North Star Vol. 33, No. 3 (2014)

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July-September, 2014

The magazine of the North Country Trail Association

Volume 33, No. 3

north star National Trails Day on the Fife Lake Reroute Map Update from Matt Rowbotham Eastward Ho! The Green Mountain Girls Conquer Vermont

NCTA 2014 Awards Stone Quarry Hill Art Park

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Connie Burns

Prairie fringed orchid in North Dakota.

About the Cover Beef, as they say in North Dakota, grazing in the Sheyenne National Grasslands along the Trail. What lush tall grass! Photo by Connie Burns of Minnesota.

In This Issue National Park Service Awards....................4 2014 NCTA Awards...............................5 Bylaws Change Initiates New Election Procedure................................15 Eastward Ho!.........................................16 Steuben County, New York: More Cows Than People.........................18 Spur Trails, Viewsheds, What Could be Better?...........................19 We National Park Service Volunteers........ 20 Certification is Back!...............................22 GTHC’s National Trail Day.................... 24 Fife Lake Story II....................................25 Hiking the NCT: A Newcomer’s Perspective....................... 27 Map Updates.........................................28

A Hiker’s Idle Brain.............................. 31 Thru-Hiker Oversight.............................32 The Value of Volunteer Hours.................33 Stone Quarry Hill Art Park.....................34

Columns Trailhead................................................3 Matthews’ Meanders............................ 21 NPS Corner.........................................22

Departments Hiking Shorts.......................................11 Submission Guidelines And Next Deadline..............................23 Where in the Blue Blazes?.....................30 Milestones............................................32

North Star Staff Irene Szabo, Volunteer Editor, (585) 658-4321 or Peggy Falk, Graphic Design The North Star, Fall issue, Vol. 33, Issue 3, 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

July-September 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 · Lynda Rummel, New York Rep. (315) 536-9484 · Larry Hawkins, Immediate Past President, Michigan Rep. (269) 945-5398 ·

Trail Head Tom Moberg President


reetings from soggy North Dakota. As I write this at the end of June, it is hard to think about the trail out here without complaining about the weather. The last several months have been characterized by rain, rain, and more rain. The trail on the prairie is disappearing under a waving green blanket and the wet ground makes it difficult to mow. But as always, I am cheered by the incredible range of trail development activities that are happening all along the NCNST.

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Photo supplied by Tom Moberg

In my last North Star article, I mentioned the current NCTA strategic planning process. In May and June, Chapter leaders were invited to participate in several webinars to offer their perspectives about the strategic directions of the Association. That information will be integrated with the final version of the strategic plan. The Board will have another conference call about the strategic plan later in July and may be ready to finalize the plan during the August Board meeting in Duluth. The Board approved some revisions to the NCTA Bylaws at the April Board meeting in Lowell, Michigan. Bylaws have to be based on the laws of the state where the organization is incorporated and must accurately describe how the organization functions. As the Board reviewed the Bylaws, we discovered that some of our procedures, such as the election of Board members and officers, were not consistent with the Articles of Incorporation. There were also issues of consistency, clarity, grammar, and structure that needed to be fixed. 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 the legal decision making responsibility for the organization. But the original Bylaws gave some voting rights to members, such as voting for new Board members, although member voting of that sort is not legal for a directorship under Michigan law. In practice, such voting rarely happened and very few NCTA members ever took the opportunity to nominate or vote for Board members. The revised Bylaws incorporate a new Board Development/ Governance Committee, clarify the nomination, election and succession procedures for Board members and officers, add a Treasurer position that is legally required, modify the duties of the Secretary, and clarify the role of the Past President. Although formal meetings of NCTA members are not required under the Articles of Incorporation, the Board feels strongly that it

