North Star Vol. 32, No. 1 (2013)

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January-March, 2013

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

Volume 32, No. 1

north star

Our Biggest Ever! 2012 State of the Trail Minnesota’s North Shore Inspires NCT Thru Hiker NCTA Resolves Lawsuit in New York


John Heiam

Staff

David Cowles

Director of Development

dcowles@northcountrytrail.org

Jill DeCator

Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator jdecator@northcountrytrail.org

Matt Davis

Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org

Tarin Hasper

Administrative Assistant

thasper@northcountrytrail.org

Andrea Ketchmark

Director of Trail Development

aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org

Laura Lindstrom

Financial Administrator

llindstrom@northcountrytrail.org

Bruce Matthews Executive Director

Above: Paige and her father, Commander Scott Langum with the Coast Guard in Traverse City.

Paige Langum, age 11, on the North Country Trail along the Boardman River in Michigan's northern end of the lower peninsula. Photo by John Heiam.

Board Nominations Open...............3 Call for Nominations....................4 NCTA Resolves Lawsuit...............6 Our Biggest State of the Trail........12 A Note from NPS’s Dan Watson...31 Trail Towns on the NCT............32 History & Community Connects NCT in Kindred, North Dakota...34 Who Will Speak Up?....................35 The A-100 Challenge 2012...........36 Minnesota’s North Shore Inspires NCT Thru Hiker............38 Allegheny River and Sandy Creek Rail Trails................39

Bill Menke

Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin bmenke@northcountrytrail.org

Matt Rowbotham

About the Cover

In This Issue

bmatthews@northcountrytrail.org

Trail Protection and Land Owners.......................40 2013 Chapter/Affiliate/Partner NCTA Awards............................42 5 Good Reasons to Take a Hike....43

Columns

Trailhead.......................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.....................8 NPS Corner..................................5

Departments

Who’s Who Along the Trail.......10 What in the Blue Blazes?............37

GIS Coordinator

mrowbotham@northcountrytrail.org

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2013 Larry Hawkins, President, Lower Michigan Rep. (269)945-5398 · larryhawkins45@wowway.com

Lynda Rummel, New York Rep.

(315) 536-9484 · ljrassoc@roadrunner.com

Ray Vlasak, At Large Rep.

(218) 573-3243 · highpines@arvig.net

Terms Expiring 2014 Mary Coffin, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 687-3589 · maryccoffin@gmail.com

Dave Cornell, At Large Rep.

(239) 561-6512 · onestep@mei.net

Garry Dill, At Large Rep.

(614) 451-0223 · then321elm@yahoo.com

John Heiam, At Large Rep.

(231) 938-9655 · johnheiam@charter.net

Lorana Jinkerson, Secretary, At Large Rep. (906) 226-6210 · ljinkers@nmu.edu

Doug Thomas, At Large Rep.

(612) 240-4202 · dthomas7000@gmail.com

Terms Expiring 2015 Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep.

(724) 526-5407 · joyceappel@windstream.net

Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep.

(724) 234-5398 · JCohen@zoominternet.net

North Star Staff

Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or treeweenie@aol.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design

Tom Moberg, First VP, North Dakota Rep.

The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 32, 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.

Gaylord Yost, VP West, Great Lakes Rep.

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January-March 2013

(701) 271-6769 · tfmoberg@gmail.com

Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep.

(763) 425-4195 · stn@northcountrail.org (414) 354-8987 · gaylyost@aol.com


TRAIL

Board Nominations Open The Board of Directors of your North Country Trail Association is constantly in flux. Some members serve their term(s) and must rotate off the Board, and others resign. Thus, there is an ongoing search for qualified people who would like to give their expertise in guiding the Association and setting the policies and other directions for our staff and volunteers. This year several members’ terms expire, at the next Association Conference. The Board consists of 14 to 21 members, with up to 7 members serving At Large and two members representing the seven states through which the North Country Trail passes. Currently there are 14 Board members, the minimum called for by the Association’s By Laws. Nominations are definitely open at present to fill vacancies in Ohio, North Dakota, Wisconsin, Lower Michigan, and for three At Large positions. Note that the Board needs qualified individuals to fill these positions. We do have a description for Board positions setting forth what we need and expect Board members to be willing to do during their terms. If you know of individuals who might wish to serve or whom you think may be excellent candidates, please request a Board position description, or download from the website. Discuss the possibility with the individual to determine their interest, and if there is a definite desire, let us have their names and contact information to follow up and take the additional steps for nomination. Contact the Nominations Committee, Gaylord Yost, Chair, gaylyost@aol.com, LarryHawkins, larryhawkins45@wowway.com or Dave Cornell, onestep@mei.net.

HEAD LARRY HAWKINS President

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s I write this, the calendar has just turned over to 2013. We are still here, having dodged the Mayan Apocalypse, and I look back on an eventful 2012 for the NCTA. We welcomed Vermont's Middlebury Area Land Trust as our newest Affiliate to the NCTA. They will soon be anchoring the east end of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The folks of MALT along with our NCTA staff and NPS partners have the Vermont extension almost ready to go. We are only a little more paperwork by the NPS and an Act of Congress away from bragging about our trail stretching across EIGHT states. Our Central New York Chapter was active in the celebrations surrounding the new bridge across Lake Champlain connecting us to our new Vermont segment. Yes, you will be able to hike across this bridge. Speaking of bridges, the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter again challenged and hosted hikers on the Mackinaw Bridge on Labor Day 2012. The NCTA and the CNY Chapter stood tall challenging New York Parks' decision allowing destruction of the NCNST trail segment in Madison County to allow snowmobiling. Though this was never a lawsuit that we would win, the legal action taken by the NCTA with the support of our sister trails in New York State caused state and county officials to recognize that actions affecting National Scenic Trails will be scrutinized carefully and challenged when appropriate.

On a more positive note, our new Trail Town program, birthed in Pennsylvania, expanded into Michigan and Wisconsin. I was proud to represent the NCTA and sign the papers in our local Trail Town, Middleville, Michigan. I encourage all of you to spearhead the founding of Trail Towns in your local areas. It is a win-win for everybody. If you have been on Facebook at all, you know that the drive to get the Arrowhead Reroute approved by Congress is alive and well, thanks to our Minnesota folks, the Superior Hiking Trail members, and our NCTA staffers. With Senator Klobuchar on board, a new congressional representative in Minnesota District 08 and strong support from Michigan’s Senators Levin and Stabenow, we are very positive that 2013 will bring the reroute to fruition. One of the biggest and best things to happen to the NCTA was the very long awaited appointment of our very own National Park Service Superintendent, Mark Weaver to go along with NPS’s relocation to Lowell. Mark made it to the 2012 NCTA National Conference, where he received an enthusiastic welcome. He and Jeff have been “hard at it” in Lowell ever since. Hopefully 2013 and the federal General Services Administration will grant them a real office. Speaking of the National Conference, kudos to the Chief Noonday Chapter on their fantastic job of sponsoring, organizing and hosting the Conference. If you missed it, you missed a good one. The event was made most special by the presentation of President Obama’s “Call to Service” Award presented to Richard Kroener, Stan Kujawa, Arlen Matson and Ray Vlasek for their 4000 service hours. The underlying theme of all this? We had a great 2012 because of you. None of this would have happened without you, our members. And you are the ones who will make it a great 2013. Happy New Year! —Larry Hawkins, MD

www.northcountrytrail.org

January-March 2013

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Call for Nominations for 2013 NCTA Awards

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o you know someone who has dedicated himself or herself to the mission of the NCTA: building, maintaining, promoting and protecting this great trail? The NCTA Awards Committee wants to hear from you! We are seeking out those outstanding volunteers and friends who go above and beyond to honor at the 2013 NCTA Conference to be held in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, in August. Look over the NCTA Award categories listed below and nominate that tireless, enthusiastic and committed individual or organization for one of the 2013 NCTA Awards. Complete the nomination form at northcountrytrail.org/members/awards by May 1. Include a one to two page statement that details why your nominee should receive this award.

NCTA Awards Categories: Vanguard : A legislator or other public official whose leadership, actions and advocacy have substantially benefited the Trail. A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contributions to the Trail or the NCTA.

Trailblazer:

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.

A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over the past year in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s).

Trail Maintainer of the Year:

A volunteer, who has demonstrated exceptional leadership leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events.

Leadership:

A volunteer, whose efforts to build coalitions, partnerships or other forms of local support have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the Trail.

Outreach:

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. 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.

A volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail or the NCTA.

Sweep:

Lifetime Achievement:

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.

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.

Distinguished Service:

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 Builder of the Year:

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.

Write a one to two page statement that explains the reason why this person should receive this particular award. Be sure to give us enough detail so we can compare nominees. Deadline for nominations is May 1, 2013.

Recent Award Winners:

Distinguished Service Mick Hawkins

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Communicator Mary Rebert January-March 2013

Trail Maintainer Katie Jo Blau

Lifetime Achievement Irene Szabo


Planning the North Country Trail

Government Bureaucracy. Process. Compliance. National Park Service

CORNER JEFF McCUSKER NPS Trail Manager

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hese often feared words represent bumps in the road (or total roadblocks) toward getting things done on the trail. Trust us. We understand. The National Trails System Act, which established the North Country National Scenic Trail, requires that among other responsibilities, the National Park Service select the route for the trail (“Planning”) and comply with environmental laws that assure that the public knows what we’re doing and has input, that we look at alternatives, and that we don’t destroy irreplaceable natural or cultural resources (“Compliance”). The funds to do this–and to do all the other good work along the trail–come to us by implementing the Act. When it comes to the typical National Park System unit like Yellowstone, or Ozark National Scenic Riverways or Nicodemus National Historic Site, the laws and processes governing planning and compliance are pretty clear. But unlike the “typical” park, North Country National Scenic Trail doesn’t have a true boundary, it doesn’t own any land, it covers seven (soon, eight) states, crosses over scores of federal, state, local and private lands, and accomplishes most of its work in partnership with others. Everything about the North Country Trail is pretty much NOT what the typical NPS park considers “normal.” Consequently, the planning and compliance process that has been developed over the years doesn’t fit well with the reality of North Country Trail. So over the next couple of years, we are working to develop a trail-based compliance process that doesn’t dampen the enthusiasm, timeline and excellent work that the trail volunteers do across the length of the trail. Please bear with us as we slog through this. One result from the National Trails System Act which established North Country National Scenic Trail is the 1982 NCNST Comprehensive Plan for Management and Use (the “Comp Plan”). This 138 page document, which was signed by the Director of the NPS and the President of the

www.northcountrytrail.org

North Country Trail Association, laid out a 3200 mile route for the trail on 74 pages of maps, with 7 pages of narrative description. Among other things, it set the stage for where the trail was to go. Thirty years have passed since the completion of the Comp Plan. It’s time to revisit it and see where we are. A couple of the questions we will be asking are, “How does the actual route of the trail match with the intended route in the Comp Plan?” and “Where are the gaps?” These two questions will then be applied to the trail planning and compliance process that we will “slog through” with NCTA and national and regional planning and compliance specialists. Our goal is to get the planning of the Trail to align with reality of the Trail without breaking the law (always a good thing), and figure out how to link up the isolated segments most efficiently and effectively. We will keep everyone up to speed with our progress on this. Below this large scale corridor planning, which looks at corridors 3-5 miles wide and hundreds of miles long, there is more granular planning for smaller gaps. This has been done by chapters sometimes working with private landowners, and sometimes with local government officials and land managers. We know it can be especially time consuming and frustrating to create routes and protect the trail across these lands. We plan to work closely with all of you to develop an uncomplicated method for doing this that “gets stuff done” while complying with the law. One promising idea to efficiently fill those smaller gaps comes from the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. It is a process called Optimum Location Review (OLR) which is a simple format for setting the objectives and standards for the trail alignment and trail experience in a given area, looking at the landscape and land ownership, and identifying and mapping the best alignment and land parcels needed to provide for that alignment, then documenting the result with signatures of the NPS, NCTA, and local officials or land managers. (Hmmm, strangely similar to how many of you already approach this, isn’t it?) This year we are going to test this format with a few small projects in Michigan and Minnesota. If you have any questions about the National Trails System Act, the Comp Plan, or our ideas to develop a workable, efficient and non-frustrating planning and compliance process, get in touch with us. Jeff McCusker Trail Manager, North Country National Scenic Trail P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331 (616) 340-2004 or jeff_b_mccusker@nps.gov www.nps.gov/noco

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NCTA Resolves Lawsuit in New York State Bruce Matthews

On Friday, November 25, 2011 CNY Chapter trail maintainers were horrified to discover bulldozers, backhoes and chainsaws ripping into their adopted trail.

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his National Park Service (NPS) certified section of the NCNST had been built and maintained over a ten-year period by volunteers in the NCTA-CNY Chapter, under permit from the State, on an abandoned railroad right-of-way in Madison County owned by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). CNY Chapter immediately called the state park manager, only to learn OPRHP, without any communication whatsoever with CNY’s volunteers, had given a permit to a snowmobile club to “improve” the North Country Trail for snowmobile access. Believing this to be an environmental violation as well as a clear abrogation of the North Country National Scenic Trail’s non-motorized status, CNY Chapter leaders

Al Larmann

Before: Representative example—foot trail west of Nelson Road. Trees and brush provided soil stabilization, buffered noise and winds, a four season trail segment.

Al Larmann

AFTER…

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enlisted NCTA HQ staff in an effort to stop the destruction. Discussions with the OPRHP’s regional office were fruitless, so NCTA appealed to OPRHP’s central administration in Albany. In early December 2011 OPRHP-Central agreed to halt the work under permit to the Tri-Valley Trail Riders while they conducted a fact-finding initiative led by OPRHP’s Director of Resource Management. In New York, there is a statute of limitations under NY State Environmental Quality Review Law (SEQR) within which complaints must be filed. Unfortunately, as the winter dragged on OPRHP’s fact-finding effort appeared mired to the point where NCTA would lose any opportunity for legal recourse under SEQR. Thus in late March 2012, a day before the statute ran out, NCTA filed a lawsuit seeking to reverse OPRHP’s actions and to reclaim the damage done to the NCNST, and affirming OPRHP’s commitment to the NCNST as a long distance hiking trail. NCTA’s complaint was based on two points: 1. Violation of SEQR in not conducting an adequate environmental impact assessment, and 2. Violation of the National Trails Act in permitting an activity not allowed under the Act. This was a courageous step, not taken lightly by the NCTA’s Board of Directors. In the best of circumstances lawsuits cost thousands of dollars, funding NCTA did not and does not have. But for the first time NCTA drew a line in the sand in court on behalf of hikers and those preferring quiet recreation. NCTA’s citizen-stewards as well as the NCNST had been marginalized and disrespected, and NCTA stood up on their behalf. The Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Onondaga Chapter as well as the CNY Chapter all stepped up to help meet the financial need. The legal team felt NCTA’s case was very solid on the SEQR violation. OPRHP had issued a permit to TriValley without any planning, notification or due process as required by law; further the on-the-ground damage affected a classified trout stream. Photo documentation offered clear evidence as to the excesses. Even OPRHP’s subsequent efforts to clean up the construction site and minimize stream damage were not enough to cover it up. Documents obtained by NCTA through New York’s Freedom of Information Law subsequently confirmed OPRHP’s awareness of their error and even contained a tacit admission of fault in not following SEQR guidelines. NCTA’s case based on the National Trails System Act was less concrete and likely would be plowing new ground in case law, setting a precedent for interpreting the Act not only in this case but for all national trails. Caution dictated


Al Larmann

To repair the considerable damage visited by the snowmobile club, Parks’ own forces had to perform a lot of work to stabilize the fragile soil, previously held together mostly by honeysuckle bush roots.

Al Larmann

careful advancement since the outcome could have a broad national reach and affect other national trails. CNY Chapter had followed all the protocols in securing NPS certification for all their sections of the NCNST, including this one. Very appropriately, CNY’s volunteers believed their efforts were thus protected. The certification process included assurance that OPRHP supported the NCNST as a non-motorized trail. Unfortunately, the evidence of this was not as strong as NCTA pre-supposed; NPS certification records only supported an assumption of OPRHP understanding based on the issuance of permits and were not conclusive. Further, this process of discovery indicated that trail section certification was fairly unique to the NCNST and in fact not part of the National Trails System Act. And, even further, although the Act is clear about broad-based non-motorized use as a qualifier for national scenic trails, it is not as exclusive as NCTA understood it to be. All of these factors pointed to a lessstrong case than NCTA initially believed it could make under the National Trails Act, the prosecution of which would take considerably more resources to develop the requisite legal arguments. Potentially an adverse outcome could threaten a key legal element (non-motorized) for ALL national trails.

“ We should not be sacrificing the rare and

unique for the commonplace. New Yorkers deserve better.” — Neil Woodworth

www.northcountrytrail.org

NY Parks brought in a huge chipper for many days of work reducing some of the trail-side rubble to wood chips to fill in potential wet dips and try to hold the soil against erosion, while it’s clear that coal-dust filled soil from the old rail bed may still erode into the adjacent trout stream.

