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October-December, 2015

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

north star Adirondack Route News North Country National Scenic Trail Day Memories City Kids With Cameras On The NCT

Volume 34, No. 4

Dove Day

Buck Settlement Lean-to during a break in a long rainy day hike at September’s Rendezvous. Nobody melted, and all remained cheerful.

About the Cover: John and Dove Day of Michigan's Jordan Valley 45º

Chapter at the Jones Hill overlook on the Onondaga portion of the Finger Lakes/North Country Trail. This view was shared with hikers during a Thursday hike at the New York Rendezvous. Photo by Dan Dorrough.

In This Issue New Shelters on the Finger Lakes Trail.....4 A Matter of Fairness...............................6 Hike 100 Challenge............................10 Poison Ivy in the Winter?..................12 These Boots Are Made For Walking......13 A Life Well Spent: Bob Norlin..............15 Meet Kenny Wawsczyk........................15 Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Hosts North Dakota Trails Conference...........16 Trail Fun in Petoskey ..........................17 Second Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day Celebrations...............18 Where Am I?......................................20 Bill Menke Builds the Character in Our Trail.........................21 Holiday Shoes!..................................22 Long Distance Hikers on the Trail.........24

Get to Know Your National Forests.......26 The Heart of a Volunteer......................28 Your Next Great Adventure: NCT is Coming to the Adirondacks!...................30 Revisiting Rendezvous...........................32 Volunteers Respond to Heavy Damage on the Trail...............34

Columns Trailhead.............................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.........................14 NPS Corner........................................8

Departments Hiking Shorts....................................11 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................29 Next Deadline for Submissions.........35

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Mostly Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or treeweenie@aol.com Peggy Falk, Graphic Design Lorana Jinkerson, Becky Heise, Joan Young, Tom Gilbert, Christine Ellsworth, Amelia Rhodes, Editorial Advisory Committee The North Star, Winter issue, Vol. 34, Issue 4, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.


The North Star


David Cowles Director of Development dcowles@northcountrytrail.org Jill DeCator Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator jdecator@northcountrytrail.org Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota mdavis@northcountrytrail.org Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development aketchmark@northcountrytrail.org Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator llindstrom@northcountrytrail.org Bruce Matthews Executive Director bmatthews@northcountrytrail.org Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin bmenke@northcountrytrail.org Michelle Mangus Administrative Assistant mmangus@northcountrytrail.org Amelia Rhodes Marketing/Communications Coordinator arhodes@northcountrytrail.org Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator mrowbotham@northcountrytrail.org Kenny Wawsczyk Regional Trail Coordinator kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2016 Jaron Nyhof, First VP, At Large Rep. (616) 786-3804 · jnyhof@wnj.com Brian Pavek, At Large Rep. (763) 425-4195 · pavekb@comcast.net Larry Pio, Lower Michigan (269) 327-3589 · nalcoman1@aol.com Doug Thomas, Treasurer, At Large Rep. (612) 240-4202 · dthomas7000@gmail.com Jerry Trout, Minnesota (218) 831-3965 · jjtrout@tds.net Gaylord Yost, VP West, At Large Rep. (414) 354-8987 · gaylyost@aol.com

Terms Expiring 2017 Ruth Dorrough, Secretary, New York (585) 354-4147 · rdorrough@hotmail.com Jerry Fennell, At Large Rep. (262) 787-0966 · jeroldvfennell@hotmail.com John Heiam, At Large Rep. (231) 938-9655 · johnheiam@charter.net Lorana Jinkerson, At Large Rep. (906) 226-6210 · ljinkers@nmu.edu Kirk Johnson, Pennsylvania (814) 723-0620 · kjohnson@pawild.org Tim Mowbray, At Large Rep. (715) 378-4320 · tmowbray@earthlink.net Peter Nordgren, Wisconsin, and U. P. of Michigan (715) 374-3143 · pnordgre@yahoo.com Terms Expiring 2018 Mike Chapple, At Large Rep. (574) 274-0151 · mike@chapple.org Dennis Garrett, At Large Rep. (724) 827-2350 · dcgcag@gmail.com Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota (701) 271-6769 · tfmoberg@gmail.com Lynda Rummel, VP East, At Large Rep. (315) 536-9484 · ljrassoc@roadrunner.com Paul Spoelstra, At Large Rep. (616) 890-7518 · spoelymi@comcast.net Jeff Van Winkle, At Large Rep. vanwink5@yahoo.com

Trail Head

Tom Moberg President


eptember and October are my favorite months of the year. Out here on the western end of the North Country Trail, this is harvest season, with summer past and winter not yet here. Combines, beet harvesters, and tractors busily cut the grain, dig the sugar beets, pick the corn, beans and sunflowers, and start preparing the fields to repeat the growing cycle next year. The road shoulders are littered with dangerous fist-size sugar beets that fall off speeding farm trucks on their way to large outdoor storage dumps. Hiking is wonderful this time of year, at least until deer season starts in early November. As the prairie plant growth slows and stops, so does the trail mowing done by our faithful trail adopters. In areas where we are still developing new trail segments, the thinning weed and leaf cover in the shelter belts, river bottoms, ravines and hill sides make it much easier to do the necessary bushwhacking (or prairie-whacking, as we call it out here) to envision new trail routes. And after a strenuous summer of trail work, it is nice to look back at our accomplishments, give ourselves a pat on the back, slow down a bit, and just enjoy a nice hike on a new segment of the magnificent North Country Trail. Another great experience this fall was the 2015 NCTA Rendezvous in New York, held at scenic Greek Peak ski resort near Cortland, New York, in conjunction with the traditional Finger Lakes Trail fall weekend. The event featured great hikes, interesting speakers, excellent food and comfortable accommodations. The traditional NCTA and NPS awards ceremonies provided important opportunities to thank the many volunteers who generously devote thousands of hours to create the North Country Trail. I doubt if anyone does trail work in anticipation of receiving an award, or even expecting thanks, but honoring outstanding volunteers is one of the very important ways an organization defines, sustains and enriches itself. Another aspect

Oleksandr Kolyvushko

Tom Moberg on a foggy December day last year on the Dakota Prairie Chapter’s new trail section.


of organizational strength and validity provided by the Rendezvous was just the simple opportunity to have a “gathering of the clan” where we greet old friends, make new friends, talk about trail development experiences, experience new sections of the Trail, and have fun with other people who strongly value some of the same things we do. All in all, the New York event was one of the highlights of the fall for me. Many thanks to Irene Szabo and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference for organizing the gathering. The fall meeting of the Board of Directors was held on September 10 during the 2015 NCTA Rendezvous. While I understand that most NCTA members would probably prefer a Pulaski through the boot to an all-day Board meeting, the work of the Board is actually important to the life and health of the North Country Trail. Some sample items from the extensive recent agenda: • New officers are elected at the fall meeting; for the next year, the Board officers are Tom Moberg (President), Jaron Nyhof (First Vice President), Ruth Dorrough (Secretary), Doug Thomas (Treasurer), Lynda Rummel (Vice President East), and Tim Mowbray (Vice President West). • The Board is developing new policies and procedures for managing several kinds of financial reserve funds, such as designated and undesignated endowments and “rainy day” funds that will help ensure the long-term fiscal stability of the NCTA. • After revising the NCTA Bylaws last year to reflect both legal requirements and current practices, the Board has now revised the templates for chapter charters and bylaws in order to conform to the same requirements. These changes may require some chapters to revise their charters and bylaws. The NCTA staff will help with this process, which should be completed within three years. • In case you are planning to hike the entire NCNST next year, you should know that the Long-distance Hiker Committee, ably led by Joan Young, decided to drop the Mackinac Bridge walk as a requirement for thru-hike completion because of the difficult timing issues. • Amelia Rhodes and Matt Rowbotham presented an exciting plan for restructuring the NCTA website architecture. One of the key aspects of the upgrade is a significant revision in the connection between the NCTA website and chapter websites that will eliminate the very insecure arrangement in place now. As fall moves into winter, many of us are busily planning next year’s NCTA Celebration that will be based in Fargo. The event will feature outstanding hikes on new NCT segments that have been built in the grasslands of eastern North Dakota and the woodlands of western Minnesota in the past several years. Hike interpreters will help participants understand the scenic, cultural, historical and natural features of the new trail sections and how those characteristics led to the trail construction techniques that have been used. The Celebration activities will also feature riverfront urban trails in booming, unique Fargo (“North of Normal”), interesting evening programs, comfortable hike transportation, good food, and an excellent new conference hotel, all of which we hope will attract you to the event and help you have a wonderful experience. Information about the event will be distributed regularly to keep you informed about the upcoming Celebration activities. We would love to have a large group of the NCTA “clan” join us in Fargo next September 15-17, 2016. October-December 2015


Irene Szabo

Irene Szabo

Details of Rob Hughes’ careful craftsmanship, incorporating mortise and tenon joinery.

The Bob Muller Shelter at Irene’s Camp near Hammondsport, New York, with notched and pegged white pine frame members.



on the Finger Lakes Trail

ur “Alley Cats,” the Finger Lakes Trail’s special projects crews, built two shelters this summer, one in the traditional (“Adirondack”) log style, and another using mortise and tenon posts and beams. The latter required almost 100 hours of preparation by volunteer Rob Hughes, cutting and fitting the frame pieces, and sanding them smooth, but the crew time was only two days, because it went together so fast! Board and batten siding went onto the frame fast, as did the metal roof, while the traditional treated-wood base was kept for this newer style shelter. Best of all for the users, it smells divine inside, of fresh white pine. This is the Bob Muller shelter, a memorial to the sweet guy who ferried Phyllis Younghans and Susan Yee all the way across the state, so they could become end-to-enders number 33 and 34 across 560 miles of New York without backpacking, back in 1994. Bob was also an extraordinarily conscientious trail maintainer, whose crisp-cornered blazes live on today. Susan Yee, this year’s NCTA Blue Blazes Benefactor, donated the cost of the materials for the shelter in Bob’s memory. The shelter was built on private property near Hammondsport, New York, where we have a permanent easement for the Trail. There was already a campsite on the property, with a traditional “outhouse” installed almost twenty years ago now, with a stainless steel crapper obtained from the National Park Service. This shelter filled a need at the right point in the trail for long-distance hikers, and water is obtainable from a handpump in a neighbor’s front yard, with their eager invitation. Matt Branneman, our crew leader for Alley Cats, had already refined traditional log shelter construction to make it as efficient as possible, but he likes the new framing method. Not only is it faster in the field, it’s safer because nobody is horsing around those big logs. In the Muller shelter case, all pieces had to be carried in from the road nearly a quarter mile, with no vehicular access, so logs would have been prohibitively heavy and awkward.


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New Shelters

Nonetheless, there is much to love about the new log shelter several days’ walk eastward. The Locust Lean-to at the BockHarvey Forest Preserve supports an important shelter for those walking between Watkins Glen and Ithaca. No, it’s not made of that hideously hard wood, black locust, but is sited within a young locust grove on the new Preserve property, a special place in itself. Over the last few years, the Cayuga Trails Club, caretaker of trail in the Ithaca area, led by Roger Hopkins, arranged a family property donation to the Finger Lakes Trail, a property that has been in the Bock and Harvey families for generations, and that property was then protected as near to forever as humans can arrange by granting a conservation easement, held by the Finger Lakes Land Trust. The property already hosted a half-mile of the FLT/NCT, and now the Cayuga Trails Club (CTC) has built a loop trail on the property, which offers walkers old growth maple stands because the family had set aside those woods with a decision not to cut them. The new shelter is made of tamarack logs, harvested from a state forest, and features both a picnic table and a fiberglass privy paid for by funds obtained from our partnership with the North Country Trail. Construction of a trailhead kiosk and signage plus trail building and partial cost of the lean-to project was supported by a $3500 grant from the 2014 National Trails Fund of the American Hiking Society. Even though the Locust Lean-to is under trees at the edge of young transitional woods, the view eastward from the edge of the shelter clearing opens up across hay fields, with forested hills at the horizon. Apples and black walnuts drop from hedgerow trees behind those viewpoint benches.

Pheww With A View Irene Szabo

Gary Mallow

Roger Hopkins shows off the fiberglass facility behind a privacy screen. The Locust Lean-to on the Bock-Harvey Forest Preserve.

Gary Mallow

Matt Branneman, Alley Cat crew chief, has said in the Finger Lakes Trail News that the view from the privy at Bock-Harvey is the best on the whole Finger Lakes Trail. One could see this as throwing down the gauntlet! Matt hasn’t even hiked the whole FLT across New York, so one has to wonder what wondrous views from trailside privys he might not have seen! So our readers are invited to submit views from THEIR favorite necessary stopping places on the whole North Country Trail. Watch out what you claim, Matt. Irene Szabo

The FLT’s Alley Cat crew working in the rafters, building one of the traditional style log shelters out of handsome tamarack logs.

