The magazine of the North Country Trail Association
Volume 34, No. 1
2014 State Of The Trail There Be GIANTS! Plan to Attend the 8-State Rendezvous
Rennae Gruchalla helping hikers Aubrey and Lilly put on NCT tattoos on NCNST Trail Day at North Dakota’s Ekre Grassland Preserve, September 27, 2014.
About the Cover Michele Oberholtzer and a friend built this snowman-with-aview on the NCT in the Gaylord State Forest just outside Petoskey, last winter in Michigan. Her 700 mile hike along the NCT was featured in North Star Vol. 32 No. 4 OctoberDecember 2013. Read about her hiking blog on page 19. Photo by Jeff Zimmerman. In This Issue
Classy Meeting for Central NY Chapter..... 4 Michigan’s Dark Sky Park.......................... 4 Warrior Hikes..........................................5 There Be Giants.......................................6 Annual NCTA Awards Call for Nominees..................................7 NCTA Chapter/Affiliate/Partner 2013 Honor Awards...............................11 Teach Your Children Well....................... 14 Brule-St. Croix Rovers’ Trail Crew............ 15 Meet Your New Board Members..........18 Michele Oberholtzer’s Blog.................. 19 50th Anniversary of The Wilderness Act and the NCT........20 Thank You for Your Support of NCTA!....22 State of the Trail 2014.............................25 Attend the 8-State Rendezvous!............. 50
Trailhead................................................3 Matthews’ Meanders............................ 12 NPS Corner.........................................24
Departments Where in the Blue Blazes?.....................10 Who’s Who Along the Trail....................8 Next Deadline for Submissions............18
North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or email@example.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Spring issue, Vol. 34, Issue 1, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.
The North Star
David Cowles Director of Development firstname.lastname@example.org Jill DeCator Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator email@example.com Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota firstname.lastname@example.org Tarin Hasper Administrative Assistant email@example.com Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development firstname.lastname@example.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator email@example.com Bruce Matthews Executive Director firstname.lastname@example.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin email@example.com Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator firstname.lastname@example.org
National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2015
Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania (724) 526-5407 · email@example.com Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota (701) 271-6769 · firstname.lastname@example.org Lynda Rummel, VP East, New York (315) 536-9484 · email@example.com
Terms Expiring 2016
Jaron Nyhof, First VP, Lower Michigan (616) 786-3804 · firstname.lastname@example.org Brian Pavek, Minnesota (763) 425-4195 · email@example.com Larry Pio, Lower Michigan (269) 327-3589 · firstname.lastname@example.org Doug Thomas, Treasurer, Minnesota (612) 240-4202 · email@example.com Jerry Trout, Minnesota (218) 831-3965 · firstname.lastname@example.org Gaylord Yost, VP West, Wisconsin (414) 354-8987 · email@example.com
Terms Expiring 2017
Ruth Dorrough, New York (585) 354-4147 · firstname.lastname@example.org Jerry Fennell, Wisconsin (262) 787-0966 · email@example.com John Heiam, Secretary, Lower Michigan (231) 938-9655 · firstname.lastname@example.org Lorana Jinkerson, U.P. of Michigan (906) 226-6210 · email@example.com Kirk Johnson, Pennsylvania (814) 723-0620 · firstname.lastname@example.org Tim Mowbray, Wisconsin (715) 378-4320 · email@example.com Peter Nordgren, Wisconsin (715) 374-3143 · firstname.lastname@example.org
Tom Moberg President
Editor’s postscript: Over the last twenty-five-plus years that I’ve been doing trail work, I know that many of my happiest days have been those spent doing trail maintenance, especially on “my” portions of trail. The person who was first attracted to the trail as a hiker has morphed into a trail worker who feels by now that a mere hike is self-indulgent and frivolous, since I COULD have been doing trail work. If elves in the woods ever peeked out at me, many is the time they’d have caught me smiling to myself, looking perhaps a bit demented.
t is late December as I am writing although it may be February before you read it. The winter solstice and the year-end consumer frenzy are over for 2014. The ubiquitous marketing campaigns designed to convince us that we can find fulfillment by buying “stuff ” may not be realistic but longer days with more sunlight will certainly make us feel better. This is a good time of year to think about what really makes us feel happy. Recently I heard an National Public Radio broadcast devoted to the holiday spending phenomenon and how the acquisition of more “stuff” is or is not related to happiness. There is a growing body of research (and common sense) that has identified several major factors that contribute to feelings of happiness. And in the long run, these factors are not dependent on acquiring more “stuff.” One of the primary behaviors leading to happiness seems to be having strong social relationships such as connections to friends. Spending time with people you like and who like you is one of the most important determinants of personal happiness. Another factor is staying busy, filling your time with meaningful activities that use your best talents, but not feeling rushed or stressed about it. There is also strong evidence that giving makes us happier than receiving, as long as we don’t over-commit ourselves to the point of feeling like a martyr. People who live their lives so these factors are present are much more likely to feel happy more of the time than people whose lives lack these characteristics. By now you are probably wondering why I’m spending ink on the notion of happiness instead of topics related to the North Country Trail. In my opinion, happiness and the NCT are closely related. From the research I’ve read about happiness, I believe that doing volunteer work on the NCT can contribute strongly to a person’s happiness. Volunteer trail work can provide a person with all the key determinants of happiness, strong social support, good relationships with friends, active work doing useful things, and an opportunity to contribute something of lasting value to society. The notion that working on the trail can help volunteers feel happier is a simple idea. Most long term volunteers probably already understand this, but by being more aware of the potential for generating happiness, we may have better luck at attracting new volunteers. Instead of just telling prospective volunteers that we want them to help build a hiking trail, we could tell them that helping build the NCT will make them happier because they will develop new friendships, they will get to do interesting and healthy work, and they will make a significant long-term contribution for the benefit of society (especially their children and grandchildren). Who could resist an offer like that? Some research about happiness indicates that volunteering at least 100 hours per year, or about 2 hours per week, seems to help people feel happier. Less than 100 hours per year doesn’t
seem to have much impact on a person’s happiness. That isn’t a very large time investment per week to have a better shot at happiness. To be a bit fanciful, imagine what could get done on the NCT if every NCTA member donated 100 hours of their time each year to work on the trail. That means that the 2,700 NCTA members would be donating 270,000 volunteer hours per year, or about 9000 volunteer hours per year on average for each of the Chapters alone, plus the tremendous hours added by Affiliate trail volunteers! What could your local group accomplish with 9000 volunteer hours per year, especially if all the volunteers were really happy? I have probably been imprecise about the implications of the happiness research in order to make a point. But let’s be ambitious in trying to attract more volunteers to help us build this great national resource. Hikers are usually happy just to be out on the trail but perhaps we have not sufficiently promoted the idea that volunteering to help build the trail may also be a great way for a person to enhance the happiness in their life. Stay in touch, do good work, and you will be happier in 2015.
Editor Irene mowing trail in New York.
A Classy Annual Meeting for Central New York Chapter
Michigan’s Dark Sky Park There are only six of them in the mainland United States, International Dark Sky Parks, places where there is so little light pollution at night that visitors can actually see the REAL night sky. In reality the sky is almost gaudy with stars, just jammed full with pinpricks of light, but we seldom get to see that due to reflection, refraction, and who knows what other effects of all the lights we turn on at night to render the world visible and useful to us.
The North Star
Central New York Chapter brought a touch of class to its Annual Meeting this past October when it was held at the Hilltop House of Cazenovia’s Stone Quarry Hill Art Park (see the story and photos in the July-September 2014 North Star. While the NCNST runs just a stone’s throw from the House… if one disregards the intervening woodland vegetation impeding the progress of thrown stones…this was the first time most of the attending Chapter members and guests had seen its inside, and it was a treat. Things started off with refreshments in what was originally the living room. In place of the usual card table, they were set out on teak, surrounded by sand-cast walls and fireplace on three sides and a window-wall on the fourth. Here we were joined by Dorothy Riester, designer of the house, co-founder (with her late husband, Bob) of the Art Park, and sculptor extraordinaire. Oh, and also our eternal benefactor by allowing and welcoming the Chapter to run the Trail through the then-recently-established Park in the late 1990s. Sometimes it’s trite, and sometimes it’s suspect to say that a body of people were honored by someone’s presence among them. Not this time. Not with Dorothy. At the tentative suggestion of our Social Chairman, Nancy McCain, we added wine and cheese to the traditional Annual Meeting fare of milk and cookies. (This is unfair. Traditional fare with this Chapter includes cider, coffee, soda, donuts, crackers… and cookies. But never milk.) While the wine seemed to be appreciated, the proportion of wine-consumed-to-total didn’t quite measure up to that of home-made-cookies-consumed-to-total, approaching 95%. We bake good cookies in Central New York. I think we still qualify as part of Red Plaid Nation. After an appropriate amount of socializing, we adjourned to the high-roofed, six-walled library and music room of Hilltop House for the business part of the Meeting. The usual blah-blah-blah of the current Chapter President’s yearly overview was endured. Merciful highlights of it included the new Chapter brochure (Thanks, Mary Kunzler-Larmann) and formation and progress of a new Membership Committee (Thanks, Kathy Eisele). Three new sorts of recreational hikes debuted along the Chapter’s part of the Trail: a wildly successful birding expedition (Thanks, Steve Kinne), a fascinating workshop in wildlife macrophotography (Thanks, Hugh Yeman), and Experiencing History Along the Erie
Dorothy Riester and Al Larmann at 2010 National Trails Day Event.
Canal (thanks, Joe DiGeorgio and Al Larmann). Expressions of gratitude to outgoing NCTA VP East Mary Coffin were made, as were expressions of welcome and confidence in incoming NCTA Board member Ruth Dorrough (both of the latter present). There followed a useful discussion of tactics and goals in our ongoing struggle with the forces of trail destruction, motorized use, and general darkness. Once the liver, lima beans, and spinach were out of the way, we were then served dessert in the form of Art Park Board President and natural raconteur John Hunt’s entertaining and informative overview of the past, present and future of the Park, interspersed with Dorothy Riester anecdotes. Old (everything’s relative)-timers Al Larmann and Bill Coffin added further Dorothy stories. After running another Annual Meeting rite, the “everyone’s-a-winner” raffle, John Hunt proved once again what a good guy he is by taking everyone across the road to the Park’s Winner Art Gallery to view the just-closed, but not-yet-taken-down, Miriam Nelson sculpture exhibition. Jack Miller, Chapter President
In Emmet County, at the very top of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, just west of Mackinaw City, there is a county park, the Headlands, 600 acres of old growth timber, some of it along the shore of Lake Michigan. The entrance to the Headlands is only about a mile off the North Country Trail, and is right across from Mackinaw City’s upcoming Heritage Village Park, a reconstruction effort to create an old village with historical accuracy. The Headlands includes the Dark Sky Park, which permits all uses except camping. There are dreams growing of having Harbor Springs Chapter build a spur trail to the Dark Sky Park from the North Country Trail. www.emmetcounty.org/darkskypark/
Several of the Pacific Crest Trail hikers posed in front of Eagle Rock in Warner Springs, California. Stare at that big rock shape behind them for a minute.
ay Thompson, an NCTA member and VA nurse from Erie, Pennsylvania, recounts that she met a 2013 A100 hiker who was a recent vet. He said that 28 in his unit returned alive out of the 28 who went into the desert, but since returning, three had committed suicide. She herself suffers from recollections of serving in the Middle East, and the smell of oil pumps sends her into shock. So she will like this story, because she wishes she knew where to start helping others. A few people have noticed these alarming trends and created an organization to help returning vets “walk off the war,” as famous Earl Schaffer said about his first through-hike on the Appalachian Trail in 1948. The website at Warriorhike.org suggests that modern transportation’s speed, enabling soldiers to return to their old lives within one short day, is almost too fast for soldiers to absorb. Sean Gobin of Warrior Hike theorized that long distance backpacking time spent on one of the National Scenic Trails, with significant local support at trail towns, could restore many vets’ confidence and inner peace, so applicants to the program may now receive equipment and supplies for their hike, trail town support from veterans’ and community organizations, and assistance with job searches afterwards. Matt Davis, NCTA Regional Coordinator for Minnesota and North Dakota, found Tom Bielecki, a member of the West Michigan Chapter who recently walked the whole Pacific Crest Trail as part of the “warrior hike” program. Tom answered Matt’s online interview questions and introduced himself by saying that he has spent seventeen and a half years with the Michigan National Guard, including two Operation Enduring Freedom deployments, one to Egypt as part of the Multinational Forces and Observers, and one to Afghanistan as part of C Troop 1-126 Cavalry, MIARNG. Until now he counts himself an inactive NCTA member, but
wants to assist some local Boy Scouts with projects on the trail. He also says that “my hiking experience before the Pacific Crest Trail was very small.” But here is what he considers small! “ In the spring of 2011 I did the first 340 miles of the AT, in the fall of 2012 I completed the nearly 300-mile Benton MacKaye Trail, and during 2013 I attempted a through hike of the AT (Appalachian Trail) but had made only 966 miles when both of my parents had cardiac events within 18 hours of each other. During that hike I met the Warrior Hikers and started my relationship with them.” “I would say the most powerful part of the PCT for me is the overwhelming beauty and size of the landscape. The friendship and support of fellow hikers and townspeople were also extraordinary, nothing but positives and fun my whole hike. We really laughed about the hardships we encountered: we woke up to six inches of wet and nasty snow on Mt. San Jacinto and we laughed anyway. Everyone was worried about the Mojave Desert, but we walked through in rain and 53 degree temps… and laughed. “The whole hike took 166 days with thirty zero days, April through September 2014. The support along the trail was amazing. Each weekend we were picked up at a road crossing by members of local organizations, often American Legion, VFW or sometimes Rotary or Lions Clubs. Each provided rides to and from town, arranged for complimentary hotel stays or they hosted us in private homes. Dinners and welcoming programs were the norm. The support got to be so large that we occasionally had to turn some offers down, because we had to hike! “My most powerful moment occurred in Lake Tahoe. I had lost about 60 pounds at this point and was just feeling great. I was so happy that I considered it the turning point for me and almost went home to get on with life. But I didn’t because I had …Continued on page 6 January-March 2015
By Marty Swank
As volunteers strive to maintain their sections of North Country National Scenic Trail, I believe we are sometimes so busy with the trail maintenance that we occasionally overlook some of the enchantment that surrounds us. Occasionally a hiker will make an entry in one of our many register notebooks that reminds our volunteers of what a special place the NCT can be. “Great sunny fall day! I hike this trail every visit, one or two times a season. Back in 2001 I discovered a small white pine growing next to one of the giants - only a few inches tall. It’s now 31 inches - growing about 4˝ per year. I figure it will take about 250 years to get as tall as its parent tree. Wish I’d still be around to see it!! Tread lightly! This is a special place!” “P.S. If you hike along the NCT there are a few other giants around… enjoy.” Mark Pines are my favorite “Trail Trees.” I even made the effort to transplant one seedling close to the NCT and used the last of my drinking water in hopes that it would survive. After reading Mark’s entry in one of the Chapter’s registers, I will be extra careful with small pines, especially if they are near a large one! Chequamegon Chapter volunteers of the North Country Trail Association maintain segments of the NCT in the Chequamegon National Forest from County A south of Iron River to Kornstead Road and also the City of Mellen Hike and Bike Trail. For more information and free downloadable maps please go to our website at http://northcountrytrail.org/che/ Author Marty Swank standing near one of a series of large white pines in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness along a segment of NCT. There are also a large number of “giants” on the segment of NCT along Lake Owen. Grab your snow shoes, camera and enjoy the magical forest.
Warrior Hikes continued… made a commitment to Sean Gobin and Warrior Hike that I would finish. I am very proud that I finished. “I have definitely walked off my war. I can actually enjoy things that I never did before. I am not as uptight about personal bliss as I used to be. It’s funny how some of us are raised to believe that fun is a guilty pleasure. Not on the trail. “I’m much more calm and patient now, much more accepting of people’s different styles. Yes, I think styles is the right word.” Moraine State Park in western Pennsylvania has begun a program to host day hikes for local veterans, and has enlisted both Butler and Wampum Chapters to provide support. Take a local vet on a hike on your trail. He or she may just like it.
The North Star
Warrior hiker Tom Bielicki bids farewell to “Globetrotter” and “Rocket Llama” at Manning Provincial Park, in British Columbia, Canada. Left: Tom poses by Monument 78, the PCT’s northern terminus in Canada.
Photo by Vickie Swank
There Be GIANTS!
2015 Annual NCTA Awards Call for Nominees Recent Award Winners:
Luke Jordan Rising Star
Phil Anderson Trail Maintainer
he holidays are over and we hope that spring is on its way. That means it’s time to review the NCTA Award categories and begin sending in nominations for consideration. Anyone can make a nomination so reflect upon those you know who go the extra mile, contributing time, money, materials, or energy to further NCTA’s mission of building, maintaining, promoting and protecting the NCT. Nominations are due May 1 and can be completed online at northcountrytrail.org/members/awards, or via the e-mail form sent to all chapter, affiliate and partner leaders, or by sending the following information to email@example.com, or jdecator@ northcountrytrail.org: Chapter/Affiliate/Partner name, award category nominated for, nominee’s name, address, city, state, zip, phone and e-mail as well as your name, address, city, state, zip, phone and e-mail. Include a one to two page statement that explains the reason why this person should receive this particular award. Be sure to highlight what makes your nominee unique and more deserving than others for the particular award category for which you nominate them. Since the members of the Awards Committee do not personally know all of the nominees, the narrative you write is critical to our decision making. Give us details, examples, stories to support your nomination. Vanguard: A legislator or other public official whose leadership, actions and advocacy have substantially benefited the North Country Trail over a chapter/affiliate/partner’s area or larger, not just a short segment. Trailblazer: A business or foundation for far-sighted vision and support, demonstrated by significant contributions to the Trail or the NCTA. Lifetime Achievement: An individual, in recognition of fifteen (15 ) years or more of true dedication, exceptional service and outstanding contributions towards the dream of the North Country Trail or the success and growth of the NCTA, not just local service. Service may be performed in a voluntary or paid capacity. Distinguished Service: An individual, in recognition of exceptional volunteer service in furthering the goals of the NCTA, and outstanding contributions toward the dream of the North Country Trail. Individual should have made a significant commitment and accomplishments over eight (8) or more years. Not more than one of these awards may be granted each year to an individual who is not a member of the NCTA or an Affiliate. www.northcountrytrail.org
Tom Lakenen Outstanding Landowner
Carolyn Upton Vanguard
Trail Builder: A volunteer, whose work in Trail planning, landowner negotiations, layout and design, and/or construction, have resulted in the development of outstanding new trail or facilities over a three (3) or more year period. Trail Maintainer: A volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional dedication or achievements over a three (3) or more year period in maintaining or restoring pre-existing Trail segment(s). Leadership: A volunteer who has demonstrated exceptional leadership over a three (3) or more year period leading to significant local achievements or highly successful events. Outreach: A volunteer, whose efforts to build coalitions, partnerships or other forms of local support have contributed significantly to the ongoing success of the Trail. Communicator: A volunteer, for exemplary work in promoting the Trail or the NCTA through a communications medium (newsletter, web site, brochure, etc.) or personal contacts over a three (3) or more year period. Rising Star: An NCTA member between the ages of 8 and 25, who has made significant contributions to the Trail and seems likely to continue, and whose dedication to the Trail and the NCTA sets an example to other youths and shows exceptional promise. Sweep: A volunteer, for tireless work and achievements behind the scenes on behalf of the Trail or the NCTA over a three (3) or more year period. Friend of the Trail: An employee of a unit of governance or an organization whose leadership, accommodations and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail or the NCTA, not working solely in the capacity of an NCTA member. Outstanding Private Landowner: A private landowner whose leadership, accommodation and active collaboration have substantially benefited the North Country Trail. Blue Blazes Benefactor: An individual or household demonstrating vision and generosity through significant monetary or in-kind contribution(s) to the North Country Trail or the NCTA.
