North Star Vol. 32, No. 4 (2013)

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October-December, 2013

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star

Enjoy Armchair Hikes‌ Along Pictured Rocks Lakeshore Leelanau to Keweenaw Hocking Hills Border Route Trail

Volume 32, No. 4

In This Issue Bill Menke

Leelanau to Keweenaw...........................4 Conserving Southern Ohio’s Natural Resources..................................7 Whelsky Sampler Hike .........................8 Along Pictured Rocks Lakeshore...........14 Congressman Petri Receives Vanguard Award.....................17 Hocking Hills.....................................18 Supporting Other Trails: Bruce Trail Conservancy.......................19 Buckeye Backpack...............................20 Trail Protection Through Marketing......22 The Border Route Trail in Northern Minnesota........................24 Sign Up For The 2014 NCTA Extended Outing.....................25

Columns John Pearson in Wisconsin admires his red plaid bandana, given to volunteers by the NPS at the Slippery Rock conference.

Trailhead.............................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.........................13 NPS Corner......................................16

Departments Where in the Blue Blazes?..................12 Hiking Shorts......................................9 Who’s Who Along the Trail...............26


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 Bruce Matthews Executive Director Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2014

Mary Coffin, VP East, New York Rep. (315) 687-3589 · John Heiam, Secretary, At Large Rep. (231) 938-9655 · Lorana Jinkerson, At Large Rep. (906) 226-6210 · Doug Thomas, First VP, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 ·

Terms Expiring 2015

Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 526-5407 · Jack Cohen, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 234-5398 · Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota Rep. (701) 271-6769 · Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep. (763) 425-4195 · Gaylord Yost, VP West, Wisconsin and U.P. of Michigan Rep. (414) 354-8987 ·

About the Cover

Upper Peninsula of Michigan by Susan Black who says she’s doubly blessed to have the Lake Superior shore as her homeland and New York’s Finger Lakes as her second home.

North Star Staff

Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Winter issue, Vol. 32, Issue 4 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

October-December 2013

Terms Expiring 2016

Ed Gruchalla, North Dakota Rep. (701) 293-1839 · Larry Hawkins, Immediate Past President, Lower Michigan Rep. (269) 945-5398 · Jim Noble, Wisconsin and U.P. of Michigan Rep. (715) 372-5680 · Jaron Nyhof, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · Larry Pio, At Large Rep. (269) 327-3589 · Lynda Rummel, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · Jerry Trout, Minnesota Rep. (218) 831-3965 · Debbie Zampini, Ohio Rep. (440) 567-1894 ·

Irene Szabo

Trail Head

Tom Moberg President


reetings from Fargo! As the new Board President, it is a privilege for me to serve the NCTA. We have an outstanding NCTA Board and staff, and there are many people who deserve thanks for helping me get started in my new role. I particularly want to thank Larry Hawkins for his Board leadership over the past two years. The NCTA Board must play a major role in turning some significant challenges into opportunities. We continue to have concerns about finances and membership. We also face tough issues related to trail protection, the fundamental nature of the trail, the need for comprehensive strategic planning, the role of marketing in forming the national perception of the NCT, and our complex relationships with partners and affiliates. To thrive, the NCTA will need creative, flexible, visionary solutions. My major priority as President is to do my best to help the Board carry out its role successfully. Two of the Board’s major fall responsibilities are carrying out an evaluation of the Executive Director and planning the next yearly budget. We are also revamping the committee structure and reviewing the Bylaws to make sure they are appropriate for the current state of the NCTA. The next iteration of our strategic planning process will take place at the December Board meeting. Another “hot” issue for the Board is the annual NCTA Conference. Although the Conference has played an important role in the development of the trail and the NCTA, and is much beloved by the relatively small group of us who have been regular attendees, conference attendance has never been very high and has been dropping in absolute numbers and as a percentage of the total NCTA membership.


Paid Registrations

% of NCTA members at Conference
















Other issues related to Conferences are also of concern, including finances, demands on NCTA staff time, volunteer burnout, and lack of interest among the majority of NCTA members. Last spring, a Conference Committee was formed to do a comprehensive review of Conferences. The committee was originally asked to continue working through the 2014 and 2015 Conferences that were already being planned. However, during the Board meeting at the 2013 Conference, the Board noted the disappointingly low attendance at the

At the National Conference in Slippery Rock, outgoing NCTA President Larry Hawkins passes the gavel to incoming Tom Moberg of North Dakota on the left.

Conference, again discussed the other problematic issues, and passed a motion to suspend planning for the 2014 and 2015 Conferences. This understandably caused some consternation among regular Conference attendees. But the Board felt that it had an obligation to the full NCTA membership, to the 2014 and 2015 planning groups, and to the NCTA staff to suspend the planning process until the costs, benefits, nature, and format of future Conferences could be thoroughly studied. The Board’s Conference Committee will continue gathering data, opinions, and ideas about Conferences from the NCTA membership, and will analyze and summarize that information to help the Board make decisions about future conferences. We will continue to keep the NCTA membership informed about the direction of this review. Meanwhile interested volunteers can certainly hold trailwide events of various types that are less complex and less consumptive of volunteer and staff time than the Conferences of the past. I personally hope that some kind of gatherings related to hiking and the NCNST will be held in Minnesota in 2014 and in New York in 2015. During my tenure as Board President, I would like to have more contact with Chapters and hike more sections of the trail so I can be better informed as a Board member. If you have ideas about how the Board can be more effective in its work, please contact me. Thanks for your support of the North Country National Scenic Trail.

October-December 2013

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Not by design but by chance this issue has turned into a collection of great hikes large and small, some designed to walk the whole North Country Trail eventually … maybe … and others designed only to SAMPLE the NCT in each state, plus a few in between. Join us as we walk with some of the adventurers who have been enjoying our trail this year in as many different ways as there are hikers. — Editor

u a n a Leel

w a n e e w e K to

enture v d A l i a r T Country h t r o N response. I had lost control, My

I hiked with another person was for a 15-minute stretch in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore when I found myself in the midst of a Boy Scout troop. I had my birthday on the trail. To commemorate it, I hiked a mile for each year of my life: 28 miles for 28 years. As I reached the last mile of the day, I burst into tears, after reliving the hardest year of my life. I wasn’t running away from my problems but facing them, coming to terms with them, and moving on. I arrived at Mackinaw City after days of heavy rain and the forecast showed no signs of improvement. I capitulated and got myself a hotel room for the night telling myself that it was better to bend the rules than to give up. I made the rules anyway so I could just as easily break them! That night, faced with a mirror for the first time in weeks, I got out my camping knife and gave myself a haircut. I may never be as free in my life as I was in that moment, in control, defying vanity, convinced that, even if it looked bad, it didn’t matter. Somehow it actually looked pretty darn good!

his summer, I quit my life to go hiking. I left my apartment, job, and friends behind in New York City to take a solo backpacking trip across northern Michigan. Within one month of the moment that I made my decision, I had packed up all my belongings, quit my job, “prepared” for my trip, and set off on the trail. I was spurred by a need to do something big, by myself, that I could be unequivocally proud of, and I resigned myself to figuring it out as I went. Over six weeks I travelled between the Leelanau and Keweenaw peninsulas, over 700 miles of trail, each one a minor accomplishment that, in aggregate added up to the trip of a lifetime. I’m not always so impulsive, but the last year demanded a substantial

with the abrupt end of what had been a happy six year marriage, followed immediately by a car accident that broke my sternum and 4 ribs. This was my way of taking back my life, rebuilding on what had been lost. On the last day of a family vacation in the Leelanau Peninsula, just north of Traverse City in the North-West quadrant of lower Michigan, my parents dropped me off by the side of the road in Sutton’s Bay. This was my trailhead. Wearing a backpack I had purchased only days prior, filled with items that I’d never used before, I was on my way. Since I had never backpacked before, I had no idea what to expect. I surprised myself by logging 20-mile days early on. The trail was not so physically demanding as mentally taxing. I felt both rushed and bored at the same time, with so far to go but no distractions to amuse me along the way. The only time

The 45th parallel, crossed at no other spot on the North Country Trail, in the province of the newly named Jordan Valley 45° Chapter. Looks like some ne’er do well stole the NCT emblem.

