North Star Vol. 30, No. 1 (2011)

Page 1

January-March, 2011

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

Volume 30, No. 1

north star

2010 State of the Trail Nominate Your Favorite Volunteer! U.P. Along the NCT Wisconsin Rovers Crew A Week in the Life of an “Alley Cat”

In This Issue

Articles Award Nominations......................4 A Week in the Life of an Alley Cat Crew Member..........5 A Tale of Two Lean-tos.................6 Tamarack Lean-to in Danby State Forest........................7 2010 State of the Trail..................8 Fall 2010 Hike on the Border Route Trail..................................16 U.P. Along the NCT..................18 Tom Sawyer on Steroids..............27 Wisconsin's Rovers Crew............28 Dayton Conference Updates.......29 Try Snowshoeing!........................30 BOD Governance Workshop......33 Enhancing NCTA FileMaker Info Management System...........34 Pictured Rocks Hike Update......38

Columns Trailhead.......................................3 NCT Sampler: Walking Duluth.........................10 Matthews’ Meanders...................26

Departments Hiking Shorts.............................32 Who's Who Along the Trail.......40


Andrew Bashaw,

Regional Trail Coordinator Ohio/Pennsylvania

David Cowles,

Director of Development

Jill DeCator,

Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator

Matt Davis,

Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota

Andrea Ketchmark, Director of Trail Development

Laura Lindstrom,

Gilbert Retirement Looms!


om Gilbert, our forever Superintendent of the North Country National Scenic Trail, has announced that he will retire from the National Park Service this spring, so we are dedicating the second North Star of 2011 to his long service. For a planned kaleidoscopic review of his accomplishments and activities, we are soliciting pictures, memories, or anecdotes from our 29 years together. Share submissions with your editor, Irene Szabo, at, or 6939 Creek Rd, Mt Morris NY 14510.

Office Manager/Financial Administrator

Bruce Matthews, Executive Director

Bill Menke,

Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin/Michigan UP

Matt Rowbotham,


National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2011 Lyle Bialk, Lower Michigan Rep., (810) 679-2401 ·

Mary Coffin, VP East, New York Rep., (315) 687-3589 ·

Dave Cornell, Immediate Past President, At Large Rep., (239) 561-6512 ·

Garry Dill, At Large Rep.,

(614) 451-0223 ·

John Heiam, At Large Rep.,

(231) 938-9655 ·

Lorana Jinkerson, Secretary, At Large Rep., (906) 226-6210 ·

Doug Thomas, At Large Rep.,

(612) 240-4202 ·

Terms Expiring 2012 Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep.,

(724) 526-5407 ·

About the Cover

Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep.,

The falls at Lick Brook, a beautiful destination any time of year, visible along a steep climb eastbound on the Finger Lakes Trail/NCT south of Ithaca, on a property protected by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. Photographer: Vinnie Collins

(724) 234-5398 ·

Bobby Koepplin, President, North Dakota Rep., (701) 845-2935 ·

Tom Moberg, Minnesota Rep., (701) 271-6769 ·

Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep.,

North Star Staff

Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 30, Issue 1, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.

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(763) 425-4195 ·

Gaylord Yost, VP West, Great Lakes Rep., (414) 354-8987 ·

Terms Expiring 2013 Larry Hawkins, First VP, Lower Michigan Rep., (269)945-5398 ·

Lynda Rummel, New York Rep., (315) 536-9484 ·

Ray Vlasak, At Large Rep.,

(218) 573-3243 ·





he membership asked, so in order to better inform the membership the NCTA Board of Directors approved publishing executive summaries of the Board and Executive Committee minutes. This is a result of requests made by Chapter/Partner leadership during two sessions that executive director, Bruce Matthews, conducted at the Annual Conference held in Ashland, Wisconsin. Summaries will be published in the North Star, and when the website is fully developed, posted there, too. Because we're just beginning this process, in this issue of the magazine we'll share the August Board meeting and the October Executive Committee (officers plus immediate past president, executive director, and Tom Gilbert from NPS) summaries, and catch you up to the present in subsequent issues. The summary below shows a number of reporting items that the Board deals with but more importantly will inform you of the action items that will impact our membership. I know items approved or disapproved by the Board of Directors may not always satisfy 100 percent of the membership, but their decisions are based on facts and research and will hopefully do what is best for the organization as well as the trail. If you have questions or concerns feel free to contact me at

Executive Summary Board of Directors Meeting August 5, 2010 Minutes Approved: BOD May 8, 2010; ExComm, June 22, 2010; and ExComm, July 22, 2010 Consent Agenda Approved {Consent Agenda includes reports on the following topics circulated among board members prior to the meeting. Little or no discussion is involved unless there are questions. Ed.}

• ’10 Conference Committee (Nason) • ’11 Conference Committee (Hamilton) • ’12 Conference Committee (Cornell) • Advocacy Committee (Larmann) • Awards Committee (Jinkerson) • Founder’s Circle/Fund Development Committee (Koepplin) • Field Grants Committee (Rummel) • GIS/Cartography Report (Rowbotham) • Nominating Committee (Yost) • NPS Report (NPS) • Trail Guidebook Committee report (Cornell) • PNTS Liaison report (Leinen) • Trail Management Report (Andrea Ketchmark) • Westward Ho Sea to Sea Committee (Koepplin) • Information Systems Committee report (Moberg) • Membership Committee (Coffin) • Executive Dashboard 2010 Update through July (Matthews) Approved Financial Reports from July and financial forecasting schedule for balance of 2010 and 2011. A formal resolution was passed in which the NCTA formally advocated to the National Park Service that the NCT be separated from the current Madison, Wisc., office and moved to the Lowell, Mich., area, for reasons of improved communication and work flow. It was noted that the timing is perfect, considering recent and upcoming retirements, so that primary NPS personnel would not be forced to move. • Trail Guidebook Project to be bid in September. • Distance Hiker concerns and opportunities, Joan Young to chair Ad Hoc Committee • Strategic Plan with Mission and Vision statement adopted. • Training: Staff/volunteers for use of walk-behind trail building machines, recommendation approved that we train our regional trail coordinators or acceptable substitute using Trail Design

Specialists as soon as funds become available. Awards Committee Recommendations approved: (a) A new NCTA Annual Award will begin in 2011 to an Outstanding Private Landowner similar to the Friend of the Trail Award, honoring a private landowner whose leadership, accommodation and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail. (b) Beginning in 2011, Chapter/ Affiliate Honor Awards will be selected by the Chapters and Affiliates by the first of September, after the NCTA Annual Conference, with the announcement and presentation of the award occurring at a local event. Information Systems Committee will develop a comprehensive database template for HQ to maintain database of all private landowner agreements and issue certificates of appreciation. Adopted Chief Noonday Chapter resolution to use Martha Jones’ estate funds for establishment of a permanent memorial to pioneers and heroes of the NCT. Extended Outing discussion: NCTA BOD formally approved the Extended Outing concept as a membership benefit for NCTA, and established a formal committee to guide it, develop policy, approve proposals and submit budget requests, committee chair Coffin. NCTA Marketing Plan, funding needed in order to engage. Triad Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) – NPS, US Forest Service and NCTA, approved moving forward with development of a revised MOU. Other Discussion: Decade of the National Trails to be promoted now leading to 50th Anniversary of National Trails System Act 2018 Update, 2011 Conference Committee, Dayton, OH Opportunity for youth! See Summary October Exec Comm on page 32.

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Help Honor Our

Top Volunteers & Supporters!

Recent Award winners: 2010 Distinguished Service, Lynne Nason, 2010 Lifetime Achievement, Ed Sidote, 2010 Rising Star, Jessie Rideaux-Crenshaw.

Do you know someone who devotes countless hours to build or maintain the North Country National Scenic Trail? Someone who goes above and beyond to promote the Trail? Then nominate him/her for a North Country Trail Association Award. These awards will be presented on behalf of the NCTA Board of Directors at the 2011 Annual Conference in Dayton, Ohio, this August. I would like to nominate Vanguard: A legislator or other public official whose leadership, actions and advocacy have substantially benefited the Trail. Trailblazer: A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contributions to the Trail or the NCTA. Lifetime Achievement: An individual, in recognition of more than a decade of true dedication, exceptional service and outstanding contributions towards the dream of the Trail. Service may be performed in a voluntary or paid capacity. Distinguished Service: An individual, in recognition of exceptional volunteer service in furthering the goals of the NCTA, and outstanding contributions toward the dream of the Trail. Individual should have made a significant commitment and accomplishments over three or more years. Trail Builder of the Year: A volunteer, whose work in Trail construction, planning, or negotiations have resulted in the development of outstanding new trail or facilities over the past year. Trail Maintainer of the Year: A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over the past year in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s). Leadership: A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional leadership leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events. Outreach: A volunteer, whose efforts to build coalitions, partnerships or other forms of local support have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the Trail. Communicator of the Year: A volunteer, for exemplary work in promoting the Trail or the NCTA through a communications medium (newsletter, web site, brochure, etc.) or personal contacts. 4 The North Star

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for the following award (check one): Rising Star: A volunteer between the ages of 8 and 18, who has made significant contributions to the Trail, and whose dedication to the Trail and the NCTA sets an example to other youths and shows exceptional promise. Sweep: A volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail or the NCTA. Friend of the Trail: An employee of a unit of governance or an organization whose leadership, accommodations and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail. Outstanding Private Landowner: A private landowner whose leadership, accommodation and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail. Blue Blazes Benefactor: An individual or household demonstrating vision and generosity through significant monetary or in-kind contribution(s) to the North Country Trail or the NCTA Please write a one to two page statement of your reason for nominating this person. Include name, address, phone number and e-mail address for both the nominee and nominator. Deadline for nominations is May 10, 2011. Send nominations to North Country Trail Association, Attn: Awards Committee, 229 E. Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 or e-mail to; please put “awards nomination” in the subject line. Go to to download a copy of this form or to complete a nomination online. Lastly, each chapter or affiliate will select one member for their 2011 Chapter/Honor Award but please do NOT do this until after the 2011 Annual Conference. The honoree should be an individual or family or pair of sidekicks who demonstrates loyalty, commitment and hard work annually to the local organization’s chosen activities. These Awards will NOT be part of the 2011 NCTA Awards announced at the Annual Conference, but instead chosen in early September by each chapter/affiliate and awarded at a local event. More details will be sent to chapter/affiliate leaders.

A Week In The Life Of An FLTC

Alley Cat Crew Member Roy Dando

Volunteer and FLT Board Member

Editor's Note: Alley Cat = ALLEgany State Park (spelled differently in NY from Penna., just over the border) to the CATskills, the east-west extent of the main Finger Lakes Trail. Parts of this article previously published in the FLT News; used with permission of both editor and author.


his past June a crew of approximately 20 volunteers from all over the state participated in the building of the new Tamarack lean-to. I had such an excellent experience as part of this crew that I felt compelled to share it with the hiking community. I have stayed in many trailside lean-tos during my backpacking trips but have never been involved in the construction of one. The FLTC, along with Cayuga Trails Club, had removed the old Tamarack lean-to near Ithaca, NY, and was going to replace it with a brand new structure. I was a bit nervous about being involved as I have very little construction experience. The crew quickly made it evident that I should lose the nerves and simply gain the experience while working alongside some veterans of many past Alley Cat crews. Crew members came from a wide variety of backgrounds. I had an awesome time meeting and working with different people each day. Everyone on the crew was so outgoing and genuine that I quickly forgot that I am a shy person by nature. I can’t tell you the last time I witnessed a group of such diverse people click so well together. It was truly exciting to watch the daily, or should I say hourly, progress on the structure itself. What a feeling of accomplishment to see the building come into being, one log at a time. There was never anyone hanging around looking for work to do. Gary Mallow, trails chair for the Cayuga Trails Club, did yeoman’s work in planning enough important side jobs that allowed people to choose what type of work they wished to do on any given day. One day I was moving and bolting the logs for the structure walls, the next I was leveling the privy structure so people could have an “even” experience. One day I met Joe Dabes in Slaterville Springs to put a new open air privy near the Kimmie lean-to before helping assemble the picnic table back at the Tamarack site. The table was designed by Bob Collins and is an excellent addition,

since there is nothing better than eating your dinner after a long day of hiking at a sturdy table instead of sitting cross legged on the lean-to floor. We spent the week at the Lion’s Club Camp Badger about six miles from the job site. Most people chose to stay at the camp overnight and drive back and forth from the site. Some commuted from their homes near Ithaca while a few of us decided to ride our bicycles back and forth. The facility was perfect: having rooms with showers allowed us to clean up quickly after a hard day so we could feel refreshed before the evening festivities. My wife Laurie joined Jacqui Wensich in the kitchen to prepare gourmet meals each day. Having good food and plenty of it helped make the weeklong experience special. The dining room and screened porch were large enough for all to gather and sit during and after dinner. I truly enjoyed the long conversations we had after dinner about everything trail related as well as simply random banter. Melanie Okoniewski, who works for Buffalo Games, brought a number of jigsaw puzzles for the crew to work on during the evening hours. Many gathered around these puzzles and chatted until bedtime. My 14-year-old nephew Jordan flew in from California to lend a hand during the last few days of the project. It was awesome how everyone not only made him feel welcome but also made him feel needed. Their acceptance of a younger, willing worker made him feel like he truly fit in. He left the project with an appreciation of what it takes to build a lean-to and the sense of satisfaction one gets in knowing they helped with a worthwhile project. Oh … he had fun, too. If you ever get a chance to participate in a future Alley Cat project, I can almost guarantee that you will gain more from the experience than the trail will gain from you. This was one of the most interesting, fun and satisfying weeks I have ever spent.



ithout your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at or 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. Front cover photo candidates: need vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Next deadline for Vol. 30, Issue 2, is 1 April 2011. This issue will include program and registration materials for the Annual Conference in Dayton, Ohio, so space will be at a premium. Thank you! — Your volunteer editor, Irene January-March 11

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A Trail of Two Lean-Tos: Backtracking on the FLT Back in the days when the Finger Lakes Trail News was typed and copied (how? mimeograph? I wonder.) this page appeared in 1966. The story about the original Tamarack shelter, used even then, is included for a little perspective. Yes, they last a long time, and isn't it amazing that a collection of $36 and change actually bought something? — Editor

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Alley Cat 1, 2010:

Tamarack Lean-To In Danby State Forest

Melanie adopts a novel approach to roofing work.

Roy Dando and Melanie Okoniewski joining logs. See Roy's article, page 5.

Bob Collins

Bob Collins

Bob Collins

Ken Reek among the rafters and purlins.

Bob Collins

Jacqui Wensich

Bob Collins

The shelter taking shape. That weather tarp cast a greenish glow over many of the pictures!

Bob Kremens notching logs with a chain saw.

The creation is complete! Note the paving stones out front, and the water diversion ditch in back.

Quinn Wright Director of Crews and Construction for the Finger Lakes Trail Parts of this article previously published in the FLT News; used with permission of both editor and author.


y all accounts the old lean-to was about 70 years old and first hand inspections by Cayuga Trails Club (CTC) members along with the DEC’s (NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation) Rich Pancoe confirmed that the lean-to was in very poor condition. {See the adjacent account from a 1966 issue of the FLT newsletter describing how this state-built log shelter was moved here from its previous location. Imagine $36 worth of donations buying ANYTHING they needed to refurbish it! The DEC was the Conservation Dept. back then.} Dreams began of building a replacement for the famous old Tamarack shelter south of Ithaca. So, how does this daunting task get accomplished? First we needed a project manager. Gary Mallow of the CTC was reluctantly convinced to fill that role and what a blessing for me that he agreed to do so. Gary was absolutely spectacular in his efforts; virtually every contingency was accounted for in his planning. Experienced Ken Reek agreed to be the construction manager and was equally spectacular in leading his Alley-Cat crew to a successful conclusion within the planned five-day construction schedule. The major highlights deserve some detail: funding, demolition, housing, food,

materials, construction, documentation and clean-up. Funding is always a major issue! The DEC cut the trees from a state forest, had the logs milled and debarked, and then stored the logs for several years at no cost until we were ready to use them (my most recent information reveals the value of the logs to be $3500). We approached the National Park Service (NPS) about a Challenge Cost Share project and asked them to provide $3270 of financial contribution toward the anticipated full value ($26,000) of the lean-to. That money was used to purchase materials for the lean-to, food and a generator. A final accounting reveals the value of the project to be $41,000! On top of that, CTC received a donation from the Eastern Mountain Sports store in Ithaca in excess of $2000, used to pay for supplies and housing. The biggest cost was, and always will be, the time to plan and accomplish the project. Thirty-nine different people worked on this project. Almost 1000 direct labor, 250 travel, and 200 administrative hours were donated by these volunteers; federal guidelines for charitable hours value our human contribution at $29,000. Continued on page 35 January-March 11

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Daryl Heise

Matt Davis

Volunteers from California install mileposts along the Dakota Prairie Grasslands section with an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacation.

Sheyenne River Valley: Chris Hoffarth and Janet Patton install a horse barrier. Daryl Heise designed the barrier on site to match the terrain.