Who’s Who Along the North Country Trail? If you have questions about the North Country Trail, there are many different places to go for information. When in doubt, try NCTA Headquarters: If you’re not sure whom to contact, your best bet is to connect with the NCTA’s National Office. Staff members are listed on page 2. North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605 www.northcountrytrail.org HQ@northcountrytrail.org Visit our web site. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the trail itself! National Park Service: The NPS is an excellent technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official trail administrator, the NPS sets trail standards, determines trail route, and provides the overall vision for the trail. Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent Mark_Weaver@nps.gov • (616) 430-3495 P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331 www.nps.gov/noco 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 • firstname.lastname@example.org 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 clubs scattered along the trail that are Chapters of the NCTA. 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 also 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. 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.
Future official route of North Country National Scenic Trail pending Congressional approval.
The North Star
1 Lonetree Wildlife Management Area Matt Davis • (701) 388-1883 email@example.com 2 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Bobby Koepplin • (701) 845-2935 firstname.lastname@example.org 3 Dakota Prairie Chapter Gail T. Rogne • (701) 367-9410 • email@example.com
4 Star of the North Chapter Kim Fishburn • (612) 810-3732 • firstname.lastname@example.org 5 Laurentian Lakes Chapter Ray Vlasak • (218) 573-3243 • email@example.com 6 Itasca Moraine Chapter Bruce Johnson • (218) 732-8051• firstname.lastname@example.org 7 Arrowhead Chapter Doug Baker • (218) 326-4030 • email@example.com 8 Kekekabic Trail Chapter Mark Stange • firstname.lastname@example.org 9 Border Route Trail Association
* * *
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Ed Solstad • (612) 822-0569 • email@example.com 10 Superior Hiking Trail Association
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Gayle Coyer • (218) 834-2700 • firstname.lastname@example.org
11 Brule-St.Croix Chapter Tim Mowbray • email@example.com 12 Chequamegon Chapter Marty Swank • (715) 682-2254 • firstname.lastname@example.org 13 Heritage Chapter Michael Stafford • (414) 403-4575 email@example.com
14 Ni-Miikanaake Chapter Dick Swanson • (906) 229-5122 firstname.lastname@example.org 15 Peter Wolfe Chapter Connie Julien • email@example.com 16 North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Lorana Jinkerson • (906) 226-6210 firstname.lastname@example.org 17 Superior Shoreline Chapter Tim Hass • SSC@northcountrytrail.org 18 Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Kay Kujawa • email@example.com
95 10 14
11 9 13 8 12
LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted
20 21 22
23 LOWER MICHIGAN
21 22 23 24 25
Harbor Springs Chapter Jim and Nancy Stamm firstname.lastname@example.org Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Duane Lawton • email@example.com Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
(231) 584-2461 • firstname.lastname@example.org Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter Jerry Freels • (231) 922-1801 • email@example.com 28 Spirit of the Woods Chapter Loren Bach • (231) 510-1983 • firstname.lastname@example.org Western Michigan Chapter Chuck Vannette • (231) 408-5664 • email@example.com Chief Noonday Chapter Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • firstname.lastname@example.org Chief Baw Beese Chapter Mike Dundas • BigD102430@comcast.net
31 27 32
32 33 34 35
Wampum Chapter Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • Dcgcag@gmail.com Butler County Chapter Ron Rice • (724) 538-8475 • email@example.com Clarion County Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • EDSDC85@yahoo.com Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • firstname.lastname@example.org 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Jeff Manelick • (814) 563-7934 • email@example.com
26 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Tom Duvendack • (419) 822-4788 firstname.lastname@example.org 27 Buckeye Trail Association
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Andrew Bashaw • (740) 394-2008 email@example.com 28 Adams County Chapter firstname.lastname@example.org 29 Little Cities of the Forest Chapter email@example.com 30 Ohio Valley Chapter firstname.lastname@example.org 31 Great Trail-Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter Keith Brown • (330) 264-5118 • email@example.com
37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference
(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Dick Hubbard, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 FLTinfo@fingerlakestrail.org 38 Central New York Chapter: Jack Miller • (315) 446-7257 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Middlebury Area Land Trust: * 39 (Trail Maintaining Affiliate):
Carl Robinson • (802) 388-1007 • email@example.com
Where In The Blue Blazes?
In this regular feature of North Star, we challenge your knowledge in a friendly competition to name the location of a detail or point of interest along the 4600+mile North Country Trail. Any of our readers can submit a photo for consideration for the next puzzle, or play our game by answering the question: Where in the Blue Blazes can this location be found? In our last issue the two photos below were submitted by Duane Lawton, hoping that one or our loyal readers would be able to identify the location. Apparently none of you have hiked the area of the trail shown in these photos lately, since we received NO answers! Duane says that Norwich Bluffs are just east of the Trap Hills in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This is an area of high bluffs and endless remains from a prospering copper mining industry in the mid-19th century. The “lost” community is the town of Norwich, now little more than building foundations and a cemetery. The Ottawa National Forest has interpretive signage including the one in the picture directly below. Learn more for your hiking pleasure, northcountrytrail.org/pwf/norwich.htm
The Norwich Bluffs, an imposing rocky spot with breath-taking views, including Lake Superior and the Porcupine Mountains.
Left: This pier of an old fire tower is evidence that long ago, watch was kept over this forest from a sturdy perch above the bluffs. (500´ on side trail)
The Lost Community of Norwich once thrived at the foot of the bluff.
The North Star
Left: Blocked for visitor’s safety, this is the remains to an old copper pitmine that once enlivened the town of Norwich. (500´ on side trail).
We await any reader’s offer of a mystery photo to continue our game Where in the Blue Blazes, in the next issue of North Star. Send to our editor.
Tools of the Cause:
Hammers and Clippers Aren’t Enough in Advocacy Efforts By Edward Goodell, Executive Director of the New York/New Jersey Trail Conference
(Excerpted from his column in the Fall 2014 Trail Walker)
There are times when our preferred tools of rock bars, loppers, hammers, and clippers are of no help at all in taking care of trails. When the problem is inappropriate development or short-changed park budgets, we must choose the right tools to safeguard our connections to nature: letters to the editor, letters to public officials, leaflets and demonstrations, our vote. In short, advocacy. I know that most people involved in the Trail Conference’s work would choose to contribute their time and resources directly to the trails and parklands rather than to the often overheated debates about the impacts of development on parks or the politics of park budgets and policies. But sometimes our work in the woods is threatened by external events. We neglect the need for advocacy at our peril. Several monster casinos and their road traffic were proposed for development immediately outside two of the favorite State Parks between the Catskills and New York City, and in that case, the objections of many, including the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, won the day. Sometimes those who love peace and quiet win, but never by just sitting on their hands. The NCTA joined the NYNJTC and the FLTC as well as the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in expressing our opposition to the Sterling Forest Casino development. Editor
NCTA Announces Fall 2014 Chapter/Affiliate/Partner Honor Award Winners Lorana Jinkerson, Chair, NCTA Awards Committee
Each year after our presentation of the Annual NCTA Awards, selections for each Chapter/Affiliate/Partner (CAP) Honor Award are requested from each trail host group. The CAP Awards go to volunteers who demonstrate loyalty, commitment and hard work annually to the local organization’s chosen activities. This year’s 23 submissions were 5 fewer than last year’s 28. The 2014 CAP Honorees are:
Sheyenne River Valley
Melinda and Jerry McCarty
Superior Hiking Trail
Dave Plotnicky and Sharon Robertson
Laura Bethany Thomas
North Country Trail Hikers
Lucia and Reggie Krueger
Hiawatha Shore to Shore
Jordan Valley 45°
Friends of the Jordan River Fish Hatchery
JRNFH Youth Conservation Corps
Grand Traverse Hiking Club
Spirit of the Woods
Charles Chandler and Dianne Taylor and Beth Keloneva
NW Ohio Rails to Trails Association
Sabrina Royea and Dave Brewer
Allegheny National Forest
Mike and Tina Toole
Finger Lakes Trail
Cayuga Trails Club
Central New York
Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director
e think thru-hikers are terrific! Real hikers attempting the North Country National Scenic Trail are engaging, whether they’re tackling sections or going end to end (E2E) in one year. They grow awareness about the trail, their experiences inform us about trail status, and their growing numbers build links within our NCT community. They’re our rock stars! Plus it’s great fun (and gratifying) to see our NCT family step up to “angel” these folks on their respective journeys by reaching out to offer help when they need it. More and more folks are reporting significant mileages as they work on segment-hiking the Trail. And we’re hearing from a number of folks planning to attempt an E2E in 2015. The enthusiasm generated by the achievements of Luke Jordan (“Strider”) and Al Learned in 2013, and Gail Lowe (“Chosen Hiker”) in 2014 seem to be feeding a growing awareness of the possibilities. What’s not to love about more people hiking and embracing the challenges of a long distance North Country Trail thru-hike? Nationally we note the additional interest in long distance hiking now being generated by the release of the movie Wild, with Reese Witherspoon in the starring Cheryl Strayed role about finding herself on the Pacific Crest NST, “putting herself in the way of beauty.” A Walk in the Woods is expected to be released next summer, starring Robert Redford in the biopic based on Bill Bryson’s experiences on the Appalachian NST. With this growing interest, however, comes the need for NCTA to be clear about expectations in supporting these efforts, particularly with growing concerns about the preparedness of enthusiastic novices following in Reese Witherspoon’s “footsteps.” What can a thru-hiker expect from NCTA? What does NCTA expect of long-distance hikers?
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What can a thru-hiker expect of NCTA? Besides a ton of enthusiasm, NCTA assistance is available at two levels, HQ and local chapters and affiliates. Headquarters • Maps (members get a discount), both water-proof paper and online here: http://northcountrytrail.org/trail/maps/ • Route advice and the most current GPS centerline data. • Databook, which has just been drafted by Ed Talone (E2E ’94), and is being made available to hikers through HQ, for use and ground-truthing. • Planning resources available through Trailshop, and online here: http://northcountrytrail.org/trail/hike-planning/, where hikers can also access: • Contact information for NCTA Chapters and trailmaintaining affiliate groups along the trail; • Sample itinerary; • List of post offices along the trail; • List of partner maps and books. • NCTA’s Long Distance Hiker Committee reviews hiker applications (go here: http://www.sharkenterprises.biz/ NoCoLo/index.htm), and awards a patch and state rocker panels upon completion of significant portions as well as the entire trail. A certificate of completion signed by NCTA’s president and executive director is also provided. If resources permit and the Association’s and hiker’s interests coincide, NCTA HQ may be able to help hikers with publicity and media outreach. In addition NCTA will typically share public information about long distance hikers making an E2E or significant segment hike on various social media venues such as the NCTA Facebook page, and celebrate accomplishments in all media venues. Chapters, Partners and Affiliates…. Our volunteers in local chapters and trail-building affiliate organizations are NCTA’s “eyes on the ground.” Individual contact info is best accessed directly through the chapter contacts listed on the NCTA website( http://northcountrytrail.org/getinvolved/whoswh/ ), or in many issues of North Star. As with any volunteer effort, some chapters may be more responsive than others: Current information and local resources are the best way to ground-truth route options and trail conditions. Many hikers experience trail “magic” from local trail “angels,” which can range from a well-marked and maintained trail to a warm shower and hot meal. While not guaranteed—and by nature and definition these are unexpected occurrences—still, hikers in communication with local chapters as they pass through often find “magic” in the good will expressed through the warmth and generosity of the members of our Red Plaid Nation.
What does NCTA expect of a long distance hiker? What NCTA does NOT do… Hikers anticipating a segment hike or thru E2E should be Previously we’ve discussed NCTA’s role in “thru-hiker oversight.” prepared, and plan well for the experience. An E2E will take (page 32 in North Star 33:3, or NCTA Blog on northcountrytrail. months of research, preparation, conditioning and training. org from July 7, 2014) We’re not in the oversight or enforcement NCTA’s website is a good place to begin. Another excellent source business, and while our Long Distance Hiker Committee keeps is at andrewskurka.com. Andrew completed his NCNST E2E some basic records, recognition is accomplished on the honor thru in 2004-5 (yes, in winter!); his award-winning book The system. Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide is the bible for long distance hikers. We’ve fielded complaints about thru-hikers skipping trail Reading the accounts of other NCT E2E hikers like Joan Young’s sections, or choosing their own routes despite the presence of North Country Cache, or thru-hiker Luke Jordan’s journals at the official route. As NCTAers our pride and sensibilities are http://stridernct.com/, or, if you can find a copy, Eb Eberhart’s understandably hurt when a candidate long-distance hiker chooses (Nimblewill Nomad) Trekking the not to hike a particular section. But we’re not in their shoes, assessing Something less than doing the entire trail North Country Trail is pretty much weather or trail conditions or a host will always be just that—something less. requisite for a serious E2E thru-hiker. Skills are critical, whether it’s of other variables affecting safety or basic outdoor living skills and navigation, the ability to manage other factors. At what point does varying from the official route electronic communications or the capacity to assess dangerous “disqualify” the attempt at an E2E thru hike? It’s left to honorable weather situations and act accordingly. Physical conditioning and hikers to make an honest effort. Something less than doing the mental preparation are essential. Having enough of the right food entire trail will always be just that---something less and knowing where to get water are vitally important. The right NCTA is not a press agent for thru-hikers. We’re all about equipment and knowing how to use it is a must. Planning for whatever grows public awareness for the NCNST and the resupply and communications is another important aspect. Hikers volunteer organization building it, but we’ll need to draw the line unwilling to do the planning and preparation become a liability when a hiker’s agenda diverges from NCTA’s. not only to themselves but to the Trail, the NCTA, volunteers, and Anyone following our long distance hikers in recent years must trail angels supporting them. have noted the varied nature of these hikers’ experiences, which If the hiker is expecting any publicity support from NCTA HQ, have ranged from outdoor bivouacking almost every night to they must be willing to coordinate with HQ staff, stay in touch spending many nights indoors at trail angels’ homes or hotels. and let us know where they are. Some have been supported, and some have done it all on their Finally, NCTA expects that our staff and volunteers be treated own. Rather than being judgmental we’re happy to point out that with respect. Helping hikers is only one small part of a diverse and this illustrates one of the cool things making the NCT so unique, complex set of expectations for our staff and volunteers. NCTA’s and that’s the diversity of experiences and the magic found or mission is focused on building, maintaining and telling the story made in hiking our trail. The NCT may be the only national of the Trail. NCTA’s staff scenic or even long distance hiking trail that offers hikers the and volunteers are not opportunity to choose what kind of journey they’ll undertake. responsible for planning And, it’s their journey, not yours, not mine, not NCTA’s. someone’s hike, or making up for deficiencies in planning, preparation, navigational skills or other shortcomings. Thru-hikers should not feel entitled to services outside the parameters set above.
Teach Your Children Well
The Rovers’ Crew Camp Shower By Bill Menke
By Marty Swank
The Chequamegon Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has been blessed with an abundance of talented trail adopters and volunteers. Among these volunteers is Thomas Rossberger, a multiple section adopter of NCT in the Chequamegon National Forest near the City of Mellen. Thom has taken his children out to help with trail maintenance numerous times. What a great introduction to the many facets of what it means to be a volunteer!
William (4 ½) does some lopping, wearing safety gear.
We do luxuriate with a shower in camp every couple of nights. in our dedicated shower tent. Inside, about 1/4 to 1/3 of it is a separated “dry room” where we can place a chair to change clothes if we want. We put 5-8 gallons of water in the tank and keep recirculating it through the heater until the temp is up to where we want it (about 106-110 degrees). This takes only a few minutes depending on the ambient water and the air temperatures. Then we shut the heater off and switch some valves so the water circulates from the tank to the shower head and back again. At this point, someone is showering (sailor type shower, turning the water flow off when not actually using it) and when they’re not getting wet or rinsing off, the water is going back into the tank. Each person can shower on not much more than a gallon of water and several can shower before the water temp drops down into the upper 90’s. Prior to having the shower, we often drove to a lake to swim, but the shower is much nicer. Sure feels good after a hot day getting sweaty and dirt covered. During the cooler months, we sometimes don’t set it up since we don’t get as grubby.
Tommy (9) gets ready to do some lopping and Elizabeth (11) gives moral support.
Not only are Thom’s children learning the value of volunteering but they are also likely gaining a love and respect for nature and experiencing the positive outcome of team work. What an amazing, natural place to instill some wonderful family values. Thom’s children were asked a few questions about the NCT and nature. The following are just a few selected comments: What is your favorite trail maintenance thing to do: “My favorite trail maintenance thing to do is to trim back the trail a little way and feel the satisfaction that anyone can walk on the trail and be able to enjoy it and love the nature around them and not have to worry about smacking into a branch.” – Elizabeth “I like to trim the trees so people can see the trail and the beauty.” – Tommy “I like to use the choppers.” – William
Outside our shower tent, Dick Kroener is watching a thermometer with the sensor going to the bottom of the tall tank.
What do you love about the trail and nature? “The thing I love about the trail and nature is that the nature around me seems to come alive, a living, breathing thing. I love how the trail and nature makes me feel like I am bursting with life and it makes me want to stay there forever.” – Elizabeth What is the most memorable time you have had doing this and why? “When William showed all of us that there was scat on the trail. That was one smelly spot!” – Tommy “When I showed Daddy the wolf and coyote poop. ‘Cause I found it interesting.” – William
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The pump (near center sitting on a board) pumps water from the tank thru the red propane heater and back into the tank. That pump is powered off the truck battery.
The “puncheon bridge” crew: Bob Leedle, John Pearson, Jane Leedle, Tom Hicks, and Dick Kroener.
Brule-St. Croix Rovers’ Trail Crew 2014 In Review—17 Years as a Crew By Bill Menke, Wisconsin Regional Trail Coordinator
et another season on the trail has come and gone. Once again, thanks to the dedication of a core group of people, a lot of good work was accomplished and the trail moved a little closer to completion across Wisconsin. Over the course of seven crew outings, 18 crew members accumulated a total of 1,489 hours. Our construction season ended just in the nick of time! Only a little more than a week after our last trip of the season, a huge winter storm dumped more than four feet of snow. It’s lucky we were gone or we might have been snowed-in there until spring. Brule-St. Croix Rovers’ year As was anticipated last January, the crew worked on projects across the width of the state, from within 1/4 mile of the Minnesota border, all the way east to Wren Falls in Iron County. Like always, some of these projects were complex and exciting, while others were just plain old hard work. If you would like the month by month project details, request them from firstname.lastname@example.org. Here are a few of the highlights of the crew’s 2014 work. In April, work was started to develop a new crew campsite in the far western part of the state. Further work to improve the site and gravel the access road into it was completed in July and early August. This campsite (named Nemadji Bluff) will serve our needs for years to come as we work on trail that is closer to the Minnesota border.