Tahquamenon Falls in eastern Upper Peninsula, showing its classic tanninstained water.

Story and Pictures by Michele Oberholtzer



The North Star

October-December 2013

Matt Rowbotham

whatever songs came to mind. I relied strongly on my journal; it was a way to get the thoughts out of my head, a substitute for conversation. I devoured my books, sometimes reading while walking when the trail permitted it! As important as it was for me to cover distance, this was the stuff that my trip was really about, the unquantifiable soul tempering of spending time alone. I somehow managed to keep a lid on my fear throughout the trip. I knew that there were risks in traveling alone in the woods: I could encounter a wild animal, cross paths with a dangerous person, hurt myself in a place where no one would find me, or run out of food and water. I had pepper spray to protect me from ill-willed men and beasts, which I often slept with as a comfort, but never had reason to use it. I ran out of water on occasion, never for more than 12 hours but more than I was comfortable with. I never thought to fear the weather but the elements endangered me more than any other threat. Throughout my hike I experienced extremes of weather, with record-setting rainfall and numerous days registering over 90-degree temperatures and near 100% humidity. On the shore of Lake Superior one night, I slept under the open sky. Into the night, the temperatures dropped dramatically. I groggily set up my tent and attempted to settle in, but that was not enough. I put on the rain fly to add a layer of insulation between myself and the night sky. Then, the rain came. I hadn’t applied the rain fly well enough and the water crept into my tiny bivy sack throughout the night. At 5 in the morning, I knew I couldn’t keep sleeping, and packed

That night, the storms were so bad that a semi truck was blown from the Mackinac Bridge while I was safe in my bed. Upon entering the Upper Peninsula, I went through a three-day stretch where I didn’t see another person. One day, I realized that I hadn’t even uttered a word, inconceivable to those who know me. I learned to pass the time, making plans for what I would do after the trip, thinking back over the past year, daydreaming about food, searching for wildlife and singing

Lake Superior beach just east of the Two Hearted River campground, a night which later turned into the worst of the whole hike when I got soaked and cold.

Lakenenland, the fun metal sculpture park we’ve visited before in this magazine.

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Michele’s self portrait journal, showing the incredible range of feelings a long distance hiker faces.

up camp. I walked the two miles to the nearest campsite, shaking from cold and too miserable to think. My desperation made me bold and I begged for help from the first people I saw. They fed me, warmed me up, and gave me a dry towel to dry off with. The smell of that clean towel with its freshlaundry scent set me off and I broke down in tears. Rather than following the North Country Trail toward Wisconsin, I peeled off and hiked the Keweenaw Peninsula. I had always wanted to visit Copper Harbor; I liked the idea of ending at the tip of the earth, and it doesn’t hurt that it looks cooler on the map. The end of my trip happened in stages, first with my arrival in Copper Harbor, the beginning of the end. Then I set off for Isle Royale, where I finally got a glimpse of wildlife (at last, a moose!) and saw the best sunrises and sunsets of my life. Then 6

The North Star

I returned to Copper Harbor, with one evening left until my mother was to come pick me up. I wasn’t done yet. Under the light of a full moon, I walked to the end of the earth, past the “End of Road” sign to a solitary point where the ground gave way to a panorama of Lake Superior. I slept under the stars for the first and only time, and woke up to one last sunrise. I swam in the cold waters and shouted at the top of my lungs, knowing there was not another living soul for miles. I did it! This trip was a success in so many ways, it taught me to spend time by myself, exposed me to so many sights in my beautiful home state and proved that I can accomplish what I set out to do. I don’t know if I’ll ever again do anything like it but I will always have this. The difference between zero and one is only one, but the difference between never and once is immeasurable.

October-December 2013

This is the burned area under Superior Shoreline Chapter’s care, showing both burned stumps and regrowth, as we have read about in earlier issues.

Eric Albrecht

Day 2 Although the trail has been roughly sketched out on a topographic map, Andrew makes notes along the way about how to change it. Unexpected obstacles and features that would interest a hiker lead Andrew to stop and scribble on his map. A difficult climb in the afternoon is rewarded with a magnificent view from a ridgetop, but the sky is becoming increasingly overcast. Soon it is raining. The rain seems to bring out the smells of the forest, and when our path takes us through a thicket of spicebush, we’re all pleasantly surprised by the fragrance. On the slippery forest floor we pay more attention to our steps and are rewarded with the discovery of the nest of an ovenbird, an intercontinental migrant that nests in these forests we are trying to save.

Conserving Southern Ohio’s Natural Resources Randy Edwards, The Nature Conservancy Portion of the Edge of Appalachia Preserve.

Adapted with permission from the ​ Trailblazer, quarterly publication of the Buckeye Trail Association.


n the map, the trail between Ohio’s Shawnee State Forest and The Nature Conservancy’s Edge of Appalachia Preserve is a winding dervish of a footpath, rising over wooded ridges and dropping into narrow gorges. The thing is, right now a map is the only place where most of this trail exists. In June, hardy volunteers from the Buckeye Trail Association, joined by some Conservancy volunteers, began the work to make this trail a reality. Starting at “the Edge,” the work crew built about three-quarters of a mile of new trail, the first of the 14 miles that will pass over rugged and wooded terrain to the Shawnee. Making all of this possible is an ambitious project by the Conservancy to join these two protected areas by purchasing up to 6,000 acres of land between the Conservancy’s 16,000-acre preserve and the 60,000 forested acres that make up the Shawnee State Forest and State Park. When complete, the project will create the largest block of consolidated forest in Ohio, habitat for bobcats, wild turkey, and uncommon birds like cerulean warblers. The Conservancy had already purchased about a third of the property, with less than a

mile now separating these two protected areas. “When completed, this section of the trail will provide a great opportunity for those looking to experience one of Ohio’s wildest areas,” says Andrew Bashaw, the Executive Director of the Buckeye Trail Association. It will take several years to complete, but some of us just couldn’t wait to see it. Staff from the Conservancy joined Bashaw for a cross-country bushwhack on Conservancy-owned land to ground-truth the proposed trail. Josh Knights, Executive Director of the Conservancy’s Ohio program, gave us a peek at his field notes. Day 1 We stop early for lunch the first day. Andrew talks about trail design. This isn’t the Conservancy’s first experience with the BTA. A few years ago, a portion of the Buckeye Trail was routed through our Strait Creek Preserve. “You have to let the trail take people where they want to go,” Andrew tells us. That sounds reasonable, but where do we want to go? Today, it seems we want to visit an old tobacco barn, find a box turtle muddling next to a stream, and take a detour to a rocky outcropping we dub “Apothecary Rock” for the abundance of medicinal plants it supports.

Day 3 After breakfast, we venture off the map trail to take a “short cut” down a steep slope to a creek. We are rewarded by multiple encounters with showy yellow lady slipper orchids, which seem to appreciate this stream. When we stop to eat our lunch in a small barrens where a thin layer of soil coats a rocky outcrop, we find Indian paintbrush plants thriving. We ford a shallow stream that is guarded by a pink lady slipper orchid, a lone sentry among the reindeer lichen. I lag behind a little, hoping to delay the inevitable end of my time in the woods. But as I walk down the last hillside, I am reassured by the knowledge that our work with the Buckeye Trail Association will allow many hikers to enjoy this special place.

