North Star Vol. 33, No. 2 (2014)

Page 1

April-June, 2014

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

Volume 33, No. 2

north star What is an Affiliate and How is it Different From a Chapter? NCTA’s Training Videos Are Here! Birds Sing Through the 100 Mile Test Carolyn Hoffman: Inspiring NCT Hikers since 1978


Not every winter picture features somber colors. Connie Burns of Alexandria, Minnesota, caught this colorful moment near Morris. Notice the holiday lights on the outer fence!

About the Cover The rarest of our native “slipper” orchids is the Showy Lady Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). This is the last to bloom; look for them midJune to mid-July. Showy Lady Slippers require a constantly wet seepage of cool water, so you will find them only in moist meadows, swamps, or fens. The tallest of our three Lady Slippers, the Showys will grow over three feet tall and are often noticed above the swampy ferns and other plants. The stem and leaf arrangement is much like the Yellow Lady Slipper’s, but the Showy uniquely produces multiple blossoms. From an article by Randy Weidner in the Finger Lakes Trail News; photo by Joan Young, who found this orchid in the Jordan Valley in lower Michigan. In This Issue


Birds Sing Through the 100 Mile Test.....4 Carolyn Hoffman: Inspiring NCT Hikers Since 1978......6 Wisconsin Extended Outing..................7 Annual Conference Survey.....................8 Volunteer Hours Reporting Forms......13 Join Us in Duluth.............................14 A Sad X-C Ski Adventure.....................17 What is an Affiliate and How Is It Different from a Chapter?....................18 NCTA’s Training Videos Are Here!........21 New York Extended Outing.................24 The War on the Roses..........................24

Trailhead.............................................3 Matthews’ Meanders.........................20 NPS Corner......................................26

Departments Hiking Shorts......................................8 Where in the Blue Blazes?..................16 Submission Guidelines And Next Deadline...........................17 Milestones..........................................15 Who’s Who Along the Trail...............22

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Summer issue, Vol. 33, Issue 2, is published by the North Country Trail Association, a private, not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331. The North Star is published quarterly for promotional and educational purposes and as a benefit of membership in the Association. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form without written permission of the North Country Trail Association.


The North Star

April-June 2014

David Cowles Director of Development Jill DeCator Administrative Assistant/Membership Coordinator Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator Minnesota/North Dakota Tarin Hasper Administrative Assistant Andrea Ketchmark Director of Trail Development Laura Lindstrom Financial Administrator Bruce Matthews Executive Director Bill Menke Regional Trail Coordinator Wisconsin Matt Rowbotham GIS Coordinator

National Board of Directors Terms Expiring 2014

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

Terms Expiring 2015

Joyce Appel, Pennsylvania Rep. (724) 526-5407 · Tom Moberg, President, North Dakota Rep. (701) 271-6769 · Brian Pavek, Minnesota Rep. (763) 425-4195 · Gaylord Yost, VP West, Great Lakes Rep. (414) 354-8987 ·

Terms Expiring 2016

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

Trail Head

Tom Moberg President


Picture supplied by Tom Moberg

pring generally means the beginning of warm weather along the North Country Trail although that seems like a faint hope here in Fargo today where April is arriving with yet another big snowstorm. But spring does mean that some changes will be coming soon in the North Country Trail Association. The Board meeting in late April will focus on several significant issues that are affecting the NCTA. The Strategic Planning process that the Board and staff have been working on all winter will wrap up this spring and summer with a new set of aspirational goals, strategies, and plans for the Association and the trail. The intense planning process has helped develop a new perspective about the importance of marketing the trail, not just as a place to hike but as a national resource that contributes to the health, happiness and dreams of people of all ages. Major aspects of the strategic plan are focused on growing the size and diversity of the NCTA membership base and growing our financial capacity. The plan also includes major goals related to protecting the trail and increasing trail-wide involvement of chapters. In May and June, we hope to schedule several on-line webinar meetings with Chapter leaders to discuss the new plan. Mark Weaver, the National Park Service Superintendent for the NCNST, has spent the last year reviewing background documents about the development of the NCNST to understand what that information mandates about the nature and purpose of the NCNST. The outcome of his study will be the development of a Foundation Document that will be critically important to the future of the trail and the NCTA. Before submitting his Foundation Document to the National Park Service, Mark wants to review it with the Board in April. We will provide more information about the Foundation Document discussion in the near future. For most of us, the idea of studying a set of organizational Bylaws generates about as much enthusiasm as another snowstorm. But a legal non-profit organization must have proper guidelines (Bylaws) to tell the public, which authorizes the organization to exist, how the organization functions. The NCTA Bylaws were originally written about 30 years ago when the NCTA was incorporated in Michigan as a “directorship” organization in which a Board of Directors has decision making responsibility. The NCTA Bylaws have been revised several times over the years to reflect evolutionary changes in the organization. One of my goals as President is to ensure that the NCTA Bylaws are clear, consistent, and accurately guide how the Association operates. Recently, Jaron Nyhof, a Michigan Board member and lawyer who has broad experience with non-profit organizations, has been helping us review our Bylaws. We have learned that some of our procedures related to member voting have not been consistent with the Articles of Incorporation and some of our other procedures, such as the

way we elect Board officers, have not been as clear as they should be. So we will have a set of proposed Bylaw revisions to consider at the April Board meeting. I will provide an overview of any changes in the Bylaws in future North Star articles. To be honest, my complaints about the North Dakota winter weather are a bit hypocritical because Mary and I (and our old cat) spent January and February meandering around New Mexico, Arizona and California, camping in our little 16´ camping trailer and exploring dozens of wonderful hiking trails. Often we discovered that the trails had been built by the amazing young men of CCC during the Depression, following historic Indian paths or pioneer trails. As hikers, we were continually impressed with the incredible dedication, ingenuity and effort that went into creating those trails in the mountains and deserts. Since we also suffer from “Trail Builder’s Disease,” we can’t hike a trail without critically evaluating the design, looking at maintenance and signage issues, and worrying about water, access, invaders, misuse, etc. Our southwestern sojourn again reinforced for us the nature and importance of National Scenic Trails. There is something immensely compelling and inspirational about a trail that runs for hundreds or thousands of miles, daring the hiker to keep moving, continually opening up new vistas, and offering endless possibilities for exploration and discovery. I may never thruhike one of the NSTs but I have been able to hike on most of them at one time or another. This year I backpacked 50 miles of the Pacific Crest National Scenic Trail (PCNST) in the Laguna Mountain area and hiked a 16 mile passage of the Arizona National Scenic Trail southeast of the Santa Rita Mountains. One of the highlights of my PCNST hike was encountering a volunteer trail maintenance crew. It was almost like running into family, and I was tempted to give up my planned hike and join them for the day. When I finally stopped interrupting their work and moved on, I kept thinking about all the thousands of people all over the country who help build and maintain our incredible system of National Scenic Trails. I feel lucky to be part of all that. And I am thankful for all that you do for the North Country National Scenic Trail. Best wishes for a great summer of hiking and trail building!

April-June 2014

The North Star 3

The Birds Sing Through the 100 Mile Test By Rachel H. Frey

Shindagin Hollow is a beautiful location for a campsite, surrounded by tall hemlocks above a nearby stream. This fairly new shelter was rebuilt by a recent FLT AlleyCat crew after one of those lovely trees landed on the roof of the old shelter, built years ago by local hosts, the Cayuga Trails Club.


The North Star

April-June 2014

Rachel Frey

o you still want to do a long-distance backpacking trip on the North Country Trail?” I asked my husband Merv. After our six-month Georgia-Maine backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail 14 years ago, we discovered the NCT. We had gotten “hooked” on backpacking! Maybe we could do a second longdistance hike. But we knew that required a commitment of time, much planning, perhaps leaving jobs, not to mention money. Our AT hike happened when Merv and Rachel Frey. we were “between careers.” Now we both had full-time jobs and we were not getting any younger. Would we be able to do a longdistance hike if we were in our late 60s? “I want to work until I am 66,” Merv responded, rather definitely. “Then it may not happen,” I answered. “If we wait that long, I don’t know if we can physically do it.” We had already backpacked or day hiked 625 miles of the NCT in Pennsylvania and New York. In 2013, we did not have another hiking partner which meant if we wanted to finish the 100 miles of the Finger Lakes Trail to where the Onondaga Trail branches off we would have to BACKPACK, not day hike it in nine days. “It would be a test,” we thought. “If we can’t do that, then we won’t be doing a longdistance hike of the NCT anyway in a few years!” We decided to try it. Leaving the highway near Robert Treman Park near the middle of New York, we soon entered Sweedler Nature Preserve. Loving photography, we stopped for numerous waterfall shots and gingerly crept close to steep drop-offs. We saw the first of 67 orange-colored newts. Yes, we counted! I took a photo of a flower I later discovered was Dame’s Rocket, considered an invasive plant. A deer ran across the field. Merv snapped a shot of a red-winged blackbird. In fact, we started noticing the birds singing…Do they always sing all the time? Neither of us could remember a hike when that happened. But on this June trip they never stopped for the whole nine days! Whether we were up high or down low, they sang all the time. This day was clear. The sky was blue. The clouds were white. The temperature was not a sultry summer hot like 2012. It was a good start. We found a level camping spot in the woods and ate our supper on a bridge (while runners passed us!) With the cooler temperatures, we even used our emergency blankets at night since we had brought only fleece bags.