In June, we shifted to the far eastern part of the state. Our task was to rebuild a 48-foot long puncheon bridge across a small stream and adjoining wet area. The Rovers originally built this structure in 2009 so the trail could pass downstream of a huge beaver dam and impoundment. Early in 2013, the dam burst during an intense storm, and our puncheon structure was washed downstream. The three sections of puncheon were found and carried back upstream by the Heritage Chapter during their “Bring Back The Bridge” event. Finding that the big flood had scoured and totally changed the width and depth of the formerly small, shallow creek, it took us some time to figure out how to make the same structure fit the site. Once we came up with a plan, the job was done in about five hours. Interestingly, while the new structure has totally different curvature and is much higher, we used the identical number of boards as were in the original structure. During the months of July, August, October, and November, we were back at the Nemadji Bluff Campsite and continuing our work to complete a new section of trail across an interesting area known as the MacQuarrie Wetlands. This complex of shallow and deeper ponds was constructed by the Wisconsin DOT to mitigate for wetlands destroyed by highway construction elsewhere in the state. The complex is now managed by the University of Wisconsin-Superior (UWS). Adjoining the UWS portion, the crew built trail on lands secured in perpetuity through the efforts of the National Park Service and the Wisconsin DNR. January-March 2015
John Pearson operates the Rovers’ power wagon, here doing the transportation work of a whole troop of mules!
Brule-St. Croix Statistics Thanks to the dedication and support of so many, much was accomplished by the 2014 BSC Rovers. Here is the concise tally of what was accomplished this year: • 2 ¾ miles of new trail tread • 1 ½ miles of trail tread rebuilt or touched up • 500 feet of relocated trail tread • 48 feet of puncheon • One 10-foot bridge • Nine 16-foot bridges • One 22-foot bridge • One bridge extended by 20 feet
Tom Hicks, Dave Schlosser, Dick Kroener, waiting for supper in the Rovers’ campsite after a hard day in the woods. Notice the new style of fire ring. One highlight was discovered as we built the The last unaccounted for month is September, when we returned to the tread along the bluff rim heart of the territory where we’ve done of Clear Creek. Looking most of our work during previous years. over the edge, we saw a Bird Camp, in the heart of the Douglas substantial colony of Showy County Wildlife Area, is one of our Lady Slippers not more favorite camps so it’s always good to be than 20 feet from the trail.
back there. From Bird Camp, we worked to rebuild some puncheon structures that needed lengthening due to a replenished water table. Sites that have been dry for a dozen or more years are suddenly flooded. The crew also installed two new, short spans of puncheon and constructed some short trail relocations to bypass more of these newly wet areas.
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Photo on right page: One of the crew members helping out this month was Jo Swanson from Askov, Minnesota. Jo was last with us in September 2011, when she described herself as a “pack mule” helping to carry tons of material down the bluff to ferry them across the St. Croix River. Perhaps that job assignment as “pack mule” was preparation for what she has been doing in the interim. Jo is a seasoned long distance hiker and has completed the Appalachian Trail, is one of only two people who have completed the Great Eastern Trail, and finished the Ice Age Trail only a week before. Thanks for spending some of your “back to civilization transition time” with us.
Finally, in the 2014 newsletter to crew members, there was a little lesson in history. Our North Star editor saw this and encouraged me to include it here.
New structure resting on a boulder the flood couldn’t move.
Nemadji River running clear, view from the Rovers’ camp bluff.
Menke’s Sermon In September 1997, I provided a work orientation briefing to a sizeable group of people standing outside the old Highland Townhall. The BSC chapter had assembled a big crew to build the section of trail between Jersett Creek and Highway S, the first section of trail actually constructed within the BSC Chapter area. Also attending were three crews of youth offenders from the Camp Douglas Correctional Facility. After talking about how we would proceed with four crews (who were not allowed to interact with each other per the accompanying prison guards), safety, and all the usual tailgate topics, I went on to tell the group that because we were starting from scratch, we had the opportunity to build the trail correctly, to build it to adhere to all of the trail standards that had been recently published by the NPS in its new Trail Design, Construction, and Maintenance Handbook. To get to the point of this lesson in history: Each of you should realize that all of the trail and the trail structures that have ever been built by the Rovers have been built to the standards of the National Park Service. Definitely, it takes longer to build trail this way, but the end result is sustainable trail that will stand the test of time. Every bridge and every trail structure has been built wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair and every structure incorporates ramps, not steps. Even while the rest of the trail may not be “accessible,” every structure is made accessible so that it doesn’t present a potential “bottleneck” across a stream or wet area. A determined mobility-impaired individual who has been able to negotiate the trail will not find a barrier at one of our structures. As a crew member, you should take pride in the quality of what you have helped create. Earlier in this newsletter, you read about the crew finishing somewhat less than a mile of trail in only three work trips, what I consider to be a significant accomplishment. Contrast our accomplishment with reports of other groups “building 5 miles of new trail in one week” or “building 3 miles in one weekend.” Those are impossible achievements if the trail were built correctly. Actually, what these reports tell us is that the group cleared and blazed that many miles of trail. They didn’t take the time to grub out stumps, move boulders, or construct tread. So, if you too read about these huge accomplishments and wonder why our crew can’t achieve the same thing, just recognize that we are talking about two completely different scenarios. It takes a whole lot more time to build good, sustainable trail that meets the standards. Somebody say Amen.
Be sure to read about the Rovers’ refreshing in-camp shower on page 14.
Meet the New Members of Your Board Of Directors: Jerrold is a lawyer who practiced mostly in Kansas and Nebraska, frequently on Federal disputes over consumer protection, plus criminal law. He is a volunteer with the Red Cross who has organized emergency shelters for hundreds of people, and Jerrold Fennel has been a successful fundraiser for millions of dollars. He is retiring and winding down his office in Omaha. Jerry is an avid bicyclist on back roads as well as a hiker in such locales as Guatemala, Spain, and in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Tim has been trying to retire from 30 plus years of healthcare administration since 2008 but keeps finding too many interesting work projects that just need a little more time. Currently Tim is the President/CEO of a small medical Tim Mowbray research organization in Minneapolis Minnesota, Excelen – Center for Bone & Joint Research and Education. Tim has a Doctorate in Management specializing in Organizational Leadership and is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. He has been in senior leadership positions in healthcare for 30 plus years, served on and participated in leadership of a number of community organizations and is still an active Rotarian in the City of Lakes Rotary in Minneapolis. Tim, his wife Sue, and Golden Retriever Max live just about a mile off the North Country Trail on Upper St. Croix Lake in Solon Springs Wisconsin and use the trail many times each year. Ruth grew up in the Boston area. She received her nursing education at Massachusetts General Hospital and earned a Masters in Health Services Administration from St. Joseph’s College of Maine. She spent seven years in the remote Pacific Ruth Dorrough Islands of Micronesia before settling in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. There she raised a family while working in long term care nursing administration. She is an inveterate traveler. Walking has always served as a grounding influence in both her work and recreation. Since retirement she and her husband, Dan, have been section hiking the North Country Trail.
Peter grew up in a family of canoe builders near Hayward in northern Wisconsin, not far from where he lives today in Cornucopia. As a planner, engineer, and manager, he spent a decade helping expand public radio in rural areas of the upper Midwest. He then returned to his alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Superior, for a 27 Peter Nordgren year career as a faculty member and technology administrator, retiring in 2013 as associate vice chancellor for outreach. He also earned a Ph.D in higher education from the University of Minnesota. Peter has served on the boards of Wisconsin Citizens for the Arts and Wisconsin Public Radio Association, and is a board member of the UW-Superior Alumni Association. He is a founder of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter of NCTA, now serving as its membership coordinator, and an active trail maintainer. Kirk earned his BA from Albion College in Albion, Michigan, in 1992, where he did frequent trail work in the Whitehouse Nature Center on campus, where he was employed. He earned a Master of Environmental Studies degree from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, in 1999. While living in Washington he was a volunteer Kirk Johnson trail maintainer for the National Park Service in Olympic National Park. Kirk serves as executive director for the Warren, Pennsylvania-based Friends of Allegheny Wilderness, which he founded in 2001 and which seeks to have qualifying portions of the Allegheny National Forest designated as wilderness areas under the Wilderness Act of 1964. These include areas that the North Country Trail passes through such as Minister Valley, Tionesta, and Tracy Ridge. Kirk has been an NCTA member since 2000, and for the last ten years the volunteer adopter/ maintainer of the 5.5-mile segment of the NCT through the proposed Minister Valley Wilderness Area.
Submission Date for North Star No. 34, Vol. 2 Please send stories and pictures to Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol. com, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Next deadline for Vol. 34, No. 2 is April 1, 2015. Thank you! —Your volunteer editor, Irene (585) 658-4321
The North Star
Michele Oberholtzer (see the cover of this issue) has a blog online, at OberDoIt.com. Of the segments across the top of the first page, “Left of East” is one that will interest our readers most, since it retells her story of a 700 mile hike in upper Michigan in the summer of 2013. We published her first account in the magazine that year, but her reconsidered rendition is even better, after a year’s distillation and maturity. For those who didn’t get enough the first time, read on! Posted On July 7, 2014 Exactly one year ago, I embarked on a solo backpacking adventure across Northern Michigan. I wrote in my journal nearly every day to capture the events and insights of my time on the trail. Now, one year later, I am sharing revised versions of those entries as a way to remind myself of that powerful, transformational journey and to share the experience with others. This trip was about taking charge of my life by changing myself rather than my circumstances. It was about making life happen instead of letting it happen to me. It was about independence, exploration, recovery, healing, reconnecting and redefining. For months before this trip, I lived with an underlying vague notion that I needed to do something, but I wasn’t sure what it would be. I desperately needed to recalibrate my life after a particularly difficult year, disrupted by an emotionally traumatic divorce and a physically traumatic car accident. Most of all, I was trying to force myself to recover from many years fighting an eating disorder. After years of trying every conventional method in Western Medicine, I sought out the oldest form of therapy in the world, time alone in nature. Due to my bare-minimum research and preparation, I had very few preconceived notions about what this trip would be like, but I had a long list of expectations about how it would change, improve, even “fix” me. Of course, the trip absolutely defied those expectations in ways both wonderful and humbling. From a comfortable life in New York, I turned left. “Left” means leaving behind the known and the past. “Left” means the road less traveled, the stranger and harder but more meaningful way. “Left” means purpose over comfort. “Left” means breaking convention. And on a compass, left of East is North, my direction of travel. To anyone who has a clear vision for what they want to be but don’t know how to get there, to anyone who struggles to unearth the purity beneath the endless distractions of daily life, to anyone who has been so desperate to change that they wiped the slate clean and started over, to anyone who wanted to start over but couldn’t for whatever reason, I am writing this to you. I am very grateful to anyone who takes the time to revisit my experiences over those many miles and innumerable steps with me. www.northcountrytrail.org
The 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act and the North Country Trail By Kirk Johnson
ust over fifty years ago, in September of 1964, the U.S. Congress passed the Wilderness Act into law, establishing America’s National Wilderness Preservation System for present and future generations to use and enjoy. Under this historic statute, Congress extended the strongest possible protection to the wildest and most natural portions of our national forests and other federal public lands. Designated wilderness areas are not just sanctuaries for wildlife, but sanctuaries for people too. In areas permanently protected as wilderness, people will always be able to bring their children to hear the birds, the wind in the trees, and the crunch of the snow underfoot without the hustle and bustle of motors and machinery, and other man made distractions. These are places to remember that we, too, came from the Earth and are wise to remember our dependence upon it. The Wilderness System has grown from nine million acres with the passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 to 110 million acres today. Nearly every session of Congress since 1964 has added new wilderness to the system, and every president since Lyndon Johnson has signed wilderness legislation into law. Here in Pennsylvania we have a special place in this history and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, for it was a native of the Keystone State who conceived, wrote, and lobbied the Act into law in his capacity as director of The Wilderness Society from 1945-1964. Howard Zahniser was born in Franklin, Pennsylvania, and raised in Tionesta, on the banks of the Allegheny River not far from the route of today’s North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) through the Allegheny National Forest (ANF). He played and hiked in the ANF during the formative years of his youth, and canoed frequently on the Allegheny River into adulthood, even camping on Thompson’s Island that today is part of the Allegheny Islands Wilderness. The NCT was created by the U.S. Congress in 1980, 26 years after the Wilderness Act became law in the tradition of the Appalachian Trail and other National Scenic Trails, and is the longest such backpacking trail in America at more than 4,600 miles. The NCT passes through seven northern states from North Dakota to New York, and also traverses 12 national forests along its length, including 95 miles through the 513,300-acre Allegheny National Forest. Among other National Scenic Trails, the Appalachian Trail passes through 26 federal wilderness areas, the Continental Divide Trail passes through 20, and the Pacific Crest Trail passes through 48. However, so far the NCT has only five federal wilderness areas along its length: the Boundary Waters Canoe Wilderness in Minnesota, the Rainbow Lake and Porcupine Lake Wilderness Areas in Wisconsin, and the McCormick and Beaver Basin Wilderness Areas in Michigan. The NCT also parallels the northern and eastern boundaries of the Sturgeon River Gorge Wilderness for about eight miles, and it is close to the Rock
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A remarkable maturing forest cloaks the proposed Tracy Ridge Wilderness Area in the Allegheny National Forest.
River Canyon Wilderness, Big Island Lake Wilderness, Delirium Wilderness, and Mackinac Wilderness, all in Michigan’s scenic Upper Peninsula. The organization where I have worked for the past fourteen years, Friends of Allegheny Wilderness, has identified several prospective wilderness areas in the ANF that the NCT passes through, such as Minister Valley, the Tionesta old-growth area, and the enormously popular Tracy Ridge. Tracy Ridge is the largest roadless area in the ANF, and encompasses a nine-mile segment of the NCT, in addition to a large network of side trails. A photo of the proposed Tracy Ridge Wilderness Area was even featured on the cover of the July-September 2011 (Volume 30, Number 3) issue of the North Star. Years ago, Howard Zahniser’s son Ed gave me some 1949 U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps of Pennsylvania that had been in his father’s ownership. They were given to his father by then-Wilderness Society president Benton MacKaye. MacKaye, who conceived of the Appalachian Trail in 1921, used these maps to envision later what is now the NCT through Pennsylvania. MacKaye’s USGS Kinzua Quadrangle map includes today’s proposed Tracy Ridge Wilderness, before Kinzua Dam created the Allegheny Reservoir. The map shows a sprawling landscape, largely roadless in character, with the river untrammeled by a dam. Now professionally matted and framed, the map, one of my most treasured possessions, hangs prominently on my living room wall. Because of the landscape it depicts — and its chain of ownership
— this map is constant inspiration for my own wilderness advocacy work. On September 25th, 2014, Ed Zahniser gave a fantastic presentation to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Roanoke, Virginia, on the subject of the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the extraordinary work of his father to see the Act become law, and the visionary leadership of MacKaye in his work for wilderness and America’s National Scenic Trail System. He said in part: “MacKaye was by no means solely responsible for the trail, but without his expansive vision, we might not be here together this evening….Wildness was necessity for MacKaye. His regional planning schemes meant to keep wilderness and wildness connected to city cores. His schemes used wilderness and wildness to block what we now call suburban and exurban sprawl. MacKaye called it ‘metropolitan flow,’ or sometimes ‘the iron glacier.’…Benton MacKaye proposed the Appalachian Trail in 1921 as a wilderness belt, not just a footpath. The wilderness belt would block and halt urban sprawl. MacKaye even proposed to have small communities along the wilderness belt whose residents would keep traditional Appalachian crafts alive. MacKaye’s big planning goal was to keep wildness in contact with the urban core.”
Now that I have become a board member for the NCTA, I am looking forward to hiking sections of the trail that I have not seen before, especially including where it passes through designated wilderness. I attended the 2002 NCTA conference in North Dakota, and hiked portions of the trail in that state during that weekend, but beyond that have not ventured far from the 95-mile section of the trail in the ANF (which I finished walking in 2000), and other sections further south in Pennsylvania and north into Allegany State Park in New York. I am also interested in seeing additional wilderness added where feasible to the NCT for the benefit of hikers, and to further the legacy of Howard Zahniser, Benton MacKaye, and all of the other conservationists who came before us and whose shoulders we stand on. Kirk Johnson, an NCTA member since 2000, is executive director for Friends of Allegheny Wilderness (www.pawild.org) in Warren, Pennsylvania. He joined the NCTA Board of Directors in December of 2014.
Howard Zahniser on Allegheny River in 1937.
Leadership Giving in 2014—Thank You for Stepping Up With Your Generous Support! True North Society
Anonymous (1) Lux Foundation REI Foundation
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Lorana Jinkerson Tom and Mary Moberg Janette Sweasy Laura Bethany Thomas
Betty A. Lewis Environmental Charitable Trust Mark and Gail McCensky Nicholas Fund Scheels All Sports Appleton Store Dakota Square Store Eau Claire Store Fargo Store Grand Forks Store Kirkwood Store River Hills Store St. Cloud Store
Peter Bennett and Julie Davey William and Mary Coffin John Heiam and Lois Goldstein Scott Holman James Noble Rita Oswald Traverse City Track Club Raymond Vlasak Gaylord and Marlene Yost
$25,000 and up
Anonymous (2) Pat Allen and Mark Miller Hilton Bakker and Carol Schnell Robert and Sandra Bridge Kenneth Buran Coles Family Foundation Dave and Jan Cornell Garrett and Sydney Dill Cecil and Joanne Dobbins Doosan Bobcat Company Dan and Ruth Dorrough Tracy Dulak and Dominic Bragg Jerry and Nancy Fennell Finger Lakes Trail Conference Teri Foust Timothy Goodman Richard Gray Ed and Rennae Gruchalla Larry and Diane Hawkins Carter and Florence Hedeen Jim and Gladys Hoogterp Donald and Kay James Bob Jennings and Barbara Bott Cindy Jones Thomas and Betty Keiser Joseph and Cindy Krueger Lakeshore Striders Margaret MacRae Jim and Norma Matteson Melinda and Jerry McCarty Jaron Nyhof Brian and Barb Pavek Pfizer Foundation Larry Pio and Suzanne Darling Richard and Leslie Platte, Jr. Vivian Ruosch Steve and Tiffany Scheel Bob Schuelke Jeffrey Seiple Ronald and Linda Sootsman Superior Hiking Trail Association The Tassell - Wisner - Bottrall Foundation Doug Thomas United Refining Company United Way of Washtenaw County Mark and Rachel VanHornweder Werner and Marianne Veit Walmart Foundation Jim Weiske Larry Willis and Robyn Ellis Mary Kay and Stephen Wysham
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Adirondack Mountain Club Onondaga Chapter Raymond and Elizabeth Bell Lewis and Mary Bender City Of Duluth Parks and Recreation Thelma Boeder James and Hope Bradley Butler County Tourism Joe and Sharon Callahan Chequamegon Boiler & Furnace Works Inc. Conserve School Roy Dray Richard Flinn David Galbreath GE Foundation Tom and Jan Gilbert Community Foundation-Traverse City Track Club Endowment Larry and Diane Hawkins David Irish Itasca Mantrap Co-Op Electrical Association Trust Sarah and Michael Julien Bobby and Deb Koepplin Stan and Kay Kujawa Ron Lovasz Bill and Donna Menke Michigan Mountain Biking Association Northern Chapter Minnesota Power Travis and Mink Neely Thomas Reimers David Schlosser John Schrock and Mary Berube Donald and Karen Stearns Jim and Jan Stewart Township of Thorpe MN Jerry and Beth Trout Roger and Rebecca Tuuk Upper Peninsula Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Fund John and Sandra Wagner NCTA Wampum Chapter Gary Werner and Melanie Lord White Cloud Rotary Club Todd and Jennifer Winnell
The North Country Trail Association Thanks Our Generous Members and Supporters in 2014! Tribute Gifts In 2014—Thank You For Your Generosity In Memory of Ginny Wunsch Ginny Wunsch Chet Buquo George Zacharek Christine Lightcap Matt Manger Ginny Wunsch Martha Jones Wade Brown Ginny Wunsch Ginny Wunsch Ginny Wunsch Atley Oswald Ginny Wunsch Bill Thomas George Zacharek Ginny Wunsch
Remembered by Sherry Adams Barbara and Robert Anderson Dorothy Buquo William and Mary Coffin William and Mary Coffin Coles Family Foundation Crandell Funeral Homes Inc Cindy Jones Kathie Major Darcy and Kyle Puckett John and Ailene Pugno Dottie Rosenberg Vivian Ruosch Harold and Barbara Thatcher Laura Bethany Thomas Jacqui Wensich Jan and Glenn White
In Honor of Robert Norlin Ken Kelsey John and Judith Hutchinson’s 35th Wedding Anniversary Ed Scurry Mary Macdonald Jerry Trout Bruce and Linda Matthews
Honored by Chequamegon Boiler & Furnace Works Inc Katrina Hayes Todd McMahon Brenda Scurry Pamela Steketee James and Ellen VanIwaarden Susan and Larry Wolfe
We have endeavored to accurately list and acknowledge our donors in accordance with their wishes. If we have omitted or incorrectly reported your gift please accept our apology.
