North Star Vol. 32, No. 2 (2013)

Page 1

April-June, 2013

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

Pennsylvania Rocks! Sign up for 2013 NCTA Conference Visit With Luke Jordan During His End-To-End Quest A Visit to Lakenenland in the UP The Trail of Surprises

Volume 32, No. 2

Tammy Veloski


David Cowles

Director of Development

Jill DeCator

Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator

Matt Davis

Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota

Tarin Hasper

Administrative Assistant

Andrea Ketchmark

Director of Trail Development

Laura Lindstrom

Financial Administrator

Tall dark hemlock, maple and beech create a canopy over hikers on the North Country Trail in western Pennsylvania.

Northwestern Pennsylvania features many pockets of huge old trees like this trailside oak that dwarfs photographer Tammy Veloski’s sons, Kyle and Dale. There are even white pines that three people can’t join hands around! Join us in “Penn’s Woods” for scenery like this at the annual conference. Picture by Tammy Veloski.

Pennsylvania Rocks! Register for NCTA Conference 2013................ 4 Canastota, First NY Trail Town..... 9 The Trail of Surprises................... 10 Prespectives on Spring...................11 Operational Leadership: A Safety Initiative........................ 12 Two NCTA Members Win National Trails Awards.............. 13 Lakenenland Sculpture Park..........14 National Scenic & Historic Trail Conference............. 18 Opening Day...............................19 VOTE for Your NCTA Board of Directors....................... 21

Welcome, Tarin Hasper............... 23 Flooding at Lowell HQ!............... 25 Luke Jordan’s Thru-Hike Despite “Spring”........................ 26


Trailhead...................................... 3 Matthews’ Meanders.................. 20 NPS Corner............................... 24


Who’s Who Along the Trail...... 16 What in the Blue Blazes?........... 27 Hiking Shorts.............................. 5

Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin

Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator

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

Lynda Rummel, New York Rep.

(315) 536-9484 ·

Ray Vlasak, At Large Rep.

(218) 573-3243 ·

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

Garry Dill, At Large Rep.

(614) 451-0223 ·

John Heiam, At Large Rep.

(231) 938-9655 ·

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

Larry Pio, At Large Rep.

(269) 327-3589 ·

Doug Thomas, At Large Rep.

(612) 240-4202 ·

(724) 526-5407 ·

Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Summer issue, Vol. 32, Issue 2, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.

The North Star

Terms Expiring 2015 Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep.

North Star Staff


Executive Director

Bill Menke

About the Cover

In This Issue

Bruce Matthews

April-June 2013

Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep.

(724) 234-5398 ·

Tom Moberg, First VP, North Dakota Rep. (701) 271-6769 ·

Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep.

(763) 425-4195 ·

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




ver the weekend of April 13th, your Board of Directors, NCTA Staff and our NPS partners, Mark Weaver and Jeff McCusker, met for a marathon weekend of Strategic Planning as well as our regular Spring board meeting. Terry Horton from Grand Valley State University here in Michigan, a specialist in nonprofits, once again facilitated our Strategic Planning. One of Terry’s favorite challenges when she has met with us is “You’ve got to be willing to have big, hairy audacious ideas!” How many of you, when you are out benching trail in Pennsylvania, building a bridge in Wisconsin or mowing prairie grass in North Dakota ever think of the fact that you are part of a big hairy audacious idea? Take a minute. Rest on your McLeod and think about it. As you look east, that trail stretches to New York and soon on into Vermont. As you look west, it goes all the way to western North Dakota. 4600 miles. That’s a really big audacious idea and you

Big Hairy Audacious Ideas are an integral part of it. As you are working on your own little stretch of trail, don’t forget the big picture that you are making a reality. The same goes for your North Country Trail Association. As an individual partner in your local chapter or affiliate, you are also partnered with volunteers all across the route of the NCNST. Your local role in advocacy for the trail in your community, building relationships with landowners which may lead to permanent protection of our trail corridor, recruiting new members, identifying donors who can financially support our Association and its goals, as well as your labor of love in building trail all breathe new life into your North Country Trail Association and further our mission to develop the premier footpath across the northern tier of states.

Back to Our Roots

At our meetings, Mark Weaver who is our new NPS Superintendent, shared with us the work he has been doing going back to our Foundation Documents drafted some thirty or more years ago. I urge you to follow his columns as we discover our roots and craft our vision for the future of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

We Don’t Own the Trail

One of the recurring themes that came out of our strategic planning was the imperative for us to be building healthy and long lasting relationships along the trail. When we build trail, there is an emotionally strong sense of ownership and entitlement that comes with it. One of the lessons that we learned from our recent experience in central New York and which Jeff McCusker, our NPS Trail Manager, repeatedly pointed out to us, is that we do not own the North Country National Scenic Trail. We are there at the pleasure of the landowner. How the trail is developed and used is likewise at the pleasure of the landowner. If the landowners in your area are to buy into our Vision of the North Country Trail, it will be because you have developed strong local ties and have given them a compelling reason to buy into our dream, our big hairy audacious idea. —Larry Hawkins, MD

I want to be part of the North Country Trail! Join the North Country Trail Association to support our volunteers in building the trail and telling its story in communities nearby. Happy Trails! Become a member today by calling (866) 445-3628 or visit our website and click on Become a Member. Please choose your Chapter Affiliation:  I want to be a member of my local Chapter:  I want to be a member of the Chapter closest to my home.  I want to be an At-Large Member. (Not affiliated with any Chapter)  I want to make a tax deductible contribution of Name Address City EMail

State Day Time Phone

April - June 2013


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Pennsylvania Rocks!

The primary conference site is Slippery Rock University, north of Pittsburgh in western Pennsylvania, where we will eat most meals, enjoy evening programs and daytime workshops, and most of us will sleep. Each dorm room has two long twin beds, its own bathroom, A/C, a small fridge and microwave. For a total price of only $70 per person per night, all three meals are included. If you desire other lodging, however, local hotel rooms will be at a premium due to the simultaneous International Fireworks Convention in the area, so consult the alternative lodging list on the website immediately. There has never been so ambitious a program for one of our annual events, so don't miss out on this one! There may never again be hosts so energetic and courageous to offer such a huge menu of great stuff, so this conference is a must.

Both Pictures by Vinnie Collins


he 2013 national conference of the North Country Trail Association from August 12-17 is an exciting effort to enlarge the size and scope of the annual conference. Not only is it six days long, but the range of activities offered will delight everyone except couch potatoes. Events include hikes of all sizes, trips to museums and historical sites, bike rides, canoeing, and nature explorations. So even though the conference is six days long, you will have a hard time choosing which workshop, excursion, or hike to take on any given day! There are even events and programs available pre and postconference. In fact, the enticing list of attractions put together by our hosts, the Pennsylvania Chapters of the NCTA, is so extensive that we'd need the entire issue of our North Star magazine to showcase everything, so instead we invite you to review the choices and information online on our website, www.northcountrytrail. org. Registration is also available at

Pennsylvania rocks, indeed! The vast wild and lush forests of northwestern Pennsylvania are also filled with house-sized monolithic boulders left behind by geologic forces over millennia. Hike amongst these quiet monuments under a canopy of huge trees, over a land rumpled by streams and rivers carving their way out of the “endless mountains,” as one region calls itself.

This picture is a cruel tease, because you won’t see the mountain laurel in bloom in August, only in June. But maybe you'll be tempted to return to these grand forests, where many places feature an entire understory of this lovely evergreen leafy head-high bush.


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Allegheny National Forest Chapter: Great turnout for the 2012 National Trails Day projects. Photo by Karen Klos.

Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Spring Hike UPPER MICHIGAN

Katelyn Walker

National Trails Day in Allegheny National Forest PENNSYLVANIA - The NCT in the Allegheny National Forest has a work day planned for National Trails Day on Saturday, June 1, at 9:00 am. The crews will be working at Chappel Bay near Pennsylvania Route 321, south of the Bradford Ranger Station, along the Kinzua Arm of the Allegheny Reservoir. This year we will be building a short bog bridge of native material and rerouting a small section of the trail away from a wet area. Work should be completed in one day. All tools and hard hats will be provided by the ANF Chapter of the NCT for crews on both projects. New volunteers are always welcome. Volunteers should bring lunch and water. Gloves and sturdy footwear are recommended. Come prepared to work and have fun. If you or your organization or business would like to get involved, please contact Mike or Tina Toole, Trail Coordinators of the NCT in the ANF, at 814-723-4714 or email at nct001@ This event is open to the public.

Four year old Tallulah on snowshoes during the annual celebration among Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter members, April 13th. Bag lunches, varied hikes, and dinner out in St. Ignace are features of this “spring� event.

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Mary Stenberg

Chequamegon Chapter: Rick Pomerleau’s two-wheeled lumber cart.

Chequamegon Esox Lake Bridge Repair Project WISCONSIN - Our final chapter project last October replaced rotten deck boards on a bridge near Esox Lake, and extended the length of the bridge from 25 to 45 feet. The extensions at each end made approaches less steep, better both for hikers and for getting our DR mower onto the bridge. The decking material, 30 pieces of treated 2 x 6 x 12’ lumber, was way too heavy to carry the mile in to the location, So Rick Pomerleau built a two-wheeled cart that could be pulled behind the DR mower, 8 boards per trip. Even with helpers steadying the load, the cart tipped over a few times running over rocks, but it was a great way to get heavy materials in to the work site. The existing bridge was 6 feet wide, rotting deck supported by four 25´ long 8x10 wooden beams which were still in good shape. The two inside beams were left in place for a new deck 3 feet wide, while the outside beams were cut in half and moved to each end for the extensions. Mary Stenberg, Rick Pomerleau, Mike Ryan, Kevin Schram, Peter Freiburger, and Marty Swank finished the project in one weekend, putting materials to good use and re-use. Esox is the generic name for Northern Pike, Marty explained to your editor.