Rachel Frey


But we still asked ourselves, “Should we consider doing only day hikes in Minnesota’s Boundary Waters area?” The next eight days would tell us. Backpacking on the NCT means the mileages are pre-determined due to limited possibilities for camping. We did not know that the 12.1 miles of the next day would include a 600 ft. elevation change in a mile three times in one day. Laboring up the hill, we just beat the rain and collapsed in the tent. We started rating our days with Stress 5 being the hardest and Stress 1 being very easy. This was a Stress 5 day. It was good we noticed those flashy-looking fungi BEFORE the hike got hard. Later I found out they were red-orange polypores, bracket fungi. We saw them numerous times on the hike. They were the beautiful sights, just like the birds were the beautiful chorus. The graceful morning mist at Shindagin Leanto made us wish we did not have to keep pressing on. But that day was only beginning. After a road walk past abandoned farm machinery, we noticed darkening skies. A shower made everything wet and now we walked with wet feet. A steep gully walk, a puncheon walk, a road walk and, you guessed it, another UPHILL just before the end of the day. We camped in the pine needle carpeted area of Kimmie Leanto and called this a Stress 4 day. Maybe we ARE done backpacking! But the birds never stopped singing. We began to wonder if they were heaven-sent. We started counting all the sounds or sights of them. With my poor

Red and Orange Polypore (bracket fungus)

Rachel Frey

eyesight, I could not see any that well, but Merv could. We saw 22 different kinds including rose-breasted grosbeak, red-winged blackbird, great blue heron, blackbird, goldfinch, brown thrasher, robin, rufous-sided towhee, catbird, crow, hawk, kingfisher, grouse, tree swallow, barn swallow, wren, killdeer, cowbird, turkey, hummingbird, ovenbird, & bobolink. Woodpeckers (including a pileated), a nuthatch, blue jay, chickadee, dove, owl and even a rooster told us they were glad to be alive. Finding our way through the newly marked trail, we descended to Daisy Hollow Road where we found Alex Gonzales and Joe Dabes (“Java Joe”) who were doing trail maintenance. Java Joe has hiked the 575-mile Finger Lakes Trail (which hosts the NCT for over 400 miles in NY) ten times, the latest when he was 73. We are not 73, but we lay down in the tent at 6:00 and went to sleep! Road walks provide a pleasant diversion but are very hard on the feet. Although we had 13.8 miles to hike on

Rachel Frey

Merv Frey

Red-Winged Blackbird.

The crossing at Cheningo Creek at the bottom of a steep-sided valley, where this frequently bumptious Creek had tossed several bridges into pieces, so finally giant rocks seemed to be the best solution. NY’s Dept. of Environmental Conservation, which administers state forests, helped the trail by getting those rocks into place, where they have stayed put to everyone’s relief.

this day, six of those miles were on roads in order to enable hikers to utilize the one bridge in the area over the sizeable Tioughnioga River. Unfortunately, the roads were NOT gravel. It got hotter and hotter. Leaving Route 11, we went UPHILL on Hoxie Gorge Road. Where was the blaze marking the path to go into the forest? Finally it appeared. Filling up with water at our first stream, we stopped soon afterwards. A young hiker breezed on down the trail while we RESTED! Ah, the young! A Stress 4 day. Next day we happily hiked through farm fields, remembering the 23 years when we had owned and operated a dairy farm. A picnic table in the middle of a field, a gorgeous reflection pond in the middle of a woods, an abandoned forage wagon and sweeping views of fields with a barn and silo as the focus made Merv especially enjoy this day. Despite 13.25 miles (which was longer than we had expected because of a trail re-location) this day was not that bad. Are we done backpacking or not? Stress 3 today. We definitely want to finish the 100 miles! “Can we cover five miles this morning to Cheningo Creek by 9:00?” we wondered.

Rose-Breasted Grosbeak, by our 10 year old granddaughter, Jadyn Frey.

We needed to hike that far on our final day to meet our spotters at Midlum Spur Road by 9:30. (The Finger Lakes Trail offers volunteer car spotters to pick people up in the middle of nowhere.) Today, our next to last, would be a test to see if we could do that. Newts appeared again. A grouse flew up. A mile downhill on Cortland Road brought us to an easy hike to Cheningo Creek. It was 9:00. “How did they ever put those massive stepping stones there?” we wondered. After seeing a brownish-colored snake we had a more unusual experience. Because of my poor eyesight I had seen very few birds. Merv tried to capture them with his camera but that is difficult. Stopping for lunch, just before descending the hill to Freeman Road, I saw a most beautiful bird land about six feet behind me. I knew it was a rosebreasted grosbeak, although I had never seen any. I remembered it from bird books. Was this also a heavenly gift? We felt like it was. The increasing heat made us feel like we would be glad to be done. But it looked like we were going to make it. At Wiltsey Glen, our last bivouac, we took bittersweet photos of what may be our last time backpacking, cooking with our backpacking stove and filtering water. We slept in our tent with our dirty selves and figured we should be able to do the 5.5 miles tomorrow to Midlum Spur Road before 9:30. Sweating bushels, we made it there before Chuck and MJ Uttech, our gracious spotters, arrived. We disappointed MJ who had counted on hiking back to meet us! Sorry, MJ, next year we’ll be returning. The FLT’s Onondaga Trail is next, but we will be DAY HIKERS!

April-June 2014

The North Star 5

Inspiring North Country Trail Hikers Since 1978 By Joan Young



The North Star

Tim Calloway

o you think sometimes the North Country Trail is hard to find? Or planning a long-distance hike is a daunting challenge? Imagine setting out to follow the NCT in 1978, before it was even a trail authorized by Congress in 1980. Yet that is exactly what Carolyn Hoffman and Lou Ann (Fellowes) Johnson did. I recently had a chance Carolyn Hoffman to talk with Carolyn by phone and from the Wes learn more about what motivated her to Boyd version of follow a trail that didn’t even exist. the NCT web site. Not surprisingly, she’s had a lifelong love of the outdoors. Her Dad took her hunting and fishing, and more good memories of outdoor pursuits were formed at her grandparents’ farm. As a young journalist, Carolyn was sent to interview an Appalachian Lou Ann Fellowes (left) and Carolyn Hoffman (right) on Trail hiker. Before that time, she’d their 1978 quest to follow the North Country Trail. This thought of long-distance hikers as was on the cover of a very early North Star. revered individuals, almost a separate breed, somehow attached to National Ann, near Cincinnati, where she broke the processes on three Geographic. Instead, this person turned out to be quite vertebrae in her back. Carolyn continued north alone, and Lou ordinary, changing her perception, and leading her to decide to Ann went home to recuperate. After Lou Ann rejoined Carolyn, hike the AT. they sold the bikes somewhere near Grand Rapids, Michigan, She’d become a member of the International Backpackers and hiked north and westward from there. Association. Lance Feild, who later became the NCTA’s first In North Dakota, their route looked quite different from the Board President, was an officer of IBA at the time. He said, current one. Most of the way they were on Indian Reservation “Why not do a trail no one has ever hiked?” And so Lance put lands, being passed along day to day, from one helpful Native a call for hikers in the IBA newsletter and five people showed American to another. They stayed in three shelters made for interest: three men, plus Carolyn and Lou Ann. All were capable herders, sometimes church basements, and even in a convent. hikers, but for various reasons, the guys all dropped out of the The snow was already chasing them, and they hiked fast, by the plan at about the same time. shortest route possible so they could finish without sending for Carolyn pored over topographic maps searching for any sort of their winter gear. There was no ultra-lite equipment back then! route, off-road as much as possible, that would get them through Carolyn says their packs with winter equipment weighed about the landscape while staying within the official proposed corridor fifty pounds. They reached Lake Sakakawea in mid-October. for the North Country Trail. Some decent publicity for the North Country Trail resulted On March 5, 1978, Carolyn and Lou Ann left Crown Point, from their trip. An article appeared in the Washington Post, and New York, and headed west. As we all know, the first obstacle along the way they were often covered by local media. Their is the Adirondacks, with no established route even yet, and accomplishment was also mentioned in the New York Times, intermittent trails of dubious quality. They decided to cross the so possibly contributed to Congressional willingness to enact Hudson River on a single-track railroad trestle spanning a gorge. National Scenic Trails in 1980. However, the fact that it was They waited for a train to pass to be certain of a clear track, then sixteen years before the next end-to-end completion of the trail walked the open ties with no railing. Not long after they crossed, (Ed Talone), resulted in quite a loss of momentum for publicity another train appeared from the opposite direction! about the NCT. As so many end-to-enders have learned, the early start required Carolyn has continued in her love of the outdoors. She’s to do the NCT in one season means cold and wet weather hiked a lot of the Appalachian Trail in Pennsylvania, her home somewhere. On the Finger Lakes Trail, Carolyn’s feet got so wet state, and Maryland. Also on her list of favorite treks are the she developed a blister that required serious attention, and they Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska. took three days off to care for the wound. She’s been a writer all her adult life, earning her living by that It was Ohio that changed their original plan. So much of the means. But she hasn’t yet written about her North Country Buckeye Trail was on gravel roads their feet were being beaten to Trail experiences. She did hint that she’s been looking at her old shreds, and they switched to bicycles. This led to a fall for Lou journals, trying to recall background information and pinpoint

April-June 2014

Carolyn Hoffman

Campsite on Lake Superior 1978 Bill Menke

Wisconsin Extended Outing

Brule and St. Croix Rivers Bird sanctuary in the Wisconsin autumn.