1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area NORTH DAKOTA - An American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations crew worked on the NCT in Lonetree in July. The crew (featuring volunteers from ND, MN, VA, and CA) mowed about 25 miles of the NCT and re-set Carsonite posts along the way. The ND Game & Fish Department mowed additional sections of the NCT. The trail was reported to be in great shape when the SRV Chapter hosted their weekend camp/hike event there in late September. Another Volunteer Vacations crew will be working in July of 2011. — Matt Davis

2 Sheyenne River Valley NORTH DAKOTA - We started out the year with high hopes and ambitious goals for 2010 with our Recreational Trails Program (RTP) Trail Development project, funded by the Federal Highway Administration. Since this is kind of a pilot project for the NCTA in the development of trail across private land, we feel that all eyes were upon us to do things right. With RTP funds, the Chapter hired a contractor to obtain easements for the trail. The prospective trail was mapped by our easement acquisition contractor and the maps printed out for use in meeting with the landowners. In drawing up the maps of the prospective trail, we found that there were several areas where one easement acquired would allow the construction of up to five miles of trail at one time. The excitement grew! An individual packet was made up for each prospective landowner with a copy of the individual parcel map, their potential easement, North Country National Scenic Trail and Sheyenne 8 The North Star

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State of the

River Valley Chapter brochures, impact to agricultural operations, and photos of possible fence and water crossing structures. Two public landowner meetings were held in May: to our dismay, only one landowner attended in Fort Ransom and we were astonished at the negativity of the landowners at Kathryn! One family owns the majority of the property along our proposed route between Valley City and Baldhill Dam so we anticipated an early start on the construction of a large part of our 25 mile goal to be acquired in one easement. However, the family absolutely refused and encouraged all adjacent landowners not to sign as well. Therefore, to date we have only one landowner easement signed on the route north of Valley City. The landowners gave a variety of reasons why they will not sign an easement for the trail which include concerns that hikers will scare away game during hunting season, plus problems in the past with snowmobilers on their property cutting fence lines, cutting across pastures and fields, chasing game and creating trails across haylands. Unfortunately many landowners have had snowmobilers, horseback riders, hunters, and ATV riders abuse their privileges after they have been given permission to access the land, so fear hikers will be the same way. Every time a prospective landowner declined to sign an easement, an alternate route with corresponding landowner(s)

Deb Koepplin

can walk over to that pretty spot anyway. Maybe we'll even place a picnic table there. Ten boardwalks on Corps property were constructed and installed on the existing trail along Lake Ashtabula in cooperation with the Corps of Engineers. They will be a welcome addition to the trail there as they serve to cross marshy areas. The installation of two of these boardwalks, sign installation, and trail rock removal was accomplished with the help of an Eagle Scout candidate as part of his project. Two boardwalks and one section of puncheon crossing were also installed on existing trail on private land by Lake Ashtabula. Twenty-four NCT informational panels were designed and produced with installation expected in the spring. A kiosk has been constructed and installed in Fort Ransom State Park in cooperation with the Sheyenne River Valley: Daryl Heise, Chris Hoffarth and Becky Heise. That day started North Dakota Parks & Recreation out very wet. We thought we might have to cancel but then the rain quit and the wet Department. We plan to design the grass actually made it much easier to slide the steel frame down to the crossing. interpretive panel for this kiosk over the winter leaving the map panel until the rest of our easements have been acquired to be as current as possible. Since the State Forests of North Dakota are now under the management of the ND Parks and Recreation Department, we had to go through an additional process to gain permission to install back country privies and horse barriers. Permission was given to install the horse barriers on two sensitive trail areas. As of the end of September, we have documented close had to be researched, legal descriptions researched and verified, to 850 hours on this easement project. The majority of these new easement(s) drawn up and meeting with new landowner hours have been for landowner research, landowner packet scheduled. With the number of refusals, this has added up to a information compilation, writing easements and landowner lot of added volunteer time. meetings. Only about 200 hours have been actually working on However, there is actually a lot of good news: we do have trail, due to the delay in getting complete new segments of trail 19 signed easements for a total of approximately 16 miles. With on which to work. the easements we have filed, we have approximately 7 miles of Even with all the frustration and hard work that this trail on the ground. We also have verbal agreements for three year brought, we still found time for fun on the trail with others. The total mileage we have acquired by signed easements our monthly chapter activities including snowshoeing at Fort or verbal approval is approximately 19 miles of our 25 mile goal. Ransom State Park on Winter Trails Day in January, hiking One landowner was so enthused about the NCT that he at Lake Ashtabula in May, Trails Day hiking and camping said he'd sign without even meeting with us, and then donated at Fort Ransom State Park, Hiking Fest at Itasca State Park, it for free. He's a ranching Lutheran minister and tried to and a hiking and camping weekend at Lonetree Wildlife persuade one woman who didn't think the NCT should even Management Area. exist, but he didn't win that one. Three landowners who have An extension of the RTP grant has been submitted. The been paid for their permanent easements each donated $100 plan for 2011 is to finish getting the last few easements signed back to the Chapter! during the winter months and then as weather permits, scout Deb Koepplin used to work with one woman who signed routes and get that trail on the ground! an easement for us early on, along with her husband. They were excited about the trail and invited Deb and Bobby out to give — Becky Heise them a tour of the property where they thought the trail should go. We won't be able to route the trail through one particularly scenic point because the adjacent owner would not agree, but we are thinking of having a short spur off the trail so people

Trail 2010

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The North Star 9

Ray Vlasak

3 North Dakota Prairie Grasslands NORTH DAKOTA - The Chapter, which is still re-organizing, has discussed a partnership with the Sierra Club’s Red River Valley Group. They hosted a snowshoe hike on February 20th that drew four participants. It was a great snowshoe hike but, unfortunately, they encountered illegal snowmobile use on the NCT in a U.S. Forest Service designated non-motorized area. The Chapter also had a booth at the Valley Earth Day Green Expo in Fargo in mid May (delayed due to spring flooding). This June, an American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations crew that attracted three Californians and two Minnesotans installed mileage markers and re-set marker posts on about half of the trail and completed a streambank re-vegetation project near the eroding Iron Springs Creek bridge, which will be rebuilt in 2011. The Forest Service will also be adding a new trailhead parking area on Co. 53, right in the middle of the Trail segment in the Grasslands. The Chapter will also be hosting another Volunteer Vacations crew in June of 2011.

2010 natty bridge built by the Laurentian Lakes Chapter.

4 Star of the North 4 MINNESOTA - Our slice of heaven here in the Chippewa National Forest saw positive steps forward. “The 24 Hours in the Chip” cleared and mowed the trail through the forest from west to east. Ranger Schackman stated at the conclusion of the event, “This is the earliest the NCT has ever been mowed since its original building ...” We also heard from others that the tread was in good shape, and we also took to heart that more improvements would need to take place in 2011. The plan is to finish blazing certain segments that have not been adopted as yet. We also plan to place signage throughout the forest, add more wilderness latrines, and possibly more campsites. Even as timber sales continue in the CNF, the Chapter, along with Regional Trail Coordinator Matt Davis, works directly with the rangers for the best possible outcome. If you’re planning a summer visit in the CNF area, I’d encourage you to use the Mabel Lake Campground in the forest, and buy local. The campground, located off MN 200, is very near to several trailheads/parking areas, and has nice, peaceful campsites. Local communities offer nice restaurants, shopping, hotels and Minnesota hospitality. See you on the trail!

— Brian Pavek

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Ray Vlasak

— Matt Davis

Laurentian Lakes Chapter board walk under construction: members Don Andersen and John Backes led the Conservation Corps of Minnesota team members in hard hats.

5 Laurentian Lakes 4 MINNESOTA - It was another productive year for the Laurentian Lakes Chapter. The overriding goal of the Chapter is trail construction, but activities and maintenance also received emphasis in 2010. Monthly hikes were scheduled with good attendance and membership increased by nearly 50%. The Winter Trails Day celebration at Maplelag Resort had 68 attendees and featured a very successful Silent Auction. A local documentary entitled “Timber, Dead and Down” attracted nonmembers to the event resulting in new memberships. In addition our North Star editor Irene Szabo attended. National Trails Day featured a hike along the Laurentian Divide followed by dinner at Bad Medicine (Lake) Resort. Don Tschudi, owner of the resort, was active in NCT development in the 90’s and still helps out on occasion. The annual Trail Fest event at Itasca State Park in August featured the final stage of Itasca Moraine Chapter’s summer “Thru Hike” series. Thirty–six hikers turned out to be a challenge for the “sweep.” One highlight of the year was hosting an AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps team for four weeks. It was supposed to be a six week assignment, but they were recalled to work on the BP oil spill. Twelve young people (6 gals and 6 guys) from all over the US braved the MN forest thick with ticks, mosquitoes and flies to construct treadway and boardwalks. This was the team’s first project; none had been to MN before and most had urban backgrounds. Chapter members worked with the crew every day and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Just getting to know the individual team members, experiencing the dynamics of the team coming together, and observing performance of individual team assignments was a joy. NCT trail construction seems to be a good fit and AmeriCorps management has encouraged the chapter to apply for another team in 2011. We didn’t even need to pay them, just provide housing. The NCT was extended westward with nine new miles of treadway, another campsite, seven boardwalks totaling 170 feet, a 22 ft bridge, trail access signs on State Hwy 113, and a new trailhead (parking and kiosk) at Elbow Lake Rd. A trail adopter program was established with adopters assigned to 21 of the 30 miles of completed trail. The chapter received a $100,000 ($133,333 with match) grant from the Minnesota State Clean Water, Land and Legacy Constitutional Amendment in 2010. (see April-June 2010 North Star, page 10) These funds will be used in 2011 and 2012 to hire the Conservation Corps of Minnesota to assist with trail construction. It is anticipated that construction through the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and beyond will be completed in 2011 raising completed miles to over 50. NCT awareness and interest are doing well in Laurentian Lakes country.

— Ray Vlasak

6 Itasca Moraine 4 MINNESOTA - In the spring of 2010 Carter Hedeen said, “We are finished! But we are not done.” The following proves how true his words were. November 19th, 2009, was the day our segment of the North Country Trail was completed; since then we have been “Open for Business.” Here is what two of our customers, Sue Harsha and Kathy Tande, wrote about their hiking experience in the local newspaper. “We have hiked the Redwood Forest, the Superior Hiking Trail and others throughout the country. On a glorious Sunday afternoon in October we hiked the NCT’s Itasca Moraine section. The eight miles we hiked were on par with well trod, well known trails that are destination vacations for hikers and walkers. Thank you to the cadre of volunteers who have made the NCT. It is beautiful and in our own backyard.” Feed back like this helps keep one motivated! This spring the five kiosks we maintain were upgraded. New ITM section maps, along with mileage charts indicating distance to important points either way from the kiosk were installed. Kiosk adopters have assumed responsibility for ensuring brochure boxes are replenished on a regular basis with ITM maps and NCTA and National Park Service brochures. Also this spring posts and signs were put up helping to identify trail access points. Now all road crossings have signs naming the road as well as NCT Logo signs locating the trail on both sides of the road. This season we completed three new campsites, each with at least three tent sites, a fire ring and a latrine. Thanks to the Bemidji MCC crew for their volunteer work helping install the spur trails and campsites. We now have five campsites along the ITM segment. Beth Trout organized a huge promotional initiative this season. A publicized “thru-hike” involving sixteen Saturday hikes covering sixty-four miles brought in over 230 people. Jerry Trout spearheaded mowing and trimming prior to each hike ensuring the trail was in great shape. The last hike ended at Itasca State Park coinciding with the Third Annual North Country Fest at the State Park. A true thru-hike experience was provided by two “freak” storms. On one hikers saw trees blown down over the trail when a sudden violent wind came up, while an unexpected downpour soaked everyone on another! We are pleased to announce an exciting prospect that will carry over into next season. Approval has been received from the MN DNR to start work on a five mile loop-trail around Waboose Lake. Existing NCT skirts the northeast side of the lake. From it a spur trail leads to a peninsula and ends at an NCT campsite built in 2005. On the west side of Waboose Lake there is a developed Public Access to the water. The loop trail will be a great asset to day hikers and will also provide another quality trailhead to the NCNST.

— Bruce M. Johnson

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8 Kekekabic Trail Club 4 MINNESOTA - The Kekekabic Trail Club (KTC) helps maintain approximately 100 miles of trail, but only 40% is to become part of the NCT (the Kekekabic Trail). They hosted a total of five trail clearing crews in 2010, which represented a down year. Fortunately, the USFS, MCC, BSA-Order of the Arrow, and others picked up some of the slack. Specific problems remain on the Kek including the blowdown/burned areas and maintaining a visible trail tread through the thick brush. There are also few mature standing trees to blaze or put up blue diamonds on. The new USFS’ Centennial Trail is highly used and is greatly increasing exposure to the Kek.

9 Border Route Trail Association MINNESOTA - Border Route Trail Association (BRTA) 2010 accomplishments include: • A total of 58.6 miles of the BRT were maintained in 2010 by a combination of BRTA volunteer crews, Forest Service crews, and the Conservation Corps of Minnesota (MCC). Other sections will be maintained in 2011 or are maintained by other means (e.g. on road, on portage trails maintained by USFS, or on XC-ski trails maintained by others). In addition, a total of 6.95 miles of other trails were maintained by the BRTA / MCC. • According to Ed Solstad & John Elliot, the BRT is probably in the best shape it's ever been in. The trail is getting more use. One adventurous thru-hiker completed the BRT in 2 days and 4 hours. He detailed his journey on a website (http://www.

— Matt Davis

— Matt Davis

Vickie Swank

Steve Higley

Chequamegon: Spring Rosalis and Karen Larsen (2010 Friend of the Trail Award recipient) with the Washburn District of the Chequamegon USFS present appreciation certificates, insulated lunch/water bottle packs, and some tools to active volunteers at the Chequamegon Chapter's Annual Meeting at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland. Looking on is Chapter Vice President/Quartermaster Mike Trieschmann (2010 Sweep Award recipient).

Superior Hiking Trail Association: A pair of gable-roof trusses makes up the framework for these two bridges, lending great strength without using huge timbers. Instead sets of shorter pieces are bolted together in diagonal relationships.

Vickie Swank

Gayle Marie Henton

Superior Hiking Trail Association: Sucker River Bridge.

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Chequamegon: Rick Pomerleau and Mary Stenberg (2010 Chapter Honor Award recipients) prepare to do battle in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness. Rick is holding the equivalent of a “brush mower” for wilderness areas; they have a nickname of “misery whips.” Read about Chequamegon Chapter, page 13..

10 Superior Hiking 4 Trail Association MINNESOTA - Over the last half-dozen years we have been gradually closing gaps at the southernmost end of the SHT. Trail above Duluth was finished a few years ago, and now we’re working on the gap between Duluth and Two Harbors to the north. In May we opened a new 6.4 mile section of trail between Fox Farm and Rossini Roads and sponsored a guided hike on that section for people to enjoy the new trail. We also constructed another 5.1 miles of new trail beyond Fox Farm Rd. with the assistance of 70 volunteers contributing over 1,000 hours of labor. Volunteers worked both during the weekdays or participated in five weekend work campouts hosted by SHTA. This section includes a new campsite and a 42’ A-frame bridge over the Sucker River. These miles will be officially opened in the spring of 2011 and will be our featured National Trails Day hike. The SHT main trail mileage is now up to 282 miles. We also had volunteers who adopted 74 trail sections, 88 backcountry campsites, and 49 trailheads, and helped with six scheduled maintenance work projects, including a 36’ bridge on Dyers Creek built by a high school engineering class. There is also a large contingent of certified chainsawyers who helped clear the trail after storms. We also offered eight guided hikes and one backpack trip. A new edition of the “Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail” was published in April – the 6th Edition! The Superior Hiking Trail is still not an “official” part of the North Country Trail, but some year this is going to happen! — Gayle Coyer, SHTA Executive Director

11 Brule-St.Croix GREAT LAKES The Brule-St. Croix Chapter had an active year maintaining trail, developing enhancements and new segments, and working to make Conference 2010 a success. The Brule-St. Croix Rovers engaged in some of the most challenging construction work yet as they built across rugged territory in the Douglas County Forest and entered the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Completion of more than three miles of new trail awaits floodplain approval for the construction of linking boardwalks. The Rovers also rebuilt three open-top box culverts on the approach to the Brule Bog. The chapter’s 14th annual National Trails Day celebration brought more than 30 hikers to the Douglas County Wildlife Area. Two hiking groups in the chapter provided walks for all abilities; one of these groups holds a hike every week of the year! The popular US 53 trailhead was closed due to utility construction. The trailhead will be rebuilt on a new site in the near future, with planned signage to attract hikers traveling on northern Wisconsin’s only four lane highway. Six miles of potential new trail route near the Minnesota border gained protection through public acquisition facilitated by the Wisconsin DNR, the Conservation Fund, West Wisconsin Land Trust, and Douglas County. The Wisconsin DNR completed a land purchase for a half mile of trail route, and accepted a landowner donated easement, both in the Solon Springs area. Construction on the new properties is planned for 2011. — Peter Nordgren

12 Chequamegon GREAT LAKES - A Record Breaking Year: The Chequamegon Chapter shattered a number of Chapter records in 2010. We had the highest turnout for a trail maintenance event, maintained a record amount of Chequamegon NCT in one season, reached an all new high for membership, created our longest earthen puncheon to date and have the first co-adopters of sections of NCT in Chapter history. Along the way, the Chequamegon Chapter co-hosted a very successful NCTA National Conference here in Ashland, completed re-claiming the City of Mellen Hike & Bike Trail from heavy ATV use and installed carsonite posts, blazed and maintained the section of NCT that is a part of the Penokee Mountain Ski Trail to make it less confusing to hikers/back packers (yes, I got lost in here …twice). We also started the process of requesting approval (from the USFS - Washburn District) for a trail re-route for newly purchased land in the Chequamegon National Forest that would re-route the current NCT from a dry and less scenic section to one with many lakes and great vistas. At the Chapter’s Annual Business Planning Meeting in November, we were honored for being the most active volunteer group in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest by the Washburn District of the USFS. Certificates of appreciation, tools, etc., were presented by the USFS to the Chapter. Bill Menke also presented the USFS with the official proposal for the proposed trail re-route (mentioned above) at this meeting. Unfortunately we also shattered a more dubious record…having the most trees come down on our sections of NCT in one year! This “new record” started with a spring storm followed by many “wind events” including a July 24th narrow intense band of storms that followed our sections of NCT as if they had a Chequamegon Forest NCT map. This left our Chapter Volunteers scrambling to re-do sections of NCT already completed for the National Conference hikes in the beginning of August. We were all looking forward to a rest after such a busy season of trail maintenance. Then in the evening of