Irene Szabo

Irene Szabo

The incomparable view, locally claimed to be The Best Anywhere from a trailside privy.

Irene Szabo

Details of the Locust Lean-to tamarack log wall.


Paul Warrender, project coordinator for the Locust Lean-to, also led a hike through the Preserve during September’s Rendezvous. To celebrate the new shelter, he brought champagne to accompany our lunch.

Paul shared the champagne with hikers in elegant glassware from Dunkin' Donuts.

October-December 2015


Jackson “Jet” Thomas

Help us help them get a fair shake for the future of the NCT.

A Matter of Fairness By Bruce Matthews


he North Country National Scenic Trail is one of 11 Congressionally-designated National Scenic Trails (NSTs), and is the longest in the National Trails System. Six trails, including the North Country NST, are administered by the National Park Service. We’d like to believe all the National Scenic Trails, and certainly the NPS-managed ones, are being administered on an equal basis, and that the North Country NST is on par with its sister NSTs including the Appalachian, Ice Age, New England, Potomac Heritage and Natchez Trace NSTs. But it’s not true. Fairness matters. Fairness is a basic value, commonly held, an expectation we all share. It’s as true with the management of North Country National Scenic Trail as in any other walk of life. So when it comes to the National Park Service’s (NPS) administration of our Trail, we believe the Trail must be supported and recognized on par with other National Scenic Trails. And we believe the NPS must evolve an equitable management paradigm unique to the needs of all National Scenic Trails (NSTs) it administers. And it shouldn’t have to take an act of Congress to make it so. Earlier this year Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) introduced a bill, S. 1074, entitled the National Scenic Trails Parity Act,


The North Star

cosponsored by Senators Johnson (R-WI), Peters (D-MI), Markey (D-MA), Warren (D-MA), Blumenthal, (D-CT), Murphy (D-CT) and Klobuchar (D-MN), which would clarify the status of the North Country, Ice Age and New England National Scenic Trails as official “units” of the National Parks System. Of the six NPS-administered NSTs only the Appalachian, Natchez Trace and Potomac Heritage NSTs are actually considered official “units.” We’re quite confident that in establishing the National Trails System, in authorizing 11 National Scenic Trails and assigning 6 to the NPS to administer, Congress clearly never intended some kind of twotiered process for prioritizing or managing these NSTs. Yet thus far the National Park Service seems not to agree. When called to NPS’s attention, administrators have argued that the inequity is in label only, and doesn’t really matter, which unfortunately brings to mind the “separate but equal” rationalization used to justify segregation in times past. In fairness the NPS has corrected some past issues that prevented the North Country Trail from accessing programs and funding available to other official “units.” But you still can’t find the North Country NST on official NPS map exhibits in many National Park visitor centers. At the launch of this year’s “Find Your Park” campaign we had to point out that you couldn’t find the NCNST on the Find Your Park website, an irony that was remedied a few days later. Unlike the rest of National Park units

including the AT, the North Country NST has yet to have its own commemorative ornament on the annual White House Christmas tree. While this example may sound silly it just sends the wrong message to our hard-working volunteers about what matters and what’s valued by the NPS. It’s not like the National Park Service isn’t aware of our efforts. We’re certainly on their radar, and recently two of our volunteers, Al Larmann (2011—Enduring Service) and Tom Moberg (2014—Outstanding Individual) have been nationally recognized with the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service. In 2011 NCTA was recognized as the NPS’s Midwest Region’s Outstanding Friends Group. And in 2014, North Country Trail received the Director’s Safety and Health Achievement National Award. NPS knows who we are! But still, inequities exist, such as: • The Appalachian NST is less than half the length of the North Country NST, but has more than 3 times the NPS staff allocated. • On a budgeted dollar-per-mile basis, Ice Age Trail gets $684/mile, Appalachian NST gets $700/mile…and NCNST gets under $200/mile. With roughly the same NPS annual travel budget: • North Country NPS staff must administer almost 4 times the length of the Ice Age Trail. • North Country Trail gets less than $5/mile compared to $17.50/mile for Ice Age. With roughly the same number of NPS staff: • Ice Age NST manages relationships within one state (WI), while North Country has to do so in 7 (soon to be 8) states. • Ice Age has 550 miles remaining to complete, while North Country NST has 1800 miles. In sharing this data, we're not disrespecting our friends at sister trails. We stand together and work hard to increase appropriations to all trails and to finish what Congress started in establishing the National Trails System in 1968. We stand with the Partnership for the National Trails System in advocating equity in the management of all National Scenic Trails. We seek to grow the size of the entire pie, and not get diverted into quibbling about the size of the pieces. We’re pointing out inequities in the system and encouraging the National Park Service to seriously examine its Congressional mandate. Isn’t there a better way to manage ALL the National Scenic Trails, and do so more equitably? Clearly there’s an issue with the disparities in how NPS manages its 6 NSTs. But there’s an even bigger problem. The NPS is using the same management paradigm for both traditional and linear parks. Traditional parks have boundaries, gates, rangers and enforcement options within an easily


definable and mostly NPS-owned landscape. A linear trail park—which in North Country NST’s case involves building, maintaining and protecting a trail tread that’s four feet wide by 4600 miles long, almost exclusively on non-NPS owned land—offers a much more diverse management landscape. And of course there’s the viewscape to consider! There are no gates, boundaries, rangers or enforcement options except when it passes through a traditional park. Lumping the North Country NST into the same management paradigm as most other NPS units creates unrealistic expectations at best. And it virtually ignores the public/private partnership so critical—and unique—to fulfilling the Congressional mandate in the creation and management of a National Scenic Trail. At the launch of this year’s “Find Your Park” campaign we had to point out that you couldn’t find the NCNST on the Find Your Park website, an irony that was remedied a few days later. Senator Baldwin’s National Trails System Parity Act (S. 1074) does not specifically address these examples, nor would it necessarily resolve the issues behind them. But it would force the NPS to do what it had ought to have done all along, and that is to create a level playing field for the management of all the NSTs it administers. In mid-September Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) introduced H. R. 3511, the House companion bill for S. 1074, with the co-sponsorship of the entire Wisconsin delegation except Rep. Duffy. Co-sponsors include Representatives Ryan (R-1-WI), Pocan, (D-2-WI), Kind (D-3-WI), Moore (D-4WI), Grothman (R-6-WI), Ribble (R-8-WI), Nolan (D-8MN), and Esty (D-5-CT). We’re grateful for this bi-partisan display of support for administrative fairness on the part of the NPS, and we hope these bills (H. R. 3511 and S. 1074), and these facts bring about the necessary change in the equitable management of the North Country National Scenic Trail by our partner, the National Park Service. We’re grateful to our friends at the Ice Age Trail Alliance who have been doing the heavy lifting on S. 1074 and H. R. 3511. If your Senator(s) and Representative have signed on to co-sponsor S. 1074 and H. R. 3511 respectively, please thank them. If not, please make a copy of this column and share it with them, with a request to makes things right and support these bills. You—our hard-working volunteers—deserve it. Let’s build more fairness into the management of our National Scenic Trails. Use these websites to find and contact your representatives: http://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/ http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

October-December 2015


National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent, NCT

Happy New Year!


or us Feds, October 1 is New Year’s Day. No party hats or champagne, but a celebration nonetheless. Congress has passed a continuing resolution allowing us to continue working for the Trail and supporting all your great work. So, the lights are still on and the phones are working. Whew! As with any New Year, we look back upon the past year and look forward to the new one. Thanks to all of you who helped promote the FindYourPark campaign. “FYP” was the pep rally to the Centennial Celebration of the National Park Service (more about the Centennial later). Many of you made sure that visitors to the Trail or to events you were involved in were made aware of “FYP” and “NPS.” Many thanks! The flagship event for FYP was “Picture THIS!!” in Battle Creek. With the financial support of NPS and the National Park Foundation/Disney, and in partnership with Battle Creek Boys and Girls Club, Battle Creek YMCA, City of

Battle Creek, Calhoun County, Michigan DNR, Parks in Focus©, NCTA, San Antonio Missions National Historical Park (they lent us project coordinator Greg Mitchell) and the Chief Noonday Chapter, we engaged about 55 kids around a nature photography program. Four workshops were held for youth from the Battle Creek YMCA and Boys and Girls Club, ranging in age from 6 to 17. The youth came to four different local parks along the Trail and were oriented to public recreational lands and their values, taught how to use digital cameras, and then were led on hikes through the parks to observe and photograph nature. The Udall Foundation’s Parks In Focus© specialists led the photography activities while the other partners helped the National Park Service plan and conduct the events. Hundreds of pictures were taken. Parks In Focus© then selected the best photos, at least one from each youth, and enlarged and mounted them for an exhibit at the Battle Creek Community Foundation gallery. Two opening night premieres, one for the children and their families and one for the general public, were held on September 2 and 3. Over 60 people and many of the participating youth attended the premieres. The kids’ photography exhibit remained on display through the middle of October. After that the prints were given to each young photographer. I was truly touched by the participation of the Chief Noonday Chapter members; they were there every step of the way. A huge shout out goes to Ron Sootsman and Mary Rebert for their Herculean efforts to pull it all off. And to the other chapter members, many, many thanks.

Bret Muter, Parks In Focus©


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Mary Rebert

Close-up flower photographer.

Irene Szabo

One of the big take-aways from PictureTHIS! is that there is a huge untapped opportunity to share our appreciation of the Trail with kids of color and their families. With that thought in mind, the Trail received a grant from the Kellogg Foundation and the National Park Foundation to support research to engage more effectively communities of color with the Trail as visitors and as volunteers. Kellogg Community College’s Center for Diversity and Innovation will lead the research and one or more focus groups to gather information and provide recommendations on the subject. Stay tuned! Those of you who are interested in a similar project in your neck of the woods, give me a call. Of course we can’t forget about the big staff changes this past year. Jeff McCusker went on to greener west coast pastures with the Bureau of Land Management. In his place arrived Chris Loudenslager from the Forest Service. He has a long wonderful history with North Country Trail; many of you may already know him. We are thrilled to have him here. Also, Luke “Strider” Jordan finished up his Student Conservation Association stint here in Lowell, helping prepare Optimal Location Reviews. We were fortunate enough to extend his stay through early October. Many thanks, Luke!! So what’s up in the new fiscal year 2016? The National Park Service Centennial!!! One hundred years ago in 1916 emerged America’s Best Idea, Our National Parks. You may already know that NPS and NCTA are promoting the “Hike 100 Challenge” as its premiere Centennial event to inspire everyone (and their friends) to hike 100 miles on the NCT. Check it out: https://northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/ special-events/hike-100-challenge/. Everyone who completes the challenge gets a cool NCT patch and certificate to be proud of. Let’s get hiking, everybody! The rest of the year, unfortunately for me, will be full of bureaucracy, paperwork and email, which I will not bore you about. But it won’t stop me from Hiking 100! See you out on the Trail! — Mark Weaver

And From Chief Noonday…

Greg Mitchell, NPS

Mary Rebert of the Chief Noonday Chapter shared more about the “Picture THIS!” project previously described by Mark Weaver. “In four separate sessions, youth participants learned about the sites, natural history, and National Parks (including the local North Country Trail), and then were each given instruction and use of digital cameras to capture nature’s wonders from their own perspectives. Each ‘Picture THIS!’ youth had one photograph featured in exhibition at the Battle Creek Community Foundation for public enjoyment. After the exhibit ended, they were given their professionally framed photos to keep. Actively assisting with planning and execution of the events were Chief Noonday NCTA volunteers Kingery Clingenpeel, Mike Wilkey, Bob Cooley, Jane Norton, Mary Rebert, Jim Bronson, Larry Pio, Ron Sootsman, Eunice Jennings, Tom Norton and Susan Anderson. Mark Weaver and Greg Mitchell from the National Park Service were leaders of the project. It is our hope that these images and activities will inspire youths and their families to find their park, get out of doors, and explore!” —Mary Rebert

Chief Noonday members and parents at one of the gallery nights.


October-December 2015


Photo by Tamara Jackson, Lowell State Game Area.