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April-June 2013

Mary Stenberg

Mary Stenberg

Chequamegon Chapter: Redecking the Esox Lake bridge with three foot boards so we can re-use the outer beams for length extensions. Now, if we can only get to our scheduled first group trail work this year on April 27, with forcasted snow storms coming!

Bicycles Illegal On State Forest Foot Trails In New York NEW YORK - Here is a victory for foot trails in NY’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 7. The DEC’s Hill and Hollow Unit Management Plan covering Morgan Hill State Forest among others south of Syracuse protects the North Country National Scenic Trail (and its host, the Finger Lakes Trail) as a foot trail only. This has been a 13 year struggle by area hiking trail advocates on a section of trail most used and abused in the area. Finally we should see NO BIKE signs and NO MOTORIZED signs. Hopefully this can be a model for state forests in other NYS DEC Regions. The cover page of this Unit Management Plan highlights significant changes in recreational uses: • The construction of 10 to 15 miles of new single track mountain bike trails on Morgan Hill State Forest. • The designation of the North Country National Scenic Trail on the unit as foot travel only (hiking, snowshoeing and skiing). In yet another DEC region further west in NY, long entrenched mountain bikers are being banned from the FLT/ NCNST after alternate routes are built, expected by early 2015. While an extensive network of bike trails will remain in McCarty Hill and Rock City State Forests, riders will no longer be legal on the clearly blazed hiking trail. Again, hours of negotiation and a gradual shift in DEC policy statewide have finally resulted in changing usage in several state forests, to our relief. Meanwhile, a meeting with Albany level (the State Capital) Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) staff is scheduled for May 2nd to iron out statewide policy about the North Country National Scenic Trail on state park properties. This is the hoped-for conversation after last year’s lawsuit for OPRHP-sanctioned destruction of the CNY Chapter’s trail segment. Bruce Matthews, executive director NCTA, and Mark Weaver, Superintendent of our trail from the National Park Service, will attend. Reports from Mary Coffin, Lynda Rummel, and Bruce Matthews

Chequamegon’s DR mower pulling the two-wheeled lumber cart.

A New Volunteer Adventure In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula UPPER MICHIGAN - The Peter Wolfe Chapter will be holding a multi-day, chapter-funded Volunteer Adventure in the western UP in late summer or early fall. We’ll camp on a private lake and be building trail east from the Matt Manger-Lynch Shelter in Baraga County. The area is rugged, with rock bluffs and northern forests. Expect hard work and plenty of fun. Details are sketchy at this time, so keep checking Food will be provided by the chapter, free to volunteers!

Exposed at the Erie Expo PENNSYLVANIA - Erie Sport and Travel Expo is one of the premiere outdoor sports and travel sector trade shows in America. This year’s show was held over a period of three days at the Bayfront Convention Center, March 1st-3rd, in Erie, Pennsylvania. The exhibitors, special appearances, and the show as a whole attracted nearly 8,000 visitors for the 3-day event. The North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest booth was located at the entrance of the Convention Center, offering great exposure to incoming crowds. Chapter president Keith Klos and Chapter organizer Karen Klos staffed the booth and hosted a presentation “All About The North Country Trail” each day.

— Doug Welker

Pruning Oak Trees Before Mid-Summer Can Spread Oak Wilt Disease Oak Wilt is one of the most serious tree diseases in the eastern US, killing thousands of trees each year. It is spread to healthy oaks by beetles carrying a fungus to wounds such as those created by lopped-off or sawed-off branches. Initially the leaves of the oak will wilt and fall off, but eventually most trees die. The disease progresses most quickly in oaks of the red oak group (northern red oak, black oak, and pin oak), but can also kill oaks of the white oak group. Because beetle activity is seasonal, wounds developing between early spring and mid-summer are most likely to be conduits for infection. The message is that, when possible, prune oaks during the last half of the field season. One good source on the web is http://threatsummary. Enter “Oak Wilt” in the search box, then scroll down to the Oak Wilt link in the left column.

— Patti Huston

Marty Swank

— Doug Welker Peter Wolfe Chapter Illustration by Robert O’Brien Copyright free for non-profit use.

NCTA Table at Northland College during Northland’s Sig Olson Environmental Institute Anniversary Celebration.

Sig Olson Environmental Institiute Anniversary Celebration WISCONSIN - Rob Erickson and I manned a NCTA informational table at Northland College on Friday, April 5th. Rob is a natural for doing this and had many conversations with potential members/volunteers. We may have gained at least three new members. If you would like to represent the NCT at local events, this display is available (Rob would be a great accessory if available and willing). — Marty Swank, Chequamegon Chapter, Wisconsin

Artist’s rendering of what the potentially deadly disease Oak Wilt looks like if you could peek under the bark of an infected tree after insects carry the fungus to a wound.

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Chief Noonday Chapter LOWER MICHIGAN - 2012 was a busy year for the Chief Noonday Chapter. We hosted Andrew Skurka for three events during a weekend in April, along with our cohosts, the Western Michigan University Student Recreation Society, the Kalamazoo College Outing Club, and Lee’s Adventure Sports. These events were highlights of our efforts to promote the Trail in our area, but not the only events, as we participated in at least 10 promotional events this year. Additionally, we have our monthly hikes, quarterly speakers at Chapter meetings, and now, a quarterly “Open Mic Night,” where our members and guests can offer hiking trip recaps, video, slides or other interesting information. We hosted the best ever North Country Trail Association Annual Conference in Augusta, Michigan, this year, and are proud of the almost 50 volunteers from our Chapter who participated directly, and others who helped prepare the Trail for our visitors. We are also proud of those we nominated for awards this year, and thankful for the deserved recognition some of our nominees achieved. Ron Sootsman won his third straight Chief Noonday Hiker Challenge, with 341.6 unique miles of NCT hiked in 2011. He is putting on a late surge this year, despite our attempts to load him with extra work on the Trail in 2012. We began using QR codes (Quick Recognition) on our literature, and on our kiosks. Our kiosks have codes for our web site, for maps to the next kiosk in each direction, and for our hiker’s databook pages that Mick Hawkins and Ron Sootsman put together to help long distance hikers. This information is accessible with a smart phone using these QR codes, and once you have the maps, you can continue to access them while you are walking. As we begin 2013, we are again planning promotional opportunities, including some events featuring Joan Young. We are also building our skills on trail protection, and plan to focus more on that in the future. — Larry Pio


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The North Country Trail: The Best Walks, Hikes and Backpacking Trips on America’s Longest Trail


on Strickland’s latest book, The North Country Trail: The Best Walks, Hikes and Backpacking Trips on America’s Longest Trail, will be available in bookstores and The Best Walks, Hikes, from the NCTA office by and Backpacking Trips mid-May. Published by the on America’s Longest National Scenic Trail University of Michigan Press, this book features a chapter for each state the trail traverses, with hikes described from most Ron Strickland with the North Country Trail Association of the NCTA chapter areas. In addition to an introductory chapter with an overview of the trail and its key features, there are state-by-state chapters describing hikes on some of the NCNST’s most beautiful sections. Each hike description includes basic trail information, physical and navigational difficulty, trail highlights, trip planning tips and maps. Winding through seven states, the 4,600 mile long North Country National Scenic Trail is the longest of the eleven National Scenic Trails. From a towpath along the Erie Canal to the shoreline of Lake Superior, the trail crosses a region rich in cultural history and striking in natural beauty. The hikes described in The North Country Trail introduce readers to the joys of hiking on America’s next great trail. Hike segments chosen were selected by NCTA chapters as representing some of the best of the trail by the people who know it best—the members who build, maintain and use it most often. Most segments were hiked by Ron in the spring and summer of 2011, with the help of chapter members serving as guides. These examples of North Country Trail hikes were deliberately kept short in order to serve as an introduction to the Trail, and to appeal to families and less experienced hikers. Ron Strickland is a noted trail developer, author, and conservationist. In 1970, he began to create a pathway from the Continental Divide at Glacier National Park, Montana, to the Pacific Ocean at Cape Alava, Washington. In 2009, that route was established by Congress as the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail. He is the author of seven books, including Pathfinder: Blazing a New Wilderness Trail in Modern America. The North Country Trail should prove to be a major boost for NCTA in growing awareness and use of the Trail. NCTA chapters and members are encouraged to help promote the book as a great way to introduce families to hiking. Books can be ordered directly from NCTA by calling 1-866-445-3628 or from the website The North Country Trail promises to be the ultimate guide to all this splendid trail has to offer.

The North Country Trail

New York’s First Trail Town Eileen Fairbrother

A.F. Larmann, Jr.

