawassee Chapter Gary Johnson • (989) 842-3478 • firstname.lastname@example.org Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): (231) 584-2461 21. Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter John Heiam • (231) 938-9655 • email@example.com 22. Spirit of the Woods Chapter Joan Young • (231) 757-2205 • firstname.lastname@example.org 23. Western Michigan Chapter WMI@northcountrytrail.org 24. Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Hawkins • (269) 945-5398 email@example.com 25. Chief Baw Beese Chapter Ryan Bowles • firstname.lastname@example.org
26. NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 email@example.com 27. Buckeye Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Melissa Reed • (937) 381-5100 • firstname.lastname@example.org 28. Adams County Chapter Andrew Bashaw • (740) 934-2008 email@example.com 29. Little Cities of the Forest Chapter Andrew Bashaw • (740) 934-2008 firstname.lastname@example.org 30. Ohio Valley Chapter Ryan Smith • (740) 374-5666 • email@example.com 31. Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 • firstname.lastname@example.org www.northcountrytrail.org
32. 33. 34. 35. 36.
31 27 32
Wampum Chapter Lee Fairbanks • (724) 847-0589 • email@example.com Butler County Chapter Dan Mourer • (724) 445-3315• firstname.lastname@example.org Butler Outdoor Club (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 Clarion County Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • email@example.com Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • firstname.lastname@example.org Allegheny National Forest Chapter Keith Klos • (814) 484-7420 • email@example.com
37. Finger Lakes Trail Conference (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Gene Bavis, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 FLTinfo@fingerlakestrail.org Additional Maintaining Organizations Coordinated by FLTC: Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), ADK-Genesee Valley Chapter, ADK-Onondaga Chapter, Cayuga Trails Club, Foothills Trail Club, Genesee Valley Hiking Club, and Hammondsport Boy Scout Troop 18 38. Central New York Chapter: Kathy Woodruff • (315) 697-7017 firstname.lastname@example.org July-September 10
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“I Did it for the Patch” Continued from page 11
The middle years were characterized by a dogged determination on my part, and skepticism from most everyone with whom I shared my quest. I would brightly boast of how many miles I had walked, and the next question would be, “How many miles do you have to go?” The number was huge. And discouraging. I learned a lot about the perception of our trail during this period. The truth is that we got very little respect. In the first place, hardly anyone had heard of the North Country Trail. So here I was, some middle-aged woman, hiking a trail they knew nothing about...slowly. I handed out lots of brochures, talked to anyone who would listen, and kept walking. I stepped up my yearly pace just a bit. Most years I managed a spring and fall walk of about 50 miles each, in addition to a 100-mile summer trek with friends. So now my average was up to 200 miles a year. This gave me great opportunities to meet more people who had never heard of the trail. I learned that quite a few hikers didn’t consider the NCT a “real” trail. Huh? The first ridiculous reason given was that it was a collection of other trails, and so had no right to be called a long-distance trail. I don’t know who made up that rule, but I heard it often. Significant sections are concurrent with the Finger Lakes, Buckeye and Superior Trails, but many longdistance trails came into being that way, and hundreds of miles have been built just for the NCT. You might as well say that the Northville-Lake Placid Trail in the Adirondacks isn’t a trail because it was laid on the course of an abandoned logging road. The other permutation of this argument was that the trail wasn’t finished. I actually think that the Association did this to themselves. Someone, and I don’t know who (so don’t get testy if it was YOU), wrote a blurb some 25 years ago that says, “The North Country Trail, when completed, will be the longest hiking trail in the country.” This unfortunate sentence is still following us around everywhere on the internet. The Appalachian Trail just took their final miles off road fewer than ten years ago. Would anyone have written a sentence to describe that trail for 75 years: “The Appalachian
Joan will explain the NCT to anyone who will listen, this time in North Dakota.