Hike 100 Challenge By Amelia Rhodes, Marketing/Communications Coordinator


n 2016, the National Park Service is celebrating its centennial anniversary, and everyone’s invited to celebrate “America’s Best Idea!” The Centennial will kick off a second century of stewardship of America’s national parks and engaging communities through recreation, conservation, and historic preservation programs. To commemorate this special centennial year, the North Country Trail Association will be promoting a Hike 100 Challenge on the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT), which is one of our National Parks. Can you hike a mile on the NCT for each of the National Park System’s 100 years? Anyone who hikes 100 miles on the North Country Trail during the calendar year of 2016 will be eligible for a special patch and certificate. You can hike the miles in aggregate (100 different miles) or hike one NCT mile 100 different times. You can do it all at once or spread it out throughout the year. “The Hike 100 Challenge is a terrific opportunity both to celebrate with our partner, the National Park Service, as they mark their 100th birthday, and to highlight the tremendous opportunities this National Park—the North Country National Scenic Trail—offers right nearby to many in America’s northern heartlands,” says NCTA Executive Director Bruce Matthews. We will be offering special giveaways, events, and opportunities for you to engage your friends and family along the North Country Trail. And we’ll be sharing the stories and experiences of others also engaged in the Hike 100 Challenge. We are pleased to have received a grant from outdoor clothing and equipment supplier REI to help with this project.

Getting started is easy! 1. Sign up for the special Hike 100 e-mail list by visiting https://northcountrytrail.org/?p=11432. By signing up, you’ll be entered for fun giveaways and cool prizes. We’re also working on a digital toolkit to help you track your miles. We’ll send it to you when it’s ready. Sign up to get these exclusive offers so you don’t miss out. 2. Start planning your hikes. Take a look at our online map, downloadable PDF maps, or download GPS tracks by visiting https://northcountrytrail. org/trail/maps/ You can also purchase paper maps in the Trail Shop by visiting https://northcountrytrail.org/storefront/ 3. Invite your friends. Get the family involved in the planning! Share this challenge with your family and friends and hike and build stories together! 4. Starting January 1, 2016, begin tracking your miles. Every time you go out on the Trail, whether you’re by yourself, with friends, or doing work on the Trail as a volunteer, keep track of those miles. They will add up fast!


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5. Share your adventures with others on social media using #Hike100NCT. Show us your pictures and stories using #Hike100NCT. Follow us on Instagram (instagram.com/northcountrytrail), Twitter (twitter.com/nctrail), and Facebook (facebook.com/ northcountrytrail). You might see your pictures and stories featured on our pages!

HIKING SHORTS News from Mark Weaver, Our National Park Service Superintendent

6. Once you’ve logged 100 miles, let us know! Fill out the form online at https://northcountrytrail. org/?p=11531 to let us know you’ve completed your miles. We’ll get your patch and special certificate in the mail right away.

With full support and a big dose of sadness, I have to let you all know that Dan Watson is going to assume fulltime Volunteer Coordinator duties at Ice Age Trail. He won't be disappearing from our view, as he will be helping the new North Country Volunteer Coordinator (TBA) over the next year or so. Dan, as many of you know, is a bit organized! I will truly miss his structured thought, sense of humor, incredible products, and his sincere interest in seeing us all playing it safe out there. Fortunately for all of us, I have his new phone number and will be using it with abandon. Best wishes, Dan! — Mark Weaver

7. Wear your patch with pride. Seriously. You’ve earned it. We’ll be posting more information regarding events and other special surprises for the Hike 100 Challenge on our website, in the North Star, and in our e-mail newsletter the Blue Blaze Bulletin. If you have questions about the Hike 100 Challenge, please e-mail myhike@northcountrytrail.org. Visit https://northcountrytrail.org/?p=11432 for a list of FAQ about the Hike 100 Challenge. For more information on the National Park Service Centennial, visit: http://www.nationalparks.org/our-work/celebrating-100years-service.

Miami & Erie Canal Trail Shelter

Amelia Rhodes

Recently a group of volunteers from the Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) constructed an overnight shelter near Lock 18 south of Delphos, Ohio. The work also included the construction of a trail from the Towpath side of the Miami and Erie Canal (west side) to a shelter. Due to the increased number of hikers and backpackers, the BTA as well as other groups and individuals have constructed hiker shelters along the trail. The Miami and Erie Canal Towpath Trail through this region also is part of the Buckeye Trail, and the North Country National Scenic Trail. These trails are regionally and nationally recognized as great hiking venues bringing recreational users into the region. —MECCA, the Miami Erie Canal Corridor Association



October-December 2015


Poison ivy growing up a tree, beginning to turn red. The spreading leaves are easy to mistake for part of the tree itself.

Virginia creeper vine on a tree, also turning red for fall. Five leaves will distinguish it from the three of poison ivy.

Poison Ivy in the Winter? Story and pictures by Joan Young


t’s been said that two of the best things about winter hiking are no bugs and no poison ivy. I have to agree! That said, you can still get poison ivy in the winter from the vines where they grow up trees. Even though the leaves have fallen, all parts of the plant contain urushiol, the oil that causes an allergic reaction in about half of all humans. If you are extremely sensitive to this allergen, as I am, identification is more than a matter of pride. It’s self-preservation. In the northeast there are three woody vines you might commonly encounter in the winter: poison ivy, Virginia creeper (also called woodbine), and wild grape. How can you tell them apart? Actually, it’s easier than you might suspect. Let’s do a little review of other times of year. The leaves are also super easy to distinguish on all three. Grape leaves are broad and lobed, similar to maple leaves. Although there are a few kinds of wild grapes, some with deeper cuts between the lobes, you’ll never mistake them for poison ivy, which always has sets of only three leaves, even when it climbs and becomes a vine. Virginia creeper has sets of five leaves. You may occasionally see some sets of three on the same vine, but if you also see sets of five, it’s not poison ivy. Creeper and PI both turn red in fall. The fruits are also not alike when ripe. Wild grapes are purple and edible, if tart. They hang in clusters of small globes, smaller than commercial grapes. The Virginia creeper also has purple fruits of about the same size as wild grapes, but the fruits are separated more and are borne on bright red stems. The berries should not be eaten. They contain oxalic acid which is moderately toxic. Many common vegetables also contain oxalic acid, so one or two berries certainly won’t kill you. A lot of them can cause kidney damage. A very small percentage of people can get a rash from the sap of this climbing vine (technically, Virginia creeper is not a creeping vine. Don’t you love common names?). Poison ivy’s fruit is a loose cluster of white berries. Don’t even think about eating them! Now we’ve made it to winter identification. No leaves, no berries, just naked vines. This may be the easiest of all! Grape vines, when large, loop through the trees and have shaggy


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Poison ivy vine growing on a tree; identify by the hairy roots.

Wild grape vine, with an inset of the curling tendrils

bark which peels in loose strips. Did you swing on them when you were a kid? If you’re not sure about smaller vines, look for grape’s curly tendrils that wind around any protuberance where they may climb. Virginia creeper vines have really cute little suction pads at the ends of each tendril. They look like tiny tree frog feet, or suction cups, but stuck to the tree instead of to your kitchen window. Poison ivy, on the other hand, looks positively hairy. Any PI vine larger than about a quarter-inch in diameter is going to have innumerable hairy tendrils anchoring it to a tree. So, if you have a real sensitivity to poison ivy, don’t forget to watch for vines growing up trees in the winter. Then look for all those hairs. Identifying and looking out for common hazards is an easy way to reduce your risks in the outdoors.

These Boots Are Made For Walking Story and pictures by Mary Stenberg, Chequamegon Chapter


y husband and I recently returned from a once-in-alifetime hiking adventure in Europe’s last wilderness. This majestic mountain world in the far north of Sweden is called Lapland. The Kungsleden Trail, also known as the King’s Trail, is located in the inner-most part of Lapland and is one of the world’s best hiking trails. The idea to create a continuous hiking trail in the mountain world of Swedish Lapland came at the end of the 1800’s. The Swedish Tourist Association was the organizer and the original trail was cleared in the 1920’s. This 450 kilometer trail passes through the most beautiful places in Sweden and thus became the “trail of kings” or the King’s Trail. The last two weeks in August, we experienced an extraordinary and unforgettable self-guided hiking adventure with near perfect weather. We met friendly and interesting hikers from all over the world and viewed spectacular scenery and wildlife. Following is a true story about three fellow hikers from Pennsylvania whom we met on our King’s Trail hike. It was the evening of day two of our 8 day, 65+ mile backpacking adventure along the Kungsleden Trail in far northern Sweden when Matt noticed his hiking boots were missing. He had left them in the entryway of Cabin #2 at Alesajure along with all of the other pairs of hiking boots belonging to the hikers staying in

Yes, it is August on Sweden's Kungsleden Trail, even though there is still snow and snowmelt swelling the streams.

that wilderness cabin for the night. Matt told his Dad and brother about the situation and optimistically hoped that whoever took his boots would realize the mistake and bring them back. When morning came, Matt’s boots were still missing, but a pair of similar looking brown leather boots remained after all of the guests in the cabin had headed out to continue their hike. What was Matt to do, but put on those boots that belonged to some other guy and head south to the next destination wilderness cabin at Tjaktja hoping to catch up with his boots and the guy who was wearing them? After the first few miles, Matt was pleasantly surprised that those boots belonging to some other guy felt pretty good. The boots were much older and more broken in than the new boots he had recently purchased for this hiking adventure in the mountainous region of Swedish Lapland. On day three, Matt completed the 10 mile hike over the wet, rocky, and uneven terrain and arrived at the Tjaktja cabin by early afternoon hoping to meet the guy and get his boots back. Yes, the guy had been there, but had already left, heading south to the next cabin at Salka. The guy wearing Matt’s boots had even told the Tjaktja Camp Hosts the story about how he had mistakenly taken the wrong boots. That evening, Matt was still hopeful he’d catch up with his boots the next day at Salka. Once again, Matt was disappointed when he arrived at Salka to discover the guy and his boots had already left. The Camp Host at Salka offered to use the satellite telephone to contact the Camp Host at the next destination cabin at Singe to get a message to the guy to please wait so that he and Matt and his “new” boots. Matt could swap boots. In terms of hiking equipment, a person’s boots are your most prized possession. Nothing can ruin a good hike more quickly than a pair of ill-fitting, uncomfortable boots. Luckily for Matt, who had now logged about 40 miles, the other guy’s boots were feeling better than his own boots. Matt wasn’t really sure what happened, but when he got to Singe on Day five, the guy had not waited for him. Perhaps the guy preferred Matt’s newer boots or maybe time and scheduling would not permit him to wait. At that point, it really didn’t matter to Matt anymore, as he pointed to the boots he was wearing and stated emphatically, “These are now my boots!” For more information about hiking the Kungsleden Trail: www. stfturist.se/kungsleden.


October-December 2015


Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director


omething about a bright blue-sky autumn day just makes you want to settle back for a minute, suck in a deep breath of sharp clean air, and be grateful for all the blessings coming your way. I don’t know why it happens like this—maybe it’s the reminder in all the golds and reds showering down that both the days, and life itself, are short and getting shorter. Perhaps it’s the sense you get sometimes that nature itself is holding its breath, maybe one last reach for the carefree days before it gets down to the more serious business at hand. But there’s a point, on a bright blue-sky autumn day, where you pause. Take a breath. You hold it a little longer, and are thankful. So it was at the recent Rendezvous in Virgil, N. Y., nestled among the September hilltops and valleys where the Finger Lakes Trail shares its tread with the North Country NST. It happened to be in a place I knew well from earlier grad school days at Cortland State, just up the road. From the Rendezvous site I could see across the valley to South Hill Road, where my much-loved major advisor used to live. I could see north to the field where I’d planted some 1000 locust tree seedlings years ago, no doubt now harvested as fence posts. We were close to Hoxie Gorge, a favorite place to bring my students, where we’d hike on the FLT/NCT during our 24-Hour Experience outing. Just over the hills to the southeast, maybe 12 miles as the crow flies, is Charlie and Sharon Yaple’s place, where Charlie and I have been opening New York’s deer season together for way more years than are left ahead of us. My deep breath, filled with the smell of wet goldenrod and Joe-Pye weed, was also filled with gratitude. Our NCTA community has much to celebrate as 2015 comes to a close. We had a wonderful Rendezvous gathering of the NCT faithful in New York. Plans are well underway for next year’s out west in Fargo, North Dakota. NCTA Board of Directors continues to grow and mature and attract an increasingly capable and visionary group of folks, who are taking a more strategic view of governance, almost all of whom directly supported the Big 3 Trail Campaign. In itself, the Big 3 Trail Campaign is worthy of celebration as NCTA’s first ever major fundraising campaign effort. We’re celebrating the long-awaited approved plan for routing the NCNST through New York’s Adirondack Park. The Park, which is larger in size than Yellowstone National Park, is one of the crown jewels of the NCNST experience. It’s taken this long (35 years!!) to formalize an approved route simply because New Yorkers do not take lightly anything that might impact their constitutionally protected Adirondack Forest Preserve (Forever Wild since 1894). Our NCTA volunteers, led by former NCTA V-P East, Mary Coffin, have tirelessly scouted and GPSed routes for many years in anticipation, and finally are able to start actually marking the Trail! Speaking of Mary Coffin, her efforts to establish a National North Country National Scenic Trail Day are paying off in a huge way. In only its second year, this 4th Saturday in September