October-December 2013

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Jerry Trout

So we found the Whelskys and asked about their trip: We would have to call it 22 miles, 10 days and 7 states!! Mike sat here in his easy chair last February and saw that the Mackinac Bridge was open on Labor Day for the Bridge walk. Since it is part of the NCT he said, “Why don’t we hike 10 miles in each state?” So for his birthday I ordered the trail maps and Delorme state atlases; what else do you get a guy who buys himself whatever he wants? When the NCT maps came there was a note from the person who The Whelsky Sampler Hike Of pulled the order, saying that it The Whole North Country Trail was so much fun pulling all these By Deb and Mike Whelsky and were we planning a through hike? I wrote back our plans and Left to Right: Jerry McCardy, ITM member, three of the eight Americorps people, she said the same thing: you need Mike Whelsky, and Bruce Johnson, ITM Chapter President. to write a story for North Star. A September email to the editor from Jerry Trout of the Itasca-Moraine Chapter in Minnesota: An unusual circumstance. We were getting ready to do some work on the trail and realized Gopher 1 had not marked an OK. (Gopher 1 is who we call when we want to dig a hole, yes, even in the Chippewa National Forest, to prevent hitting buried power lines.) This fellow drove up in a pickup with Electric something on the side and stopped. I thought maybe he was our guy so I asked him if he were Gopher 1. He said, “No, I am just hiking.” He took the question in stride even though it should have seemed strange to him. It turns out he is Mike Whelsky from central New York. He and his wife, Debbie, were hiking every state on this trip. This is the section he chose for the same time and day we had an AmeriCorps crew there. He had let Debbie out at Forest Road 2108. She was hiking west 2.6 miles to FR3790 and he was to hike east 2.6 miles. When they met he gave her the keys to the truck. They are hiking only one section in each state.


The North Star

October-December 2013

Since we are Finger Lakes Trail end-to-enders, we had NY covered, so the Thursday before Labor Day we hiked in the Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania to the NY border, 2.2 miles. In Southern Ohio we hiked a loop past old oil wells rusting in the woods. Next finding the place where the NCT crossed from Ohio into Michigan was not an easy feat then into Michigan where we hiked a short loop hike, then off to Mackinaw City. Labor Day was cool, cloudy and windy; crossed the bridge with about 30,000 other folks. Next day off to UP (Upper Peninsula) and into Wisconsin where we found a short hike that we could do as a loop. In the press of time, we bypassed the Superior Hiking Trail although there were some words and tears over that. I had hiked portions of this before and wanted to share it with Mike, but on the Minnesota trail we did we ran into those trail workers! We were doing a key pass hike when we met Jerry Trout and his crew of Americorps workers, one from Cazenovia, NY. Then on to North Dakota with another key pass where we hiked through a cow pasture past a flock of pelicans along Lake Ashtabula! By now time was getting on and I had to be to work on Monday (it’s Friday!) but we decided to push on to the Terminus at Lake Sakakawea. Made it at 4 PM on a hot Friday. Needed to get back to Fulton, NY, by Sunday night; the Trans Canada Highway is LONG and lonely with just a few tractor trailers. Made it home at 10 Sunday night!!

HIKING SHORTS Karen Klos Karen Klos

Allegheny National Forest Chapter working on the fallen black cherry group. Look at the size of that root flap!

A Cheery Cherry Detour Allegheny National Forest Chapter

diameter from the toppled trunk. Working together, the team of four not only cleared the trail of its “cherry detour” but also created a “cheery” spot for weary hikers to relax. So when you are in the area, be sure to visit the whimsy in the woods. And go ahead; reach down and pick up that scrap of trash or kick that little branch off the trail. Every little bit helps. Better yet, join a trail maintenance crew and give something back to the woods that have given so much to us. — Karen Klos

Deb Koepplin

PENNSYLVANIA - When the sun shines, weeds grow. When the wind blows, trees and branches fall here in the Allegheny National Forest like everywhere else. Thus there is a need for constant maintenance of the trail throughout the year. One of these situations recently occurred near the Queen Creek Shelter, where the trail was completely blocked by a clump of trees—one, a large black cherry 18 inches in diameter, another, a medium cherry 14 inches in diameter, and lastly, a small birch, six inches in diameter—all in one root bundle. The root flap was approximately twelve feet across. Chainsaws were the best way to remove the trees. The use of a chainsaw in the Forest requires training and certification. Josh Schrader, expert sawyer and Vice-President of the Chapter, and Keith W. Klos, secondary sawyer and former Chapter President of the ANF in the NCT, handled this hazardous situation. They were assisted by chapter members Heather Emahizer, safety manager, and Karen Klos, photographer. Safety precautions were taken by the trail crew. All wore hard hats, and a safety emergency crew first aid kit, supplied by corporate trail supporter Shell Appalachia, was on hand. It took about 30 minutes to cut and clear the trail. Once cut free from the trees, the root bundle dropped back into its original position. (Before this happens, always check to see where the dog is! Tragic accidents have happened.) In a moment of humor, Josh carved a chair high in the top stump, approximately 12 feet in the air, with his chainsaw. Not to be outdone, sidekick Keith crafted a bench two feet in

Left to Right: Keith, Josh, Heather, and Karen with the high chair.

Sheyenne River Valley Rock

NORTH DAKOTA - Removing rocks in trail so next’s year mower won’t run into them. Yes, they even filled in the hole. — Deb Koepplin

October-December 2013

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A Miserable Day Of Trail Work Dennis Dooley

Alaskan Dennis Dooley’s Eastern Hike

PENNSYLVANIA - Experienced long-distance hiker Dennis Dooley from Fairbanks, Alaska, came east this summer and fall to hike the NCT through Allegheny National Forest in Pennsylvania, all the way across the Finger Lakes Trail, to its eastern terminus in the Catskills, well beyond where the NCT leaves the FLT for the Adirondacks. In northern Pennsylvania, in fact, only a couple miles south of the NY border, he ran into these Student Conservation Association workers who with others had just built a set of rock steps to make a steep wet spot in the trail much easier to navigate.

Dennis Dooley


The North Star

October-December 2013

WISCONSIN - Donnan Christensen (Trail Adopter for the middle section of Porcupine Lake Wilderness NCT) left a note on my windshield (we were unknowingly working on different sections of NCT on the same day in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness). I sent him an email thanking him for the note and this is the email response: Marty, I had a very interesting day when I put the note in your windshield. I hiked in removing fallen trees and the stuff that usually ends up in the trail. There was no shortage of insect companions. When I got to the first beaver dam I started to do some repair work on the earthen turnpike. I had a shovel with me. I was doing well. I then started to weed whip the very long grass and weed cover on the top of the dam. Somehow I ended up stepping into a very deep hidden hole in the dam and went in to above my knee. I thought for sure that I had broken my leg. I gradually eased out my leg and checked it out. I could still put some weight on it. Before I headed out I thought I had better cover up this hole so nobody else steps in it. I was hobbling about getting pieces of old dead log to stuff in it when somehow I disturbed a bee’s nest. I was able to get away with only a couple stings. The hole was covered so I hobbled back. I then spent the next several days recovering. I did get back on Tuesday and walked the entire section to the eastern beaver pond. The beavers have left town and there is just a small stream flowing through the former pond. There is a fairly good reroute in place there. The western beaver pond is still very high with water flowing over the dam. I did take care of the bee’s nest. I think there are either beavers or muskrats at this site since there is fresh mud and weeds in leaks on the dam. I did not see any new fallen trees or chewed twigs. I worked on the maple seedlings on the way back on Tuesday, but I was running a little short of energy. The good thing is that the portion of the trail furthest in has been weed whipped. The insects on Tuesday I think even surpassed last week’s bunch. — Donn — Marty Swank, Chequamegon Chapter

Mary Coffin

Left to Right: Ruth, Luke “Strider” Jordan, and Dan Dorrough, picture taken by anonymous passerby. “Old folks enjoying a leisurely exploration of the North Country Trail meet thru hiker. Pike Lake State Park, southern Ohio. What serendipitous fun!” — Ruth Dorrough

Before he returned to the woods, we got to see his giant pack.