22 The North Star
Trail, when completed, will be the first long-distance hiking trail in the country”? I think not. The NCT is a trail, and it is the longest hiking trail in the country. It’s hikeable. More miles are being moved off road every year. The third cause for skepticism seemed to be that there couldn’t possibly be anything worth seeing on a long trail through the Northeast, with the corollary that the trail must be too easy to be considered worthy of the attentions of a real hiker. Nevertheless, I kept pounding the dirt/ grass/ rock/ pavement whenever I had a chance. I’m here to tell you that there are hundreds of scenic, historic and challenging spots along the North Country Trail. In fact, I’ve become convinced that this is the primary strength of the NCT, its diversity of experiences. The AT is often described as the “long green tunnel,” a trail with one natural theme. In contrast, there are very few places on the NCT where you will walk for as much as 50 miles without significant changes in scenery, ecosystem, civilization, or past land use. This keeps things interesting! And the scenery is well worthy of its National Scenic Trail designation. Meanwhile, I wrote a book about my adventures. North Country Cache became the first book by a hiker of our trail. Readers began to notice the variety of opportunities and experiences to be found. I like to think that I may have encouraged a few people to get out and sample the trail. The book covers 2300 miles of hikes, a mythical half of the projected trail length. When it came out, in 2005, I had hiked 2700 miles. Still potentially 1900 miles to go. That fall I finished my first state, Wisconsin. Granted, it’s a small state, NCT mile-wise, but I could now say that something was finished. Taking on this trail is not for the faint of heart! The miles to go were slowly being nibbled away. In 2005, three more hikers finished off the NCT. Andy Skurka brought a lot of visibility with his thru-hike of the Sea to Sea Route, which includes the NCT. That crazy boy hiked most of it in the winter! Don Beattie and Allen Shoup quietly finished their final miles of the trail that year as well. I still had no projected date for my completion. My close competitor and friend, Bill Menke, unofficially dropped out of the race at 2300 miles, and the NCTA lost the box of end-to-end patches. I was a bit disheartened. However, in 2006, Marie and I finished Pennsylvania. Two states done! The following summer, at the NCTA conference, I met photographer Bart Smith, who was hiking all the National Scenic Trails. He finished the NCT that fall, becoming endto-ender # 7. He had been creating books of his photos for all the other trails. Sadly, the NCT still got no respect and was turned down for publication because it was so little known. With much cheering, heard by almost no one else, Marie and I finished North Dakota. Finally, a major state crossed off the completion list. Suddenly, I noticed that no other female was hiking the trail, even in sections. Was it possible that even with 1000 or more miles to go that I could be the first woman to complete it on foot? Sneaky little devil that I am, I resolved not to say anything too loudly, lest some upstart young thing set out to do a thru hike. But the possibility of #1 honors was real. Secretly I decided that if I learned of another woman who began to hike the NCT that I could actually step up my pace and be the first.
And then it happened! In the spring of 2009, Eb Eberhard (Nimblewill Nomad) began a thru hike, and so did Bonita Curtner (Mother Goose). Her plan was to finish the trail in two summers. It was time to decide whether I wanted to be first, or to savor every moment of every hike. It was a harder decision than you might imagine, but being first won out. Yet, I still had to hike the north and west legs of the Minnesota Arrowhead, a trip I’d been planning since 2003. Horror stories of lost trail and lost hikers abounded. The big blowdown of 1999 was still having a serious impact on hikes. Almost every year that section ended up closed for most of the summer, due to fire danger. In 2009, I switched tactics and planned a spring hike, with four of us in the party for safety. We went well prepared, but imagine our surprise when we were able to follow the treadway without much difficulty at all. Not only that, we weren’t alone! In all the years I’d been hiking the trail the number of other backpackers encountered was pathetically small. Yet here we were in snowy May, on the most remote section of North Country Trail there is, and we met more than ten other backpackers. It was practically a crowd! In August, Marie and I finished Minnesota with the dreaded 182-mile pavement connection from the Kekekabic Trail to the Chippewa National Forest. Nimblewill completed his quest and became the eighth end-to-ender. Last fall, I filled in the final 120 miles of Ohio, and in May 2010, the final miles of New York. That left 250 miles to complete in Michigan. Mother Goose never returned to the NCT this year, demonstrating her preference for the drier West. But I was locked into a plan for May and June. And so, this year, North Country Cache passed the milestone of selling 1000 copies, a significant number for a self-published work, and I have completed my 20-year quest to finish hiking the trail. It was beyond odd to hike all but the last two miles in June, with Marie, and return home to cool my heels for a month. But so many people have been a part of this adventure that I wanted to make it possible for some of them to share in the finish with me. On August 3, 2010, about a dozen of my NCT hiking companions, and other friends old and new, hiked miles 4394 and 4395 with me near Petoskey, Michigan. The location was meaningful in that it was on a new piece of trail, on land owned by friends of mine who worked with the land conservancy to preserve the trail forever. Truth be told, I had walked a portion of that section twice, but before it was trail, scouting a possible route with owner Doug Boor. It is a truly beautiful place to end a 20-year quest, where thru-hikers coming from the east will have their first glimpse of Lake Michigan from one of the highest hills in Emmet County. And so, I have become the first woman to put a foot on every mile of the NCT. Except for crossing the High Peaks of New York, I’ve endeavored to stay as close as possible to the NCT’s projected route. I’ve even grabbed the last single-digit end-to-end hiker honor. I was hoping for a 4400-mile total, but 4395 is close enough. The NCTA has located that wayward box of patches (with a little prodding from me). But things change. The trail itself is a wild thing, changing every year. Many portions that I road-walked or bushwhacked are now built, and builders have delighted in showing me those new sections. That patch I covet is even outdated, not showing www.northcountrytrail.org
Joan Young and Marie Altenau at Joan's trail mile 4392 (Marie's 2658), June 24, 2010, just south of Mackinac Bridge.