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event in 2015 saw NCTA chapters and partners hosting 26 events involving over 410 participants and volunteers. All seven states were represented! NCTA’s staff is an amazing group of highly professional and dedicated people. Despite their potential to be making far more money in government or private sector employment, they’ve instead committed to serving our NCTA members and the notion of a legacy footpath connecting America’s northern heartlands. And their longevity on the NCTA staff is simply off the charts when compared with other non-profit organizations. We also celebrate our growing capacity to sustain a few more staffers, with this year Amelia Rhodes joining us part-time as marketing/ communications coordinator, and the addition of Kenny Wawsczyk as Michigan’s first ever Regional Trail Coordinator. Our relationships continue to grow. New state agreements in Michigan and New York, and with the US Forest Service will enable greater cooperation and trail protection. In Michigan, Governor Snyder’s avowed position in making Michigan the Great Trails State have led to the establishment of the Iron Belle Trail, which is co-located in part on the NCNST, and the allocation of very significant funding to support “closing the gaps” and completing and protecting the trail, including that shared with the NCNST. While I’d never suggest that finding funding is getting easier, I will say that our Director of Development David Cowles is showing increasing success with grant funding, and private sources continue to grow and get stronger. This diversification of funding streams is very healthy, and is supported by the growing success of our marketing efforts under Amelia’s leadership. Her marketing research is enabling greater efficiencies in pinpointing messaging and targeting, and the results are obvious in the growth of our social media and web communications efforts. In the past 6 months NCTA’s website use has more than doubled in almost every critical category; pageviews, sessions, unique visitors, and our Facebook “likes” are up 12% and will hit 10,000 by year’s end. As we’re smart and strategic in moving forward we will increasingly find opportunities to build more partnerships and obtain more funding support. We may not have the outcomes yet to show for it, but NCTA’s advocacy efforts in Washington are becoming increasingly effective. NCTA’s advocacy committee is running smoothly under chairman Peter Nordgren. We’ve generated far more bipartisan co-sponsorship for HR. 799, the North Country National Scenic Trail Route Adjustment Act, with 23 co-sponsors, 11 of whom are Republican. And finally, while we’re celebrating, 2016 is the centennial birthday of the National Park Service. NCTA is marking these 100 years with a special Hike 100 Challenge, whereby anyone hiking 100 miles on the NCNST in 2016 is eligible for a free patch, certificate and a drawing for some great prizes. Be sure to sign up here: https://northcountrytrail. org/get-involved/special-events/ hike-100-challenge/. OK, you can breathe again!

Bob Norlin: A Life Well Spent By Marty Swank

Andrea Ketchmark

Kenny on right with Ed Morse, looking over route maps at Kalkaska, Michigan.

The NCTA is able to field a Michigan Coordinator for the first time now that the Governor’s Iron Belle Trail has provided funding to work on gaps in the Trail. In August I was lucky enough to be chosen as the NCTA Regional Trail Coordinator for Michigan. Prior to this I worked seasonally for the HuronManistee National Forests in Baldwin, Michigan, for seven years, six of them as the Trail Crew leader. With the Forest Service I was primarily responsible for the planning and implementation of trail maintenance, reconstruction, and construction projects of the District’s ORV trails. I have also had the opportunity to work with numerous volunteer trail groups, including equestrian, snowmobile, and two of NCTA’s chapters (Spirit of the Woods and Western Michigan). I look forward to building a relationship with all 12 of Michigan’s Chapters and working with these dedicated hard-working people. I was born and raised in the Trail Town of White Cloud, Michigan, and went on to graduate from Grand Valley State University with a degree in Natural Resource Management. In my spare time I will do anything that gets me outdoors including fishing, hunting, kayaking, and of course hiking. Currently I reside in Howard City with my wife Maureen who is expecting our first child in January. If you want to talk trails with me contact me at kwawsczyk@northcountrytrail.org.



believe we all question our sanity at times when we do major volunteer efforts that seem, at least temporarily, overpowering. The people that we meet in the process are at least a part of the reason that I think we continue. These people would include fellow volunteers and trail partners we work with and the thankful trail users we meet along the way. Bob Norlin was a perfect example of a volunteer! Bob had a very persuasive and witty personality who could convince you that the world was actually flat and leave you laughing at the same time. His dedication was highly contagious and I soon caught the “trail bug” from Bob. Even on planned fun hikes, he would be there handing out tools just in case the NCT needed some maintenance (which it usually did). In the fall of 2005, I was elected Chequamegon Chapter President. Before my first Chapter Meeting as president, Bob Norlin had adopted multiple sections of NCT on our western end and became the first person to become a Chapter trail adopter. During this first meeting, I would nominate Bob for the new position of Trail Adoption Coordinator. To this day I am not sure where this last minute, middle of the meeting idea came from. In our Chapter’s second meeting that same year I would have trouble leading the meeting. Conversations were going on and I seemed to be having trouble keeping order. It was not until the next day that I would find out that Bob Norlin was busy signing up trail adopters during the meeting and we would end up with an additional six sections of our NCT adopted. The power of Bob’s persuasion! Bob would go on to receive the NCTA’s Distinguished Service Award and become one of the co-founders of the Iron River Hikers, a group based out of a café in Iron River who did almost weekly hikes. Although independent of the Chequamegon Chapter, we would receive many valuable volunteers and

Marty Swank

Introducing Kenny Wawsczyk, New Michigan Trail Coordinator

Bob Norlin with his ratcheting loppers.

future trail adopters from the Iron River Hikers because of Bob’s gentle persuasive personality. Bob was always promoting the NCT. The ravages of Parkinson’s disease would eventually overtake Bob but his dedication to the North Country Trail remained unwavering. An email message from Karen Larsen, a former USFS Washburn District person who worked tirelessly for our Chapter in the past, illustrates this dedication better than I could ever say: Greetings NCT friends, Teresa Maday passed along the sad news of Bob’s passing and I wanted to share my condolences with you all. I know what an integral part Bob was of the trail community and how much he will be missed. As I’m sure many of you would agree, Bob’s unflagging spirit and determination, even when his body was faltering, were an incredible inspiration. I can only hope and pray that I can continue to be as active and dedicated to the trails as Bob was. Please know that my thoughts and prayers are with Bob’s family and with you all, and that I do still think of you and appreciate the awesome work that you continue to do! Karen Larsen, Natural Resources Manager– Recreation U. S. Forest Service An inspiration to all of us and a life well spent, Bob Norlin will always be guiding us on the Trail. October-December 2015


Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Hosts North Dakota Trails Conference Story and photos by Becky Heise


he 4th Annual North Dakota Trails Conference was held in Valley City on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 4 and 5, 2015 with the largest attendance yet to date. Tuesday was spent getting acquainted with some of the Sheyenne River Valley’s (SRV) recreational amenities. After morning registration, three vans made their way to Fort Ransom State Park. North Dakota Parks and Recreation had a trailer which has been outfitted as a traveling museum with various exhibits to celebrate their 50th Anniversary. They also had a variety of recreational trail maintenance equipment on display which included the SRV Chapter’s ATV and DR mower, the SRV tool trailer (which garnered a lot of interest!), a cross-country ski trail groomer, snowmobile trail groomer and other A post-conference hike along Lake Ashtabula through the rolling North Dakota such equipment. landscape. Left to right, Sharon Buhr, Becky Heise, Luke Jordan, Matt Davis, After lunch and a welcome from Mark Debbie Koepplin, Andrea Ketchmark, and Scott Tichy. Zimmerman, director of North Dakota Parks and Recreation, three excursions headed in nonprofit organization called the Wild River Academy from different directions. Seventeen people signed up the ground up. for the kayak trip from Fort Ransom State Park to the town of After that there was a Trail Management Philosophy panel Fort Ransom. Twenty-six hikers hit the trail to the waterfall in with representatives from ND Game and Fish, the MN the Sheyenne State Forest east of Fort Ransom. The rest drove Department of Natural Resources, the US Forest Service to Fort Ransom and then north on the Sheyenne River Valley and our very own Scott Tichy with the US Army Corps of National Scenic Byway. Engineers. The representatives shared their perspectives on Bobby Koepplin led the hike to the waterfall, highlighting managing trail systems, including their different approaches to problems we have been having with ATVs and horses multi-use trails and accommodations for different users. It was on different parts of the trail. He also showed off the five very interesting to hear the stories from these various agencies. boardwalks and two horse barricades on sections of sensitive Scott, of course, was very complimentary to the SRV Chapter trail that have been installed since that segment was developed for the help we have provided the Corps in developing and in 2007. maintaining trail and finding funding for trail projects along Three o’clock found us back at the Park where we could the shores of Lake Ashtabula. examine the displays, explore the many trails there or view After a short break there were concurrent sessions. One some gravel surfacing that was recently installed to mitigate was on Trail Support Facilities for various kinds of trails and the damage being caused by the heavy horse traffic on many of various trail users, including design and location of trailheads, the trails there (not NCT). At about 5 pm we headed back to rest areas and wayfinding. It was interesting to find out there Valley City for a social sponsored by KLJ Engineers, a major is an infrared device for counting the number of trail users. sponsor of the event. KLJ has been very helpful to us in the We wondered how it would differentiate between human users past as they have been responsible for the maps we use for our and wildlife users! They couldn’t give us an answer for that easement acquisition projects and were also the firm we hired one! The second concurrent session was on the why and how to acquire easements in the past under a Recreational Trails of basic pruning techniques to insure the trail is passable while Program grant. maintaining the health of surrounding trees. Wednesday activities were held at the Memorial Student The second set of concurrent sessions focused on the Center at Valley City State University. The opening session, development of urban OHV (Off Highway Vehicle) parks held in conjunction with breakfast, was fascinating. Natalie and Trail Surfacing Options. Something that everyone at the Warren spoke about her excursion in 2011 with a friend, conference agreed upon was that OHVs have been doing a lot when they became the first two women to paddle 2,000 of damage to trails in North Dakota. Many have the idea that miles from Minneapolis to Hudson Bay, recreating Eric if you build parks just for the OHVs, they may leave other Sevareid’s route from his book, Canoeing with the Cree. She trails alone, while others question that assumption. The trail shared her story with a PowerPoint presentation and showed surfacing session covered many options from concrete and how she used what she learned on her journey to build a 16

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Duane Lawton

Natalie Warren giving a presentation on her canoe trip north into Canada.

Dove Day, Duane Lawton, Bob Haack, Sheridan Haack left to right, building new register boxes.

asphalt for urban trails to gravel and wood chips in more inaccessible areas. We learned that there is a product called “gorilla snot” which can be used to hold surface materials together and help keep them from eroding away under use or environmental conditions. The closing session was held during lunch and featured one of our latest thru-hikers, Luke Jordan. While we had just hosted Luke at Valley City State University a few months ago, I could listen to his story again and again. The crowd listened intently as he wove the tale of the peaks and valleys of his thruhike a few years ago. After the conclusion of the conference, the SRV Chapter took advantage of having Andrea Ketchmark, Matt Davis and Luke Jordan in the area and took them for a hike along a section of trail along Lake Ashtabula. We wanted to show them some of the problems we face with damage caused by cattle, including hummocks in wet areas and constantly broken Carsonite posts. Scott Tichy, US Corps of Engineers, who also joined us for the hike, is going to research a new product he had been hearing about which allows for more flexibility in the hopes that cattle stepping on them will not cause them to break so easily. Constantly having to replace Carsonites is a very expensive proposition! It was a very interesting and educational couple of days on the trail and in the classrooms, so to speak. We learned a lot, made some helpful contacts, and even drummed up a couple of members for the NCTA!

Trail Fun in Petoskey Members of the Jordan Valley 45º and Harbor Springs Chapters had a busy day July 11th. First we had a group hike to the Cherry Valley Overlook south east of town, with 22 people participating, during which we planted a new trail register box at the Charlevoix/Emmet county line, and replacement junction signs at the Cherry Valley Overlook spur trail. Then, Luke “Strider” Jordan presented his “A Thru-Hiker’s Journey” at North Central Michigan College to an enthusiastic crowd of over 60 people, with 30+ minutes of Q&A. We were honored with visits that day by “Strider,” one of the few people who has walked the whole North Country Trail in one season, Ed Talone, up from Lowell, who had thru-hiked the trail back in 1994 and is currently working on doing it again in pieces, plus Don Beattie, who sectionhiked the whole trail, finishing back in 2005. We then repaired to Dove and John Day’s barn for a potluck and campfire— with s’mores. Four JV45º members had met Friday, July 10th to build another six trail register boxes, one of which now graces the county line.