is very important to have member gatherings. The revised Bylaws emphasize this point by the inclusion of the following paragraph: The Association encourages regional and trailwide gatherings for all interested members to share hiking experiences and trail building expertise, to generate and affirm personal enthusiasm for the North Country National Scenic Trail, to participate in education and training activities, to express their ideas and suggestions about the Association and the NCNST, and for other purposes as determined by the Board of Directors. For example, the upcoming Minnesota Hiking Celebration (August 21-23 in Duluth) is a good example of a trail-wide gathering of NCTA members. The revised Bylaws also clarify the relationship between the NCTA and its Chapters in the following paragraph: All Chapter members shall be Association members. Chapters are not permitted to admit members to the Chapter who are not also members of the Association. An Association member may be a formal member of only one Chapter, although Chapter members may participate in activities of other Chapters. Affiliation with a Chapter will be voluntary and shall not affect Association membership standing. Chapters may establish Chapter dues payable by their members, in addition to regular Association membership dues. Thanks in large part to Jaron Nyhof, a Michigan Board member and lawyer with broad experience in non-profit organizations, the NCTA now has a professional, clear, and consistent set of Bylaws. In the near future, we will be reviewing all the existing NCTA policies as well as Chapter Bylaws to ensure that all the documents are consistent with the NCTA Bylaws. The revised NCTA Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation are available on the NCTA website at http:// Fortunately, I get to do outdoor trail work as well as indoor Board work. When I’m doing some relatively repetitious activity like mowing the trail with a DR Brush mower, I like

Tom Moberg with Beth and Jerry Trout trying out a scary bridge.

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TrailHead continued… to think about ways to promote the NCNST as one trail, albeit a very long one that is being built in local segments. One great opportunity coming up September 27 is the 1st Annual North Country National Scenic Trail Day during which every Chapter is encouraged to have a trail event. Wouldn’t it be amazing (and newsworthy) if all 4,600 miles of the NCNST were hiked by someone on that one special day? The NCTA Membership Committee, chaired by Mary Coffin, has a great list of suggestions for NCNST Day if you need some event ideas. Marv De Witt

Last year’s new shelter built on Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore trail, using the time-tested plans provided by the Finger Lakes Trail, available as a pdf from NCTA HQ.

Another idea in the “one trail” genre was given to me recently by Luke “Strider” Jordan who thruhiked the entire NCNST last year. Recent North Star articles have featured the construction of great trail shelters by various Chapters. Luke says that more shelters at campsites would be very encouraging to long distance NCNST hikers. What would it take to do that? What if every Chapter built one shelter per year for the next five years? Could we find some way to “mass produce” shelters that would significantly reduce the construction costs and effort? In any case, it is fun to think about such things. If you have other ideas about ways to leverage our individual and Chapter trail building efforts across the whole trail, I would love to hear them. As Garrison Keillor says, “Be well. Do good work. And stay in touch.”


The North Star

National Park Service Awards From Dan Watson, NPS Volunteer Coordinator, and Marty Swank

2013 Midwest Region George and Helen Hartzog Award, “Individual” Category: Rick Pomerleau and Mary Stenberg

“When a VIP agrees to share his talents, skills and interests with the National Park Service, he is paying us one of the highest compliments possible by offering a most valued possession – his time.” George B. Hartzog, Jr. made this statement on November 17, 1970 in a letter to all regional directors announcing the new Volunteers-In-Parks program. Director Hartzog led the National Park Service from 1964 to 1972. During his tenure, 70 sites were added to the National Park System Winners: Rick Pomerleau and Mary Stenberg of the Chequamegon Chapter, Wisconsin. and he championed historic preservation, urban recreation, interpretation and environmental education. Director Hartzog recognized the need to make it easier for citizens to donate, without compensation, their time and talents to the NPS and pushed through legislation creating the Volunteers-In-Parks Program. After his retirement, George and his wife Helen remembered the VIP program with a generous donation to the National Park Foundation. This fund has been used to support awards that honor the efforts of exceptional volunteers, groups, and park VIP programs. The NPS created these awards to honor volunteers’ hard work, draw attention to their vast skills and contributions, and to stimulate development of innovative projects and volunteer involvement. The intent of the awards is to distinguish those individuals or groups who give of their skills, talents, and time beyond the normal call of duty. They are not awarded based solely on length of service. Volunteers of the National Park Service are the only qualified nominees for these awards. Rick and Mary were selected as the 2013 winners of the Midwest Region Hartzog Individual Volunteer Award, for providing significant service beyond usual duties. The Midwest Region of the National Park Service encompasses 13 states, from the Dakotas to Ohio, and as far south as Arkansas. Rick and Mary’s nomination prevailed against all other nominations from within the 63 parks and trails throughout this area. Marty Swank’s nomination letter praised the couple for many contributions, among which were Mary’s authorship of a grant request for destination sign materials and register boxes, which she and Rick then built and installed, using Rick’s inventive hauling cart. Mary also made great strides in promoting the Chequamegon sections of the NCT, including articles both local and in our national magazine, North Star, and has given a number of presentations to area groups. They have adopted a long and difficult section of the Chapter’s trail, manage the western portions, and contributed to the 2010 Ashland national conference. Mary and Rick continue to build strong relationships with the USFS, NCTA, and NPS, and have garnered a lot of respect in the process.