The Village of Canastota became the first NCTA designated “Trail Town” on April 20. While the weather was more typical of winter, 38° F with winds gusting to 25+ and a combination of rain and snow pellets showering us at times, some 40 folks of all ages were on hand for the dedication and some subsequent Earth Day observances. Many young attendees were quite comfortable in their winter snowsuits! Mayor Carla DeShaw again voiced strong support for the NCNST as part of her already ongoing initiatives stressing economic development, educational services, and recreation options. Canastota has a strong and well-documented historic connection with the “Erie Canal era” via the excellent Canal Town Museum, a trove of history of both local and statewide significance. The NCNST is adjacent, and departs town on the Old Erie Canal State Park’s towpath trail. Museum Director Joe DiGiorgio’s comments included an update on upcoming area exhibits, including an actual canal era boat to be displayed on dry land near the museum. The Village Administrator and the DPW team performed admirably, while the Village paid for the banner. Local families try out the towpath trail.

Kathy Eisele

Mary Kuntzler-Larman

Mayor Carla DeShaw addresses local audience during official ceremony declaring Canastota as NY’s first Trail Town in front of Village-funded new banner.

“Urban blaze” signage provided by Central NY Chapter.

Photographer, unknown customer

Hiking Shorts Continued… Canoecopia WISCONSIN -The several Wisconsin Chapters cooperated to man the NCT display at the Canoecopia 2013 Silent Sports Exhibition at Alliant Energy Center in Madison, March 9. It draws 18,000-20,000 folks from all over the Midwest. It is one of the largest outdoor silent sports exhibitions in the country in which NCTA takes part. Left to Right: Mike Stafford, Phil Nimps, Gaylord Yost, Ed Ronkowski, and Paul Johnson in front of the NCTA display put up by the organizer of the booth, Todd McMahon.

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The Trail of Surprises Merv Frey

by Rachel Frey

Rachel Frey, left, and Josie Swartzentruber, somewhere between Burleson and Hughes Roads, between Hornell and Bath on FLT Map M10.


ow, THIS is a real vacation,” I said to Josie as we sat on rocky shelves under the cascading water of the falls of the Canaseraga Creek. “Ohhh, Rachel,” she sighed appreciatively, “I love it too! It feels like someone hammering on your back!” Joining us, my husband Merv relaxed too as the water massaged our backs, washing away all the sweat and grime of our 11.7 mile hike of the day. This gorgeous waterfall was right by our campsite. We were dayhiking a section of the North Country Trail/ Finger Lakes Trail, and Sun Valley Campsite near Arkport, NY, was our “home” at night for the first three days. Josie, our ambitious friend, had started driving at 3:30AM and travelled over five hours to start hiking with us on our first day. Waterfalls were one of her favorites. We were delighted to find this one especially for her! Since Josie was dayhiking five days with us, it meant we could go from Fox Hill Road on Finger Lakes Map M8 (outside Dalton, Livingston County) to Birdseye Hollow State Forest (Map M12, southeast of Hammondsport, Steuben County) in eight days instead of nine. Dayhiking meant we could eat “real” food and have showers every night! Over the last eight years Merv and I have backpacked or dayhiked sections of the North Country Trail nearly every year. After hiking on the Appalachian Trail for six months thirteen years ago, we have hiked portions of the North Country Trail in bits and pieces on vacation time. On the Appalachian Trail, we were used to extravagant views from 4,000 or more feet up. No longer would we expect the huge mountains and rock climbing of the Appalachian Trail. But not knowing WHAT to expect kept this trail very interesting. After hiking over 400 miles on the North Country Trail, we thought we were used to new ideas of beauty. Rocks, water, sweeping field views, walks through farm fields and state forests... “The North Country Trail has a different type of beauty,” we decided. But this year made us chuckle. Pot-bellied pigs? A dog kennel? Donkeys braying? Goats running around curiously? Horses staring solemnly at us? Alpacas peeping their heads from a barn door? What next? A sign proclaimed “A spoiled rotten dog lives here!” Another sign told us to “Please close and latch gate” as we wandered a sheep pasture. We did. A detour road walk after leaving Fox Hill road made us miss “the major gully and the very worst of many to come,” according to the guide. Instead we passed foxgloves, butter-and-


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eggs flowers and daisies. Striding over the road walk, Josie and I reviewed the two years of our lives while we were apart from each other. With such farreaching views from the road tops on a breezy sunny afternoon, we did not mind the road detour. One morning Josie was parking her car in “shoulder parking,” only a few feet of grass before a 1½ foot ditch. Just a little too far and the car’s right wheel went down into the soft mud. Merv was not happy. We were done… unless…he straddled the ditch and pushed against the front fender and I heaved from the back end while Josie gunned the car after turning the wheels the way Merv instructed…she got out partway and stopped. “Go!” I shouted. She gave it some more gas and we were OUT! “OK, now what other surprise will happen today?” we wondered. A ladder-like affair appeared. A stile! A new one for Josie. We climbed up and down the stile over a working fence and found Bozzard’s cabin, which included an outhouse. This is a private cabin open to hikers. Dairy cows grazed contentedly in the adjoining pasture. Crossing fences lined with electric wires, we came to a wide field bordered with fence posts. It was a photo op for Merv with his zoom lens. He caught bobolinks perching on the fence posts. After seeing a thriving farm, we passed an abandoned barn which saddens Merv and me, ex-dairy farmers. After climbing up a hill past the abandoned barn, we entered the state forest. Were we done with surprises for the day? A dammed-up pond and.... “A beaver house,” I exclaimed. “What a huge one!” Although we saw no beaver, just the fact of actually finding a beaver pond qualified as another “surprise” of the day. But we were not finished yet. A road walk past a field complete with round hay bales, an old manure spreader and a hay wagon set Merv to snapping photos. Josie likes waterfalls. Merv likes farms. After the beaver pond, we came to what the map calls Bill Morris pond. A beautiful reflection! I like reflections. An orange newt, rows of pine plantations, puncheon logs, a rock table someone made, a field of Christmas

Rachel Frey

Merv enjoying a farmer’s hay field.

trees, a railroad track. Around every corner was something new. We signed our trail names “Trail Vet, Old Salt & Supersister.” Hiking through Hornell in the early morning, I caught a glimpse of the three of us in a store window. Another reflection! After passing another abandoned barn, I heard a faint sound that might have been frogs chirping just to the right of the trail. A faint path took me to another pond with a most spectacular reflection. This was becoming a most interesting hike! Seeing yet another deer, we began counting. In eight days we would see 24 deer. A vertical wall of rock lined an old rail bed. Woodpeckers poked holes in many trees. We saw the spiny thorns of honey locust and a new tree I had never seen before, a crack willow. There were flowers–chickory, purple flowering raspberry, elderberry bushes, hawkweed (yellow and orange) and buttercups. This was June, not early spring! But a most unpleasant surprise was awaiting us. HEAT! We had come to New York expecting it a reasonable summer temperature, because, after all, it was north of our home which is the southern part of Pennsylvania. I do not like heat, but nevertheless, we were going to get heat, of the 90 degree variety! Before crossing a road in midday I saw what I wanted. Water! Both Merv and I dipped our heads in the water. Natural air conditioning! After a hot road walk we stopped on a newly built bridge for lunch in the

Perspectives On Spring

SHADE before passing through yet another red pine plantation. Hot or not, this hike was not a dull experience! Back at Lake Demmon campsite, Josie and I submerged ourselves in the lake. But even after a shower Merv and I sweated in our tent that night. On Josie's last day, we left very early to avoid as much of the heat as possible. We had seen an ever increasing number of windmills while travelling to and from our starting and ending places. Climbing up Spencer Hill Road we came to a nice pavilion with a good view of windmills. Merv was fascinated by them. During a snack break and also to cool down, we counted the number of revolutions per minute. 12! Hunting for a supposed beaver dam along the road, I discovered a small fawn in the water. Beckoning without making a sound to Merv and Josie, I coaxed them to creep up silently to see the last surprise of our five days together. In the next three days, Merv and I backpacked the rest of the trail to Birdseye Hollow. I could write about bear tales, extremely hot road walks, difficulty finding blazes, a sand production place of business, Randy's Roost, Mitchellsville Gorge, multiple switchbacks up Mt. Washington, two young teen hikers and meeting other fellow hikers, but that would make another story! Reprinted from Finger Lakes Trail News with permission.


oug Welker from Peter Wolfe Chapter in western Upper Peninsula of Michigan (UP), in an April 17th email: “UP winter. That, and the bugs, are what keep this place from being overpopulated. By the way, still winter here, but daytimes are mainly above freezing. We have had a few days in the 40’s, but nothing above 50° since last October. The snow is melting more than accumulating of late, down to 20-30˝ now, but more snow is expected tonight, and heavier snow Thursday night and Friday, with winds to 60 mph along the Lake Superior shore. So, our melting trend will be reversed for a while. The last ten years have been atypical, until this year. In the ’80s and ’90s it was not uncommon for there to be snow cover on May 1st, and that may be the case this year. One year I made a snowman on Memorial Day, from unmelted snow under some spruces. One year I found snow left in the bottom of an old mine pit in late June.” That same day, Stan Kujawa of Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapter was out ice fishing, eastern end of the UP. On April 18th I started my lawn mower for the first time, and the daffodils are blooming.

April - June 2013

— Irene Szabo, western NY The North Star 11

First Operational Leadership training session in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Picture taken by Dennis Garrett, Pennsylvania.