Duane Lawton


By Duane Lawton

Luke “Strider” Jordan, left, and Ed Talone, right, along on our hike to install new signs. Obviously both are brats.

October-December 2015


Second Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day Celebrations By Mary Coffin, Volunteer Membership Committee

The Dakota Prairie Chapter had a picnic with live music at the Ekre Grassland Preserve after their “Hike Every Mile.” Photo by Mary Moberg

NCTA chapters and affiliates hosted a variety of events along the Trail on Sept 26, 2015, to celebrate North Country National Scenic Trail Day, which is held annually on the fourth Saturday in September. The purpose of this special day dedicated to North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) events was to raise the awareness of the Trail on a day that does not conflict with the many American Hiking Society National Trails Day events in June. Also fall is a great time to be outdoors and to put a cap on the many projects accomplished during the summer. It does appropriately coincide with National Public Lands Day. This year at least 26 events involving over 410 participants and volunteers were held across the seven states involving over 114 miles of NCNST, including many beautiful fall hikes/ walks, work trips, trail exhibits, picnics, potluck dinners, speaker presentations, a Trail Town dedication, new trail construction, and exposure to Adirondack Wildernesses. Chapters and affiliates reported participants who came from several hours away to be part of an event. I had a member from Arizona on my Adirondack hike. The weather was great throughout the northern tier and the fall colors were beginning to show in many of the venues. The biggest event was the Tahquamenon Falls Hike “Tween Da Falls” with trailside displays and shuttle organized by the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where they drew 230 participants. The North Country Trail Hikers, also of the UP, attracted 50 walkers and 5 new NCTA members for their “Walking in Marquette.” Dakota Prairie Chapter’s event, “Hike Every Mile,” where

someone hiked on every mile of the 75 miles the chapter maintains, drew a crowd. Chequamegon and Brule-St. Croix chapters attracted 30 to a memorial picnic and slide show to honor long-time member Bob Norlin, who passed away in August. The most rugged hike offered was on the Border Route Trail including Rose Cliff, Caribou Rock, Moss Lake and Stairway Falls. My Extended Outing in 2013 hiked this section and enjoyed the spectacular panoramic views. Laurentian Lakes Chapter sponsored a workday in Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge’s Visitors Center to build a spur to its Visitors Discovery Center. The state hosting the most events this year for NCNST Day was New York with seven, beating out Michigan, where there were nine last year. Hikes were offered on three sections of the Finger Lakes Trail including the Onondaga, Central New York Chapter’s section along the Back River Canal and two hikes on the Adirondack route. Jordan 45o held the most events by one chapter attracting 26 for a hike crossing the 45 parallel, trail signage improvement, potluck dinner and slide presentation. Butler County Chapter held a hike and Trail Town dedication in the city of Parker, a great trail promotion event, while Brule-St. Croix Chapter also declared Solon Springs in Wisconsin a Trail Town. Hikers enjoyed a walk through Lucius Woods County Park to the new Dudeck Bridge built by the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew. The picnic at Park Creek Pond featured an impromptu concert of original music from Hallbjorn, the folk group of NCTA-BSC members Tom and Debbi King.


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Rennae Gruchalla

Mary MacDonald

Schenectady Adirondack Mtn. Club Chapter hike featured this view from the top of Moxham Mtn. in the Adirondacks of N.Y.

Rennae and Ed Gruchalla with five grandchildren after even the littlest enjoyed their hike with the Dakota Prairie Chapter.

Dave Adams

Since much of the Trail is on public land it is fitting that we concurrently celebrated National Public Lands Day and Hunting and Fishing Day. We hope our NCNST Day events along with events hosted by chapters and affiliates all year long help to raise awareness of the NCNST as a trail of national significance and a valuable recreational resource to local communities. Perhaps along the way we even recruited a few new volunteers, members and supporters. Mark your calendars now for next year’s NCNST Day on September 24, 2016. Search #NCNSTDay on social media to view posts from this year’s events.


Dave Adams

The Trail crosses the 1140´ long road bridge in the background over the Allegheny River, separating the Butler and Clarion Chapters while Parker, Pennsylvania, becomes a Trail Town.

Left: Ron Rice of the Butler Chapter addresses the crowd at a dedication of Parker as a Trail Town.

October-December 2015


Where Am I? Story and Photos by Mary Stenberg


s a hiker, nothing is more unsettling than to be out on a hiking trail and wonder, “Where am I?” As someone who has hiked locally and throughout Wisconsin, as well as in other states and foreign countries, there is nothing that reassures a hiker more than a simple sign or trail marker. I am someone who never hikes alone and always carries a map, but I have still become frustrated and (sometimes) scared while out hiking. Where’s the trail? Am I still on the trail? Am I headed in the right direction? Have I missed a turn? How much further do I have to go? Am I lost? Where am I? These are all questions I have asked myself and questions that could be prevented with a simple trail marker, directional arrow or destination sign. Wisconsin's Chequamegon Chapter of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA), has been working on a special sign project for the past couple of years. In addition to the “blue blaze” trail marking, our club has erected destination signs that provide mileage distances along our 60+ mile segment of trail that runs from County Highway A, south of Iron River, to Copper Falls State Park near Mellen. For example, if a hiker wants to begin at Two Lakes Campground south of Drummond and hike east to Beaver Lake Campground near Mellen, destination signs along the trail will inform the hiker that it is a 19.5 mile hike. The hiker can note progress toward the destination with additional destination signs along the way and will also see signs along the way labeling points of interest such as Porcupine Lake, Long Mile Lookout, the Marengo River, the Swedish Settlement, and, eventually, the spur trail leading to the Beaver Lake Campground. Information signs marking trailhead parking areas and wilderness areas have been put up. The signs labeling points of interest along the Trail such as lake names, historic sites, and overlook areas have been installed and add to the awareness and enjoyment of the hiker. Some signs are just a simple arrow at an intersection pointing the hiker in the right direction. Trail Register boxes have also been strategically installed along this segment of trail. Hikers’ written comments are reviewed by Chequamegon Chapter leaders. Most comments are complimentary in nature, but some have made suggestions for additional signage, or have alerted us to problem areas on the trail. Proper signage and maintenance of the Trail are essential to ensuring that hikers have a positive experience while hiking the North Country Trail. The Chequamegon Chapter of the NCTA works hard to provide an enjoyable experience.


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May 7 Trail Work day, a simple arrow sign installed at a confusing intersection directs hikers in the right direction.

North Country Trail sign and trail register box near the Porcupine Wilderness. The destination sign provides hikers with mileage distances to key points along the Trail.

Bill Menke—He Builds the Character of Our Trail By Joan Young


Tina Bazala Photography


number of us can say we love the North Country Trail with a passion even we can’t quite explain...that blue-blaze fever. A very small number of those afflicted with the fever have been involved with the North Country Trail for as long as Bill Menke. No one else except Bill can say they have worked for each entity of the “triad,” the big three of the NCT: the National Park Service, the US Forest Service and also the North Country Trail Association. Bill’s no stranger to hard physical work, and he comes by that skill honestly, having grown up on a farm in Missouri. His popular Roving Trail Crew has built about 65 miles of trail in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We know him as the “go-to guy” for information on how to design and build high quality trail. Bill always says that well-built trail is a joy to hike and is sustainable. But his career path seemed to lead in a different direction when he began college at the University of Missouri. He spent one year working on a major in chemistry. However, Bill couldn’t see himself spending a lifetime in the laboratory, and switched to forestry. This degree led to a job with the Forest Service in the Ozarks, where he served on two different Ranger Districts. These were his only two work locations outside of NCTland. From there, he went to the Superior National Forest in Minnesota, and then to Cass Lake in Wisconsin’s Chippewa National Forest. This brings us up to 1983, when Bill heard about the fledgling North Country Trail’s Comprehensive Plan that would bring it through the Chip. Soon after that he transferred to the Manistee National Forest in Michigan where, as District Manager, he helped construct some of the first miles of the NCT, as the Forests quickly came on board with supporting the idea of theTrail. Even then, when the NCT was a series of disconnected chunks with only a dream of a route, Bill decided he wanted to understand this Trail better, and not from behind a desk. As a result, he backpacked the portion of the NCT on the Manistee District, and began to see a vision for the bigger picture. (Incidentally, he’s now hiked more than 2700 miles, making him one of the few who have seen more than half the NCT.) Soon, he moved back to Wisconsin, and the National Park Service created a Trail Manager position. Tom Gilbert (first NCT Park Service Superintendent) hired Bill to fill the new role in 1992, where he continued until 2001. Retirement from the Park Service sure wasn’t going to be retirement from the Trail. Almost immediately he was hired by the NCTA as Trail Foreman, which morphed to Regional Trail Coordinator for Wisconsin and Upper Michigan. This is now cut back to only Wisconsin. But Bill just keeps on plugging! One of Bill’s specialties is trail design and building. Based on all his experience, he could see needs that existed across the seven NCT states. After attending a trails building conference

provided by the Student Conservation Association, he realized he knew enough to be teaching those skills. He’s been leading the way in this area for the NCT ever since. Personally, I owe most of what I know about trail design and maintenance to Bill. Astonishingly, although I’d been a hiker since forever, I hadn’t thought about how trails get themselves on the ground. I guess I stupidly thought they were just old cow paths. I had no idea why a trail might be better here, rather than ten feet over there, or how much effort is required to create good trail. Working with Bill in Ohio for a few days in1996, I certainly got a welcome education! Trail certification prospered under Bill’s tenure with NPS. I think Bill knew every inch of every topo map of the Trail. He GPSed many miles with the old, heavy Trimble unit. He was generous in helping hikers plan routes before the NCTA had any maps at all. He’ll always take a stand on good technique and creating premier hiking trail, but diplomatically. When he’s not working on trail things, his hobby is creating beautiful native prairie in his backyard, filled with coneflowers, blazing star, rattlesnake master, quinine, butterfly weed and more. Bill and wife, Donna, live in Dodgeville, Wisconsin. Most every year you’ll see them at the annual trail conference. Continued on page 22 October-December 2015


Although you probably won’t see Donna climbing trees or hauling rocks, I’ve known her to hike a bit, and they recently returned from a canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. They have five grandchildren, and as each one turns fourteen he or she gets to choose a dream trip (in the US). So far, they’ve gone to see the Swan Lake ballet, in Kansas City, trekked New York City and taken in a major league lacrosse game, and gone skiing in Colorado. Bet you wish Bill and Donna were your grandparents...or that you were fourteen again. The North Country Trail owes a great deal of its character to Bill Menke, and Bill has one huge aspiration for the Trail. He wishes all the cooperating land managers would value the NCT as a world-class hiking trail, and treat it as such.

Donna Menke

Bill on the Aden Creek bridge built in Wisconsin by the Rovers Crew.


The North Star




Holiday Shoes! The Gift of Snowshoeing the North Country Trail in North Dakota By Christine Ellsworth

Wondering what to give yourself this holiday season? Yes, you read that correctly: what to give yourself! How about the gift of a snowshoe trip on the North Country Trail? There are some great reasons to try it this winter, provided there is adequate snow cover where you are. Since the North Country Trail meanders around the northernmost states, it’s likely there will be good snow cover come late December.

Photo of my metal Tubbs…taken by me.

Why would you want to give this gift to yourself? There’s a world of wondrous quiet outside. Snow muffles sound so that pretty soon, you’ll just be hearing the rhythmic sound of your shoes crunching through the snow and your own breath. Friends I know say they “love the solitude” to be found outdoors in winter. Others enjoy learning what the animal tracks tell you about “what happened before you got there;” you may see bird, mice, squirrel, and other critter tracks that will keep your mind off what’s happening on the nightly news or at your office tomorrow. If you go, and it’s your first time out alone or with friends, here are some important gifts from some of my snowshoeing buddies. Rick Schauderaff, a frequent snowshoer of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter of North Dakota gives snowshoe newbies this gift: “I would tell people new to it to dress in layers and prepare to peel off clothes. I have more often been hot than cold. Removing gloves is a good temperature adjustor.” Jerry Warner, a relative newbie to shoeing (but veteran member and NCTA volunteer for the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter), agrees. He suggests bringing along some dry clothes just in case you get too wet out there. Me? I’ve found that bringing along a bandana or two to mop your face with can be an amazing pick-me-up. Jerry says: “Be in shape. Know your abilities.” If it’s your first time, go slow. First time I went, I was with a seasoned shoer, and it’s a good workout if you

Rick Schauderaff

Wooden shoes, Ojibway model.