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Honoring Our Illustrious Volunteers And Benefactors By Irene Szabo

Matt Davis

Your NCTA Awards Committee is thrilled to present this year’s list of honorees, even though the choices were difficult. So many good nominees across these seven states…! We lead off with the well-deserved Lifetime Achievement, presented to Harlan Liljequist in Duluth at the Trail Fest. With 30+ years as a member of the NCTA, Harlan is a “lifer” if there ever was one. He has organized his entire life around the trail, outside of working full time on the night shift, so has many times driven directly from work to a trail weekend. Brian Pavek said, “The last time Harlan and I were on a trail crew together, he cleared, mowed, and maintained nearly 4 miles of the trail by himself. While the rest of us were taking a break, we watched as Harlan ripped the saw through five trees like a knife through butter. He’s the first to set out on the trail, and the last to come back from trail work or a hike. He never complains, just keeps on smiling! Harlan has been part of

work crews on the Border Route, the Superior Hiking Trail, and other places along the NCT in both Wisconsin and Minnesota. No one has put more heart or soul (sole?) into the organization as a whole.” Many people don’t know Harlan all that well, as he is very shy. He will never ask for anything for himself, but always gives willingly from his heart. His father died from a heart attack in his 40’s, when Harlan was only a teenager. Harlan vowed he would not die the same way, and took up hiking for exercise. He has completed both the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trails, has scouted, built and maintained many miles of the NCT in Minn., and is one of the “frontiersmen” responsible for where trail is on the ground. John Leinen noted, in his echoing nomination, that Harlan “attends every NCTA event, period! Every chapter event, every statewide event and every national event...”

Lifetime Achievement Harlan Liljequist


or the Leadership award, we turn to Charlene DeWitt from the Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Since Charlene became President of the Chapter they have met monthly, switched all 122 miles of the HSS section trail from blue vinyl to blue painted blazes, have become involved with the tri-county Wellness Coalition, improved our Adopt A Section program, especially the number of qualified, trained, and certified chain saw volunteers, and began bi-annual meetings with the USFS. She and Marilyn Chadwick constructed trail tread on the Castle Rock Project one or two days a week all one summer. However, by far the most important project that Charlene took on was application for Rural Schools and Community funds, a local grant program funded by US Forest Service timber sales. The RAC (Resource Advisory Committee) rated her request #1 out of 12 applications so HSS received $87,300. With the grant she acquired a mile of boardwalk, a shelter, and materials for distance signs and boot brush stations. She and husband Marvin took the lead on the project that included housing an AmeriCorps team of 11 workers. The team designed and built over 3000 feet of boardwalk, constructed two miles of new trail tread, built and installed19 trail distance signs, and designed an NCT board game.