Luke “Strider” Jordan Walks The Whole North Country Trail

Reports popped up from across our long trail over the summer, including the moment above when westbound NY hikers met eastbound Luke in Ohio. He has since then finished his endto-end quest in October, all the way into Vermont along the anticipated eighth state’s route and then down the Appalachian Trail a way to get to an Amtrak station which would take him home to Minnesota. Within NY, your editor enjoyed hamburgers and beer with him in Ellicottville, learning that he had worked several jobs to save up $5000 to support his adventure. The Finger Lakes Trail’s Marketing VP Peggy Coleman arranged a media moment in Watkins Glen which garnered some TV and newspaper coverage in September, then he continued galloping across upstate in thirty-mile gulps. Further east and north, Mary Coffin sends reports of his passage. From her local press release: The end was in sight when Strider, Luke Jordan, passed through Central New York. He had accomplished 4,440 of the 4600 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail in 180 days without being ill one day or pulling a muscle or experiencing any injuries. He seemed to be a healthy walking machine on the adventure of a lifetime. When he completes this remarkable accomplishment Luke will be the youngest at 23 and the first hiker to include the proposed Vermont extension including the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail Junction. As he passed through Central New York on the NCNST/ FLT Onondaga Trail, the Onondaga Chapter(ADK-ON) of the Adirondack Mountain Club co-sponsored with Highland Forest County Park a meet and greet reception and luncheon in his honor. Members of ADK-ON, CNY North Country Trail Assoc. Chapter and Finger Lakes Trail Conference

joined together to congratulate Luke on his accomplishment thus far and to cheer him on to meet his remarkable goal of completing the longest National Scenic Trail in one hike. Strider started out March 27 in snow at the western end of the trail at Lake Sakakawea in North Dakota. He spent a year and a half planning his trip by poring over maps, talking to other end-to-enders, and staging his weekly mail drops of provisions. His extensive planning paid off and determined the success of his trip. Mary continued by email. “He spent Saturday eve at our home, and after four large bowls of beef stew and apple crisp Luke slept in the same room as Joan Young, Bill Menke, Dave Cornell and Nimblewill but not George Washington! I picked him up near Mt. Roderick and dropped him off there. I’ll help him shuttle his pack as he does the canal paths and Rome road walk so he can pick up time.” And from a trail group at the eastern end of NY: We met Luke “Strider” Jordan at 8:00 AM on Monday, October 14th and walked the final mile of his 4600-mile journey on the North Country National Scenic Trail, which ends in the east at the Champlain Bridge. We walked with Strider across the bridge to Vermont, where he was handed trail maps to Middlebury where he will continue to the Long Trail. The EGGS Challenge

OHIO - For those who like the Allegheny 100 in June, there’s another opportunity to use all that conditioning again. The Buckeye Trail Association hosts the Emma Grandma Gatewood Solstice Hike over the longest daylight weekend in June, at Burr Oak State Park and the adjacent section of Wayne National Forest known as Wildcat Hollow. The route is all off-road and elevation changes are significant for a challenge of 40 miles in 24 hours. Byron Guy said in the BTA Trailblazer that “It is not for the faint of heart, and personally speaking, one of the hardest things you will ever try in your life.” Heat overwhelmed the majority of participants this past June, but a few did earn their EGGS hiking patch. Pursue details at the BTA website,

October-December 2013

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Where In The Blue Blazes?

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, 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, preferably 2000. Next deadline for Vol. 33, No. 1 is January 1, 2014. 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)

Last Issue’s Mystery Photo:

Warren Johnsen

What you see is the beach at Petoskey State Park on Little Traverse Bay (of Lake Michigan), taken from the NCT where it shares the Little Traverse Wheelway (LTW), just east of Petoskey, Michigan. The post is part of the Little Traverse Wheelway signage, which just got NCT Urban Blazes added. This time the identifying marker for the LTW isn’t cut off the picture. Contributed by Duane Lawton Linda Halford, Harbor Springs Chapter, answered correctly: “This photo is the Petoskey State Park beach. It appears to be taken from behind Glens North. Cool that I’m first with the right answer. Did I win a guided hike on section 11 with Brad Pitt?” Here’s Our Next Mystery Photo: Vinnie Collins

The trail goes through this State Park, very near this spectacular sight. One day I was coming down the extensive system of stone stairways within this gorge with a full pack on. A panting sweating man was coming UP those steps and gasped out a question: “How much farther?” I smiled at his wife and said, “Oh, I started five days ago” — Editor Email your guesses to editor Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol. com, and send me the next mystery photo, please!


The North Star

October-December 2013

Old fence line now deep in regrown forest along the Finger Lakes Trail in New York.

Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director

Our Red Plaid Nation— What’s It All About?

October-December 2013

Steve Knapp

Left: Matt Davis and his friends dress their children tastefully. Right: Susan Black, formerly of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan but long an inhabitant of the Finger Lakes in New York, still proudly wears her red plaid wool hat when cross country skiing or snowshoeing.

Stacy Davis

Simply, the “Red Plaid Nation” is a branding term for our North Country Trail community—the people who build, use, maintain and find adventure on the trail, and tell its story. Our story. In marketing terms, a brand is a promise, communicating the value and desirability of belonging to and identifying with the North Country Trail community. At NCTA our branding tools include the North Star and the “7-State” logos, our tagline “Your Adventure Starts Nearby,” and the trademark “Red Plaid Nation.” We use all of these to support our branding efforts. Ideally, branding defines and creates both a core identity and a differentiation from similar organizations or communities. It ought to be recognizable, memorable, authentic and evoke deep emotional connections. It ought to resonate among priority target audiences. A good brand makes you want to belong to the community it represents, proudly displaying the symbols identifying you as a member. Nation branding is not a new concept. We’re Americans. We know what it means and what it feels like to be an American. Nation branding has been used in the bioregionalism movement, Salmon Nation being one example. More recently we’ve seen the success of ESPN (no slouch in marketing!) in nation-branding consumer communities—NFL Nation, B.A.S.S. Nation. Sports teams at all levels have communities of fans connected under the “nation” banner; i.e., Packers Nation, Steelers Nation… You belong, you feel deeply connected, you defend it, and it helps define who you are. When we consider iconic images connecting people and North Country places where they live, what could be clearer than a swatch of red plaid wool, the timeless standard for outerwear in colder climates for generations? What says the active enjoyment of the “Great North Woods” better than a red plaid wool coat? And what else says North Country more uniquely, to differentiate us from the rest? We’re not the first or only ones to recognize the iconic potential of red plaid. A swatch of it is Woolrich’s trademark. The standard Kromer Mackinaw cap is red plaid (what says U.P. better??). These companies know their market, and the deep-seated and timeless emotional connections their customers have with red and black buffalo plaid. They’re authentic, the real deal, not a poseur or wannabe in the bunch! Best

of all red plaid resonates across generations and is as hip and trendy today as it is standard wear for older generations. The North Country has its share of “place” icons. North Star, northern lights, loons, wolves, tall pines, lonely windswept shores to name a few. But the North Country Trail is more than just the places it goes through. Unlike many of our other national scenic trails the North Country Trail does more…way more…than follow a mountain range or trace a geo-political boundary. The NCNST connects diverse and varied northern places with the rugged peoples past and present who have managed to survive here and make it their home, as well as the people drawn to the great north woods for fun, adventure, recreation and spiritual reconnection with the land. Our trail celebrates the collective story of those who live, persevere in, enjoy and protect America’s northern heartlands. And so we are the Red Plaid Nation. We’re authentic. We’re in it for the long haul and durable as the red plaid we wear for both work and play. We are united beneath a banner of red plaid in our love for building a trail to further connect us, a simple hiking trail stitching us together. We need to grow awareness of the North Country Trail dramatically. Branding helps us evoke an emotional connection and create a desire to belong, to be seen wearing or standing next to a blue blaze, a trail emblem, an NCTA logo. Your adventure starts nearby on the North Country Trail, which is built by and tells the story of our Red Plaid Nation. It’s a worthy story, and our trail is a source of deep pride among all of us connected with it. We are a community engaged in an effort to give something of immeasurable value back to America. We are the real deal. We are the Red Plaid Nation. Wear it proudly.

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Along Pictured Rocks Lakeshore

This trek differed from my first Pictured Rocks/Grand Island trip in September 2006 and one I led in October 2007 in that this larger group did not all hike together, some getting started later, and at different paces, but always with one or two others. <Since Pictured Rocks’ trails are well-signed, and we had a Backcountry Permit for designated Group Campsites, it was not necessary to hike as a group. I prefer to keep plans as flexible as possible, and allow others to be responsible for themselves. Our overnight on Grand Island provided a helpful “shakedown,” where the novices finalized what they would carry on our Pictured Rocks trek. The only trials and tribulations were the backpack weights, and too many blisters from lack of time spent hiking under packs in their boots before the trek. But, most backpackers, like me, learn these lessons the hard way, too! We were blessed with great fall weather, in the 40’s at night and 60’s with sunshine during the day! I really appreciated how everyone worked together, but extra kudos to Henry for the “Get Acquainted” meeting on June 7 and starting our two campfires, Nancy for recommending the Terrace Motel and planning the spaghetti dinner, Howard for sharing his Dr. Scholl’s and duct tape, Lise for organizing the bocce rock toss at Mosquito, and Roseanne for leading our singsong at Mosquito. It was very rewarding to share this adventure with such a compatible group, who enjoyed each others’ companionship and forged new friendships! I know we will enjoy many more hikes togetåher in the future, and possibly, backpacking treks, too.