the Arrowhead Reroute! But whether the NCTA creates an updated patch right away or not, I will be a proud owner of a very expensive colored fabric rectangle. Was it worth it? Every step, you bet.
Other Women NCT Followers Of Note: Carolyn Hoffman–followed the NCT route on bike and foot in 1978 for approximately 3200 miles. Lou Ann Fellowes–traveled with Hoffman for approximately 2400 miles until she broke an arm. Sue Lockwood–hiked 2800 miles with Ed Talone in 1994. Marie Altenau–hiked 2660 miles with Joan Young to date. Mother Goose–hiked an estimated 2100 miles in 2009. Judy Geisler–followed the NCT route on bike and foot, 257 miles to go as of July 4, 2010. End-To-End Hikers (all on foot) 1. Peter Wolfe 1974-1980 2. Ed Talone 1994–first thru hike 3. Chet Fromm 1992-1995 4. Andy Skurka 2004-2005–second thru hike 5. Don Beattie 1980-2005 6. Allen Shoup 1995-2005 7. Bart Smith 2005-2007 8. Nimblewill Nomad 2009–third thru hike 9. Joan Young 1991-2010
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Keystone Trail Association Joyce Appel
Trailcare On The North Country National Scenic Trail, June 8-13, 2010
reakneck Campground near Portersville served as base camp for the KTA trail work week on the NCT. When I arrived on Tuesday afternoon with a trailer load of supplies, Joe Healey and Joyce Appel were supervising the set-up of the cook tent. The Butler Outdoor Club had stored one of the 20’ x 10’ carports used for the “Outdoor Extravaganza” at the campground for the KTA to use. Dan Cheesman, the campground owner, allowed us to set up the carport on the gravel pad under the frame for his 40’ x 15’ carport. We put Joe’s big tarp over the larger carport frame and had a very nice cook/dining area. None of us had ever met our camp cook, Ceci Ramsey, before, but she arrived with home-baked bread, salad, dessert, and what may be the best stew I have ever eaten. Over dinner I gave everyone an overview of the trail improvements which we planned. In the previous month, the McConnels Mill State Park area had experienced heavy rain, two flash floods and high winds. Fallen trees and washed-out areas had made the NCT along the gorge of Slippery Rock Creek nearly impassable. The pouring rain on Wednesday eliminated any need for sunscreen and made the water problems easy to spot. First-time trail workers Andrew Zadnik and Lacy Smith joined Joe Healey, Joyce Appel, Kay Thompson, Ed Scurry, Joe Hardisky, Dave Maxwell, Dave Galbreath, Bill Dietrich, and Bill Majernick, who split into two groups. One group repaired railings, stone steps and water damage starting on the northern end of the work area at the covered bridge by the gristmill while the other started at Eckert Bridge where a culvert had plugged and washed away the trail. Luckily the park staff had left 5 tons of gravel near the site when they unplugged the culvert. Unfortunately they had not left the backhoe. Thursday’s weather improved. By day’s end trees were cut, rocks moved, steps and railings repaired, water bars installed, and the 5 ton gravel pile had been reshaped into trail. The access to the west side of one of Pennsylvania’s premier whitewater runs was passable, making it safer for rescue personnel, kayakers, and hikers. About then the work crew didn’t care if they ever saw another pile of gravel, but little did they know… Dan Mourer, Bill Stegman, & I were busy planning and getting materials in place for the trailwork Friday & Saturday. Bill had obtained a salvaged 10' bridge and a section of 8" culvert pipe. Dan was fabricating a 16' bridge, tent pad timbers, and arranging for delivery of…you guessed it…4000 pounds of pea gravel for a tent pad. Dan had begged/borrowed a key to the access road, delivered pneumatic wheeled dollies, wheelbarrows, timbers, the preassembled 10' bridge and materials for the 16' bridge as he showed the gravel delivery truck where to dump the load. The plan for Friday was to set the footings for the bridges and get some of the material near to where it needed to be. Some of the faces changed, but about the same number of volunteers came out on Saturday as had been out on the weekdays. John Stehle, 24 The North Star
Moving rocks into place for bridge supports on connector trail to new campsite, north of Glade Run Lake. These were the projects at the end of a long, hard week.