Hiawatha Shore to Shore (HSS) Chapter’s Roving Crew Member, Bob McNamara said, “I was impressed with Charlene’s ability to negotiate all the tremendous red tape to acquire, house, and supervise an AmeriCorps team. Not only did she do all the organizing, but she physically joined HSS volunteers at the job sites.” Rising Star was awarded to Luke Jordan. Just out of college, Luke embarked on an immense undertaking, walking the whole North Country Trail from west to east in one season, but did it with great forethought and planning. Luke made serious detailed mileage plans so that he could mail packages to himself at logical places, and worked summers so that he could save up $5000 for his adventure. Like several others who have walked west to east in one season, he encountered terrible winter conditions for the first months of his trek, followed immediately by too much water and hordes of insects. Despite the adversities that no amount of planning can prevent, he did successfully complete his end-to-end walk of the whole 4600 miles AND added the intended Vermont addition, all before October ended! Best of all, he cheerfully accommodated every local effort to publicize his hike and the North Country Trail by speaking with reporters for both print and TV, and participated in several trail events that coincided

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Lorana Jinkerson

Luke Jordan

Rising Star Luke Jordan

Friend of the Trail Grand Marais, Michigan, Chamber of Commerce One of many Chamber member businesses useful to hikers.

with his passage. As an ambassador for the Trail, he has been a charming ideal. Bruce Matthews said of his participation in last November’s Partnership for National Trails conference in Arizona, “Luke was a rock star.” Always the question hangs over this award: will this rising star stay with trail stuff into adulthood? In this case, we’re sure the answer is yes, because he already plans to aim for a job in the field, bolstered by his college curriculum. Luke is writing a book about his hike, and is already doing speaking engagements. Since he came up through his teenage years gathering enthusiasm for hiking trails while working on the Superior Hiking Trail itself, we feel confident that this star will not fizzle out of view. Cindy Schwehr earned a Friend of the Trail nod as a member of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter and serves on the Barnes County Commission. As Chairman of the Commission she supported the SRV Chapter Easement Acquisition requests and assisted in getting County Commission approval. On behalf of the Commission, she signed easements that were donated for over 16 miles of miles of trail along county road rights-of-way to assure continuous trail between otherwise isolated segments. She has also helped the SRV Chapter acquire two private landowner easements by making phone calls and taking time to meet directly with the landowners. Cindy has been a member of the SRV chapter for 9 years and has earned volunteer awards for hours spent working on the trail. Cindy was a crucial member of the fund raising committee for our 2009 Conference. 6

The North Star

Trail Maintainer Warren Irle

Friend of the Trail Cindy Schwehr

July-September 2014

Bill Menke

Marty Swank

Marv DeWitt

Leadership Charlene DeWitt


Trail Maintainer Phil Anderson

She used contacts attained during her years on the County Commission for regional and national fund raising efforts. She was successful in raising funds from NextEra Energy Resources (a wind farm company), Kadrmas Lee & Jackson (an engineering firm), TransCanada Keystone Pipeline, Johnston Culvert, and Butler Machinery raising over $7,000. These funds would not have been raised without the connections made by Cindy Schwehr. She also arranged for us to have the use of a school bus and several vans during that same 2009 Conference. The other Friend of the Trail award went to the Grand Marais, Michigan, Chamber of Commerce. This tiny town (287 population in winter, including cats and dogs, but 1500 in summer) is the eastern gateway to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, so the Chamber decided six years ago to welcome hikers and promote the NCT both east and west of there. Information packets are available in nearly every public establishment, hikers are often given rides, and both ordinary citizens and proprietors go out of their way to welcome hikers. One time the Post Office was even opened after hours so a late hiker could pick up his supply package! Materials have been donated for Superior Shoreline Chapter projects, reduced motel rates have been arranged for sawyer training, and Chamber business owners freely offer advice and information. As the nomination letter said, a hiker new to the community is new only once. There is always a fierce competition for the three Trail Maintainer awards, since there are so many deserving nominees. Warren Irle of the Chequamegon Chapter in Wisconsin has turned into a valued maintainer in only four seasons, tending his own steep and rocky 4 miles famously well, but also pitching in on others’ sections, too, and participating in building projects. Even though he drives three hours one way to get to the trail, he misses very few group work sessions, and even looks around for MORE to do as projects wind down on any given day. Phil Anderson is our second Trail Maintainer, currently providing direction for 22 adopters maintaining more than 50 miles of trail. He makes sure the Brule-St. Croix Chapter’s two mowing/maintenance units are well supplied, and the trail mowers in working order. He recruits new adopters and makes sure they’re trained as they begin their volunteer work. He deals with replacement signs, the removal of big blowdown trees, erosion issues, and broken tools, meanwhile maintaining his own 3 mile section.