Year End Campaign Gifts In 2014â€”We Met Our Goal Thanks To These Great Donors! Anonymous (6) Judy Abrams Allegheny Outdoor Club Pat Allen and Mark Miller Randall Ames Amalia Anderson Appleton Scheels Store Daniel and Constance Arnold R. Alan and Lois Baker Hilton Bakker and Carol Schnell Kristian Bartell Matthew Baseler Mel Baughman Gene and Liz Bavis Daniel Beadle Bearcub Outfitters Donald Beattie Raymond and Elizabeth Bell Lewis and Mary Bender Steve Bender and Carolyn St. George Sue Birnholtz John Bley Thelma Boeder Lois Bohannon Kathryn Borkowski Robert and Constance Bouchard Julie Bradford Michael and Jacqueline Brodzik Gordon and Rebecca Bruns Kristen and Glen Bruxvoort Joyce Bufano Edwin Burman Robert Burris Sally Burroughs Butler County Tourism Miguel and Rosa Cabanela Joe and Sharon Callahan Richard Callender Erica Christianson Mary Jo Clark John and Christine Clement Jonathan Clemmer Fred and Mary Clinton Thomas Crew Tom and Jeanne Crosby Bill Curry Dakota Square Scheels Store Ruth Dale Bill and Margie Darooge Robert and Patricia Davis Matthew and Stacy Davis Deborah Day Rudolph A. Dehn John Diephouse Garrett and Sydney Dill Dan and Ruth Dorrough
Elaine Dotter Gordon Draper Roy Dray Eau Claire Scheels Store Henry Eckhardt Kathleen Eisele Cheryl Emoto Randy Eshenroder Harold L and Eleanor Fairbanks Frank and Laura Farwell Jerry and Nancy Fennell John and Patricia Fey Finger Lakes Trail Conference Michael Fitzsimmons and Hope Haefner Jeff and Mary Fleming Friends of Porcupine Mtns. Wilderness State Pk. Amy Froiland David Galbreath Louis and Mai Geeraerts Joseph Gerstle Tom and Jan Gilbert James Gilkey Anita Gilleo Lynn Glesne James Glockner Paul and Kathy Good Timothy Goodman Grand Forks Scheels Store Richard Gray James Green Robert and Sheridan Haack George Haberer Marcia Haddox Chris and Helen Haller Mary and Kathy Hamilton Adam Haritan Thomas Miller Harris and Cynthia Harris Bob and Tarin Hasper Anthony Haswell Chuck and Martha Hayden Katrina Hayes John Heiam and Lois Goldstein Keith Hein Alan Herdzik Timothy Hicks Donna Hoff-Grambau Scott Holman Jim and Gladys Hoogterp Tom Hord and Mary Wieter-Hord Margaret Hudson John Hudson David Irish
Bob Jennings and Barbara Bott Lorana Jinkerson Philip Joanisse Kirk Johnson Cindy Jones Peggy Jones and Andy Zeek Michael Kane Terry Kaser Thomas and Betty Keiser William D. King Gina Kinzler Kirkwood Scheels Store Bob and Pat Kjolhede Steven Koch Bobby and Deb Koepplin Derrick Kooistra Joseph and Cindy Krueger Reginald and Lucia Krueger Steve Kueffner Wendell and Judy Kurr Brian and Gwen Laarman Douglas Fuller and Martha Lancaster David LaValle Robert Lazar Daniel and V. Skinner-Linnenberg Ron Lovasz Adriane Ludwick Mary W. Lunt Lux Foundation George and Patricia Maas Margaret MacRae Kathie Major Tim Makinen Joseph and Denise Malovich Mark and Cami Mann Pam Marfizo Jon and Carol Markley Jim and Norma Matteson Fred and Kathy Maynard Sheri Mayrberger Steve and Kathy McBride Diane McCarthy Karen McNew Bill and Donna Menke Daniel Milan Carl and Nancy Miller Susan Miller Tom and Mary Moberg Mary Ann Moore Roger Morrison Timothy and Sue Mowbray Ruth Mueller Bethany Mueller Tess Mulrooney NCTA Wampum Chapter Travis and Mink Neely Helga Neugebauer Nicholas Fund
Andrew and Megan Olds Jack Olson Douglas Olson Rita Orinko Paul Orr Rita Oswald Martin Oâ€™Toole Brian and Barb Pavek John Peters Mary Peters Petoskey-Harbor Springs Area Community Fdn John Pinto Richard and Leslie Platte, Jr. Ralph and Barbara Powell Joel Reed John Regenhardt Thomas Reimers Nicholas Rhodehamel River Hills Scheels Store Brian and Susan Roberts Glenn Roberts Tim Romenesko Joshua Rubinstein John Rud and Maria Tillanrud Michael and Erica SanDretto Scheels All Sports Steve and Tiffany Scheel Scheels Corporate Office Rick and Mary Schlauderaff Petra Schmalbrock Joann Schmidt and Roy Schwarz John and Marge Schmitt Timothy and Charlene Schnelle Donald Schott John Schroeder Dale and Linda Schroeder Bob Schuelke Doug Seaney Judith Shepelak Mike and Theresa Sickles James Siegel Linda Smarsh Steve Smith Ronald and Linda Sootsman Jeremy Spring St. Cloud Scheels Store Dave and Mary Staley Mike and Carol Stasik Donald and Karen Stearns Robert Steeneck Pamela Steketee Susan Stimmel Mark and Tiffany Stram Margaret Strobel and Bill Barclay
Craig Swaggert and Tanna Moore Fred and Judy Swartz Irene Szabo William Tennant June E. Thaden The Tassell - Wisner Bottrall Foundation Doug Thomas Gordon and Wilma Thompson Jere Thompson Robert Ulrich Mark and Rachel VanHornweder Jeffrey and Nancy VanWinkle Ronald Vargason Werner and Marianne Veit Connie and Steve Vorenkamp Richard Wachter Nancy and Mark Wadopian George and Dorothy Wallace Ginny Wallis Edward Walsh Sheila Watson Dennis Weaver John Weber Gerald and Darlene Wettels Keren Wheeler Ellen Whitehead Donald and Terrie Wicks Robin Wieten Ron Williams Larry Willis and Robyn Ellis Magnus Wilson John Wilson and Margaret Hunt-Wilson Nora Wiltse Todd and Jennifer Winnell David Wissink Rodger and Denise Wolf Susan and Larry Wolfe Douglas M. Wood Charles and Mary Worms James and Carole Wortley Mark Wretschko Resha Wyman and John Shillinglaw Gaylord and Marlene Yost David Zavadsky Richard Zeman Mary Zuk-Domanski
National Park Service
Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT
Happy New Year Everyone! Happy New Year everyone! I’m writing this in the early morning between Christmas and New Year in the quiet of my kitchen, with an intensely strong cup of coffee that is doing an excellent job of waking me up. The sun isn’t up yet, and the quiet is wonderfully palpable. Wishing you all quiet mornings and good coffee in this upcoming year. This past year has been a pretty good one, at least from this relative newbie’s perspective.
Agreements Development Forest Service: Our new liaison with Region 9 of the U.S. Forest Service has come on board. Bruce, Andrea and I recently met with Eric Sandeno who I can confidently say is anxious to work with us to ensure that North Country Trail within our National Forests reflects well on us all. In all sincerity, Eric is a great guy and we all are looking forward to building a solid, effective partnership between the Trail and our partner Forests. New York: 2015 will be the year to clarify our relationship with the state of New York. A draft Memorandum of Understanding has been prepared, and Bruce and I will be visiting state representatives in Albany in February to speak face to face (and frankly) with our partners within OPRHP (state parks) and DEC (state forests). I look forward to clearing the air, and setting the stage for moving the trail forward in New York. Michigan: With the continued progress on the Governor’s Showcase Trail (which will be co-located with the North Country Trail along much of its length), we will be revisiting our agreement with the state of Michigan to reflect this closer, more intense relationship. The presence of North Country Trail makes this Governor’s Trail a quick win for the state government. And whenever one can say “quick” in the same sentence as “government,” you KNOW we’re on to something here! 24
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And Now The Big, Sad, News: Jeff McCusker, who has managed to “get stuff done” in spite of the government, is moving on to really greener, and wetter, pastures. He will be joining the Bureau of Land Management as Chief of Recreation in Salem, Oregon, early in the new year. By the time you read this, he will have moved his family, and then packed up the house and hit the road. I personally will miss him a lot. As I’ve said before, we sometimes didn’t agree on things, but disagreement and the resultant discussion give better products. So, sincerely, Jeff, many thanks for disagreeing with me. Travel safely and keep in touch!! I don’t have Jeff’s contact information yet but if you wish to contact him let me know. We have begun the process to advertise for a new trail planner, and she or he should come on board in the late spring.
Special Funding While we all wish that we had all the funds we need to continue doing our good work, we know that scenario will never happen. But we have had some successes nonetheless. While all of them are in Michigan, I can honestly say that the decisions to support these projects, among many proposals along the trail that were submitted, were not ours; rather, they were decisions by “the powers that be” further up the food chain from us, the guppies, in Lowell. The details are yet to be hashed out, but briefly, we are expecting to see support for land acquisition and youth engagement / diversity on the trail in SW Michigan and commitment to support land acquisition in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. More details to come, as they trickle down… I anticipate that if we can produce excellent results with these projects, more funding for other locations along the trail will follow.
Wisconsin: It’s time to review the agreement we have in place with the state of Wisconsin. First meetings to kick off this discussion will happen in the spring. Foundation Document: Recently, we received very sad news from our Omaha regional office. Chief of Planning Ruth Heikkinen passed away after a long illness. Ruth had been a very active supporter of North Country Trail during her tenure, and she will be greatly missed. Her staff held things together during this difficult time, but things were understandably slowed. I will be presenting our Trail Foundation Document to the Regional Director in early January for final review and approval. Then it is onward and upward to graphic design and production. Please don’t ask when it will be done, because I have given dates in the past and have been wrong each time! Soon! Soon! The Arrowhead Reroute And Vermont Extension: A truly vexing situation. Recent legislation included a number of new parks added to the national park system (without increased funding sources to establish or maintain them), but not the requested reroute/extension of North Country Trail. Don’t get me started on this.
Mark Weaver NCNST Superintendent Mark_Weaver@nps.gov (616) 430-3495
The Biggest Ever! 2014 State of the Trail North Country Trail Headquarters in Lowell—Lower Michigan David Cowles
L-R: Matt R, Laura (front with Baby), Tarin (behind Laura with Baxter), David, Jill, Andrea, Bruce with Sunny.
What’s on tap with your NCTA Staff? Among our 2014 accomplishments and plans for 2015 are: Outreach and Marketing: • “State of the NCTA” webinar held for NCTA chapter and affiliate leaders on Feb. 2, 2015. • We developed a new series of videos in 2014. They included an introduction to the NCT, which is a 10 minute video giving an overview of the Trail and the Association, and two training videos on Trail Design and Layout and Trail Adopter Basics which received more than 3,000 plays on vimeo.com. • We held a successful Kickstarter funding campaign in 2014, and produced a music video thanking and honoring our hard-working NCTA volunteers. • Check out the northcountrytrail.org website for improved web maps, mapping applications and resources, all located on one webpage, making it the main hub for all of our mapping and GPS info. New GPS training materials will be released early this year. Watch for them, and for the webinar training on their use early this spring. • The first annual NCNST Day was celebrated on Sept. 27, 2014, with 25+ events held across the trail, attracting more than 525 participants. The largest event in Tahquamenon Falls State Park in Michigan had 200 hikers! • Improved long distance hiker information provided on NCTA’s website including a sample itinerary, list of all post offices along the trail and links to previous hikers’ journals. • We continued to develop our Trail Town program, adding 5 new Trail Towns in 2014 for a total of 17. A New Trail Town Handbook is in the works for 2015. • We plan to bring on a half-time Marketing and Communications staff person in April 2015, with a major focus being dramatic growth in NCTA’s social networking efforts as well as supporting events promotion such as National Trails Day and National NCT Day. www.northcountrytrail.org
Advocacy: Re-route bills (MN Arrowhead & Vermont extension) introduced in 2014 but Congress failed to act on them. Plans for 2015 include reintroduction in 114th Congress. Trail Management and Protection: • Worked with the National Park Service to adopt and train our volunteers in the Optimum Location Review (OLR) process to put new trail in the best possible location. • Developed a partnership with land trusts in Michigan in an effort to protect locations that might be of interest to both communities. • NCTA’s Trail Protection Grant program funded its first project in 2014, covering the cost of due diligence (appraisal and phase 1 environmental assessment) on a property of interest in Pennsylvania. • Completed a feasibility study to connect the trail between two major state parks in Pennsylvania. We are now in negotiation with the landowners. • We worked with the Partnership for the National Trails System to submit parcels in Michigan as part of the Collaborative Landscape Planning Initiative. We’re pleased to report that the project was funded. Development: • In 2015 NCTA will launch its first ever capital campaign, to increase annual funding for trail protection and marketing. • 2015 will target relationship development with corporations, major donors and foundations. Organizational Capacity: • Despite financial concerns about revenue generation over the summer the NCTA community rallied to wrap up 2014 significantly “in the black,” with private donations 44% greater than budgeted. • We revised our Chapter Leadership Handbook and have new chapter leadership training webinars coming up in 2015. Contact HQ for dates and sign-up. • A new Board of Directors committee will be formed to prioritize trail development initiatives. • Significant growth expected in board chapter and staff fundraising capacity in 2015. • Revitalized Advocacy Committee with State Chair positions recruited who will organize further in each given state. • NCTA’s new Strategic Plan highlights the need to: ❖ Increase awareness of the NCNST and raise visibility of NCTA’s work. ❖ Develop a larger and more diverse following and increase membership. ❖ Assure the sustainability of NCTA. For more information, review the strategic plan at www. northcountrytrail.org (under “About Us”) and join us for the State of the NCTA Webinar on February 2nd. Contact Bruce Matthews to sign up.
State of the Trail What follows are State of the Trail Reports from our compatriots in enthusiasm from all eight states of the North Country Trail, sharing with you the highlights of their efforts in 2014. Feel free to steal good ideas or gobble up some inspiration: that’s what this annual section is for! We enjoyed a great spread of submissions this year from our various trail groups. Sheyenne River Valley Chapter—North Dakota Last year I reported a new funding source for future trail acquisition and development called the Outdoor Heritage Fund. Passed by the North Dakota legislature during its 2013 session, the Outdoor Heritage Fund is designed to enhance habitat, public access, hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation in the state. The Outdoor Heritage Fund is supported by funding from a slice of the state’s oil and gas production tax. Late in 2014, North Dakota Parks & Recreation Department applied for a ND Outdoor Heritage Fund Grant in the amount of $132,456 and was awarded $112,000. Of this, $18,000 was committed to Turtle Mountain State Forest and $39,600 was committed to easement acquisition along the North Country Trail. The remaining $54,400 is budgeted for trail construction, armoring, and enhancement along the North Country Trail. The SRV Chapter has sent out 14 landowner packets and acquisition requests and are hoping to obtain easements for approximately 11.5 miles of new trail which we were unable to get due to lack of time under our 2009 RTP grant. This would serve to close up all the gaps we have from Fort Ransom State Park to the town of Sibley on Lake Ashtabula north of Valley City. This funding would cover not only new trail, signage, boardwalks, etc., for the SRV
National Trails Day, canoeing Fort Ransom State Park.
National Trails Day, Fort Ransom State Park.
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State of the Trail
Chapter but also for Dakota Prairie Chapter and the Sheyenne National Grasslands, AND hire a contractor to identify a proposed route from the north end of Lake Ashtabula to the McClusky Canal! Our first hike of the season was held on May 3rd at the Hannaford Wildlife Management Area (WMA) north of Lake Ashtabula. The weather was beautiful and we had some new hikers from the Fargo area. The Hannaford WMA is a very pretty little segment and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience. We stopped to check out an illegal drainage ditch at the trail head at the West Sheyenne Wildlife Management Area which is causing a serious erosion problem. This issue is being resolved by the Griggs County Water Board and the SRV Chapter will be installing a water crossing at this location in 2015. Currently, hikers have to climb the hill to a section line to cross the runoff. We also enjoyed a short hike south of the Karnak Bridge before adjourning for lunch at nearby Sibley Resort. Our first workday in May was spent re-routing about 1/3 of a mile of trail and installing a new fence stile on private right of way on trail that has been continually slumping, and removing the old route signage on the Katie Olson segment at Lake Ashtabula. We also mowed and picked garbage on the trail in the hills above Valley City. This trail is highly used by the younger generation and tends to accumulate garbage. In June, the SRV Chapter enjoyed National Trails Day at Fort Ransom State Park exploring a new segment of trail with Park Manager, John Kwapinski. We also enjoyed canoeing and kayaking into Fort Ransom. The Chapter sponsored a supper with grilled hamburgers, hotdogs and brats and wonderful fellowship around a campfire! Also in June, nine hardy souls packed in steel u-posts, two drivers, and fiberglass Carsonite sign posts to replace five miles of broken Carsonites. The cattle tend to step on them and break them off at the ground so we mounted them to the steel u-posts. We split up into two groups, picking up the old Carsonites, driving in the new posts, attaching the Carsonite signs to the posts, and applying new sticker signage. July was dedicated to mowing over 50 miles of trail, installing informational panels at trail heads, and GPSing over 29 miles of trail, trail signage, stiles, boardwalks, telespar posts, trail heads and interpretive panels. August was all about fun and learning about trails! Bobby and Deb Koepplin attended the North Dakota State Trails Conference in the area of Grand Forks, Pembina Gorge and Turtle River State Park. Several of our chapter members also attended the Minnesota Hiking Celebration in Duluth and had a great time! We thank the host chapters for this great event! In September we added something new in the Prairie Potholes and Pizza Hike hosted by chapter members Janet and Bob Patton. They led a hike through their local prairies, hills and marshes. We were disappointed in that the weather did not allow the firing of homemade pizza in Janet’s beehive oven but a grand time was had by all anyway! …Continued on page 27
State of the Trail Deb Koepplin
Sheyenne River Valley: We children just had to climb the round bales during our Patton Prairie Potholes and Pizza Hike.