2013 Grand Traverse Hiking Club Adventure

Henry Eckhardt

Sara herself at the bike rental shop on Grand Island in Lake Superior. By Sara “Energizer” Cockrell



The North Star

October-December 2013

Below: Grand Portal Point. Sara Cockrell

decided to offer a Grand Traverse Hiking Club Adventure in 2013, mountain biking and camping at Grand Island National Recreation Area on Lake Superior from September 21-22, then backpacking 42 miles point-to-point in 4 days on the NCT along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from Grand Marais to Munising, Michigan, September 23-26. GTHC members and friends were invited to join the fun for one day, or all week, so all 12 spaces were filled between April and May. We had a “Get Acquainted” meeting on June 7, where I unpacked my pack, provided a tentative itinerary, with links to the Backcountry Planner, maps, campsites and shuttles, and my gear list. Over the summer, they worked together, or on their own, to gather what they needed, along with extra gear I loaned out. Three of my gear favorites were popular among the group, Henry Shires’ Rainbow tarptent, Vasque Breeze Gore-Tex boots, and Crocs for wearing around camp at night. Of those who participated, five of us were 100-Mile Challenge finishers (an annual club program), four were experienced backpackers, and the other eight had limited experience, or were newcomers to backpacking. Since the North Country Trail in Pictured Rocks is almost flat, it is a perfect venue for beginner backpackers. In addition, the scenery is ever-changing, 1/3 Grand Sable Sand Dunes, 1/3 Twelvemile Beach, and 1/3 Colorful Cliffs, presenting photo opportunities around each bend, and great places to stop for lunch, take a swim, eat dinner, or watch the sun set, a rainbow of color over Lake Superior. In case of an emergency, the NCT is accessible from 2 drive-in campgrounds, 6 trailhead parking lots, and road H-58, which runs the length of this linear park. I always carry my SPOT Messenger as a back-up too, since the age of our group was late 50s to 60s, and there is limited cell phone service in the park.

Both photos by Sara Cockrell

Looking back at Indian Head. Below: Twelve Mile Beach.

October-December 2013

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National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT Foundation Document Since the 1980 Congressional authorization of the North Country National Scenic Trail, much has been accomplished. Over 2700 miles of off-road trail now exist, all from the determination and hard work of the Volunteersin-Parks and NCTA members. That’s already more miles than the Appalachian Trail is long, and it took the AT over 75 years to do it. Quite an awesome achievement for our North Country volunteers! Our trail is 4600 miles long, winding near hundreds of communities through seven states and touching the lives of thousands of volunteers and literally millions of Americans. We celebrate its diversity as one of our trail’s strengths. As such, we cannot assume that all opinions and actions along the length of the trail are consistently the same. But we’re guided by policy and the legal framework establishing the North Country Trail, as best we understand it. I have spent the last year trying to wrap my head around the legislation, subsequent studies and plans, and evolution of policy over time, not only to understand the past, but to understand the present as well and what it means for our collective future. What I write here you may already know or agree with. I hope that’s the case…. Our very existence lies in the National Trails System Act of 1968 and subsequent revisions. This legislation established the framework for a national system of trails, but in most cases does not clearly spell out the purpose and mission of each national scenic trail. But Congress in all its wisdom back then called for the preparation of Trail Studies to further verify that a particular proposed trail was feasible and reflected the standards required for a National Scenic Trail. These studies clarified the intent of the particular trail and in the case of North Country, actually spelled out the general route of the trail. Also, in the case of the North Country Trail, this “Potential Trail Study” was part of an Environmental Impact Statement, giving it additional validity by determining that the trail will impose no significant impact upon the environment. Next, per the National Trails System Act, a Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP) was developed that further explored what was said in the NTSA and the Potential Trails Study, made necessary modifications, identified how this huge trail is going to operate, and refined where the trail goes. There’s a LOT more to it than this, but this will suffice for now. It has been 30 years since the CMP was written. It’s past time for a tune up, but to redo the CMP would cost more than you even want to imagine. Instead the NPS provides for a piecemeal approach that’s actually quite insightful. The first step is called the Foundation Document. We’re doing it at no cost (that is, I’m writing it with your help), with the free guidance of respected NPS planners in Omaha and Denver. 16

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October-December 2013

The Foundation Document is NOT a decision document (so it doesn’t have to go through public review). Rather, it gathers past information, shakes off the dust, and clarifies what needs clarifying. The Foundation Document first identifies the Purpose of the Trail. This information comes from the Legislation which, since it was written within the context of a system of many, many trails, is purposefully vague to allow for some flexibility from trail to trail. Anything more specific than “vague” would result in a national system of trails that are substantially all the same.

Purpose Of North Country NST: To establish a long distance trail that meanders for approximately 4,600 miles across seven northern states, from eastern New York to the Missouri River in North Dakota, located to provide for its maximum outdoor recreation potential and for the conservation and enjoyment of nationally significant scenic, historic, natural and cultural qualities, administered in a manner that encourages volunteer engagement, for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The Mission of the organizations having responsibility for the Trail will also be included in the Foundation Document. Currently this is DRAFT and will most undoubtedly change by the time it is committed to print in the Foundation Document. But I want you, NCTA’s members, to read it and let me know what you think. (Please do read at least parts of the Legislation, Potential Trail Study and the Comprehensive Management Plan.) Mission Of The North Country NST Partners The National Park Service, in partnership with private, nonprofit, and public individuals and organizations/agencies are to create, manage and maintain, from end to end, a nonmotorized long distance trail for hiking and backpacking. Other non-motorized uses for the trail will be considered on a segment-by-segment basis, based upon the law, good and defensible planning decisions, the desires of the managing authorities, and the concurrence of the National Park Service. Following the above statements, the Foundation Document explores the Fundamental Resources of the Trail, Primary Interpretive Themes, and the Issues that currently confront the Trail and its partners. So the Foundation Document can really set the stage, clarify what our agreed purpose and mission are, identify what’s so cool about the Trail, what stories should be told about and along the trail, and identify issues that may impede positive progress. An October 10 webinar with your Chapter Presidents was postponed due to the government shutdown. It was supposed to provide a lot of insight and recommendations for the Foundation Document. Rest assured, the webinar WILL happen and the results will be incorporated. When done, and before we send it up the NPS ladder for approval (where I am sure it will empty a few red pens), I’ll get the draft Foundation Document out to your leadership for final review.

Congressman Petri, 6th District Wisconsin, Receives Vanguard Award

The work that VIPs and NCTA members do in the field is overwhelming and humbling to me. I will continue to support you however and whenever I can. At the same time, we need to be sure that we’re all singing from the same choir book–and this is not one that I write; rather it is one that WE write, but we must be sure that our actions are legal, defensible, consistent, creative, and achievable. The Foundation Document is our first step toward this goal. Please think on this and contact me if you have any questions or comments.