Al Larmann

In June the State of NY filed their response to NCTA’s petition, setting forth a series of additional legal hurdles NCTA needed to jump in order to continue the legal action. The State even challenged NCTA’s right to petition the courts. Though clearly a smokescreen for their own culpability, these challenges required a lengthy (and costly) legal response, with a deadline in early September, which NCTA was able to push to mid-October. With $11k already invested NCTA was looking at likely $30 to $40k in legal fees even before the case reached trial. During the summer of 2012 discussion ensued among the CNY Chapter, NCTA staff and the board about the merits of NCTA’s case and possible next steps. Executive Director Bruce Matthews met with OPRHP Deputy Director Tom Alworth in late June, and subsequently proposed a settlement, which the State rejected, not on the proposal’s merits, but taking the rather unusual position of “no negotiation until the suit was dropped.” In debating the merits of continuing the case, aside from the obvious cost burden, NCTA assumed that while it was likely to win on the first point (SEQR violation), all that would be gained would be forcing the State to go through the motions required by SEQR, with little guarantee the NCNST would be returned to its previous state as a primitive footpath. In fact, given local political pressures and the strength of the snowmobile lobby there

View is westward from Harp Road. The cut width ranges from 15 to 25+ feet, far more than the space needed for modest speed snowmobile use. The trail is now devoid of attractions, protection from winds, and has drainage ditches littered with brush and cut trees. Truck traffic reportedly attributable to Tri Valley “maintenance personnel” is apparent. An apt term for the result is “road.” January-March 2013

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was a strong likelihood the NCNST would be opened to snowmobiling anyway, with NCTA’s lawsuit actually abetting the efforts! In continuing the debate on the second point, violation of the National Trails System Act, with little precedent available in previous case law coupled with the NPS and NCTA’s difficulty in finding a “smoking gun” amidst the files, to proceed seemed risky at best, with the risk not only NCTA’s but shared also, perhaps unwillingly, with the entire national trails community. NCTA’s case was not helped by the NPS solicitor’s opinion that NPS had no dog in this fight, refusing even to file an amicus brief on NCTA’s behalf. Matthews presented a recommendation to NCTA’s Board of Directors at the August meeting that NCTA pursue steps to discontinue the suit. Believing that NCTA had accomplished as much as was likely possible under the circumstances, the Board of Directors agreed. In mid-October 2012, with the acquiescence of OPRHP and Tri-Valley, NCTA filed a Stipulation to Discontinue the suit, effectively bringing the legal proceeding to an end. NCTA clearly has OPRHP’s attention at the state level. What remains, now that the legal proceedings are over, is to leverage this new attention to create a mutually respectful environment where the NCNST’s position is validated and secure. In November, Matthews and NPS Superintendent Weaver met with OPRHP Deputy Director Alworth to affirm respective positions. This discussion started the dialog intended to re-build trust and provide the foundation for a new era of collaboration. Much remains to be accomplished, but clearly NCTA is now operating from a much stronger position than before. Still, it has yet to be determined whether any of the ten miles of formerly NPS-certified NCNST in Madison County will remain a footpath within the intent of the National Trails Act. This discussion continues, but at a level much higher and considerably farther from the local politics previously controlling it. As of this writing there have been no permits issued for snowmobiling or any other uses. NPS North Country Trail superintendent Weaver describes it like this: “We’re getting back on track in collaboratively working with OPRHP to bring this world class hiking experience to New Yorkers and all Americans.” “Hiking trails are unique among outdoor recreation destinations,” shares Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club in New York. “New York’s hiking tradition is well established. Our vision in completing the North Country Trail is to extend these benefits to communities along every step of our 625 miles through the Empire State. We should not be sacrificing the rare and unique for the commonplace. New Yorkers deserve better.” For a consideration of lessons learned, please see executive director Matthews’ Meanders column.

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MATTHEWS’

MEANDERS BRUCE MATTHEWS Executive Director

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n the previous pages, readers will find an account of NCTA’s lawsuit adventures this year, where we stood alone against the State of New York on your behalf, trying to protect the interests of our trail and the hardworking volunteer citizen-stewards in our CNY Chapter. In conducting the suit, frankly, we learned a lot, and some of it isn’t pretty. Would we file a lawsuit again under similar circumstances? In a heartbeat! But we’re a whole lot smarter now than we were before this started. The suit has uncovered a number of areas where we are vulnerable. Knowing this we can now more effectively defend ourselves, which, my friends, we need to be willing to do. If we don’t stand up for what’s right for our National Trails, who will? If we don’t aggressively advocate for and defend outdoor pursuits representing the quiet end of the recreational spectrum, who will? I wish I could say things are trending otherwise, but I’m anticipating we’ll be seeing more of these. So what have we learned? What are our takeaways? • We got New York’s attention, and we would not have accomplished that any other way. • Our position would have been immeasurably stronger had our National Park Service (NPS) partner joined us for the fight. Had they been there we would have had NY's Office of Parks’ immediate attention. That they chose not to enabled New York to employ delay and challenge tactics, knowing it would drive up the cost of the suit and make it a lot tougher on us. We had to stand alone, and it was lonely out there on the barricades. To be fair, I believe today our NPS partners would agree to stand with us, but in the NPS leadership void early in 2012 they did not. • NPS certification is no guarantee of trail protection. This has been a very painful lesson for us. I suspect that most of you assumed like our CNY Chapter and I did, that there is a degree of protection associated with certification. Historically certification held internal relevance and cachet between the NPS and NCTA, but it proved meaningless to NY’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) in guaranteeing the NCNST’s route, or preventing conversion to multiple-use. Worse yet, in researching certification to bolster our case, we found nothing to support us. We will do well to continue efforts already underway by the NPS to examine the meaning, purpose and authority for trail certification.


www.northcountrytrail.org

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania NCTA Conference, August 12 through 17 Jacob W. Dingel

• We need a current and viable North Country National Scenic Trail management plan, clearly understood by all our partners. The original 1982 plan is no longer serving the NCNST in a manner relevant enough to have helped us either avoid the OPRHP situation or support our stance with them. Current OPRHP staff knew nothing about it. In 2013 Superintendent Weaver plans to employ some strategies to help nudge this in the right direction. • Maintaining relationships with key agency land managers, and thus holding onto some semblance of institutional memory, is a critical and never-ending job. Particular attention needs to be paid during the frequent swapping out of agency personnel. This is as important at local levels as it is at the state level. It is important for the NPS and NCTA to have a current Memorandum of Understanding between us and every state agency touched by the trail. And it is important that NCTA has good relationships at all levels with agency personnel, something which must be cultivated and is part of a vibrant advocacy effort. For example, in state forests managed by NY’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) the concept of single-use foot paths has gained widespread acceptance as regional management plans have been published over the last decade, with specific protection noted for the Finger Lakes Trail/NCNST in each of those involved with our route. That gradual change has required steady lobbying and nurture, but once it’s written into each unit’s plan, retirement of personnel doesn’t eliminate the concept! • Our hiking community as a whole seems not particularly prepared or poised to engage in legal proceedings. We need to be. • Politics, as distasteful as the process may be to many of us, affect our trail. This is true locally, regionally, statewide and nationally. The better we are at understanding and using politics to our advantage the less likely we’ll get bit in the butt, as happened in central NY. • OPRHP’s actions forced NCTA to take on the New York snowmobile lobby, an unfortunate pitting of one trail interest against another. We need to find ways to create alliances with other trail-based organizations instead of allowing ourselves to be maneuvered against them. • The NCNST, while included and widely mentioned in the NY Statewide Trails Plan (part of NY’s own Outdoor Recreation Plan), was flying way under the radar with OPRHP’s top management. Vigilant and continuous marketing and outreach help protect our investment with widespread awareness of and support for (what’s not to love?!) our national scenic trails. • Use of Freedom of Information laws enabled us to access communications that, while not uncovering any smoking guns, clearly demonstrated a pattern of collusion, political intrigue and the deliberate and pre-meditated disenfranchisement of NCTA’s citizen stewards in Madison County that is an embarrassment to the public agencies involved. Our knowledge of and ability to expose this is helping to leverage current discussions with OPRHP.

Spot Bald Eagles, Osprey and other beautiful birds during one of several planned birding hikes at Moraine State Park and next door neighbor, Cooper’s Lake Campground.

During our week of conference and outdoor fun, there will be hikes, workshops, excursions, and other activities for all ages, such as sailing, canoeing, horseback riding, caving, biking, tours, museum visits, and living history. We can all visit the one and only North Country Brewery, named after the North Country Trail! Before and after the five days of Conference consider offered backpack trips, chainsaw training, and a list of places to visit in the area. We encourage you to stay on campus. The rooms are similar to motel rooms, and the cost of $70-95 per night, per person, includes 3 meals. There is a campground on campus but space is limited. Registration materials will be in the next North Star or online in late March. If you choose other lodging, make reservations EARLY because the International Fireworks Convention will be held the same week in Butler County. A list of alternative hostel, motel, campground, and B&B accommodations is online at northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/special-events/conf.

• Rails to trails initiatives are outstanding and relatively easy ways to create and connect trails. Their ease of acquisition and conversion to trails make them popular targets for multiple use trail advocates, with good reason. If NCTA wishes to maintain allegiance to the notion of a simple, single use footpath meandering through the fields and forests we would do well to consider alternatives to rail to trail conversion. Otherwise we set ourselves up for conflict, as has occurred in Madison County and elsewhere. Conversely, when locating a route on an abandoned railroad right-of-way we may want to adopt proactively a more inclusive approach that enables multiple single track use, where feasible. Our exclusivity in the face of apparent reason can lead to marginalization, and we will never complete our trail without building partnerships that may occasionally require some flexibility on our part. January-March 2013

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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 2 (table of contents page). North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605 www.northcountrytrail.org HQ@northcountrytrail.org Visit our web site; it’s a sure bet that you’ll find most of what you need. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the trail itself!

National Park Service: The NPS is an excellent technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official trail administrator, the NPS sets trail standards, determines trail route, and provides the overall vision for the trail. Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent Mark_Weaver@nps.gov • (616) 430-3495 Jeff McCusker, NCNST Trail Manager jeff_b_mccusker@nps.gov • (616) 340-2004 P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331 www.nps.gov/noco

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.

10 The North Star

January-March 2013

1 NORTH DAKOTA

2 1

1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 mdavis@northcountrytrail.org 2 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Deb Koepplin • (701) 845-2935 • dkoepplin@msn.com 3 North Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter Ron Saeger • (701) 232-1612 • rnsaeger@cableone.net

MINNESOTA

4 Star of the North Chapter Brian Pavek • (763) 425-4195 stn@northcountrytrail.org 5 Laurentian Lakes Chapter Ray Vlasak • (218) 573-3243 llc@northcountrytrail.org 6 Itasca Moraine Chapter Bruce Johnson • (218) 732-8051• brucej@arvig.net 7 Arrowhead Chapter Doug Baker • (218) 326-4030 arw@northcountrytrail.org 8 Kekekabic Trail Club

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Mark Stange • info@kek.org 9 Border Route Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 info@borderroutetrail.org 10 Superior Hiking Trail Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Gayle Coyer • (218) 834-2700 • hike@shta.org

WISCONSIN

11 Brule-St.Croix Chapter Tim Mowbray • tmowbray@earthlink.net 12 Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 • martynct@gmail.com 13 Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • (414) 403-4575 GBPACKR@aol.com

UPPER MICHIGAN

14 Ni-Miikanaake Chapter Dick Swanson • (906) 229-5122 nmk@northcountrytrail.org 15 Peter Wolfe Chapter Doug Welker • (906) 338-2680 • dwelker@up.net 16 North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • (906) 226-6201 nct@northcountrytrail.org 17 Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Hass • SSC@northcountrytrail.org 18 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Kay Kujawa • HSS@northcountrytrail.org

3


3

Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail? 48 7

6 3

5 2 4

42

95 10 14

17

15

11 9 13 8 12

LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted

18

16

19

20

21

22

38

23 24 LOWER MICHIGAN

19 Harbor Springs Chapter Anne Billiard • abilliard@racc2000.com 20 Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Duane Lawton • delawton@torchlake.com Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): (231) 584-2461 21 Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter Jill Ciszewski • mauna42@yahoo.com 22 Spirit of the Woods Chapter Loren Bach • (231) 266-8584 • bachlobach@gmail.com 23 Western Michigan Chapter Chuck Vanette • (231) 408-5664 WMI@northcountrytrail.org 24 Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • nalcoman1@aol.com 25 Chief Baw Beese Chapter Ryan Bowles • bowlesr@msu.edu

OHIO

26 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 tomfortrails@windstream.net 27 Buckeye Trail Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Andrew Bashaw • (740) 394-2008 director@buckeyetrail.org 28 Adams County Chapter hq@northcountrytrail.org 29 Little Cities of the Forest Chapter Richard Lutz • (740) 394-2008 30 Ohio Valley Chapter hq@northcountrytrail.org 31 Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 • bbosley@cceng.org www.northcountrytrail.org

37 25

36 26

27 27

35 34

31 27 32

29

33

30

28 PENNSYLVANIA

32 33

Wampum Chapter Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • Dcgcag@gmail.com Butler County Chapter John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 • stehles@gmail.com Butler Outdoor Club

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

34 35

Steve Bickel • (724)794-3719 • cbickel@zoominternet.net Clarion County Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • EDSDC85@yahoo.com Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • info@rachelcarsontrails.org 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Keith Klos • (814) 484-7420 • nct001@verizon.net

NEW YORK

37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Dick Hubbard, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 FLTinfo@fingerlakestrail.org Additional Maintaining Organizations Coordinated by the FLTC: Genessee Valley and Onondaga Chapters of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Cayuga Trails Club, Foothills Trail Club, Genesee Valley Hiking Club, and Hammondsport Boy Scout Troop 18 and Dansville Boy Scout Troop 38 Central New York Chapter: Jack Miller • (315) 446-7257 • jacobr7@yahoo.com January-March 2013

The North Star 11


2012: Our Biggest Ever! State A Note of Explanation: To help you visualize where each reporting Chapter is located on the trail, we’ve preceded its account with a number for quick reference to the “Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail” map on pages 10 and 11.

Oh, my friends! This is the state of the trail issue, and what a celebration it is. I have the opportunity to view NCTA’s efforts from a truly national scope, end to end, and I get to see the aggregation of efforts and outcomes contributed by each of you and your chapters and groups. With this issue you can see it too, and I can tell you your hearts will swell and your chest will fill and your eyes will water and you will be astounded, awestruck and amazed, yet again, at who we are and what we do. I can’t wait to share it with you. I am so fortunate to be able to serve an organization accomplishing so much. — Bruce Matthews

12 The North Star

January-March 2013

Bobby Koepplin

1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area NORTH DAKOTA - Here is an update for the Lonetree WMA area near Harvey, North Dakota, where we’re still working on the NCT but don’t have a Chapter. Phil Nimps from the Star of the North Chapter and I went out to Lonetree WMA for 3 days this past summer to mow the 32 miles of the NCT. This year, we were able to mow nearly all of the NCT within Lonetree because we utilized a new ND Game & Fish supplied tow-behind DR brush mower that Phil pulled behind his personal ATV. In order to get permission from the ND Game & Fish Department to mow using the ATV, Phil had to show proof of passing an ATV operator certification course. I worked on mowing the sections that Phil could not mow safely (e.g. too rocky, too steep, etc.) with a DR trimmer mower. While less than ideal, the ATV and tow-behind mower allowed us to accomplish with two people in three days what a crew of five could not do in a week using just the walk-behind mowers. A photo gallery from the mowing trip may be found at http://tinyurl.com/LonetreeNCT. Improvements were also made out along the McClusky and New Rockford Canal segments of the NCT located east and west of Lonetree WMA. Ron Lindquist, an NCTA volunteer from Bismarck ND, traversed the 130 miles of canal segments and installed new Carsonite marker posts and/or decals on existing posts. Many of the original decals were so faded and so many of the posts were missing that following the intended NCT route was very challenging. — Matthew Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator, Minnesota/North Dakota

2 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter NORTH DAKOTA - The year 2012 began very pleasantly with a chapter hike at Fort Ransom State Park for National Winter Trails Day. The weather was absolutely gorgeous for a North Dakota January day! We totally enjoyed hiking some new trail in the park which may be a possible re-route for the North Country Trail out of the park to access new trail acquired under the chapter’s Recreational Trails Grant.

SRV July Hike and Campout: Scott and Owen Tichy.


Young hikers at Sheyenne State Forest–Sydnee Ingstad and Steph Hoffarth.

Becky Heise

www.northcountrytrail.org

Deb Koepplin

The Chapter had received a Recreational Trails Grant in 2009 to arrange permissions for trail route on private land but several extensions were granted due to two major flood events which slowed our progress considerably! The project was completed at the end of 2011 and we enjoyed meeting with Jeff McCusker, Andrea Ketchmark, and Matthew Davis on January 17th to discuss the process used to acquire easements, the problems encountered, and lessons learned. We shared reports, financials and many personal stories of triumph and sorrows related to the project. In May, the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter hosted a waterfall hike in the Sheyenne State Forest. We had 17 hikers turn out on a pleasantly cool day, including two youngsters! The waterfall hike is the most visited segment in our area and we are thinking about putting a visitor’s log at the Martinson Bridge kiosk if we can figure out where it should go! Also in May several chapter members took part in ATV training classes hosted by Fort Ransom State Park. Because of the many additional miles of trail we have developed in the last couple of years and lack of volunteers, the chapter acquired access to a used ATV from ND Parks and Rec along with a used pullbehind DR mower. This should help get many miles mowed with minimum effort required by volunteers! It worked great on a couple of trail development work days which were held in June and July in which we succeeded in developing another 8 miles south of Valley City. We also marked 10 miles of previously developed trail and installed 6 pedestrian crossing signs for the safety of our hikers where the trail crosses a county highway. Fort Ransom State Park was the site of our National Trails Day celebration, too! About 20 people hiked some new trail in the morning and most then spent the afternoon on the river. It was a warm sunny day, just perfect for hiking and canoeing or kayaking. In the evening we enjoyed grilled burgers and brats with all the trimmings and a big campfire! On a hot and humid weekend in July, the chapter hosted a backcountry hike and campout along beautiful Lake Ashtabula. A campfire under a typical starry North Dakota night made hiking in the heat worth all the effort! Several chapter members enjoyed the 6th Annual North Country Hiking Fest at Itasca State Park in Minnesota. More would have attended but there was a scheduling conflict that day. Our chapter always enjoys sharing this event with our Minnesota neighbors. National Public Lands Day was celebrated by the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter with a visit to the Knife River Indian Villages and the Western Terminus at Lake Sakakawea State Park. We feasted at nearby Riverdale after hiking those interesting and beautiful trails. After lunch we visited the trail at Audubon National Wildlife Refuge and sections of the McClusky Canal. The weather was perfect for hiking and towards evening the tired but happy crew made their way back to Valley City.

Deb Koepplin

of the Trail

Rick Schlauderaff and Bob Patton driving Carsonite posts for Sheyenne River Valley Chapter.