Dakota Prairie Chapter—North Dakota This is the time of the year when many of the media outlets indulge in their “Best of 2014” or “2014:The Year In Review” features. However, the Dakota Prairie Chapter would like to recap our progress since the Chapter’s beginning. There were several years of relative inactivity but we shifted into high gear during the past couple of years, and 2014 was a signature year. 1981 - 2010 The Dakota Prairie Grasslands Chapter was largely a chapter in name only. The only trail development that occurred during that period was about 28 miles of trail completed by the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) in the Sheyenne National Grasslands (SNG). While it was nice to have that segment of trail designated, the route was laid out during an extended dry period and when the drought finally broke, an extended wet period set in and many reaches of the trail were covered by 2-3 feet of water. The 45 miles of trail outside of the SNG was primarily a road walk. 2011 – 2013 These were pivotal years for trail and organizational development. Fresh leadership emerged along with a new name, the Dakota Prairie Chapter. Several important milestones were achieved: • A route between the eastern North Dakota terminus of the NCNST at Fort Abercrombie and the SNG was established. • The Red River Valley Outdoors Meetup site was set up on www.meetup.com and became the point of information for all Dakota Prairie Chapter activities. This immediately increased the level of awareness of all the Chapter activities in southeastern North Dakota. • The National Park Service provided signage, equipment, and a tool trailer.
Sheyenne Rive Valley Chapter Continued… Everyone must have opted to attend the North Country Trails Day with the Dakota Prairie Chapter because we only had one attendee show up for our hike. Undaunted, Becky and Daryl Heise led our hiker along the trail at the Baldhill Creek Wildlife Management Area to the backcountry campsite and beyond to show him some of the work that had been done in past years. As he works nights he had not taken part in previous hikes but he was determined to take in at least one! It was a beautiful fall day along the lake. Other notable events include a hike and work day with 10 chapter members and 11 Doosan (formerly Bobcat) employees that included safety training, mowing, trimming and re-blazing 4.2 miles of trail in the Sheyenne State Forest. Jeff McCusker and another National Park Service representative met with Bobby Koepplin on the land acquisition from an individual which would connect the Sheyenne State Forest with the city of Fort Ransom. This is looking very promising and we hope for a successful conclusion to this acquisition sometime soon! Mowing of our many miles of trail with a small number of volunteers continues to be a challenge but we are determined to add to our miles of trail on the ground in 2015! —Becky Heise
• A core of volunteers came together under the new leadership and six miles of new trail were developed on a railroad right-of-way, a 2-mile loop trail was completed at the Ekre Preserve (which is a key feature of the trail), and two primitive campsites were completed. • Our Chapter Vice President, Tom Moberg, was elected President of the North Country Trail Association. 2014 Capitalizing on the momentum from the previous year, the Dakota Prairie Chapter made great progress in 2014: • Our membership grew to nearly 50. • A comprehensive trail improvement plan was completed. • Grants were received from the North Dakota Outdoor Heritage Fund, the North Country Trail Association, and the Doosan/Bobcat Corporation. • A 20-year easement, a trail use agreement, and two memoranda of understanding were negotiated. These agreements enhanced trail protection, continuity and access. • The volunteer base continued to grow. Approximately 95 volunteers donated about 2,100 hours of volunteer labor, and due to their hard work, the following improvements were added: 16 stiles and gates, 21 9-inch signs, 175 Carsonite posts, and 17 puncheons (722 feet). • Valuable partnerships were formed with the North Dakota Department of Parks and Recreation, Eagle Scouts, and the North Dakota Department of Transportation. Projects that were completed due to these partnerships included smoothing nearly one mile of rough trail and installing new safety signs on highway crossings. …Continued on page 28
State of the Trail Dakota Prairie Chapter Continued… • Counting the trail in the SNG, the Chapter now has about 40 miles of off-road trail and 35 miles of road connectors. These connectors are mostly on upaved, lowmaintenance roads. • We celebrated the first annual North Country Trail Day by organizing a “Hike Every Mile” event that attracted more than 70 participants who aggregately hiked about 350 miles. • In addition to all of the trail-related projects, there were numerous meetings, hikes, and social events. The Chapter initiated a practice of alternating informational meetings with hiking events on a monthly basis. This has proven to be a successful method for raising the profile of the chapter and ultimately increasing membership.
Dakota Prairie’s Mike Doyle and Rick Schlauderaff working on 120 feet of puncheon, August 16, 2014. Yes, those are huge cattails; early in the season there is a foot of water here, while later the cattails can be mowed along the sides.
Dakota Prairie: ND Parks & Recreation Dept. volunteer smoothing prairie trail segment with Bobcat tiller on September 17, 2014.
The North Star
State of the Trail
2015 We have a good head of steam going into the new year and are looking forward to a successful and productive one. Here are some of our plans: • Concentrate again on trail development including construction of 6 kiosks and 20 puncheons, and smoothing several more miles of trail tread. • Carry out an optimal location review (OLR) for a section of the trail between Walcott and the Ekre Preserve. • Develop a trail maintenance plan and recruit trail adopters for about 14 miles of trail. • Begin working with several towns along the trail to encourage them to become NCT Trail Towns. We are excited about our chapter and the work that lies before us, demonstrating that nothing engenders success like success. We have been very fortunate to have the type of leadership that excited the members and has attracted others to the prospect of taking part in a project that is larger than all of us. Hiking on the trail is certainly a wonderful reward for taking part in our Chapter’s trail development activities; however, knowing that there are thousands of other like-minded individuals working toward the same goals gives us great confidence that our collective goals will be achieved. R.C. “Bob” Stein
Star of the North Chapter—Minnesota The biggest news for the Star of the 4 North Chapter has to do with mowers. Volunteers have had a hard time mowing the trail with the old mowers since they were always breaking down. The Star of the North Chapter was able to obtain funding for a new mower. After some research, a chapter member found the Orec Flail Mower, and got Orec to bring one up to the trail for a demo. A number of people from multiple chapters, including chapter presidents, tried out the mower and were impressed. With the purchase of the mower, we then needed a trailer. I’d like to thank the chapter member who paid for the trailer out of their personal funds. It saved the chapter a lot of money that we can now use for other purposes. We might end up buying another smaller mower. In the spring, we’re going to have to move the post put in to prevent ATV’s from accessing the trail as it’s too wide. To finish off the year, a group of us put in 144 feet of puncheon west of Remer near Green Lake, in what I’ve been told was probably the worst section of trail in Minnesota. One section still needs to be completed, but we ran out of wood, and it was decided that it might be best to wait till spring to see what the beavers do. Their dam building is what forced the building of the puncheon, and the rerouting of the trail. A new campsite was also added earlier this summer to the STN’s section of trail near the Boy River. I think we need more campsites so I’ll be keeping an eye out for possible future locations along the trail. Kim Fishburn
State of the Trail Laurentian Lakes Chapter—Minnesota We finished another successful and rewarding 4 trail building season on Oct. 27th. The season began on April 7th with a group scouting and flagging a loop trail in Tamarac Wildlife Refuge. Nearly every Monday the rest of the spring, summer, and fall was spent on various projects including the five mile trail completion through Hubbel Pond to the building of several new kiosks. Also completed were puncheon extensions, rebuilding beaver dam damage, rerouting two confusing intersections, and other trail improvements. In August several members attended and helped during the Hiking Celebration in Duluth. This was a great weekend with many scenic hikes on the Superior Hiking trail, informative sessions, and an expo with various exhibits. Special thanks to Florence Hedeen for chairing the committee and spending countless hours in the planning and preparation of this ambitious event which was held in place of a National NCTA Conference. Spring and summer hikes were well attended and we are
anticipating a great turnout for Winter Trails Day at Maplelag on Jan. 10th. This event also serves as our annual meeting. Next year’s plans include more trail improvements and construction of the loop trail from the Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s newly constructed “Discovery Center” to the NCT. One of the goals of this new center “is to create more opportunities for the youth and families of our local communities and to make meaningful connections with nature.” It is exciting that the North Country Trail will be an integral part of this goal and will introduce many of the area youth to the benefits of our trail and hiking. Next year’s hikes will be in coordination with the Itasca Moraine Chapter. “Challenge 165” will start on April 25th and continue twice a week to complete the 165+ contiguous miles from Hubbel Pond on Minnesota Hwy. 34 to Remer. Hikes will vary in length from 4.5 to 10 miles in length. Though we may not all be able to be “thru hikers” this is an excellent opportunity to explore our trail and be guided on our natural treasure. Our chapter would like to thank our President, Ray Vlasak, for his leadership, passion for the trail, and the thousands of hours he has given in bringing about the idea of a hiking trail and making it a reality in northwestern Minnesota. Karen Stenberg
Itasca Moraine Chapter’s workday crew with U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan at the NCT’s CR 12 trailhead in the Chippewa National Forest. Great turnout! Itasca Moraine volunteers at the newly finished Moccasin Lake Campsite, or, as Bruce Johnson said, campsite amenities and some pooped old dudes. “At least Matt has a camera along. The rest of us are lucky to be at the right place on the right day at the right time.”
Itasca Moraine Chapter—Minnesota 4 Last year an improvement plan was suggested for one of our Trailheads because some hikers became confused there. The area was studied and an improvement plan suggested and approved. The plan was implemented in June. Now one is “funneled” from the parking lot onto the NCT and into the forest. An Info sign and brochure box was relocated to help direct hikers to the trail. Along with the reconfigured Trailhead approximately one half-mile of trail rerouting was done thanks to 20 volunteers who joined the effort. Among the volunteers was 8th District US Representative Rick Nolan. For a few hours, in his well-worn work boots, he was one of us making trail. His joining us validates our work and desire to make the NCT the best it can be. Another major improvement involved six “regulars” installing a campsite. The group moved materials over one mile on the NCT and off trail for another quarter-mile. At the end of the day a latrine, fire ring, table/bench and two improved tent sites were in place. Next spring a Scout Troop is making plans to help build the Spur Trail to the campsite. The Scouts are also excited about camping there. This autumn our chapter completed a part of a project that has been underway for two years in the Chippewa National Forest. Sixty-four new signs have been installed. New signs include: 19 cedar routed, 32 Carsonite, 8 nine inch “rounded NCT triangle,” 4 Walker Trail Town related signs. We look forward to receiving the large highway signs identifying where the NCT crosses Minnesota State highways in the Chippewa National Forest. When they are installed, the 70 miles of the NCNST that the ITM Chapter maintains will be properly signed and user friendly. Next year we will improve a campsite with a table/bench and fire ring as well as improved tent sites. We also have two Leopold benches built and ready to place along the trail at scenic rest stops. Another huge hiking program has been put together for next season by Beth Trout (ITM Chapter) and Karen Stenberg (Laurentian Lakes Chapter). All are invited to “Take up the Challenge!” and hike 170 miles in 2015 on Wednesdays and Saturdays, beginning April 25th (no hikes in July) and ending September 23rd. There are 25 hikes scheduled, with segments from 4.3 to 10.2 miles long. Bruce Johnson
State of the Trail Superior Hiking Trail Association—Minnesota It was a good year. We were able to construct three miles of new trail in 4 Jay Cooke State Park, south of Duluth, Minnesota, as we work to build the Superior Hiking Trail to the Wisconsin border where it will meet up with trail being planned by the NCTA in Wisconsin. This new 5.9 mile section, from the Jay Cooke State Park Visitor Center to Wild Valley Road, will cross the famous Swinging Bridge and also share some nice state park trails. The new section will be officially opened on National Trails Day on June 6th, 2015, with hikes, a ribbon cutting, and of course treats. The new mileage of the Superior Hiking Trail from Jay Cooke State Park to just shy of the Canadian border will then be about 310 miles. We are still restoring the SHT from the June 2012 flood in the western part of Duluth. Our stalwart volunteers worked with our Duluth to Two Harbors Trail Maintenance Supervisor Larry Sampson to restore a section of trail that was washed out when earthen walls on a reservoir gave way and a deluge of water went flowing downhill. We’re also waiting patiently (sigh) for a section of highway to be rebuilt so we can take the trail off a temporary route mostly on pavement and put it back on the old route, and also gain back a trailhead parking lot. It was a late, wet, cold spring and there was a huge number of trees down on the trail from the saturated soils. We were able to use a hostel in Tofte to host chainsaw and swamper volunteers in May to clear trees when there was still 12˝ of snow on the trail in spots. They contributed 300 hours of labor over two weekends. Working with the Two Harbors to Canada Trail Maintenance Supervisor Han Taylor and his crew, volunteers were also able to replace a bridge in a remote area of the Devil Track River (over a mile carry of the lumber) and build elevated boardwalk where beavers had returned to an abandoned pond and flooded out the trail. We had volunteers who adopted 79 trail sections, 93 backcountry campsites, and 53 trailheads, and who worked on
Superior Hiking Trail Association rebuilding steep trail near Gill Creek. Photographer unknown.
numerous scheduled maintenance work projects throughout the year. We also offered ten guided hikes led throughout the year on different sections of the trail, led by volunteer hike leaders. All together volunteers put in over 6000 hours of dedicated service. I end this report every year the same way by noting that the Superior Hiking Trail is still not an “official” part of the North Country Trail since the re-route legislation died again in Congress, but some year this is going to happen! Gayle Coyer, SHTA Executive Director
The North Star
State of the Trail
The swinging bridge in Jay Cooke State Park is open again, repaired after the June 2012 flood.
Did you want to sign that trail register? There is almost no soil in this rocky area so the post was embedded right next to a tree. Oops.
State of theâ€†Trail
Brule-St. Croix Chapter volunteers installed a trailhead kiosk in the MacQuarrie Wetlands near the WisconsinMinnesota border.
Brule-St. Croix Chapterâ€”Wisconsin Solon Springs, Wisconsin, became a North Country Trail Town in 2014! The centerpiece of Brule-St. Croix Chapter activities in 2014 was the first North Country National Scenic Trail Day in September. On that day we officially welcomed Solon Springs, Wisconsin, as a North Country Trail Town. We presented Trail Town certificates to government leaders, hiked and picnicked, and enjoyed music from a duo of chapter members. The NCT has an excellent partnership with both the Town and Village of Solon Springs; more than a mile of certified trail crosses these local governments, and the very visible US Highway 53 Trailhead was built in partnership with the Village. Trail Town highway signs are up at all road entrances to Solon Springs. End-to-end hikers have been making good use of the Solon Springs Post Office, camping at Lucius Woods County Park, resupplying at the local stores, and refreshing at the village laundromat. Our 18th National Trails Day celebration in June was held in partnership with the Brule River State Forest and Pattison State Park. We provided trail information at public open house events, and sponsored two hikes on the Trail. The Solon Springs Hikers had an expanded schedule of walks on the trail, designed to attract new participants and potential members. Thirteen guided hikes showcased the Brule-St. Croix Portage, Brule Bog Boardwalk, Douglas County Wildlife Area, and St. Croix National Scenic Riverway segments. New trail construction has moved to the Nemadji River Valley in the far northwest of our chapter section, near the Minnesota border. There the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew opened a new base camp near the river, and built nearly 3 miles of trail across the University of Wisconsin-Superior MacQuarrie Wetlands. In the fall, chapter members installed a new kiosk at what will be the MacQuarrie Trailhead. Generous donations from the Oswald family will fund a wildlife viewing platform near the trailhead in memory of longtime chapter volunteer and officer Atley Oswald. The end of a long drought in our area presented challenges to our trail maintainers, including a necessary short reroute in the Bayfield County Forest when a long-dry pothole filled up and submerged the trail. Thanks to the extra efforts of our maintenance coordinators, all BSC trail segments were actively maintained during the year. We look forward in 2015 to opening additional trail in the Nemadji Valley, to completing several trailhead information kiosk projects, to finding new NCTA members in our area, and to a continued quality hiking experience in our region. Peter Nordgren
Solon Springs, Wisconsin became a North Country Trail Town in 2014.
State of the Trail
Heritage Chapter—Wisconsin Work weekends begin in May for the Heritage Chapter and end in November, with generally one work weekend per month. In 2014, we focused most of our trail building efforts in Copper Falls State Park where we built another 1.2 miles of new trail tread. This effectively leaves about 1.25 miles remaining to complete the North Country Trail’s passage through Copper Falls State Park for an eventual total of nearly nine miles through the park. We continued our intern program in 2014 with students from Northland College in Ashland, Wisconsin. Funding for our intern program has been made possible by a generous donation in 2007 from the Forest County Potawatomie Foundation. Those funds are nearly exhausted, but due to a generous donation by Heritage Life Member, Bethany Thomas (see recent edition of “North Country Tribute”), we will be able to continue the intern program in 2015 and beyond. Wisconsin’s Advocacy Chair and Heritage Secretary Laura DeGolier continues to build relations with Congressman Sean Duffy, developing opportunities to dialogue with all three chapters in Wisconsin and him in Washington, where
The North Star
State of the Trail
Chequamegon Chapter—Wisconsin Late snow delayed the Chequamegon Chapter’s Trail Maintenance start until May and the spring rainy season seemed to go on forever. The resulting pools of water would breed bumper crops of very aggressive mosquitoes well into early September. Thanks to the undaunting dedication of Chequamegon Chapter volunteers, we still made progress on our sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Most notable would be the installation of an engineered bridge to replace a bridge that collapsed over 5 years ago. The original bridge actually had small trees growing out of the rotted wood when it was removed by the USFS just before installation of the new one. The Chapter helped the USFS to install the new partially assembled bridge. The Chapter is thankful to have a more functional bridge in this location but hopes that future projects will not take this long to implement. Water, water everywhere! The extremely wet year prompted the Chapter to focus on a number of water problems. We extended a wooden puncheon to cover underwater and mucky NCT, did a number of minor trail re-routes to nearby higher ground, rebenched a few uphill sections of washed out NCT (extreme tread creep), and added a few new wooden puncheon where none was needed before. The Chapter continued to add more register boxes, destination signs and interpretive signs this year. We had a very successful National Trails Day with newer member and naturalist Emily Stone (Cable Natural History Museum) doing trail and nature interpretation. The problem with this event would be the need for mosquito head nets and bug shirts. We will be putting more emphasis on the “North
New pre-constructed bridge being installed (5th Section out of 6), the one that took five years to materialize.
Country National Scenic Trail Day” next year, when there are fewer bugs in the fall. The Chequamegon Chapter has a number of trail re-routes in the approval stage for 2015. These are re-routes that by-pass normally wet/mucky sections of NCT (underwater part of this last year) and may require a couple of short wooden puncheon. Eli Rosenstein, USFS Trails Tech – Great Divide District, had a lot to do with this progress that seems to be on a fast track. We are very thankful! Volunteers are hoping for fewer mosquitoes this coming year. They were even biting through 40% Deet at one point later in the trail maintenance season (small super mosquitoes?). Marty Swank
he was presented with a “Red Plaid Nation” bandana. Duffy’s district includes the entire Wisconsin section of NCT. The advocacy group is also developing a close working relationship with Wisconsin’s U.S Senator Tammy Baldwin on key issues concerning the entire NCT. The Heritage goals for 2015 are: 1. To complete the building of the new trail in Copper Falls State Park. 2. Complete a small section of new trail east of Casey Sag Road. 3. Begin construction of trail tread heading east out of Copper Falls State Park. 4. Rough-cut and blaze a new trail section heading north of Upson Lake. This is all in addition to our routine and ongoing maintenance efforts. The rough-cut/blazing mentioned above refers to the approved re-route from Upson Lake north to Superior Falls at the Wisconsin–Michigan border. Michael Stafford
State of the Trail Ni-Miikanaake Chapter—Upper Michigan There is an old expression “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Wonder if there is a grant for a lemonade stand? The chapter had some great projects planned for spring, summer and fall. Another old expression: “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay.” The Great Plans: Install 5 Leopold benches on the trail, build 50 feet of boardwalk and two more bridges, build a cable bridge, and make a couple reroutes and do general trail maintenance of mowing, brushing and blazing. The Lemons: Biggest lemon was Mother Nature and all the rainy weather. We had water standing in places that have not been wet for years. Also, new people to work with in the US Forest Service and the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park had different viewpoints on how things will happen.