Dan Mourer, Jesse Mourer, Bill Stegman, Helen Coyne and Jacob Lauten joined in the effort. We carried in as much as we could. Bill & Ed continued down the trail with the section of culvert pipe as the rest of us turned back the connector trail toward the campsite. Jake started clearing the area for the tent pad as we started to assemble the components of the 16’ bridge. The Friday crew had the bridge footings already in place, the 10’ bridge was complete, and they had even started to transport pea gravel to a tarp beside the tent site. After lunch the focus shifted to getting the remainder of the gravel to the tent pad and improving the muddy and overgrown hill at the end of the access road. The 10 minute walk from the pile of pea gravel to the tent pad took quite a bit more time when pushing a loaded wheelbarrow. The muddy, overgrown hill was becoming rutted and slippery. A foray into the sea of poison ivy on the south side of the trail revealed no easy way to keep an intermittent watercourse from sometimes spilling over onto the trail. While digging for a water bar to drain the trail to the north side, I encountered what appeared to be 1” crushed limestone. Probing through the snarl of crabapple trees, grapevines and poison ivy revealed the partial remains of a mining road just 6 feet from and parallel to the muddy hill. Perfect! Back at Breakneck Campground, after we wrung out sweatsoaked clothes and showered, dinner was served. Ceci and her husband Tim had chilled watermelon, a Caesar salad with ramen noodles, and steaks on the grill. Sunday morning we packed some of the camp gear then headed to Eckert Bridge. Two Joes headed south to cut a large tree more than two miles down the gorge, while the rest of us concentrated on some rock steps and water problems we didn’t get to when the KTA crew worked on that area last fall. Thanks to all of the volunteers who endured downpours, mud, searing heat with high humidity, poison ivy, crab apple thorns, and the gazes of passing hikers who probably assumed that we are non-violent offenders doing mandated public service. Special thanks to KTA for coordinating and bankrolling our efforts. Hikers, enjoy the splendor of McConnells Mill State Park and then set your tent on the new tent pad north of Glade Dam Lake.
Following Peter Wolfe: Doug Welker President, Peter Wolfe Chapter NCTA
An Interview with Ruth MacFarlane
uth MacFarlane has chronicled the story of Peter Wolfe, one of the first to hike the route of the North Country Trail, even before it was designated by Congress as a National Scenic Trail in 1980. Recently I interviewed Ruth at her home in the small town of Mass City in western Upper Michigan. DW: Ruth, when did you first meet Peter Wolfe? RM: In 1978, at the Adventure Mine Campground in Greenland. He was hiking across the Upper Peninsula, and I interviewed him for my weekly article in the Houghton Daily Mining Gazette. He hiked the NCT during seven summers, beginning in 1974. DW: Did you keep in touch with him after that? RM: Yes, we exchanged letters and postcards. In the mid-80s, several years after finishing his hike, he revisited, then decided to move to, the Mass City area. DW: Why did he settle here? RM: Two reasons. First, he found the people here very friendly. Second, he was of extremely modest means, and he wanted to buy a home, which he could afford to do here for $2500. It was the first home he had ever owned. DW: I understand that a lot of folks liked Pete, but thought he was a bit eccentric. RM: Pete was very friendly, and always had great stories to tell. Folks loved to listen to him. But if his feet were hurting him, which was pretty often, he would yell and cuss. On his first venture out on the NCT route, near Ticonderoga, New York, he had severely frostbitten his feet, and had trouble with them from then on. DW: Why do you think Pete took up hiking? RM: Before he began hiking, Pete had been an alcoholic. After treatment in a rehab center in Florida, he said that he wanted to take a very long walk. He began by hiking part of the Appalachian Trail and loved the experience, meeting www.northcountrytrail.org
all sorts of friendly people along the way. DW: Why did he later decide to do the NCT route when there were plenty of well-established trails in existence at the time? RM: Pete was very social, and a great reader of hiking magazines, among other things. Perhaps he learned of the NCT from someone he met, or he read about it in a magazine, but for whatever reason, it interested him. Later, through coincidences and comments from others, he came to believe that God wanted him to hike the trail. DW: So why did you decide to write the story of Pete’s adventures on the NCT? RM: From that first meeting, I was intrigued by Pete and his story. I got to know him and learned that he had kept a diary of all of his hikes, and had maps and photographs from his travels. At first, Pete wanted to write his own story, but later thought it would be best to work with me because of my writing skills. I began working with Pete during the evenings. We would go over his diary day-by-day, and as we were discussing it, frequently something in the diary would cause him to launch into one of his great stories. I recorded about 100 hours of voice tapes of our conversations, which I later transcribed. He gave me all his letters, papers, maps, photos and diaries. With those and Pete’s fascinating stories, I had tremendous material to work with. I found the project totally engrossing, and wanted to keep at it until it was done.