Operational Leadership—A Safety Initiative for all Volunteers Dan Watson, Volunteer Coordinator, North Country National Scenic Trail


t’s sad to say, but of the more than 133 Federal Agencies, the National Park Service consistently has one of the highest injury rates and fatality rates among its employees and volunteers. From 2005 to 2010, more than 3,800 NPS employees and volunteers were hurt in such a manner that they could not return to work the next day, and for some, many more days. The work of all NCT volunteers can be hazardous. Many of us engage in trail work involving sharp tools, difficult terrain and environmental conditions, remote areas, and ever-changing conditions. Even those who volunteer in off-trail activities face hazards—lifting, bending, long hours at a computer—and all can result in injury. NPS Operational Leadership is a new tool designed to prevent or mitigate risk associated with any job, allowing us to make better decisions in a changing environment. The National Park Service has mandated that all of its permanent employees complete Operational Leadership training by 2016. That’s easy enough for Superintendent Mark Weaver, Trail Manager Jeff McCusker, and me… but what about you, the volunteer? To make this safety initiative truly meaningful, it must include the thousands of volunteers up and down the trail. Finding ways to share the concepts of Operational Leadership with you is a huge challenge, but things are already in motion. On March 19 and 20, 2013, NPS staff, NCTA staff, and available volunteer leaders from various states gathered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to participate in the full two-day Operational Leadership training. Part of our mission was to become familiar with the concepts and practices of Operational Leadership ourselves, where we learned about human factors that influence perceived risk versus reward, Risk Assessment Models that anyone can use in the field to identify and avoid potential hazards, and Situational Awareness skills, among others. The other part of


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our mission was to investigate ideas on how best to share this information with others and foster Operational Leadership trailwide, to reach all volunteers eventually, all while realizing that it is an impossibility to coordinate the full two-day training for every volunteer. Here is what we have accomplished so far and our plans for the coming months. Staff and Volunteer Leaders who attended the Grand Rapids session can immediately introduce Operational Leadership practices in their home chapters and affiliate groups. These include, from west to east, the Brule-St. Croix Rovers and Chapter, Superior Shoreline Chapter, Spirit of the Woods Chapter, Western Michigan Chapter, Chief Noonday Chapter, Wampum Chapter, and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. These same leaders are approved to participate in a series of webinars facilitated by the NPS entitled “Go-No Go.” The “GoNo Go” program is designed to condense the two-day Operational Leadership program into a 4-hour training session. It was created in order to share the basics of Operational Leadership with the thousands of seasonal workers and volunteers who join the ranks of the NPS each summer, where the full two-day course cannot be accommodated. It is a “train-the-trainer” webinar series. Anyone who completes the “Go-No Go” trainer course may then instruct other volunteers in just four hours. Over time, our cadre of both trainers and trainees will continue to grow and spread. Under way is development of a North Country Trail Volunteer Safety Handbook template, for use by any trail chapter or affiliate group as a standard safety guide, while allowing for customized sections of site-specific information (i.e., local emergency contact numbers, local threats such as poisonous snakes and plants, etc.). We expect to have this available later this spring.

The NPS plans to host additional full Operational Leadership training sessions over the next two years, one each near the eastern and western ends of the NCT, where interested volunteers can become the next group of ambassadors in bringing Operational Leadership and “Go- No Go” training to others in their areas. All of this will take time, and most importantly, active participation by all of you. Our goal is to equip every volunteer with the “tools” they need to become safety leaders, no matter the task at hand. Expect to see and hear much more about this important topic in the weeks and months ahead. If you have questions, comments, or are motivated to become personally involved, please contact me. Wishing you a safe and rewarding time on the trail… — Dan Watson (651) 290-3030 x 243

North Star Submission Guidelines


In addition, Dick and a friend maintain a segment of the NCT in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan and he is a valued volunteer of Minnesota’s Superior Hiking Trail Association, where he serves as a campsite adopter, trail maintainer, trail builder, and has participated in the construction of a number of bridges. Dick Kroener is a volunteer par excellence who is truly worthy of receiving the National Trails Trail Worker Award for Wisconsin. Congratulations, Dick! Ed Morse of Grawn, Michigan, won one of three 2012 NCTA Trail Builder of the Year Awards and is more than deserving of a National Trails Trail Worker Award for the state of Michigan for his many years of service to both the Spirit of the Woods and the Grand Traverse Hiking Club of the North Country Trail Association. From 2001 to 2009 he worked on every project for the Spirit of the Woods Chapter. Then, in 2006, Ed joined up with the Grand Traverse Hiking Club, now having the distinction of membership in 2 chapters. He has done much of the same work: scouting for new reroutes, working with the trail crew building the new Hodenply 10 mile reroute with its long 50 foot bridge. Two surgeries recently, spinal and prostate, slowed him down a bit, but he is back up to speed with two new responsibilities, Sector Coordinator for a 20 mile section of the NCT from the Marilla Trailhead to M-37, and certified sawyer for a 20 mile section along the Manistee River. Retirement has enabled him to enjoy the love of his life, scouting for new reroutes and working on the NCT. Congratulations Ed!.

merican Trails (www. is the only national, nonprofit organization working on behalf of all trail interests, including hiking, bicycling, mountain biking, horseback riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, trail motorcycling, ATVs, snowmobiling and four-wheeling –even boating on water trails. American Trails envisions a network of diverse, high quality trails for all people and a trail within 15 minutes of every home, school, and workplace. And, on April 16 at the Awards Banquet during the 21st American Trails International Trails Symposium in Scottsdale, Arizona, NCTA’s Dick Kroener and Ed Morse were announced as winners of the National Trails Awards for Trail Worker, State of Wisconsin, and Trail Worker, State of Michigan, respectively. Note that only one winner is selected for each state. Dick Kroener of Rosemount, Minnesota, was one of three 2012 NCTA Trail Maintainer Award winners and also a member of the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trial Crew that captured the 2012 Midwest Region Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Group. Dick has participated in almost every crew outing, accumulating 2,470 hours just with the crew. With this significant total, Dick is the holder of the record for the crewmember with the most hours. When you consider that a full time work year equals 2,080 hours, you can see that just through crew volunteerism, Dick stands at almost 1.2 yearly equivalents.

Dick Kroener during a construction project. Who mows that man’s lawn while he’s working on trail in three states?

Arlen Matson

preferably 2000. Next deadline for Vol. 32, No. 3 July-September is 19 July 2013. Remember that 900 words equal approximately one page of dense text, so very few articles should exceed 1800 words in this size of magazine. Thank you! — Your volunteer editor, Irene (585) 658-4321

Lorana Jinkerson

Bill Menke

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@, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please don’t embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. In all cases, please supply photographer’s name. Front cover photo candidates: prefer vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi or greater than 3000 pixels, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Inside pictures look much better with one dimension over 1000 pixels, too,

Two NCTA Members Win National Trails Awards

Ed Morse attending a promotional event for one of his TWO chapters.

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hether you are traveling on M-28 east of Marquette in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula or hiking the North Country Trail in the same locale, you will pass by Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park, but don’t! It is worth a stop either way. Tom Lakenen, owner and boilermaker-turned-artist, also hosts the NCT across the back of this wonderful treasure where he has built a hikers’ shelter complete with a fantastic fire pit, the first shelter on the 120 miles of trail maintained by the North Country Trail Hikers Chapter. If you check out Lakenen’s website ( you will be greeted by Tom himself with, “Hello and welcome to my junkyard.” That’s how he introduces his scrap metal sculpture park with over 50 different, and always changing, sculptures. Forget all your notions about dumpy, overpriced roadside “tourist traps,” because this is something altogether different…and thank God for that. First off, the self-guided tour down the sculpture trail is absolutely free, and you can take said tour on foot, by car, or on a snowmobile or bicycle. Donations are accepted, but never begged for. In fact, the only thing Lakenen insists upon is that his guests stop to write a quick hello in his guest log. There’s nobody asking you to buy anything; in fact, there’s nothing to buy even if you wanted to! This is one roadside attraction that doesn’t exist for the sake of profit; Lakenenland is truly built out of an artist’s love, his desire to share his passion with his fellow man, and maybe just a little bit of good old-fashioned Upper Michigan humility.


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April-June 2013

Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park Story and pictures by Lorana Jinkerson

These little girls are my granddaughters; Madeline, the oldest, Isabelle and Abigail (twins) my son’s girls.