This has been another successful and enjoyable year for the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter. We hope to start another round of easement acquisition with Recreational Trail Funds obtained by Matt Davis. Environmental and Cultural Review requirements have caused delays in this process but we hope to secure more easements this winter and pass the reviews this spring so we can get to work putting more trail on the ground. — Becky Heise January-March 2013

The North Star 13


3 Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter NORTH DAKOTA The Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter has been primarily based in Fargo, North Dakota, and, with only a handful of members, nearly stopped functioning over the past decade. The DPG’s assigned trail area lies in Richland County, North Dakota, across a 30 mile area between the Red River of the North (the Minnesota – North Dakota border) and the Sheyenne National Grasslands, which contains a 26 mile section of the North Country Trail that is open to hikers, cyclists, and equestrians. Until just recently, there was no off-road trail in the Red River Valley, one of the longest gaps on the entire North Country Trail. During 2012, the DPG Chapter started coming to life again. We have identified a new “provisional” route of about 50 miles of potential offroad trail and low-traffic on-road options across the Red River Valley in Minnesota and North Dakota. We have about 8 miles of off-road trail under construction in Richland County and about 3 miles of new trail completed in the Ekre Grassland Preserve. We set up the Red River Valley Outdoors Meetup online group, which now has about 120 members, to arrange hikes and recruit trail volunteers. Dozens of volunteers, including DPG members, Boy Scouts, and NDSU students, worked on trail projects. Our plans for 2013 include continuing to rejuvenate the Chapter, building more new trail, installing bog bridges, stiles, kiosks, and signage, negotiating trail easements and use agreements, and getting funds to purchase and equip a tool trailer. — Tom Moberg

14 The North Star

4 Star of the North Chapter 4 MINNESOTA - The Star of the North chapter protects and maintains a section of trail near the east end of the Chippewa National Forest along with our partners from the Walker Ranger District of the USFS. It was a year of discovery where we witnessed human and, well…non-human activities along the trail and in the forest itself. Nature provided us with heavy rain in the spring, taking with it road bed 15 feet deep and twice as wide and another section of trail that went under several feet of water. Trees went down near where the trail crosses the Boy River, leaving many old growth trees and root balls lying across the trail. Between MN 84 and MN 200, the chapter has spent over two years clearing sapling stumps off the trail in the first mile, and widening the trail through some very tall grass. Clearing vistas to the wetlands and Crown Lake continued to evade the chapter in 2012. Restoration of Crown Lake camp site began, but additional items need to be completed this year. One very important improvement will be trailhead signs and mileage signs posted on trail. We anticipate work to progress in 2013. Off the trail, recruitment and sharing the story went well at the Midwest Mountaineering Outdoor Adventure Expo in Minneapolis. The booth had visitors from five of the seven states and showed support for both the NCTA and the NCNST. Several young sturdy men offered to help in the spring to help build and maintain trail. They only asked if we would feed them. NICE! A young teenage girl’s father shared his daughter’s ambition to hike all of Minnesota and Wisconsin prior to finishing high school. Wow! She must be a Joan Young admirer. Our information specialist continues stalking buses welcoming folks to the NCT and outdoor adventure. I am not kidding: if you see an old beat up red Ford pickup, this is Phil chasing down tour/school buses and offering them a brochure from the Red Plaid Nation. He’s getting the job done. Thanks, Phil!!! The best news is we are seeing hikers from other states on the trail, most recently Oklahoma and Iowa. The most promising news is we converted some vacationing family members who were road-walking to come and take the trail back to their cabin. There was some hemming and hawing, too many bugs, critters and stuff. As we turned and began to walk away, to our amazement they decided to give it a try. As we continued east they entered the trail at east Macemon Rd. heading toward west Macemon Rd. We could hear in the distance their excitement. “Wow! Look at this. Did you see that? Oh, my gosh, this is wonderful. “ It was a good day in the woods. — Brian Pavek 5 Laurentian Lakes Chapter MINNESOTA - The trail building construction season of 2012 was the most productive of the Laurentian Lakes’ seven year existence. Through a concerted effort by volunteers and the Minnesota Conservation Corps, twenty-one miles of new trail were completed and certified. The majority of these miles (14.5) are located in the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is unique in that it lies in the heart of one of the most diverse vegetative transition zones in North America, where northern hardwood forests, coniferous forests and the tall grass prairie converge. This diversity of habitat brings with it a wealth of wildlife. Previously there were only 2.5 miles of designated hiking trails in the 43,000 acres. Now hikers, photographers, and hunters have opportunities to access and enjoy new areas. This was all made possible through the many hours of meetings and negotiations at the national level along with an extensive cultural resource review that resulted in the final approval for trail construction. (See article on same in North Star, Vol. 31 No. 3-4.) Members were also responsible for building 1200 feet of puncheon this year. One of the puncheons is 996 feet in length and passes through a tamarack and spruce bog. The chapter hosted eleven hikes throughout the year and is helping with a guidebook on the 150 contiguous miles now completed in Minnesota. — Karen Stenberg, Communications Director

January-March 2013


6 Itasca Moraine Chapter MINNESOTA - At times one overlooks how the North Country Trail makes one feel. We got some help on this from Erin who left a poem in the comment box at the Nelson Lake kiosk in the Paul Bunyan State Forest. On May 13th, 2012, she wrote: Came out to celebrate my 31st birthday To celebrate I came alone. No other place could feel like home. The sun was bright, the breeze was strong. My true regret…I couldn’t stay long. My soul is soothed, my skin burnt I’m grateful for lessons learnt. As I leave the North Country Trail Prepared to let my dreams set sail I hear the cooing of a loon and I smile to know I’ll be back soon. We celebrate another year of work and play on the NCT. Sitting at my desk I also smile to know that I’ll be back on the trail soon (tomorrow at 12 noon). This year we developed a new chapter map and brochure, secured funds for printing and had it printed by the end of May. Later in the spring a crew made campsite improvements constructing a privacy screen at the latrine and clearing for another improved tent site at the Waboose Lake campsite. This site was recognized by Todd McMahon (aka T-man) as one of the “Coolest Backcountry Campsites on the NCT in Minnesota.”

Then attention was focused on a perennial “problem area” with no obvious solution. Approval was granted and the problem solved with a 130 foot puncheon. A short distance from this site a bench was installed at the Robertson Lake scenic overlook. Like everyone in our area we were impacted by the July 2nd blow-down. Shortly after the storm we were out on the trail with an extra effort clearing and reopening about 15 miles of trail. A notable addition to this year’s hike schedule was planned and publicized by Jerry and Beth Trout. Four mid-week hikes were held in July and August targeting resort patrons. Mailings were sent to over 120 resorts between Osage and Longville, Minnesota. Plans are in place to do mailings and hikes the summer of 2013. The Chapter applied for and got an AmeriCorps-National Civilian Community Corps team to help construct trail. They came, they saw, and with the help of a dedicated core of ITM volunteers…they conquered! The 4.5 mile loop trail around Waboose Lake was finished in early October and a 40-foot puncheon was installed. The trail is signed, blazed and “open for business.” The Chapter has started a process we are confident will help promote the NCT in north central Minnesota. The Laurentian Lakes, Star of the North and Arrowhead Chapters have been recruited to help. Together we are in the process of collecting information to produce a trail guidebook. From west to east, the guidebook will include maps and information starting at Minnesota Hwy 34 east of Detroit Lakes going north through the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge and east across Becker County and Itasca State Park. Coverage will continue eastward across Hubbard County Land and the Paul Bunyan State Forest as well as the Chippewa National Forest in Cass County to Minnesota Hwy 6 northeast of Remer. The guidebook will cover 155 miles of trail. Linda Johnson of the ITM Chapter is coordinating the effort assigning and gathering volunteer write-ups. She then sends them on to Susan Hauser, our editor. Susan is in the process of putting things together in one voice as well as contacting potential publishers. Plans are underway for next year and include several reroutes, two more loop trails, and benching to improve the trail.

www.northcountrytrail.org

Matt Davis

Karen Stenberg

Laurentian Lakes Chapter constructed this 996 foot long puncheon in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge.

Itasca Moraine Chapter: The Americorps-National Civilian Community Corps crew pose with Bruce Johnson in front of Waboose Lake during the project orientation. January-March 2013

The North Star 15


On Nov. 19, 2009, the NCT was completed across Hubbard County. In the State of the Trail issue of the North Star (Spring 2010) Carter Hedeen wrote, “We are finished! But we are not done, and won’t be anytime soon. Looking forward to it!” Three years later and reflecting on next year’s plans one cannot help but think, “Very good, Carter, how insightful!” — Bruce Johnson

Matt Davis

Superior Hiking Trail Association: 32-foot bridge over Flute Reed River built by Maranatha Christian Academy engineering students. Photo supplied by Maranatha.

Itasca Moraine volunteers work with the Americorps-NCCC crew digging sidehill trail along the Waboose Lake loop trail.

Matt Davis

10 Superior Hiking Trail Association 4 MINNESOTA - It was a good year for the Superior Hiking Trail. We opened a new 9.0 mile section of trail in June and featured a hike on the new section on National Trails Day. We constructed another two new sections of trail totaling 14 miles with the assistance of over 80 volunteers contributing over 2,000 hours of labor. Volunteers worked during the weekdays or participated in five weekend work campouts hosted by SHTA with marvelous meals cooked by our Volunteer Coordinator. The new sections included three new backcountry campsites and two small bridges. The sections will be officially opened on National Trails Day in 2013 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and two hikes. This will complete the last gap in the trail from Duluth to Two Harbors. The trail will then be contiguous from Jay Cooke State Park to just short of the Canadian border, where it connects with the Border Route Trail. The SHT main trail mileage will then be at 311 miles. A 500-year flood hit the Duluth and Two Harbors area in June. We were able to recover with many bridges put back in place and several new bridges built. However, the trail is still closed in Jay Cooke State Park and western Duluth. We had volunteers who adopted 77 trail sections, 92 backcountry campsites, and 51 trailheads, and helped with five scheduled maintenance work projects. The Forest Service built three new bridges and the Maranatha Academy engineering class built a new 32´ bridge on Flute Reed River. We also offered eight guided hikes and one backpack trip. As I end this report every year, 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, Executive Director Itasca Moraine Chapter: Hikers pause under the old growth Norway Pines found along the Nicollet Trail (a side trail off the NCT) within Itasca State Park during the North Country Hiking Fest this past August. Yes, more people refer to Red Pine as Norway Pine out here which is interesting. It got the Norway name because of how it grew near Norway, Maine. It was the pine loggers who brought the moniker out here to the Lake States with their crosscut saws.

16 The North Star

January-March 2013


Sharon Robertson

Superior Hiking Trail Association: Benching new tread.

11 Brule-St. Croix Chapter WISCONSIN - The Brule-St. Croix Chapter’s year focused on trail building, trail maintenance, and activities to encourage hiking and build chapter membership. The Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew’s “Year of the Puncheon” ended with more than 2100 feet of wooden walkway built, capping a four year project to complete trail in the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. Just over 4 miles of new trail opened this year. The new segment crosses a highly scenic area near the St. Croix River that presented special construction challenges with rough terrain, numerous small wetlands, and difficult access. The Roving Crew’s efforts were recognized with the Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service in the Midwest Region from the NPS, and Crew member Dick Kroener was one of NCTA’s Trail Builders of the Year. Trail adopter activities began in the spring with annual adopter training at the Highland Town Hall near Lake Nebagamon. Trail Maintenance and Adopter Coordinator Phil Anderson manages more than 20 adopters using two sets of equipment over more than 50 miles of trail. The chapter’s 16th annual National Trails Day celebration provided three guided hikes in the Brule and Solon Springs areas, and a potluck lunch at Lucius Woods County Park. More than 40 participated. An Eagle Scout project is helping attract new members. Scout Matt Thom raised funds to purchase and install literature boxes at our trailhead kiosks. The boxes are stocked with membership forms as well as brochures and maps. The chapter continues to sponsor a hiking club in the Solon Springs area and co-sponsor a club in the Iron River area with the Chequamegon Chapter. Our hiking clubs build interest in the trail and help attract new members. During the year, the chapter welcomed Jim Noble as the new chapter secretary and Dave Zosel as chapter webmaster. Chuck Zosel was recognized with the Chapter Honor Award. Chuck is a founding chapter member, serving as a trail adopter and chapter officer throughout our 16 years. Chapter goals for 2013: more members, designation of Solon Springs as an NCT Trail Town, a new campsite at Aden Creek, new highway signs for our rebuilt trailhead on four-lane US 53, and more trail construction as we continue toward the Minnesota border. — Peter Nordgren www.northcountrytrail.org

11 Brule-St. Croix Rovers Crew WISCONSIN - If 2011 was known as “The Year of The Bridges,” then by all logic 2012 will be known as “The Year of The Puncheon.” During seven of the eight trips, we constructed boardwalk-style puncheon in what we have been calling the Spring Creek West segment (Spring Creek to Moose River). Except for one month, when we took a break and constructed tread within the new addition to Copper Falls State Park, we became experts in straightening twisted beams and screwing down deck boards. In total, we built 16 structures totaling 2,100 feet, all of it in Wisconsin. 2012 is the 15th year since we began functioning as a crew. Equaling 2011, our crew again got together a whopping eight times but our smallest turnout during any month was nine participants, breaking all previous records and besting 2011 by two people. Is it any wonder we got so much done this year?? This is a far cry from how the crew started out in 1997. At that time, there was no tool trailer, 2-3 people participated, and camp was much less sophisticated than it is today. In total this season the Rovers tallied a whopping 2771 volunteer hours with a calculated value of $60,380. Canoeing in April across the St. Croix River to get to work, we began in earnest to draw down the material piles that were brought across the river last summer. Moving material to the east from the river landing, we finished the last puncheon, which we had started on in November, between the river and the Gordon ATV Trail. Now, we turned in the opposite direction and started working on the structures between the river and the Gibson Cabin. Because we purchased the treated wood a couple of years ago, when the NPS funding came through, and because it has been stored outside, the long beams are severely twisted. Over the past winter, John Pearson invented a metal jig with a hydraulic jack that works extremely well to straighten them. While it rained much of Thursday during our May week, we still made good progress even though the water in the wetlands was sometimes deeper than our boots (partially due to time of year). Notably, by August the same wetland was dry. By the end of the week, we had finished the second long puncheon west of the river landing. We continued our puncheon construction heading west toward the Gibson Cabin in June. By late on Wednesday, we finished the last of the puncheons in this area so part of the crew started to use the canoes to haul some leftover beams and sills back across the river. By the time two of us had driven the Powerwagon full of tools out to the road, the rest of the crew not only finished the water ferry but they also brought everything out to the road where we picked it up later in the week. Not only did we work to get stuff across the river in the first place, but we unfortunately had to work to get some back across the river once again.

Continued on page 18 January-March 2013

The North Star 17


Bill Menke

In July we continued our puncheon work eastward. The week turned out to be extremely hot and much of the time we worked in the direct sun. The coyotes were especially vociferous that week and serenaded us almost every night in camp. Neat! In August we worked from a new access point and started west from Spring Creek. While the weather was more moderate than last month, we were again working in the full sun, as we progressed across the longest of the area wetlands just west of the creek. But, by the end of the week, we had built the long 288-foot set of puncheon near the creek and had also completed about 50-feet of the next one (now inside the shaded woods). In September we continued puncheon construction. October was a big change of pace as we travelled to a large new portion of Copper Falls State Park to work on lands that were purchased specifically for the trail and for an expansion of the park by the combined efforts of the National Park Service and the Wisconsin DNR. In addition to a break in location, we also got a break from our hammers and drill/drivers and returned to our roots, picking up mattocks and McLeods as we build 0.53 miles of beautiful new trail tread by the end of the week. Near the end of our work, we reached the bluff overlooking the Bad River and created a beautiful vista. November found us on the Spring Creek West segment again, building puncheon. We dreamed of possibly completing all work on this segment, which we began working on in October of 2008! Some crew members questioned this goal, but sure enough, by 2 PM on Wednesday we finished the last of the puncheon structures. While moving the first load of tools back, we tackled an additional 16-foot causeway where we had noticed occasional standing water over the years. Spring Creek West is a HUGE job to have finished, one that has required us to move almost 40 tons of treated wood into where it was needed (15 tons across the St. Croix via canoe) and required 7,000 hours of volunteer labor to complete. Through various project awards, the NPS provided $26,442 for this segment. But the end result is worth it as there are now an additional 4.2 miles of beautiful new trail in Wisconsin. This segment includes several views of the National Scenic River, old growth white cedar groves, and the Gibson Cabin, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Certification by the NPS has already been applied for.

A section of completed “Type 3 Puncheon” by the Rovers Crew winds through wet woods.

Bill Menke

Crew members with battery-powered drills and screwdrivers, fastening deck boards.

Bill Menke

— Bill Menke

Marty Swank

The miraculous Powerwagon carries hundreds of pounds of lumber for Rovers’ puncheon projects.

Bill Menke

Gibson Cabin along trail newly completed in Wisconsin by the Rovers’ Crew.

18 The North Star

Chequamegon Chapter: Rick Pomerleau and Mary Stenberg with new destination sign/register box at the Western end of the Porcupine Lake Wilderness NCT.

January-March 2013


12 Chequamegon Chapter WISCONSIN - We finally had a year with minimal major wind events for most of the maintenance season! A very large part of the Chapter’s gains for 2012 are the results of successful completion of NCTA field grants for new destination signs and trail register boxes and a field grant for printing the Chapter’s Brochure/Map. Mary Stenberg completed the grants and Rick Pomerleau and Mary made and installed 21 destination signs, 3 interpretive signs and installed 10 trail registration boxes. The new signs not only provide hikers/backpackers more confidence about locations, they also make the trailheads more noticeable. The Chapter also replaced some greatly needed wooden puncheon/bridges, after securing most of the funding from the USFS for material and some additional tools. The engineering/material needs and crew chief duties were provided by Rick Pomerleau. Rick and Mary were awarded the Chequamegon Chapter’s prestigious “Major Contributor Award” at the Chapter’s Annual Business/Planning Meeting on November 10th, 2012. Mike Trieschmann provided the leadership for the Chapter’s first and highest attended event of the trail maintenance season for 2012 and also for the trail improvement in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness beaver problem area. Donn Christensen, Trail Adopter for this section of NCT, also provided leadership for this event. Mike was also the Chapter spokesperson for a City of Mellen “Trail Town Ceremony” and led the following hike and trail maintenance. Rose Wooley has been spearheading the Chapter’s effort to have the City of Mellen designated as an Official Trail Town. Rose is the Chapter’s Trail Adopter for the City of Mellen Hike and Bike Trail along the Bad River. For 2013, the Chapter will be reclaiming a lost section of NCT from a July 2011 major wind event that devastated a large portion of the Chequamegon National Forest NCT. The damage included a large chunk of the Drummond Ski Trail System/NCT that was finally re-opened by the USFS just before deer/rifle hunting season in November of this year after loggers completed the harvest of downed trees. The Chapter still needs to remove some rocks, roots, left over logging slag, correct any missing trail markers and smooth out some sections to prepare for intensive brush mowing. With a lack of tree cover, the section will quickly become overgrown without frequent brush mowing. The Chapter will also be working closely with the Great Divide District of the USFS in 2013 to procure the needed approval for building or replacing puncheon/ bridges and correcting other trail problems on our Eastern Sections of NCT.