Use this link for closeup maps and hike descriptions: http:// arcg.is/1NYcq6E

get moving too fast. Remember: this is a gift of the outdoors you’re giving yourself. Take your time and let the trail reveal its winter self to you. Matt Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator for Minnesota and North Dakota, North Country Trail Association, says “I do love snowshoeing...in fact, it might be my favorite outdoor activity. I like going off trail in deeper snow and exploring areas that are inaccessible during the non-winter months, like tamarack-black spruce bogs and lake edges. It's great going out on snowshoes because it›s great exercise and it's quieter and easier than XC skiing. I have found that you can often observe wildlife out in their habitats doing their usual winter things.” As for me, on my first time out, I was not prepared for how much differently I had to walk. Here’s what I want to give you: be prepared to listen to your hips. With snowshoes, we have to walk with our feet a bit further apart than we normally do, and this places a whole different load on our muscles around the hips (and knees and ankles, as well). Some folks swear by walking sticks. Others, like Jerry, make use of what nature offers them; he says: “I once read a book [that] explained that it is good to get accustomed to walking without sticks or poles in case you ever need to carry something in your hands. A stick can be a useful tool to check for rocks and depth out ahead of you when crossing a stream, or ice thickness, or poking at a bear to see if it is dead or just sleeping (use a real long stick). But out in a forest there will always be sticks; you don’t need to carry your own.” (Jerry has a good point, here, but I note also that Jerry is a joker. Not likely you will come across a bear; they are hibernating by late December.) Rick doesn’t use sticks, but admits they could “help prevent some tipovers!” Me: I do like sticks or poles and I do use them. I like the added depthprobing ability they give me, and the balance they afford. Plus I get more of an upper body workout. Take frequent breaks. Stop and smell the clear air. Take a picture. Look up. Look down. Look around you. Drink some of the water you remembered to stow in that backpack. Maybe drop down on your back and make a snow angel. (Yes, it can still be done with shoes on.)


If you’re the first person to set foot on fresh, newly fallen snow, know that it can require the most physical effort from you. Breaking trail is a little easier when you’re traveling over snow that’s had a chance to settle for a day or two, forming a bit of a crust on top. If you’re with a group, take turns being the leader breaking trail. You’re likely going to find that you belong to one of the two shoe camps: wood or metal. Rick uses wood. “My snowshoes are traditional wooden ones; these happen to be the Ojibway model, coming to a point at both front and back. I prefer them in brush or marsh conditions, as the lead points help you sort obstacles to either side. At the Buffalo River State Park event last year, I won a drawing for a new set of snowshoes but actually traded them for skis. I’m too much a traditionalist and having laced these and lacquered them yearly, the aluminum sort just don’t do it for me.” Jerry just says he needs some better shoes; his broke the first time he went out shoeing Christmas Day last year. Me, I love my metal Tubbs. They’re not horrifically expensive, and they’re lightweight (definite plus). I also have some very traditional wooden ones with leather bindings, but prefer the teeth the metal ones incorporate under me. As with any sport, you can spend a lot or you can spend a little. Here’s the gift we’d all give you on this: go with your own level of commitment, enjoyment, and financial leeway. Whether wood or metal, you’ll still be putting one foot in front of the other outside on a sparkling, snowy cathedral of a trail. Don’t forget the hot cocoa at trail’s end (with the optional peppermint candy cane stir stick). As a parting gift, we all wanted to share where you can enjoy some snowshoeing this holiday season and beyond out here in the North Dakota area of the North Country Trail. Rick’s favorite hike with his family or alone is Sheyenne Grasslands to Mirror Pool. Jerry’s Christmas Day hike last year took him to the state’s only registered waterfall, which he insisted he could hear running beneath the snow and ice! Matt Davis thinks the Waterfall Hike is a great snowshoe trek, too. Watch for events sponsored by State Parks this winter; these events welcome newbies and those familiar with snowshoeing. This holiday season, I’m planning on doing a snowshoe hike in the Fort Abercrombie State Park. By the way…if you hear some jingling out there some weekend day late in the year…it’s probably me. I tie a couple of tiny bells on my boots to ramp up that holiday spirit; it’s music to my ears (and keeps away the bears—just in case Jerry wasn’t joking).

October-December 2015


Lorana Jinkerson

Long Distance Hikers and Others on the Trail

This summary is excerpted from the NCT Hikers Chapter newsletter, Footnotes, in which Lorana Jinkerson recapped all the visiting hikers she had learned about.

but instead, took the bus and train back to Pennsylvania and continued hiking east through Pennsylvania and New York. He hopes to return next season to pick up from here and on to Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota. In addition, over the season, we’ve had various other long-distance hikers come through our area in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Those I do know about include:

Back in March we had three different parties planning and beginning NCT thru-hikes, hiking all 4600 miles of the Trail in one season. For various reasons, none has been able to meet the goal of doing so. If you wish to read about their adventures check out facebook. com/4feet4paws for Bearwalker, Buttons and Molly’s adventure, facebook. com/EastboundNCT for James and Seth’s story and finally, facebook.com/ ed.talone.9 for Ed’s ramblings of his attempt to repeat, 21 years later, his accomplishment of being the first thruhiker ever to complete the NCT in one season. Of those three parties, only one made it to Marquette, Ed Talone. He had actually stopped hiking after breaking his ankle in Ohio but after it healed, he resumed his trek, arriving here in Marquette at the end of July. He even went out with the Trail Crew one day to experience what we do to keep the Trail in shape for hikers. The next day, however, he became quite ill and ended up spending 16 days in Marquette, recuperating [at Lorana’s house!]. He decided not to head west to the remote section of trail heading to Ironwood,

Lorana Jinkerson

Dawn Bower and Tucker in front of a wonderfully helpful sign, installed by the NCT Hikers.


The North Star

Dawn Bower: Dawn hiked Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore with a group led by Andy Mytys who hiked in our area last fall with his friend John. She then came to Marquette with the plan to hike back to Munising with her Golden Retriever, Tucker, since dogs are not permitted along Pictured Rocks. She had the goal to hike at least 100 miles before returning home to Grand Rapids. She and Tucker encountered numerous roadblocks in their attempt but kept persevering, finally doing some day hiking with Dan and Ruth Dorrough from New York who are attempting to hike the entire NCT over a period of a few years. And, Dawn and Tucker have now moved to Marquette, joined our Chapter and are enjoying even more of our NCT! We are so proud of their perseverance and welcome them to our NCT Hikers family. Dan and Ruth Durrough, mentioned above, were in the area day hiking from Lorana’s house for a few days when Dan announced that “fish and house guests start smelling after 3 days” so they headed over to Tourist Park as their basecamp for a few more days in the Marquette area. They drive two vehicles, spotting one at the end of each day’s planned hike, then retrieving the starting vehicle at the end of the day. One happens to be a full-size van that they use for camping. You can read about Dan and Ruth’s experiences hiking almost 4000 miles of the NCT at facebook.com/dan. dorrough.

Mikelah Snell and her immense pack.

Carson Eggerding: Carson arrived in Marquette after hiking from St. Ignace, including being a member of the group Andy Mytys led through Pictured Rocks. His goal was to go all the way to Ironwood. He easily made it and when he returned to Marquette, shared his story of meeting another hiker, a student from MTU who was hiking east and a German national who was also hiking west but had no clue that there were no blue blazes to follow in the McCormick Wilderness. Carson loved our remote, rugged trail and mentioned he’d love to come back above the bridge from the Grand Rapids area and help us with maintenance, bringing some strong young friends with him. Let’s hope he follows through on that. Mikelah Snell: Did you see the movie Wild? If so, take a look at Mikelah’s pack as she readies to hit the trail from the Welcome Center. It so reminded me of Cheryl Strayed and her pack. She could hardly get it on and stand up straight. An older couple coming out of the Welcome Center stopped and asked her where the kitchen sink was. She just smiled. We wished her well as she hoped to reach St. Ignace in a couple of weeks. It was not to be, though. She struggled but did make it part way before she left the Trail due to her boyfriend’s mother passing away. We hope she returns sometime in the future to hike more of our great NCT in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

Jacob and Brett: These young men planned to hike from Ironwood to Marquette. They, too, stopped short of their goal. As Brett wrote, “Jacob and I made it thru the Ni-Mikanaake section but with the very wet trail and very wet feet we developed blisters that will need a couple days to heal. We don’t have that time to spare so we are exiting the Trail for this trip.”

Then the very next Wednesday, again while the Trail Crew was diligently maintaining the Trail, a young man from Utah came from the west. He had started hiking at the Wisconsin/ Upper Peninsula border and planned to hike across the whole UP, reaching St. Ignace by Monday, Labor Day September 7 to walk the Big Mac Bridge. Not sure if he made it, but we certainly hope so. It was such a treat to see two different hikers on two different days hiking the McCormick! Group from Cornerstone University, Grand Rapids: Although we never ran into this group, we saw their vehicles parked at the unnamed road parking area between segments 22 and 23. Later I heard that they were camping and hiking our trail for a few days. In this remote area where we seldom have hikers, again, it was great to realize that all the Trail Crew’s efforts were not in vain. Carl Kestilla’s Boy Scout Troop 321: All Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts across the State of Michigan were encouraged to hike a portion of the Iron Belle for its dedication on National Trails Day June 6. Troop 321 hiked from the Craig Lake parking lot to the west entrance to the McCormick Tract. They fed a lot of mosquitoes and kindly removed 20


Duane Lawton and Friends: Duane and a group of friends from downstate hiked portions of our Trail between Marquette and Munising, documenting their adventure through pictures. Their group included a couple of young people which we really like to see. Specific comments remarked on the wonderful Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park and the accompanying Hikers Shelter along the Trail, as well as meeting some of our Trail Crew on the Sand River portion south of Jeskee Flooding, including freshly painted blazes. Jo Oostveen is a sixty-something married woman whose husband tends the home while she goes off on backpacking adventures, one of which recently covered a western part of the UP. When Lorana advised her to use a GPS to find her way through the unblazed McCormick Wilderness, she responded, “I travel solo with old fashioned maps instead of the new GPS. I’m a traditionalist and have been reading maps and finding my way for over 30 years now.” Afterwards, she wrote Lorana, “The trail was in great shape for most of the 76 or so miles! Also the blazing was fantastic! Even though I was in very remote areas, I never thought I would ‘lose the trail’ as the blazing was great. Also, even though the trail in McCormick was covered with pine needles and leaves, it

was still pretty easy to locate and follow without the blazing. The trail was a bit more difficult than I had thought in many places, but somehow this old lady survived with just soreness and bruising. Thanks again to everyone who has worked so hard on the trail in those areas, as it was much appreciated! I will have only a few miles of your chapter left next year and will continue on to Wisconsin.”

Lorana Jinkerson

Young man going to highest point in Marquette County and another young man from Utah: The Trail Crew was out working the McCormick Wilderness segment two Wednesdays in a row. The first day, a dog happened upon Lorana and LuAnne, followed closely by a young man who said he was on his way to hike to the highest point in Marquette County, that point being just off our Trail as it crosses the southern portion of the Wilderness.

small trees that had blown and fallen across the Trail. The weather was great. They saw only four other people near the new bridge on the east side of Craig Lake.

Dawn, Tucker, and Dan and Ruth Dorrough with the dooryard turtle at Lorana’s house.

Upper Peninsula Organizations Honored By Michigan DNR The Michigan Department of Natural Resources honored two organizations in the Upper Peninsula with Partners in Conservation Awards this fall. Plum Creek Timber Company, recipient of the 2014 NCTA Trail Blazer Award, was honored by the DNR for its work to create and maintain critical deer wintering habitat. The North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA was also honored with a “Partners” Award for their efforts across more than 80 miles to build, maintain, promote, and protect the Trail.

October-December 2015


Scott Geiger

sts e r o F l a n atio N r u o Y w o Get to Kn

New York: An intact stone wall in what is now forest, within the Finger Lakes National Forest. Obviously this federal land was once a rocky hillside farm.