Tom Lakenen himself singularly builds everything in the park. Yet the park never feels self-serving or egotistical. Instead, visitors get the distinct feeling that Lakenenland isn’t a tribute to Tom at all, but to all of his friends, and to every traveler fortunate enough to stumble onto his trail. Lakenen displays an impressive range of sculpting styles and methods in his park: you’ll find sculptures that are clever, scary, political, cartoony, intentionally kitschy…and sometimes all of these things at once. You will witness menacing blue and red wolves doing cartwheels, giant spiders, and unidentified monsters trapped inside iron cages scattered among the iron sunflowers, 9/11 memorials, and friendly-looking dinosaurs and elephants. But then the most beautiful thing about Lakenenland is the fact that none of the sculptures begs to be explained in the first place. Unlike more self-conscious art, made to be marketed, these welded sculptures are done purely for fun and self-expression, so are refreshingly unassuming. There’s a silhouette of a worker with tools, captioned “Union Ironworkers Building America.” There’s a hulking, goofy bird with extended wings. Then comes an angry pink pig with the ID “Genuine North American Corporate Greed Pig” and the Enron label. A figure posed like a Greek god holds a globe and warns, on a comic balloon, “One more fight over there and I’m drop’in ya.” An elaborate ship with sail has been captioned: “In the beginning of the 21st century the retirees of Upper Michigan’s pipefitter local union #506 rode off into the sunset aboard this ship, taking along

Tom Lakenen, Lakenenland’s creator.

with them the entire pension fund and leaving the working members stranded on a Desert Island. This historic event gradually led to the end of local #506. Sincerely, Temporary Tom, Once a proud member.” The vast majority of Lakenen’s sculptures are art for art’s sake, placed inside a park that is also purely for the sake of that art. You don’t need any special training to ooh and ahh at Lakenen’s work; you don’t need to “get” art to enjoy Lakenenland. Anybody can appreciate the craftsmanship and beauty of the pieces, and the fact that they just plain look cool (not to mention the sheer good nature behind the entire idea of the park.) Maybe two-thirds of the way through the loop, a shelter appears near the juncture with a railroad grade snowmobile Trail 417 that bisects the property. Visitors are invited to use the shelter, have a snack, leave a donation if they like. Clippings on a bulletin board reveal part of the mystery. Tom’s project started as yard art at his home in suburban Chocolay Township south of Marquette. At some point the township administrator thought the sculptures crossed a line between ornament and signs. He cited Tom for violating Chocolay’s sign ordinance. That led Tom to purchase this property, where he can express himself freely in an environment of his own creation. In the winter months, Lakenen has been known to sit outside and cook hot dogs for the snowmobile riders who stop to visit Lakenenland on their cold journeys. And if Lakenen isn’t around to greet you himself, you’ll see signs instructing you to make yourself at home. From the shelter cross over the old rail bed and follow the road to the NCT

This shelter is for hikers to stay in; beds remain on the drawing board.

where you will find a hikers’ shelter, just built this winter from logs retrieved from an old sauna that was doomed for demolition. (In fact, many of Tom’s creations are built from donated materials, whether wood, metal, or stone.) Look for bunk beds to spring up along the sides and eventually a screened front, but for now, the table, chairs and guestbook are a welcome addition to the trail community. Thank you, Tom. You are a landowner extraordinaire. Head back to the sculpture park and don’t miss the bandshell. Every Sunday afternoon in the warm weather months, Tom finds himself amazed at the sounds coming from it. “I built the bandshell because I had the materials to build it,” he says. “I myself don’t know how to play anything but I have a half-dozen or so different friends who were great musicians who started to use it. Now there are two dozen or so different people who come out regularly on any given Sunday to play.” A few years ago the NCT Hikers Chapter hosted National Trails Day at Lakenenland, and plan to do so again this year, Saturday, June 1 from 1:00 pm – 4:00 pm with the intent of showcasing the hikers’ shelter. If you are hiking the NCT or just driving by, don’t hesitate to stop.

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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 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 • (616) 430-3495 Jeff McCusker, NCNST Trail Manager • (616) 340-2004 P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331

Daniel W. Watson, Volunteer Coordinator Ice Age & North Country National Scenic Trails 111 E. Kellogg Blvd., Suite 105, St. Paul, MN 55101 (651)­ 293­-8452 Office • (715) ­441-­7717 Cell (651) ­290-­3214 Fax •

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. 16

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1 2

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


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

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Mark Stange • 9 Border Route Trail Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 10 Superior Hiking Trail Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Gayle Coyer • (218) 834-2700 •


11 Brule-St.Croix Chapter Tim Mowbray • 12 Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 • 13 Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • (414) 403-4575


14 Ni-Miikanaake Chapter Dick Swanson • (906) 229-5122 15 Peter Wolfe Chapter Doug Welker • (906) 338-2680 • 16 North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • (906) 226-6210 17 Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Hass • 18 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Kay Kujawa •

5 4 2

6 3

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

6 3

95 10 14




11 9 13 8 12

LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted






21 38

23 24

37 25


19 20 21 22 23 24 25

26 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 27 Buckeye Trail Association


35 34

31 33


Harbor Springs Chapter 27 32 Anne Billiard • 29 Jordan Valley 45° Chapter 27 30 Duane Lawton • Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery 28 (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): (231) 584-2461 PENNSYLVANIA Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter 32 Wampum Chapter Jill Ciszewski • Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • Spirit of the Woods Chapter 33 Butler County Chapter Loren Bach • (231) 266-8584 • John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 • Western Michigan Chapter Butler Outdoor Club Chuck Vanette • (231) 408-5664 • (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Chief Noonday Chapter Steve Bickel • (724)794-3719 • Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • 34 Clarion County Chapter Chief Baw Beese Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • Mike Dundas • 35 Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy



(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Andrew Bashaw • (740) 394-2008 28 Adams County Chapter 29 Little Cities of the Forest Chapter Richard Lutz • (740) 394-2008 30 Ohio Valley Chapter 31 Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Brad Bosley • (330) 227-2432 •

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Keith Klos • (814) 484-7420 •


37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Dick Hubbard, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 Additional Maintaining Organizations Coordinated by the FLTC: Genesee 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 •

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Used with Artist Permission: Cole Habay - Flagstaff, AZ

2013 National Scenic and Historic Trails Conference National Trails: Weaving the Tapestry of November 3-6, 2013 America’s Cultures, Histories, and Landscapes Tucson, Arizona The Partnership for the National Trails System is Join us for the 14th Scenic and Historic Trails(PNTS) Conference, The Partnership for National the National Trails System (PNTS) is inviting the inviting the entire national trails community to join them where we will weave together ideas around our goals of raising public entire national trails community to join them for the 14th National for theand 14th National and Historic Conference, Scenic Historic TrailsScenic Conference, where weTrails will weave together enhancing awareness of the National Trails System, completing and where we will weave together ideasawareness around our goals of ideas around our goals of raising the National designated National Trails andpublic building the trailof community so the raising publiccompleting awareness ofenhancing the National Trails System, Trails System, and the designated National Trails we form a network of community-based stewards of completing andtrail enhancing the National Trails and building the community sodesignated we form a network of communitynatural and cultural resources. basedbuilding stewards of natural and culturalso resources. and the trail community we form a network of community-based stewards of natural and cultural resources. The three main strands we will follow at the conference are: · Telling our stories and engaging new partners · Preserving special places and protecting the tapestry of the land · Strengthening our trail organizations and our trail communities

If you have ideas for specific topics or workshops that fit these topics or that weave them together, please contact the Program Team Chairs – Gary Werner, Partnership for the National Trails System, nattrails@ or 608-249-7870 OR Steven Gonzales, El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association, steven@elcaminorealde . or 512-850-9073. The conference will be at the Westward Look Wyndham, an Arizona Hotel & Lodging Association (AzHLA) green hotel. Conference hosts: Partnership for the Westward Look Wyndham. Photo by National Trails System with support from the Bureau of Land Management, Liz Wessel, Green ConciergeTravel. National Park Service, Federal Highway Administration, US Fish and Wildlife Service, and the US Department of Agriculture Forest Service. Local organizational hosts include the Anza Trail Coalition of Arizona, Anza Trail Foundation, Arizona Trail Association, and the Old Spanish Trail Association. (March 2013).


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April-June 2013

Opening Day Thomas Wayne King

Vinnie Collins

Merganser and Muskrat.


loinnk... Trout fishing on Rock Cut Creek, a wild, remote stream in tangled spruce forests and dense brush, just north of Wisconsin’s Solon Springs, near the North Country Trail. Dropping in my hook and worm. Placing it just right... The fast current sweeps my bait silently into dark, surging water under this log. Trout are here. Ploinnk... My Dad, Victor, started it. As a young boy, he had dreamed of trout fishing. But Vic often told me how he never fished when he grew up because his older brother Henry died tragically in a lake accident. Dad was 43 when I was born. He taught me to ski before I was 2 years old. I’ve skied ever since; 60 years of skiing now. And, he taught me to fish trout. He finally got to try his fishing dream about the time I was a baby. As I grew up, he patiently tutored me on fishing the wild, narrow streams of Wisconsin’s Northland. By about age five or six, I was his fishing buddy. Vic’s simple, primitive ways to catch native brook trout worked. He was a minimalist. I learned the method well. Fishing with just our wits and a few basic “brookie” tools, was always memorable, challenging fun. It never got old. A short rod and reel combo with thin monofilament line, a # 6 barbless hook tied with Vic’s special fisherman’s knot (plus two or three replacement hooks in my wallet), along with my knife and a few plastic bags in my pocket for my catch. That was it for gear. Worms and larvae for bait were everywhere in the forest along the stream, if you knew where to look under logs and leaves. “And remember,” Vic would say, “You don’t really fish native brook trout: you hunt them.” He meant you strategize where they might wait in the rushing stream, under which banks, log jams, tree roots, their heads pointed upstream, looking for food tumbling in to their hiding spots through the swirling, roiling rootbeer waters. There goes one upstream, running for the next hole. OK, gonna slide that quietly. Ploinnk. You learn to move silently, smoothly on the trails. Trout can hear and feel ground vibrations. You step deliberately and slowly, heel first. Don’t get caught up in the brush. I