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October 26th and throughout the morning of October 27th, the lowest low pressure reading ever recorded (another record!) in our area spawned a mega windstorm that affected our sections of NCT, trail wide. We are still cleaning up from this one, and probably will be until at least late spring. In 2011 the Chequamegon Chapter will be concentrating on correcting some “wet spots” highlighted by all of the above storms and wetter than average conditions on sections of our NCT this last season. As a side note, there were small “atomic” mosquitoes on some of our sections of NCT well into October. This is also a “new record” for us, and along with so many wind events, one that we hope will not be repeated in 2011. What I have personally gleaned from the 2010 Chequamegon trail season is the dedication, tenacity and resolve of fellow Chequamegon Chapter volunteers. I am staggered in amazement! — Marty Swank, President 13 Heritage GREAT LAKES - The on-trail events for 2010 started in April with an exploratory backpack to map a new route for the trail from Upson Lake north and east to the Wisconsin-Michigan state line near Superior Falls. This hike is within what will probably be the corridor alternative chosen by the National Park Service’s Madison office for connecting Michigan to the current trail terminus in Copper Falls State Park. The National Park Service intends a nearly 24 mile section within this corridor to replace eventually the 18 miles from Upson Lake east to Hurley that currently show on NCT maps. The Chapter hopes to continue maintaining the replaced 18 mile section as a side trail connector route to the urban areas of Hurley and Ironwood. During six work weekends from May through November, the Chapter maintained existing trail, built a new 22´ bridge, built a 16´ boardwalk, installed two signs reflecting fund donors for our trail construction, replaced assurance markers on patrolled trail segments, installed carsonite marker posts in several locations, relocated the trailhead at Casey Sag Road along with re-routing 2/10 of a mile of trail. We also contributed to the planning and execution of the annual National Membership Conference held in Ashland. On the western end of the Heritage section, Ben Bergey, Superintendent of Copper Falls State Park, was busy securing easements with private landowners to extend the trail six miles east from the Park to the Ashland-Iron county line. In 2011 the Chapter hopes to begin construction on the new sections of trail extending from Copper Falls State Park.

— Michael Stafford, President

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14 Ni-Miikanaake GREAT LAKES -

Some Assembly Required Three years ago, we didn’t even know each other. We hadn’t sweated, stomped, packed, hauled, lugged, stapled, painted, nailed, bled (think mosquitoes, not safety) or whacked together. If we saw each other at all, it was in clean, polite, social settings. Now we’re knee deep in mud, hot, hungry, and tired. Life is, in all respects, much, much better! Genesis It was clear from the beginning that this group was going to be different (for Yoopers, that’s a fairly common distinction!). We meet in an ice cream parlor, so meeting attendance runs fairly high, ESPECIALLY in the summer! We dutifully crafted bylaws and elected officers (“for life,” although they don’t know that yet). And we set ambitious goals: adopt 52 miles of existing trail and start to plan for about 20 more that will eventually complete one of those pesky gaps in the North Country Trail. The Ni-Miikanaake (nee-mick-a-knock-ee) Chapter spent FY10 on every mile of our existing section. Individual members adopted segments, one as long as 13 miles and with no intermediate road access! Members wrote grants and scrounged donations from a local economy that has one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation. We just needed a few boards. The first major project of the year was eliminating a 30´ long mudhole that a nearby resident commented had existed for at least 30 years. Rather, this is the mud of a thousand years of boggy, slimy decay: smelly, slippery, and sploochy. About a dozen of us, half of our membership at the time, hauled lumber a half-mile from the closest road, then launched ourselves into the mire. Six hours later, a 32´ x 3´ wide boardwalk had rendered the muck meaningless. We headed to a member’s house for a very late lunch and cold adult beverages.

Keeping the PARTY in Work Party Over the course of the summer, we built some more boardwalk, and drank a few more beers. We re-routed a section of trail and had a bratwurst cookout. We weed-whipped several miles of trails, chainsawed our way through countless downfalls, and had a picnic lunch. Homemade brownies are a staple of our events. We bought a small, packable grill. We keep paper plates and eating utensils in our [new!] tool trailer. We munch fresh, hot cookies and ice cream at our meetings. We bought 10 cases of that NCTA conference special label nut brown ale. We love to work. We know how to party! A Great Bridge On National Trails Day we spent a tough day getting TWO 28´x14˝x4˝ treated beams to a new bridge site. The fact that the bridge is a mile from the closest road created a wide variety of logistical challenges. Nevertheless, the determined group heaved, lugged, pushed, and maneuvered the beams, each weighing about 600 pounds, from the parking lot to the trail. To simplify matters a bit, a 6-wheel tracked ATV provided the bulk of the pulling power; the front of the beams were rigged to an upside-down U-shaped log hauler and the rear was

Michael Stafford

Heritage Chapter: Bridge Over Gold Mine Creek June 2010.

Ric Olson

Ni-Miikanaake Chapter post-work party in member Norm Bishop's back yard near Black River Harbor. Yes, that's author Mel Fullman.

Lorana Jinkerson

chained to an iron skid. It took five hours to get Beam 1 on site; the second one went much faster, owing to the hard-learned lessons from the first. After what seemed like forever, the group stood on the banks of the small, unnamed tributary of the Black River debating the exact future location of the bridge. “All we’ll need to do next week is bring down and install the lumber for the decking and handrails,” remarked the [overly optimistic] project leader. On the Monday following the beam hauling, the project leader happened to mention the great feat to the Ottawa National Forest Engineer, along with an off-hand comment that the bridge was nearly 30 years in the making. Back in the early 1980s, four bridges had been planned and designed for the North Country Trail along the Black River, but limited funds enabled only three to be built. “Could I take a quick look at the drawings?” asked the Engineer. What followed should have been better anticipated. You see, a few things have changed in the last 30 years, including bridge designs and building codes. Today’s bridges must be built with THREE beams. And, if the span is greater than 20´, the beams must be glu-lams. Dimensional lumber can only be used for bridges 20´ or less. Glu-lams are much heavier than their rough-cut brethren, at 800-1000 pounds apiece. We “weighed” our options. Even if we could figure how to get three gargantuan glu-lams in and the two original “lightweight” beams out, convincing volunteers to undo what they had done, then repeat the process, seemed inhumane, and unlikely. Eventually, Plan B emerged. The Forest Engineer procured a third beam, about 26´. We would haul it to the parking lot, take the lumber for the bridge decking and handrails to the job site, find a suitable place to cross that was no more than 20´, place the support sills, measure the exact span, cut the ends off the original beam pair, backhaul the excess, cut the new beam, and drag it in. Simple. We were ready! Volunteers, tools, hardware, lumber, standing in the parking lot 15 miles from town. “Did anyone remember to bring some wrenches to tighten the bridge bolts?” WRENCHES!!!!! Once at the bridge site, we re-examined our crossing choices. Our first pick was no longer viable, given the 20´ span limit. A second spot was a bit further from the existing trail

Continued on page 19

Lorana Jinkerson

North Country Trail Hikers' new chapter tool trailer, inside and out (right), earned through a successful Challenge Cost Share with the National Park Service. Story page 19.

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“Epitome of the North Country”

Fall 2010 Group Hike of the Border Route Trail

Matthew Davis, Carter & Florence Hedeen, Bruce Johnson, Harlan Liljequist, Mike Doyle & Tom Moberg

Intro to the Border Route Trail The Border Route Trail (BRT) is a 65-mile long trail in northeastern Minnesota that will officially become part of the North Country National Scenic Trail upon passage of the Arrowhead Re-route legislation. The BRT connects with the Kekekabic Trail at its west end and with the Superior Hiking Trail on the east. About half of the BRT passes through Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW), a 1.1 million-acre, lakestudded Wilderness area known more for its world-famous recreational paddling opportunities than for its fantastic hiking opportunities. The BRT is very aptly named as it closely parallels the U.S.-Canada border, mostly up on ridges high above the chain of border lakes. Twice, however, the BRT comes within a stone’s throw of our friendly neighbor to the north. First is across an un-named stream along the Long Portage section and the second is across the wider Pigeon River. Started forty years ago by the Twin Cities-based Minnesota Rovers Outing Club and completely finished almost twenty years ago, the BRT is taken care of now by volunteers associated with the non-profit Border Route Trail Association (BRTA), an NCTA affiliate partner. The BRTA receives assistance from the Superior National Forest and lately from Conservation Corps of Minnesota crews funded with stimulus dollars. Crews have helped with trail clearing on the most inaccessible Wilderness sections. According to BRTA board member Ed Solstad, the BRT is “probably in the best condition it’s ever been.” 16 The North Star

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In September 2010, a group of NCTA members from Minnesota & North Dakota tackled the BRT. This is a chronicle of that amazing trip, about which Florence Hedeen wrote, My greatest challenge and celebration for 2010 happened in September as Carter and I joined a group of seven to hike the 64 miles of the Border Route. With Canada in sight for the entire seven days, we experienced our most challenging hike, from lake shore to metamorphic rock “peaks,” with views so spectacular they defy description. The weather added interest with temperatures ranging from the 20’s overnight to the 70’s during the day and rain for an entire day and two nights. Clouds in the sky and fog rising from the cooling lakes played with one’s imagination. The full colors of autumn surrounded us in wooded areas, gleaming even in the muted sun. The greatest celebration came, however, as we reached the end of the hike, hurting, but very happy to have met the challenge! Our Hike Plan While the BRT is a remote wilderness trail, it does present hikers with some options. Due to its close proximity to the Gunflint Trail and the numerous side trails leading south to that road, there are loop hike possibilities of varying lengths. Additionally, the western 13 miles of the BRT and the easternmost 13 miles can be day-hiked since they are outside of the BWCAW and are road accessible. Our group decided to take advantage of this to cut down on the amount of food we would

Matthew Davis

Matthew Davis

Group hikers at the Rose Lake west overlook. Left to Right: Carter Hedeen, Harlan Liljequist, Florence Hedeen, Tom Moberg, Bruce Johnson, and Mike Doyle.

Matthew Davis

Damp breakfast on rainy Friday.

need to carry while backpacking the central portion of the BRT. Travel day, September 19th: to Heston’s Resort on the Gunflint Trail We car-pooled up to Grand Marais where we met Harlan and picked up our BWCAW permit from the U.S. Forest Service office. Before having a wonderful dinner at the Gunflint Tavern, we made a cabin reservation at Lund’s Motel and Cabins in Grand Marais for the day we came off the trail and picked up some last minute trip supplies at the Lake Superior Trading Post. With all our town duties completed, we all headed up the Gunflint Trail (not a trail, but Cook County Hwy 12) in Harlan’s van to our base at Heston’s Resort. We stayed at the Spruce Cabin at Heston’s ( and greatly enjoyed the hospitality of Barb & Greg Gecas. Day one, September 20th: Gunflint Trail to Loon Lake Rd. (11.3 miles) Carter's account: How about Bruce’s family recipe pancakes for a great trip starter?! Coupled with fresh fruit, we were set for hiking. Anticipation was soon followed by exhilaration this cold morning as we started a day hike on the BRT eleven miles back to Heston’s Lodge. A vast section of recently burned forest was our introduction to the trail. The phrase “Hope springs eternal” came to my mind upon witnessing the regenerative efforts of this emergent forest. In contrast, and lending an eerie mood to this revitalizing landscape, stood the tall truncated fire-scarred ghosts of the former forest. Within a couple of hours we were able to see the locally famous “Magnetic Rock” standing tall on the horizon. Up close it is truly huge, and looks totally out of place! Try to imagine a crude, giant spear point that had been hurled from the sky and into the ground. From comparing the height of 6´ Bruce near its base in a photo of the rock, it appeared to be perhaps about 50´ plus high and 30´ wide and 15´ thick. How much of it is below ground is anybody’s guess. It indeed had magnetic properties which made our compass needles dance. Later that morning we posed for pictures at the shore of Gunflint Lake’s west end, the opposite shore appearing in the distance as almost a figment of our imaginations. This lake, like many of the others in and close to the eastern part of the BWCAW, was carved out by glaciers, leaving oval lakes surrounded by high hills. A few hours later we were eating

lunch high up on one of those surrounding hills, able to look northwest to where we took those photos, and north into Canada. Now, hiking in a more mature and unburned forest, we enjoyed the autumn leaves flaunting their colors as we headed generally down-hill back to Heston’s. Day two, September 21st: Loon Lake Rd. to South Lake campsite (9.4 miles) Bruce: AM temperature: 28° F. After a good night's rest and breakfast in the comfort of the cabin at Heston's packs were adjusted and our backpacking adventure began. Paul Gruchow writes that, “A trail eases your way, but it also narrows your focus.” In the excitement of the start and beauty of the surroundings one must also concentrate on where each foot is placed. Almost all of the morning we crossed an area burned-over by the 2007 Ham Lake fire. We hunkered down on a southeast facing slope, somewhat out of the cool wind, for lunch. The topography of the area is a series of east-west ridges and valleys with linear lakes in the valleys. The steep side of the ridges face north with the long gentle dip slopes to the south. Much of the BRT runs near the top the ridges along the north facing slope, overlooking the lakes below. In the afternoon we left the burned over for mature forest; the contrast was striking and welcomed. With tents up, dinner and clean-up finished, I had an amusing vision. With darkness approaching I saw the silhouette of three or four others with their headlamps on looking up at a branch. I overheard the discussion concerning which branch a rope should be tossed over to secure our food pack up off the ground. I imagined a bear standing off to the side looking at the group (like a Gary Larson Far Side cartoon), shrugging its shoulders & thinking, “It doesn't make any difference to me.” Day three, September 22nd: South Lake campsite to Rose Lake campsite (8 miles) Florence: To be honest, when we were moving, it took all of my effort just to keep on keeping on! When we were at rest, I spent the time recovering so I could continue the hike that day or the next day. It was an over-all incredible experience that I'm very glad I had, thanks to Carter's loving support and in spite of the fact that my left knee, foot and ankle objected to the terrain. Highlights of the day included the fantastic views looking west over Rose Lake, Rat Lake, and Gunflint Lake and looking east toward the east end of Rose Lake where we were headed today. The fall colors were fantastic. The forest we hiked through on our way down to and along Rose Lake was dark and awe inspiring with majestic old-growth white pine and white cedar. The storm came just after dinner and it rained intermittently all night with blustery winds. Note: Mike’s car was shuttled by Heston's, with our day hiking gear/food and our 9/26 dinners, to the McFarland Lake/ Arrowhead Trail trailhead, and Harlan’s van went to the Otter Lake Rd. trailhead. Day four, September 23rd: Rose Lake campsite to Clearwater Lake campsite (11 miles) The whole group: Highlights: the Long Portage trail section was interesting… the trail’s historical significance was evident as we walked. Despite the weather, everyone agreed to keep going when we reached the keep going/bail out decision point, the Daniels Lake side trail (the last one heading south to the Gunflint Trail).

continued on page 39

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Dale A. Painter

Dale leaping across O-Kun-De-Kun Falls.


t never fails. We float back home, walking on air after another multi-week thru-hike venture. Naturally, we are elated about the successful trip and proceed to recount the experience to anyone who is willing to listen and look at our pictures. But weeks later, long after our reeking hiking boots and moldy packs have been hung up to dry out in the basement, vivid visual images and euphoric memories of our time on the trail still continue to flash back into our psyches like the smiling cousin of “post traumatic stress disorder.” And despite the plethora of real world, reentry sedatives (for example, hot water, a soft bed free from protruding pine cones or lumpy ground, food that you can actually sink your teeth into) it never ceases to amaze us that isolated, seemingly unrelated sights, sounds, and smells inexplicably trigger a kaleidoscope of scenic recollections that, at the oddest moments, flood our aging frontal cortexes with fullcolor snapshots and video clips of life in the backcountry. This time was no exception. On Labor Day weekend, my wife Kathy and I returned to our home in Newaygo, Michigan, after hiking for 24 days and covering 340 miles on the North Country Trail (NCT) across Michigan’s spectacular Upper Peninsula (locally called the U.P.) Two months later, we discover that there is no need to pull out our pictures or re-read our trail journal in order to relive the special sights and wilderness places along the NCT. It takes only an innocent sensory cue to start the mental travelogue rolling again.