September 15-20, 2014 Cost: $95

Backpacking the NCNST along the Brule and St. Croix Rivers. Carolyn in her role as President of the Board of the Hawk Migration Association of North America.

Leader: Jim Noble 715-372-5680,

Bill Menke

their route. Wouldn’t something from the first person to follow the trail be an amazing read? She has authored the books 50 Hikes in Eastern Pennsylvania, and Yukon–the Chilkoot Trail. For the past twenty years she’s been involved with the Hawk Migration Association of North America, and now serves as President of their Board. For a number of years she was their magazine editor. She now lives in a cabin in the woods of eastern Pennsylvania, on Roundtop Mountain, with two dogs, and shares her life with the world through her blog, Roundtop Ruminations. Carolyn saw and followed the NCT before it was anything but a dream. I was intrigued by the trail and her vision for doing something different which ultimately led to my end-to-end hike. The dreams and accomplishments of many people, Carolyn among them, are inspiring more and more people to find an interest in the North Country Trail.

This is a backpacking trip through some very scenic sections of the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) along the Brule and St. Croix Rivers. The trail is easy to moderate and suitable for the new or novice backpacker with stamina to hike 8-12 miles per day with pack. Total distance is 48 miles over the 6 days. Leader Jim Noble is a lifetime backpacker, resident of Brule, and NCTA Board member. He will work closely with participants regarding packing list, light weight gear and food suitable for backpacking. Transportation, equipment, and food are NOT provided, so the price is only $95. We will hike the historic voyageur’s portage trail passing many lakes and stopping to enjoy scenic vistas. Experience the Douglas County Bird Sanctuary (maintained for prairie chickens), Solon Springs, Brule Bog with typical bog flora, and headwaters of the historic Brule River. Hopefully we will see deer, eagles, loons, ducks and waterfowl and possibly black bear. Recent Brule-St. Croix NCTA Chapter work will demonstrate examples of top quality trail building techniques, board walks and bridges. Hiking will be scenic, remote, and picturesque and imbue a sense of peaceful solitude and oneness with nature. If you are looking to bag a few miles of the NCNST in Wisconsin’s Brule-St. Croix area with an experienced backpacker, this

might be the trip for you. Trip is limited to 6 participants and may fill quickly. Contact leader for detailed itinerary and application packet.

Wisconsin white pine of great girth where hikers on this outing will pass.

April-June 2014

The North Star 7

Sled Dogs In The Upper Peninsula

UPPER MICHIGAN – Not since the spring issue of 2003 has North Star featured the winter sport of dog sled racing, an activity enjoyed by hundreds of humans and at least six times as many dogs. In 2003 Derek Blount described two sled dog races in the eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, but this year we have observations from Tim Hass of the Superior Shoreline Chapter, who volunteered on a timing team for the “UP 200,” yet another of the many races held in this land of sure snow. The original snow depth was at least three feet, but prior to the race the trail was compacted by snowmobiles towing weighted toboggans. Subsequent passes by teams and sled runners leave a hard crust, so times for each segment become faster and faster.

HIKING SHORTS Your Thoughts? Annual NCTA Conference Survey

Tim Hass

As with any enterprise, the North Country Trail Association’s resources of money and time are limited, and directing how those resources are used most efficiently is important to us. Your support of our organization via membership dues, other financial support, and volunteer time is the life of the North Country Trail Association. Our Annual Conference has been an opportunity to • Gather and meet other Trail heroes • Gain inspiration and enthusiasm hike Trail in different areas • Share methods, share successes • Recognize achievement and recognize local partners • Celebrate the Trail with our National Park Service partner

Everyone is welcomed and encouraged to attend our Conference. With sponsorships, the effort can raise money for the hosting Chapters and Affiliates and for our parent organization. Still, large effort is needed, and this survey is intended to influence how our Conference is planned in the future. Thank you for your support, and thanks for your thoughtful responses. The survey is available by going to the web page below:

In the pre-dawn light, a team of resting dogs lying on straw and under blankets can be seen. Notice the immense snow piles left by plowing that creates travel lanes and resting areas at this mandatory checkpoint.

If you are unable to access the internet, please send a stamped, self-addressed envelope along with your request for a printed survey to Larry Pio, 2409 Woody Noll, Portage, MI 49002.

Our Endless Winter Matt Davis

At least the snowplow had made it here.


The North Star

April-June 2014

These dogs love to run to a zany degree: one of the funniest stories among many in Winterdance: The Fine Madness of Running the Iditarod by Gary Paulson, recounts an attempt at a training run in the summer, when the author hitched up a bicycle to his team. The bicycle disintegrated eventually, so he was dragged for much of forty miles and all night because he refused to let go of his team and they refused to stop running. But the race organizers and the mushers do love their dogs, so they are well cared for with mandatory rest stops. The timers like Tim clock teams’ arrivals and departures, and ensure that all dogs are okay, plus there are vets on site. The trouble with such a race is that timers may not leave their post when a dog team could be coming, so Tim got one and a half hours of sleep in three days, and the majority of teams came and went at night, when temperatures were well below zero. This is a winter sport enjoyed by many in the northernmost states and Canada, and many of those who complete longer ones go on to compete in Alaska’s famous Iditarod. At least they are among those who are happy when it snows. from notes by Tim Hass

100 Hikers on January 1!

—Charles Krammin, Larry Pio, and Ron Sootsman

Michele Oberholtzer captured the December 22nd ice storm.

Passages Drew Kreidelcamp of Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

Drew Kreidelcamp, age 60, of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter at Valley City, North Dakota, died Thursday, March 27, 2014, after suffering a massive stroke. After high school Drew trained in avionics at Dakota Aero-Tech. He worked in Louisiana and then Saudi Arabia as a helicopter mechanic. He also worked in Syria and then spent 13 years with United Airlines in San Francisco repairing flight electronics. During and between these jobs he traveled the world over. Drew spent the last ten years working with his brother on the farm. He couldn’t always take part in our hikes and work days because of conflicts with farm work but he joined us when he could. Drew was a hard worker and could fix just about anything. He enjoyed restoring watches, antique bicycles and cars. At last count he had about 26 bicycles of various styles and one never knew which he would be seen riding around town, from the recumbent to the high wheel! He will be deeply missed by his family and friends. —Becky Heise, Sheyenne River Valley Chapter Becky Heise

LOWER MICHIGAN – The Chief Noonday Chapter of Michigan pulled off a successful New Year’s Day Hike at Yankee Springs Recreational Area (YSRA), with more than 100 hikers, despite all the weather challenges. Four days before Christmas the trail received 1 inch ice on trees, broken limbs, and a slippery trail. Electricity was out for most residents; however the “Chainsaw Crew” cleared the trail immediately after Christmas, with near sub-zero temperatures and no ice melt. They considered cancelling due to unsafe conditions, but six inches of snow on New Year’s night saved the day by providing “traction.” The hikers really appreciated the geological “Ice Berg Depression” 200 foot deep “kettle” known as the“Devils Soup Bowl” by hiking and slipping all the way around it. Temperatures were 11°F for the high, with a bit of wind and snow to go with it. There was a lot of preparation assistance and promotion of the event from the YSRA DNR staff. The Long Lake Outdoor Center staff were challenged by losing electricity in the storm, helping to make the event memorable.

John G. Hipps MD: An Early NCT Enthusiast Glenn Oster informed the NCTA that his contemporary, John Hipps, has died at 88, a man who played a vital role in the development of the North Country Trail through Pennsylvania. In 1981 Glenn met John when the latter was a representative of Pittsburgh Council of American Youth Hostels, which built and maintained the Baker Trail, part of which became NCT; John had organized a meeting to encourage volunteers to become active in furthering the NCT. Glenn says, “His enthusiasm caused me to become an NCTA member, a most rewarding aspect of my life. John spearheaded numerous such meetings in Pennsylvania and attended all the annual conferences in White Cloud, Michigan, initially at the old school house that served as the trail’s headquarters for many years. A big conference in those days drew something like 24 persons! John and his widow Barbie Smith also took on the role of producing the association’s newsletter for several years.” This dynamic couple became known throughout the NCTA by the fond nickname “Smithipps.” By 1989 they were listed as the Pennsylvania Regional Coordinators and members of the NCTA board, by which time Wes Boyd was editor of what had become North Star. John was a true country doctor, visiting some patients by helicopter and more in his little Ford truck in the rural area of Pennsylvania where he lived. He even wrote a whimsical and humorous book about his work, The Country Doctor: Alive and Well. A chapter that explained the North Country Trail mixed in with a tall tale about turning a bear inside out was excerpted in a 1999 issue of North Star. Glenn said, “We are much better off for the efforts of the early pioneers such as John.”

April-June 2014

The North Star 9

“Hike the Hiawatha” and “Stomp the Park” Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter


The North Star

“Hike the Hiawatha” and “Stomp the Park.”