Peter Wolfe Chapter—Upper Michigan In 2014, there were two things the PWC can be particularly proud of. Work was begun on making handicapped-accessible our very popular O Kun de Kun Falls trail, and for the first time, all of our chapter’s trail was maintained by adopters, a Michigan Tech student volunteer group helping one day, and a small roving crew of PWC volunteers. That is over 100 trail miles including several spur access trails. This is a big accomplishment for us, in part because we received over 300 inches of snow last winter. Our heavy annual snowfall drops many trees and branches down on the trail and shortens up our working season waiting for snow melt! By maintained, we mean that the trail is now blazed and cleared so hikers will be able to stay on it and are not likely to get lost in our remote section of trail. We hope to keep working on the trail, not only to make it findable and hikeable as it is now, but to bring it up to NCT width and height standards. However, we are limited by our small population, because most of our volunteer base lives an hour or more from our trail, and by our heavy annual snowfall and short work season. We have read in recent NCT hikers’ blogs that they have avoided our section of the NCT because of the problems a thru hiker in 2013 wrote about; we have worked very hard to correct those trail blazing problems and hope hikers will give our beautiful trail a hike! The PWC conducted two paint blazing workshops this summer led by Arlyn and Sandy Aronson; we hope to have all our trail adopters partake in such training. We hosted four fun trail hikes, led respectively by Doug Welker, Marjory Johnston, Dan Schneider, and guest leader Michigan Tech Anthropological Archaeologist Dr. Patrick Martin. We have been updating the PWC webpage this year along with a GPS chart showing intersections and features of interest on our trail: northcountrytrail.org/pwf
Another old expression: "When you’re butt deep in alligators it’s hard to remember your original idea was to drain the swamp." No alligators and it wasn’t a swamp, but some deep mud holes. We did manage a few work sessions and got to know some of the new people. We had a nice hike along the Black River and found that the high water from the spring runoff had chewed away at the bank, which consumed the trail in a few places. No major reroutes, just cleared a new path farther back from the river bank. We did encounter a number of those new wet areas and have a bridge that needs to be replaced. We also did about 4 miles on an older section of the trail that required sawyers, whom the forest service provided, clearing a number of blowdowns and we also reblazed that stretch. We managed to slog through those wet areas and get back to our vehicles just as it started to rain again. We are now enjoying an abundance of snow and it is time to start planning for next year. It’s not like we don’t have a list of things that need to be done, leftover from last year! Dick Swanson
Michigan Tech Students helped work on the Peter Wolfe Chapter’s trail on their Fall Volunteer Service Day.
No new trail or structures were built in 2014. We have several streams and a river for which we hope the Forest Service will provide bridges in the near future. We have submitted a trail reroute that would utilize a road bridge to avoid a dangerous river crossing. We hope it will be approved by the Forest Service so we can build that trail reroute this summer. Scouting continues going East of US-41 to connect the last 15 miles in the PWC area to Marquette’s North Country Trail Hikers Chapter’s trail and if we can, we will begin work on that new trail this summer also! We would like to place more …Continued on page 34 January-March 2015
State of the Trail Connie Julien
Peter Wolfe Chapter Continued… Carsonite posts at trailheads and intersections directing hikers and identifying the NCT, and put in puncheon on a number of wet sections, and maintain older bridges and crossings over beaver dams. We could use crews to help with those projects! We can put up individuals or crews if they are willing to come volunteer for a day or a week or all summer in the beautiful Upper Peninsula! In conclusion, the Peter Wolfe Chapter had a very busy 2014, and we have plans for a very productive 2015, especially if we can find help with these larger projects! Connie Julien, President
Work is starting to make the Peter Wolfe Chapter’s O Kun de Kun Falls trail accessible to just about every mobility capacity.
North Country Trail Hikers Chapter—Upper Michigan The 2014 Trail Maintenance season … wow, what a year, starting with a late snow melt in May and ending with an early snow drop in November. However, true to our primary goal for the chapter, our ever-dwindling numbers of trail adopters and crew successfully maintained one hundred percent of our existing trail. Special heartfelt thanks go to each of them along with an open invitation for others to join us next season. In addition, we are proud to announce that we finally closed the gap in our trail north of the Silver Lake Basin. This has been an on-going project for years and with the help of some young folks, hikers can now traverse this rugged and remote, but beautiful segment of trail with no bushwhacking needed. The City of Marquette became an official NCTA Trail Town in January. With only 5 towns (St. Ignace, Grand Marais, Munising, Marquette, and Ironwood) across the entire Upper Peninsula that
Six campers and two counselors from Crystalaire Adventures. Thank you for your help maintaining the McCormick Wilderness.
The North Star
State of the Trail
host a portion of the Trail, and none going west from Marquette until Ironwood, Marquette’s joining the ranks of NCTA’s Trail Towns is important. Other accomplishments for the year include: • Two well-attended meetings of trail adopters and crew members, refreshing and updating on responsibilities, safety, and plans for the trail maintenance and building season. • A booth at the UP Sports Show. • Powell Township Schools 5th-8th grade students hiking from the Elliott Donnelley Wilderness all the way into Marquette on the NCT over 4 mornings. • Active participation in the “We Build Trail in Low Places” video, including writing our own chorus, “We Build Trail in Snowy Places.” • Three General Membership meetings, with interesting programs, including a celebration of our chapter’s 25th anniversary. • Two hikes celebrating National Trails Day in conjunction with the Noquemanon Trail Network • A 4-month series of 3rd Sunday hikes on various segments of the NCT. • A Softies Hike this fall that took us into our eastern neighbor’s area, the Superior Shoreline Chapter. • Media attention from both The Mining Journal and two local TV stations for Gail Lowe’s stop in Marquette, as well as at other times throughout the year. • Our annual day trip on Labor Day to walk the Big Mac Bridge where we pay for the 7-state logo printed on the back of the certificates given to all walkers – approximately 40,000 this year. • A“Celebrate Walking in Marquette” walk on the first NCNST Trails Day, September 27. • A holiday breakfast social.
State of the Trail Lorana Jinkerson
Decked out in our red plaid, Don Miller, Norma and Jim Matteson, Eric Rehorst, and Jeanne Sekely ready themselves to take part in our contribution to the trailwide music video.
Superior Shoreline Chapter—Upper Michigan What better time to write the State of the Trail than the middle of a major blizzard with the temperature a high of 5 degrees and a wind chill 25 below and falling? The major artery through town to the next community, Marquette, is closed due to the wind and snow blowing off Lake Superior with visibility down to zero. Tractor/trailers are parked along the sides of the road with their engines running. Of course, the trail has been under snow since mid-November when 58.5 inches of snow fell in two weeks preventing any reasonable access to the trail. The Upper Peninsula of Michigan is a study of contrasts. In winter one has the beauty and serenity of the white expanses of snow and gale force winds off the Big Lake. Unless and until the lake freezes across or mostly so, the moisture is picked off the water and slammed into the landmass as snow. In summer thundering waves driven by the wind give
North Country Trail Hikers Chapter Continued… Finally, we were blessed to have two different groups of young people help us out for a few days. A group of 7 campers and 2 counselors from Crystalaire Adventures from downstate Frankfort arrived in the middle of July to camp out in the McCormick Wilderness. As part of their 3-week trip, they volunteered to help us with maintenance of the McCormick Wilderness segment for 3 days. Then in August, we benefited from 6 very strong members of the Great Lakes Conservation Corps provided to us by the Superior Watershed Partnership to help with closing the gap from Cole’s Creek eastward to above the Silver Lake Basin. We really appreciated all the help from these young people. We are looking forward to 2015 and furthering the goals of the NCTA. Lorana Jinkerson
5th-8th graders from Powell Township Schools on a section of the NCT they hiked.
Don Elzinga, Gene Elzinga, Chris Wise, Shirley LaBonte and Denise Herron with their 25th Anniversary certificates and ready to eat cake! Thank you so much for starting our chapter and sticking with it for a long time. Unable to attend were: Donald Beattie, Dan Hornbogen, Peter and Paula Klima, Martha Leppanen and Jan Lindstrom.
rise to seiches or rises in water surface; rising water levels make it easier for not only commercial shipping but also for recreational boaters to travel along the coast of the Big Lake with less danger of striking a submerged object. The rising water levels and the winds that seem so ever present also result in erosion on a gigantic scale that one cannot fully appreciate, or fear, until one has walked our trail along the Lake Superior shoreline set back a seemingly safe distance from the precipice that leads down to the shore below. The significantly higher water levels experienced in 2014 in concert with the winds that are part of the legend of the Lake took more than a toll on our trail. From the mouth of the Two Hearted River made famous by Hemingway and west toward Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore our Chapter lost approximately 13 miles of trail. Trail destruction along that section of our trail is something to which we have grown accustomed. In 2012 we experienced the largest wildfire in Michigan history that completely destroyed several miles of …Continued on page 36
State of the Trail Superior Shoreline Chapter Continued… trail. In July 2014 farther west due to erosion we again relocated a few miles of our trail away from another bluff area and into and through the campground of Muskallonge State Park. The deteriorating conditions of the trail even necessitated a hastily planned reconstruction of the Park Headquarters, a project that should be completed by Spring 2015. Our alert to a serious problem along the 13 miles came from a hiker who reported terrible trail conditions. Erosion and waves chewed into the bluff below the precipice causing collapse not merely in multiple places but for most of the 13 miles, trees that lost root grasp fell onto the trail obliterating the footpath that was tenuous at best, and what was left of the trail became an obstacle course of tree hurdles. Most of this damage occurred between August 1 and the end of September 2015. Our Chapter’s trail brackets Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the east and on the west. The west end normally
The North Star
State of the Trail
Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter—Upper Michigan Our Chapter opened 2014 with the first annual St. Ignace Trail Town event in January. “Hike the Hiawatha and Stomp the Park” began with guided NCT hikes in Hiawatha National Forest. The treks ended at a bonfire at the trailhead. Late afternoon HSS hike leaders guided guests from the Straits State Park parking area to a Mackinac Bridge view and down to the beach where the Park provided a bonfire with hot chocolate and s’mores. Revelers enjoyed the lighting of the Mackinac Bridge and returned to their vehicles via a lantern lit trail! The end of the day was celebrated with dinner at the Driftwood Restaurant, an NCTA Business Member. Bill and Ann Courtois hosted the HSS/NCT display at Quiet Waters Symposium at Michigan State University in March, while Lake Superior State University student Harry Dittrich presented his senior project, “Duck Lake Fire—One Cubic Foot At a Time,” at the HSS Annual Dinner and Hike April 12th. In July Tahquamenon Falls State Park and the US Forest Service hosted the Great Lakes Relay on the NCT from Tahquamenon Falls State Park to St. Ignace. Eight hundred runners ran in teams of 10. HSS along with the Great Lakes Relay sponsors cleared the trail for the run. The runners came from across the country and were amazed by the beauty of the NCT. HSS is a member of the Tahquamenon Scenic Byway (TSB) committee. The byway extends on Highway M-123 from Newberry to Paradise and back to M-28. The NCT intersects the byway crossing M-123 twice and bisects Tahquamenon Falls and Muskallonge State Parks as well as the Eastern Upper Peninsula Ecosystem forest. Stan and Kay Kujawa attended two TSB ribbon cutting ceremonies in October. HSS celebrated Michigan Trails Week with a Tahqua Trail Project four day work session. Fifteen volunteers reclaimed NCT trail tread and constructed eight boardwalk structures over gullies. The project is located in Tahquamenon Falls State Park near the River Mouth Campground. The goal is to move the trail off Tahqua Trail road back to the original location along the river. Local residents have already adopted the care of the three mile completed section and are expressing great interest and support
gives our crews a respite as the trail is considerably farther away from the shore of the Big Lake situated in the Hiawatha National Forest and is generally viewed as well protected. Perhaps as an omen of things to come, this normally tranquil area of forest with towering hardwoods and pines experienced recurrent high winds in the summer of 2014 necessitating that 20 miles of the trail be cleared of fallen trees 6 times in less than 8 weeks. Just as we completed the 6th clearing we learned of the destruction on the east end of our trail along those 13 miles. As a final note to this State of the Trail, the Chapter extends a thank you to Ed, Karla, Craig, Dennis, Kent, Mary, Greg, Tim, Ken, Barb, Carol, Pat, Aden and the others for all of their efforts on the trail in 2014 and we would be remiss if we did not acknowledge Barb, Carol, Jo and Alma who have agreed to form the nucleus of the team that will undertake trail reconstruction in the spring. More on that team in future issues! Tim Hass
Tahqua Trail Project: Stan Kujawa, Dan Betcher, Brook Alloway, Gail Glendon, Bill Courtois
for the project. One cottager cleared his favorite section of trail before the work crew arrived. Funding for the project was from an Upper Peninsula Sustainable Forest and Wildlife Fund grant and a fiscal year 2014 NPS Project Funding Request. The crew took the project more than one year ahead of schedule by building a structure that was scheduled for the summer of 2016! HSS celebrated North Country National Scenic Trail Day with Tahquamenon Falls State Park. Park Interpreter Theresa Neal arranged for bus shuttle transportation between the Upper and Lower Falls while HSS led hikes between the falls and manned a NCTA display with activities for children. Over 150 hikers used the shuttles. The day was wrapped with a late lunch at the Tahquamenon Falls Pub and Brewery. …Continued on page 37
State of the Trail Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter Continued… Tom Walker is the coordinator for the Little Bear Arena Pond project. HSS is working with the arena and Trail Town St. Ignace on a larger project that includes a hiking trail around the pond. The initial trail tread has been built. The NCT portion is on the west side of the pond. Recent high water levels have created the need for two boardwalk structures. The materials were funded by the tri-county Wellness Coalition supported by the Sault Tribe. The Wellness Coalition has also funded HSS in a new smart phone and computer “Helper, Helper” volunteer program for the St. Ignace area. This project is in its initial stages. HSS has a seat on the Wellness Coalition committee. The Little Bear Creek Project with the USFS is ready for release to HSS. This reroute of the NCT will delete an aging bridge and more than 3000 feet of dangerous boardwalk. The USFS has allowed use of the “temporary route” for the last three summers. In the spring of 2015 Eagle Scout candidate Spencer Carlson plans to construct a short section of boardwalk and a quarter mile or more of new trail tread. Dennis Peronto, Mary Lynn Swiderski, Walt and Kathy Colyer
O’Brien Pond with boardwalk and beaver deceiver. Beaver dam on right. Who gets to walk in deep water to install the intake end and its cage?
…Continued on page 38
Jordan Valley 45° Chapter—Lower Michigan At our annual meeting in January we were privileged to have Bruce Matthews as our featured speaker! We were pleased with his update on the NCTA, and his preview of “We Build Trail In Low Places” video. Our annual “Big Foot” award went to Ken Phillips for his efforts in obtaining DNR/DEQ permits to support our trail projects. Our annual election was postponed to the May meeting due to the bad weather (remember?). We have a new treasurer, Todd Winnell, and a new chapter secretary, Mary Campbell. We again represented the NCTA at the Quiet Waters Symposium in East Lansing in March (along with W. Michigan and Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore chapters). On National Trails Day we held our Second Annual Petoskey Trail Town Celebration in the Bear River Recreation area with speeches, booths, food, prizes, music, games and hikes. Our Petoskey Trail Town Coordinator, Jen Winnell, was again successful in enlisting many local sponsors for the event. Despite a last-minute relocation, attendance was up from 2013, and we are looking forward to even larger crowds in years to come. In 2014 we started erecting new registration boxes along the trail. A prototype was planted in the Jordan Valley in May, and then two more were installed near Petoskey in August. These boxes provide a registration book, brochures, and a distance sign to nearby trail points. Trail supporters Doug and Pam Boor have provided access to their land, and donated a shelter (“yurt”) with which to establish a “Skyline Camp” near the trail south of Petoskey. In June we held a work day to build new spur trails to the camp site and to a water source. We held another work day on NCNST day in September during which the shelter was partly erected and site clearing was done. Development will continue in 2015. Besides being a welcome stopping point for longer distance hikers,
manned the St. Ignace Trail Town Center one day a week all summer long while other volunteers filled in the remainder of the week. In August the Trail Town Center enjoyed a visit from the Michigan Travel Commission committee on their way to Marquette for a workshop. HSS continued their monthly hikes and pizza buffet and chapter meetings throughout 2014. Volunteers attended and or sat on the EUP Weed Management, USFS RAC, St. Ignace Events, Tahquamenon Scenic Byway, Great Waters, and Wellness Coalition committees. They also led hikes, manned the display at events including Quiet Waters and two back to school back pack events, maintained their Adopt A Section portion of the NCT, and much more. Greg Smith serves as our faithful webmaster updating the website monthly while Tom Walker keeps our Facebook page up to date and interesting. We are fast approaching 1000 Likes. HSS also thanks Hiawatha National Forest, Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and the Eastern Upper Peninsula Ecosystem for their generous support of the North Country National Scenic Trail. Kay Kujawa President and Communications Coordinator
L-R, Peg Jones, Jane and Bill Wehrenberg, Mary Campbell, Doug Boor (at the spring) grubbing Skyline Camp spur trail to water source.
State of the Trail Duane Lawton
Jordan Valley 45° Chapter Continued… the Skyline Camp will be a draw for local youth groups and should increase awareness and interest in the NCT and the NCTA. We finally were able to resolve the trail closure at O’Brien Pond. Thanks to permit work by Ken Phillips, we held a work weekend in early September and built a “beaver deceiver” and a boardwalk to bypass the beaver damage. A beaver deceiver is a drain pipe through the beaver dam, with the inlet protected in a fenced area so that the beavers can’t block it. Several of us camped on site for the four day effort, and Connie Allen graciously performed chuckwagon duties to keep us well fed. Our candidate NPS safety-related trail rerouting project to move the trail from the shoulder of US-131 into the State Forest is slowly progressing. We revised and reflagged the proposed route twice in 2014, the latest with Jeff McCusker in September. Jeff is finalizing an NPS OLR (“Optimal Location Review”) document. Bi-monthly chapter meetings continue, and we had an interesting hiking presentation at each. We continue to publish our chapter newsletter on opposite months, thanks to our editor Amy Wilks. Our website is also being maintained, thanks to Josh Berlo. In September 2013, the bridge at the beaver ponds in the Jordan Valley collapsed. A detour has been posted by the DNR. As we work with the DNR to determine what the long term resolution will be, we certainly have ample opportunity for work and fun in 2015. Duane Lawton
New series of signs, hiker scale, fit on front of the register boxes, paid for with chapter funds. Art work is donated, aluminum sign is 9˝ X 11˝; we pay $65, but will get a retroactive price break to $35 when we order 18.
Josh Berlo signing in at one of our new register boxes. The new destination sign is on the front, visible when closed up.