DW: Did you ever publish Pete’s story? RM: Not yet. I have been looking for someone or some institution to do it. It would be several hundred pages long. Pete died in 1990, and after his death a few of his things went to relatives, but most remained with me. His hiking staff, backpacking stove, and a number of other things are kept at the NCTA headquarters in Lowell. His papers are in the Archives of Michigan. My story of Pete is essentially ready to publish, and is in the hands of Tom Garnett of the Chief Noonday Chapter. Tom had hopes of publishing it, but is currently tied up with many other tasks. Perhaps the manuscript could go to Michigan State University Press or Wayne State University Press for printing. It is the sort of publication they often deal with. DW: Are you still involved in writing Pete's memoirs? RM: Not very actively, but I can’t let go of the project. His hike on the Appalachian Trail would make another great story. DW: Why do you think Pete's memoirs are valuable, and would make interesting reading?
Peter Wolf with two unidentified hikers. An intriguing character, Peter Wolf was known for spinning colorful yarns. Friend Ruth MacFarlane found inspiration for a book in the legacy he left of diaries, pictures, maps and correspondence from his travels.
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RM: First, they are part of the very early history of the NCT. Second, they tell of Pete's transformation from an alcoholic to someone who truly made something of his life, made important contributions to the NCT, and left a vivid impression on all he met. They also include many of Pete's great stories! DW: What lasting contributions did Pete make, and is there a lesson to be learned from his life? RM: Pete could usually adapt quite easily to new situations, and picked up part-time and temporary jobs with ease. He spent a great deal of effort helping remodel the old schoolhouse that used to be the NCTA Headquarters near White Cloud, Michigan. He also recognized that the NCT in the western U.P. went for well over eighty miles without passing close to a post office or other facilities, so he laid out and blazed an alternate route, the Adventure Trail, that passed through Mass City, Greenland, and Rockland, where hikers could pick up food and enjoy other amenities. Through his hiking he was able to reconnect with his three sons, with whom his relations were strained to nonexistent during his period of alcoholism. Perhaps a lesson from his life would be that while our lives sometimes seem hopeless, we can almost always change them for the better, though often we need some help.
National Trails Day on the North Country Trail Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development
eventeen years ago, the American Hiking Society created National Trails Day to inspire the public and trail enthusiasts nationwide to discover, learn about and celebrate trails. It is our day to show our support of having trails on our public lands and in our communities; it is a time to get active in the outdoors and promote healthy lifestyles for our children, and it is a reminder to all to appreciate the beauty of our natural resources and thank those who protect it. Each year groups including NCTA lead hikes and conduct trail building and maintenance projects or other events that promote the many benefits trails bring to our lives. This year, many NCTA chapters and affiliates held exciting events on the North Country Trail; these are only a few examples. Explore each state with us as we look back at National Trails Day 2010.
New York Central New York Chapter held a relaxed gathering at the Stone Quarry Hill Art Park, which included a visit with the Art Park’s founder Dorothy Reister. Dorothy and her late husband, Robert, donated the 104 acres in 1991 for the public to appreciate art in a natural setting. The day also included a hike guided by NCTA member/volunteer/trail steward and Art Park contributor David Harper.