swear, my hook snags more branches in the air each time I move than it does fish some days. I swear.... Yes, I do. Often. Vic and I were best friends. We fished Rock Cut on opening day of trout season nearly every year for a half century. He had lost his own father when Vic was eight, so Dad and I knew our having each other was special. Even in his early eighties, as Dad began to slip from my grasp into that nether world of long, slow Alzheimer’s decline, he and I knew our bond. We spent so many days together even then, in nursing homes for 9 years, just being silent, breathing, thinking, sometimes walking. He died at about age 91. I was not with him that day. I’ll never know where he was during all those missing years, but he, the real Victor Henry King, was gone. Nevertheless, I held on. Everything special he taught me continued, during those years and now. Skiing, hiking, camping, writing, working hard, caring for family, and trout fishing. I taught our sons, knowing they will teach others. Vic’s precious mentoring will never be lost. We live his lessons each day. That’s what you do when your best friend, the smartest man you’ve ever known, leaves your world. You go forward with what he gave you, for life. You keep on with what he taught you, with what made the memories you will hold forever. So I ski each early November here in the Northland, and try to get in my 30 days or more each year. Had 106 ski days two years ago. Vic would love it! And here I am again, on the first Saturday of May, Opening Day in Wisconsin, on wild, challenging Rock Cut Creek, fishing the way Dad taught me more than 50 years ago. Hiking far upstream, fishing the west side of the stream on my way up for several miles (remembering him on one side; me on the other), then crossing over miles in, fishing my way back downstream to our parked car, relying on the basic, stealthy ways he taught me: dependable, familiar skills giving me respite, often from a world of sorrows over the years, in this sacred stream valley with memories so treasured. These rich memories are real wealth to me. Memories of sound, sight, and smell of forest, stream, and trout in our hands. In our pans. Memories of mindful confidence in forest navigation with no maps, no compass, no GPS, no cell phones. Pride in showing our catches to each other, talking over where and how we got them. Memories of cleaning and frying those trout and eating them together, cooked over our small fire back at camp. How much of life we shared... So, I am fishing alone right now. But I don’t feel alone. Today, as I hike and fish this stream again, I almost believe I can hear Vic on the bear trails way up ahead. He taught me. He still leads me. There is so much we could talk about after all these years of being apart. Just in case, I shout upstream, “Hey Dad, wait up! For just a minute...” Adapted from Tales from the Red Pump... Volume 2. Copyright 2012 Thomas Wayne King. All Rights Reserved. April - June 2013

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wish had a nickel for every time I’ve heard “I never even knew the North Country Trail existed!” I bet you do too! But it points out—painful, isn’t it?—that most folks have no clue that we exist. And all the excuses in the world won’t change the simple fact that, regardless of how many trail miles we’re building and maintaining, we’re just not getting it done when it comes to building awareness about the NCNST. And the hard fact is unless we build the awareness that leads to membership growth and the next generation engaging, all the work we’ve put into our trail will eventually be for naught. To a marketer (and friends, let there be no mistake; this is ALL about marketing) we’re talking about branding. A brand is a promise, and in our case it’s the promise associated with all the values accruing from experiences hiking and backpacking on a world class trail that’s connecting America’s northern heartlands and inviting us to join the Red Plaid Nation. It’s “Your Adventure Starts Nearby.” Actively engaging our target audience in communicating that promise and inviting them to belong is what marketing is all about. The message, which is communicated in a multitude of ways, needs to be simple, convincing and emotionally compelling. When we’re operating on all cylinders, the North Country Trail Association’s marketing gives our “customers,” our trail users and those aspiring to use our trail, an immediate sensation of overwhelming peace, anticipation of adventure, even a sensory immersion in a red wool buffalo plaid shirt. It’s visceral. It goes straight to the heart. How do we accomplish that? There’s a lot we could talk about in branding, but let’s save the big picture for another day and pick one key thing near and dear to our hearts. Logos. That is, the logo we use to brand the North Country Trail Association, and the logo you use to brand your chapter. Two of the key elements in a well-functioning, best practices-based marketing effort are consistency and repetition. The Nike “swoosh” symbol didn’t come to mean “just do it” by letting every Nike-selling store decide how they might work the words Nike and a stylized check mark into their own logo. Or, look at the American Red Cross, whose red cross symbol is universally recognized (and with 150 years’ worth of marketing it should be!) All of its local chapters use a standard execution in printing their chapter name beneath the red cross symbol. You know what that

chapter is all about! You see where this is going. NCTA can’t claim brand equity for its logo at the levels achieved by Nike or the Red Cross. We’ll never come close. But unless we apply that same principle and do the best we can with maximum consistency and repetition, we will continue to be ineffective, create confusion and sentence ourselves to many more years of complaining about being America’s best kept trail secret. Chapters are understandably loyal to their own logos, and are reluctant to change. But think what we have to gain if all adopted the standard logo execution. As NCTA works to create brand equity nationally for the standard NCTA logo execution, chapters can piggyback on that brand equity and leverage it in their communities. And the more chapters use the standard logo execution, the more national brand equity we create. The more that NCTA and all its chapters present a consistent, standard look and feel in communicating our NCTA brand, the clearer our message and the less of a secret we’ll be. What’s not to love about that? At our April 13 meeting, the NCTA Board of Directors passed a policy that requires chapter logos to adopt the standard NCTA brand. There is a grace period for swapping out any old logos for the new. There will be a transition period of about 18 months during which chapters and HQ can work together to effect the change. Chapters with existing logo loyalties do not have to throw them away; there are plenty of opportunities to make more personal statements with emblems, or flags, or other means. But the primary logo to be used by chapters will be the NCTA North Star logo with chapter name beneath.

To project a consistent message, this will be the standard logo for all Chapters.


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April-June 2013

Nominations For Board Of Directors Openings


he following members are offered by the nominations committee as candidates for three-year Board of Directors seats. Current Directors listed on the inside cover are all remaining or running for another term, except for Dave Cornell, who has already resigned, and Ray Vlasak and Garry Dill, each of whom has chosen not to run again. We appreciate their service. Voting will take place at the annual meeting in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, or you may mail your ballot before August 1st to NCTA Headquarters. Vote for any or all candidates. Ballot at end of candidate statements. Larry Pio moved to Michigan from Wisconsin to attend Western Michigan University, where he earned BS (Chemistry and Paper Science) and MBA degrees, and met his wife Sue. He worked in operations management and sales in the paper industry, and currently works for a small airlaid nonwovens (a type of paper) research and development facility in Kalamazoo. He has been a member of the NCTA since 2001, and began serving as President of the Chief Noonday Chapter in August 2011. He has edited the CND newsletter for many years, and also is a trail adopter. Larry has been appointed to the Board position vacated by Dave Cornell and will serve until August 2013. Debbie Zampini lives in Ohio and started as a child roaming the woods and wading in the Grand River. In 1998, she began volunteering for a local county metro park system and after a couple years started leading hikes and sharing her views of the outdoors. Later still she began taking care of a few miles of the Buckeye Trail that grew into about 15 miles and led to becoming the Bedford Section Supervisor. From there, she was nominated to the Buckeye Trail Board of Directors and later was voted Vice-President of the Board. She currently holds that position. Additionally she is the Belle Valley Section Supervisor, Trail Preservation Chairperson, Traveling Buckeyes Crew Leader, and has had various other duties over the years. She has received the Trail’s Super Star Award twice and Trail Adopters Award in 2012. She is self-employed for 24 years as owner and operator of Zampini Cleaning Services. Debbie is running for her first term on the Board. Ed Gruchalla is a native of North Dakota and currently living in Fargo. Ed has had an interesting career in his home state of ND. Currently he is serving his second term in the House of Representatives in the North Dakota State Legislature. He’s been fully engaged in other aspects of North Dakota government and commerce. After serving 6 years in the US Navy in the 1960s and ‘70s Vietnam era, he joined the North Dakota Highway Patrol and had a 25 year career until his retirement in 2003. Following that he joined the firm of Northern Safety Technology in their Sales Department and also ran his own firm of Ed Gruchalla Investigations. His venture

into North Dakota politics and election to the Legislature resulted in leaving both of those occupations. He and his wife are long time members of the NCTA and the Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter. He’s also been an active member of the Sierra Club in the Fargo area and served as its President for a time. He and his wife Rennae are outdoor people and both enjoy hiking and traveling. Ed is running for his first term on the Board. Jaron Nyhof practices real estate law as a partner in the Grand Rapids firm of Warner, Norcross, and Judd. He is the partner in charge of the firm’s office in Holland. He’s licensed to practice in both Michigan and Ohio. As a real estate attorney he has been involved with land acquisitions, leases, licenses, easements, and land use agreements, and has helped the NCTA with a number of real estate issues on a pro bono basis over the last several years. Additionally, Jaron has had quite a bit of experience on non-profit boards and committees and formed several non-profit corporations. He has been heavily involved in his community’s various organizations during his tenure in Holland. On the personal side of things, he’s been a hiker for almost 20 years and has enjoyed hiking many parts of the NCT. In the past few years he wed his professional skills with his personal passion for the trail by assisting the NCTA. He wishes to continue this by taking his interest to the NCTA board. Jaron is running for his first term on the Board. Jerry Trout was instrumental in forming the Itasca Moraine Chapter and completing the NCT between the Chippewa National Forest and Itasca State Park in northern Minnesota, a 45 certified mile, 8 year project. Jerry has a BS degree in Business Administration from Drake University. He completed flying training in the US Air Force and flew jet fighters seven years for the Iowa Air National Guard. Jerry had a 34 year career in private industry in information systems, including managing computer programming and operations. He retired in 1995 to take a 5300 mile ride across America on a tandem bicycle with his wife Beth. Jerry has been active in many clubs, civic and church organizations serving as president of several. He has held all the officer and board positions in the Itasca Moraine Chapter and has received the NCTA Distinguished Service Award and the President’s Call to Service Award. Jerry is running for his first term on the Board.