Tom Walker

UPPER MICHIGAN - Trail Town St. Ignace and Hiawatha Shore-toShore chapter celebrated their first trail town event January 18th. The “Red Plaid Nation” day was planned so that participants could fill their day with outdoor winter activities or join in on an event or two of their choice. The day began at 10:00 AM with an organized “Hike the Hiawatha” snowshoe or ski in the Hiawatha National Forest. The group gathered around a bonfire for a safety and organizing chat and then set off in small groups into the Forest to explore the NCT at their own speed and interests. Some folks tried snowshoes for the first time, while others learned how to use their new cameras. HSS volunteers spread out among the 38 hikers while Dennis Peronto tended the bonfire and chatted with the hikers as they returned from their adventures in the winter wonderland. That morning those who wished to be on their own chose to ski the groomed USFS Sand Dune trails or to snowshoe or ski on the Gros Cap Trail at the USFS Office on US-2 west of town. Another option for the afternoon was to play in the snow at the local tubing hill. Lunch was in town with the HSS volunteers at the Bentley’s Café or on your own at other great eatery choices. Late afternoon in the gathering dusk 24 visitors hiked to the Big Mac Bridge vista in Straits State Park and then down to the beach where the park staff had a bonfire, s’mores, and hot cocoa. The group watched the sun set in the west and the Big Mac bridge slowly light up the evening sky. The way back from the beach to the parking area was on a lantern lit trail provided by the friendly Straits Park hosts, Park Manager, Wayne Burnett and Lead Worker, Mike Sutton. Mike remarked that event was a worthwhile adventure in that it attracted people to the park at dusk and provided an adventure for families. Local Deb Evashevski won the Crazy Hat Contest while Ron and Linda Sootsman were the Runners-Up!

Tom Walker

Hiking Shorts continued…

Bonfire at dusk after a day’s adventures in the snow.

After our “Stomp the Park” the HSS volunteers and many of the visitors ate at the Driftwood Restaurant and Sports Bar. The Driftwood is an NCTA Business Member and very supportive of the North Country Trail. Out of area visitors traveled from the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, Ohio, Nebraska, and Ontario, Canada. The goals of the event were to showcase area winter recreation opportunities and local restaurants and motels, and most importantly to highlight the North Country National Scenic Trail and all the “adventure” it has to offer in winter. If you plan to travel to St. Ignace visit the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore website. Be sure to check out the Trail Town page and the list of NCTA business and organization members. Also visit the St. Ignace Chamber of Commerce website and their Facebook page as well as the St. Ignace Visitors Bureau Facebook page. Be sure to click that Like button! —Kay Kujawa

April-June 2014

John Benedicto and his dog T-Bone at a trailhead on the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore section of trail. John Rey Benedicto

UPPER MICHGAN - In spring of 2013 a group of employees from the Mackinac Straits Health System formed the Mackinac Straits Hiking Club. From May through September they were out on a section of the North Country National Scenic Trail every weekend. Paul Elder serves as the club’s “Fearless Leader.” He had started to hike the NCT by himself two years before, but wasn’t as successful as he would have liked. Conversations at work spurred him to establish the club and to develop a hiking plan. In early May the club plan was put in motion. The group meandered along the shores of Lake Huron and Lake Superior and skirted the banks of the Brevort, Little Bear, Naomikong, and Tahquamenon Rivers. Near East Lake their adventure took them along the base of the Niagara Escarpment. They managed to hike 115 miles in sections of 4 to 13.5 miles and walked the ‘Big Mac’ on Labor Day. Their last trek was in Tahquamenon Falls State Park. A dinner celebration at the end of their “Red Plaid Nation” adventure was held at the Tahquamenon Falls Pub & Brewery. Kerry Freier from the billing staff made nearly every hike. She enjoyed the varying ecosystems, the crystal clear rivers and creeks, and the dancing waters of the Great Lakes. Losing weight and feeling better made John Benedicto happy with the health benefits of his weekly walks in the woods. He is the Director of Nursing at the Evergreen Living Center. John enjoyed the changing scenery, the abundant blueberries, and the fantastic fall color. He remarked that he was sure he would spy a black bear somewhere because of all the bear scat along the trail, especially in the berry patches. Other club hikers were Kathy Winkleman, Amy Calcaterra, Becky Becker, Janet Warren, Rhonda Schlehuber, Perry Keller, and Kyle Keller. John’s dog T-Bone tagged along. Paul’s interest in the trail began when he worked one summer for the USFS building the section of trail from Castle Rock Road to Worth Road. He was the largest and strongest of the team and was given the job of guiding the Troy-Built tiller down the trail. The chain saw crew had it cleared. Fellow team members cut and dug out the tree and brush stumps and roots before him while others in the crew followed up with hand tools finishing the tread. During this winter the club went snowshoeing in the Hiawatha National Forest and cross country skiing on the USFS groomed trails as well as the new trail system at the USFS office on US-2 west of St. Ignace. Paul is making plans for the group to hike longer sections of the trail this summer, improving their skills and building stamina for a final Marathon Hike of 26.2 miles! They are looking forward to this next North Country Trail adventure!

John Rey Benedicto

Mackinac Straits Hiking Club

Paul Elder, Kelly Freier, and T-Bone.

Our Endless Winter

—Kay Kujawa Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Michigan’s Joan Young took a picture of her crabby self after she finally broke through the horrid mess left by the highway snowplow at the end of her LONG driveway, clearing with snowblower and shovel.

April-June 2014

The North Star 11

John Clement

“I love Winter. I really do. But enough already!”

—Matt Davis, Minnesota/N. Dakota Regional Trail Coordinator

Chequamegon Chapter

Vickie and I took a look at our section of NCT in the Porcupine Lake Wilderness this January on the first semiwarm day after Christmas. We found something interesting. Check out Vickie’s before and after pictures. —Marty Swank

Vickie Swank

Before Chris Clement on the NCT east of Grand Marais, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

Becky Heise

Both key arrow pointing signs at a sharp corner with the connector trail to Porcupine Lake Road were totally covered up by snow-draped hemlock branches from behind the signs. Someone new to the trail would not have a clue which way to go or even if signs were present. These photos highlight the importance of checking your section of adopted trail in the winter!

Vickie Swank

Snowshoe on the NCNST to find North Dakota’s highest waterfall in winter.



The North Star

April-June 2014

The A-100 Hiking Challenge


NCTA’s Volunteer Hours Reporting forms have recently been updated. Here are some things you will notice: We now ask you to report your hours in 7 categories instead of 4. This is an effort to better define work being done and record activities on which the National Park Service is required to report. The categories are described on the report form so there’s no need to reference a separate document. It may take some getting used to, but it will pigeonhole types of work and show us where additional resources are needed. Choose a category that best reflects your activities but don’t sweat it. Reporting your hours is what’s most important. For those who prefer a printed form, the format has changed a little, but there are no major differences other than the 7 categories.

NCTA Resource for Record Keeping

Deb Koepplin in her red plaid scarf.

Deb Koepplin

New! Volunteer Hours Reporting Forms

Bobby Koepplin

PENNSYLVANIA - The Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association will hold the annual Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge on June 13th through 15th, 2014. The A-100 is an endurance challenge met through unsupported hiking. It is not a race, but an individual challenge of stamina, determination and resilience. Because it is an unsupported hike, there are no first aid or water stations. Hikers are responsible for supplying their own food, drinks and equipment. Participants must recognize that cell phone reception is very spotty along the length of the trail. The adventure covers a 100 mile stretch of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Allegheny National Forest. Hikers will climb over rolling hills and pass through many beautiful stream valleys. For 2014, the hikers will travel north to south. The direction is changed every two years to give hikers the opportunity to complete all 100 miles of trail. The A-100 challenges hikers to traverse 100 , 75 , 50 or 25 miles in a 50 hour time period. This challenge is for anyone, regardless of skill level, who wants to test himself against the trail. Everyone needs to “hike their own hike,” moving at their own pace and resting when necessary. The challenge will extend from the Pennsylvania Route 346 trailhead, near Willow Bay, to the Pa. Route 66 trailhead, between Marienville and Vowinckel. Those who pre-register will receive a membership in the North Country Trail Association, shuttle service to the start of the hike and a T-shirt. Pre-registration for the A-100 ends May 31, 2014, or whenever 100 hikers have signed up. For more information visit the NCTA website at http:// or email —Tina Toole

Winter Trails Day for Sheyenne River Valley Chapter

Our Chapter travelled from North Dakota to Buffalo River State Park in western Minnesota. Scheel’s All Sports sponsored this outing with snowshoeing and cross country skiing clinics, then later you could try out equipment. Rick Schlauderaff won a pair of snowshoes!

—Becky Heise

To mail order copies of the form, contact Jill DeCator at NCTA Headquarters. The phone number is at the end of this article. When you report online: report-volunteer-hours/ • After filing you will see a confirmation on your screen that your report has been submitted, and receive an email showing details of your report. No more wondering if it worked after you hit send! • There’s an option to choose the land you worked on: National Forest, State land or other. If you are submitting hours for a variety of lands, choose “multiple agencies.” • Report special groups who have joined your work projects. (For example: Boy and Girl Scouts, Student Conservation Association and AmeriCorps) To print the form on your printer: volunteer-resources/volunteermanagement/ Click on the link for the Volunteer Hours Log - Group or Volunteer Hours Log - Individual. Print the form, fill it out. Send the completed form to Headquarters. Or scan and email them to Jill. Jill DeCator (616) 897-5987.