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To wit: • A swooping bird at our kitchen window evokes the image of the graceful osprey we saw silhouetted in the perfectly serene twilight over wooded Brevort Lake with a huge walleye pike dangling from the raptor’s talons...or • the rush of swirling water filling the washing machine magically switches on a mind’s-eye video of roaring waterfalls along the Tahquamenon River and Baltimore River and Presque Isle River and Black River and a dozen cascading rapids on creeks in between…or • a musty whiff from a moldy bowl of vegetables in the fridge immediately evokes misty images of stagnant beaver ponds tucked into eerie, marshy bottomlands and pungent cedar swamps…or • a Fruit of the Loom commercial on TV prompts a PG-13 rerun of us two aging geezers, hand-in-hand, gingerly negotiating a thigh-deep ford of the East Branch Ontonagon River clad only in our undies and backpacks…or • a red stop light and cool breeze through the car window stimulate memories of the fiery sun setting over the raging breakers and howling wind on awesome Lake Superior, all framed in the doorway of our tent perched on a low wooded dune just off the trail…or Continued on page 42

Kathy Painter


Along the North Country Trail

Ni-Miikinaake State of the Trail continued …

but would be much easier digging. The sills got placed and after an interesting struggle, two now-20´ beams were over the creek. Clearly, one of the best things about working with NCT volunteers is we come from such varied backgrounds and experiences. There is nothing that one of us hasn’t done before. That’s a real asset for figuring out how to get behemoth beams across an 18´ space 8´ above a streambed. We went back for the third beam and commenced with the planking. Time passes quickly when you’re having this much fun, because it was almost dark by the time we stopped. “Anyone want to come back tomorrow and finish the handrails?” Remarkably, four volunteers signed on for another day of hard work. We started around noon, figuring we’d be done by 3:00-ish. The first two vertical supports went in quickly. On the third one, we noticed we were about out of washers for the bolts. (A later check of the note that came with the bolts clearly stated “you’ ll need 40 washers.”) With all the local hardware stores closed, two of us raided nearby Forest Service maintenance sheds. It took a while but we eventually scavenged 38. 4:00 came and went. We were putting in supports and handrails as fast as we could. One volunteer was rerouting the new trail and obliterating the old. 5:00 PM–twisted 2x4s, while free of charge, are not the easiest to attach to twisted 4x4s. 5:30– “Are we done yet?” 6:00–By now, it was getting dark and October chilly. By 6:30, we were using the flashlight that’s a novelty feature of one of our cordless screw guns to see the screws. The Project Leader was getting looks, when she could see them, that were scary. Building a bridge is, in fact, fun. It builds friendships and a sense of pride. This one only took 30 years and 4 months, an extra beam, a truck load of donated lumber, and 150 hours of heart-felt volunteer labor. The Project Leader supplied the beer at the next meeting.

— Melanie Fullman, Chapter Trail Coordinator and Bessemer District Ranger for the Ottawa National Forest

Ed Chappel

We tend to forget that boardwalks require postholes in rootfilled ground! Ed Chappel estimates that Tom Albertson and James “DJ”Heaton dug at least 676 holes last summer for the latest 928 feet of boardwalk in the Spirit of the Woods section! DJ shown above.

16 North Country Trail Hikers GREAT LAKES - An early spring gave the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter a great start on clearing winter debris and doing routine trail maintenance way earlier than we normally can. Our dedicated Trail Crew led by our Trail Boss, Cliff Stammer, and trail adopters worked segment by segment and managed to maintain and reblaze all our “on the ground” miles. In addition we scouted for a new trail segment to replace the Eagle’s Nest Road walk north of Marquette. We completed the new segment of 4.2 miles from Echo Lake Road north to the Little Garlic River in the fall. This accomplishment keeps hikers from having to cross our busy County Road 550 two times. Then we worked hard before firearm deer season to blaze a road walk from the end of the Elliott Donnelley Wilderness segment west for 3 miles where we cleared and blazed 1.4 miles of new trail connecting to the east end of the segment we completed in September of ’09. Hikers can now go directly from County Road 550 west to County Road 510 without having to backtrack to the Noquemenon Ski Pathway at Forestville. Finally, we were awarded Challenge Cost Share Funds to purchase a tool trailer (Photos page 15) and a leaf blower, both items we never had before. Cliff put in a lot of time outfitting the trailer to house our tools. Both the trailer and the leaf blower are welcome additions to our arsenal of tools. Trail Crew members who helped out this season included: Ronnie Allen, Carole Bard, Zane Bard, Roger Barry, Ryan Bertram, May Bohjanen, Nancy Bradbury, Del Compton, Bettie Daly, Lynn Emerick, Jeff Fisher, Sarah Fisher, John Forslin, Marge Forslin, Teri Grout, Bailey Hagner, Denise Herron, Bob Holtzmann, Sue Holtzmann, Ray Jarvis, Lorana Jinkerson, Bill Joswiak, Jason King, LuAnn Krueger, Reggie Krueger, Shirley LaBonte, Jan Lindstrom, Joe Mahaney, Jim Matteson, Norma Matteson, Becky Marjonen, Colin McCorkle, Don Miller, Shawn Olson, Dan Raish, Mike Rankinen, Neil Rinne, Bruce Schwenke, Don Snowden, Liz Solka, Tom Solka, Mike Springer, Cliff Stammer, Joan Steinbach, John and Ayleen VanBeynen, and John Weting. A great big “thanks” goes out to all.

—Lorana Jinkerson 17 Superior Shoreline GREAT LAKES - After being dormant for more than 2 ½ years, our chapter, formerly the Grand Marais, reconstituted in June 2010. As the majority of our trail follows the shore of Lake Superior, the chapter was renamed the Superior Shoreline Chapter. For its initial project under the leadership of Ed Bowen, Trail Manager, two bridges were replaced aiding not only hikers but cross country skiers who utilize that section of trail. Keeping the momentum going, Ed and his crew commenced the arduous task of clearing deadfalls that blocked much of the trail from Grand Marais to the east. After no maintenance for 2 ½ years, much of the trail was blocked by fallen trees. On one of the work days, after only 2 hours into an 8 hour work day, the crew stopped counting after 3 dozen fallen trees were removed. Many miles of the trail were cleared not just once, but twice due to major wind storms that hit the area. Upon the return of spring the crews will January-March 11

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be back out to clear the remainder of the trail as well as to reroute a section of the trail that collapsed to the shore of Lake Superior. This section is near Muskallonge State Park. Going west from Grand Marais the trail goes through Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and we are fortunate to have the NPS crews maintaining the trails and campgrounds along the park section of the trail to just a few miles east of Munising. Commencing there, the trail follows the city streets and M-94 as it continues west. A few miles west of Munising the trail again heads into the woods and proceeds through Valley Spur. Valley Spur is a renowned mountain bike and cross country recreational area with hills and many miles of trail. The trail there had also become overgrown and thanks to the efforts of members and friends has been cleared and reblazed. After leaving Valley Spur the trail continues approximately 15 miles to the end of our section. This stretch of the trail received an A+ rating by some through-hikers this summer. The terrain and flora and fauna differ considerably from the trail through Pictured Rocks and east of Grand Marais. There are ridges, ravines, hills, all traversing a hardwood forest. The trail also goes through a former German prisoner of war camp to add a bit of history to the hike. The chapter has also now way-pointed the trail where it intersects roadways. This data will be added to our website, providing hikers with a convenient means of ascertaining where vehicles may be parked to access the trail. A trail brochure of the section in the vicinity of Muskallonge State Park is also in the works. In addition to wildlife that is often observed on the trail, one occasionally finds something unexpected. While checking trail penetrations at roadway crossings early in November, the chapter President and the chapter Secretary, husband and wife, found a 21 pound frozen turkey on the trail, approximately 75 feet from the road. It was still in its white plastic bag with mesh around it and still in its Walmart shopping bag. No one responded to the lost and found advertisement in the local newspaper.

—Tim Haas 18 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Great Lakes - had a busy and successful 2010. The Castle Rock Project continued throughout summer and fall with an NCTA Volunteer Adventure, two HSS work weeks, and planned day sessions. HSS President Charlene DeWitt and HSS Tool Quartermaster Marilyn Chadwick led the day sessions while the HSS work weeks were in the hands of the Roving Crew, Adopt A Section volunteers, and other HSS members. The crew built over 2000 feet of new tread and 200 feet of boardwalks. USFS Ranger Justin Carrick and crew constructed a 100 foot boardwalk over a severely damaged wetland area. The USFS supplied the materials for all the boardwalks and the bulletin board. Charlene and Marv DeWitt planned and hosted the second “Bring On the Bridge” event. The group camped at the Mackinac Country Fairgrounds. They enjoyed evening 20 The North Star

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campfires, local hikes on the NCT, and an evening potluck meal. Guests came from as far as Tennessee and included NCTA Executive Director, Bruce Matthews. The highlight of the weekend was the Mackinac Bridge Walk on Labor Day. This annual event brings thousands of revelers to the area. It is the only day of the year that the “Big Mac,” which connects the North Country Trail segments in lower and upper Michigan, is open to foot traffic. Several promotional events were held throughout the year, including a snowshoe “Stomp In the Park After Dark” hike in the Straits State Park in February. The view was phenomenal with the bridge a strings of lights dangling across the Straits of Mackinac. A “Treasure Hunt Hike” on the NCT out the back door of the St. Ignace ice arena at Super Saturday in May was a hit with local families. HSS manned displays at the Paradise Spring Show, the Health Expo and the Youth Hockey events in St. Ignace, the Pickford fall celebration, Lakerpaloosa at Lake Superior State University in Sault Saint Marie, at the Quiet Waters Symposium at MSU, and at the St. Ignace and Sault Ste. Marie libraries. The Adopt-A-Section and Roving Crew volunteers maintained all 122 miles of trail, coordinated by Bob McNamara. The Roving Crew was kept busy all of November clearing miles of trail after 78 mph winds. HSS social life continues to center around the monthly hikes. Winter Trails Day at Soldier Lake kicked off the year with a hot dog roast in the pavilion fireplace. It was 20 degrees below zero when the day began! Forty-four hardy hikers on snowshoes and skis frolicked in the snow and toasted their toes by the fire all day long. HSS continued to celebrate National Trails Day and Project GO--Get Outdoors with MDNRE at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The day included activities for families, an NCTA display, and a shuttle to the Upper Falls for hikers to “Hike Tween Da Falls.” The 7 mile December Holiday Hike completed the 2010 season, ending with a potluck at the Kujawa cabin. Hiking and volunteering plans for the 2011 are underway. More work sessions will continue the tread and restoration work on the Castle Rock Project. HSS plans to help the new Superior Shoreline chapter where the NCT has disappeared into Lake Superior. It is hoped that the Loon Lake Project plan in Superior State Forest will be completed and that a new section of trail will be laid out in Tahquamenon State Park to get the NCT off Tahqua Trail Road and into the forest. HSS successes are directly related to their relationships with the USFS, MDNRE, the Chamber of Commerce and town of Paradise, Lake State University, the city of St. Ignace, the Wellness Coalition, Newberry Chamber of Commerce, St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce, the St. Ignace Library, the Sault Ste. Marie Library, St. Ignace News, Newberry News, and Sault Evening News. The thank you list includes Book World, Ace Hardware, and Locker Room in St. Ignace and Ace Hardware in Sault Ste. Marie and HSS friends and members.

— Kay Kujawa & Charlene DeWitt

19 Harbor Springs LOWer Michigan The major project undertaken by the Harbor Springs Chapter began last summer when trail foreman Tim Calloway supervised a work crew from Michigan Works! They cleared a re-route through the woods near Mackinaw City to take a section of trail off the road and wetlands. Then volunteers from the chapter built 800 feet of boardwalk and finished clearing the re-route. In June, Joan Young finished her goal of hiking the entire NCT. Her next to last hiking days were spent on the Harbor Springs section, and she finished her remarkable achievement just south of Petoskey, on the Tittabawassee section. Members of our chapter were there to help her celebrate. We have had our share of horse and mountain bike issues. Most of our trail runs through State land, and because of the conflicting policies of state and federal agencies, how the trail is used is becoming a problem. The State of Michigan says “nonmotorized multi-use” allowing bike and horses, while National Park Service policy states “foot traffic only.” At this point, the state has jurisdiction, allowing bikes and horses, much to the dismay of many hikers and environmentalists worried about the fragile sand dunes the trail goes over. We continue to push for the DNRE and NPS to sit down and work out a solution to this problem. Log boxes with maps and sign-in sheets are at every trailhead. It’s always rewarding to read the positive comments written by hikers. It makes us realize that we must be doing things right! One box, however, was vandalized in September. It was reported immediately by a hiker, and has already been replaced. This fall was spent refreshing blazes, and ensuring that road walk areas are clearly marked. Historically strong winds in November resulted in many hours spent clearing fallen trees. One storm was the second lowest pressure since record keeping started. No wonder we had so many trees down! All 46 miles have since been cleared of downed trees, just in time for snowshoeing and cross country skiing. Chapter members advised the Emmet County Parks and Recreation Committee in the placement of a connecting trail between the North Country Trail and the Headlands Park and the new Historic Mackinaw Village. The trail will allow NCT hikers to detour through these interesting and beautiful areas.

— Anne Billiard

20 Tittabawassee LOWER MICHIGAN -With 84 miles of trail in NW lower Michigan including the iconic Jordan Valley wild/ scenic river, our downstate founders have focused on increasing participation by more local trail users. In March we held an open house at the centrally-located Boyne Falls firehall where we saw 17 new faces—and some joined! In February, we held a first “snowshoe” hike with 16 participants. In June on National Trails Day we held a hike /picnic at Sand Lake, when we were joined by supporter Michigan Senator Carl Levin, and also conducted our annual “work day.” In August, Joan Young completed her 20-year quest to finish the entire NCT on our trail near Petoskey. In November we held our annual “last chance” 19 mile hike in the Jordan Valley. This is no easy level walk, either. Stream gullies, hills, goopy spots, and forest turf make it a serious trek: in 2009 it took five of us from sunrise to sunset to finish! While we have adopters to tend all of our trail sections, we continue to have common challenges: non-hiker misuse, logging, daunting permit processes for repairs and improvements. We intended to build an Adirondak shelter on Jordan River National Fish Hatchery land near the trail for thru-hikers; however, after years of planning it turns out the land use covenants prohibit this use, and we must find another location. Our trail crosses an old railroad grade that impounds O’Brien Pond where beaver have made the trail impassable, but we can’t repair it without permission from the State. But enough whining. There are several re-routes in various planning stages that will replace 17 miles of road walks with fewer than 6! The City of Petoskey Bear River Park project, nearly completed, will provide a scenic new look for 2 trail miles there. In 2011 we plan to re-route ¾ mile of trail to reach scenic Sand Lake, near Mancelona. — Duane Lawton 21 Grand Traverse Hiking Club LOWer Michigan -This year our trail building efforts were concentrated on fixing problem areas, especially a ½ mile reroute at Anderson Creek. This section of trail had been heavily damaged by ATV use so we are working with the local DNRE personnel to reroute the ATV trail away from ours. We also installed 22 sections of boardwalk over a wet section of trail. Our club also started a Yahoo Group so people could announce last minute hikes, and have others join them. (See It is not heavily used, but there is usually a hike posted every week. As more people get used to checking the site, we are sure usage will increase. There is no way to force people who use the site to be members, so we view it as a free recruiting tool.

— John Heiam

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— Joan Young

Ed Chappel

Spirit of the Woods Sterling Marsh boardwalk under construction.

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23 Western Michigan LOWer Michigan - 2010 started with the completion of about a mile of new trail in the northern portion of Fallasburg Park and hardening two stream crossings in the Lowell State Game Area, the latter with the assistance of local scouts. Then, in mid April, the work continued with the rebuilding of a ten-year-old bridge in the Rogue River State Game Area that was destroyed by That's the trouble with ants … ants that infested a huge providing a bridge over a neighboring maple tree, causing watery gap. Somebody's it to fall upon the bridge. Spring got to get wet! Rogue trail work wrapped up with the River bridge in Rogue building of a mile and a half of River State Game lands. new trail at the north end of the City of Lowell, taking the trail across “the Boy Scout cabin” property and into the Lowell State Game Area, eliminating about a mile of road walk. Summer brought two “Mowing and More” weekends, where miles of bracken fern and young saplings were mowed and large trees that had fallen across the trail were sawed through. With a number of planned projects not reaching approval stage by the time the fall work season rolled around, most of the fall was consumed by catching up on deferred maintenance on sections of trail where maintainers were not keeping up. A small reroute around a wetland north of Six Mile Road in Newaygo County was also completed, and a 40-foot section of raised turnpike was built in the Lowell State Game Area to keep hikers’ feet dry. For 2011, there is more in the works than our usual trail crew volunteers will be able to handle. We will certainly need your help in 2011! Here’s a sampling of what we are trying to get into production for 2011: • Re-alignment of the trail at Croton Dam to utilize the “fisherman’s parking lot.” This project has been approved and will start the last Saturday in March. This will add about 0.75 miles of new trail, some of it along a scenic bluff high above the Muskegon River. • More than 2.5 miles of trail is in the works for southern Kent County in two different locations. Final approval is needed from two private landowners. We hope to start on one of these sections in the spring. • The Forest Service has approved replacement of the “bridge” at Cole Creek (just north of M-20), so Chapter volunteers are working on securing the thousands of dollars needed for materials. An application for funding will be submitted this month, and if approved, will allow us to build the bridge in the spring. • Replacement of the bridge at Rattlesnake Creek in partnership with American Hiking Society Volunteer Vacations is scheduled for the last week of July provided the Forest Service finalizes funding. • The forest service has identified two short relocations of the trail where erosion has been a problem between Five and Six Mile Roads in Newaygo County. This work is scheduled for Fall 2011.