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Larry Hawkins is a life-long Michigander and currently serves as the president of the Chief Noonday Chapter in Southwest Michigan. He was enticed into the NCTA by a good friend and hiking companion in 1998, became Vice-president for Trail Management in 2002 and was drafted to assume the presidency of the chapter in 2005. In 2007, he was elected to the Board of Directors as an At Large Director. In 2009, he was appointed 1st Vice-president of the Board. He has a long history of volunteerism in various community organizations in his home town of Hastings, Michigan. He is a practicing family physician. Larry is running for his third term on the Board, and currently serves as Board President. Lynda Rummel Prior to retiring, Lynda taught at Renssalaer Polytechnic Institute, and worked at the Rochester Institute of Technology as a professor and academic administrator. She holds a Ph.D from State University of New York – Buffalo. Lynda became a section maintainer for the Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC), and then one of their Regional Trail Coordinators. She headed up the FLTC’s NCT Certification Committee and the Maps and Guides Committee. Lynda was trained in the Universal Trail Assessment Process, became a certified sawyer, organized a trail building training team for the FLTC and conducts training workshops. Currently she chairs the NCTA Field Grant Committee, and serves as Director of Trail Quality for the FLTC. She is running for her second term on the Board.

Jim Noble is a native of Wisconsin who lives in a log home he built in Brule, Wisconsin, not far from the North Country Trail. He is now semi-retired from a solo legal practice as an elder law attorney and will fully retire in July of this year. Previously, he taught political science at Ohio State, and has a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Rochester, New York. He writes and speaks extensively on legal and political topics and hopes to write more seriously in retirement. A life-long backpacker and northwoodsman, he joined the Brule-St. Croix Chapter several years ago after being given a ride by a member who picked him up when he was hitchhiking home to resupply while taking an extended backpacking trip across Northern Wisconsin on the trail. He is now an officer of the Brule-St. Croix chapter, and actively involved in trail building in Wisconsin with a Rover’s crew and other chapters. This will be Jim’s first term on the Board. Judy Gibbs is a life-long environmental educator who spent years building Hartley Nature Center in Duluth, Minnesota, Judy Gibbs went on to “informal” teaching about the outdoor world. In 2004, she contracted for 3 years with the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA) to build 39 miles (with 750 volunteers) of the SHT which will be incorporated into the North Country Trail. Gibbs later contracted to build a 1 mile difficult stretch of the NCT east of Ashland, Wisconsin, near Wren Falls on the Potato River. Currently, she holds the position of “Trails Coordinator” with the City of Duluth, and works with myriad trail groups, from the SHTA to a mountain biking group which seeks to build over 100 miles of trails spanning the length of the city, to cross-country skiers, snowmobilers, equestrians, offleash dog trails and more. Her key “ulterior motive” has been to work on setting aside green space in the City of Duluth. Many other US trail towns have realized that they need to acquire additional green space to make their dreams happen. Duluth is a community that values what it already has. Judy also worked with volunteers who helped construct the Duluth portion of the NCT. This will be Judy’s first term on the Board.

Irene Szabo

On the next page is your official ballot for 2013 Election of Board of Directors. All votes must be postmarked no later than August 1, 2013.

Vote for your candidates!


The North Star

April-June 2013

Welcome, Tarin Hasper!


For a Spring and Summer hiker, does anyone have any gear recommendations for day-hiking packs? Hiking boots and shoes? I’m starting from scratch, and invite you to email me: thasper@ with suggestions, thoughts, and advice. What’s the best way to purify water? I’ve got a lot to learn! As you may have noticed from the included photos, my dog Baxter is a very important part of our lives. We found him at Kent County Animal Shelter about 4 years ago (he was my birthday present!) and we can’t imagine a time without him. He was even a part of our wedding in August 2012 as you can see from the below photo! Baxter works parttime in the office, and enjoys sitting in the front window. He’s done a good job in bringing in some street traffic, and it’s quite hilarious seeing the double-takes people give him as they realize he’s a real dog. He’s been caught napping twice on the job though, especially on sunny days…so we’re working on that, and our sales-pitch. I look forward to meeting more of you! Will I see you at the conference at Slippery Rock? I’m really excited to attend my first conference, where there are over 90 hikes, tours, and workshops!

Tarin and Baxter, by Lori Foster, Tarin’s mother.

Tarin Hasper

How much is that doggy in the window at NCTA Headquarters?

Zack Trumble Photography

’m Tarin Hasper, the new Administrative Assistant at NCTA as of January 2013. I am so happy to be here as I feel I’m circling back around toward the original career path I intended. I attended Aquinas College and pursued a B.S. in Sustainable Business as I played fastpitch softball. Athletic glory is short-lived and I feel I’ve been searching ever since to find that passion and excitement that came with every game and every practice; I think I may have found this in hiking and working for NCTA. In choosing and attaining my degree, I discovered how important it was (and is) to me to find a career living sustainably with the surrounding natural environment and community. I feel I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be. I’m really enjoying how varied the day is here and I enjoy speaking to anyone who calls with questions, or walks in the door at our office in Lowell. I look forward to meeting more of you as time passes and I invite your advice and wisdom to a new hiker! My hiking experience consists of family dayhikes through state parks along West Michigan’s coast in my youth, and I’m looking forward to getting more experience on the North Country Trail.

Official Ballot

2013 Election Board of Directors

You will not receive a separate ballot by mail. Each NCTA membership is categorized as a household, and our bylaws permit only one ballot per membership. Please mark the ballot and mail or fax to: NCTA - Elections, 229 E. Main St., Lowell, MI 49331, fax number (616) 897-6605. All votes must be postmarked no later than August 1, 2013.

At-Large Seats Vote for Any or All Larry Pio Debbie Zampini Ed Gruchella

Jaron Nyhof Jerry Trout Larry Hawkins

Lynda Rummel Jim Noble Judy Gibbs Write-in

Ballot is not valid without your name and/or membership number. Your Name/Membership Number

Your Signature

April - June 2013

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tuned. Mining legislation in Wisconsin: NPS is legally not able to comment on legislation, but we are prepared to respond to any particular proposed mining actions that may be announced as a result of the legislation. We have already assembled a response team.


ello from OUR NEW OFFICES in Lowell, Michigan!!! Yes, Jeff has moved from the janitor’s closet to a place without a furnace or mop-sink within reach. It was a difficult adjustment for him. I have moved from our third bedroom which I shared with disassembled bedroom furniture hanging over my head. My wife now has the entire pot of coffee to herself, so all is well for everyone involved. I’ve spent a lot of time going over the legislation, the Comprehensive Plan, other planning documents, and a ton of correspondence that recently retired Tom Gilbert has shared with me. My goal is to follow through on his commitments, fully understand where we have come from and where we are now, so we can continue to move forward. There is so much going on, I’m not sure where to start. Let’s see… Planning: Jeff McCusker, our Trail Manager, has made SIGNIFICANT progress with the “elephant in the room,” namely the legacy planning projects that always seem to require yet another thirty days of review by SOMEone, somewhere. Legacy planning projects are those which were simmering on the burner before Jeff and I came into the picture. These are often more difficult because we don’t know the whole story; hence, we’re always scrambling to catch up. We now see the light at the end of the tunnel regarding the addition of Vermont to our trail, the trail’s route at the border between Wisconsin and Michigan, and trail planning in Kent County, Michigan. And in all sincerity, we have some excellent contacts in the Omaha NPS office who have helped push these projects through. My thanks to them, and of course, Jeff. Volunteers: Dan Watson held a HUGELY successful Operational Leadership training in March. We had about 15 volunteers, and Andrea, Matt and Bill, and Jeff, Dan and me. See his report on Page 12. Contrary to its name, the focus was on safety in the field. NPS has lost some valued staff over the years due to tragic accidents and simple mistakes. We don’t want to see those things repeated in the volunteer ranks. Dan is moving forward to develop a Volunteer Safety Manual, so stay tuned. And just today (April 4) we received notice that a shortened version of Operational Leadership titled “Go-No Go” for volunteers is ready to kick into gear! Dan will be in touch with you all about this shortly. The Michigan Governor’s Hiking and Biking Plan: NPS and NCTA have met with state officials and are working not only to ensure the integrity of the North Country Trail, but to develop possible strategies to further support the trail. Stay