13 Heritage Chapter WISCONSIN - Big things happened on the Heritage Chapter’s turf this past year. All in all, events and activities combined to make 2012 one of the best years the Chapter has had in its 16 year history. First, the National Park Service has been working on developing its preferred routing between Copper Falls State Park and the Michigan state line. With Jeff McCusker coming on board the Park Service’s roster, and his hard work to make it happen, the Preferred Corridor was revealed this past fall and will be used by the Chapter to guide its attempts to complete the trail in its area of responsibility. Several public involvement sessions were held in Hurley over the past several years and comments and concerns were taken on the trail routing from interested citizens, organizations, and local governments. The northern routing near the Lake Superior shore makes maximum use of public lands and will require a minimum of easement acquisition from willing sellers. With the route finally resolved, Chapter volunteers can now relax and know for certain that the location on which they are working will be permanent and not subject to possible changes. A second major event was the securing of easements for 6 miles of trail coming out of the north end of Copper Falls State Park, near Mellen. Ben Bergey, Park Superintendent, has been working diligently since he began work at the Park to make this happen. Several miles of the new trail location are along the eastern rim of the north-flowing Bad River and its spectacular canyon. The trail then turns east and heads toward scenic and remote Wren Falls on the Tyler Forks River. Chapter volunteers this past year have made significant progress in marking and building trail on this stretch. They were able to complete 1½ miles of trail and located and brushed another 1½ miles in preparation for completion in 2013. The Potawatomi Tribal Community Foundation has made much of this possible with its grant for trail construction work in 2008. Another major occurrence in 2012 was the vote on opening a mammoth iron ore mine in the watershed of the Bad River. The Bill that the Wisconsin Legislature produced was voted down by a narrow margin and the threat of the mine and its environmental impacts subsided for the moment. But politicians being politicians, the Bill will probably resurface again. The mine, 4 miles long, a thousand feet deep and 900 feet wide would be visible from some places along the North Country Trail and possibly pollute the Bad River and its tributary, the Tyler Forks. But the good news is that the Chapter had a banner year in securing volunteers. Most weekend events produced at least a half dozen volunteers and most of the time up to 10. We continued our successful Intern program and in 2012 had two of them on board. Travis O’Neill, a student at UW-Madison, and Marian Benham, student at Northland College in Ashland were with us for all of our events. Both were exceptional Interns. This was Travis O’Neill’s second year with the Chapter. And additional good news is that Laura DeGolier, our Chapter Secretary and Wisconsin Advocacy Chairperson, arranged a successful major advocacy event in Mellen. The northern representative for US Representative Sean Duffy, Mary Willett was invited to a Trail event in Mellen and spoke to a large Saturday morning gathering of citizens before hiking a segment of the Trail. Ms. DeGolier’s purpose for this event was to familiarize the Congressman with the trail and its benefits, since his District includes all the trail in Wisconsin. — Gaylord Yost

— Marty Swank www.northcountrytrail.org

January-March 2013

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Todd McMahon

Heritage Chapter working on trail above the canyon north of Copper Falls State Park. 14 Ni-Miikanaake Chapter UPPER MICHIGAN - This past year a number of our chapter members spent an exuberant amount of time walking. We walked through swamps, sometimes with mud over our ankles. We waded streams we could, found fallen trees or beaver dams to bridge other places. Walked old logging roads, some now so overgrown, we found it easier to parallel them a few feet back into the woods. Why? Our chapter, located in the far western end on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, still has some of the most beautifully rugged country in the Midwest. No big mountains, but a fair number of good sized hills, and valleys, with rivers and streams and boy, do we have trees. We have been looking for routes through this rugged country where we can establish the North Country Trail. We have had to relocate a couple sections of the trail due to land ownership and land usage changes. We are also looking at a reroute to improve a section of trail to a more scenic and more easily maintained route. Our final endeavor is to add a new section of trail to connect the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to a state park in Wisconsin. Finding a location for the trail and getting permission to put the trail on the ground takes a lot of walking, not to mention a fair amount of talking also. We are pleased to say that we are well on our way to accomplishing this task. We established a reroute of one section, which still needs a bridge and another small project to complete. The trail is developed, blazed and already being used. Our second reroute is laid out and going through the easement process. We plan to clear, blaze and finish that section next spring. This 20 The North Star

reroute will also require creating a new trailhead, which has been laid out, but won’t have access to the road until next spring. One new section of trail is also awaiting approval and final route location. It will probably require a little more walking. Our chapter built three bridges of 12, 14 and 18 feet this summer. We found that pre-building the bridges in a garage and then just hauling in the components and reassembling them was a lot easier than hauling all the tools and materials in and building on site. During reassembly of the third bridge we had the pleasure of seven students and two instructors from the Conserve School to assist us. We managed to rebuild a bridge that got smashed by a large tree, mowed many miles of trail, installed birdhouses with maps of trail sections, and did a lot of stick flicking, branch tossing and blowdown cutting, always with great conversation among some of the nicest people you may ever want to know. We did our second “Fall in Love with the Outdoors” again this October. We had 25 people along with a half dozen chapter members and a couple Ottawa Forest people brave the weather, 3 inches of snow inland, but just a slight drizzle down by Lake Superior. The day turned out to be a great day of hiking, and we enjoyed a warm fire and lunch at the pavilion at Black River Harbor and ended the day on the chair lift ride up Copper Peak. Our saddest point of the year came in September when we learned that one of our staunchest supporters was being transferred to Wyoming. Melanie Fullman and her husband Bill were both very active members of our chapter. Melanie was awarded the Friend of the Trail Award this year. Our final endeavor has now become our December meeting. We hold what is called “the slide to eternity” which finds normally intelligent folks sliding down a rather steep, snow covered drive on plastic sleds in the dark. The faint of heart wait for their return around a glowing fire, until all have had their time on the slope. We then retire into the house for a great pot luck feed fit for a king. — Dick Swanson

January-March 2013

15 Peter Wolfe Chapter UPPER MICHIGAN About 70 miles of our 85-mile trail were maintained this year. Some of our focus has been on the Norwich Road to Victoria section, which will be a featured hike in the upcoming NCTA book on recommended hikes in each chapter’s area. In 2013 we plan to focus on the same areas, but also need to deal with considerable blowdown and missing blazes in areas where old blue plastic blazes have not been replaced for perhaps 20 years. Another chapter priority is to connect the east end of our chapter’s trail to the west end of the NCT Hikers Chapter’s trail. This will involve some new trail construction (begun in 2012) east of the Matt-Manger Lynch Shelter as well as obtaining permission to walk gated roads. We hope to hold a chapter-sponsored Volunteer Adventure to complete the new trail. We’re also getting permission for hikers to walk through timber company lands between US 41 and HermanNestoria Road, and continue to scout a trail route from Herman-Nestoria Road to Tama Siding Road. A 16-ft. pre-existing bridge was moved close to the NCT below Canyon Falls, and will be installed next year. A steep side trail connecting Norwich Mine and the NCT was checked out this year and will be upgraded in 2013. The ford of the East Branch of the Ontonagon River is sometimes dangerous to cross, and the bypass is quite long. We are hoping to work with the Ottawa National Forest to provide a bypass trail on either side of the river. Our 12 year-old DR brush mower is showing its age, and with luck we’ll get funding to replace it this coming year! — Doug Welker


Lorana Jinkerson

each received a certificate as they finished the Big Mac Bridge Walk on Labor Day, Monday, September 3. Currently, we have a 4.6-mile road walk from Rock River Road in Alger County through the Rock River Canyon Wilderness in the Hiawatha National Forest. We met with the Forest Rangers Dick Anderson and Mark Bender to discuss the possibility of moving the trail off the road walk and through the Rock River Canyon Wilderness. We have scouted two possible routes and the Forest Service will make a decision in the next year about which they will approve. We are looking forward to getting off-road trail in that area. — Lorana Jinkerson

www.northcountrytrail.org

NCT Hikers: Destination Sign at Wetmore Landing.

Lorana Jinkerson

16 North Country Trail Hikers Chapter UPPER MICHIGAN - The arrival of an early spring in the Upper Peninsula brought forth the opportunity for the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter adopters and Trail Crew to hit the trails earlier than normal. Working most Wednesdays and Saturdays throughout the season helped us to get all segments maintained, including repairing a couple of bridges before we began some much needed re-routes and new trail building. The largest re-route was on the Laughing Whitefish Falls Spur trail where we diverted away from a wet, boot-sucking, mucky area that has been the bane of all and found a smallunnamed waterfall to pass by. We were lucky enough to have once again a Northern Michigan University student request a Leadership Internship with our chapter. Sarah Cousineau, from near Chicago, committed to work 100 hours with us on a variety of tasks from trail maintenance to doing a presentation at a General Membership Meeting to participating in our monthly Board of Directors Meetings. One of her goals is to bring more young people to the organization, either for hiking and/or working alongside her to build, maintain, promote and protect the NCT. She stayed in Marquette over the summer which gave her multiple sessions on the Trail Crew, sometimes bringing a friend or two from NMU along with her. Tom Lakenen, owner of Lakenenland Junk Sculpture Park off M-28 east of Marquette, has generously built a tent site and fire pit at the back of his property that hosts our trail. This is our first private property camping site for hikers using our trail. Tom plans to add a shelter in the future. Thanks, Tom. Landowners like you help make our trail so great. We applied for and received another NCTA Field Grant to continue our destination sign project from 2011 with 15 additional signs. The Huron Mountain Club, through the Marquette County Community Foundation, also provided us with a $1000 grant towards the signs. Unfortunately, we learned that one of our 2011 signs had been stolen so we ordered a replacement as well. With the completion of Phase II, this project has brought the trail much needed recognition from hikers who never knew they were on a national scenic trail. We also applied for and received an NCTA Field Grant to have the NCTA 7-state logo printed on the back of the Mackinac Bridge Walk Certificates. A whopping 45,000 walkers

Michael Springer

North Country Trail Hikers Chapter: NMU’s Sarah Cousineau and Mitchell Stephenson repairing stairs on bridge over Crooked Lake Outlet.

NCT Hikers: Bob Kahl, Cliff Stammer and Sarah Fisher at the Big Mac Bridge Walk Finish Line. Front and back of Big Mac Bridge Walk Certificate.

Lorana Jinkerson

January-March 2013

The North Star 21


Kay Kujawa

Hiawatha Shore-To-Shore Chapter: The AmeriCorps Team and Stan Kujawa. Marvin DeWitt designed and painted the boards for the team. This is at the end of the 3,000 feet of bridging they built between H-40 and Hayward School Road!

18 Hiawatha Shore-To-Shore Chapter UPPER MICHIGAN - We began 2012 with our annual Winter Trails Day Hike at Soldier Lake Campground. As usual the day began in sub zero conditions. Over forty hardy hikers on skis or snowshoes wound their way to the pavilion for hotdogs and a cookie buffet beside the roaring fire. Sault Ste. Marie Boy Scout Troop 105 joined in the celebration and practiced their orientation skills out on the frozen lake. Other hike highlights include the February Hike at Tahquamenon Falls State Park. The Lake Superior State University Outdoor Club brought their snowshoes and tramped the trails. An evening hike along the lantern lit trail wrapped the day. June found HSS back at Tahquamenon to celebrate DNR Project GO and National Trails Day with a “Hike Tween Da Falls” and a NCT display. The April HSS Annual Celebration began with a sack lunch on the shore of Trout Brook Pond, followed by a hike along the shore and south through the Little Bear Creek area. Dinner was a pizza buffet with all the trimmings at Pure Country. National Park Service North Country Trail Manager Jeff McCusker shared his Africa experiences. The Duck Lake fire area was the site of the September hike, where wildfire in the area of the Two Hearted Campground spread for miles into two chapters’ areas, both ours and Superior Shoreline’s. Hikers wandered from the Two Hearted River Parking Lot to the Culhane Fishing Access to experience the Duck Lake fire damage and to witness nature’s healing process. Tiny pines poked their feathery heads through the ashes. Bracken ferns made locating the trail tread a mystery. Blackbacked woodpeckers flitted among the red pines harvesting insects under the bark of the burned trees. 22 The North Star

January-March 2013

The extensive boardwalk constructed by the Cedar Six AmeriCorps team at Hayward School Road was included in the December hike and was followed by a pot luck at the Kujawas. March found HSS at Michigan State for the Quiet Waters Symposium. It is always a great experience visiting with the many hikers and other NCTA chapters. Bill Courtis improved our display with an array of winter hiking equipment. St. Ignace became Michigan’s second NCT Trail Town. Their support made the two month AmeriCorps work session possible. Housing for the team was provided by the Mackinac Straits Health System. Townspeople made constant cookie drops, and Arnold Ferry Line provided a day trip to Mackinac Island. Businesses have begun to offer NCT merchandise and discounts to NCTA members. HSS manned an NCT display and children’s activities in St. Ignace for Fab Fridays all summer long. The new photo op board and decorating hiking sticks were a hit with children! The highlight of 2012 was the two month visit of the Cedar Six AmeriCorps team of ten young adults representing nine states. Cedar Six built over 3000 feet of boardwalk, 1.2 miles of trail tread, trail signs, and bridging and helped the USFS with their new trail system at the St. Ignace office. They were the kick off for a St. Ignace five year plan for a new park at the pond north of the arena that includes a hiking trail around a pond. In addition the team developed a board game, an ABC NCT children’s book, and other activities. Cedar Six reported a grand total of 3998 hours working on and for the NCT! Marvin and Charlene DeWitt arranged and planned the AmeriCorps session. This was part of the $85,000 Rural Schools and Communities Project that Charlene procured for HSS from the USFS. We are looking forward to 2013, re-blazing the Duck Lake fire area, working with Trail Town St. Ignace, maintaining and promoting the NCT, hiking and enjoying the fruits of our labor. — Kay Kujawa 20 Jordan Valley 45˚ Chapter LOWER MICHIGAN Somehow we had no State of the Trail report for 2011, so for 2011 we accomplished a re-route to visit the shore of Sand Lake, with a spur trail to parking, and Petoskey completed their Bear River Recreation Area modernization, allowing us to re-route the trail from a ½ mile road walk. In January, we changed our chapter name from “Tittabawassee” to “Jordan Valley 45°,” to better identify with our locality and to recognize the iconic Jordan Valley and our unique NCT crossing of 45° north latitude there. We erected a marker at the crossing. Our new chapter logo sports two fish! This is in recognition of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery and the Michigan Fisheries Visitor Center/Oden Fish Hatchery, both of which are near our trail, and with whom we cooperate. On National Trails Day we began a project, finished later in June, to address several seasonally wet areas in the valley by building almost 400 feet of puncheon in 15 locations. We were pleased to receive an enabling permit from the Michigan DEQ.


Duane Lawton

Jordan Valley 45° Chapter: Spring Hike—we hereby challenge NY for “most trillium.”

Jordan Valley 45° Chapter: Our new logo. www.northcountrytrail.org

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania NCTA Conference, August 12 through 17

Have a blast at the 2013 conference…literally! After enjoying a pig roast and music by “The Old Hats” and annual awards, we’ll be able to see the world’s best fireworks displays, happening next door at Cooper’s Lake Campground during the Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention…all this at our Friday night program! January-March 2013

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Norman Whetzel

We had several group hikes this year, bracketed by our traditional snowshoe hike in February, and our “Last Chance before Deer Season” hike around the 18 mile Jordan Valley loop in November, for which this year we were joined by folks from the Grand Traverse Chapter. On December 6, the City of Petoskey became the third NCTA Trail Town in Michigan with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding. Trail Town Petoskey is a fabulous feature for the NCT: you are right next to extensive useful services, while in extremely scenic surroundings including the Bear River Valley, the North Central Michigan College Natural Area, and of course, Little Traverse Bay front. The Michigan DNR has reassigned liaison with the NCTA from the Forestry Division to the Parks and Recreation Division. Since most of our territory is in DNR land, not National Forest, this is significant for us. We still maintain a good strong relationship with the Forestry folks and provide input in logging planning, but a DNR focus on the trail from a recreational perspective can only be positive. With our new chapter name, we are stepping up our efforts to expand local membership. We now hold our chapter meetings at a regular time and place, we are participating in local events: Jordan River National Fish Hatchery’s “Fall Fest” this year, Emmet/Charlevoix county fair next year, we publish a bi-monthly newsletter, and we have renewed our chapter web site. — Duane Lawton

22 Spirit of the Woods Chapter LOWER MICHIGAN - Our chapter has been able to complete some overdue trail work this year. Our previous three years have been concentrated in our Sterling Marsh area down in the southern part of our chapter’s trail miles. Although we were very pleased with the resulting boardwalk, we also recognized that other areas were suffering from lack of attention. Well, Mom Nature has provided a reminder, a five-inch rainfall in June that brought down a bridge in a particularly sandy steep section overlooking the Manistee River. The temporary reroute has brought hikers back onto a road so we are working with both the Forest Service and a private landowner to try to figure out a permanent reroute that can keep us in the Manistee National Forest. We had a volunteer group of teens and their chaperones from the Neland Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids who worked hard and with enthusiasm with us hauling gravel to stabilize sections of trail between sections of boardwalk. As a way to meet other community silent sports enthusiasts we have also continued to have hikes on a monthly basis, rain or shine (or snow or sleet…). We did not have a good snow year, but we still had enough to have our annual chili feed in February at a cross-country ski area in the forest. We also had a very nice hike in the Western Michigan chapter’s wildflower preserve at Loda Lake guided by a trained biologist from the Forest Service. We are still a small volunteer pool, but we managed to have a complete board after elections in September and hope to continue to work to get the word out about the NCT treasure that is winding its way through the Manistee National Forest. — Loren Bach


Charles Vanette

Charles Vanette

Horse logger dragged in treated 2 X 12˝s for Western Michigan Chapter members.