— Paul Haan

Paul Haan

22 Spirit of the Woods LOWer Michigan - The Spirit of the Woods Chapter focused their efforts on extending the boardwalk that we are building in Sterling Marsh, a place that has been a thorn in our flesh since we organized in 1998. In fact, it’s been one of the more dreaded sections of NCT in Michigan. Sometimes kneedeep in water in spring, and seriously muddy at most any time of year, thru-hikers sighed and slogged through while day-hikers simply avoided the place. Yet, for the brave, the area is rich in wildlife. Birds enjoy the open water portion of the marsh. A local frog census taker for the state visits there regularly on her counting route. Slowly but surely, our chapter is turning this area into one that could become a favored destination instead of a place to avoid. So for two summers now, the Spirit of the Woods Chapter (SPW) of the NCTA has been making a lot of noise in the Manistee National Forest between Jenks Road and 96th St south of the 76th St. trailhead. We are nearing the end of year two of a three-year project to get the Sterling Marsh trail out of the mud by building a raised boardwalk through the area. When complete, there will be over a half-mile of dry wooden walkway. Following a recent group effort by volunteers, over 1700 feet are already complete. This summer, the chapter hosted a Volunteer Adventure week, organized by the NCTA. Fifteen different people helped at various times during the week. With the help of two portable generators to power the drills and saws, and a power wagon to aid in transporting the wood, the workers saw their product slowly snaking behind them through the trees– a lovely raised walkway. A turnaround deck with benches has been added near the middle of the length. The Forest Service has agreed that the north end should be handicap accessible from the north end at Jenks road, and this will be done when the boardwalk is complete. Spirit of the Woods continues to hold hikes once a month on the NCT, and other local trails, and continues to maintain their entire 80 miles of trail, by means of volunteer adopters. This fall, after a bad windstorm, the chapter cleared over 80 trees that came down across the trail within two weeks.

Garry Dill

25 Chief Baw Beese LOWer Michigan - The last year has been a very active one for the Chief Baw Beese chapter. Our responsibilities encompass the southernmost part of Michigan, through Hillsdale County. Five rivers have their source in Hillsdale County, and our trail generally follows two of them. From the city of Hillsdale, the trail follows the St. Joseph River to the north. The Rotary Club of Hillsdale recently opened a new section of the Baw Beese Trail, a paved multipurpose trail through the city that the North Country Trail follows. The new section connects existing trail through Hillsdale with a bike trail connecting with Jonesville. Further north, the chapter has been working to open a short section of new primitive trail through very rough terrain, following a rocky berm next to the very scenic St. Joseph River. In March, the Chief Noonday Chapter joined us to open the trail, and we continue to work on the treadway to smooth out rocks and remove stumps. We are making slow but steady progress through this tough area. The new trail connects to the existing Litchfield Nature Trail and makes for a new two mile section that we hope to certify in the next year. In the other direction, the trail follows the Baw Beese Trail east to Osseo and into Lost Nation State Game Area. Between Osseo and Lost Nation, we have relocated about three and a half miles, 2.5 miles of which was roadwalk. The new trail includes a view across a fen and two wet crossings of branches of the St. Joseph River. The crossings are usually ankle to knee deep so we hope to build bridges here in the near future. We look forward in the next year to continue improving our trail and developing new trail through the few areas of public land where opportunities remain. In the long term, we have to deal with the challenging pattern of land ownership which necessitates routing the trail through many small private properties.

Buckeye Trail Crew building new trail in southern Ohio.

— Ryan Bowles

Ryan Bowles

Chief Baw Beese Chapter members Kevin Bell and Mike Ingels build new trail along the St. Joseph River near Litchfield, Michigan.

27 Buckeye Trail Association OHIO - This year the BTA Trail Crew worked all around the state moving about six miles of the BT/ NCT from on-road locations to off-road locations, the majority of it moved to the historic Miami and Erie Canal Towpath. Another 10-11 miles have been improved and/or relocated to places where the trail is more sustainable over the long haul, making it easier for the local adopter to maintain. We have many opportunities to move more road-walk to off-road locations and yet we are challenged to keep up with maintenance of the existing off road trail. We will continue to focus our efforts on maintaining and improving our existing trail in 2011. The BTA is developing a swiftly moving “Traveling Buckeyes Work Crew” to handle trail emergencies around the state, to augment our regular Buckeye Trail Crew. The Traveling Buckeyes will handle mostly heavy trail maintenance where it is needed, a very welcomed relief for the regular Trail Crew. The Ohio Department of Transportation is getting their feet wet working with the BTA by replacing a culvert that proved to be too small under State Route 66 just north of Newport on the Miami and Erie Canal Towpath. This will prevent water from backing up in the canal and overflowing the towpath causing much erosion. The erosion that has already been caused by this overflow will be repaired by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. It will take at least 10 dump truck loads of clay for the repair. The BTA is still celebrating the acquisition of 190 acres for the existing BT/NCNST in southeastern Ohio and has more trail preservation projects in the works as the Trail Preservation Committee continues to learn by experience and reach out to the land trust community. We have undergone planning and branding work throughout 2010 that will guide the BTA’s work in the future. For starters, the BTA has adopted a new logo as seen here and will be highlighting our new look as we proudly host the NCTA 2011 Conference in Dayton. Overall, huge strides are taking place in Ohio improving the BT/NCT by taking more mileage off road, making the hiking experience more enjoyable and safer by taking it to more scenic and historic places. — Rick Adamson January-March 11

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31 Great Trail Sandy Beaver Canal OHIO - Our trail here in eastern Ohio is moving forward slowly but progressing due the efforts of our Chapter Vice-President Keith Brown, who has been working tirelessly with landowners. He has acquired enough landowner consents that we have successfully built about one and a half miles of new trail on both public and private properties through the efforts of a small but dedicated group of trail workers. Due to the amount of privately owned lands here in Columbiana County it is anticipated that a fair amount of trail miles will be road walks until access to private property can be gained by negotiations. Existing trails in Beaver Creek State Park have been maintained while some segments have been rerouted to provide a more pleasurable walk for Park visitors. Some Park trails still need to be rerouted to avoid conflicts with all the horses in the Vondergreen Trail area. Keith has been working with Park officials on this matter and hopefully we can address these issues in 2011. ATV use along the PA border segment is a problem. The Division of Forestry Officers are working with us to curtail the ATV problem by stepping up patrols in the area and have been successful in bringing some to justice. The nearby Sheepskin Hollow Preserve trail will need minor trail work to keep this as a primitive trail. We are working to extend the trail beyond the Preserve and hopefully connect to State owned property so we can move west towards Lisbon, Ohio. Support by our local officials and more involvement by volunteers is still needed to move forward. A lot of people locally have never heard of the NCT even though we have had great news coverage over the years. Once they are informed they are amazed that something of this scope is going on! — Brad Bosley President 32 Wampum Pennsylvania - With nearly ninety volunteers giving an aggregate 2500 hours of their time to building, maintaining, and promoting the North Country Trail in Beaver and Lawrence counties in PA this year, the Wampum Chapter was able to complete the vast majority of the items on our 2010 to-do list. Our accomplishments include adding a new mile and a half of off-road trail at PA Gamelands 285, which has routed the trail up and over a large hill to include a visit to a local historical landmark, Indian Rock. Volunteers from the chapter and a local church youth group put in over 400 hours on this project, earning us compliments from local hikers who had spent years climbing on all fours to reach the top of this steep hill to see the rock and take in the views of the surrounding countryside. Completion of this segment has also given chapter members the opportunity to make plans to add another mile of new woods trail on adjacent private property. The largest and most time-intensive project taken on by the chapter membership was the construction of a backpacking shelter at Watt’s Mill, featured on pages 7 and 8 of the third 24 The North Star

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issue of North Star last year. Many day-hikers and several overnighters have expressed their appreciation for this addition. It has also provided an outdoor focal point and gathering place for the Wampum Chapter’s outdoor activities. Other building activities during the 2010 season included doing two different, short reroutes of the trail to enhance the hiking experience, one at Gamelands 285 near the Ohio state line, and one on the Cemex property east of Wampum. We also installed a sixteen-foot bridge over a stream crossing, and put in fifty feet of bog bridge at perpetually wet spots in various locations. The chapter maintained a rigorous maintenance schedule, so all the miles of our trail segment were gone over at least three times during the growing season with the DR mower or weedwacker, with blowdowns removed, and overgrowth pruned. Paint blazing was redone over eight miles of trail this year, and plans are in place to repaint the rest of the blazes, as well as get the roadwalks taken care of in 2011. Chapter members also rescued a sixteen-foot bridge this year, its supports being undercut by fast-moving water, by extending its length to thirty-two feet, giving it a new lease on life (at least for a few years more). Another threat to the trail, improper usage and the resultant erosion and mudholes , was addressed in several locations as the volunteers installed horse and ATV blockers and deterrent signs at several perennial trouble spots along our seventeen miles. In promoting and building awareness of the NCT in 2010, the membership took a multi-pronged approach, starting with the installation of two sets of North Country Trail highway signs, one set placed along PA Route 18 outside of Wampum, and the other along PA Rt. 251 at the PA/OH border. Funding for these was obtained by long-time Wampum volunteer Gail Blakely who worked with PA State Representative Jaret Gibbons through the DCED grant process.Our promotion efforts included adding a new wooden trailhead sign at Gamelands 285, installing six log boxes at various locations along the route (with brochures and membership applications inside), updating our part of the Wikki Trail Guide, establishing a Wampum Chapter blog, maintaining a presence on the PA North Country Trail Facebook page, and representing the NCT at several community events and a county fair, Promotion for the year culminated in our annual community walk, “The Pumpkin Pie Hike,” showcasing our new segment of trail at Gamelands 285. A notice sent to a local paper asking them to announce the hike resulted in a reporter and photographer doing an excellent article about the NCT through the area. As a result, EIGHTY people came out to take the walk with us and eat some pumpkin pie at the new shelter. Several potential volunteers asked to be added to the chapter’s activity email distribution list. What a great finish to the 2010 season! — Dave Brewer

Dave Brewer

Wampum Chapter member Rick Ostheimer at left, with the volunteers from the Mt. Olive Lutheran Church at Indian Rock hill, August 2010.

Dave Brewer

33 Butler Outdoor Club Pennsylvania - supported the NCT in 2010 by continuing to host the Tour de NCT of PA with Stages 10 through 19 of the Tour. The Tour is a series of hikes covering all the off-road sections of the NCT in Pennsylvania, alternating between coming east from Ohio with coming south from New York. We did our last hike of the year this December with Stage 19 in Cook Forest, after hiking through sections maintained by the Butler Chapter, the Allegheny Forest Chapter, and the Clarion Chapter this season. All the sections were in good shape, and we got tremendous support from the chapter maintenance crews to make sure we had a clear, well blazed trail. On two of the hikes we had a joint outing with the Clarion Chapter’s monthly hike, so had a good time getting to know one another as we walked. This leaves about three more stages to go in the Clarion Chapter section next year before the regulars on the hike have completed the Tour. The Tour de NCT of PA has been a very satisfying experience for the participants, and apparently it has been enjoyed by many who follow its progress on the Butler Outdoor Club photo site ( and in the North Star.

—John Stehle

Hikers examine Indian Rock after climbing new “civilized trail.’’

Tammy Veloski

This Butler Outdoor Club Hike is one of the “Tour de NCT” series, exploring every trail section in the state of Pennsylvania.

34 Clarion Chapter Pennsylvania - Membership grew throughout the year as monthly chapter hikes and geocaching along the trail helped to raise awareness in the community. Clarion Chapter will continue to host monthly hikes for residents of our area in 2011. With the help of the Keystone Trails Association, Clarion Chapter hosted a very productive work weekend in early November. Volunteers worked in Cook Forest State Park and Clear Creek State Forest’s Maple Creek Tract to the north. In the former, crews reworked large sections of the trail along the hillsides. Additionally, some impressive rock staircases were constructed and the Pennsylvania mountain laurel around the trail was trimmed. In the Maple Creek Tract, a large crew constructed 300 feet of turnpike to allow the trail to travel across a very wet, but beautiful section of woods. In the coming year, Clarion Chapter has several tentative projects in the works: Add an additional 100 feet to the turnpike built this past fall. Re-route the trail off Doe Run Road into the woods below to eliminate a mile of road walk. Re-route a portion of the trail’s route through Clear Creek State Forest’s Maple Creek Tract, again, to eliminate road walk. Continue to work with DCNR to find funding and get approval for a hiking shelter in this area.

— Devin Callihan Continued on page 31

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We Are The North Country Trail Association!

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that which does not. That which makes us “we” trumps that which devolves us into “them and us.” So here’s the challenge. Let’s catch ourselves when we start thinking in terms of we/they, and elevate our thinking instead to that place where we all live and work together in cooperatively building a national legacy in the North Country Trail. Let’s check individual agendas at the door and come sit around the campfire united in becoming a rising tide that floats all boats. Instead of using filters like “what’s in this for me/my chapter/my organization,” let’s instead approach our efforts from the perspective of making this work for all of us, finding ways to ensure widespread benefit and success, and looking out for everyone’s interests and not just our own. I believe it is time for us to do just that. We do not ignore that which is wrong, conflicting, requiring amends or needs to be fixed. We do embrace the notion that we are better off finding solutions together, fixing it together for the greater benefit, than drawing lines in the sand to protect our own. We own our destiny, and we take responsibility for helping one another achieve it, to cross the finish line of a completed NCNST together. We do not ignore issues, but we take a page from the NCTA board at their December meeting and courageously examine what it will take to be better. Together. We. We are. We are the North Country Trail Association.

Ric Olson

don’t know about you, but on my top ten list of all-time best sports movies is We Are Marshall. Based on the true story of the aftermath of the November 1970 plane crash that claimed the lives of the entire Marshall University football team, the movie tells the story of how a new coach, players and the university community come together to cope, rebuild and find a way to move on. Ultimately they succeed—through perseverance, belief in their ideals…and setting aside personal circumstances in favor of the greater good—re-building a football team which many believed would never happen. I’m reminded of this today for two reasons. The first is, with the December board meeting not far behind us, how impressed I was by the many ways your board embodied the true spirit of “we” in taking an unabashed look in the mirror as part of their board governance workshop. Some of what they saw was great and some wasn’t. Your board chose to embrace the “we” and to work together collectively to become better at representing the membership’s best interests in conducting the business of the Association. The choice to emphasize the “we” was inspiring and bodes well for the future of the NCTA. I’m also reminded where the absence of “we” was unmistakable in recent conversations I’ve had with a few members, chapters, affiliates and partners. Some of these conversations could be characterized as “we vs. they,” and the “we” was not the NCTA. The circumstances are unimportant, but the pattern of “us first,” whether it be individual, chapter, affiliate organization or partner, is an observable part of our NCTA landscape. I am inviting you to challenge it. I’ve seen this work. In my previous position with the Recreational Boating and Fishing Foundation, of which I was founding president and working for a highly polarized board representing myriad interests, we created an environment where “boatingandfishing” became a one-word mantra, and we did it through finding that place where boating and fishing lived together. The Take Me Fishing ad campaign, the Angler’s Legacy mentoring effort, grants programs and a number of other outcomes were the result. Without the willingness to make a “we” out of “them and us” that effort would have been dead in the water. And it continues today. My friends, we are “we.” We are the NCTA. Our destiny, ultimately, as a National Scenic Trail and the Association that builds it, maintains it and tells its story is most assuredly linked. We are linked, whether a member, chapter, HQ, affiliate or partner, board of directors, agency or association. We may bring our own unique identities separately to the table but unless we leave it together, as “we,” the North Country National Scenic Trail will never be completed. Too many of us share too much, and most of all the dream of completing this great North Country Trail, to let go of the “we” in us. This is not to say we always agree, and certainly not that the NCTA’s interests trump everyone else’s. Not so, not by a long shot. It does mean that which unites us must trump

“YES, TOGETHER WE CAN!” Ni-Miikanaake Chapter bridge and steps in Porcupine State Park. Left to right, Gordy Schelde, Dick Swanson, and Mel Fullman.

Bill Menke

Tom Sawyer on Steroids This is the so-called bird sanctuary patch of prairie referred to in Jim's article, in autumn splendor.