By Eric Sandeno, Region 9 Wilderness, Wild & Scenic Rivers, National Historic and Scenic Trails Program Manager



The North Star

Welcome to the Finger Lakes National Forest

The Green Mountain and Finger Lakes National Forests, although separate, share the same administrative headquarters in Rutland, Vermont. The forests’ combined land mass is over 416,000 acres spread throughout southwestern and southern Vermont, and the Finger Lakes region of New York State. These lands are managed to provide ecological and science-based forestry stewardship, clean water, diverse vegetation, high-quality forest products, economic and educational contributions, and trail-based backcountry recreation. The Finger Lakes National Forest encompasses 16,212 acres nestled in the highlands between Seneca and Cayuga Lakes in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. The Forest has over 30 miles of interconnecting trails that traverse gorges, ravines, pastures and woodlands. Whether you are a hiker, cross country skier, camper, fishing or hunting enthusiast, snowmobiler, horseback rider, mountain biker, or wildlife watcher, the Finger Lakes National Forest will amaze you with its scenic beauty. A total of five miles of the North This picture was taken in February at the Denham Lean-to in the Finger Country National Scenic Trail crosses Lakes National Forest, with a winterthe Finger Lakes National Forest and are only view of distant hills. maintained through an agreement with the

Marilyn Beckley

n March 5, 1980, Congress amended the National Trails System Act to authorize and establish the North Country National Scenic Trail as a component of the National Trails System. The National Park Service was assigned administrative responsibility for the Trail. However, the Act did not transfer management responsibilities which were in place at the time of the designation of the North Country National Scenic Trail. The North Country National Scenic Trail passes through eight national forests and one National Grassland, across two administrative Forest Service Regions. From east to west, the Forest Service units are: Finger Lakes, Allegheny, Wayne, Huron-Manistee, Hiawatha, Ottawa, Chequamegon-Nicolet, Chippewa National Forests, and the Sheyenne National Grasslands. In all, just over 680 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail traverse National Forest System Lands. In the next several publications of the North Star, you will have the opportunity to learn a little more about the National Forests and Grasslands along the Trail’s route.

Mike Henderson

Pennsylvania: Hikers in the Allegheny National Forest, through the typical fern-covered forest floor.

Finger Lakes Trail Conference. However, a bill has been working its way through Congress for the past several years, which would extend the North Country National Scenic Trail through the Green Mountain National Forest in Vermont and connect it to the Appalachian Trail.

Welcome to the Allegheny National Forest

Mike Toole

In the Allegheny National Forest, really annoying beavers built a new dam by using a trail bridge as framework to pack mud against. The nerve! Then their dam mud grew weeds that threatened to hide the bridge, and flooded the trail on the far side.


The Allegheny National Forest is Pennsylvania’s only National Forest. The forest is approximately 517,000 acres and includes land in Elk, Forest, McKean and Warren counties in the northwestern corner of the state. About 463,000 acres are forested, 42,000 acres are non-forest, and 11,000 acres are covered by water (primarily the Allegheny Reservoir). The Allegheny National Forest is administratively divided into two Ranger Districts: Bradford and Marienville. The Forest Service brought new concepts in forest management to the Allegheny Plateau, multiple benefits and sustainability. The Organic Act of 1897 introduced the National Forest mission: to improve the forest, provide favorable conditions for water flows, and furnish a continuous supply of wood to meet people’s needs. On these lands, seedlings for tomorrow’s forest are the focus of forest management activities. Watersheds are managed to ensure clear water for fisheries like trout and clean drinking water for all. Over time, various laws added other benefits like wilderness, heritage resources and grazing to the original ideas of

watershed protection and continuous wood supply. The Multiple Use-Sustained Yield Act of 1960 recognized outdoor recreation and habitat for wildlife and fisheries. A total of 96 miles of the North Country National Scenic Trail meander through the historic lands of the Iroquois on the Allegheny Plateau, through some of the most valuable black cherry and oak in the world. The North Country National Scenic Trail is well taken care of by the Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. In 2014, over 10,000 hours of volunteer labor were contributed to management of the North Country National Scenic Trail within the Allegheny National Forest. If you are interested in “The Ultimate Hiking Challenge,” you may consider participating in the annual Allegheny 100 in 2016. For more information on the Allegheny 100 Challenge visit: https:// northcountrytrail.org/get-involved/ special-events/allegheny-100-hikingchallenge/ In the next publication, we will continue our western trip along the North Country National Scenic Trail and introduce you to the Wayne and HuronManistee National Forests.

October-December 2015


Gary Mallow

The Heart of a Volunteer By Tom Gilbert


ne of my favorite World War II movies is Pearl Harbor, portraying the Japanese attack on the Hawaiian naval base and the United States’ response via the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. In the movie, as the Doolittle Raiders are cruising westward across the Pacific, their B-25s parked on the flight deck of the USS Hornet, Colonel James Doolittle is standing on one of the decks of the carrier’s “island,” talking with one of his Lieutenants, Jack Richards. On the flight deck below them are several of the B-25 pilots. Col. Doolittle: “You know, Jack, we may lose this battle, but we’re going to win this war. You know how I know?” Lt. Richards: “No.” Col. Doolittle [pointing at the pilots down on the deck]: “Them. ‘Cause they’re rare. And at times like these you see them stepping forward. There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer, Jack.” The statement caught my attention: “There’s nothing stronger than the heart of a volunteer.” I wondered what is so strong, what is so special about the heart of a volunteer? As I thought about the dedicated service of the volunteers of the North Country National Scenic Trail, I found several answers to my question.

Volunteers Paul Warrender, Nigel Dyson-Hudson, and Dave Newman pour a concrete base beneath the tall accessible fire ring at the Locust Lean-to in New York.

of the North Country Trail Association and its partners could do with their time, but thankfully they choose to work on this outstanding trail or support those who do. We have many beautiful places to go walking because of “them.” 2. The heart of a Volunteer is motivated by a Vision of “what can be.” North Country Trail volunteers have been captivated by the vision of what this trail will be. They know what it looks like and what it feels like to travel over it. They know the special places that are or will be connected and preserved by the Trail. They can envision people enjoying the fruits of their labor.

1. The heart of a Volunteer willingly commits to working toward the accomplishment of a goal. It is their decision. People are more committed to doing what they, themselves, decide to do. The North Country Trail is built and maintained primarily by people who willingly give their days and weekends to create and care for the trail. It is the only way the trail exists. There are many things that the volunteers

Gary Mallow

3. The heart of a Volunteer is not motivated by any personal gain. North Country NST volunteers are not compensated in any way. In fact, it costs the volunteers to participate in creating and maintaining the Trail. The National Park Service and other public partners may provide most of the tools and materials needed for the work, but the volunteers must pay the expenses of getting to the work sites, and usually their food, too. The NPS recognizes them with nominal “thank you” gifts when volunteers reach various levels of cumulative hours of service. But the reality is that the volunteers do the work for the sheer joy that it brings to their hearts. 4. Volunteers make a commitment to a cause they believe in even without knowing what it may require of them. Probably most North Country Trail volunteers have done harder and more varied types of work than they could have imagined when they made their personal commitment to the Trail. Their continuing commitment testifies to the strength of their hearts.

Certified sawyer Bob Emerson trims log ends to match the roof slope before roofing is applied. Not only does Bob keep up his sawyer certification by attending a whole weekend of training every three years, but here he is working on a week-long shelter project.


The North Star

5. A Volunteer will continue to work toward the goal until the work is completed, however long that may be. North Country Trail volunteers have already built more miles than the Appalachian Trail is long, and there are yet that many more to build. They continue to come and work, building part of a mile of trail on a weekend, maybe a footbridge to cross a ravine or stream. They know they might not see the completion of the Trail in their lifetime. Nevertheless, they keep working on it as long as they are able.

6. The heart of a Volunteer will persevere even when the way becomes difficult. This is a remarkable thing about volunteers: when difficulty and danger arise during a job, they are more likely to stay than a person who may be paid to do such work. Why? Because their heart is invested in the work and its purpose. The volunteers who work on the NCT face difficulties and challenges all the time. And they do it in rain and snow; they endure heat and cold, mosquitoes and ticks.

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?

7. The heart of a Volunteer is a humble heart, focusing on serving others. “Only a life lived for others is a life worth living”—Albert Einstein. North Country Trail volunteers spend their “leisure” time thinking of the needs of others to enjoy healthful exercise and connect with scenic outdoor places. Or they think of those who are building and maintaining the Trail and contemplate what they can do to support those Trail workers. Whether the volunteers are grubbing in the dirt, trimming trees, building bridges and boardwalks, promoting the Trail at a public event, or doing any of the myriad jobs to keep an affiliate or chapter running and active, these volunteers are humbly thinking of the needs of others and doing whatever they can to contribute to the giving of a great gift—the North Country National Scenic Trail. Truly, there is nothing stronger than the heart of a Volunteer.

Here's our new mystery photo: the most disease-riddled beech trunk you’d ever hope to encounter, but WHERE is it? Quick, before it falls over…. Send your answers to the editor at treeweenie@aol.com, and PLEASE SEND THE NEXT MYSTERY PHOTO!

Debbie Hunt

Duane Lawton sent us another “Where in the Blue Blazes?” candidate for the previous issue, this one of a Holstein cow statue that he found along the trail route south of Lowell, Michigan, on Wingeir Ave., between M50 and Interstate 96. Nobody got this one right, but we did get some interesting guesses! 18 August: “Minerva, Ohio, a dairy on the North Country Trail.” From Pat Farrell. Subsequently sent a picture, and for sure was not the right cow, nor the right state.

Gene Binder at the Finger Lakes Trail office, stuffing envelopes with Lois Judd and other volunteers for a big mailing.

“I saw the cow being towed on US 131 between Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids, Michigan, today, Friday, August 21st. She was headed north.” Rhonda Kohls-Dailey Rhonda didn't send us a picture, but further conversation revealed that hers had a big bright pink udder. Ours doesn’t. “Irene - Although I am hiking south in lower Michigan and haven't come to this spot yet, I used to live near this spot so I think the cow would be seen at the MSU Dairy Barn on the Kellogg Biological Station Forestry Farm near Augusta, Michigan. I'm not sure, but maybe, and it's worth a guess for fun. Thanks! See you on the trail…” Jo Oostveen Close, but not the right cow, Jo.


October-December 2015


Your Next Great Adventure: The North Country Trail Is Coming To The Adirondacks! Photo by Mary Coffin

NCTA Staff Report

On September 25, 2015, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced the approval of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan for the North Country National Scenic Trail. The plan routes the National Scenic Trail through the Adirondack Park and incorporates the North Country National Scenic Trail into the state’s Adirondack Trail system. Approval of the plan will be effective on October 10. Bruce Matthews, Executive Director for the North Country Trail Association, said, “New York State’s Adirondack Park has long been viewed by the North Country Trail community as one of the Trail’s crown jewels. Its wilderness areas, rugged and mountainous terrain, deep northwoods character and pristine nature makes hiking in the Adirondack Park a unique experience for North Country Trail users. We’ve been trying to obtain final approval for a route for well over ten years, and now we finally have one. New Yorkers cherish and protect their Adirondacks, which includes a ‘Forever Wild’ clause in


The North Star

the state constitution. Through the efforts and perseverance of Mary Coffin and her team of scouting and GPSing volunteers, the National Park Service, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Adirondack Park Agency have finally arrived at agreement on the route, which we’ll be able to begin marking this fall.” There’s no way ever to offer enough thanks to Mary Coffin and a crew of volunteers who have tirelessly scouted, bushwhacked, and trekked through the area with GPS units to evaluate potential routes. No one knows this new route better than Mary. She explains what you will see when you hike across this scenic area: “The route crosses five Wild Forests and four Wilderness Areas in the central Adirondacks and spans 158 miles from North Lake Road via the Stone Dam Lake Trail to Crown Point State Historic Site on Lake Champlain. The next step is to make sure the routes are included in the eight Unit Management Plans (UMP) or amendments to existing UMPs. At the very least we will now be permitted to place NCNST signage at trailheads of

Mary Coffin

Peter Zelinka

Bill Coffin

Within New York State, many sections of the North Country NST already exist. The Trail enters the state in Allegany State Park, where it then overlaps the Finger Lakes Trail for 460 miles, followed by 90 miles of marked trail tended by the Central New York Chapter. With the completion of the Adirondack Park Trail Plan, sections of existing trail within the Park can now be marked and maintained as the North Country NST, further eliminating gaps within the Trail. The plan approves using approximately 81 miles of existing foot trail and constructing 39 miles of new trail within the park. It is estimated that 27 miles of temporary connections along roads will be initially used to make connections along this route. Within the Adirondack Park, the North Country NST will be approximately 158 total miles in length when complete, stretching from the Hamlet of Forestport in Oneida County to the Hamlet of Crown Point on the shore of Lake Champlain. For more information on the route maps and to view the full plan, visit DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/39658. html. Look for further updates in upcoming issues of the North Star. Thank you to all our volunteers and donors who make efforts like this possible. Together, we are providing a world-class hiking experience.