24 The North Star

January-March 2013

work days to attempt building 800´ of puncheon and 100´ of raised boardwalk across some very wet trail near Rattlesnake Creek. The shortened days of late fall, and an overloaded truck with very wet and very heavy treated 2 x 12 lumber conspired to run us out of time and energy before the projects were done. So we have our first project for 2013. We also built a great relationship with White Cloud ROTC students, whose reaction to being worked hard and long was an encouraging “When can we do this again?” Thankfully December 21 did not mark the end of the world, as we have a very challenging year ahead of us. Highlights will be completing the puncheon and boardwalk projects at Rattlesnake Creek, and working toward relocations of two roadwalks combined with possible land acquisitions. Along with the “mowing and more” weekends, annual cleanup day, National Trails Day, Fall Fun Day, a couple of new kiosks, rerouting of trail near Mena Creek, the Elmdale Corridor, the altered Kent County route, and maintainer training, we have a very full year ahead of us. We may find some time to hike and snowshoe. Did I mention that if you have a little time on your hands and want to work with some great people and leave a terrific legacy, we need your help? — Charles Vanette

Tammy Veloski

23 Western Michigan Chapter LOWER MICHIGAN - We rebuilt relationships by holding our National Trails Day event on the riverlanding in downtown Lowell where a great time was had with the Hawks and Owls String Band. We offered clinics in land navigation, boot fitting, and long distance hiking. We also did some hiking, of course and (also of course) we ate well. We continued a stellar tradition of “trail angels” providing outstanding hot meals to workers on our work days. The final work day at Rattlesnake Creek was the “piece de resistance.” We were honored to host a hike from the National Conference on our section of trail in the Lowell area. Lowell saw a relocated section of trail, and a new 12´ bridge. We continue to work toward the Chief Noonday Chapter south of Lowell, eagerly waiting for the Elmdale Rail Corridor to be available to us. And we also eagerly wait for approval for a variation to our approved route north and west from Lowell across Kent County. Both of these resolutions will result in huge visibility for the NCT in the greater Grand Rapids area. We held our usual two “Mowing and More” weekends to mow back the ferns that creep over our trail, dampening hikers even after rains stop. These are a combination of hard work and good times of fellowship camping together. During our spring cleanup day we enjoyed a great meal at the Long Lake Kent County Park shelter. In addition to sprucing up all of our trail sections in Kent and Newaygo Counties, a group of stalwart volunteers led by Doug “Windigo” Boulee built 100 feet of new puncheon at our southernmost location in Kent County. Come walk it with us this spring when the Bluebells are in blossom. We took an interesting step back into history by connecting the White Cloud city campground to the historic “Alleyton” location at Flowing Wells. This helped us connect two local resources with a beautiful trail. Just around the corner we began to improve one of the wettest sections of trail we have, and ironically the first one I walked on when I discovered the NCT. We combined two

After the horses brought the materials as close as possible to the work site, Western Michigan Chapter Members toted it the rest of the way over wetlands.

At McConnell's Mill, (see right) Tammy Veloski's son checks out the view through a nearby monumental millstone.


Matt Davis Joe Krueger

NCTA thanks Scheels All Sports for their generous support in 2012!

Buckeye Trail Association: Work continues on the Miami-Erie Canal towpath, creating additional miles of trail out of its historic remnants.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania NCTA Conference–August 12 through 17

Picture Provided by Butler County Tourism.

Near Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, during the 2013 NCTA Conference, don’t miss McConnell’s Mill State Park with its restored historic grist mill, powered by a bumptious creek along whose rocky shores our trail meanders. www.northcountrytrail.org

27 Buckeye Trail Association OHIO - The Buckeye Trail Association had a productive 2012 along our shared 750 miles in Ohio. In 2012 we built and improved many miles of the BT/NCNST including Buckeye Trail Crew work parties at East Fork, Hocking Hills, Lake Logan and Burr Oak State Parks, Tar Hollow and Pike Lake State Forests, the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy’s Tappan Lake, and the Marietta Unit of the Wayne National Forest. Buckeye Trail Crew members and Trail Adopters recorded nearly 7,500 volunteer hours in 2012. We completed major renovations to the BTA Century Barn and built the connection of the BT to the Barn on the shores of Tappan Lake. Beyond trail building and maintaining, we finished GPS’ing the entire BT allowing us to continually update our BT Section Maps and create our new Hiker on the Go! map series. We hosted a well attended first Buckeye TrailFest near the Fort Ancient earthworks overlooking the BT/ NCNST. We also organized a successful Emma “Grandma” Gatewood Solstice Hike, challenging hikers over 40 miles in 24 hours around the Burr Oak and Wildcat Hollow Trail Systems. In 2012 we launched the Buckeye Trail Town program to dovetail with North Country Trail Towns, with Milford dedicated as the first official Buckeye and North Country Trail Town in Ohio. We formed our new BTA Miami Rivers Chapter serving southwest Ohio. We have begun to take a more active role in advocating for the protection of the BT/NCNST on public lands including standing up for the Trail in Burr Oak State Park under threat of ATV development. All of these activities are highlights mainly from the shared portion of our trail. We celebrated the work of too many wonderful volunteers to name here. We’d like to invite all of our North Country friends to join us during our Buckeye Trail Crew Work Parties, our scheduled hikes, our 2nd Annual Buckeye TrailFest in Northeast Ohio, April 25th-28th and other events whenever you can. Just check out www.buckeyetrail.org for the details. — Andrew Bashaw January-March 2013

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31 Great Trail– Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter OHIO - The Trail here in Columbiana County is always in need of repairing some existing trail and construction of new segments. Portions of the trail on the eastern border of the county near the Pennsylvania border and along the railroad corridor are in need of some work and I have been working with Forestry on a plan to help curb ATV traffic and help with the construction of barricades. A link from Sheepskin Hollow Natural Areas and Preserves to Beaver Creek State Park lands is still being negotiated to find the best and least resisted corridor for the trail connector, although we have been trying to gain access though property belonging to a Family Trust which will provide a needed connector to move westward towards Park property. A proposed reclamation project in Beaver Creek State Park will remove a section of existing trail from the main Park to the primitive campground and I have been dealing with ODNR officials on the importance of the trail section. Keith Brown, our Vice-President and trail builder, was very instrumental in working with Beaver Creek Park officials on upgrading trails in the Park. He managed to coordinate some trail work this year and upgrade existing trails. A new trail segment west of the Park property has been very challenging and involves a change in elevation of 100+ feet and multiple switch backs and stone steps. This is our only option because of opposition from other property owners. Our Chapter is indebted to Keith for all he has done for the local trail network and landowner contact. This task of gaining access for new trail segments is very challenging because of the very limited public property. West of Lisbon, our county seat, is predominately private property and changes in ownership provide another obstacle to moving forward with trail construction. Other areas in the trail corridor are held in conservation easements for which the criteria prevent any new trails. I attended a sawyer training weekend in September which was very informative on the safety and knowledge of felling trees and the last part of fulfilling the requirements for me is to get First-Aid and CPR certification which will benefit our Chapter. — Brad Bosley 26 The North Star

32 Wampum Chapter PENNSYLVANIA - Volunteers from the chapter attended four events throughout the year working to let people know about the community asset that is the North Country Trail – the Ellwood City Earth Day celebration, Darlington Days, McConnell’s Mill State Park Heritage Festival, and the Ohio River Trail Council’s Fall Fest – in addition to holding our own annual Pumpkin Pie Hike this October which itself drew over sixty participants. With the assistance of national staffer Matt Rowbotham a presentation map was created showing the trail through our counties and thanks to a grant from the NCTA and its grant committee members, a Wampum-specific brochure was produced using local photographs and trail descriptions combined with the trail map created in Lowell. Chapter volunteers also developed and printed a business card/recruiting tool for members to hand out to hikers and backpackers we encounter, incorporating a QR code that can be scanned which links to an interactive Google Map of the trail as well as information on how to become a member of our organization. We spent time inside this year too, in courthouses and offices, conducting informational meetings with the County Commissioners from both our counties, as well as working with the local tourism bureaus to ensure that the trail was shown in their brochures, and the attraction maps for the area. The end result of the chapter’s effort in the direction of building awareness and recruiting is that our membership stands at over fifty, making Wampum the second largest chapter in Pennsylvania. We have also seen increased usage of our trail sections with many positive comments left in our hiker journal books and the chapter received several unsolicited financial contributions. In addition to adding members and support, the Wampum chapter also worked on the potential of adding off-road mileage to our trail range. The efforts of Chapter Vice President Dennis Garrett, with assistance from the national office’s Andrea Ketchmark, paid off in being able to start construction of a new half-mile of thru-the-woods trail in Beaver County in 2013. Three property owners (two private and one corporate) were approached about building a section of North Country Trail across their land and after a year of planning and negotiation permission was recently granted! The chapter maintained a regular trail work-day program throughout the year, doing both the routine mowing, pruning, and clearing tasks required to keep the trail in good hiking condition and completing several reroute and rehabilitation projects along our seventeen miles of off-road trail with the focus on dealing with water runoff management. The trail was moved to higher and better ground in several locations, a culvert pipe was added to another, and forty feet of bog bridge was installed in the Watt’s Mill area. A Student Conservation Association (SCA) crew, courtesy of Josh Nard of the SCA in Pittsburgh and led by chapter volunteer Joe Hardisky, spent a weekend this past spring on the trail at McConnell’s Mill, working to improve and dry out the tread along this segment. Other trail-improvement projects carried out over the season included participating in the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania along a section of road walk in Lawrence County, rehabilitating old sidehill in various locations, dealing with the aftermath of a tree-destroying wind shear in one of our state gamelands sections, and installing a plaque dedicating a section of trail on private property to the memory of the landowner’s brother who lost his life in Vietnam. Lastly, realizing that all work and no play is a bad thing, the chapter came together for social events over the past year – full-moon, historical, and neighboringchapter-territory hikes, hot dog roasts at the backpacking shelter at Watt’s Mill (green ketchup on St. Patrick’s Day!), breakfasts in Wampum, and pot luck dinners at various locations, all in addition to our monthly meeting and social gathering in West Pittsburg. Four Wampum Chapter members attended the National Conference in Augusta, Michigan, in August, and we are involved in the planning for the 2013 gathering in Slippery Rock. 2012 was another productive, positive, growth-oriented year for the volunteers of the Wampum Chapter. — Dave Brewer

January-March 2013


34 Clarion Chapter PENNSYLVANIA - PR Activities Monthly Hike Series We continued to hold our successful monthly hikes in 2012. Held every month of the year, these monthly hikes are advertised heavily in the area and have grown to be well attended. Some of the more popular hikes have been attended by several dozen participants. This has become a good way for us to showcase the trail to the local community and has greatly raised awareness of the trail in Clarion County. Local reporters have also attended several of our hikes and afterwards have composed newspaper articles on their experiences. Some of the hikes that have become annual events are our Strawberry Pie and National Trails Day hikes in Cook Forest State Park and our annual picnic hike in the fall. There is no doubt that we will continue our monthly hike series in 2013.

33 Butler County Chapter PENNSYLVANIA - Butler reports generally stable conditions for the trail in its area. On January 1, 2012, the Butler Outdoor Club, an NCT Affiliate, hosted the first annual First Day hike along the newly built section of the NCT in Moraine State Park. The hike was advertised by the state park, and was attended by more than 50 hikers. The second annual First Day hike was held Jan 1, 2013 on a brisk day in about a foot of snow. About 47 participated in that hike. While there were no new sections of off road trail added this year, there was significant activity in the area of trail protection, reroutes, and trail maintenance and improvements. The trail protection committee of Tom Baumgardner and Joe Smith continue their relentless pursuit of a rail to trail section in Parker and in connecting McConnell’s Mill and Moraine State Parks. They are working closely with NCTA headquarters, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, rails to trails groups, lawyers, appraisers and government officials. The chapter hosted a work week with the Keystone Trails Association to improve a very rocky section of trail in McConnells Mill State Park. This is one of the busiest sections of trail in the state because it is close to the covered bridge and the grist mill, both popular attractions, and it is along a very beautiful section of the Slippery Rock creek. Over 40 rock steps were built along a mile section, making it more accessible to a broader group of casual hikers. Also the Student Conservation Association spent two weekends in April in the Hells Hollow section of the trail, improving the deteriorating trail bench. The new section added last year which goes along the shore of Lake Arthur has been very popular. Some benches have been added to take advantage of great views of the lake. Also a Boy Scout Eagle project resulted in four new benches along the north shore of the lake. Plans are in the works and grants have been received to build a bridge across Muddy Creek, just below the breastworks of Lake Arthur in Moraine State Park. This will eliminate the need to get on the road and bridge shared with the exit ramp off Route 422. — John Stehle

Clarion NCT GeoTrail The Clarion Chapter established a geocaching trail, consisting of 20 caches, along its section of the NCT in 2012 as a way of raising awareness of the trail. Hundreds of geocachers have found at least 1 of the caches and about a dozen have found all 20 and received a commemorative geocoin. Clarion Chapter will keep this geotrail active for several more years before replacing it with a new one. New Trail: “Wild Flower Walk” Section This ¾ mile section of trail connects Kiser-Wagner Road with the Doe Run Reroute section of trail that Clarion Chapter completed in 2011. What is unique about this section of trail is that Clarion Chapter President Ed Scurry spent most of the early spring constructing dozens of flower beds the entire way along this section. Ed used fallen trees and rocks found along the trail to construct the beds and local gardeners chipped in by donating topsoil and perennials. These perennials will grow over the next few years, producing a very beautiful section of trail located just outside of the town of Clarion. A very Special thanks goes out to local landowner Bryan Huwar who has allowed use of his properties on both sides of Route 322 outside of Clarion, one of which includes the flower walk. Devin Callihan

Clarion Chapter's Maple Creek Shelter, a new overnight spot for hikers on the Baker Trail, in Clear Creek State Forest. www.northcountrytrail.org

New Trail: “Anchor Village” Section Another gracious landowner, Burr Corbett, granted us permission to construct a section of trail around Anchor Village. This section of trail allowed Clarion Chapter to shrink the size of the road walk on Kiser-Wagner Road from just under a mile to about 200 feet! This is quite an accomplishment as not too many years ago much of Clarion’s section outside of Cook Forest State Park was composed of significant road walks. New Hiking Shelter: Maple Creek In 2012, we constructed our second hiking shelter. This shelter was constructed on the Baker Trail / NCT in Clear Creek State Forest’s Maple Creek Tract. The shelter is located by the scenic Maple Creek approximately ¾ of a mile from the trail’s crossing of Maple Creek Road. The shelter was paid for by the Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy and Clarion Chapter January-March 2013

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36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter PENNSYLVANIA We started out with 83 members in January and ended up with 118 through October! The 100 cache NCT Geo-trail is continuing to be a success. The best part is the notoriety. People are realizing that the NCT is here and a good place to take a walk. The Allegheny-100 is a fast rising regional event, with participants from Chicago, Toronto, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, as well as surrounding states. Of the 100 milers, we had six complete it in 50 hours. This year we will add a 75 mile post, but we must limit this event to 100 participants due to parking and logistics to shuttle hikers. Karen and I did time-consuming work attempting to foster trail protection, taking it upon ourselves to meet and talk with all the oil companies that could impact the trail where drilling or exploration is projected. This turned out to be a useful course of action. ALL the oil companies were receptive and willing to cooperate with us. That doesn’t mean that they will not drill on or near the trail, but will work with us in deciding the best way to handle each situation. This is the last year we get the Student Conservation Association crews. For the past three years, they have done excellent work on the trail, rock steps, re-routes, side-hill benching, anything that was necessary. The trail is really up to NPS standards because of these crews. It is a lot easier to maintain a trail that is already in good shape. This past year saw new rock steps at U.S. Rte. 6 and a re-route at Kelletville, where the Corps of Engineers at Tionesta Dam gave us permission to put the trail on their land just south of the campgrounds. Also, a small section of this re-route is on Collins Pine land, where an easement document was agreed upon. This new re-route will take the hikers off the road and beside Branch Creek. We started the A-100 at the southern terminus this year, which required a short reroute, including a bridge across those pesky beavers’ swimming hole. The land is owned by Seneca

Scout Projects The local Scouts are starting to see the trail as a tremendous resource for their organizations. Several projects such as bridges and steps were completed by these groups this past year. Assisting Other Trail Groups: Clarion County Trails Association (CCTA) A new group has formed in Clarion County to promote existing local trails and advocate for future trail development. Clarion Chapter is supporting this group as it develops, hopeful that we will benefit significantly from its existence. Clarion Chapter and the CCTA are in the final stages of development of a system of trails in the city of Clarion that will connect public facilities and parks. The CCTA will have a website active in January of 2013 that will include a section dedicated to the North Country Trail, at www.clariontrails.com. Other Activities: Road Walk In Western Clarion County Since the trail’s inception, part of the NCNST in Clarion County has not been very scenic. Numerous unsuccessful attempts over the past dozen years or so to follow the originally designated route have led to a road walk of approximately 17 miles. Given this realization, Clarion Chapter had to make a choice between allowing the trail to remain in flux for at least a generation, or perform our duties to complete the trail and find another way. Clarion Chapter has formally requested that the Allegheny Valley Trails Association’s system be certified as the official route of the NCNST between the Clarion County Airport and the city of Parker. If approved, this will replace 17 miles of road walk with almost 50 miles of already established and protected trails. Clarion Chapter has been using this as an “alternate” route through our county for several years and anyone who has used it has given rave reviews (see page 39.) The next steps are in the hands of the National Park Service and we are hopeful to see it happen in the next year or so. — Devin Callihan

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January-March 2013

Keith Klos

Karen klos

ANF Chapter: Lookin good! The Queens Creek Shelter was assembled by 10 Chapter workers and a high school student.