Editor’s Note: Jim Upthegrove is a member of the BSC Roving Trail Crew. After retirement, he has been taking classes at Northland College in Ashland,Wisconsin. Jim wrote the following article as part of an outdoor writing class assignment.


eading for the North Country Trail’s roving crew campsite on the north edge of the open prairie country on Douglas County’s wildlife preserve known locally as the bird sanctuary, I feel a twinge of excitement in my belly. Dutifully reporting to school each day for the last two months has me feeling like Tom Sawyer on steroids: I just have to get some of the free and easy world of the outdoors or I’ll simply die! I arrive just in time for dinner. It is Wednesday, and as on all other Wednesdays in camp, our intrepid leader Bill Menke is preparing a feast of salad with hamburgers cooked over a glowing bed of red oak coals. Woe unto the fireman who fails to lay enough wood to ensure adequate cooking temperature. It is beautiful starlight night and after catching up with comrades I put away my chair and head off on a solo walk in the dark along the edge of the open prairie. The coal black sky is brilliant with stars and planets so I use my light sparingly to preserve my night vision. I lie back for a while in the soft prairie grass and allow myself to merge with the night air, the warmth of the stars almost reaching my cold flesh. I am grateful that years ago someone had the foresight to preserve this little patch of sand barrens prairie and wish for more detailed knowledge of the goings on out in this grassy plain that had been minutes

from my earlier home of twenty years. What unique animals preside here? What are the names of those flowers or that clump of brush and how do they relate to each other? I hope I live long enough to learn these things. Bill wakes me up the next morning. I have so enjoyed my sleep in the twenty degree night that I have overslept. No matter, we are soon on the road to a short portage trail down to the St. Croix River built earlier in the week. We paddle canoes downstream a few hundred yards to a landing and hike a quarter mile to our worksite. Oh. I suppose I should tell you we are building the North Country National Scenic Trail, one swing of a pick-mattock or pail of fill at a time. This area is generally noted for its sand and gravel soil which makes for easy trail construction so we were surprised by the nearly impenetrable layered shale when we started in this area west of the Gordon Dam on the northwest side of the river. We cross several wet cedar bottoms as we progress; these will get boardwalks next year. The work is hard and we are more than ready when Bill calls lunch. We regroup and share stories of the trail as we dine on sandwiches and coffee from our packs, fallen timber making fine benches. We head out early that afternoon: the tools and canoes have to be portaged up the bluff overlooking the river to the road. I make two trips and find myself barely able to climb into the truck, and the exhaustion feels good. My muscles will heal in a few days, but the trail will last as long as there are hikers. It is Thursday, and like every other Thursday in camp, Bill will be cooking steaks over the red oak coals of a fine campfire. January-March 11

The North Star 27

Jane pries out a bo


to cracks of uffing dirt in

Phil st


Rovers Crew Progress:

2010 Summary


Story and Pictures by Bill Menke

010 marks our “Lucky Number Thirteen” year since we began functioning as a special projects crew. At least a couple of the original crew members are still joining in the fun (Bob Gould and Atley Oswald). Several others have also been long time members and we’re also having new participants join us each year. During 2010, we had at least six participants on every trip. This makes for a nice sized crew that can accomplish a lot of work but yet know what each other is doing and work well together. The participation prize this year goes to John Pearson who made every one of our six total trips. Don Penly, who first worked with us in October 2009 when we were in Iron County, has made every trip except one. Besides being a great addition to the crew, Don is a retired engineer who has taken on the task of producing computer-generated drawings for all of our bridges. In a nutshell, most of 2010 was spent working on the upland portions of trail between a point just east of Gordon Dam and the St. Croix River. This work has proceeded very slowly due to the extreme rockiness of the terrain and the lack of moveable soil. However, throughout this entire stretch none of the wetland boardwalks has been installed due to our inability to iron out permit hurdles with the DNR. Hopefully by spring, we will have the permits and then it will take much of the summer of 2011 to complete the boardwalks. Our first trip of the year in April found all of us anxious to be back in the woods. We hosted a group of 16 from 28 The North Star

January-March 11


a rock walkw

Bob Gould

laying ston

e “patios.”

Avalon High School in St. Paul, MN. Their school requires them to perform a week of service so we are pleased that they chose the North Country Trail as their project. Most of the arrangements were made by NCTA’s 2010 Rising Star recipient, Jessie Rideaux-Crenshaw. This trip is also the first time that Jim Upthegrove (former owner of the Solon Springs Hardware Store) joined us. Jim proves adept at working with the youth. This is strange country with a thin layer of moss/lichens over solid, vertical, sedimentary rock layers. In order to make a smooth walking surface, we have to pull the rock layers out and lay them down flat like building a stone sidewalk, then haul dirt to fill between the cracks. With as many as 21 people working, we made good progress. In June we spent the week rearranging rock into what we fondly call “patios” and by week’s end, we had completed about 3/8 mile and were just entering the north boundary of St. Croix National Scenic River. In July we were once again joined by the NPS’s YCC crew and several NPS Maintenance Staff out of the Trego Ranger Station. The first two days of the trip were spent creating more “rocky” trail as we worked southwest toward the north bank of the St. Croix River. Interestingly, we saw seven bears this trip, which probably equals the cumulative sightings over the last ten years. Two Minnesotans joined our regulars in September. Two more full days were spent working on the still rocky trail but now parallel to the river, progressing downstream. In addition to our trail work, we roughed in a resting spot, complete with log benches, overlooking the river. On the Monday in October, we did a “filler job” and constructed two new tent pads at the Jersett Creek Campsite. On subsequent days, we were once again working parallel to the river and enjoying sitting on its banks during almost every break. In places, we passed through groves of some of the largest white cedars that any of us has seen. On Thursday, Bob Leedle took a walk during lunch break and discovered a beautiful spot

overlooking the river. It will make a wonderful campsite that will be off the main trail on a spur. We have been wracking our brains for over two years regarding how to get the boardwalk materials into the area between Spring Creek and the Gibson Cabin. We have considered horses, snowmobiles, ATVs, farm tractors, and even helicopters. None was practical enough to consider seriously. So we thought we solved the problem with the purchase of the DR Powerwagon. It is indeed capable of carrying heavy loads without damaging the trail and it is what we will use elsewhere. Here, however, it will not work without tearing up all of the stone “paving” we have done. So our latest idea is to haul materials along a temporary trail south of the river then ferry them across the river to the trail using boats. In November, we reached the river on this temporary trail then tested the current by paddling back and forth hauling tools to the NCT where we will work for the rest of the week. The next two days, we paddled to work in three canoes, which saved us over an hour of walking. After two days of trail work, the end of the rock work was finally in sight! Our last trip of the year is always full of surprises. Some years we experience snow, others pretty nice weather. But one thing is certain: it is always dark until well after we get up in the morning. So this is the time of year when our “old fashioned” kerosene lanterns really shine their stuff. They are so easy to use and cast a nice light that is adequate to show what we are doing. So, closing with this lantern lit scene, I want to extend my sincere “thank you” to each and every one of you who participated in any way this year.

Cooking area and

trailer in soft lant

ern light.

Dayton Conference Updates Date Change Fix your calendars: the 2011 NCTA Annual Conference will be held one week later than previously announced, August 11th through 14th. Hot News! Our Ohio hosts are ecstatic to announce confirmation of two famous speakers for the evening programs, Andrew Skurka and Bart Smith. Bart Smith More details will follow in the next issue with registration materials, but here's the skinny on these famous trail guys. We first heard of Andrew Skurka when he walked Andrew Skurka the North Country Trail during his 2007 Sea-to-Sea walk, covering 7775 miles, during which he did the northernmost parts of the NCT in winter! Since he lived through that one, he has kept it up ever since, undertaking over 30,000 miles worth of famous hiking trails, including his 2010 Alaska-Yukon Expedition. He'll share with us that most recent adventure, a 4700 mile loop done by walking, skiing, and packrafting, including 24 days without seeing another human. The programs he provides after each adventure have won awards and admirers, and you'll enjoy him as much as many of us did during his walk across our trail. Bart Smith is a prolific photographer who was seized by the great idea to walk and photograph all eight of the National Scenic Trails in the middle of his third trail through-hike in Florida. Several spectacular books have resulted, and even though three more trails were designated just as he neared the end of the original eight, now he has walked over 18,000 miles on all eleven trails. He'll share with us some of this immense photographic endeavor; for a stunning sample, see his photograph taken along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, site of this year's guided hike after the Dayton conference, page 38.

January-March 11

The North Star 29

If You Never Have, Try Snowshoeing On The NCT Before Spring Arrives! Matthew Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota


ow that the North Country Trail is buried deeply with winter’s white blanket and the daily high temps are increasing, you should get out and try snowshoeing if you have never done it.

Why snowshoe? Snowshoeing is: • Easy to learn. • Relatively inexpensive (compared to other winter sports). • Not very risky (again, compared to other winter sports). • A great way to exercise during winter (you can burn up to 45% more calories than just walking, up to 600 per hour). • A great activity for families to enjoy together (there are youth sizes). When are snowshoes the right equipment to use? Snowshoes are designed to provide the user with enhanced flotation in deep snow, thus making travel across snow covered terrain “easier.” Since walking with snowshoes is harder than walking without them you should only use them when you actually need the flotation, in snow depths greater than 8”. Walking on a hard packed trail with snowshoes is overkill. If you can walk on the trail without breaking through, leave your snowshoes off or better yet, venture offtrail to discover their true usefulness.

30 The North Star

January-March 11

Now that I’ve got the snowshoes, what other equipment do I need? Just like with hiking, there are some essentials to take along, including: • Trekking or XC/downhill ski poles are handy when snowshoeing. • Good, insulated winter boots are a must. • Gaiters to keep the snow out of your boots and off your pants are also helpful. • Proper clothing, preferably a good layering system, preferably with a highly-breathable shell. • Plenty of water and snacks. OK, so how do I snowshoe? If you can walk, you can snowshoe. It’s just that simple. Snowshoeing does require some slight adjustments. Lift one shoe slightly and slide the inner edge over the other being sure not to put it down on top of the other shoe. You need to avoid the “straddle-gait” that is very fatiguing.

Irene Szabo

How do I pick the right snowshoes for me? 1. Traditional vs. Modern: • Benefits of modern, typically aluminum – binding systems are generally superior, crampons allow for expanded use, and they are lightweight, requiring little or no maintenance. • Benefits of traditional wood and gut/nylon mesh – quieter in use, the frames don’t freeze up with snow as easily, provide greater flotation for the weight, and they are traditional. 2. Intended use: Generally, there are three types or categories of snowshoes. You should definitely pick the right one for what you plan to use them for. • Backcountry/winter camping use – the largest, meant for serious hill-climbing, long-distance trips and off-trail use. • Front country / light hiking – meant for use in gentle to moderate walks of 3–5 miles. • Running / fitness – small and light; not intended for backcountry use. 3. User size: A common formula is that for every pound of body weight, there should be one square inch of snowshoe surface (14.5 cm²/kg) per snowshoe to adequately support the wearer. Users should also consider the weight of any gear they will be packing, especially if they expect to break trail. Those planning to travel into deep powder should look for even larger shoes. 4. The importance of bindings: Since you’ll be

operating the bindings in the snow and cold when you’re tired, ease of use is very important. Binding systems have improved greatly but there are still differences among the major manufacturers. Check them out to find the one that you like best.

Modern lightweight metal shoes do clatter a lot in the otherwise winter-hushed woods, but their quick, easy bindings are kinder to frozen fingers. They also have teeth below which help on slopes. However, there's a lot to be said for the charm of ash frames with nylon and gut networks to keep you out of the depths, charm at a cheaper price, too. The wood requires care to preserve it from icy abrasion, the mesh can break eventually, the bindings are a royal pain, but they are so quiet in the snow. AND a pair of them can be part of your northwoods décor the rest of the year!

State of the Trail …continued 36 Allegheny National Forest Pennsylvania - Once again we had fantastic co-operation with the Allegheny National Forest personnel. Both District Rangers went a little bit farther to help our efforts, and the trail wins. Sled Riding Party: The snow was too new and wet, but we all made it down the hill in one piece. The best part was the friendship. About 15 people showed up with sleds, skis, toboggans, etc. Food and hot coffee were at the warming hut. Boy Scout Troop 93 out of Ridgeway built two twenty-foot bridges. National Trail Day: We had over 20 people show up to do a 1.2 mile re-route north of Kelletville. This included one of the Scout bridges. Most people started on the southern section because of the difficulty of side-hill benching while three started at the northern end just scratching in the new trail. The first ever Allegheny 100 was a great success. 20 BRAVE souls attempted the challenge. Some did 25 miles, some 50, and the really hearty ones tried the 100 miles, all in 50 hours. No one completed 100 but we did have 85 and 82 mile winners. The trail was inspected before the A-100 and many hours went into clearing and marking the trail. Next year we expect more and better prepared participants. One of the main burrs under our saddle is that oil companies insist on drilling where they want, even right on the trail. The drillers decided to use what had been a very nice section of trail as their main access road to 25 wells. A few of our members and the USFS personnel laid out an alternative route so we won’t even see the new wells. The District Ranger then negotiated with the drillers to do the manual labor to re-locate ¾ mile along a hillside and thru some impressive rocks. All that is left to do there is a 26 foot puncheon bridge over a soggy section. A few years ago, the USFS asked for a 5 year plan for improvements on the NCT. They would incorporate this plan with any developments they were doing which has worked out very well. One was the Kelletville re-route we did on National Trails Day, and another was a bridge and a shelter. The FS engineers worked with us to design a bridge over Beaver Run, a 24 foot span, which is now in place, while the shelter will be erected in the future. SCA crews working here completed an inventory of our entire 100 miles, which identified multiple soggy sections to contend with, so they are starting on the southern section and working north, providing everything from water barring to sidehill benching to brushing, over several years. The coordination and logistics of running all these projects is a never-ending task. Many times there are 2 or 3 projects going on at once. The end result is a well-maintained trail, a pleasure to hike, which makes it all worthwhile. When we see a report posted on a national web page about how nice this section is, we can hold our heads up and say, “We did that.”

37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference NEW York - In New York 421 miles of North Country Trail route are coincident with the Finger Lakes Trail, and it was a great year for 2 those miles! Foothills Trail Club, Genesee Valley Hiking Club, the Cayuga Trails Club, and the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club, along with hundreds of scouts, individual volunteers, and agency personnel, worked with the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) “to build, protect, enhance and promote a continuous footpath across New York State. Forever!” In support of its mission, the FLTC organized several on-site training sessions for trail builders/maintainers and two chainsaw sawyer certification classes, published three issues of the Trail Tenders’ News (a newsletter for trail maintainers), published four issues of the Finger Lakes Trail News (a magazine for members and landowners), established a geocache policy that is consistent with the NCTA’s, re-GPS’d all 421 miles, updated all maps, and inventoried all facilities. Volunteers rolled out a new website, and with four businesses as sponsors, launched a “Passport Hiking Program” that features dayhike-length segments of the NCT/FLT to attract new hikers. We promoted the FLT/NCT at the state fair, outdoor expositions, and festivals near the trail, organized fall and spring camp-outs for members, sponsored the annual cross-county hike series (attracting both new members and end-to-enders), secured four more easements, certified several miles, and in all donated a projected 9500 hours of work and travel time to the NCT/FLT. The volunteer hours were associated with seasonal trail maintenance performed by individuals and trail groups and special construction projects that typically used volunteer crews. In 2010, along with performing regular trail maintenance work, our certified sawyers cleared microburst damage off 2+ miles of trail in state forest in the far western part of the state and felled pines in preparation for building a new lean-to on private land near Bath. Near Hornell, a scout earned his Eagle status by organizing a crew to build multiple switchbacks that replaced a treacherous section of trail. Week-long volunteer “Alley Cat” (Alle-gany to the Cat-skills) crews built a new log shelter (see article on page 5 in this issue) in the Ithaca area, constructed two sets of stairs and two landings in the ravine and rerouted the trail above the crest of Tinker Falls on the Onondaga Branch, repaired three toilets and a bridge and installed new stairs in Allegany State Park. Near Bath, six puncheons were placed across wet trail in one state forest and roughly 1 mile of new trail was opened up in an adjacent forest in preparation for a trail rebuilding project next year. A causeway project was completed in the Finger Lakes National Forest and, using federal stimulus funds, FLNF personnel hired the Student Conservation Association to build a handicapped-accessible moldering toilet for the lean-to on the NCT/FLT in the Finger Lakes National Forest.

— Lynda Rummel, VP Trail Quality

— Keith Klos, President

January-March 11

The North Star 31

38 Central New York NEW York - Overall, another successful year for our chapter as both our organization and the trail continue to evolve. 2 First, the trail: We certified 6 additional miles this year in Madison County. We now have 17.7 miles, or 76%, of the 23.2 miles of NCT/Link Trail certified (total Link Trail length is 36 miles including portions beyond the NCT route). The Canal Corporation completed a 20 mile upgrade of the Old Erie Canal State Park Trail connecting Canastota and Rome. Heading toward the Adirondack Park, there are now 17 miles of continuous trail connecting Pixley Falls State Park and Forestport in Oneida County, of which 6.2 Black River Canal Trail miles are certified. All (100%!) of the trail that our chapter has built has trail steward coverage, which involves the dedicated efforts of 34 stewards, including two Boy Scout troops. Trail conditions have been upgraded overall, with grade and surface improvements, a footbridge, drainages, and ongoing work by the chainsaw crew. Three Eagle Scout BSA projects were completed and a fourth is underway. Landowner relations are stable, with one multi-year challenge still unresolved. Thanks to memorial fund donations, we were able to install a resting bench near Canastota in memory of member and trail steward David Parker. Working relations with NY’s Office of Parks have improved, but their dedication to multiple use trails remains a challenge. In addition, Parks is the licensing agency and funds allocator for snowmobile users so a bias exists. NYS Parks opened a previously-certified NCT section of trail to snowmobiles in 2009/10 and again this winter, which leaves the status of that section in doubt. NYS budget problems have caused major staff reductions at both Parks and the Dept. of Environmental Conservation; as a result they are unable to support us at past levels. Vandalism in the Nelson Swamp Unique Area southeast of Cazenovia and at a nearby Trailhead has grown into a significant problem. DEC police and our chapter are seeking leads and public cooperation to resolve this issue. Our chapter: We now have a formal Trails Committee of Mike Lynch, Kathy Eisele, and Steve Kinne as chair, plus much welcome advice from other experienced chapter members. Nancy McCain has accepted responsibility for maintaining our CNY Chapter Recreational and Work Hike Schedule April - October. Twelve dedicated people distribute our brochure and other North Country materials at 32 drop off spots monthly. We were ecstatic when Kathy Eisele was awarded the NCTA’s Distinguished Service Award at this year’s conference. As chapter’s co-founder in 1997, then VP and then President, she is currently in charge of our Trail Steward Program. Our Chapter membership level has stabilized, but it is still well below pre-recession levels. Our focus has been to generate awareness of the trail, its benefits, and to widen the base of its support in each community. — Kathryn G Woodruff, President

32 The North Star

January-March 11

HIKING SHORTS Sheyenne River Valley Chapter's Becky Heise Wins Award Awards honoring individual and group achievements in history were presented at the recent 22nd Annual Governor’s Conference on North Dakota History in Bismarck. The conference was sponsored by the State Historical Society of North Dakota. The 2010 recipients of the State Historical Society’s Heritage Profile Honor Award were Rebecca Heise of Valley City, and Michael Miller and Tom Isern, both of Fargo. This award is given to those who have made a significant contribution in preserving, interpreting, promoting, researching or otherwise extending the knowledge and understanding of the history of North Dakota. Heise is the historian for the Sheyenne River Valley National Scenic Byway and the region. Her quality work shows in each of the 27 byway interpretive panels and 10 map kiosks, as well as eight interpretive panels, on the Valley City Historic Bridges Tour, and five panels in Medicine Wheel Park, all of which are along the National Byway. Heise’s outstanding work resulted in the Sheyenne River Valley Scenic Byway being named one of the first three state-designated byways. Her work helped garner the byway national designation in 2002 (the first byway in North Dakota to be recognized), and a national award for interpretation in 2009. Other Sheyenne River Valley projects have benefitted from her research and restoration work, including the Sheyenne Bank Building in Kathryn, North Dakota, that is being renovated and will include byway interpretation as a new community center.