April-June 2014

The North Star 13

Rudi Hargesheimer

Thursday night program Thursday night will feature a banquet (fee) and a program by Luke “Strider” Jordan about his 2013 NCT thru-hike. Hikes Take your pick between an all-day 18.7 mile strenuous hike with NCT thru-hiker Luke “Strider” Jordan and a 0.9 mile easy, downhill hike with Duluth Mayor Don Ness that ends with “a cold one” and food at Burrito Union, a local watering hole. Want something in the middle? Hikes of varied lengths are all on the Superior Hiking Trail® within Duluth. Typical urban hiking is NOT what you will find in Duluth! Check out Trail/Duluth.php to learn more about the SHT in the Duluth area. There are many suggested hikes to take on your own, including the downtown Lakewalk. This popular accessible section of the SHT features many cultural landmarks, including the world’s largest freshwater aquarium, Duluth’s iconic Aerial Lift Bridge, a Great Lakes shipping museum, a railroad museum with dozens of steam locomotives indoors, and plenty of restaurants and shopping. Duluth Hiking & Outdoors Expo

The first ever Expo will be held inside the new Grand Avenue Chalet. It will feature up to 50 exhibitors, outdoor retailers, outdoor recreational businesses, non-profit trail and conservation groups, hiking gear companies, etc. Hikes during the Expo will include an out and back family hike up Spirit Mountain, a group family nature activity, and two guided 4.5 mile loop hikes that leave right from the Grand Avenue Chalet. The ski lift up to the summit will also be running and you can do a lift assisted hike (fee).

Join Us In Duluth! The Minnesota Hiking Celebration EVERYONE is invited! The NCTA’s four Minnesota Chapters with support from our local Duluth partners (Superior Hiking Trail Association and Duluth Parks & Recreation Department) are hosting this event at Spirit Mountain in Duluth August 21st-23rd. Pre- & post-Celebration events Like to get dirty and tired building trail? Or maybe you want to try it out for the first time? We have two opportunities for you to lend a hand. You can join Bill Menke, NCTA’s Wisconsin Regional Trail Coordinator, on Wednesday August 20th as he leads a crew in building new trail in northwestern Wisconsin near the Minnesota border. After the Celebration, Larry Sampson of the Superior Hiking Trail Association will be leading two trail-building workdays (on Sunday and Monday) re-building segments of the Superior Hiking Trail® (SHT) near Jay Cooke State Park that were closed following the June 2012 flood.


The North Star

April-June 2014


The programs include presenters on Minnesota hiking opportunities (the Pow Wow Trail and other hikes in the Boundary Waters, Kekekabic Trail, Border Route Trail, Superior Hiking Trail) and a naturalist led hike and program at Jay Cooke State Park on the record June 2012 flooding that ravaged the Superior Hiking Trail, Duluth, and the Park. During the Expo on Saturday Rudi Hargesheimer will share a popular program on 13 top hikes around Lake Superior, Kim Fishburn of the Star of the North Chapter will share lightweight backpacking lessons he’s learned, and Larry Sampson, SHT Trail Maintenance Supervisor, will share building 40 miles of trail through Duluth.

For more information

For the latest information on the Celebration, contact Florence Hedeen at, visit our Celebration website at, or join our 2014 Minnesota Hiking Celebration Facebook group http:// The only portion of the Celebration for which a registration fee will be charged is the banquet dinner ($30) on Thursday night. All of the other Celebration activities are free. We ask all attendees to register so that we have a rough idea of who’s coming to what and can get in touch with you if necessary. You can register for the Celebration online at minnesota/duluth/register/.

Looking for ways to enhance your NCTA camaraderie at the Conference?

You’re invited to join NCTA Board member Jerry Trout and his wife Beth in camping at the Indian Point Campground in Duluth. They have reserved a group camping option at this fabulous campground located close to Spirit Mountain’s Grand Avenue Chalet. Learn more on the Celebration’s lodging page trail/states/minnesota/ duluth/lodging-options/.

Dine With Us In Duluth—Stone Soup! Jerry and Beth also invite you to the “stone soup supper” to be held at Indian Point Campground on Friday night (before the Awards program). To this community potluck each person should bring one vegetable (one cup approximately or one 15oz. can of vegetables) OR fruit, bread, or cookies along with your own beverages. Jerry and Beth will provide meat for the soup and will be in charge of the wood fire, cooking, table service, and serving. A vegetarian soup option will be available too. Make your reservation with Jerry at

Trail Building Progress on the North Country Trail Legend

NCT NCT On-road

Milestones State New York Pennsylvania Ohio Michigan Wisconsin Minnesota** North Dakota Totals

Total Estimated Mileage 625 265 1,050 1,150 200 775 475 4,540

Percentage Complete 58.5% 71.9% 46.1% 66.0% 67.4% 72.1% 49.9% 60.1%

Total Completed GIS* Miles 365.4 190.5 484.2 758.9 134.8 559.0 237.2 2,730.0

Total Certified Miles in GIS 267.2 129.6 324.1 591.4 125.9 104.3 214.1 1,756.7

*GIS stands for Geographic Information System. This is the computer system NCTA uses to manage our trail information. GIS mileage numbers generally involve some level of estimation. ** Includes the Minnesota Arrowhead Reroute

Our Endless Winter Does Begin to Relent

Irene Szabo

April-June 2014

The North Star 15

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?

Duane Lawton

Can anyone identify this tranquil scene? Our lips are zipped about who supplied the photo above. If we told you that we’d spoil your fun. Email your answer about this location along the Trail to editor Irene Szabo at, and send her the next mystery photo, please!

Last game, our photo apparently stumped everyone but Jerry Marek of Grand Traverse Hiking Club. On 28 February, he sent in the only answer to identify the location of these gigantic mushroom sculptures, shared in Volume 33 Issue 1. “I think the mushrooms are on the stretch near the Hodenpyl Dam near Mesick, Michigan, just north of Northern Exposure Campground. I’m on the Grand Traverse Hiking Club trail crew so this area is very familiar to me. We do not know who made them. It was a surprise we found after we roughed out the trail and it was done when we came back to refine and finish up.”

I want to help build the North Country Trail! Join the North Country Trail Association to support our volunteers in building the trail and telling its story in communities nearby. Happy Trails! Become a member today by calling (866) 445-3628, mail this form with your check made out to NCTA or visit our website home page. Use the Get Involved pull-down menu to choose Become a Member. Please choose your Chapter Affiliation:  I want to be a member of my local Chapter:  I want to be a member of the Chapter closest to my home.  I want to be an At-Large Member. (Not affiliated with any Chapter)  I want to make a tax deductible contribution of Name Address North Country Trail Association City 229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331 EMail


The North Star

April-June 2014

State Day Time Phone


North Star Submission Guidelines

A Sad Cross-Country Ski Adventure Story and Photo by Terry McConnell

Trying to ski on the North Country Trail in the middle of New York in early March


y left cross-country ski broke in half at an inconvenient time. I had just abandoned trail #1 of the Tuller Hill XC trail system, which seemed to be bending in a direction hard to reconcile with intuition, the lay of the land, and the sketchy rendition of a state forest trail map I had in my pocket. As far I could tell, all trails in this labyrinthine system are labeled trail #1. While this greatly simplifies keeping track of which trail you’re on, it doesn’t do much to help you orient yourself relative to the outside world. My plan at this point was to bushwhack SSE in a direction I knew must eventually intersect the Finger Lakes Trail, (FLT) running roughly NE to SW across this initial segment of map M20. It had never occurred to me that it is even possible to break a fiberglass ski. Strange that it hadn’t happened on any of the five preemptive falls I’d taken earlier, when my shaky snowplow technique had proved unable to check my speed on the downhill sections. Skiing conditions were downright dangerous, hard frozen and icy, with only a very thin dusting of new snow on top. As I stood over a slight hollow in what appeared to be an old skid road, puzzling over my hastily hand-scrawled map (my printer had run short of ink), I heard a sudden and resounding “snap.” My probably final ski outing of the season had just turned into a hike. Tuller Hill is a high massif south of Cortland that faces Virgil Mountain across a deep cut. Along its crest runs the divide that separates the Tioughnioga watershed, draining southward into the Delaware valley, from waters that run northward into Cayuga Lake and, ultimately, the St. Lawrence River, and, as it so often does in these parts, the Finger Lakes Trail hugs close to this same divide. My plan had been to take a generally clockwise tour around the circumference of the trail system. This would include a portion of the FLT/NCT where it coincides with one of the state forest ski trails. Cross country ski boots are not well designed for hiking, but their added width combined with the support of the frozen snow made for nearly ideal walking conditions, almost like walking through the woods on a sidewalk, with the added benefit of a slight cushioning “crunch” on each step. The only negative was that carrying the broken skis and poles got tiresome quickly. After finding the trail, I

Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at, or 6939 Creek Rd., Mt. Morris NY 14510. PLEASE DON’T EMBED PICTURES WITHIN YOUR ARTICLE, BUT SEND THEM SEPARATELY AS .JPG ATTACHMENTS. In all cases, please supply photographer’s name. Front cover photo candidates: prefer vertical format, and if digital, at least 300 dpi or greater than 3000 pixels, AND we are always looking for great cover photos! Inside pictures look much better with one dimension over 1000 pixels, too, preferably 2000. Next deadline for Vol. 33, No. 3 is July 1 2014. Remember that 900 words equal approximately one page of dense text, so very few articles should exceed 1800 words in this size of magazine. Thank you! —Your volunteer editor, Irene (585) 658-4321

decided to ditch the skis in a snowbank on Pipeline Road, just where the trail turns southward off the road through a small quarry. I knew my car was near the west end of the road, and I could pick up the broken stuff later and carry it out the road to my car. At this point I decided to make a visit to the Woodchuck Hollow lean-to my new goal for the day. The rest of the “hike” was very pleasant and uneventful. When I got back to my abandoned equipment later in the afternoon, I found out that a fellow skier had left a message of commiseration for me, scrawled in the snow next to my broken skis. Enough of the skiing and snowshoeing already! Time to bring on spring, rehab the hiking boots, and get on with the business of hiking those western maps that stand between me and my FLT end-to-end.