Finished Shelter.


— Keith and Karen Klos 37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference NEW YORK - This year was bittersweet for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. While we had another very productive year on the trail and celebrated our 50th anniversary, 2 we also had a fatality on the FLT involving one of our trail caretakers. Although this tragic accident did not occur on the route of the North Country National Scenic Trail, it will undoubtedly have an impact on all volunteer organizations working on state land in New York during the years ahead. Together with other stakeholders, we are currently involved in meetings with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure that the liability and workers’ compensation coverage afforded to volunteers working on state land will continue as part of our agreements with the NYSDEC. We are also nearly finished with updating our safety handbook as well as future training requirements and documentation for our maintainers. In terms of major projects completed this year, an AlleyCat crew, organized by our new Director of Crews and Construction, Matt Branneman, constructed a lean-to in Boyce Hill State Forest in Cattaraugus County. This shelter, complete with a new privy, picnic table, bench and fire ring, helps fill one of the gaps in our trail system identified by our former Director of Crews and Construction, Quinn Wright, in his Adopt-aLean-to Plan. Also in 2012, a sixteen foot long king post truss bridge was constructed along the spur trail to the lean-to on www.northcountrytrail.org

Ken Reek

Resources and they cooperated very well. We now have a very unique bridge, with the pontoons donated by the U.S. Forest Service, as shown in the last issue of North Star. Last year, under the Coalbed Run project proposed by the Forest Service, we located an excellent place for a shelter. We were permitted to drive within 1/10 of a mile on a closed forest service road to haul materials. With 10 chapter workers, and one high schooler on a project, we had the shelter up in five hours. This location is beside an open field with plenty of water. The Queen's Creek shelter was created of hemlock logs donated and harvested from Collins Pine Company/Kane Hardwood and were cut on their land farther down the Queen Creek/East Hickory Creek watershed. Smokey Sabella Trucking transported the logs while the lumber was milled at the Amish Mast sawmill. The shelter was designed, engineered and constructed by Keith Klos at home. It was then disassembled and transported in sections to the site. The wall covering is 1-inch thick overlapped hemlock siding. It is covered with a metal roof that will last a long time with minimal maintenance. No federal or NCTA money was used for the project since all was done with donations collected from various companies. It is 8.4 miles from Hunter’s Station shelter and 11.2 miles from Kelletville campgrounds…two shelters down and three to go to complete the 5 year plan to provide a shelter for every day's walk in the Allegheny National Forest.

FLTC: Boyce Hill State Forest shelter underway during the October Alley-Cat crew week.

Steuben County property adjacent to Kanakadea Park. This is the second bridge in as many years that was built for the FLT by a junior high shop class from Hornell. Not to be outdone, Foothills Trail Club Chair Dave Potzler erected a twenty four foot long king post truss bridge near Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County. (Dave should really pick on someone his own size!) Nearly two hundred feet of puncheon was installed at various locations along the trail as well, eighty feet of which was built in Swift Hill State Forest as part of an Eagle Scout project. Although not constructed in 2012, but officially dedicated this year with the ground breaking for a new kiosk, the large concrete monuments engraved with “Finger Lakes Trail” and “Catharine Valley Trail” in Lafayette Park in Watkins Glen are a testament to the partnership between another trail group, a state park and a local community and their collective understanding of the value of both single-use and multiple-use trails. A one half mile loop trail was blazed through the village streets this year in order to pass by these monuments and will eventually become the main trail. When completed next year, the kiosk will feature maps of both trails with the FLT also denoted as NCNST. For their continued support of our trail system, we will be promoting the Village of Watkins Glen as an NCTA Trail Town in 2013. As almost always is the case, we typically lose and gain sections of trail each year. This year was no exception, as we had to reroute five miles of trail through Salamanca due to the closure of a dangerous bridge over the Allegheny River on the Seneca Indian Reservation, and rerouted another four miles of trail due to loss of landowner permissions at two other locations. On the positive side, we reestablished one mile of trail in Rock City State Forest that was lost to tornado damage in 2010 and built a new one mile loop trail through scenic Little Rock City in that same state forest. Seven miles of trail permission lost near Swain due to one big landowner in the middle have been newly routed through Rattlesnake Hill Wildlife Management Area, the result of a lot of work by Regional Trail Coordinator Ron Navik. Ron also was instrumental in relocating another three miles of trail off-road near Hornell at two separate locations. Trail Chair Paul Warrender and the Cayuga Trails Club relocated two and a half miles of trail off Comfort Road south of Ithaca in Tompkins County. The appropriately January-March 2013

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— Steve Catherman 30 The North Star

38 Central New York Chapter NEW YORK - Our trials with NY Parks are detailed elsewhere in this issue. However, we weren't standing still otherwise. Our National Trails Day observance provided both exercise and education. A determined beaver colony converted a trail 2 section within a Wildlife Management Area into a small lake. Through efforts of Steve Kinne, our trail guru, Dietland Muller-Schwarze, PhD, a consulting biologist, guided the group and provided us with a good understanding of beaver behavior. Our interactions with a helpful DEC Staff member continue as we seek a bypass acceptable to both DEC and the beavers! Local Liaison: A certified trail segment just south of the Village of Canastota suffered major damage due to an adjacent building project, its retention pond, and the access driveway. The Town of Lenox mitigated all the problems using culverts, stone fill and ground asphalt. The foot trail provides safe passage. Great support from local government and kudos to the highway department for their work! Landowner Relationships: Two heartening examples in the greater Cazenovia area: Dennis Gregg, as Mayor at an earlier time and developer today, has consistently supported the NCNST/Link Trail, including attention to minor relocations as he responds to mandates affecting wetland areas, etc. Further, he works with home buyers to assure them that the trail is an asset to the community in total. Last fall, Dennis worked with us and a new home buyer to shift the trail enough to provide privacy to the home owner. This involved puncheon bridging and other work with Steve Kinne and Mike Lynch heading up the effort. For about ten years now the Cazenovia Preservation Foundation (CPF) has permitted the NCNST on a section of the former Lehigh Valley Railroad owned by CPF; in addition, we plan to work closely with them to optimize recreational use of a “conservation area” donated by Dennis Gregg to CPF as part of a newly planned housing development. Crown Point Bridge Dedication: Chapter chair Jack Miller was on hand to support the unveiling of the NCNST information signage on site, noting the importance of this bridge to our footpath into Vermont. Jeff McCusker and Bruce Matthews played major roles as well. I supported the effort with photo work. Overall, 2012 was a year with major challenges due to NY Parks and Madison County Planning Department actions best termed inappropriate. Nevertheless, we look forward to resolution of our issues with NY Parks and a number of opportunities to build support for the NCNST locally and in the Rome, Boonville, and Forestport areas as well. — Al Larmann Steve Catherman

green-blazed one mile Irish Loop is the latest addition to our international series of trails near Virgil in Cortland County, joining the existing Spanish, Swedish and Lithuanian Loops. And finally, the five mile Skyline Trail, a spur trail off the Onondaga Trail, has been completed. We didn’t secure quite as many permanent trail easements this year as last, but with guidance from our Vice President of Trail Preservation, Ron Navik (same guy, different hat), we still managed to record three new trail easements: Colin and Susan Cummins in Cortland County, Dale and Esther Howell’s second easement in Livingston County, and Catherine Powell (Canoe Landing, LLC) in Steuben County. Regional Trail Coordinator Lynda Rummel is also close to finalizing an easement on John and Sarah Seller’s property near Sugar Hill State Forest in Schuyler County. A big thank you is due these landowners for their generous contributions to ensure the protection of our trail system, forever. Looking toward the future, certainly one of our goals for the upcoming year is the continuation of training for our volunteers, including two trail maintenance workshops, two chainsaw certification classes and the appropriate safety training resulting from our current conversations with the NYSDEC. Mary Coffin, Lynda Rummel and Irene Szabo will be leading the reformation of a NYS NCTA Volunteer Council and helping to establish contacts with, and support by, leaders in every county in NY through which the FLT/NCNST passes. Irene also volunteered to coordinate the upcoming NCTA Annual Conference to be held in NY in the summer of 2015. Finally, we need to acknowledge several changes in our organization. Last spring, after eleven years, Gene Bavis retired as our Executive Director, and was replaced by Dick Hubbard. Jo Taylor edited her last of FORTY FLT News issues this past summer; Jackson “Jet” Thomas agreed to edit the fall issue, and now Irene is doing double duty as editor of both the FLT News and the North Star.

Several NY counties have sprung for these great green trail crossing signs on county highways, led by author Steve Catherman’s own Steuben County DOT, and now those same sign posts are beginning to sprout 24 X 24˝ NCT signs also, facing traffic from both directions.

January-March 2013

Adirondacks east of CNY Chapter Work continues with assorted volunteers scouting and GPSing the potential Adirondack route of the NCNST and coordinating with NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NCTA and National Parks Service. — Mary Coffin


Boundary Waters & Border Route Day Hiking And Camping

The September 4-10 Trip Filled So Quickly NCTA Is Offering A 2nd Section Of This Trip, Same Price, Same Itinerary

Section 2: September 11-17

This is a day hiking and tent camping trip on the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) of Minnesota. We will start at the north end of the Superior Hiking Trail where we left off in 2010 at the Border Route Trail (BRT) and hike sections toward the Kekekabic Trail while traversing the pristine Boundary Waters Canoe Area wilderness. Each day we will hike with day pack for 6-12 miles using vans to shuttle between campsite and trailheads. We will hike lake to lake in a very scenic area among some of the most rugged, primitive, but also scenic BWCA sections of the trail. We will set up tents at a base camp in a National Forest Campground and cook and eat outdoors. Wilderness Inquiry, a not for profit outfitter from the twin cities, will take care of meals, tents and logistics. You may contact the hike leader: Mary Coffin, at maryccoffin@gmail.com or phone her, (315) 687-3589.

North Star Submission Guidelines Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol.com, or 6939 Creek Road, Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please do NOT embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. Do not refer me to your entire picture collection hosted by some other site! 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: prefer vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Take pictures at the highest resolution your camera offers, 4800 pixels ideally, then send candidates via email at a reduced size for approval. Save that original high resolution picture! Same advice goes for interior pictures, too. The fuzziest ones in this magazine are low resolution, with the largest dimension well under 1000 pixels. Next deadline for Vol. 32, Issue 2, is 12 April 2013. Authors: let's help people find sites mentioned in your stories. From now on, we'll try to include the NCTA map number along with the name of the nearest town or landmark, so please include same in your text. Thank you! —Your volunteer editor, Irene www.northcountrytrail.org

“The Adirondack trip was so wonderful that Sharon and I have signed up for the next one too, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota this time. I hadn’t really given any thought to doing a trip that far away, but Sharon didn’t have to twist my arm very hard.” — Jo Taylor, NY

A Special Note from Dan Watson of the NPS:

I have submitted the Annual Volunteers-In-Parks Report (10-150) to the Midwest Regional Office today. In FY12 we are reporting a total of 924 volunteers, down just 4 VIP’s (-0.43%) from FY11 totals. The good news is that Volunteer Hours in all categories totalled 73,834 hours in FY12, showing a jump of 5,329 hours (+7.78%) over FY11 levels. At the FY12 Private Sector Rate of $21.79/hour, those 73,834 volunteer hours equal a whopping private sector value of $1,608,842.86! We all continue to celebrate the great news of the Brule-St. Croix Rovers recently winning the Midwest Region Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Group. Their nomination is currently in Washington, D.C., competing with others from across the National Park Service in the Service-Wide Hartzog Award competition. I truly hope to pass along more good news about the Rovers once the winners are announced in the national competition. On behalf of everyone at NPS-NOCO, please pass along this awesome news to all volunteers along with a HUGE thank you and congratulations to each and every person who made this past year such a tremendous success. I especially want to thank everyone who made the effort to report their hours accurately this year, and encourage volunteers and volunteer leaders to rededicate themselves to capturing and reporting volunteer hours in the year ahead. Just our increase in reported hours this year eclipses the total hours of what many parks report. Imagine what it might be if we reported every qualifying hour that was worked! A big “thumbs up” to everyone!!! January-March 2013

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Trail Towns On The North Country Trail Andrea Ketchmark NCTA Staff

The North Country Trail isn’t only about connecting remote landscapes; it’s about connecting people to the land and to each other. Whether you are a community member who heads to the trail with your family for a weekend retreat, a hiker desperate for a meal after a long trek, or a local outfitter that caters to outdoor enthusiasts, recognizing and bolstering our relationships within communities will make our trail stronger in many ways. And Trail Towns do just that. What is a Trail Town? A Trail Town is a community through which the North Country Trail passes that supports hikers with services, promotes the Trail to its citizens and embraces the Trail as a resource to be protected and celebrated. It is as simple as building relationships among a community, the Trail and the NCTA. Chances are, you already work with the Chamber of Commerce, local businesses and other community partners. This program simply helps identify ways the town and the Trail can work together, plan together, capitalize on the benefits a National Scenic Trail can bring to the area and build NCTA membership. It opens opportunities to build events or programs like outreach events, hikes, festivals, Instructional classes on backpacking, snowshoeing, bird watching, and trail building workshops.

For the Trail: Helps protect the trail by including it in local planning efforts, identifies NCNST on community maps, encourages local businesses to include NCNST users in business planning and most importantly gets NCTA more members and volunteers. For now, we will designate only towns directly on the trail as official NCTA Trail Towns, but you can still use many of these ideas to build relationships with other nearby communities. We know how important they are too. So far, NCTA has designated five official Trail Towns in three states. In 2013, I expect a few more towns to step forward wanting to join the program. We have new Trail Town decals for local shop windows and we are working with the National Park Service on a grant proposal to develop a Trail Town kit, with more materials to help you promote the program and more incentives for the Town to be involved.

For the Hiker: Trail Towns can provide hikers with access to the trail as well as places to re-supply and amenities needed during a stop.

North Country Trail Towns Wampum, Pennsylvania Middleville, Michigan St. Ignace, Michigan Petoskey, Michigan Mellen, Wisconsin

For the Town: Being a Trail Town helps the town by making it a tourism destination, provides better outdoor activities for residents, improves the health of the environment, and brings recognition for local businesses.

Andrea Ketchmark

Marty Swank

Outreach hike in Mellen, Wisconsin, celebrating Trail Town Status.

32 The North Star

January-March 2013

Bridge over the Bear River in Petoskey.


The Buckeye Trail Association has also announced its first official Trail Town with a ribbon cutting in Milford, Ohio, which hosts as many as eight long distance trails.

Related article may be found on page 34. Picture provided by Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter

Which Town Is Next Is Up To You Check out www.northcountrytrail. org/trail/trail-towns/ for resources to help you get your town interested. You will find a checklist, template MOU, logos, presentation, and listings for each of our current Trail Towns. This program is meant for you to modify to meet the needs of your town and there is definitely room for customization and improvement. You can edit the MOU to reflect the discussions you have with the communities and I've put several places in the PowerPoint presentation where you should include information specific to your chapter and your community.

Kay Kujawa showing young visitors her animal track display during Fab Friday in St. Ignace.

“Trail Town Petoskey is a fabulous feature for the NCT– you are right next to extensive useful services, while (mostly) in extremely scenic surroundings.” — DUANE LAWTON, President, Jordan Valley 45° North Chapter

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania NCTA Conference, August 12 through 17

www.northcountrytrail.org

Picture Provided by Butler County Tourism.

Paul Staudenmaier

During the 2013 Annual Conference, visit our pride and joy, the 200 year old NCT Davis Hollow Cabin, which has tent pads and hostel lodging inside.

Enjoy other “Living History” during the conference with workshops and re-enactments, like those held at the Old Stone House, an 1822 historic inn turned into a museum.

Kindred Trail Background

The new hiking trails at North Dakota’s Ekre Grassland Preserve would not have been possible without the dedication and tireless efforts of two people, NCTA Board Member Tom Moberg and Jack Norland of North Dakota State University. Tom has personally taken on the ambitious Red River Valley trail development project (there had been a very long gap in the heavily developed agricultural area from Maplewood State Park in Minnesota to the Sheyenne National Grasslands in North Dakota with no existing trail). Through this effort, he developed the NCTA's relationship with the folks at NDSU who manage the 1600 acre Ekre Grassland Preserve. The Ekre Preserve has an interesting history. Donor and visionary Albert Ekre spent his lifetime putting the original family property back together after siblings had sold off their parcels, so he bequeathed the entire final farm to NDSU as long as they would keep it intact while using it for prairie agricultural research. Learn more at http://www.ndsu.edu/range/ albert_ekre_grassland_preserve/. The preserve lies just east of the existing NCT segment with the Sheyenne National Grasslands, and supports itself through grazing and cultivation. Once Tom connected with Jack Norland, who is involved with Troop 214 in Fargo and NDSU's Natural Resources Management program, Tom helped organize, promote, and lead the volunteer workdays that led to the new trails at Ekre. These workdays included Boy Scout weekend campouts, Natural Resource Management Club trips, and Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter workdays. Not only did these volunteers help build the trail, but future Eagle Scout projects are already in the works for the NCT, and NDSU students will help maintain this new piece of the NCT. Thanks to Tom and Jack for all your hard work on this project! — Matt Davis

January-March 2013

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North Country Trail Section Connects C. Berschneider

The historic trail section offers relaxing views of the surrounding Red River Valley landscape. Caitlin Berschneider

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History and Community in Kindred, North Dakota

Red River Valley housed the military Fort Abercrombie, known as “the Gateway to the Dakotas.” The fort served as a central hub for transportation of goods during the fur trade and ox-cart eras. Parts of the trail section are likely the same used by ox-carts traveling from Winnipeg, Manitoba to St. Paul, Minnesota. This historical connection to the trail is especially rare in North Dakota, where much of the land is now privately owned. While the land is historic, it was the young people of the area who really brought the trail to life. Fargo area Boy Scout Troop 214 was an integral part of the trail construction. The troop combined a number of Eagle Scout projects to build and improve the trail section. Projects included constructing stiles over barbed-wire fences, a sturdy new bridge over a creek, and information kiosks. In collaboration with NDSU, members from the Natural Resources Management Club (NRMC) volunteered their time and man-power for parts of the trail construction. The club helped to cut down and clear away brush blocking the pathway. The NRMC also plans to carry out long-term maintenance for the trail. Involvement of young people has been important for this section. The Red River Valley has lacked trail-building volunteers and so enthusiasm from younger generations is exciting. These groups not only help to promote interest in the outdoors among their peers, but also provide longstanding service to the trail. The trail section is accessible year round, though winter hikes may not be advised. Features include a grass parking area at the trailhead and a nearby campsite. The trailhead is located off of North Dakota Highway 18, just south of the highway’s crossing with the Sheyenne River. Global position system coordinates: 46 degrees 33.251’N 97 degrees 8.255’W.