Grand Traverse Hiking Club—Lower Michigan Warren were Utilizing the MDOT Roadside Park immensely near the Manistee River on US 131 helpful on this project enabled the Grand Traverse Hiking Club with Patty designated as the to route the trail under the highway bridge new Sector Coordinator. adjacent to the river as part of the two-year With the large amount Fife Lake Project. Once the large boulders of snowfall this past winter were removed the route continued through and flooding of the Manistee the roadside park making available the River, we had an unexpected conveniences of water, bathrooms, tables happening, a mudslide that eliminated and parking. The trail continues east along a steep portion of the NCT. Ed Morse a ridge above the river and then north to and Arlen Matson then struggled to scale the community of Fife Lake following Fife the clay-laden hillside with pin flags after Lake Creek. When the 13 mile reroute the first tread route had to be partially had been completed, the construction abandoned due to the slippery clay. Late features included a sixty-five foot bridge, 3 fall saw the correction finally completed. sixteen foot puncheons, 3 kiosks, a thirtyThe nearby creek and tent site at the top of five foot boardwalk and 5 benches. Under the hill make this a picturesque camping the leadership of Dick Naperala, Field spot. Trails Coordinator, and working with the A problem area at the corner of No. 17 community of Fife Lake, the original 8 and No. 19 Roads due to ATV damage, miles of the NCT were then incorporated some natural erosion and unauthorized into a 23 mile loop trail. Patty and Dave Left: Another picture of one of the 5 benches Grand Traverse Hiking Club installed on the new 13 mile Fife Lake Reroute. This now makes a total of 19 benches we have placed on the 100 miles of the NCT we maintain.
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State of the Trail Arlen Matson
Grand Traverse Hiking Club Continued… vehicle camping led Jerry Marek, Sector Coordinator, to supervise the installation of a 165 foot fence. With the NCT caving-in and being hazardous for hikers, Boy Scout Troop 30 led by Scout Jerry Allen Marek, completed the fencing. This was his Eagle Scout Project in which he acquired the materials and labor. The Cadillac DNR was instrumental in having heavy equipment restructure the ATV/ camper damage. The Cadillac State Park contributed recycled posts and railings. Our seven sector coordinators, 5 sawyers, brush mowing team, kiosk managers and thirty plus adopters continued to pursue their responsibilities and maintain our 100 miles of trail. Arlen Matson, Administrative Trails Coordinator for 21 years, and ably assisted by his wife, Arlene, finally abdicated most of his responsibilities this fall as he now moves toward “Going on 90” but a ways to go yet. Ed Morse is now the Tool Shuttle Courier, Jerry Marek the Trail Crew Communicator, and James Thomas, the Tool Trailer Manager. James and a friend begin their NCNST hike in North Dakota this spring. Arlen Matson
Sometimes the only way to bridge water is to stand right in it.
Below, L-R: Spirit of the Woods Chapter’s Rich Ferguson, Steve Webster, and Brian Buchanan winching the Vince Smith bridge upstream. Photo by Lauren Bach. Spirit of the Woods’ story is on the next page.
State of the Trail
Western Michigan Chapter—Lower Michigan I would like to say that we bookended a year of very hard work between two great parties. And that would be partly true. But not quite. Between the end of the “snowpalypse” winter of 2014 and the beginning of the first great party, there was a great deal of work done. Let’s see; there was… • Turning the planned reroute down a beech covered hillside near the schoolhouse into reality. • Cleaning the Birch Grove schoolhouse near White Cloud. • Meeting folks at the Newaygo County Expo. • Touching up the “White Cloud Loop” prior to the first great party. • Starting a beautiful new section of trail in Fallasburg Park. Then there was that party !! National Trails Day, showing off a new County Park, listening to bureacrats, listening to politicians, cutting ribbons with politicians, shmoozing with politicians, showing off the tool trailer, teaching about backpacking, eating, yes, there was even some hiking. It WAS a great party ! (I did hear that some of the trail crew snuck away with timbers and 2˝ X 12˝s to raise part of the trail out of a low spot.)
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Trail road signs on Michigan State Highway 10 which had been missing for years. Perseverance pays off! We managed to coordinate with a local mountain bike club and together presented a united front against an event that potentially would have put 350 mountain bikes on the North Country Trail in a timed event. The event would have been held on sections of the trail where the Forest Service currently allows mountain bikes. The Forest Service was seeking public opinion and our combined negative opinions persuaded the promoter to withdraw his request. In the words of one of the mountain bikers, “We think the North Country Trail is special, and we think that [so many] bikes would damage both the trail tread and the spirit of isolation we value when we are out on the trail.” Loren Bach
Spirit of the Woods Chapter—Lower Michigan The Spirit of the Woods Chapter had a fairly quiet year. Two board members (Dave Martus, Secretary and Loren Bach, President) were attempting a cross-country bike ride so Brian Buchanan (Treasurer), Steve Meyer (Vice President), and Joan Young kept the chapter activities going in their absence. Brian was Trail Coordinator and had several trail workdays. Steve handled chapter communications and Joan led hikes on the first Saturday those months. On one of the notable trail work days in early August a small crew straightened the Vince Smith bridge over the Sauble River by winching the bridge a little straighter and adding larger support beams to decrease the sway in the bridge deck. The day was warm which made for a nice day in the water, including some mud…We also did about 60 feet of new boardwalk and created some seating on one existing boardwalk. Our monthly hikes are being well attended. Our publicity is paying off. One suggestion for other chapters is to join or create a Meetup group in your area. (See meetup.com) In February we had our annual “Chili Feed” at a local cross country ski area near us. This event was quite popular as we will feed anyone who is in the heated trail shelter at noon. We set up a display for our chapter and garner email addresses to add to our activity list. Joan Young managed to buttonhole a state legislative representative and got a crucial phone number to connect with a state transportation representative. She then in turn got the Forest Service to provide funding to re-install North Country
Spirit of the Woods’ Steve Webster by the end of bridge moving day.
Then it was back to work: • Hosting an open house in Lowell, trailwork in Lowell, a hike in Lowell • Rerouting trail near Condon Lake • Rerouting trail near Newaygo • Raising the trail out of the muck near White Cloud • Hauling in lumber to rebuild a bridge that withstood a 100 year flood but did not withstand the 150 year old maple tree that plopped itself down in the middle of the span • Rebuilding said bridge Then we had a great holiday party when long distance hikers Tim and Nancy showed us beautiful slides of their Pacific Crest Trail hike. Pretty slick how we coordinated that with the release of the Movie Wild and the NPR trail magic feature on the PCT. Then it was back to work, planning how to route the trail through Northeast Kent County with local community leaders. Come and join us; we work hard and we play hard. Chuck Vannette
State of the Trail Chief Noonday Chapter—Lower Michigan After about 12 years of effort, the first section of the Calhoun County Trailway was completed, with a ribbon cutting in November. This section connects the Ott Biological Preserve, Kimball Pines, and Historic Bridges Park to each other, and to the Battle Creek Linear Park via a continuous multi-use path that our Trail is allowed to divert from in places. Tom Garnett led the charge for this project in the early years, and Ron Sootsman has played a major role in more recent years. The Calhoun County Trailway Alliance encompasses several other constituencies as well, and we are also grateful for their efforts. When we look at the scope of the effort expended to get that segment done, and compare it to all we still need to accomplish, it does appear overwhelming, but we will eat this elephant one bite at a time. In 2015 we look forward to an extension of the Paul Henry Thornapple Trail, which we will share going north out of downtown Middleville. This has been largely the efforts of the Village of Middleville and the Thornapple Trail Association, with several business partners.
Buckeye Trail Association—Ohio Another great year on the Buckeye Trail and North Country Trail in Ohio… but you knew we’d say that! There is honestly too much to write about, but here are a few highlights. Despite our claims to the southernmost stretch of the North Country Trail, it is still too cold to build trail in winter in southern Ohio, so we settle for hiking it! The BTA has initiated a series of Winter hikes over 50 years that include Hocking Hills, Burr Oak, Findlay, Hueston Woods, and Caesar Creek State Parks. Partners like the Miami & Erie Canal Corridor Association are picking up the slack with a winter hike series of their own along the canal in western Ohio. The Hocking Hills Winter Hike regularly sees close to 5,000 hikers anxious to see the ice formations on the cliffs and waterfalls near the trail, while the others are not that big. When Spring sprang this past year we hit the trail again with nearly 300 participants at Buckeye TrailFest roving through the Hocking Hills, and the Buckeye Trail Crew back in the swing of their work party schedule. Highlights from the Crew include opening up a 2 mile segment in The Nature Conservancy’s 16,000 acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve System. This is part of another epic 10-15 mile trail project at the southernmost point of the BT and NCNST connecting with Shawnee State Forest, the “little Smokies.” Other highlights include 2 new miles on the ground through Boch Hollow Nature Preserve at the edge of the Hocking Hills region which will officially open when the total 4 mile project is completed, perhaps this year. A smaller but important project was the reopening of the Miami & Erie Canal Towpath into the old canal town of Ottoville in western Ohio, the first time that part of the towpath has been opened to transportation since the early 1900’s!
Our Trail crew rebuilt a roughly 250 foot section of puncheon in the Yankee Springs Recreation Area, and has begun rebuilding sections of the puncheon in Fort Custer National Cemetery. Our adopters continue to do a great job keeping our Trail in shape. We have been distributing our new series of brochures designed to be useful to recipients in the area we are targeting, with 5 versions currently in use. Audrey Van Strien won our 5th Annual Chief Noonday Hiker Challenge, with 301 miles in 2013. Our member Tom Ackerman hiked the entire Lower Peninsula this year, and is our current leader at 601 miles for 2014. We have continued with a pretty heavy schedule promoting the Trail via the outreach opportunities that are offered to us, with almost all of our active members involved in at least one opportunity during the year. Our Facebook “likes” are going up fast, with 307, and this medium has allowed more folks to know what we are planning. Attendance at our monthly hikes has continued to grow, and we will be kicking off 2015 with our 4th Shoe Year’s Day Hike in partnership with Yankee Springs Recreation Area. Larry Pio
Buckeye Trail Association Hocking Hills Winter Hike at Hocking Hills State Park and State Forest.
Speaking of Towns, the Buckeye Trail Town program continues to grow legs. The program is a parallel to the NCTA program initiated at the same time. Xenia and Piqua joined Milford and Dayton as our 3rd and 4th official Buckeye & North Country Trail Towns this year and enthusiasm for the concept is growing. Applebee’s in Xenia even included the Trail Town logo in their new interior décor… and you know when you’ve made it at Applebee’s, you have arrived! Each of the Towns has been very welcoming and supportive of the Trail, and they understand they have a role to play in the continued improvement of the program itself. …Continued on page 42 January-March 2015
State of the Trail Eric Albrecht
Buckeye Trail Crew at Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve in Hocking County, using Stihl Yard Boss tillers to help distribute the dirt on long benching jobs.
Buckeye Trail Association Continued… Another huge accomplishment for the BTA in 2014 was the publication of a new and improved edition of our guidebook Follow the Blue Blazes, by Bob and Connie Pond. It took a lot of cooperation among many volunteers that resulted in a full color display of the highlights of the BT with new hikes, maps, gps coordinates, and a backpacking trip. Where are we going with the BT and BTA? Well, we’re focusing a lot of our effort on building up our volunteer program so that we can better support, recruit and celebrate our volunteer corps. This will take a lot of time, back room work, training, fundraising and planning. Our membership really stepped up by achieving our fall appeal goal in support of BTA volunteers. Thanks to the NCTA Field Grant program we’ll be trying to institute a Trail Adopter Training series this upcoming spring and summer that we hope to continue and improve in years to come. If you want to learn about chainsaw use and safety, building bridges, working with boulders, trail design and layout, organizing volunteers and using digital technology we want to make it as simple as signing up and showing up in Shawnee, Ohio (where our office and Wayne National Forest partners are). We are also trying to reach out to audiences that are off the trail by organizing a series of 5K fun run/walks as a benefit for the BTA. So far we have two organized in Nelsonville and Newark, Ohio. Neither is on the trail, so we’re trying to bring the trail to them.
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Thanks to funding from the National Park Service we’ve been able to keep Richard Lutz around and he’s been working like a madman on submission of “Optimal Location Reviews” identifying trail protection priorities in Ohio. In addition to increasing the connectivity of the BT and NCNST through land protection one major focus in the year ahead will be to increase the “backpackability” of the BT by focusing on those areas in need of a strategically placed campsite. We’ll continue reacting to opportunities that present themselves, but we agree that some of the best ambassadors of the vision of the BT and NCT are long distance hikers on the trail and we want to encourage more of that use. The Buckeye Trail on its own is a microcosm of the North Country Trail with a shared vision and mission. We’d be happy to have you down on the canals, the foothills of Appalachia, in our Trail Towns and on our Buckeye Trail Crew whenever you get a chance. We’d love to have trail enthusiasts like you involved in our part of the North Country Trail, and so we’re offering a 20% discount on our membership contribution so that NCTA members could more easily support two great organizations. Don’t forget to come visit us at Buckeye TrailFest May 14-17 near New Bremen on the Miami & Erie Canal this Spring! Andrew Bashaw
State of the Trail
The Buckeye trail crew has been looking over countryside like this at the Edge of Appalachia Nature Preserve, where we'll soon be building more trail. Photo by Andrew Bashaw.
…Continued on page 44 www.northcountrytrail.org
Wampum Chapter—Pennsylvania Wampum Chapter members and supporters have contributed over 2,500 hours this year to building, maintaining, and promoting the North Country National Scenic Trail in Beaver and Lawrence Counties of Pennsylvania. Highlights for our organization in 2014 include: • Chapter members, the Beaver County Commissioners, town officials, and Bruce Matthews, Executive Director of the NCTA, dedicated Darlington as an official Trail Town in a May ceremony. Funding for two Trail Town kiosks, which were constructed by chapter volunteers, was provided by the Beaver County commissioners and Beaver County Tourism board. • Completed negotiations and reached agreements with seven landowners in Beaver County allowing the chapter to begin construction of a new 2.5-mile segment of off-road trail between Darlington and the Ohio state line. • Worked with the Wampum Revitalization Committee on their project to convert an abandoned train station property into a town park/NCT trailhead by contributing an outside water fountain to the project with financial support provided by the Lawrence County commissioners.
Wampum Chapter trailhead sign installation along Route 168 in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.
State of the Trail Wampum Chapter Continued… • Participated in six community outreach events, including Darlington Days, the Ellwood City Earth Day Celebration, the McConnell’s Mill Heritage Festival, the Venango County Fair, Moraine State Park’s Get Outdoors Day, and the Wounded Warrior Project December hike to inform local residents about the North Country Trail, recruit new members, and raise funds for the chapter. • The Wampum Chapter hosted both Student Conservation Association and Keystone Trails Association Trail Care crews to make improvements on sections of our pathway at McConnell’s Mill State Park and at Pa. Game Lands 285.
Wampum Chapter relocated this shelter and built a new picnic table at Watt’s Mill.
• We maintained a regular monthly Wampum Chapter Community Hike schedule, publicized in the local newspapers, through the local tourism boards, and on social media. Our annual Pumpkin Pie Hike was held in October in Beaver County and we established the new annual “Hot Dog Roast” hike to be held each year in the winter in Lawrence County. • We created a Wampum Chapter Meetup group to publicize and grow participation in chapter hikes, work days, meetings, and social events. • Volunteers relocated our hiking shelter 600 yards through the woods along the North Fork of the Little Beaver Creek to a more appropriate location for accommodating hikers and chapter events. A picnic table and custom-made benches were added to the setup creating a pleasant overnight spot for travelers. • The chapter constructed and installed two routed trailhead signs and five other routed directional and mileage signs along our sections of North Country Trail. • Chapter members hosted two long-distance hikers passing through the area this season, one on a transcontinental journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific involving our part of the NCT, and “Chosen Hiker” Gail Lowe on her thru-hike of the entire NCT. • The Wampum Chapter volunteers maintained a regular, weekly trail work schedule which involved the basic maintenance chores of mowing, pruning, and clearing blow downs along our off-road sections, upgrading two bridges along our route, reblazing five miles of woods trail, and participating in the Great American Cleanup of Pennsylvania along a mile of one of our road walk sections. Community support, including that of local government, grows each year, and for that we are appreciative. Dave Brewer
Butler County Chapter—Pennsylvania Butler County Chapter of the NCT kept busy in 2014 maintaining, hiking, and replacing road walk with off-road trail. In June, working with the Keystone Trails Association (KTA), we teamed up with the Wampum Chapter to make some nice improvements to the trail through McConnell’s Mill and Moraine State Parks. We revived the Monthly Hike program, providing an opportunity for members, friends, and newcomers to experience the joys of hiking the North Country Trail. These, along with our yearly First Day hike and the February Cherry Pie hike, have been very popular. Each year the Glacier Ridge Trail Ultramarathon and Trail Race, a long distance, multi-level race, is run on many miles of the NCT in Moraine State Park. We teamed up with the Wampum Chapter to provide support for a hike for military service members of a local Wounded Warrior Project. Many chapter members turned
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up in the freezing rain to provide coffee, cocoa, donuts, and information, plus joined them on the hike. Maintaining the 28 miles of off-road trail of course takes most of our time, as a dozen or so faithful maintainers keep multi-flora roses and other vegetation at bay, clear fall-downs, and keep the water off the trail. Kudos go to Ron Rice for his ongoing efforts to extend offroad trail. Ron has been working with two new landowners and one current partner to add several miles of trail in the West Sunbury area. These miles are just now being laid out so they are not on the current mileage. Ron has demonstrated once again that persistence pays off. For 2015 we are looking forward to building new trail on those new sections, and hopefully getting some of their neighbors to join in too. We also are expecting to install a 50 foot bridge over Muddy Creek in Moraine State Park, which will make a beautiful section of the NCT much more accessible to the average hiker. John F. Stehle
State of the Trail Mike Ciccone
Davis Hollow Cabin—Pennsylvania Reservations opened on March 30, 2014. By April 2nd, every weekend to November 1st was taken. This is an example of the popularity of the Davis Hollow Cabin. As usual, there were families, scouts, boaters, church groups, retreat members, and couples who enjoyed the cabin this season. As more and more hikers come through the trails and notice the cabin, the interest expands the calls for reservations. Weekends are popular but there are more guests choosing the weekdays which also filled up faster this year. Word of mouth has spread rapidly resulting in waiting lists every season. We have had some new additions and changes: Before the season opened, an Eagle Scout, Nick Shoup, from New Castle, completely replaced the front porch on the cabin as his Eagle Scout project. He did an excellent job and we are grateful for his assistance. Like any home or building and property, there is always something that requires attention. We are so fortunate to have the volunteers who are committed to this labor of love. This season has seen more offers from new and younger people interested in volunteering for Davis Hollow Cabin is a popular lodging for hikers. anything needing help at the cabin. Investment in a new lawn mower was necessary as repairs to the old one were a The very old log cabin is operated as a hikers’ hostel by volunteers constant and only certain people were able and willing to handle in Pennsylvania, and is within Moraine State Park. This is an those problems. We now have a warranty and dealer service and excerpt from the annual report of the volunteer in charge. limited access for the use. Editor Diane Winston Chair, Davis Hollow Cabin Committee
…Continued on page 46
Allegheny National Forest Chapter—Pennsylvania We held another successful A100 Hiking Challenge in June, the hundred mile hike. The Chapter also purchased a new storage shed and located it at the Forest Service site in Sheffield. Trail Work Days were scheduled for each month focusing on sections in most need of attention, including repositioning bridges at Chappel Bay and Beaver Run and a reroute north of Henrys Mill. Our friends from the Allegheny Outdoor Club constructed a new bridge near the Willow Bay trailhead and replaced a bridge over Two Mile Run near the US Route 6 trailhead. Painting blazes on the entire northern 50 miles of the trail is complete. For June, we combined our Trail Work Day with our monthly meeting and a camp out. The Chapter recently received the Environmental Stewardship Award from the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry. The 2015 A100 Hiking Challenge will be June 12-14. An additional shelter is in the works to be located north of the Route 6 trailhead. A reroute is also planned for the Gibbs Hill area. Painting of the southern 50 miles will take place in 2015. Jeff Manelick
L-R: Tina Toole, Randy Thomas, Mike Toole and Ryan Winters building bog bridges by Chappel Bay, April 26, 2014.