by Laura De Golier

Brandon Mulnix

Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent (616) 430-3495

Jamie Fisher, Ice Age Trail Alliance


he Vanguard Award was presented to an absent Congressman Tom Petri at the 2012 NCTA National Conference held near Battle Creek, Michigan. Unfortunately, the Congressman was unable to attend the ceremony; however, a suitable venue was finally found near his home on August 24, 2013. Gaylord Yost, Board Member of the NCTA and Laura DeGolier, NCTA Advocacy Chair for Wisconsin, worked with the Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA) staff to arrange an opportunity to present the award to the Congressman at a trail building event for the IATA along the Milwaukee River just south of Kewaskum. The IATA sponsors Mobile Crew Trail Building events all summer at different locations along the 1,200 mile National Scenic Trail which is located solely in Wisconsin. This event provided a perfect opportunity for Yost and DeGolier, both constituents of the Congressman, to recognize Congressman Petri’s long dedication to the creation in 1991 of the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) and to being a key supporter of its renewal every five years. Over 100 volunteers left their trail work to come to the staging site at 11:15 a.m. to hear the story of the RTP and applaud this quiet champion of trails for his lifelong dedication to outdoor recreation. An important part of the Congressman’s story is a campaign he ran in 1974 for the U.S. Senate by walking across Wisconsin. He lost that election; however, his dedication to the outdoors did not wane and in 1991 as a member of the Transportation Committee he worked with Senator Patrick Moynihan to craft the first Recreational Trail Program. Every five years this program comes up for renewal and Congressman Petri has been there to shepherd the plan through the process to continued funding. According to the Congressman, “The philosophy behind the RTP is simple: fuel taxes collected from non-highway users should benefit those who paid the taxes.” The RTP has brought new

economic vitality to communities across the nation, helped Americans to be active and healthy, and unified oftendivided trail interests to craft state trail plans and aid all trail interests. More than 15,000 projects have been funded under this program to date, including trail corridor purchases, trail construction and maintenance and environmental mitigation.” But that’s not all of the Congressman’s success stories. In 2003 another program that is close to the RTP was almost eliminated through an amendment that came from the Appropriations Committee. The provision to end rail banking for the rails-to-trails programs was saved by Congressman Petri who worked to defeat the provision on the floor of Congress. RTP is a twenty-two year old program administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) that provides funds to the states (on a matching basis) for development and maintenance of recreational trails and their related facilities. The North Country Trail projects benefitting from the RTP have occurred in North Dakota, Minnesota, and New York. RTP funds supported a major easement acquisition project in 2011-12 in the Sheyenne River Valley, ensuring the protection of 25 miles of North Country Trail in eastern North Dakota. RTP also provided matching funds for a recent project in Minnesota which allowed us to build 51 miles of new NCT there. That’s a lot of Trail thanks to the RTP. It was a great pleasure for Gaylord and Laura to honor a friend of recreational trails with the Vanguard award from the North Country Trail Association and to share this event with the trail builders from the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

October-December 2013

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Hocking Hills

Pennsylvania Club Takes A Trip To Southern Ohio Trails Story by John Stehle Pictures by Tammy Veloski


embers of the Butler Outdoor Club, an affiliate of the NCTA, spent a weekend in October exploring some very interesting and beautiful areas along the NCT in southern Ohio. As the fall was near its peak in color, and with the Indian summer weather, we had a delightful time. After stopping for lunch at a local farm, we visited the Hopewell Mound Group near Chillicothe, run by the National Park Service. The site is laid out very well, and we really felt like we were walking back over 2000 years, as we moved through the hills where earlier people lived, and the mound city on the plain where they participated in ritual events. The National Park Service does a great job bringing this to life. We then drove down a few miles to Serpent Mound, run by the Ohio Historical Society and the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System. Shaped like a serpent, it is the largest animal effigy mound in the world. There is a tower that visitors can climb to see the 1,348 foot serpent image in one impressive view. We then followed the trail which let us examine the mound up close. To make the site even more special is the fact that the NCT passes through the grounds. We all took the opportunity to walk about a half mile to the nearest road crossing, adding a little more to our NCT miles. The short trail goes through some pleasant meadows, around ancient mounds and through some woods. We also stopped at the Seip Earthworks, a large ceremonial mound, also run by the NPS.


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October-December 2013

Supporting Other Trails: The Bruce Trail Conservancy By Deb Zampini, NCTA Board member from Ohio

The next day took us to another fantastic NCT venue in Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park. The NCT, which in this part of Ohio is also the Buckeye Trail, runs for about six miles through a gorge carved by water out of a 150 foot thick seam of sandstone, known as the Blackhand. Starting at Ash Cave, the trail follows deep undercuts and steep cliffs. The sandstone has a rich texture, and because different layers are of varying hardness, water has eroded bizarre shapes into the rocks, which make you constantly want to reach for your camera. The trail continues north from Ash Cave through the boulder strewn gorge then up to the top of the gorge, where we stopped to climb a fire tower before continuing to Cedar Falls. Here again are fantastic cliffs and waterfalls. The trail itself is well crafted with a lot of stone masonry, and various styles of bridges of metal, wood and stone, taking full advantage the many delights this gorge has to offer. Moving north we entered into the Old Man’s Cave section, with even more stone work, and ending in a long tunnel carved right through the stone to take us up to the visitors center, which has a cool gift shop and an ice cream concession. Mmm,mmm.

For more information on The Bruce Trail Conservancy, contact, or write to P.O. Box 857 Hamilton, ON L8N 3N9, telephone (905) 529-6821 or email

October-December 2013

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Deb Zampini

Serpent Mound.

At the end of September this year, I went to visit my friend in Ontario, Canada, Trudy Senesi of the Niagara Club, one of nine clubs of the Bruce Trail Conservancy. The Niagara Club, spanning QueenstonGrimsby, celebrated their 50th year. I attended their annual meeting and conference. This year at the Buckeye TrailFest held in Kirtland, Ohio, Trudy was a guest speaker about The Bruce Trail, the oldest and longest continuous footpath in Canada: 885 km or approximately 549 miles, along with 400km or 248 miles of side trail. The Bruce Trail runs along the Niagara Escarpment from Niagara to Tobermory. In 1960 the idea of a public footpath along the entire Niagara Escarpment was born. By 1963 Regional Clubs were established, each responsible for organization, landowner approvals, construction, and maintenance. In Canada’s Centennial Year, 1967, the sign at the northern terminus of the Bruce Trail in Tobermory was unveiled. After seven years of determination, support, vision, and hard work, The Bruce Trail was officially open. Like other trails we know and love, The Bruce Trail traverses farms, recreation areas, scenic views, wetlands, streams, rolling hills, wildlife habitats, historic sites, villages, towns, and cities. To bring a unity among all trails, we all must appreciate and understand the work it takes to have a vision and then have it come true. When you learn about the workings of other trails, borders make no difference; the highs and lows are the same. We all need more volunteers, more money, more support, more members, and most of all, we all need to support one another. For this year’s Niagara Club 50th, I took with me a gift basket filled with goodies from the Buckeye Trail Association and North Country Trail Association for their silent auction. I was told the winner of the basket was thrilled and eager to read about both trails, and looking forward to hiking on them.

Introducing Ruth and Dan

Ruth and Dan Dorrough don’t want us to say out loud that they are working on the WHOLE North Country Trail, but they certainly have had a lot of fun pretending they aren’t! After they finished the whole Finger Lakes Trail, their ambitions grew, as you’ll see below, and in this issue we are the beneficiaries of some of their great hike accounts as they step up mileage in retirement. — Editor

It all started innocently with a Sunday afternoon walk. Ontario County Park is about 10 miles from our NY home. As we walked, we noticed orange blazes and followed them. They kept going well beyond our planned walk and rather limited ability. Curiosity brought us back the next week and the next. Continuing to follow the blazes, we learned they were a branch trail of the Finger Lakes Trail. Eventually we reached the main trail. Our only goal was to give some direction to our weekend meanderings. We were delighted to discover the beauty of lands and towns so close to us. We had missed this enlivening experience by just busily driving by them. Through the well- organized FLT county hike series and FLT conferences we made friends and picked up miles. Rather to our surprise and with the affirmation of folks like Irene Szabo and Ed Sidote, we realized that completion of the entire trail was a goal we could accomplish. In the process of achieving that goal in our hike by hike savoring style, we learned that the FLT was part of the North Country Trail. It was only logical to continue into Pennsylvania. The work of Keith Klos and his group made the Allegheny National Forest trails a heavenly refuge from high stress work. The Marienville “Dinor” became a welcome place to refuel as we camped and day hiked. More miles were accumulated as we explored all that the NCT has to offer in Pennsylvania. We enjoyed the NCTA Conference in Clarion and several Butler Outdoor Club Extravaganzas expertly organized by Joyce Appel. Pennsylvania hospitality manifested itself in the form of John Stehle who generously gave us a Sunday tour of trailheads and hiked along with us on a beautiful road walk graced with many birds. Always in the back of our minds was finding a way in New York from the Finger Lakes Trail to the bridge at Crown Point. We had the very good fortune of having Mary and Bill Coffin introduce us to the wild beauty of the Adirondack region and guide us through areas we would not have accessed on our own. With Mary’s skills as a guide and teacher, I discovered that I could actually backpack. My primal fear of the wilderness with roots in an urban upbringing was transformed into a healthy respect for the land left untouched. Yesterday as we drove home from “connecting the dots” of the NCT proposed or created in New York I thought, “Our adventure really did start nearby.” I reflected on the importance of the trail in forming connections. We have become more connected with those people and places we have encountered and with the growth potential within ourselves. — Ruth


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October-December 2013

Canal towpath next to modest damp ditch remnant of the old canal prism.