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T. Rehling

C. Berschneider

ommunity and history came together with the opening of a section of the North Country Trail on October 21, 2012. The two-mile trail section was built on the Albert Ekre Grassland Preserve, an historic homestead about 40 miles southwest of Fargo, North Dakota. The trail section was a result of a collaboration of volunteer efforts from local organizations including Boy Scout Troop 214 and North Dakota State University (NDSU). Local residents of all ages gathered to open the section with a reception and inaugural hike. The trail itself winds effortlessly through an array of varied topography, giving hikers a well-rounded sampling of Midwestern landscapes. From rolling pasture-lined hills to wooded valleys, the short trail offers a delightfully surprising assortment of scenery, a welcome reprieve from the notoriously flat Red River Valley. Over 800 of North Dakota’s 1,300 flowering plants are found in the area surrounding the trail. Learn about the background of the Kindred Trail on page 33. Hikers can stop at the peak of one of the hills and look over the historic Ekre farmyard, where original structures and farmhouse still stand. With a mission to preserve the land for education and recreation, the grassland was donated to NDSU in the 1980s. Since then, the area has been used for research and educational purposes for the college. It is this calm reconnection with history that makes the trail incredibly alluring. Beyond the historic homestead, the trail section is rich in national Hikers climb over the first of many stiles Members of the NRMC work on history. The area surrounding the constructed by Boy Scout Troop 214. clearing away brush from the trail.


Who Will Speak Up If You Don't? Laura DeGolier

Previously published in Heritage Chapter-Wisconsin North Country Trail News

“P

lease don’t bother me with politics and politicians; I just want to walk in the woods!” is the refrain dedicated woodsmen and members of the North Country Trail Association or any other silent sport participants often offer when asked to write a letter or attend a meeting that can impact the trail they love so much. Please stop to ponder who owns the land upon which you love to hike? Are there rules about the use of this land? Who makes them? If the answers are not “It’s my land and I make the rules,” please pay attention to the next few paragraphs. I promise to be brief. Advocacy means that the members of a group provide counseling and assistance to the lawmakers; the people who set aside the land you like to hike on and make the current rules governing what happens on the trail. There are people paid very handsomely to advocate for others. The environmental and outdoor recreational community does not have those dollars, so we need to do this for ourselves. It is up to us to tell our story to those who write the rules. And really we are more effective because we vote for the legislators that represent us. The next comment often is “I don’t know what to say.” Legislators are people just like you. You may know one or two; city council members, county board supervisors live all around us. They are your neighbors, people like us who have an interest in serving the public and providing services that the public–you and me–use and enjoy. How many of you fish and hunt? Do you belong to Trout Unlimited, Sturgeons for Tomorrow, or Whitetails Unlimited? Do you think a “deer czar” was hired because no one asked for it? These groups have all become politically active because it is the only way to get the improvements they believe their sport needs to continue to provide successful experiences.

The bottom line is that legislators are very busy people. There are many demands on their time. Unless one of you will run for a seat in the state or federal legislature and win, we cannot assume that they care if there are trails to walk on or not. We have to tell them how important these trails are to users, and about the work that volunteers put into the projects. And then we have to ask them to protect that work by prohibiting ATV’s and other activities that destroy the work and the intent of the trail. There are many sayings that speak to why it is important to advocate, but this one always seems to resonate: If you are not at the table presenting your case, you will be on the menu for cuts or other proposals that hurt what you care so deeply about. Whenever possible tell a legislator how much you enjoy the right to walk on a trail through the woods that was built by volunteers. Share your love of the woods and the trail with your legislator because if you don’t, he or she will not know how much you care. Attend Conservation Lobby Days to join with others who have the same interests. More people equals more impact. Write letters when asked and get actively involved in the campaigns of conservation minded-legislators. Your legislators can’t know about what matters to you unless you tell them, so please tell them. Laura DeGolier is a member of Heritage Chapter in Wisconsin and serves on the NCTA State Advocacy Committee.

Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania–NCTA Conference, August 12-17 Pictures Provided by Butler County Tourism.

During the annual conference at Slippery Rock, discover a 3000 acre water wonderland at Moraine State Park’s Lake Arthur, where we can kayak, learn to sail, or hike trails along the shore. www.northcountrytrail.org

Cruise the lake on Nautical Nature, a 45-passenger pontoon boat, for a view of the park from the water. January-March 2013

The North Star 35


The Allegheny 100 Backpacking Challenge 2012 A Personal Challenge Karen Kloss

The Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association, caretakers of the Pennsylvania portion of this National Scenic Trail immediately south of the Allegany State Park in New York, has hosted the Allegheny 100 Challenge three times now. Participants aim to walk 100 miles in 50 hours, carrying their own food, shelter, and water, with no support other than rides offered at the end of shorter increments. John Schmitt, a Finger Lakes Trail member who lives near Rochester, is among other New Yorkers who have tried this hike, and was the oldest to succeed so far at 59.

John Schmitt’s Story

I

have been hiking now for many years and have found that I very much enjoy long hikes. I first heard about the Allegheny 100 Backpack Challenge after I had signed up for the 29 ½ mile Taconic Crest challenge hike. I successfully completed that hike, although I started out with too fast a group and almost did not make it past the first checkpoint. First lesson – hike at my own pace. In early 2011, I signed up for the second Allegheny 100. My training consisted of 1 to 4 mile hikes several times per week at home or the local parks. The hikes included a full pack starting in May. On weekends, I did longer hikes including the FLTC county series, and one hike in snow of about 20 miles and one 32 miles on the Onondaga Trail and CNY Chapter sections of the North Country Trail. I thought I was ready for the 100 mile challenge. The first half of the hike went well, but then I did not feel well, probably from not drinking enough water and then having a hard time eating. I managed to push on to complete 80 miles before accepting a ride with 4 hours left in the fifty hour challenge time. I was disappointed, but also proud that I had made the second longest distance after the one person who hiked the full 100 miles. Lessons learned: (1) Water intake is critical even when it seems that you are drinking plenty. (2) A lighter pack weight would be helpful. (3) I was in relatively good shape, but needed at least to maintain or better yet improve my endurance. I started to train for the Allegheny 100 2012 event almost immediately with several 2-3 day weekend day hikes totaling 45-65 miles. In all I hiked about 500 miles of the North Country Trail in New York to the Adirondack Blue Line, Pennsylvania and Ohio during the late summer, fall, winter and spring. Some of the highlights (low lights?) included hiking from Canastota to Rome, NY, at the edge of a remnant hurricane, beautiful foliage in New York and Pennsylvania, the only significant snowfalls that Ohio received just before two consecutive trips, the coldest temperatures of this warm winter with strong winds on one trip, high 90 degree temperatures on another trip, high weeds and plenty of blowdown in a poorly marked and maintained National Forest section, many beautiful views, friendly people and a lot of great hiking. I also continued my 1-4 mile local walks several times per week and the FLTC county series hikes. A month before the

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John Schmitt near the end of the Allegheny 100 Challenge.

Allegheny 100, I challenged myself to a 6 hour one way hike on the Letchworth Branch of the Finger Lakes Trail from Mount Morris and then return. Altogether, I hiked 39 miles in 13 hours which was the longest I had ever hiked in one day. Lessons learned: (1) My legs felt great even after long hikes. (2) A lighter backpack was easier to carry. (3) One has to be very careful with the pace in high heat. (4) My headlight was definitely too weak for easy night hiking especially with poor trail marking. (5) My air mattress had a hole in it and needed replacing. (6) My food plan was better, but still not great. With my new light weight pack, high powered headlamp and a variety of foods, I arrived at the starting point after a long shuttle from the end point near the New York border. Immediately, I added weight to my pack with various free trinkets. At 6 p.m., the hike began at least for most of the hikers. I had just won a raffle prize and was picking it up. The prize was a nice emergency fire starter, but still more weight in my pack. As it happened the previous year, I started at the back of the pack and had to pass many slower, shorter distance hikers (25 and 50 milers). It felt great to be hiking. At 12:03 am on Saturday morning, I arrived at Kelletsville, thus completing the 20 miles that I had not completed the year before. This also completed the North Country Trail in Pennsylvania for me. My plan was to get some sleep each night. I did manage to get about 4 hours per night. This helped greatly. I felt better and was faster in the morning darkness versus evening darkness. I made good progress Saturday morning. Then it became hot and muggy (and buggy). Psychologically, it became tough. At 1 p.m., I was a little past the 50 mile distance; I had already hiked 30 miles since waking and knew that I needed to hike 25 or more miles to be in good shape for completing on Sunday. On top of that, I had to stop longer and longer for food breaks. The afternoon went fast, but not the distance. Fortunately, the evening cooled and I made my goal distance on top of Bliss (?) Hill.


My early morning start was dark, but very pleasant until my headlamp went dim. Fortunately, I had left a small flash light in the pack despite weight reductions. Thus, I was able to see to change my headlamp batteries. The early morning views of misty lakes and mountains' silhouettes from a short road walk were beautiful. Progress was adequate and I met up with the other eventual 100 mile hikers who were just starting for the day. After hiking with Eric Chapman for a short while, I fell back needing to go at my own pace. After crossing a road, the trail followed an abandoned road and trail section lined with beautiful mountain laurel. The trail ended at a gas well and gravel road with no more markers. I went back and forth for a several minutes trying to find where the trail had gone. Fortunately, a gas line worker came to check the well. He informed me that the trail had been rerouted and would intersect again lower down. He offered to drive me to where it came out below. I thanked him and backtracked about a half mile where I had mistakenly taken the old route (removal of one turn arrow was missed). I should have realized that I was on the wrong trail sooner when the beautiful mountain laurel continued, as the year before in the dark I had seen only a small stretch of it. Eating sufficiently was still a concern, but I had enough variety that I was OK although a little slower. Honey on a tortilla shell I thought was really the answer, but only for an instant. Even though I eat a lot of honey, this time the super sweetness did not sit well. Here is what I carried for food: Hard and soft granola bars, protein bars, cheese and crackers, peanut butter, tortillas, tuna in pouches, hummus, honey, chocolate flavored protein drinks, GORP, apples at the beginning, and lemonade flavored powder to liven up some of my drinking water. I made it to the final road walk at 1 p.m. with only 10 miles to go. This gave me a burst of energy which took me to the top of the next hill. Once again, the afternoon became hot and humid. The 10 miles seemed to get longer and longer. It was great to see the road and parking lot at the end. I finished at 4:57 p.m., just under 47 hours from the start. I was warmly greeted by Eric Chapman and three other 100 milers, plus Bert Nemcik (the originator), Keith and Karen Klos (NCTA Allegheny Chapter leaders) and Mike and Tina Toole (the trail coordinators). It was a great experience. Is it for everyone? No, but the 25 and 50 mile distances can also be a challenge. Will I do it again? I have not decided. It is a fantastic challenge, but takes me a lot of training time and is physically very demanding. I definitely want to come up with the right food combination for the next time. Oldest finisher is relative. Reasonable challenges help keep us young.

What In The Blue Blazes?

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uane Lawton's good idea in our last issue posed that very question about a picture he submitted, asking our readers to send their potential answers as to its whereabouts along the North Country National Scenic Trail. Bill Menke, Barb Pavek, and Deb Koepplin answered quickly that it was taken out the back door of the visitors center at Lake Sakakawea State Park in North Dakota. Jim and Tena Hopp even said, “We did not need to ‘guess’ at the picture in the July-December 2012 Issue of North Star. My wife and I were there in the fall of 2010. At first we thought it was the ‘end’ of the NCNST, but the Park Ranger there told us that it is considered the ‘beginning’ of the trail, locally. By the way, we have been to the ‘other’ end of the trail at Crown Point, New York as well.” Duane's picture in the last issue showed a brick paved walkway followed by a mowed grassy path. In truth, at the far end of that grassy way is this sign.

Jim and Tena even contributed our next mystery location (below) intended to drive you crazy. Please send your answers (and potential future mystery locations!) to the editor at treeweenie@aol.com.

Reprinted with permission from The FLT News.

www.northcountrytrail.org

January-March 2013

The North Star 37


Minnesota’s North Shore Inspires NCT Thru-Hiker Bean and Bear Lake overlook on the Superior Hiking Trail. Story and Pictures by Luke Jordan SHTA Volunteer

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or many people, hiking 4,600 miles in one go may seem like a crazy, even foolish idea. But for some others it is an opportunity to see isolated places, to discover oneself, and of course to have fun doing it! Such is the case with me. A few years ago I had never heard of the North Country Trail. I had no idea that such a daunting task of building a continuous footpath across seven northern states was underway, and had been for more than thirty years. I first heard about it while volunteering on a Superior Hiking Trail (SHT) work-weekend from another volunteer. I was immediately excited and fascinated with the idea. After doing a little research and finding out what the trail was all about I began to feel a sense of longing, a desire to hike beyond Minnesota and see what else the north country had to offer. When I was a young kid my family used to take trips up to Minnesota's North Shore of Lake Superior every summer and I always enjoyed exploring the many excellent state parks in the area. I was awestruck by the beauty of the region and developed an appreciation and love for it (one reason why the Arrowhead Reroute should be approved ASAP). Once we bought our own property and built a cabin, we would visit the North Shore more frequently. It was then I discovered, only a quarter-mile away from our cabin, a hidden gem of the North Shore—the Superior Hiking Trail. I was 14 years old then, had lots of energy and was eager to explore new places. Little did I know that just down the road was a fantastic section of the SHT known as Section 13, with many scenic vistas from atop nameless peaks. After that initial discovery, every family trip we took up to “The Shack” I would spend time by myself hiking the nearby sections. When I was old enough to drive I would make solo trips with the main objective of hiking new sections of the SHT for a few years until I had a life-changing experience on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) in Colorado. The summer after I graduated from high school I signed up as a volunteer for the Forest Service’s Passport In Time program in Twin Lakes, Colorado, for a week in July doing historic preservation work. The project was located on the CDT and I met many interesting hikers, all with cool stories of traveling around the country. One person had been backpacking all over the United States and Europe. He recounted one of his journeys across Ireland and the Isle of Man, as well as telling me about his Appalachian

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and Colorado Trail thru-hikes. His stories stirred something up inside me that made me want to move on to bigger things in the world of hiking: backpacking. That August I started college so my chances to hike didn’t come up nearly as often, but I still got up north any chance that I could to keep “filling in the map” as I called it. Then I read an article in the Ridgeline newsletter that the SHT was nearing completion and they were asking for volunteers to help complete the project. I decided to sign up for a work weekend to learn the art of trail building and to contribute. I enjoyed the experience so much I signed up again the following year. It was here that I first learned of the NCT. I stumbled upon the videos of Nimblewill Nomad’s thru-hike of the NCT in 2009. Watching his journey gave me a surge of inspiration and the desire to complete an “odyssey” of my own. A lot can happen in a few years. At 14 years old I was doing half-day hikes on the SHT. At 20 years old I was working on the SHT and doing multi-day backpacking trips. I’m almost 22 now and scheduled to graduate from college in December. After graduation I’ll fulfill a decision I made over a year ago to attempt a thru-hike of the NCT, starting in March or April depending upon snow. I know that if I don’t do this now while I am still young I may never get the opportunity again. So in 2013 my inspiration and desire from all those years ago on the SHT will finally come to fruition as I attempt a thru-hike of the NCT and join that short roster of folks who have completed the trail. I will be honored to be a part of the national legacy that is the North Country Trail. Previously published in Call of the North, newsletter of Star of the North Chapter.

“Swinging Bridge” in Jay Cooke State Park, south of the Superior Hiking trail in Minnesota. This bridge was wiped out by last summer’s horrid rains.