Summary NCTA Executive Committee Meeting Conference Call, Tuesday, October 26, 2010 September Membership 2408. Approved $30 Half Price Family Membership (initial membership to households). Approved Finger Lakes Trail Conference Memorandum of Agreement regarding how the NCTA can use the FLTC's route centerline data. The NCTA may collaborate and use this data for management purposes but may not use it to publish maps in competition with the FLTC's own mapping program. Partnership for National Trail Systems Workshop: Leinen, Larson (ND youth member), Ketchmark and Gilbert attended with reports forthcoming Approved September Financials and FY 2011 and '12 Budgets as presented by Staff. Recommendation to be presented to the Board of Directors. • 2011 – Operations – $736k in revenue and $734.8k in expenses, a virtual break-even. Chapter expenses projected at just under $31k. • 2012 – Operations – $793k in revenues and $784k in expenses. No chapter expenses were projected in this budget but would presumably be similar to 2011.

Governance Workshop for NCTA Board of Directors


he only constant is change.” Recognizing this truth, your NCTA board of directors is engaged in taking a hard look at ensuring that NCTA’s governance is consistent with today’s best practices for non-profit organizations. The NCTA board began the process with a 2 hour workshop at its December 4, 2010, meeting in Grand Rapids. Tapping into the expertise at the local Grand Valley State University, the board took a crash course in best practices in non-profit governance. “NCTA has matured a lot as an organization,” stated President Bobby Koepplin in approving this effort. “We’re not the same organization we were even a couple years ago, and our operating world is changing faster all the time. Having a pair of unbiased eyes help us take a look at how we govern ourselves is very appropriate.” “One benchmark of organizational maturity is its willingness to look inward,” stated Terry Horton, a non-profit board governance expert and consultant with the Johnson Center for Philanthropy at Grand Valley State University. “Taking a hard, honest look at yourself and assessing how well you are performing against best practices is critical to a non-profit’s success in today’s climate. It’s what your members expect. And for another thing, as you ramp up your development efforts, you won’t get past a donor’s doorway without your own house being in order.” Terry Horton started out the workshop with a quick review of NCTA’s newly re-developed mission and vision statements, followed by a discussion about motivation; i.e.; why would anyone in his right mind seek board service? She covered board roles and responsibilities and shared an outsider’s view of NCTA’s bylaws related to board representation. Discussion then moved to board priorities, focusing energies on what really matters most. Terry compared NCTA’s governance with current thinking in non-profit management, and suggested NCTA might want to re-examine its bylaws, committee structure and the dependence on a strong executive committee in light of current best practices. She challenged the board’s new strategic plan by asking “how real” the objectives set forth are. After some time at the 40,000 foot level Terry then directed attention at more mundane levels such as conducting board meetings and developing agendas. NCTA ought to be making meetings and board service “so compelling and interesting that folks won’t want to miss it,” and that to be truly effective the board needs to nurture a “climate of healthy dissent.” She suggested that a critical function of the board was in its own development, in the nurturing, recruitment, orienting, training and mentoring of new board members. Another was to have a systematic review and assessment of its performance on a regular basis, suggesting that the signs of a high-performing board included: • A high percentage of engagement (active participation in meetings as well as committee work), • A waiting list for potential members, and • A demonstrated commitment to and visible evidence of having fun as a group while making a real difference. Terry then engaged the board with a discussion of what a high performing board ought to look like. The most critical

thing for the board to “get right” is the relationship between the board and its executive officer. Terry gave an assessment of current thinking regarding best practices in managing this relationship, and made some suggestions for how NCTA could improve through a better clarification of roles in the bylaws while emphasizing the need for direct, candid communication. Wrapping up the workshop, Terry Horton asked each member to suggest areas for board improvement as well as positives that the board liked about the board and the NCTA. Board members then voted to prioritize areas of improvement, noting these top four areas as most critical: • Developing a healthier spirit of collaboration between the executive committee (ExComm), board and executive director; maintain and improve this relationship. • Review the bylaws definitions of the president and the executive director. • Develop explicit performance plan for the Executive Director. • Better planning for board meetings; better use of board time. Other areas noted for improvement included use of the strategic plan to guide board meetings, the need to be more inclusive of all board members, a need for clearly articulated goals, and concerns regarding allegiances, such as chapter vs. national, regional trail organization vs. NCTA. Concerns were expressed about opening up ExComm conference calls, having the board re-examine its governance function, a perceived disconnect between rewards and goals, committee structure, and a need to update or develop job descriptions for both board and executive director. Positives identified included: • Everyone is dedicated. • Board is maturing, on a growth trajectory. • Board meetings are well-attended. There is a sense of purpose. • Board enjoys staff interaction. We have a “terrific, smart and helpful staff.” • Dedicated board and staff having best interests of Association at heart. • Board gets along with itself. • Conference provides opportunities for camaraderie. • Passion of the board and staff is outstanding. • We can combine work with fun. • Quality of board and staff. • Board shares a common vision. • We’re now focused so much more on policy and strategic direction. • Respect the board has for staff is great. • Respect for one another’s views. • Growth in capacity by both board and staff is very positive. “We’re all joined in a mission that’s so big and inspiring. It’s the journey in getting there….” The NCTA board plans to build on this momentum, with ideas for next steps including continuing the workshop in a retreat setting, possibly during the April meeting. January-March 11

The North Star 33

Enhancing the NCTA’s FileMaker Information Management System Laura Lindstrom and Tom Moberg


uilding the North Country National Scenic Trail is a complex task that stretches across seven states and involves thousands of people. The North Country Trail Association is responsible for managing a wide range of information related to building and managing the trail. Have you ever wondered how the NCTA staff keeps track of information about chapters, members, volunteers, dues, donations, conferences, etc.? The answer is “FileMaker.” That is the name of the computer-based information system used by the NCTA staff to manage mailing lists, generate letters, and do many other tasks based on an underlying database of the Association’s important financial and membership data. The FileMaker software system was purchased by the NCTA around 2005. By 2007, the Board and staff members who were implementing FileMaker were no longer involved and a new group of staff members was struggling without documentation or training to understand and use the partially implemented system. Over the next several years, the frustrated staff made some progress in using the system in a limited way but a backlog of work accumulated, the underlying database contained many errors, and NCTA members complained about things like the timeliness and accuracy of mailings and reports. In December 2009, the NCTA staff and Board discussed the problems with the NCTA’s use of FileMaker. The President appointed an Information Systems (IS)Committee to work with the staff to assess and resolve the problems with FileMaker. The National Park Service provided some funding to support the project. Later that month, the Board approved an initial action plan that included a needs assessment, development of a remediation plan, selection of a contractor, and oversight and reporting for the project.

Between January and October, 2010, the staff and IS Committee carried out all the components of the action plan. All the FileMaker applications were assessed and problems and new desired functions identified. A Request for Proposals to fix the problems was developed and a contractor (Greg Adams of Great Lakes Database) was hired. The contractor and staff worked together closely and effectively to implement the newest version of FileMaker, fix all the old applications and develop new ones, clean and stabilize the database, and develop documentation for the system.

34 The North Star

January-March 11

So how will these changes affect the NCTA’s members and chapters? Here are a few examples: • By completely changing the NCTA records management and member naming conventions, all members associated with a membership or household can now be listed on the same record. This is a huge improvement in record keeping. Tracking individual volunteer hours and certifications is also much improved. This data is now located on the same membership record and tracked for each individual belonging to that record. This eliminates the data mess the staff previously had to sift through. • Changes to letters in mass mailings can now be made easily and quickly to ensure timeliness and accuracy. In the past, members may have noticed that renewal letters were a bit stale, with outdated trail news. • When you receive your next membership renewal letter, you will notice the option to ‘Go Green!’ on the renewal form. In 2011 the staff will be rolling out the option for members to receive membership and donation correspondences from the NCTA via email rather than USPS. This is a both a money saving and environmentally friendly choice. • While many of the functional improvements and updates to FileMaker will be invisible to members, chapter leaders should soon see improvements in the membership lists and monthly member reports they receive. The FileMaker enhancement project will continue to pay dividends for the Association in terms of staff time savings, accurate financial and membership data, new opportunities for operating efficiencies, and new services to members and chapters. While there are still improvements needed in areas such as volunteer hours reporting and web access to reports, the FileMaker system is now much more robust, reliable, and functional. The staff is still updating the system and data, so if you see something that looks amiss, please contact Laura Lindstrom or Jill DeCator at 616-897-5987 ext. 3100 to tell them about the problem.

Tamarack Lean-To…Continued

helped as needed. Lots of hands were needed for ground preparation for the foundation, material handling, privy We couldn’t put a new lean-to up unless the old one was repair, privy installation, bench and picnic table assembly, demolished and all traces of the shelter removed except for stone walkway and water diversion berm construction, trail logs that could be used as fire wood. So on April 3rd Gary work, signage, site clean-up, and fire wood cutting and Mallow’s crew tore down the venerable Tamarack lean-to stacking. (the previously buried time capsule was never found). Gary The first major task, and requiring a very significant and found housing for the construction crew at the nearby Lions mathematical skill-set, is that of sorting and determining Club Camp Badger, where the rooms slept two people and which logs are used where. I was totally unaware of this job each room had its own bathroom. The price was reasonable, before and if Margaret Reek were not so skilled at this task I but thanks to the generosity of Eastern Mountain Sports, could see many problems might have arisen. While Margaret our hard-working volunteers did not have to spend any set about that task, a crew of people dug a flat, square and money for housing. Originally, we were going to have to level base for the foundation. Then Ken and his crew began cook outdoors. That turned out not to be the case! Jacqui the task of construction while Bob Collins documented the Wensich, who took on the task of preparing breakfast process. Bob has provided several video disks of the project and dinner for the entire crew for the full week, somehow as well as hundreds of pictures which will be available for use convinced the management of Camp Badger to let her use in conjunction with Ken Reek’s construction manual to assist their commercial kitchen. Jacqui, along with her extremely future lean-to builders. competent partner, Laurie Dando, presented wonderful The project was not complete until several of our chain meals complete with desserts every night. sawyers with helpers followed us on our way out, felling Materials and purchasing are a big headache on any dead or disfigured trees to obscure the access trail used project. The difficulties here are alleviated because of the to transport the logs and materials to the worksite. With marvelous “How to Build a Lean-to” manual authored by Ken a few years of re-growth there will be no evidence of that Reek and Bob Emerson (see below). It contains a complete temporary trail. list of necessary materials as well as the number and size of logs. Roger Hopkins took on the task of soliciting FLTC Lean-to Design – Nov 2009 five quotations and awarding the contract for the building materials. Metal Roofing: Roof boards: SCALE: 1.00” on drawing = 33-1/3” in real space The glamorous part of the project was 10’ 5” in back: 5” overhang 32 1x6” x 16’ rough cut (1.00” in real space = 0.0300” on this drawing) 6’ 5” in front: 5” overhang provided by NYS DEC building the lean-to, starting in late June. Sides: ~2” overhang However, there are technical and non-technical 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 aspects to it. The technical and often very Blue outline: Red outline: Purlins: Five 4”x6”x10’ rafters in back, Two 1”x4”x10’ 2” boards in back, physical crew members built this shelter’s 6x6”x14’, can be PT. Top purlin Five 4”x6”x6’ rafters in front; End Two 1”x4”x6’ 1” boards in front; for is notched 3” into course 11. rafters are OUTSIDE the side logs covering ends of 32 1”x6x16’ 4” foundation, walls and roof, while others of us All purlins EXTEND through side rough cut roof boards SIDE VIEW:

HOW-TO BOOKLET FOR ERECTING A MILLED-LOG SHELTER Over the years, the Finger Lakes Trail's Alley Cat crews have built enough shelters with logs leveled on two sides only, especially with a repeating group of stalwart volunteers, that several of the more clever ones decided to write it all down! So Ken Reek and Bob Emerson, with graphic help from Joe Dabes, created this 49-page downloadable pdf, with all of their experience condensed into one place. Drawings, written instructions, material lists, even a page of the tools required, make life for first-timers way better. Instead of starting from scratch, new crews can benefit from a decade's experience with these shelters, steepening the learning curve happily. The sample page shown is just a tease to demonstrate how much wonderful information is in there. Free copies of the pdf are available electronically to NCTA members and affiliated groups. Contact Jill DeCator at the NCTA office for a copy, Put “Building a Shelter” in the email subject line.

3’ 9”


7’ 2”


8’ 4” max


Front slope = ~16.9

All logs milled 8-1/8” thick on only two sides – by NYS DEC



Logs fastened together with 1/2x12” lag screws; 5/log on back, 3/log on sides; sill sealer foam between logs.

8’ 10” max 37.5” 8’ 1”


24” Lower corner of course 9 is directly beneath front edge of front purlin

Back slope = ~29.6




walls and are uncut.


Ridgeline 23” 26"


9’ 3”


10’ 5”


7’ 11”


9’ 4”


7’ 11”


9’ 4”


9’ 10”

Floor boards: 17 2x10” 8’ 8” PT, running from front to back and extend 2” beyond front of base

Distance from roof top center-line to bottom back of log: Course: 12 11 10 9 8 7

15” 29” 44” 57” 72” 86”

Position rear lag screw forward of where next higher log ends.


Butt joint; dashed line indicates ~2” notch cut into the back log

Screen 6x6” PT 8’

2 x10”x13’ 2”; for support of logs above (optional)

6x6” PT 8’ 8’ 6” Useful floor ~7’ 11” Butt joint; dashed line indicates ~2” notch cut into the side log






11’ 11”


14’ 8”


11’ 11”


14’ 8”


11’ 11”


14’ 8” 1 6x6” PT 12’ 0” (hidden behind are 3 6x6” PT x 12’ 11”) Floor Joists

2 2x10”x39”; for support of logs above (optional) to the left and right of screen

6x6” PT 12’ 11” 6x6” PT 12’ 0” 12’ 0” 1-1/2” 0”

12’ 11”

January-March 11

2 2x10”x39”; for support of logs above (optional) to the left and right of screen

The North Star 35

Irene Szabo

Viewpoints from the trail are frequent. Here we can see the harbor hundreds of feet below, where the Duluth Harbor Basin between Minnesota Point and Superior, Wisconsin, affords harbor space to huge lake ships, with miles of BNSF railroad yards adjacent. Grain, ore...big business, with the vast Lake Superior stretching out into the distance.

Mick Hawkins

North Country Trail Sampler:

Walking Duluth Irene Szabo

Irene Szabo

Group hike on Sunday, August 8th, cheated of the view.

Irene Szabo

Here the Superior Hiking Trail benefits from a city bridge over Miller Creek, without which nobody could cross on this day! (see Miller Creek next page) Lois Judd, Sandy, and Pearl.

36 The North Star

January-March ďœ˛ďœ°11

Sandy walking through young birch, where the trail winds inexorably upward toward Skyline Parkway.

Lois of Arizona enjoying clouds of little birds flitting through the alder thickets. There were at least a dozen winter wrens!

Irene Szabo

en years ago the Superior Hiking Trail went over two hundred miles northward from Two Harbors, a town twenty-some miles north of Duluth, aiming for a junction with the Border Route Trail at what will be the northernmost reach of the North Country Trail. As we read in the Superior Hiking Trail State of the Trail submission, now they are building new trail between Duluth and Two Harbors, and they finished trail from the north side of Duluth south to Jay Cooke State Park in the middle of the last decade. However, back in 2000 when Joan Young walked this stretch, now called the 43 mile Duluth Section, she had to find her own way. Reread the chapter beginning on page 267 in her book North Country Cache and imagine her chutzpah in daring to put together a walkable route through an industrial port crammed against a steep hillside rising from both Lake Superior and the St. Louis River, a route that would manage to get her across active railroads and Interstate 35, too! Her plan to go under I 35 through a huge culvert was scotched by hard May rains that swelled the waterflow, but she found a way anyway. While there were miles of dingy street walking, her trek included many enjoyable stretches, at least when it wasn’t raining, and the attractive Lakewalk immediately north of a harbor busy with ships and trains had already been built. Fortunately for those who like to walk, Duluth’s “civilized” portions climb steeply up its hilly profile, but only so far, and quickly change to quiet residential and then to regions so steep and rocky that they’ve never been built into anything! The quiet two-lane Skyline Parkway traverses much of this no-man’s land, offering frequent parking spots with wonderful views of the harbor directly below, and now is criss-crossed by the new Duluth Section of the SHT. Gayle Coyer, SHTA Executive Director, explains that all those trail miles above the city’s built-up terraced areas involved only two private properties; most of the route is fortunate to enjoy some existing city trails on city land, St. Louis county tax forfeit land, and a little other public land, like that of the University of Minnesota Duluth. Nonetheless, a monumental effort was required to build good trail in such steep and waterriddled places. The last day of the 2010 Annual Conference at Ashland, Wisconsin, offered a hike above Duluth, so some visitors got to see this well-built trail. Torrential rains the night before strained even the best-laid trail, but in most cases the running water went where it should, and the many bog bridging segments and little bridges over hillside rivulets were welcome. As you can see from Mick Hawkins’ picture of the group hike, Duluth didn’t fail to live up to its foggy reputation. After all, this is a city where disputes rumble about whether fog horns for the harbor are too intrusive for the local citizens. Two of us came later in the day for our own hike, so scored some views before the fog returned that evening. We were amazed at how much trail building was required within one little mile, not only wooden structures over frequent wet spots, but careful routing to avoid erosion on a well-used trail winding up a steel hill. While those of us who have no dreams of walking the whole NCT might tend to skip a “city” trail like we avoid roadwalks, we shouldn’t deny ourselves this treat. Frankly, I wish Duluth were closer to home so I could walk more of its scenic trail.