Buckeye Backpack Story by Ruth Dorrough, pictures by Dan Dorrough


y entire adult life has been driven by time sensitive goals and demands. I either imposed these upon myself or chose to work in a field in which they were imposed. My days as a working mother were anchored in ensuring mundane tasks were completed on schedule. As a long term care nursing administrator, I was responsible not only to complete myriad tasks in a timely manner but to ensure that those I led did so also. When I contemplated retirement this year, I longed for freedom from time sensitive goals. We knew we wanted to spend more time hiking the North Country Trail. The nearest trail we hadn’t hiked was now a six hour drive from our home. Retirement would give us the freedom to indulge in extended trips on the trail. However, I found myself cringing when a conversation turned to our “doing the whole trail.” I did not want the stressor of a major item on the retirement To Do list. After a bit my mind relaxed into the concept of a leisurely exploration of the North Country Trail. We love to travel and explore so the trails and its surrounding towns could give direction to our meanderings. In past years the trail had anchored our weekend and vacation hiking trips through New York and Pennsylvania. Ironically it appears that I am not entirely free of a goal driven mentality. The walls of our home are covered with maps and I take great satisfaction marking them to record our progress. Memorial Day weekend launched what was to become a marvelous North Country Trail sampler year. We enjoyed hikes on both the southernmost and northernmost parts of the trail, albeit with huge gaps left to savor in between. Our first adventure was on the Buckeye Trail. Some of my favorite bed time reading includes trail journals. Snuggled in bed one cold winter night, my attention was drawn to a small article

Aqueduct at St. Marys, built to carry canal water across stream.

in the Buckeye Trail newsletter. It described an upcoming Memorial Day back packing trip from Fort Loramie, Ohio, to Delphos. It would give us a nice stretch if we chose to set aside our aversion to backpacking and enroll. Months later, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into, we arrived in Delphos, Ohio, at the appointed time on the Friday of Memorial Day weekend. We erroneously parked about a block away from the exact meeting site but were rescued by a good sized fellow wearing a white tee shirt emblazoned with a blue rectangle. He was roaming the area looking for stragglers. That was our introduction to “Buckeye” (Daryl) who along with “Captain Blue” (Andy) would be our leaders. After introductions, we were shuttled to Fort Loramie where we met “Quest Seeker” (Cheryl), another member of our small group. We posed for the obligatory “Before” photo and were off accompanied by Sam, the trail supervisor for the Delphos section. The weather was warm, the people friendly, and the trail following the Miami Erie Canal romantically conducive to stepping back in time. We arrived in Minster around lunch time. On Andy’s recommendation we decided to forgo the pack lunches for a chance to enjoy the ambiance of the Wooden Shoe Inn. The no menu chicken any way you like it lunch was delicious. It was quirky to see our back packs lined up against the wall of the restaurant. The afternoon hike brought us to our first campsite at the Kuenning-Dicke Natural Area north of New Bremen. Nancy, a teacher from Cincinnati, joined us there. Later some of Andy’s family came by with a generous supply of beverages to brighten the evening around the campfire. Later the Sheriff arrived. Not to worry. He too was a relative of Andy’s. After a camp breakfast in the chilly morning air, we walked to St. Mary’s and paused for lunch. Some enjoyed a picnic in the charming canal park. Others frequented local establishments for pizza and subs. We were joined by Dale, who along with Preston is Trail Supervisor of the St. Mary’s section. It was rewarding to spend time with Dale and learn about the trail from his perspective. Leaving St. Mary’s, we enjoyed a serene walk under mature trees. Our experience was enlivened by

Lock walls at St. Marys, Ohio, where boats were raised or lowered to next water elevation. Right: Trailside sign shows the extent of the original Miami and Erie Canal, which connected Toledo on Lake Erie with Cincinnati on the Ohio River. Notice how this major early construction project connected several rivers to accomplish this, before the advent of successful railroads.

the roiling waters of Forty Acre Pond as large fish splashed about in spring mating rituals. A change of plans ensued regarding that night’s planned camping along the canal. Permission had been obtained and shuttle arranged for us to return to St. Mary’s and camp in the comfortable charming city park where the bathrooms would be left open. Firewood was provided for us to use in the lovely stone shelter fireplace. This change gave us a chance to explore St Mary’s more in the evening. For some the exploration went well into the evening, in fact if truth be told, into the wee hours of the morning. We were able to examine the replica canal boat in the park or just walk around the city. A good time was had by all and there were opportunities to reinforce with at least a few of St. October-December 2013

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Two Ohioans carry their yard sale treasures, Barbies 1 and 2, for the rest of the hike.

Four days of hiking wound down to an tasty finish, with free tickets to a lunch of barbecue beef sandwiches and trimmings at the Delphos VFW Hall. Ruth and Dan at the back of the group.

Mary’s citizens the hiking treasure they have in their own back yard. Dan and I became known as “The New Yorkers.” Folks were surprised that people would come “all the way from New York” to hike the canal trail. We were shuttled back to where we left off on Saturday. Pity was taken on us old folks and our packs were transported to the next destination. Burdens lightened, we thoroughly enjoyed the bucolic scenery and rich sense of history on the walk to Spencerville. We came upon Bloody Bridge where a plaque told us that in 1854 Minnie Warren was working on her father’s canal boat. The mule drivers Jack Billings and Bill Jones were both in love with her. One night Jack was escorting Minnie back to the boat from a local party. As they strolled across the bridge, it is alleged that Bill confronted them and with an ax chopped off Jack’s head. Horrified, Minnie fell hysterically to the ground and rolled into the canal where she drowned. Truth or fictional legend? Contemplating the scene on a bright Sunday morning, I had the sense that something had happened there. We came upon an extensive yard sale at an isolated house surrounded by fields. The piece de resistance was a mound of naked Barbie dolls for 50 cents each. Two of our group playfully made their choices, found the ideal outfit for each, plunked down the money and placed the decked out Barbies in the pocket of their packs where they jauntily accompanied us on the rest of our hike. Two of the group needed to finish the hike that day. The rest of us relaxed in Spencerville. Jenny, Buckeye’s fiancé, brought us snacks. She had spent the days we were hiking by taking old fashioned road trips with her Delphos-based grandmother. She was so delighted with the charm and fascinating history of the area that she decided she would write a book about the auto accessible towns and areas along the Buckeye Trail. Her resulting blog, “Blue Blazing Ohio,” is a delightful Yankee Magazine type of celebration of rural Ohio filled with personal observations and excellent photographs. She told us that when visiting a small town well north of us she was told, “We heard there is a group of people

backpacking the trail this weekend.” So word had spread and we were becoming slightly famous. Memorial Day dawned drizzly. We were anxious to move on. Sam, once again, joined us this time for the final stretch. He was particularly helpful alerting us to gopher holes along the trail. In fact he knew the exact number of gopher holes on this section. As we approached Delphos, we could hear the Americana sounds of the Memorial Day Parade. When we arrived in town, we were warmly greeted outside the fire station. “I heard that you were coming,” said the fireman. “I put on a fresh pot of coffee for you.” We sat on a bench warming our hands on a steaming cup of Buckeye hospitality. Arrangements had been made for the excellent Delphos Canal Museum to be opened for us. We wandered through it for quite some time. The exhibits meant more to us because we had just been walking the canal trail. Tickets were given to us to enjoy a free lunch at the Delphos VFW. With many of the citizens of Delphos, we enjoyed barbecue beef sandwiches and trimmings while we celebrated four very unpredictable delightful days together on the Miami Erie Canal. The Barbie yard sale, the pond of splashing fish, the no menu lunch, the fireman’s coffee, the Bloody Bridge, the bucolic scenery, the strong sense of those who had walked these paths before us reminded me of something Andy said earlier in the trip. When he was asked his favorite place on his complete Buckeye Trail circuit hike, he replied, “It wasn’t a place. It was a moment in time and it’s gone now. I was having lunch in a small town place talking about the trail. When I got up to leave everyone wished me well. When I went to pay, I learned that a local salesman had already picked up the tab.” We accumulated miles, saw lovely scenery and learned about Ohio history. However, this little adventure reinforced that there is a lot more to be found on the North Country Trail than miles, history, and beautiful scenery. As spring progressed into summer, the truth of that statement was continually reinforced.