April-June 2014

The North Star 17

What Is An Affiliate, and How Is It Different From A Chapter? By Irene Szabo

n the last issue, both President Tom Moberg and Executive Director Bruce Matthews spread before us the advantages of working on our trail through an NCTA Chapter: not only do Chapters of the Association share in grant and dues revenue, they also do not have to bother with a host of organizational pimples and gnats that independent trail hosts have to handle, like obtaining status as a charitable organization for relief from income taxes and relief from sales tax, or filing annual IRS reports (no small matter even if no taxes are owed!) or buying thousands of dollars worth of insurance. But just look at the huge ambitious map that covers this trail! Even the 1970’s Forest Service people who first worked on the concept could see that great strides forward would be made if the imaginary North Country Trail could hitch a ride on several long EXISTING trails like the Buckeye and Finger Lakes Trails, followed within a few years by more independents like the newer Superior Hiking Trail. Ah! A way around all those impossible lakes began to appear as the SHT, Kekekabic, and Border Route trail groups created what now looks like an arrowhead into Minnesota’s northeast corner. Of course, as an aside, Congress has still not seen fit to accept this addition to the original concept, but those trails’ existing routes sure do solve a lot of problems for us. So after 1980 the National Park Service, in the person of recently retired Tom Gilbert, began approaching the governing boards of a few existing trails to suggest that they host the new National Scenic Trail. As you might well imagine, hissy fits ensued at several board meetings; one hears that this was a truly fiery topic at some FLT Board of Managers’ meetings in the early 1980’s. Fears raged that the Fedral Gubmint wanted to tell us how to run OUR trail, that federal presence would anger landowners, and that we would lose control of our own trail and its identity. The cooperative agreement passed, but not without some serious bloodletting and a few resignations! So in 1984 Tom Gilbert came to the spring weekend and addressed the annual meeting of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference. His speech was reproduced in the Finger Lakes Trail News; in part, he assured FLTC members that “the plan recognizes that the development …of the NCT can be accomplished only through the voluntary cooperative efforts of many public agencies and private trail organizations… The plan, therefore, prescribes broad, flexible policies which allow nearly all public agencies and private trail organizations to participate in the NCT effort with very little or no modification to their own established trail management policies and … standards. The result has been to leave cooperating agencies and organizations ‘in the driver’s seat,’ in control of their own ongoing trail programs.” A lot has changed in the following thirty years, but the initial concept remains true: each of the independently created trail organizations has continued its original


The North Star

April-June 2014

Jackson Thomas


Bridget Bender enjoying the waterfall at “Ebeneezer’s Crossing” on the Finger Lakes Trail.

mission, agreements with public and private hosts, and even independent map production! Even some trail styles have stayed true to the original intent: the Finger Lakes Trail was white-blazed since 1962 so long-distance hikers must adjust their brains slightly when they get to the NY/Pa. border, blue blazes to the south and white for the next 400 miles to the north and east until they reach the Onondaga Trail, part of the FLT System but blue-blazed. Each Affiliate organization, whether the big Buckeye Trail Association (BTA) covering 1400 miles (800 of it NCT) or the smaller NCT Affiliate host in Ohio, the NW Ohio Trailsto-Trails Association (NORTA), covering 63 miles, 41 of them part of the NCT, has to raise its own money, apply to the IRS for 501(c)3 status in order to avoid paying income tax on the money it raises, file a tax return annually whose complexity rises with the group’s assets, pay for several kinds of insurance policies, and arrange with its own state to avoid sales tax on exempted purchases. Each of the independent organizations typically has its own membership base complete with dues collection chores, and especially if it’s a legal notfor-profit must have a board of directors operating in ways consonant with its own state’s laws. Some of the smaller affiliates like the Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery in Michigan send members a newsletter, while others like the Superior Hiking Trail Association (SHTA), BTA, and FLTC support full-fledged magazines. Most independent trail organizations make at least some of their income by selling hats, Tshirts, patches, and maybe guidebooks, often a sales chore tended by volunteers, while a few of them depend on a significant slice of income from map sales, too. Production of maps can become one of the biggest jobs faced by any trail organization; for instance, the FLT maps have evolved over the last 50 years from handdrawn maps copied onto heavy blue paper to colored maps prepared by the ArcView computer program from shared base maps and GPS’d trail routes, and printed on Rite-in-the-Rain

Brent and Amy Anslinger

paper that doesn’t dissolve when wet or folded. The whole mapping program is still done by volunteers from the field to the “map guy’s” computer, until the final stage of copying and sales in the FLT office with parttime employees. Even this FLT office is a fairly new luxury: for the first 39 years the “office” was in somebody’s home, with parts of the job parceled out to other volunteers and their homes. It wasn’t until nearly the 40th anniversary that the FLTC was enabled to move into a rent-free office in an unused house at the Mt. Morris Dam, a US Corps of Engineers facility, and hired its first part-time staff. The Buckeye has one paid employee in their executive director, Andrew Bashaw, so accomplishes many of the required chores with volunteers, while the Superior has a director in Gayle Coyer, who has a small office staff. The FLT still mails out annual member renewals, for example, with a room full of volunteers stuffing envelopes. Most of the affiliates produce their own maps and sell them as part of their own income stream, so prospective long-distance hikers must buy maps directly from the host organization for the FLT, BTA, SHTA, and the Border Route Trail; the NCTA covers the rest of the trail with their own maps. Only the first two have an actual written agreement with the NCTA about the nature of their partnership, and map sales are an important condition for each of them. The host groups cannot allow the NCTA to compete with their map sales, especially for those who count on that source for a slice of their annual budget. Besides, some of the independent trail organizations would have to publish their own maps anyway! For example, the FLT, like the Buckeye Trail, includes another 500-plus miles besides their NCT mileage. Affiliates and partners are, west to east, the Border Route Trail, (the Kekekabic Trail Club is disbanding and will change into a chapter) , the Superior Hiking Trail, Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery, NW Ohio Rails-toTrails, Buckeye Trail, Butler Outdoor Club, Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy, and the Finger Lakes Trail. Only the BTA and FLTC have agreements with the NCTA that involve money: each receives some money each year based on the number of shared memberships in both organizations, while the FLTC participates in the Founders Circle with an annual donation to the NCTA. Gayle Coyer says on behalf of the Superior Hiking Trail, “We appreciate being an affiliate of the North Country Trail Association. We have benefitted by receiving Challenge Cost Share grants from the National Park Service and field grants from the North Country Trail Association.” BTA’s Andrew Bashaw contributed these thoughts to this article: “The BTA has a young Chapter system forming, but our main focus for trail management is our Trail Adopter system organized by 26 BT Sections each of which has a volunteer Section Supervisor. We also have an extraordinary trail construction effort in the Buckeye Trail Crew. And these are just the on-trail volunteers; less celebrated are all the volunteers in the background providing invaluable professional services to promote the BT, raise funds, administer membership, lead outings, and more. What are the benefits of proudly hosting the North Country National Scenic Trail? Honestly, being part of something bigger,

Brent and Amy thru-hiking the Buckeye Trail, Hocking Hills Region.

leading the effort to develop the country’s longest National Scenic Trail through our state means something to our members, volunteers, and land managing partners. Besides the NCTA forwarding interest in hiking and volunteering on the coincident trail in Ohio to the BTA we also benefit financially. Most of the BTA’s funding comes from individual donations so each penny helps to further our (shared) mission. We have received funding through the NCTA Field Grant program and the NPS Project Funding. Each year the NCTA provides funding to the BTA based on the number of joint members we hold as well as annual funding for signage. Being a part of the system also allows BTA volunteers to be included in the Volunteer in Parks program providing them protection above and beyond what the BTA insurance policy would cover. Have I mentioned the chainsawyer certification trainings and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)? The resources are real and the people are great to work with.” Pat Monahan, President of the Finger Lakes Trail Board, says, “The North Country Trail (NCT) coincides with the FLT for nearly 426 miles. We have partnered with the NCTA to maintain high quality standards for all who use and enjoy the trail. Our Memorandum of Understanding describes our uniqueness as well as agreed-upon responsibilities to build, protect, enhance and promote a footpath together. The NCTA has supported our efforts in the form of advanced training, additional financial support, and state and national advocacy. I have always viewed our relationship as mutually beneficial.”