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April-June 2013

Sequestration: Let’s see a show of hands. How many knew what this word meant a year ago? How many know now? Bottom line, North Country Trail took a 6% hit to its base Fiscal Year ‘13 budget last month. The Trail is much more fortunate than many parks that have had to limit seasonal hiring, close campgrounds, cancel events, etc. But it still hit us hard. We won’t be able to contribute toward trail construction as we did in the past and dreams of having adequate NPS staff in Lowell are dashed for now. Certification of trail segments: Many thanks for your patience on this. To be honest, other items have taken priority lately, but rest assured we’ll get to all your submittals shortly. Foundation Document preparation: This is the first step in a piecemeal approach to reviewing the Comprehensive Plan. In my mind, the most important component of it is the development of “primary interpretive themes,” in other words, identifying the key stories to tell along the trail. There has been SO MUCH progress in getting trail on the ground that I’m truly amazed, but while we need to continue on that front, we also need to promote the trail, increase visitation, and share the story. Developing these “interpretive themes” will set a framework from which we can engage current trail users and attract potential users. New Office: Please continue to correspond with us via our Post Office Box 288, Lowell 49331. But if you’re in town and want to stop by, we’re at 1151B Bowes Road on the southwest side of town. This is considered a temporary location until the General Services Administration (GSA) performs a local study and helps find us permanent digs in town. So think good thoughts and imagine a coffee shop nearby! Foundation Document: As you may know, the Comprehensive Management Plan is over 30 years old. Documents such as this are usually reviewed and updated every fifteen or twenty years or so. We’re way behind. To do a complete review and rehash of the entire Plan is also incredibly expensive and time-consuming. As such, NPS has developed a way to approach this review process in more of a piecemeal manner which maintains both our pocketbook and our sanity. Of course these reviews will vary from Trail to Trail and Park to Park, but the first step in this process is pretty consistent: the preparation of a “Foundation Document.” This document looks at the past and the present of the Trail: what did the law say, what do subsequent reports, and other formal documents say and what has been the evolution from “then” to “now.” It is primarily a pragmatic, facts-based exercise, but it will help set the stage for the upcoming Symposium to be led by NCTA

Flood at Headquarters In Lowell! Jill DeCator, staff at HQ in Lowell

and supported by NPS that will explore the future of the trail. The Foundation Document “Chapters” will include review of the Purpose, Nature and Significance of the Trail as well as develop the “Primary Interpretive Themes” of the trail. The rest of the Document is pretty bureaucratic. Over the course of the next few months, I hope to be collecting data and information about the history of the trail (Tom Gilbert’s “Mega-file” has been a great resource for this). So if you have any information that may help to inform this document beyond the Law, the Comprehensive Management Plan, Trails for America, the 1975 EIS, etc. please let me know. Mark Weaver, Superintendent North Country National Scenic Trail PO Box 288 Lowell, MI 49331 616 430 3495

Mid-April, one block south and east of the NCTA office, (which was sandbagged across its front, but got water in the basement nonetheless.) Note the canoe in front of the red house.

Jill DeCator

Mark Weaver is Featured Speaker at Jordan Valley 45°

Isaac DeCator, Jill’s son, points out the several hoses emptying the basement under NCTA headquarters in Lowell, Michigan, where the Flat River meets the Grand.

Brandon Mulnix

LOWER MICHIGAN - Mark Weaver, NPS Superintendent, North Country National Scenic Trail, was the featured guest speaker at the Annual Meeting of the Jordan Vally 45° Chapter, NCTA, held January 12th in Gaylord, Michigan. Mark talked about his background in the NPS, and about the challenges he faces in becoming the first dedicated superintendent of the North Country Trail. He asked for input from chapter members in attendance, what they like and don’t like about NPS support for the trail, and any and all suggestions. Several comments were made, and others promised to send him input. Some members begged for help reporting volunteer hours, so Mark said he would see what other National Scenic Trails do, searching for a good solution. Presenting Mark with a certificate of appreciation for (as he put it) “his virgin presentation to an NCTA chapter,” Duane Lawton, chapter president, expressed the chapter’s gratitude for his presentation, and confidence in a strong working relationship. — Duane Lawton Right: New trail in Lowell winds through the woods behind the flooded street with a canoe, and leaves the woods at this drowned blaze, a short block from our office.

April - June 2013

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Luke Jordan’s Thru-Hike Despite “Spring” Matthew Davis

MD: What did you think of North Dakota? LJ: It was unexpected. The Sheyenne National Grassland was nice, despite getting lost a couple of times because the trail was somewhere under the snow. Even though I didn’t hike it because it’s a dead end segment, I’m looking forward to coming back in the fall and hiking to the waterfall at the Sheyenne State Forest. Lake Sakakawea State park was also very nice. It was so cool to sign the NCT hiker register. I wasn’t expecting half the scenery. The Sheyenne River valley was really scenic. MD: What did you think of the roadwalks? Nimblewill Nomad said he enjoyed the roadwalks because they brought him into contact with people and communities.


had the opportunity over the weekend of April 20th to chat with aspiring NCT thru-hiker Luke Jordan about his first 3 1/2 weeks, during which he has hiked from the North Dakota western terminus through Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge in western Minnesota. Luke has endured a late spring as temperatures have remained well below seasonal averages. The region’s snowpack deepened in April instead of diminishing. MD: How have you managed to keep up your spirits given the weather? LJ: I’ve focused on the long-term…the weather has to get better! I will have a better time once the snow is gone. Despite the weather, it has been nice to be outside and not stuck inside all day at a job. MD: Name some good things you’ve experienced so far. LJ: The hospitality and generosity of people…I’ve already had several instances of trail magic. MD: How helpful was it having your Mom’s support your first week? LJ: It was totally necessary because there are basically no places to camp along the NCT the first several days. It was also nice because it was so stormy and I was breaking in my feet so it helped to be inside at night to care for my feet. MD: What are you most looking forward to ahead? LJ: Assuming the snow will eventually melt, I’m looking forward to three things. First, hiking all of the Superior Hiking Trail. Secondly, the UP of Michigan. I’ve already hiked a little bit and want to see more. Lastly, the Watkins Glen section of the Finger Lakes Trail, the deep gorges and the CCC history.


The North Star

April-June 2013

LJ: I didn’t meet many people because of the weather conditions. I liked the roadwalks for several reasons. I was able to do high mileages including 31 miles one day. More importantly, I was able to keep my feet dry. The roadwalks are a nice feature of the NCT as long as the roads have good shoulders. State Highway 108 between Maplewood State Park and Pelican Rapids was very scenic but I was in constant peril because the road had no shoulder. MD: What’s the highlight so far? LJ: It has to be when Tony and Mary Boehm took me into their home in Colfax during the snowstorm. It turned out to be necessary for me to be indoors given the weather conditions. MD: Why should folks consider hiking on the NCT in North Dakota? LJ: Because it is so unique, the only long-distance hiking trail that goes through the tallgrass prairie

ecosystem. The NCT also offers solitude and all the parts were scenic with the exception of the New Rockford Canal portion. Hikers shouldn’t overlook North Dakota. I didn’t expect half of the scenery despite the fact that I saw only deer and pheasants for wildlife. Don’t let the long roadwalks discourage you from hiking the NCT in ND. Top 10 Ways Snow Can Hinder An NCT Thru-Hike 10. Whiteout conditions can obscure blue blazes on trees, leading to getting lost! 9. Snow can obscure the trail tread in a prairie environment. 8. You need to carry snowshoes which are heavy when attached to your pack. 7. You can’t cover the desired distance when snowshoeing because of the difficulty. 6. Without snowshoes, you’d be wet and miserable from postholing. 5. It’s harder to camp because there are so few level places with bare ground where you can put in your stakes. 4. NCT access is limited which means you need to plan really well if people are meeting you at a trailhead. 3. Water sources are frozen or obscured by the snow. 2. Persistent snow can get to you and cause negative thoughts to sneak in. 1. Snow covers up the landscape and can prevent hikers’ enjoyment of the flora and fauna.

What In The Blue Blazes?

Mystery photo from last issue North Star 2013 Vol. 32, No. 1, and the answer.

Contributed by Jim & Tena Hop, West Michigan Chapter members: “I have attached a photo for submission of the High Bridge Area of the NCST, here in Michigan. The Pere Marquette Railroad crossed the Big Manistee River on a 96-foot high, 1,200 ft long iron truss bridge. I realize this might be a bit obscure for many folks, but hikers from Michigan might recognize this place. The location can be found on map MI-05, and is located on the Manistee River.” Several people sent us the correct answer: 2/19 - First correct guess from Gordon Lachniet, West Mich. Chapter, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 3/1 My guess for the mystery picture is the Manistee River at the “old” High Bridge location. The cement footings in the picture are some of the remains of that bridge. The nearest town is Brethren, Michigan. The NCT along the Manistee River cannot be surpassed for beauty. — Chuck Polonowski, Rockford, Michigan 3/7 This is a tough one. My only guess is that it might be the old Highbridge site within the Manistee National Forest. — Bill Menke, Wisconsin


Luke didn’t see another trail register east of Lake Sakakawea until he reached the Sheyenne National Grassland’s west trailhead. He didn’t encounter his first blue blaze until just south of Sibley at Lake Ashtabula. Up until that point, the NCT had been marked exclusively by Carsonite posts. Editor’s note: Poor North Dakota never gets seen in its glory by thru-hikers who start at the butt end of winter there. Maybe so-called flip-flop hikes are the ticket: start in March in southern Ohio where spring comes sooner and hike either direction from the middle?

Our new mystery photo was taken in 2009, looking toward the trail which is on the opposite side of the water, by Mary Kunzler-Larmann of the Central NY Chapter.

Send your guesses to the editor, Irene Szabo, at, along with contributions to future “What in the Blue Blazes?” features. Seriously looking for more trail location shots! April - June 2013

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north star



North Country Trail Association

Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Vinnie Collins

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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