The North Star

October-December 2013

Trail Protection through Marketing By John Heiam,

a member of the NCTA Board

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, mail this form with your check made out to NCTA 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 North Country Trail Association Address 229 East Main Street City Lowell, Michigan 49331 EMail

State Day Time Phone

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Keith Klos

The lawsuit in New York taught us a valuable lesson. Trails built on state land are only as secure as the political clout behind them. States have the right to manage their land as they see fit, which means they can decide with little or no notice that they would rather have a snowmobile trail where we built the North Country Trail. Prior to this suit, we had thought that once a trail section had been certified, it was protected, just like a national park. Unfortunately, we found out that was not true in the eyes of the law. The question is, where do we go from here? All of the NCTA Board members are of the opinion that the NY’s Office of Parks would not have taken a bulldozer to the Appalachian Trail because it would have created a public outcry from the outdoor Five foot wide sign on busy highway in Pennsylvania. Every driver past community. They could get away with here sure knows the trail exists! doing it to the North Country National Scenic Trail because the general public has DISASTER RELIEF – a chapter of the American Red Cross”? Of not heard of us. If we want to protect the trail we have built, course not, so our chapters and affiliates have to include the that has to change. So we have to broaden our outreach. name “North Country National Scenic Trail” prominently in Unfortunately, marketing our trail costs money and we have all their public communications. We have to get the North limited resources. Still, we have come to the conclusion that Country National Scenic Trail annotated in state publications. marketing needs a place at the table when we are distributing We have to get trailheads and trail crossings signed on funds in our budgeting process. public roads. We have a big job ahead of us, but with all of However, not all of our marketing efforts require money. us working toward a common goal, we can get the North Some of them just require a change in mindset. Let me give Country National Scenic Trail to take its rightful place in the you an example. When the Red Cross comes in to a disaster public’s consciousness. area to offer relief, does their banner say, “NEW ORLEANS

Left: The Magnetic Rock is an iconic monolith rising imposingly from layered granite slabs. The magnetite in its composition renders compasses unreliable.

NCTA Extended Outing to the Border Route Trail in Northern Minnesota Story by Ruth Dorrough Pictures by Dan Dorrough


he NCTA Extended Outing to the Border Route Trail (BRT) of northern Minnesota provided participants with some flexibility regarding the degree of activity with which they wished to explore this beautiful and fascinating area. Nature revealed glimpses of herself both to those who took part in strenuous hikes as well as to those who chose to stay quietly in camp from time to time. A good balance was achieved between recognizing individual needs and the need for group unity. Laughter, caring, and new friendships resulted. Exquisitely planned and executed by Mary Coffin, this outing provided an excellent supported introduction not only to the Border Route Trail but to the entire area as well. Day hiking from a picturesque comfortable base camp at East Bearskin Lake limited the number of miles we hiked on the actual Border Route Trail. However, hiking all but one of the access trails broadened our perspective. We saw sights and met challenges we would have missed on a through hike. We gained a deeper sense of the Border Route Trail in context with the surrounding area, particularly the historic Gunflint Trail. A rainy afternoon visit to the charming Chik-Wauk nature center and museum near the end of the Gunflint enriched our understanding of the land and appreciation for the hearty folk who traveled and developed the area. History came to life on the BRT as well. At the beautiful Stairwell Portage our group stepped off the trail to allow a woman with a canoe on her head to pass by on the same


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route voyageurs and even prehistoric people had used in years gone by. The fascinating geology of the area inspired some of us to explore the subject more when we got home. Wildlife vignettes included luxuriant foxes, warblers, loons, grouse, and the “laughter” of a pileated woodpecker who seemed to be mocking us as we picked up our pace to be out of the woods by dark. Nature gave us breathtaking views of cliffs, lakes, and seemingly endless forest. She provided us with clear sunny days and cool breezes. She also reminded us of her dominance by moving us out of our comfort zones with physical challenges, heat, humidity, mosquitoes and one heavy sustained downpour. One humid day after carefully making our way through rocks, roots, and mud and then climbing a steep hill we paused for lunch. As we swatted mosquitoes, one of our group quipped, “It makes you wonder why we do what we do.” We laughed but the comment remained in my mind as a serious question. What draws us to the wilderness? Some participants commented that they felt more peaceful and relaxed “unplugged” from busy lives. Some were pleased still to be able to meet physical challenges or do things they never thought they could. Why choose group exploration over solitary conversation with the natural world? Clearly for those of us relatively new to the outdoors the leadership and support of skilled guides provided a sense of security. The camaraderie and knowledge gained from the group was as they say “priceless.”

Sign Up for NCTA 2014 Extended Outing Hike NCT Onondaga Trail and Finger Lakes Trail in New York

Kelley Haldeman, our local guide, had just dunked her head in a lake at the end of a hot day.

That said, the question of what draws us to hiking and to the North Country Trail in particular remains not fully answered. It came as no surprise to me that our group loved mysteries and puzzles. Perhaps we come to the trail with hopes of coaxing nature to give us clues to the mystery of our existence and that of our world. It doesn’t get any better than to engage in this process with kind mature likeminded people in an exciting new area. This is the gift that was given to us as participants in the recent NCTA Border Route Extended Outing.

Date: July 13-19, 2014 Cost: $610 This is a day hiking trip on the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail in the Finger Lakes Region of Central New York. Each day we will hike a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail on the Finger Lakes Trail’s Onondaga with day pack for 6-10 miles using vans to shuttle between campus and trail heads. Our group will stay and eat at Cazenovia College in the small picturesque village on Cazenovia Lake. The FLT/NCT Onondaga Trail travels over the glacial ridges and valleys that form the Finger Lakes. Hikers will experience gradual ups and downs through picturesque forested land with spectacular overlooks and valley views, many streams, ponds and water falls. We will also see remnants of past days, foundations, artifacts and cemeteries along the trail. If you are interested in bagging a few miles of North Country National Scenic Trail and concurrent Finger Lakes Trail, this might be the trip for you. NCTA trips are noted for the camaraderie and lasting friendships that develop during hiking experiences. Contact leader: MaryCCoffin@, 315-687-3589

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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.


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1 2

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


4 Star of the North Chapter Kim Fishburn • (612) 810-3732 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 Dan Schneider • 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

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11 9 13 8 12

LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted









19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Harbor Springs Chapter Anne Billiard • Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Duane Lawton • Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery

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(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

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(231) 584-2461 • Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter Jill Ciszewski • Spirit of the Woods Chapter Loren Bach • (231) 510-1983 • Western Michigan Chapter Chuck Vanette • (231) 408-5664 • Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • Chief Baw Beese Chapter Mike Dundas •

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

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


(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 •

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Wampum Chapter Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • Butler County Chapter John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 • Butler Outdoor Club

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

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Steve Bickel • (724) 794-3719 • Clarion County Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter


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, Hammondsport Boy Scout Troop 18 and Dansville Boy Scout Troop 38 Central New York Chapter: Jack Miller • (315) 446-7257 •

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north star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Picture and text by Andrew Bashaw, Director of the Buckeye Trail Association, from BTA’s Trailblazer.

Jim Sprague is a well-known Buckeye Trail Association volunteer who created the Buckeye Trail Crew decades ago, and is their current Trail Maintenance Supervisor. Jim and Adelaide are separated by only 80 years and the width of the newest length of the trail as he teaches her to tie flagging to mark new trail route.

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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