April-June 2014

The North Star 19

Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director


n a recent flight the conversation with my seatmate turned inevitably to what we each do for a living. Although I’m pretty practiced by now—explaining what the North Country Trail is (and what it’s not), how it fits into the National Trails System, how it’s uniquely the longest NST, where the trail goes and so on--- I never get tired of sharing how the trail gets built and maintained. Specifically, I never get tired of bragging on you! As if responding to the lines from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, “Who ARE those guys?!?” I get to sing songs of praise every time as my seatmate listens in wonderment to stories of the intrepid volunteers who regularly love to get sweaty, bug-bit, bone-tired and covered in mud just to create and deliver a simple hiking trail to America. And mostly with no recognition at all, even from the hikers and trail walkers who use it. Usually at this point the conversation moves to how cool it is to have a job like that, and of course I agree. What’s not to love in serving the thousands of NCTA members and volunteers who give of themselves—their time, talent and treasure—to make the North Country National Scenic Trail a reality? Sure, it’s not without its challenges, and yes, there are situations and circumstances I wish were different. But it is truly a gift to be able to do what we do as NCTA staff in serving you.


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April-June 2014

This is one reason we’re putting together the music video “We Build Trail in Low Places.” Based on the hit Garth Brooks tune “Friends in Low Places” the song celebrates the work of our volunteers from one end of the trail to the other, and does so in a fun way that we hope attracts the attention of a lot more folks wanting to join in. We’re asking each of our chapters and affiliates to video groups of their volunteers singing along with the chorus “Yeah, we build trail in low places…” which we’ll patch together in the video so everyone can see themselves in it! At least that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully the music video will go viral and we’ll all be famous, most of all the North Country Trail! There aren’t enough thanks in the world to express appreciation for what you give in creating this legacy effort that will be enjoyed by generations to come. And it’s not the thanks you are after, ‘though sure, it helps when you hear it. You know there’ll be a day at some point when we’re all gone when a hiker or a family will pause at a certain special place along the trail, and there will be a trace of recognition that, yeah, I wonder who it was who made this trail. That’ll be you, friends. That will be you. And by the way, because I just know some of you will want to know… the “guys” causing such wonderment to Butch and Sundance were the famous tracker Joe LeFors and his posse.

Our Endless Winter This awe inspiring panorama was taken on the NCT in the Gaylord State Forest just outside of Petoskey, Michigan.

Michele Oberholtzer

April-June 2014

The North Star 21

If you have questions about the North Country Trail, there are many different places to go for information. This directory provides you with key contacts.

When in Doubt, Try NCTA Headquarters: If

you’re not sure whom to contact, or prefer to talk with our office instead of contacting a volunteer at home, your best bet is to connect with the NCTA’s National Office. If we can’t help you, we’ll be able to put you in touch with someone who can. Staff members are listed on page 2 (table of contents page). North Country Trail Association 229 E Main St, Lowell, MI 49331 Toll-free: (866) HikeNCT Fax: (616) 897-6605 Visit our web site; it’s a sure bet that you’ll find most of what you need. Here you can join or contribute to the NCTA, browse the events calendar, explore NCTA Chapter pages, purchase maps and trail-related products, follow links to Partner organizations, read up-to-date news items, report volunteer hours, and, of course, learn more about the trail itself!

National Park Service: The NPS is an excellent

technical resource for volunteers, agencies, partner organizations, and the media. As our official trail administrator, the NPS sets trail standards, determines trail route, and provides the overall vision for the trail. Mark Weaver, NCNST Superintendent • (616) 430-3495 Jeff McCusker, NCNST Trail Manager • (616) 340-2004 P.O. Box 228, Lowell, MI 49331

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

NCTA Chapters: For information about local activities or

volunteering, contact the Chapter representative for your area of interest. We have almost three dozen local volunteer trail clubs scattered along the trail that are Chapters of the NCTA. NCTA members can affiliate themselves with any Chapter they’d like. Whether or not the member volunteers, a portion of their dues will help support Chapter activities. Chapters build and maintain trail, host hikes and other events, and work to promote the trail and the Association in their areas.

Affiliate Organizations: The NCTA enters into

affiliate agreements with other organizations who envision the completed trail. Trail Maintaining Affiliates are independent organizations who also work to build, maintain, and promote sections of the trail. Supporting Affiliates are independent organizations who work with us to help fulfill our Mission, but are not responsible for a specific section of trail. Each has its own membership program, so we encourage NCTA members to support them as well. If you have questions about a section of trail that is managed by one of these organizations, your best bet is to contact our Affiliates directly.


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April-June 2014



1 2

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


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

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

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

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

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Gayle Coyer • (218) 834-2700 •


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


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

5 4 2

6 3

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

6 3

95 10 14




11 9 13 8 12

LEGEND Chapters Partners Not Yet Adopted






21 38

23 24

37 25

36 26

35 34



19 20 21 22 23 24 25

33 27 Harbor Springs Chapter Anne Billiard • 27 32 29 Jordan Valley 45° Chapter 27 Duane Lawton • 30 Friends of the Jordan River National Fish Hatchery 28 (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): (231) 584-2461 PENNSYLVANIA Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter 32 Wampum Chapter John Briggs • (231) 409-2684 • Dennis Garrett • (724) 827-2350 • Spirit of the Woods Chapter 33 Butler County Chapter Steve Myers • (231) 750-6761 • John Stehle • (724) 256-0674 • Western Michigan Chapter Butler Outdoor Club Chuck Vanette • (231) 408-5664 • (Trail Maintaining Affiliate): Chief Noonday Chapter Steve Bickel • (724) 794-3719 • Larry Pio • (269) 327-3589 • 34 Clarion County Chapter Chief Baw Beese Chapter Ed Scurry • (814) 437-1168 • Mike Dundas • 35 Rachel Carson Trails Conservancy


26 NW Ohio Rails-to-Trails Association

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

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

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

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

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Patty Brunner • (724) 325-3224 • 36 Allegheny National Forest Chapter Jeff Manelick • (814) 723-4714 •


37 Finger Lakes Trail Conference

(Trail Maintaining Affiliate):

Dick Hubbard, Executive Director • (585) 658-9320 Maintaining Organizations Coordinated by the FLTC: Genesee Valley and Onondaga Chapters of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Cayuga Trails Club, Foothills Trail Club, Hammondsport Boy Scout Troop 18 and Dansville Boy Scout Troop 38 Central New York Chapter: Jack Miller • (315) 446-7257 •

April-June 2014

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Mary Coffin

Scurry On Roses: A Cure For Cabin Fever

Over the last several years we have had an increasing incursion of multiflora rose in one of our Pennsylvania Game Lands, so that was going to be the target of my winter ambition. Multiflora rose sounds like such a benign member of the flower family. Not so. The thorns grow in the opposite direction of the stems so do not let go once they have penetrated clothes or flesh. I was pleased to find that the roses were bent over into the snow pack making the base of the plants easier to attack. Now if the snow ever melts, I can pull the roses away from the treadway and try to pull the remainder of the plants up by the roots. With heavy canvas overalls to fend off the thorns and a second pair of heavy gloves, I was able to put a large dent in our multiflora rose problem. —Ed Scurry, Clarion Chapter

New York Extended Outing

Onondaga Trail and Finger Lakes Trail Spruce Pond on the Onondaga Trail.

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

The immense base of an evil rose bush described here, with hand clippers and a roll of flagging tape for scale.

Please contact the leader of this Outing, Mary Coffin:, (315) 687-3589

Photos by The Old Maintainer


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April-June 2014

The War on the Roses By T.O.M., The Old Maintainer

Starring…alas, actors no more swanky than old loppers, hand snips, and tough coveralls.... Dateline March: The annual winter chore is underway, cutting back voracious carnivorous plants reproducing in obscene good health in the bushy old field along trail just beyond our Finger Lakes Trail office. Aerial views inside the adjacent Mt. Morris Dam Visitor Center show what this field looked like during the building of the dam around 1950, when it had just “graduated” from being somebody’s farm field, and again in 1992. Even as recently as 1992, when this addition to the trail was opened to connect us to the canal and railtrail down in the valley, there were still open weedy portions with spots of bushy honeysuckle and Russian olive, dotted with young trees. Field birds mixed with forest edge birds made it a fascinating place to visit; that is, unless you had annointed yourself keeper of the trail through this half-mile where there was almost nothing to blaze, and the bushes were eager to grow three feet into the trail annually. This is why trail maintainers develop plant prejudices, no matter how nicely they were brought up. If it grows several feet per year, way too successfully covering blazes, blocking pathways, or snapping hikers in the face, then you just can’t help not liking it, and if it sprouts thorns, too, it becomes a loathsome enemy. There are days when Agent Orange fantasies pop unbidden into one’s mind, to the accompaniment of helicopter rotor rhythms if you came of age during Vietnam. Raspberry canes scrape legs, thorny Russian olive shoots grow four feet in a season, and multiflora roses draw blood easily. This year patches of huge thistles appeared next to the trail, their prickly productions topping out nearly face high. Eventually thick honeysuckle bushes, tall and tangled though they are, seem benign because they have no thorns, even if cutting an overhead branch during mid-summer showers juicy red berries down the back of your neck. These are enemies of the trail which cannot be battled in summer time. Not only can a trail caretaker not SEE through leaves well enough to cut the offending branches back far enough, but nobody wants to reach deep into a thorny thicket with bare arms and legs. Football-sized gray wasp nests have also been discovered behind the leaves, face-high right next to the trail. Hence winter sessions are called for in bushy trail country. Russian olives become big enough, and quickly, that a bowsaw is needed to keep them from consuming the trail. A bush more than a dozen feet off the trail can lean into the space kept mowed all summer and threaten to cut us off. In fact, one patch of trail deleted by a little re-route created three seasons ago, to get out of field into adjacent woods,