North Country Trail Sampler:

Allegheny River and Sandy Creek Rail Trails Irene Szabo

www.northcountrytrail.org

Irene Szabo

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ur mapmeister Matt Rowbotham calls it an “alternate hiker route” on maps of western Pennsylvania, the only such designation on our whole NCT, the result of a temporary compromise reached several years ago with the Clarion Chapter. They had pointed out that this existing paved rail trail system offered miles of off-road travel around a long segment with no other trail and little public land, so even though it isn’t the ideal “desired condition” for the NCT, it’s SOMETHING useable for now; hence its novel designation on NCT maps. I was visiting nearby Oil Creek State Park for steam locomotive visitors to their tourist railroad, so took the opportunity to visit this bit of NCT south of Oil City, especially since I had been intrigued by Tammy Veloski’s picture of a tunnel on the trail during one of the Tour de NCT hikes. The Allegheny River Trail follows the river by the same name, with the wide river and canoeists typically in view, even in the summer. It is paved, with mileposts to help in navigation, and features its own tunnels through rock outcroppings that force loops in the river, but well south of where I bicycled that day in July. Even on a weekday, it was well-used miles outside of town. Five miles south of Oil City, a tremendous railroad bridge soared high overhead, carrying yet another old railroad east-west over the river. The famous Pennsylvania Railroad had provided the railbed and tunnels for today’s trail along the Allegheny River toward Pittsburgh, while the east-west overhead Belmar Bridge had ended up being a branch of the NY Central, but not before it had been the Jamestown, Franklin, and Clearfield, and even that line had combined several previous shorter ones. The J, F, & C opened the overhead bridge in 1907 to carry coal and oil west to Jamestown, to another line which went north to Ashtabula, a port on Lake Erie. Rockefeller’s Cleveland refineries benefitted. While passenger service died in 1935, coal freight continued on the high bridge into the 1980’s. To our good fortune, the bridge over the Allegheny is sufficiently strong to provide a trail bridge even now, so this is a junction for the NCT coming up the Allegheny River from the south, where it then turns east onto the Sandy Creek Trail. The trouble is that the Sandy Creek Trail is high above the Allegheny River Trail. For hikers, the well-made wooden steps climbing by switchbacks under the trestle above are a gift, but for bicyclists, it’s a workout to climb steps while wheeling an unwieldy contraption up the wooden trough provided beside the steps. I should have taken a picture, but I was too busy gasping and grunting. The next two miles of the Sandy Creek Trail are a monument to civil engineering. While the Sandy Creek valley may have provided a way through the hills for the railroad, it wasn’t an easy one: within two miles there were four high bridges over the sinuous creek plus a tunnel! Fortunately for us, the railroad didn’t remove the bridges when it was abandoned, but these sure were expensive miles for the

East portal of Mays’ Mill Tunnel with yet another creek bridge just before that. The bollards in the center of the bridge entrance block illegal usage.

railroad builders. Along this trail, there is nothing but woods, but because ATV access from dirt roads is possible, there are bollards (posts in the ground) at the entrance to every bridge, centered to block ATV’s while permitting bikes. 967 ft. long Mays’ Mill Tunnel is quite an experience! While its straight line bore permits one to see the light at the other end, it’s also long enough that the center line reflectors stop reflecting any light about midpoint. It’s hard to imagine, but a person actually loses all sense of where she is in relation to the sides of the tunnel without those reflectors, so I kept expecting to bounce off the walls. It was icky. At least it wasn’t so long that I needed a flashlight or headlamp, and there are such railtrail tunnels, indeed. The tunnel was built in 1905 and lined with brick. As an interpretive sign at the west portal tells us, the east-west wind through the tunnel caused freezing of the inevitable dripping water, which threatened to demolish the tunnel. In 2005 the liner was reconstructed with precast concrete arches and a concrete lining, with a ceiling lower than trains required; the space between the old tunnel roof and the current one was filled with 250,000 discarded tires. While it’s not the usual desired hiking trail, this rail trail is certainly a fascinating route. January-March 2013

The North Star 39


Dave Brewer

Trail Protection and Landowners Bill Treat NCTA Land Protection Intern

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he development of the North Country Trail has undergone a sea change. After three decades of weaving it through national and state land assets, trail planners and builders are increasingly called upon to gain access through private land. Depending upon your location or chapter, this might be yesterday’s news. For others, it’s uncharted territory. This North Star installment on trail protection offers a glimpse into interacting with private landowners. While intended as a short-course prior to your initial landowner meeting, it will be as limited as human relationships are organic. The good news is that there’s no rigid formula for the chapter volunteer to accomplish this. The bad news: one needs to prepare for a whole host of scenarios. For our authority, we rely on a network of counselors from partners such as the Land Trust Alliance, Conservation Fund, NCTA and National Park Service staff and our Affiliates with experience like the Buckeye Trail Association and Finger Lakes Trail Conference. Packing Your Pulaski Before we survey landowner interactions, let’s consider a few preliminaries. Liken them to packing your tools before trail maintenance day. Fewer adages ring truer than “Don’t go it alone.” This advice has nothing to do with the lack of confidence in any person’s qualifications or abilities. Rather, it speaks to the myriad moving parts that must be synchronized in order to secure a corridor for the Trail. Self reliance can lead to the proverbial pot hole. For instance, you could win a landowner’s undying support, and yet overstate tax incentives to such an extent that it derails an entire negotiation. You could recite real estate law with your eyes closed or draw up a hermetically-sealed contract, only to discover that the NCTA prohibits certain kinds of agreements. You could broker a deal like Seward’s Folly, only to discover that the National Park Service won’t certify the section because it’s not the preferred route of the Trail. My intention is not to cast a pall over the process, but to underscore the importance of team-building and relationships. Many advisers bring success. Andrea Ketchmark aptly mentioned in the last issue of the North Star, “We must be flexible and reach out to build a coalition of partners to get the job done.” If we collaborate, we have a much better chance of succeeding. Build a team within your chapter and include NCTA and NPS staff and local land conservancies if needed. The more people at the table, the more options you might be able to offer to the landowner. Knowing Landowner Options The NCTA currently permits three different types of protection measures, listed from most to least commitment on the part of the landowner: • Trail Access Easement • Trail Use Agreement • Handshake Agreement Details of these can be found in NCTA’s Volunteer Guide to Trail Protection. Land purchases or conservation easements are also possibilities, provided there are other partners at the table. These typically include a conservancy willing to hold deeds, and management partners such as your state’s DNR. Many requirements such as appraisals, surveys, environmental assessments, and other items (collectively known as due diligence) will be required if you have a landowner who is interested in selling or donating whole or subdivided parcels. It’s difficult to say when you should mention these later options to the landowner. In order to avoid scaring them away, some experts recommend bypassing them entirely during the first meeting. Gauge this, however, upon the landowner’s level of interest and curiosity.

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“Our experience with the NCTA has been great in several aspects: having people enjoy the beauty of the area, meeting some of those folks on the trail and acknowledging their gratitude for this resource being in the area, working with those of like mind to build the trail, maintain it and continue efforts to expand the trail into the woods and off the road.” Dennis Garrett, landowner turned NCTA volunteer. Dennis was awarded Outstanding Private Landowner Of The Year 2012, by the NCTA.

Meeting Landowners The next step in preparing for a landowner meeting involves identifying parcel ownership. At the risk of sounding simplistic, avoid knocking on doors. Your chances of gaining an audience this way are next to nil, and it is more akin to cold calls at dinner time (insert sigh of annoyance). Plus, the resident might not be the owner. For official records, consult your county Real Property Office. Now that you know who owns the land, it’s time to make contact. Landowners are part of your community. You could bump into them at the grocery store. You could be introduced through a friend or associate. A personal connection is best but if you don’t have that, the next best thing is to send a letter. The NCTA has a template that can be used for this purpose, and it is posted on our website. If the landowner agrees to a meeting, bring a copy of the NCTA landowner brochure, the North Star magazine, and a Trail map of the area. NCTA Headquarters can provide you with a packet upon request. Be prepared to encounter all kinds of folks, from nervous ones who think you’re from the government invoking eminent


domain, to high-power business persons well-acquainted with meetings of this nature, from the environmentally indifferent, to the passionate activist. You should feel comfortable speaking openly about your passion for the Trail and answering landowner questions. Friendly, non-intimidating personalities and nonverbal expressions work best. Apply generous amounts of cheerfulness, cordiality and tact. After introducing yourself as a volunteer from a non-profit organization, reassure the landowner that you’re not selling anything. The NCTA is asking only for permission to enjoy the prettiest parts of their property. Naturally, landowners will have concerns about liability, trail builders, routing, access, abuse, camping, gates, fences and signage. Arm yourself with the answers to these questions which can be found in the Volunteer Guide to Trail Protection but don’t be afraid to say you don’t know. Honesty is the best policy. You can find the answer and get back to them. This is a great excuse for a follow-up meeting. Setting Practical Goals for Your First Meeting

Our goal is to promote the North Country Trail with a purpose. But remember, this first meeting should be an informal chat, not an interview; think of building the relationship over time. Listen more than talk, taking care not to overwhelm the landowner with too much information. Describe the mission of the NCTA and the benefits of the Trail. Show the NCNST on maps in their local area, pointing out gaps and how their property possibly fits into the NCNST route. Find out more about the landowner and their land. What are his/her future plans for their property: keep it in the family, resale, development? Persuasive appeals might include that the NCT: • Provides healthy, recreational opportunities for your family and community. • Safeguards natural areas, open space, wildlife habitat and watersheds from over development. • Brings communities together to create a public resource, and builds a recreational legacy for current and future generations. • Creates connections between small communities, and in some cases increases property value. • Cultivates appreciation and protection of the North Country’s natural, cultural, agricultural and historic resources. The following are a few “don’ts” offered by seasoned professionals. Avoid taking notes. It intimidates. When it comes to possible tax advantages for donated easements, avoid giving advice. It’s okay to provide information, but only with the caveat that the landowner needs to consult a tax advisor or a real estate attorney for details. Finally, tune in your mental radar for vague references that might indicate an environmentally compromised parcel or a cloudy title (for land or easement purchases). If you suspect such might be the case, sound the alarm to NCTA sooner rather than later. www.northcountrytrail.org

Building A Life-Long Relationship It’s important to remember to take the long view. You will rarely get a “Yes” right away. It takes time for families to make decisions about their land and it’s important that you be respectful of their wishes, needs and their space. A relationship built on respect and cultivated over time will pay off. If you are successful and a landowner grants permission for the NCNST to cross their property, it’s only the beginning. Just like maintaining the trail, maintaining the relationship with landowners is just as important as building it in the first place. Monitor the trail on their property on a regular basis, meet with them to ensure the terms of the agreement are being met on both ends, and keep them informed of chapter activities. Landowners get a free membership in the NCTA so be sure to notify NCTA Headquarters when you reach an agreement so we can get the family on our mailing list. Successful relationships are built on trust, respect, and patience. If you reach out to landowners keeping that in mind, 2013 will bring us ever closer to fulfilling our goal of completing the North Country Trail. More details on protecting the NCT can be found in our Volunteer Guide to Trail Protection, posted in the online Resources Center at www.northcountrytrail.org/members/ volunteer-resources.

Tips for Positive Interactions Be Prepared

• Know NCTA’s mission statement, the NCT corridor from NY to ND, the amount of Trail left to complete, and who administers, funds, builds, maintains and protects the Trail. • Avoid group meetings with more than one landowner, usually a disaster waiting to happen. • Present options. Know about the Handshake Agreement, the Trail Use Agreement, and the Trail Access Easement. Tailor-made trail protection plans are available. Flexibility and a good ear are imperative. • It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Avoid suggesting obligations on the part of NCTA or any partners. If you don’t know the answer to a question, tell them you’ll find out and get back to them. • Don’t lead with the negatives. Address concerns only if they are concerns. • Listen. Difficult for those of us gifted with gab, but avoid talking too much. • Be patient. Discretion, tact and professionalism will win the day. Avoid language or posturing that could be construed as high-pressure.

• Stay in touch. Even if a meeting is not immediately successful, send the landowner a thank you card for their time and consideration. January-March 2013

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Please see the article related to this sidebar, “Trail Protection and Landowners” on page 40.

One Happy Enough Landowner

A noteworthy segment of the Finger Lakes Trail used to cover seven miles of forested private land crossed intermittently by significant stream gullies heading down to the valley below. It had been one of the longest private and forested sections between roads in our system, until, that is, the biggest landowner sold the middle out to a lumber company who cancelled our permission, thereby eliminating most of that long walk. Now the rerouted trail must drop down to the valley and climb back up the other side on a fierce set of switchbacks into a state wildlife management area, Rattlesnake Hill, only to descend again in a few miles to return to the south side and the rest of our trail route around a ski resort. When the publication of a new map M8 showing the reroute was announced on the FLT e-group, Steve Randall shared the following response: “I discovered the FLT in 2002 when I purchased hunting property and thought I had the best deer path I’ d ever seen crossing it. To my disappointment I later realized it was a hiking trail. So for the past 10 years I have ventured out on the trail. I have attended the past five Wally Wood hikes, completed the Tompkins County series last summer and have hiked other random portions of the trail. Although having the trail on my property caused an occasional inconvenience in the form of minor litter and non-hikers using the trail to gain access to justify trespassing elsewhere on my land, my experience as a landowner has been positive and I was always proud to say I owned a section of the trail. This re-route moves the trail off my property (not by my request) so I will now become a paying member of the FLTC. It was fun being a landowner while it lasted. Merry Christmas everyone and maybe I’ ll see you on the trail.”

42 The North Star

NCTA 2012 Chapter/Affiliate/Partner

Honor Awards From west to east:

Members

Chapter/Affiliate/Partner

Awardee Name

Sheyenne River Valley, North Dakota

Bob Patton

Dakota Prairie Grasslands

Ron Saeger

Star of the North, Minnesota

Doug Thomas

Laurentian Lakes, Minnesota

Gary Narum

Itasca Moraine, Minnesota

Mary Becker

Arrowhead, Minnesota

Eric Mautri

Kekekabic Trail, Minnesota

Terry Bernhardt

Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota

Steve Coz

Brule-St. Croix, Wisconsin

Chuck Zosel

Chequamegon, Wisconsin

Warren Irle

Ni-Miikanaake, Upper Michigan

Melanie Fulman

Peter Wolfe Chapter, Upper Michigan

Ted Soldan

North Country Trail Hikers, Upper Michigan

Jim & Norma Matteson

Superior Shoreline, Upper Michigan

Tim Hass

Hiawatha Shore to Shore, Upper Michigan

Marilyn Chadwick

Spirit of the Woods, Lower Michigan

Loren Bach

Chief Noonday, Lower Michigan

Steve Hicks

Northwestern Ohio Rails to Trails Association

Nelson Hagerman

Wampum, Pennsylvania

Doug Turner

Butler County, Pennsylvania

Jack Detrie

Butler Outdoor Club, Pennsylvania

Helen Coyne

Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

Mike & Tina Toole

Finger Lakes Trail, New York

Mary Coffin

Central New York

Vick Nelson

Congratulations to all the winners!

January-March 2013


5 Good Reasons To Take A Hike Mary Stenberg Chequamegon Chapter, WI

I

’d like to share an idea I came up with for a presentation about the North Country Trail and about hiking. I delivered this presentation on October 23, 2012, to a group of students and staff at the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College in Ashland. My goal was to promote the NCT and recruit new members. I created a paper wrapper for a TAKE 5 Candy Bar that you tape over the top of the existing wrapper. I gave everyone who attended the presentation one of the candy bars. The new wrapper has facts and information on it about the NCT. It also gives you the 5 best reasons to TAKE A HIKE – It’s Healthy, it’s Simple, it’s Cheap, it’s Real, and it’s Forever. • It’s Healthy: Hiking provides lots of health benefits and very few risks. Using hiking as a way to stay physically active can help you lose weight, reduce heart disease, decrease high blood pressure. Hiking helps prevent osteoporosis, prevents and controls diabetes, improves arthritis, relieves back pain, reduces stress and anxiety, and slows the aging process. • It’s Simple: Hiking, like walking, is fundamentally human. What’s more natural than walking upright on two feet? The more you hike, the more you will develop stamina, skills and comfort on the trail. It’s easy to stick with hiking, because the frustration level is low for beginners and you control the intensity of your workout. As compared to activities like golf, tennis or racquet ball, hiking is simple. • It’s Cheap: Compared to just about any other sport, your up front spending for hiking essentials is minimal. Yes, you do need some good shoes or boots, a comfortable pack, and the proper clothing, but compared to many other sports, you don’t need to spend lots of money to take a hike. You only need a few things to get started and get out there and take a day hike. Start with a small, comfortable backpack or fanny pack. Carry an emergency rain poncho, some bug repellent, an emergency blanket, a small first aid kit, sunscreen, water or Gatorade, some tissues and maybe a snack – and don’t forget your camera! • It’s Real: We spend too much time indoors, under fluorescent lights, at a computer or watching TV. Hiking encourages you to get outdoors and back to nature. Hiking gives you a chance to experience the world, to rediscover the rhythms of the day and the different seasons of the year. Spontaneity is the rule when you’re hiking. Even hiking the same trail over and over again will deliver surprises and keep you from being bored. Maybe you’ll hear and see a new kind of bird, a baby fawn, spring flowers or colored leaves in the fall. Teach your kids about nature, show them a deer scrape or a rub. Help them to know the difference between a hemlock and a spruce tree. www.northcountrytrail.org

Look at and identify animal tracks in the mud or snow. This kind of stuff beats reality TV any day. • It’s Forever: Hiking is a great way to introduce kids to nature and the outdoor world. It’s also something that kids will be able to enjoy for their whole lives and so can you. A lot of sports have limited life spans for participants either because of injuries or logistical challenges but hiking is low impact. You control the intensity and duration of your workout. As you get older, you may not hike up a mountain as quickly as you once did or maybe you won’t hike 20 miles in a day, but in many ways, you’ll be a better hiker. Your understanding of the environment will improve and you will pick up on things more quickly. You will see more details and differences along the trail. So Get Out There And Take A Hike! Resource: http://hiking.about.com If you are interested in the Take 5 Wrapper I created, I will send you the file. Contact me at stenberg@cheqnet.net.

NCTA Announces

Allegheny National Forest Backpack Trip The NCTA is pleased to offer its membership a guided backpacking trip on the North Country Trail through Pennsylvania’s gorgeous Allegheny National Forest. The dates for this 45-mile trip are October 18-23, 2013, and the cost is $295 per person. Highlights include the spectacular cliffs, boulders and crevices in the Minister Creek area, old growth hemlock and beech forest in Tionesta Scenic Area, and excellent views of the Allegheny Reservoir. The ANF lies on the Allegheny Plateau and is cut by numerous creeks which result in many ascents and descents along the trail. However, no climb is higher than 500 feet. Limited to eight participants plus two leaders, this trip is suitable for experienced backpackers as well as novices who are in reasonably good shape. Participants must provide their own tent, sleeping bag, and backpack although a limited number of these items are available to rent. The trip is led by NCTA volunteers Paul Shaw and Todd Lange. Both are graduates of the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS), have more than 25 years combined guide experience, and are the owners of an adventure travel business, Treks & Trails International. The deadline for reservations is August 1. To register, or for more information, contact trip leader: Paul Shaw 155 Mowery Lane Sunbury PA 17801 pshaw@ptd.net 717-215-8339

January-March 2013

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north star

NONPROFIT U.S. POSTAGE

PAID

North Country Trail Association

Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Irene Szabo

An early example of trail user disputes? Ha. This bronze plaque mounted on a tall stone stands in a charming village square in Addison, New York, south of the North Country Trail, where the new Great Eastern Trail's northernmost miles are being built between the Finger Lakes/North Country Trails and the Pennsylvania border. Yes, the new trail passes directly beside this monument.

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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