State of the Trail
Allegheny National Forest Chapter Continued… Gene Cornelius of the Allegheny Outdoor Club (AOC) and North Country Trail Association along with Forest Service personnel replaced the walkway over Schoolhouse Run, adding a handrail. The walkway is located just south of Route 346 on the Schoolhouse Run Walkway. North Country Trail in the Tracy Ridge area of the Allegheny National Forest (ANF). Cornelius also added 28 feet of puncheon walkway to the south to allow hikers to cross a muddy area. Funds for the project material, over $10,000, were donated by Shell Appalachia and the American Refining Group (ARG) of Bradford. The walkway over Schoolhouse Run was the final phase of a three part project. Funds from Shell and ARG allowed the AOC and Forest Service to upgrade the Morrison Trail, build a bridge to carry the NCT over Twomile Creek in Ludlow and finally to rebuild the walkway and add the puncheon over Schoolhouse Run. Gene Cornelius played a major role in the construction of each project. He was assisted by employees of the Forest Service and men enrolled in the Cooperative Inmate Work Program at FCI – McKean, a program administered by the Forest Service.
The Finger Lakes Trail—New York Our first Alley-Cat project of the year on our shared 400-plus miles of trail was the replacement of a bridge in Danby State Forest over Michigan Creek, south of Ithaca in Tompkins County. 2 Known as Diane’s Crossing, the new bridge was built with 26´ long glue laminated timber stringers provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and deck, railing and cribbing lumber provided by the Cayuga Trails Club (CTC). This project was managed by Paul Warrender, Trail Chair for the CTC. Our second Alley-Cat project along the FLT/NCNST corridor involved the construction of 5.5 miles of new trail, including 3 small bridges and 80´ of puncheon, through Hoxie Gorge State Forest just east of Interstate 81 in Cortland County. Managed by Trail Sponsor Mike TenKate, this reroute moved 2 miles of trail off busy US Route 11 that parallels the interstate. Another major accomplishment this year was the building of a mile of new trail in Rock City State Forest and the rerouting of another ½ mile of trail in adjacent McCarty Hill State Forest south of Ellicottville in Cattaraugus County. Built primarily by Regional Coordinator Marty Howden and Foothills Trail Club Chair Dave Potzler, and supported by Region 9 DEC personnel, these reroutes separate the FLT/NCNST from the existing trail that was also being used by the Western New York Mountain
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The Allegheny National Forest Chapter was honored at the Warren County Chamber of Business and Industry’s annual Celebration of Excellence Gala. The chapter was presented with the Excellence in Environmental Stewardship Award for their efforts in trail maintenance and in promoting tourism through events such as the Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge and the NCT Geocaching Trail.
Clarion Chapter—Pennsylvania The Clarion Chapter has the dubious distinction of having the longest mile on the NCT. Earlier this year the Clarion Chapter completed mileage markers for the entire 93.5 miles from Parker to Vowinkel. No sooner had the mileage system painted on blaze trees been completed when one of the private property owners clear cut about one mile of the trail between mile marker 68 and 69. Upon completion of the reroute using logging trails put in by the loggers, it was determined that the reroute was a tad longer. The distance between mile marker 68 and 69 is now 1.7 miles. We have decided to keep the distinction of longest mile rather than re-do the entire system. Come to Pennsylvania and enjoy the longest mile. Ed Scurry, President
Bike Association (WNYMBA). As part of our agreement with the DEC, WNYMBA must also build a mile of new trail to complete the separation of our two trail systems and return the FLT/NCNST to a single use footpath through both of these state forests. And there were more success stories. The Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club completed a 1 ½ mile trail reroute between Baker Schoolhouse State Forest and State Route 41 in Cortland County, eliminating a five mile road walk necessitated by a property transfer and subsequent loss of landowner permission. One of our new individual Trail Sponsors, Tony Orsini, relocated a mile of trail off road between Boyce Hill State Forest and Bear Creek State Forest in Cattaraugus County and built a bench and fire ring along the adjacent creek on property owned by the local school district. Mike Granger, another one of our individual Sponsors, moved 2 miles of trail off road just east of Swift Hill State Forest in Allegany County and relocated an outhouse to the Sixtown Creek campsite on this section. On the trail protection front, we secured a permanent trail easement this year from the Sellers family on a key parcel of land west of Watkins Glen in Schuyler County, assuring perpetual access to Sugar Hill State Forest via the Sellers’ property. The FLT, led by Board Member and Cayuga Trail Club (CTC) …Continued on page 47
State of the Trail addition to ensuring that our volunteers are registered to work on State Forest lands and are afforded liability and workers’ compensation coverage while doing so, these Volunteer Stewardship Agreements stress the importance of safety and training for our maintainers. We also held our two annual fall regional trail maintenance workshops and two spring chainsaw certification courses in 2014 and added a weekend grip hoist and rigging training course aimed primarily at moving large rocks and other objects in preparation for our trail reroute in the aptly named Rock City State Forest. Finally, the FLT is hosting an end of summer trails event next year from September 10th - 13th at Hope Lake Lodge, a resort hotel located directly across from Greek Peak Ski Area in Cortland County in the center of New York State. This will technically be the FLT’s fall “campout” but the whole NCTA is invited to this four day “Rendezvous,” so we hope to see everybody there from all of our seven, soon to be eight, NCNST states! Steve Catherman
in recognition of our efforts to secure the Bock-Harvey property this year, the Land Trust presented the FLTC with their Conservationist of the Year Award. In addition to the proposed BockHarvey lean-to next year, our crews are planning to build a shelter on a parcel of land once owned by North Star editor Irene Szabo near Hammondsport in Steuben County. This lean-to will be protected by an existing trail easement and will serve as a memorial to Robert Muller, a longtime FLT volunteer and trail sponsor. It has been funded as a memorial by one end-to-end hiker in gratitude to Bob Muller for all his help getting her across the state, hike by hike. Several trail reroutes are also in the works for 2015 to eliminate roadwalks, plus several more shelters will be built, and even a couple long bridges! The FLT now has 5-year agreements in place with all the DEC regions across the state through which our trail passes. In
Finger Lakes Trail Continued… President Roger Hopkins, also finalized the acquisition of the 48 acre BockHarvey Preserve that hosts a ½ mile of the FLT/NCNST southwest of Ithaca in Tompkins County. The CTC, which will manage the preserve, built a loop trail through the property this year and intends to construct a lean-to on it in 2015. This parcel is further protected by a conservation easement placed on the land and held by the Finger Lakes Land Trust and is located adjacent to Rieman Woods, another conservation property now owned by the Finger Lakes Trail. Both of these parcels are part of the Emerald Necklace, a green crescent stretching east to west in the heart of the Finger Lakes region connecting public lands and conservation easements that happen also to cover much of our trail route. For some time now, the FLT and the Land Trust have been working together in pursuit of consolidating these lands, and
Tony Orsini, new trail sponsor, shows off his luxury firepit and camping spot along a new off-road trail he built.
Fiberglass “open-aire toilet” frame built by Larry Telle, with digging and carrying stuff a half-mile into the woods by his willing minions. One view is coming from the very near campsite, showing the privacy screen, while the other view is just before final installation with the wooden base yet to be dug into the soil, giving any potential wheelchair user a smooth approach to the toilet and its helpful railings.
Diane’s Crossing, first bridged in 1989, got a new bridge this year, higher off the water to lessen flood damage episodes. The state Dept. of Environmental Conservation actually bought for us these two 26 foot glulam beams, made up of smaller dimensioned lumber but greater in strength than a 12˝ x 6˝ beam.
State of the Trail Central New York Chapter—New York Last winter saw an ad hoc Membership Brochure Committee kibitzing—I mean, helping—CNY Chapter cartographer and graphic designer Mary Kunzler2 Larmann in putting together an increasingly needed new brochure for the Chapter. The resulting product, printed in the spring, is worth the wait and the effort. Eschewing the laudable mapping detail of earlier brochures covering no more than the Madison County Link Trail, the new brochure shows the entire Trail length within the Chapter’s area of responsibility, from the Adirondack State Park/ Herkimer County boundary in the northeast, down through Oneida and Madison Counties to the southwestern connections with the Onondaga and Finger Lakes Trail sections. This is overlaid on a useable base map with numbered highlights of the trail shown, public access lands listed, and important trail notes mentioned. For the detailed trail maps that new hikers and potential NCTA members will want and need, the brochure exploits the excellent maps downloadable from Ed Ressler’s wonderful CNYHiking website. Now the Chapter has a tool for serious recruiting in Oneida County, where we have seventeen miles of trail and hopes of developing more! Recreational activities could not have gotten off to a better start than with the mid-May birding hike led in perfect weather by Steve Kinne. Steve, better known within the Chapter as its Trail Development boss, turns out to be quite the ornithologist, and the healthy turnout had a truly memorable time, to the tune of over forty species identified, most of them visually. The hike’s turnaround point was the beaver dam area visited a couple of years ago on National Trails Day. No beavers spotted this time, but, arguably more exciting, a marten. (The furry, running kind. Not a martin; those are the purple, flying kind, and actually we didn’t see any of them.) Perhaps even better, we discovered the beaver dam activity of a few years ago, which had threatened to demand an awkward trail reroute, had abated to the point where the trail route can probably remain as is with minimal physical amelioration. Recreation continued later in the month with Mary Dineen’s wildflower walk through Nelson Swamp State Unique Area, a perennial favorite conducted with our friends in the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. Then, come National Trails Day in June, Hugh Yeman came up from downstate to conduct an absolutely wonderful on-the-Trail workshop south of Cazenovia on wildlife macrophotography. (To get our terms straight, “macrophotography” here means taking big photos of really little creatures, mostly, but not exclusively, insects, in their natural habitat.) Our final rec event took us to first-in-New-York Trail Town Canastota in the fall for NCNST Day. Friend-of-the-Chapter
The North Star
State of the Trail
and Canastota Canal Town President Joe DiGeorgio, together with Chapter Stalwart (and currently Treasurer) Al Larmann, put together a great indoor/outdoor presentation “Experiencing History along the Erie Canal” and signed up thirty-three local elementary school pupils (and potential household NCTA memberships) to attend. As it happened, it rained that Saturday. Two hard-core kids showed up with their parents. You might call it a washout…. Still, the Chapter members who showed up to support the event had a great time. Wait ’til next year. On a less entertaining but just as important note, maintenance and improvement of existing trail proceeded apace under the leadership of Steve Kinne, Scott Sellers, and Mike Lynch. Deadfall from the previous winter was chainsawed (and three of our chainsawyer team were recertified). Wet area puncheons were variously repaired, relocated, or newly built as needed. Trail knicks and regrades, as well as a modest mud-wallow-avoiding reroute, were put in. As every year, reblazing and resigning had to be done in places. And an awkward stream bank was made much easier through construction of a new rustic stepway. With Chapter membership remaining stagnant, at best, even after the previous year’s e-member campaign out of Lowell, it is clearly time for us to help ourselves in this regard. Kathy Eisele, another Chapter Stalwart, stepped up to chair an ad hoc Membership Committee during the fall and oversee preparation of recruiting and retention strategy. High priority elements of this include: mailing a “Welcome” packet to new local members, mailing the Work and Rec Events Schedule to local members (rather than relying exclusively on our website) and placing updated copies at our trail kiosks and those of nearby trail and outdoor organizations, an increased brochure presence in Oneida County, increased presence of promotion/info tables at the Cazenovia Farmers Market, systematically getting word of activities out to local print and broadcast media, placing door hangers advertising the Trail and NCTA membership at residences near the Trail, and recruitment of a Publicity Chair. Amen! Our conflict over the roughly 7.65-mile old Lehigh Valley RR trail stretch with our state Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation drags on. Hey! That’s exactly what I wrote last year. Last year there were a number of new developments, though few of them seemed encouraging, and with good reason. No new developments at the end of 2014 except that OPRHP will meet with Mark and Bruce in late January to discuss the draft MOU that Mark gave them…can it be more than a year ago? Oh, and, if I understand it right, OPRHP’s Central NY Region designated contact person/buffer is reported to have made it known that, while there’s still no way Chapter members may officially do trail maintenance on the LVRR, he won’t call the police on any found to be doing so. Jack Miller
State of the Trail Adirondack Route Progress—New York The North Country Trail will run volunteers GPSed the past 7 years (150+ approximately158 miles from the “blue mi) and suggested. An overview includes line,” the border of the Adirondack Park at 81 miles of existing trail, 38 miles of Stone Dam Lake trailhead, to Champlain new trail, and 39 of temporary road. The Lake Bridge at Crown Point Historic Site. DEC meanwhile is working to obtain a A revised Draft Adirondack Park Trail couple of easements that would move trail Plan of 2014 and environmental impact off road. These discussions will continue statement for the NCNST was open for during 2015. public comment until July 17, 2014. The It looks as if we may be able to flag some NY Dept. of Environmental Conservation sections in 2015, post trailhead DEC/ (DEC) has not yet released its responses NCT combination disks, and include to the comments. Thanks to all who other sections in revisions to existing DEC commented and supported the plan. An Unit Management Plans. Learn more estimated 400 comments in support of the at the Thursday night program at the plan were recorded. Rendezvous in September in NY. The positive thing about the revised plan Mary Coffin is that the DEC accepted most of what we
North Country Trail Association, along with its Staff and Board, is pleased to introduce Middlebury Area Land Trust in the state of Vermont. And for the first time, we welcome a contribution from our new Vermont partners.
Welcome to the North Country Trail Association!
Middebury Area Land Trust—Vermont This has been a busy year on the Trail Around Middlebury (TAM), future section of the North Country Trail. Our first project began in the spring, working on the ’97 trail section in the woods north of the Middlebury College garden with students from the Counseling Service of Addison County (CSAC). Work completed consists of cleaning/clearing the trail, spreading gravel, and boardwalk repair. The first mowing of the field portions of the trail was mid May, then continued every 2-3 weeks until the end of September. In June, our summer intern from the college, Marshall Strong, joined us. We soon started work on rebuilding the boardwalk between Creek and Middle roads. At the same time, the students in the summer program at CSAC were building up the trail with gravel at the Creek road end. This project will mean a drier, wider trail and boardwalk. Over the summer, we worked on many maintenance projects including putting wood preservative on the bridges crossing Otter Creek, cutting brush, moving gravel, improving signage and installing motion cameras. These cameras allowed us to track usage on the trail. We also graveled wet areas in the Otter Creek Gorge with the counseling service summer students. In early summer we had the engineer who designed the Boathouse and Arnold bridges inspect both. The bridges were found to be in good condition after 15 years of use. This summer, we mowed the Blue Trail (to Prunier road) and improved signage. On the United Way Days of Caring, students in forestry from the Hannaford Career Center rerouted the trail between Creek road and the Boathouse bridge. The erosion of the creek bank was taking part of the trail. In late summer, Marshall, Adam and I rebuilt the boardwalk north of the college garden. Carl Robinson, executive director of the Middlebury Area Land Trust, says that a big dream for the group is to build a bridge over an active railroad in order to eliminate a roadwalk. John Derick
Welcome Middlebury Area Land Trust!
Middlebury Area Land Trust Rebuilding the boardwalk near Creek Road.
Taughannock Falls from above. We’ll take that in during one of Friday’s tours. By Vinnie Collins
November twilight on the ski slopes at Greek Peak. The trail is atop that ridge above the ski lift, and Hope Lake Lodge is behind the photographer. By Irene Szabo
Don’t Miss the
8-State Rendezvous In New York! Buttermilk Falls can be seen on Friday. By Tom Reimers
rom September 10-13 the Finger Lakes Trail will host a long weekend of fun, hikes, tours, and training centered at the luxurious Hope Lake Lodge across from Greek Peak ski hill in the center of upstate New York. This will be a time for ALL members from all EIGHT states of our eventual trail to gather for a good time, visiting old friends from the far ends of the North Country Trail, and making new ones. The Area: Very rural and often forested, a few miles south of Cortland and under an hour from Syracuse, the Lodge is surrounded by state forests on two sides where the FLT/NCT travels. In fact, the trail passes just behind the top of the ski lift on the ridge across from our lodge. The Lodge: Luxurious doesn’t have to mean expensive. All rooms are suites of varying sizes, with most featuring two double beds for four, many with full kitchens! So those of us willing to share a double bed will be able to sleep in a new and gorgeous hotel for only $38 per night, which includes a full breakfast! There are also nearby motels and a campground, so alternatives exist. Registration will be handled by the FLT staff and volunteers, so we’ll help put roommates together for those not in a group. The Lodge also can entertain non-hikers with a water park, zip lines, a high aerial course, high challenge facilities, mountain coasters, and a spa! Forest creature footprints in concrete invite us into each of the Lodge’s doorways, and one forest creature in the carpeting of each floor leads toward the elevators, should you become disoriented. Some rooms even have balconies; sorry, no choice.
Watkins Glen lower gorge. We’ll walk here on Saturday. By Vinnie Collins
Hope Lake Lodge from the same photographer’s position at Greek Peak, in spring. By Irene Szabo
The Hiking Program: Thursday and Sunday hikes will be relatively local, some self-guided and others led by experienced volunteers, while we will ALL go to the Ithaca area (Friday) and Watkins Glen (Saturday, by bus) for a featured list of rather fabulous hikes to spectacular locations, many including famous waterfalls, or tours to non-hiking features nearby. All registrants will get free FLT maps of the area. And if Vinnie Collins’ pictures of the gorge at Watkins Glen State Park don’t entice you, then perhaps you should check your pulse! The Training: We are planning on a half-day on Optimal Location Review to help us chose ideal trail routes, a crosscut saw training session which will include a lot of the smart things chain sawyers learn in their course, but aimed at those of us who don’t like their saws to move so fast, and first aid courses that certified sawyers need to renew frequently. There will be a program on mapping technology, too. The Programs: National Park Service and North Country Trail Association awards will be given out over two evenings, while presentations on route planning in NY’s Adirondacks for the NCT, murals along the Erie Canal’s towns, and an introduction to the extension into Vermont are planned. Evening meals are buffet style and sumptuous, with a cash bar. Kevin Normile takes a picture from behind Tinker Falls. By Kristin Shafer
Another part of Watkins Glen gorge. By Vinnie Collins
Details and registration materials will be online by the end of March since this is still not an official NCTA “conference,” which prevents us from using all the pages required in your magazine. Your FLT hosts hope it still feels like one anyway! For those who prefer to get their materials on paper, a call to the FLT office will get them mailed to you: (585) 658-9320, 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM any day except Wednesday, or email f email@example.com. Helpful websites: hopelakelodge.com, greekpeakmtnresort.com Materials will be online at http://fingerlakestrail.org/trail/FallEvent by the end of March. Questions after you see our website? Ask Chair Irene Szabo, (585) 658-4321, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tinker Falls will be on Sunday’s hike. By Larry Blumberg
NONPROFIT U.S. POSTAGE
North Country Trail Association
Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340
229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331
Lois Goldstein skiing through the Sand Lakes Quiet Area near Traverse City, Michigan. The NCT uses parts of the loop trail system there.
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 â€˘ (616) 897-5987 â€˘ 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.