Those who attended the Thursday evening program at Rendezvous learned from Mary Coffin how she and a merry band of volunteers contributed to picking the eventual route of the NCT through the vast forests of the Adirondack Preserve in northern New York. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) had spent years contemplating various alternative routes, all of them trying to avoid several heavily used trails while still utilizing existing trails when possible, so Mary and a handful of others spent several years backpacking ALL of the alternatives and GPSing those routes, then filing reports with the DEC on the advantages of each possibility. By the time Mary’s program was done, all were wondering if we couldn’t elevate Mary to NCT sainthood, since she has already been graced with the Lifetime Achievement Award. She had taken at least 200 backpacking trips into the Adirondacks, by her reckoning, to hike, measure, and evaluate each of the route possibilities. Such dedication to creating our route across those woods is unparalleled in our histories, and deserves immense gratitude and admiration. A route some thought wouldn’t be decided in our lifetimes is now official, thanks to Mary Coffin!

Lois Judd


Peter Zelinka

existing trails which comprise about 50% of the route. The route offers the foot traveler some of the best scenery characteristic of the Adirondacks and a National Scenic Trail and the typical Adirondack ambience and wilderness experience. One can plan long distance hikes and backpacks or family day trips. Adirondack communities can provide lodging, camping, food and gas to support hikers. People who walk any part of the Adirondack route can expect to see many lakes, ponds, bogs, beaver ponds, streams and deciduous and coniferous forests, glacial erratic boulders, rocky cliffs, mountains and spectacular views. Despite the frustrations and patience and persistence required over the years, it has all been fun and challenging except for writing reports for the DEC after each excursion. And it is all outdoors in beautiful serene surroundings, so I have enjoyed it and will continue to do so as we add amendments to each UMP for the units. I believe three of the nine units include a specific NCNST route so we will start in the field with those. We will flag at first and finally construct an environmentally friendly trail in this special area.” DEC Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman said, “The Trail will provide opportunities for families looking for day hikes as well as a route for experienced backpackers looking for a multi-state, long distance challenge.” On Mary Coffin’s September 26th North Country National Scenic Trail Day hike, therefore, they celebrated walking an official segment of our Trail! The 158-mile Adirondack route for the North Country NST intersects eight state management units of the Forest Preserve: Black River Wild Forest, West Canada Lake Wilderness, Moose River Plains Wild Forest, Jessup River Wild Forest, Siamese Ponds Wilderness, Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest, Hoffman Notch Wilderness, and Hammond Pond Wild Forest

And It’s All Thanks To Mary Coffin

Mary reading her GPS on a railroad bridge in the eastern Adirondacks.

October-December 2015


Irene Szabo

Vickie and Marty Swank of Wisconsin ogle the geologic eras displayed in rock layers below the photographer, vivid in their blaze orange rain coats. Watkins Glen State Park gorge displays both geology and the marvelous walkway creations of CCC workers from the 1930’s. The log wedged high above current water level demonstrates what floods roared through here this past June.

Dove Day

Great shot of Hope Lake Lodge, luxurious center of our Rendezvous lodging, breakfast, and workshops. Evening banquets took place across the road below Greek Peak ski slopes, in the Acropolis.


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Revisiting Rendezvous By Ruth Dorrough, NCTA Board member who, with husband Dan, is gradually walking the whole North Country Trail.

“If you weren’t there, you should have been,” read the North Country Trail Hikers Facebook post regarding the NCT/FLT Rendezvous held recently in beautiful central New York. “Great group of Finger Lakes Trail and North Country Trail people, great hikes, great training, and great food.” The spirit of the admonition can also be stated in the phrase, “You had to be there….” It is not possible to capture in words or photos the energy, excitement, optimism, warmth, fun, and genuine caring that permeated the Rendezvous. Gatherings such as this require a tremendous amount of work. In recent years a question surfaced. In light of organizational resources stretched to the limit by the complexity of ever increasing demands, the reality that a small percentage of NCTA members attend the event, and concern regarding overburdened volunteers, the question was asked, “Should we continue to have an annual NCTA conference?” The Board of Directors embarked on an in-depth assessment weighing the benefits of an annual conference against prioritization of limited resources. The conclusion was that it was an organizational priority to bring together face to face even a small percentage of staff, board members, volunteers and other supporters on an annual basis. It recognized that even the marvels of modern technology cannot create a level of communication that occurs when people are actually together sharing events. Being intentionally present at a gathering, be it a meeting, conference, or a family reunion, is an affirmation of commitment to that group. Inevitably all that occurs may not conform to one’s views of how things should be.organizations are strengthened when even a small percentage gather in a safe environment, discuss different views, share knowledge and hopes, celebrate successes, mourn losses, analyze failures, have fun, relax, share meals, and in our case literally walk together. Thanks to the hard work of Irene Szabo, her team, and the hospitality of the Finger Lakes Trail, the NCTA was given at the Rendezvous a wonderful opportunity to strengthen bonds among individuals and organizations as we move forward on the bold adventure of building and sustaining a trail over 4600 miles long. We will share photos but to experience the warmth and excitement “You really had to be there….” If you’ve never attended, we can almost guarantee you’ll like it. All reports from this year were happy and satisfied, so please give serious thought to Fargo, North Dakota, next September 15-17. Opposite page, lower left: On a hike through Danby State Forest south of Ithaca, Kirk Johnson, Pennsylvania board member of NCTA, took this picture of an official state no-bike sign. The N.Y. Dept. of Environmental Conservation has adopted a policy forbidding bicycles on designated state forest FOOT trails. Of course, we all know that bikes are poor readers. Sigh…

Irene Szabo Dove Day

The power of swirling water to shape solid rock is demonstrated at multiple spots along the descent through Watkins Glen State Park’s gorge. As overlying glaciers departed, dozens of gorges were carved by melting water, providing today’s spectacular gorges and waterfalls in the Finger Lakes region of upstate N.Y.

Our big event hike descended through Watkins Glen State Park’s water-sculpted gorge, after a bus ride west from our lodge. Here are pictured some of the wonderful views of geologic eras shown by rock layers, along with the stone and concrete constructions that enable visitors to walk here, built by the Civilian Construction Corps during the 1930s.

Irene Szabo

On Saturday night at Rendezvous, awards were handed out for volunteer hours by the National Park Service, and NCTA awards were presented. Here Minnesota’s Florence Hedeen receives this year’s Leadership Award.

Handsome bandanas were handed out to all attendees by the National Park Service before our Saturday night banquet.

Tony Rodriguez

Kirk Johnson


Dove Day

Joan Young

Friday’s well-attended waterfall tour brought our visitors to a list of sites, including Ithaca Falls deep within the city. See two people at bottom right for size perspective.

Right: During the cross-cut saw workshop, everybody tried using the saw. Here Kalista Lehrer, 79 and one of very few 30+ year NCTA members, tries it out successfully. She recently donated several of her husband’s old CCC-era saws to the Finger Lakes Trail.

October-December 2015


John Willis Dove Day

Roger Evens of Grand Traverse Hiking Club cuts up yet another blocking tree.

August 2, John Day of Jordan Valley 45º Chapter stands beside one of many large crashed trees.

Volunteers Respond To Heavy Damage On The Trail Compiled from reports by John Day of Jordan 45º Chapter and John Willis of Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter

The strength of the NCTA lies in our dedicated volunteers. When storms strike, wreaking havoc on the Trail, committed volunteers respond to clean up and keep the Trail open. In some cases, such as what happened this past August in western northern Michigan, their efforts reach heroic levels.


n Sunday, August 2, 2015, severe thunderstorms passed through areas of western northern Michigan, downing thousands of trees. Multiple thunderstorms raced though the area, the first around 10 a.m., and catastrophic straight line winds screamed through around 4 p.m. The last storm caused trees to fall on power lines, homes, cabins and businesses from Traverse City to Fife Lake and beyond. The storm hit Traverse City and its surrounding communities the hardest, with over 130,000 customers losing power due to the 70-100 mph wind that blasted through the area. No tornados were reported in northern Michigan, but the damage was enough to declare a local state of emergency in Traverse City. Glen Arbor was hit hard as all roads in and out of the area were impassable, stranding tourists in diners and forcing them to spend the overnight on cots. 4.25 inch hail was reported in West Branch, the largest hailstone on record in Northern Michigan since 1998, when 3.5 inch hail fell in Arenac County. $82 million of damage was reported over 9 Michigan counties. 10 hours were spent rescuing hikers from the storms. Authorities closed the Mackinac Bridge during the storms as well, when 65 mph winds swept across the Straits. A tornado was reported in Huron County during this time, and


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the damage sustained in the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore closed campgrounds and recreational trails for several days. Our North Country Trail segments, as well as other local trails through these areas, required volunteers, Michigan DNR, and Forest Service employees to work long hours to get the trails cleared for recreational use again. The Grand Traverse Hiking Club chapter spent many hours clearing trail as well. Edwin Morse, who was backpacking near M-55 the day of the storm, spent three long days with his chainsaw getting the path cleared again between CR 12 and Starvation Lake Road. Some trees were so big that it was more feasible to route around them rather than clear them. At least four other people put in even more time than he did, according to Morse. John Willis of Grand Traverse Hiking Club reported “Hundreds of large trees were uprooted or snapped off, creating possible overhead trail hazards along the Manistee Lake Rd. to Starvation Lake Rd. corridor, covering approximately 8 miles of trail. Trail adopters and sawyers were called into action to assess primary damage to this area, assist in making the trail passable, identify potential hazards, and safely remove dangerous overhead trees and limbs, as well as downed trees on the trail. “Initial forays along the NCT trail sections in this area cleared numerous smaller fallen trees and limbs with loppers and hand saws. An inventory of downed larger trees was forwarded to Dick Naperala, Field Trails Coordinator, who quickly lined up the sawyers to assist the trail adopters. Sawyer Allan Kelly worked with Trail Adopter Bernie Senske

John Willis

Lily looks for a way to get through the downed trees. She accompanies John and Angie Willis.

Dove Day John Willis

Oops. Falling trees smashed this campground picnic table.

on the NCT trail section from the Pickerel Lake area north to Twin Lakes Rd., while sawyer Roger Evens, assisted by adopters Angie & John Willis, cleared the NCT trail section between Twin Lakes and Starvation Lake Roads.” Miraculously, all damage was cleared off our Trail by Labor Day. Jordan Valley 45° chapter members, along with Michigan DNR workers, dealt with a lot of trees across the trails as well. In one instance, a 5 mile section of trail had 20 large trees and an uncountable amount of smaller trees over it. The work could not be completed in a day, and required multiple efforts to get out and clear all the debris from the tread. A picnic table at the Pinney Bridge Campground was crushed and debris was scattered around the immediate area. Thankfully, no injuries were reported by campers or hikers during this time. Jim DeKett was just one outstanding volunteer who drove 3 hours from Saginaw to the Jordan Valley to help out. It can’t be said enough… our volunteers are some of the most dedicated and outgoing individuals on the North Country National Scenic Trail. If you know one, see one, or are one, make sure you thank them (or yourself ) for their hard work in all the “Low Places!”


Roger Evens had endless fallen trees to deal with.

North Star Submission Guidelines Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at treeweenie@aol.com, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. Please do not embed pictures within your article, but send them separately as .jpg attachments. In all cases, please supply photographer’s name. Front cover photo candidates: prefer vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi or greater than 3000 pixels, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Inside pictures look much better with one dimension over 1000 pixels, too, preferably 2000. Next deadline for Vol. 35, No. 1 is January 1, 2016. Remember that 900 words equal approximately one page of dense text, so very few articles should exceed 1800 words in this size of magazine. Thank you! —Your editor, Irene (585) 658-4321)

October-December 2015


North Star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Tiffany Hrach

Eli Ramsey, supported by Kim Reed, repaints a blaze in the Allegheny National Forest of Pennsylvania.

Come Visit Us!

The Lowell office is open to the public Tuesday-Thursday 1:00 to 4:30 and Friday 10:00 to 4:30 Other hours by appointment. Please call ahead M-F during working hours. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT • (616) 897-5987 • Fax (616) 897-6605

The North Country Trail Association develops, maintains, protects and promotes the North Country National Scenic Trail as the premier hiking path across the northern tier of the United States through a trail-wide coalition of volunteers and partners. Our vision for the North Country National Scenic Trail is that of the premier footpath of national significance, offering a superb experience for hikers and backpackers in a permanently protected corridor, traversing and interpreting the richly diverse environmental, cultural, and historic features of the northern United States.

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North Star Vol. 34, No. 4 (2015)  

North Star Vol. 34, No. 4 (2015)