Pennsylvania The Clarion Chapter led a 6-mile hike and the Allegheny National Forest Chapter organized a 1.2 mile re-route that moved the trail off State Route 666 and into National Forest land, plus the group built a bridge! All together there were 10 volunteers, 14 Boy Scouts with 4 leaders, five SCA crew members, and one forest service official, making it a very successful project.
Ohio The Buckeye Trail Association held a work party on the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath, part of the North Country Trail, and a day of maintenance on the Burton section of the Buckeye Trail. Four Ohio State Parks also offered discounted admission to BTA members over National Trails Day.
Michigan Senator Carl Levin joined the Tittabawassee Chapter for a hike in the Mackinaw State Forest. Senator Levin has long been a supporter of the North Country Trail and once again was making an effort to fit a hike into his busy schedule. Starting in the Mackinaw State Forest, they hiked 5 miles to Sand Lake as members of the chapter shared their thoughts, ideas and experiences on the trail with the Senator and he shared his appreciation and admiration for the dedication of our many volunteers.
Pete shares his adventures.
Editor's Note: we will be including some of Peter's tales in future issues.
Wisconsin The Brule-St.Croix Chapter joined with The Friends of The Bird Sanctuary to host an all day series of events. Beginning with coffee and goodies, attendees were treated to Bill Menke’s “Hike across Wisconsin” presentation. Then the group hiked a new section of trail near Spring Creek, had lunch back at the sanctuary clubhouse, and ended the day with trail maintenance within the Lucius Woods County Park.
Minnesota For the 8th year, the group that is now the Laurentian Lakes Chapter celebrated National Trails Day with a hike on the North Country Trail followed by a chapter 26 The North Star
NCTA Awards for 2010 Continued from page 19 Photo courtesy of Lake Sakakawea State Park
An interpreter with Lake Sakakawea State Park leads the National Trails Day hike on the NCT.
blaze more trees than some whole states have!” He has also attended many meetings with local organizations to spread the word of the NCT, plus other rounds of meetings with the USFS, and keeps the chapter’s tools in good repair. “He is a quiet leader and a friend with a kind word to everyone.” Distinguished Service, indeed! I was surprised during the presentations to receive the Communicator honor (the rest of the Awards Committee fibbed to me!), kindly nominated by Joan Young for both North Star work and my frequent NCT promotions in the Finger Lakes Trail News back home. While I'm grateful, I reminded the audience that our magazine is always a collaboration with many contributors. —Irene Szabo
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Keith Klos of the Allegheny National Forest Chapter and the Boy Scouts enjoy their newly built bridge.
meeting and catered dinner at Bad Medicine Resort on Bad Medicine Lake. The Arrowhead Chapter cleared blowdowns on the NCT within the Chippewa National Forest as the Star of the North Chapter blazed in advance of the “24 Hours of the Chip” event, miles of trail mowing which happened on June 26-27.
North Dakota In eastern North Dakota, upwards of twenty-five members of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter and park visitors took part in National Trails Day events held at Fort Ransom State Park. Park Manager John Kwapinski led a most enjoyable hike on the North Country Trail through the hills of the Sheyenne River Valley. After lunch, some hardy hikers continued their adventures on other newly constructed trails in the park. After heavy rains, hail and strong winds swamped several campers’ tents, the group dried out over a beautiful bonfire. And all the way at the west end, Lake Sakakawea State Park offered guided hikes, treating hikers to a beautiful day hiking the NCNST at its westernmost point. National Trails Day means different things to different people. It is a day to celebrate trails and remind ourselves why we got involved in the first place. Thank you to every volunteer who put in time this year. Whether you helped plan or lead the event or just showed up to take part, you make it a success. www.northcountrytrail.org
Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at email@example.com, or fax 585/658-4438, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please don’t embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. Do not send your North Star submissions to the NCTA office, because they will just have to re-send them to me, and it HAS happened that precious articles have thus been lost in the shuffle. Next deadline for Vol. 29, Issue 4, is 8 October, but earlier is way better. Thank you! —Your volunteer editor, Irene
The North Star 27
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Saturday night in Pennsylvania by Vinnie Collins
Happy trails to you. Our eight newspapers across Michigan cover the great outdoors, including the best nature walks, day hikes and overnight backpacking trips. Read us, then find a slice of heaven of your own on foot. Booth Newspapers: The Ann Arbor News, The Bay City Times, The Flint Journal, The Grand Rapids Press, The Jackson Citizen Patriot, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The Muskegon Chronicle and The Saginaw News. LV19892