is completely closed off by now with olive sprouts from huge mounds of growth. Only the deer wiggle through. So winter is a good time to go off-trail, saw back the 3 and 4” diameter trunks of the olives, and drag the huge branches away. Thus are several years’ freedom gained in THAT spot, at least. The most useful task that can be done in winter is the ultimate pricker patrol, our ongoing war on the roses. Somebody years ago had a bright idea that multiflora rose would make great natural hedges and even fences, but that somebody didn’t reckon with its vile success rate in spreading far and wide. Off-trail rose bushes are hard to spot in summer, unless one rakes its thorns across your sweet delicate flesh when it grows high into the air then leans over into the middle of the trail from above, but in winter their younger canes remain red or green amongst all that brown. Their fruit, red bulging “rose hips,” are a dead give-away, too, and can be spotted eight feet in the air where rose canes are arching up and over trail-side honeysuckle, seemingly bent on scragging our innocent faces. So the pursuit for giant rose bushes can take trail tenders ten, twenty feet offtrail, following the discovered roses back down to their bases. Usually a thick cluster of rose branches can be spotted against the snow, and with enough crawling under and behind other bushes, our weed warrior can cut them off at the ground. Well, every trail caretaker knows this process is a lot like Sisyphus rolling his rock uphill. I have encountered rose bushes so huge that I needed to drag my bow saw in there with me, to cut down 2” diameter stalks! This year I found the record rose, with an EIGHT inch diameter base spouting two 2.5” stalks heading straight up. But usually the whole batch can be cut with saw and long-handled loppers, without physical harm, since their branches aim upward to grow around and over surrounding bushes. Some roses thus cut off actually die, while others just start up again. A few days before Christmas I dived in to stop one which I hadn’t even seen coming in summertime, but it would have reached us by next season. As I began to cut the canes with loppers, I realized there were a few dried-up old stalks, cut off probably three or four years ago. The only relief is that a few trees are also growing up, so shade may save the next generation of volunteers. Tough coveralls are pretty good at protecting their inhabitant from thorns, but I wish I’d remember not to wear a knit hat. Can’t begin to tell you how many times hats have been snagged right off my head by branches above as I crawl through the underbrush. Bike helmet over balaclava? Doesn’t matter what I look like, since I’ve never run into a trail user during these sessions. It’s a shame nobody comes through here in winter, though. Sometimes there are the neatest surprises: in late February I’ve learned to look for the sugar maple tree about two hundred feet off trail, where squirrels make little bites in the branches to start sap dripping, which makes miniature icicles overnight. Sapsicles.

April-June 2014

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National Park Service

Corner Jeff McCusker NPS Trail Manager

Where Should We Build Our Trail?


n carrying out our responsibilities to select the route for the North Country Trail, and plan for acquisitions, we at the NPS trail office have been looking for a simpler process to choose the best places for the trail to go, and what land parcels it will cross in getting there. This became especially important after we secured some funding to begin doing small acquisitions for the trail through the emergency and hardship provisions of the Land and Water Conservation Fund. At the 2011 National Scenic Trail conference in Shepardstown, West Virginia, we learned about a planning process called Optimal Location Review (OLR), which has been used extensively over the years by the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. The professional staff for these trails gladly spent time and shared documents with us to learn about how they apply the process to make decisions about choosing the best route for the trail, identifying what land around the trail (we call this the “trailway”) to protect, and identifying the parcels needed. The optimal location of the trail should provide the most desirable recreation setting, connect any outstanding natural or cultural features, and allow for safe use and access to trailheads, suitable water sources and camping sites, etc. The process can be used to locate segments of the trail to fill the gaps where no trail has yet been developed, or relocate the trail when there are changes in land management, or opportunities to improve the trail by moving it.

The OLR is valuable on a number of levels: • It documents a signed agreement by trail stakeholders on where the trail should go, which includes maps, photos, and justification. • It describes the trailway, and identifies the land needed to protect it. • It contributes to a prioritized list of parcels to be acquired that can be passed on to NPS land acquisition staff or other realty staff, lands acquisition staff for partner state and local agencies, or land conservancies. Your NPS trail manager believes the best way to learn how to do something is to try it. Armed with the wisdom, guidelines and examples from the other trails, our former NCTA trail protection intern Bill Treat and I embarked on OLRs in Newaygo County, Michigan, to remove the last road walks in the Manistee National Forest. Near Ft. Ransom,


The North Star

April-June 2014

North Dakota we did an OLR to help eliminate road walk and complete the trail leading from the tallest waterfall in North Dakota (it was about six feet high, but with a mudslide now it’s a bit hard to measure). In Augusta, Michigan, OLRs supported trail that was in jeopardy because a longtime trail host was going to sell his farm. We have since started four more OLRs and as of the date of this article, we have completed the initial three covering about 6 miles of potential trail, and identifying 5 parcels for acquisition. Three of the five landowners contacted have agreed to the first step in the land acquisition process, which is to allow the National Park Service to enter their property and carry out pre-acquisition due diligence work (hazardous materials survey, title research, and appraisals). Our fastest OLR took 30 days, but 3-6 months is more likely.

Having a bit of experience under our belts, we have learned some important lessons: • The process sometimes requires that we step back and look at a bit broader picture than the immediate gap or reroute. Perhaps the trail that was always thought to be in the Optimal Location really isn’t. Perhaps the connections or objectives need clarification. • Related to the above, we’ve found the process to be sometimes iterative: we lay out end points, objectives and trail routes in the office, but when we get out to the field, we find we have to revisit those multiple times. • It’s very valuable to have local input, and in fact we would like to have as many of these processes in play as possible, started and driven by as many of our partners as are willing to work on them. One question that has come up a fair amount is “Do we have to do an OLR?” As with much of our work and policy related to the Trail, we are finding the need to be flexible. But as we do more OLRs and the NPS, NCTA and chapter leaders see the value, I think we are all in agreement that it’s the best practice, especially for use of federal acquisition funds. At this point as the NPS looks at justifications to tap into large amounts of taxpayer land acquisition dollars, OLRs are essential to make the case. When we have been sure of some acquisitions and needed to show key landowners in urgent situations that we are serious, we have begun the acquisition process concurrently with the OLR. One valuable result of the OLR is that it can show where simple access agreements or formal easements might be more appropriate than buying the land outright. As the NCTA Trail Protection committee has learned how the OLR process works, they have become supporters of the process. So if you have a nasty section of roadwalk or trail you would like to eliminate with some permanently protected trail and trailway, get in touch! —Jeff McCusker NCNST Trail Manager (616) 340-2004

Our Endless Winter Thomas King

In 2013, Debbi and I completed 119 lake-ice hikes, each on different days in Solon Springs, Wisconsin, on solidlyfrozen Upper St. Croix Lake. Family members, along with Sonja Snow Dog and Scotty Boots, our sister-brother Border-Collie mix sheepdogs and sled pullers, sometimes accompanied us, via North Country Trail portions, out to safe lake ice. Air temperatures were often at -25° F or colder, and windchill temperatures below that. On each trek, we hiked out to and/or around Crownhart Island in the center of the lake on 119 individual, different days total, the most we have ever “ice hiked” in a year. Our plans to celebrate a special family birthday outside on April 27, 2013, were altered due to the heavy snow cover in our front yard. And our last day of backcountry skiing on the lake and trails was May 7, 2013. What fun! A wintery year to remember. And just wait until we tell you about 2014...

Thomas King

In 2014, February 18th A proper, real winter so far. Our daily hikes continue on parts of NCT and on the lake. We have worked at farm and homestead, skied, and hiked in temperatures of -35° F, bracing for nighttime wind chills that sometimes neared -60° F. We and critters are all well. Having fun. No ticks... —Thomas and Debra King Sunny Cove Registered Icelandic Sheep

Happy Birthday? April 27, 2013.

Kirk Johnson

Even the worst winter must eventually yield to spring, though. Kirk Johnson was on a backpack trip through the Allegheny National Forest in northern Pennsylvania in May of 2006 when he came to a motel, not even open for the season yet, where apparently robins felt comfortable enough around the seemingly deserted building to start one of that season's families.

April-June 2014

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north star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Vinnie Collins

A flock of cedar waxwings spent over a week in Vinnie’s yard, eating the shriveled remains of last year’s crab apples, filling the air with their soft airy peents and whews in the treetops in Vinnie’s New York yard.

Come Visit Us! The Lowell office is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. 229 East Main Street, Lowell, MI 49331 (866) HikeNCT • (616) 897-5987 • Fax (616) 897-6605 The North Country Trail Association develops, maintains, protects and promotes the North Country National Scenic Trail as the premier hiking path across the northern tier of the United States through a trail-wide coalition of volunteers and partners. Our vision for the North Country National Scenic Trail is that of the premier footpath of national significance, offering a superb experience for hikers and backpackers in a permanently protected corridor, traversing and interpreting the richly diverse environmental, cultural, and historic features of the northern United States.

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