Irene Szabo


Miller Creek after hard rains, crashing downhill toward the St. Louis River. January-March 11

The North Star 37


Pictured Rocks Guided Hike 2011 Led by Mary Coffin

This wonderful sunset taken from the Pictured Rocks section of trail by Bart Smith confirms why we should see his whole program in Dayton.

Midwest Mountaineering presents the 52nd Bi-Annual

Aug 15-21: Day Hiking the NCT in UP’s Pictured Rocks

NCTA’s second Annual Extended Outing will feature sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, It is a day hiking and camping trip on the NCT along Lake Superior’s south shore and will include Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, AuSable Lighthouse, Twelve Mile Beach and more. 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. Contact leader for detailed itinerary and application packet. (315) 6873589. Mary has 20 years experience leading group trips as a volunteer. NCTA membership is required.

100 Presentations 70 Exhibitors including the NCTA

Everything on Sale! Canoe and Kayak Auction Huge Canoe and Kayak Demo on the 14th.

April 15-17 in Minneapolis, MN at the Midwest Mountaineering store, Big-Top Tents and U of M Campus.

Radical Reels Film Festival All details in March at


Midwest Mountaineering was named the 2010 Outdoor Retailer of the Year!

Featuring: Andrew Skurka’s 4,700 mile Alaska and Yukon hike /ski / packraft adventure!

except Radical Reels Film Festival

309 Cedar Ave. So. Mpls MN 1.888.999.1077

38 The North Star

January-March 11

Hike on the Border Route Trail…Continued

We had lunch at the overlook above Watap Lake and the views out through the intermittent fog were different, yet special. Reaching the Campsite at the end of a long, cold day was a great relief. We all tried in vain to dry stuff out. Lowpoints: The intermittent cold rain throughout the day turned to a steady rain after dinner. Florence recorded the following inspirational thoughts from others on the hike: Tom: My inspirations were practical - getting in better shape, improving my hiking boots, water-proofing my tent. Moose do use this trail…people too. Nice rocks everywhere! Walking in the railroad grade was interesting. Matt: My inspiration was singing “O, Canada!” on the Long Portage section today. Bruce: The collective experience of being in the BWCAW equals a feeling of balance for me. Harlan: The heavy rain quit just in time to get out of camp. Even through the clouds the yellow-leaved aspen brighten up the woods. Unfortunately, my notebook got soaked on our fourth day and I couldn't record more memories during the hike. Day five, September 24th: Clearwater Lake campsite to Pine Lake campsite (8 miles) Tom: After a damp breakfast on Friday, we hiked all day in rain and mist, walking carefully because the wet footing was treacherous for pack laden hikers. I was wearing my driest wet clothes, hoping that they might dry en route. Alas, I was wrong about that. While we saw some scenic vistas along the way, particularly above West Pike Lake, I mostly remember looking at wet woods, wet roots, and wet rocks as we slogged up and down muddy hills getting wetter and chillier all the time. At one point in the afternoon, Mike and I sat down along the soggy trail to wring water out of our socks and literally pour water out of our boots. We joked about getting trench foot. When we arrived at Pine Lake about 3:30 p.m., most of us were completely wet and chilled, with wet clothes and gear. I set up my tent immediately and climbed into my semi-dry sleeping bag for an hour to warm up. Eventually, I got up and fixed a hot supper to try to alleviate my shivering. Matt graciously loaned me some dry socks and long johns which I very gratefully put on and then got back in the sack about 7:00 p.m. wearing several layers of mostly wet clothes. After a long, chilly night, it was a real challenge to get up and face the 39 degree temperature, but fortunately the rain had stopped and we were anxious to start hiking and warm up. Day six, September 25th: Pine Lake campsite to McFarland Lake campground (8.7 miles) Harlan: After a rainy night, we all packed up and hit the trail. I stuffed all my wet clothes into my Bear Canister. I gained some more pounds to carry but at least I didn't have to put on wet clothes this morning. Everything was wet at first but the sun came out mid morning to begin a really nice weekend. The sun at the overlooks really brought out the blues of the lakes and the colors of the leaves. We car camped at McFarland Lake DNR Campground and had time to dry out bags, tents, and other stuff in the sun. A Canada Jay looking for food at our picnic table kept us entertained. In the morning we will exchange our backpacks for daypacks. It was a cold night.

Highlights: the end of the rain and the sun’s re-emergence. Leaving the BWCAW and seeing roads, cars, and homes again. Lowpoints: Leaving the BWCAW and seeing roads, cars, and homes again. Day seven, September 26th: McFarland Lake campground to Otter Lake Rd. (12.6mi.) & “cleaning up” in Grand Marais Matt: Our last night on the BRT was also the coldest we experienced. I spent some time looking out of my bivy sack at the exceptionally bright moon and a sky full of stars. At some point in the night; however, the clouds rolled in obscuring the moon and the stars, which was good since the temps didn’t completely bottom out. After packing all our camping gear in Tom’s car (which Tom had left at the Arrowhead Trail trailhead on his drive up to Heston’s) we hit the trail with frost on the ground. The highlight of the morning was seeing the low-lying fog covering the lakes and Pigeon River valley from the numerous overlooks. The hiking was definitely much easier without our backpacks. When the BRT reached the Pigeon River, Bruce and I could not resist the opportunity to skip across into Canada. There were some great viewpoints, especially one near the Otter Lake Cutoff trail that overlooked a beautiful little pond fringed with dark conifers. Possibly the best viewpoint on the entire trail, however, was located just 0.9 miles north of the eastern terminus at Otter Lake Rd. This spot featured a fantastic 270° view to the north, east, and south that did not contain many signs of civilization. Approaching the viewpoint Tom & I encountered two veteran long-distance hikers who were just starting a southbound thru-hike of the Superior Hiking Trail with a detour to the viewpoint. Both were very knowledgeable about the NCT . We made the long drive back south to Grand Marais where we ate at My Sister’s Place before checking into our cabin at Lund’s. The hot shower proved to be a great treat for all and I think we taxed our cabin’s hot water heater. We stayed up pretty late reminiscing, probably because of the electric lights’ novelty. The next day (September 27th) we went out for breakfast at South of the Border Café, did some shopping, and then I videoed some short hike reflection interviews overlooking the Grand Marais Harbor. Overall, it was a great experience and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to share the journey with. For more information about the Border Route Trail or the Border Route Trail Association, visit their website at www., their Meetup group at The-Border-Route-Trail-Meetup-Group/, or their Facebook page at!/group. php?gid=331161508179. To see more pictures from our hike, visit Tom Moberg’s online gallery at BorderRouteTrailHikeSeptember21262010#. To read a longer version of this article, visit http://www.

January-March 11

The North Star 39

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 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: Ken Howell, Land Protection Specialist: Dean Gettinger, Acting Trail Manager: NCTA Chapters: For information about local activities or

volunteering, contact the Chapter representative for your area of interest. We have almost three dozen local volunteer 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. 40 The North Star

January-March 11


1. Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 2. Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Deb Koepplin • (701) 845-2935 3. North Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter Ron Saeger • (701) 232-1612 •


4. Star of the North Chapter Brian Pavek • (763) 425-4195 5. Laurentian Lakes Chapter Ray Vlasak • (218) 573-3243 • 6. Itasca Moraine Chapter Bruce Johnson • (218) 732-8051• 7. Arrowhead Chapter Doug Baker • (218) 326-4030 • 8. Kekekabic Trail Club (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Mark Stange • 9. Border Route Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 10. Superior Hiking Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Gayle Coyer • (218 )834-2700 •


11. Brule-St.Croix Chapter Tim Mowbray • 12. Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 13. Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • 14. Ni-Miikanaake Chapter Dick Swanson • (906) 229-5122 15. Peter Wolfe Chapter Doug Welker • (906) 338-2680 • 16. North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • 17. Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Haas • 18. Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Charlene DeWitt •

2 1

48 5 3

2 4


6 3 42

95 10 14



11 9 13 8 12

LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted






21 38

23 24 19. 20.


Harbor Springs Chapter Jerry Keeney • (231) 526-9597 Tittabawassee Chapter Gary Johnson • (989) 842-3478 • 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 • 22. Spirit of the Woods Chapter Joan Young • (231) 757-2205 • 23. Western Michigan Chapter 24. Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Hawkins • (269) 945-5398 25. Chief Baw Beese Chapter Michael Dundas •


26. NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 27. Buckeye Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Melissa Reed • (937) 381-5100 • 28. Adams County Chapter Andrew Bashaw • (740) 934-2008 29. Little Cities of the Forest Chapter Andrew Bashaw • (740) 934-2008 30. Ohio Valley Chapter Ryan Smith • (740) 374-5666 • 31. Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 •

37 25

36 26

27 27

32. 33. 34. 35. 36.


35 34

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Wampum Chapter Lee Fairbanks • (724) 847-0589 • Butler County Chapter John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 • Butler Outdoor Club (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Steve Bickle • Clarion County Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • Allegheny National Forest Chapter Keith Klos • (814) 484-7420 •


37. Finger Lakes Trail Conference (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Gene Bavis, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 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 January-March 11

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U.P. along the NCT…continued

• a Sunoco-blue swatch of magic marker on our granddaughter’s kindergarten artwork strangely dredges up images of fighting our way through a particularly dense, overgrown stretch of trail as we strained to capture a glimpse of the next (non-existent) blue blaze that reassures us that we are headed in the right direction…or did we lose the trail, again? These and dozens of other postcard-worthy scenic spots provide ample excuse for slipping off into fantasy land, dreaming of those special, hard-earned places along the U.P.’s NCT that only distance hikers can fully appreciate…. Maple Hill, the Shallows, Little Two-Hearted River, the Perched Dunes, AuTrain Camp, Rock River Wilderness, the McCormick Tract, Craig Lake State Park, Sturgeon River Gorge, O-Kun-De-Kun Falls, Old Victoria, the Trapp Hills…NCT wilderness at its finest! Referring to these mind-pictures as “wilderness” is not just an idle metaphor. Absolute wilderness means no people and it took only a few days of hiking before we discovered that a trek on the NCT across the U.P. is synonymous with “no people.” Besides the backpacker Mecca along 42 miles of NCT through the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and a 10 mile section in Porcupine Mountain State Park, backpackers (and day hikers, for that matter) on the NCT in the U.P. are a distinct oddity. Perhaps this reality is where the NCT parts company with its long distance sister trails like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest, which are often characterized as “walking communities” of hikers. In a word, the U.P.’s section of the NCT is really wild, period. In fact, during our August jaunt from St. Ignace to Ironwood, Kathy and I encountered no other backpackers…none, zero, nada…for 23 of the 24 days we were on the NCT! Only for a three hour span on a Sunday morning in the Porkies toward the end of our hike did we have the opportunity to greet several overnight groups who were exiting the park’s trails. But strangely, the NCT’s solitude and wilderness sights account for only a small part of the reason this year’s hike was so amazingly memorable. “Alexander Supertramp” (Chris McCandless in Jon Krakauer’s book Into The Wild) got it right in his final journal entry before he tragically died alone while trapped in the Alaskan wilderness… “happiness [is] only real when shared…” Thus much of the lasting satisfaction of our personal pilgrimage hinged on unexpected and surprising encounters with other special people who repeatedly got us over and through the inevitable hurdles and bumps in the trail, people like: • eight different drivers who went out of their way to give us rides to and from trailheads and towns during our various re-supply stops (more than once we heard, “Understand, we never pick up hitchhikers, but…” ) • the NCT trail crew (from the Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter) who ferried us around a closed section of trail (washed-out bridge) saving us a 5 mile road walk. • a campground host who insisted that we use a supply cabin to escape an ominous rain storm that was scheduled to hit in the night,

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January-March 11

• a member of the NCT Hikers Chapter who put us up in her underground house for two nights and let us use her car to run errands and to take a scenic side trip up to Big Bay, and later, a motel owner in L’Anse who lent us his truck (twice) and even washed our grungy clothes. • the spontaneous meeting of the Superior Shoreline Chapter of the NCT that miraculously convened outside a grocery store of this tiny NCT waypoint when one of the locals heard there were a couple of hikers who needed “roadside assistance” to make the 60 mile jump to Munising (to make up time lost by returning to a downstate funeral of a family member)…and, presto, a driver materialized right there on the street! • a young couple at a trailside forest service campground who treated us to a luxurious 41st Anniversary feast of fresh veggies, brats on the grill, and potato chips when they discovered we were backpacking and might appreciate some “real” food. • a gracious retired couple whom we serendipitously met at a campground on our last night, who eagerly made arrangements to meet us at the final trailhead at Copper Peak to celebrate and take pictures of the completion of our hike across the U.P., then transported us to our car in Ironwood. Trail jargon characterizes these unexpected gestures as “trail magic,” given freely by total strangers called “trail angels.” At times it was simply overwhelming just how accommodating and unselfish these good Samaritans could be. How ironic that many of us flee to the backcountry to escape the press of civilization and its complicating entanglements but return to the rat race with a renewed faith in people whose unselfish acts of kindness reinforce how much we really do need each other! And, speaking of “trail angels,” there is one final group that reaffirms our hope for the human condition. Maybe this particular brand of NCT groupies should be known as “trail archangels” because without them, few of us thruhikers would ever venture into these special wilderness areas. On our hike, we were privileged to meet up with three different volunteer trail crews representing local NCT Chapters. Quietly, patiently, these crews are working to bring their unflappable vision of a continuous, unbroken ribbon of trail from NY to ND another step closer to reality. No fanfare. No glory….just committed groups of weekend warriors armed with digging tools, clippers, chain saws, buckets of blue paint, and very big hearts. Their only source of payment is the satisfaction of knowing that their particular section of trail will be thoroughly enjoyed by generations of hikers whether hiking an hour or a month. Now get out there, fellow backpackers, and enjoy the fruits of their labors! — Dale Painter

Stacy Davis

Dale and Kathy at Castle Rock Road trailhead.

Dale and Kathy Painter live 4 miles from the NCT in Newaygo, Michigan (western side of the lower peninsula.) They celebrated their 41st wedding anniversary while on this year’s NCT hike, celebrated their 40th anniversary last year on the Continential Divide Trail in Colorado, and marked their 39th anniversary while hiking the length of Oregon on the Pacific Crest Trail. Dale is a social worker by profession and works as a grant writer. Kathy is a past store owner. Though not yet retired, they spend six weeks leading mission teams to Mexico, spend a month each spring volunteering at a mission on the Zuni Indian Reservation in New Mexico, have served as volunteer lighthouse keepers for 12 years, and are grooming their three grandkids with a love for the outdoors. Their trail journal and pictures of the UP’s NCT can be accessed at www.

North Dakota and Minnesota Regional Coordinator Matt Davis, fulfilling his winter mission to be our ambassador to the “red plaid nation."

Nostalgia Corner: First NCT Certification Along the Finger Lakes Trail, 12 December 1985


ongtime member, trail caretaker, and photographer Ray Kuzia has been tidying up lately, scanning old slides that were threatening to mold. So he shared these two pictures of New York's first certification ceremony. I checked old issues of the FLT News but that article on this historic moment did not identify any of the dignitaries invited to the occasion. Didn't anybody explain the dress code for a wet cold day in December along a trail? All those guys in suits and ties, wearing street shoes and no hats, worry me. The tall hombre on the right with a hat (of course!) is our dear departed trail manager Howard Beye, while the incredibly skinny dude with lots of hair (what size are those jeans?!?) and holding up the NCT logo is our current mapping director, Joe Dabes. The section of trail involved was Joe and Ray's to build and tend back then, with the aid of the Tompkins Cortland Community College Outing Club. Joe finished the whole FLT end-to-end the following summer (for the first of nine times!) and then RAN the trail a few years later. Now at 71 he wears only a few more pounds, has only a little less still-dark hair, and keeps walking that

whole state wide trail when he's not working with the ArcView program to produce our magical maps. When this picture was taken, none of us had a home computer, much less email. Fax was in its infancy, so most of us communicated with paper mail or the phone, which was a clunky rotary-dial thing hard-wired to the wall. Membership in the Finger Lakes Trail Conference was $7.00. Our maps were hand-drawn on sturdy blue paper. That very winter was the first time I accidentally stumbled across the trail, and thus began the rest of my life. — Irene Szabo January-March 11

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north star



North Country Trail Association

Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Minnesota's Itasca Moraine chapter 2008 snowshoe hike at Hubbard Co 4 and Halvorson Trail at the then newly developed parking area on the NCT. Hikers were “Fast Eddy” Rousseau and Carter Hedeen from Park Rapids, Ted Anderson-Weir, Harvey Tjader and Tom Williams, Bemidji, and Stephanie Lof, Akeley. Photographer: Florence Hedeen.

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.

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