Matt Davis

Trail Maintainers Richard and Judy Ferguson

Outreach Phil Nimps

Outstanding Landowners Pam and Doug Boor

Lisa Lakenen

Joan Young


Loren Bach

Serving as chapter maintenance coordinator is a substantial volunteer commitment; Phil not only does this job well, but serves as an active member of the Brule-St. Croix Roving Trail Crew. Crew wise, Phil is especially valuable whenever a large and complicated bridge is being worked on. His carpentry skills are invaluable. Richard and Judy Ferguson, our third Trail Maintainer awardee started volunteering for the North Country Trail/Spirit of the Woods chapter in 2006. They started working in the southern part of the chapter’s miles and have come here almost every work day, despite their drive of 174 miles one way from the other side of downstate Michigan! Rich and Judy have maintained this section for seven years. It sees heavy use by mountain bikes and is not appropriately switchbacked so it is subject to heavy erosion problems, giving them extra work to do. Rich is a quiet leader and has been instrumental in constructing boardwalk in Sterling Marsh. He will show a newbie the essentials of the construction, but also backs off and lets the volunteer do the work and experience the satisfaction of doing the job him or herself. The early boardwalk construction process was frustrating and many expressed this frustration, although Rich and Judy just quietly got down to work without complaining. The boardwalk was built, then the Forest Service decided it should be wheelchair accessible so the Fergusons participated in the re-building even when constructed sections had to be re-built wider for the third time! Rich and Judy bring a tent up when they plan to work on the trail with the chapter, and camp out the night before. They often stay after the work day and continue to work on their own section. Outreach Award this year goes to Phil Nimps of Minnesota. Besides driving over five hours to maintain his adopted section, Phil drives all the way up the North Shore of Lake Superior to stop at all of the state parks from Grand Portage to Jay Cooke, keeping them supplied with brochures touting the NCT. A couple of the state parks declined to display our brochure at first, but Phil persisted. He asked them at least to keep them under the counter, and if anyone asked for information, they could hand it out. The following season, Phil returned to the parks: those that had been indifferent asked for more brochures, and put them out for all to see. He also drives around northern Minnesota, dropping bundles of brochures and telling stories of the NCT at chambers of commerce, visitor information centers, and other tourist attractions. Phil also does guest lectures to school children about the NCT when asked. Lastly, only Phil would stop and talk to tour bus travelers, and ask them if they know about the NCT, and proceed to hand out brochures, all the while giving a speech on why it is important to become supporting members. Now if only we had two Phils per state‌ The Board of Directors gave us permission this year to honor two separate people with Outstanding Landowner. One thus honored is Doug Boor of Petoskey, Michigan. When Doug learned that the North Country Trail followed a road at the top of his property, he immediately began dreaming about how to put that section onto his land. The hill was steep, one of the highest points in Emmett County. That meant there were some awesome views, but building a trail could be a lot of work.


Outstanding Landowner Tom Lakenen

In 2005 neighbor John Canton of the Little Traverse Conservancy suggested the Conservancy buy the land. Doug liked this idea. It took about a year and a half for the funds to be gathered from the state oil and gas monies, but in 2006 the property easement for the trail was transferred. The land connects to City of Petoskey land, allowing the trail to continue off road at the north (westbound NCT) end. The Jordan Valley 45 Chapter built the trail with a 40-person crew. The Conservancy built an overlook platform and several benches along the route. Not only is it always good to get trail off road, but this particular piece adds significant value to the scenic character of the North Country Trail. From the platform one can see spectacular views of the Bear River Valley and Little Traverse Bay on Lake Michigan. In fact, if one is westbound on the trail, this is the first glimpse seen of the Great Lakes. The trail here has become the most heavily visited portion of the Conservancy properties. Doug has hopes of adding a campsite for use by NCT hikers. The other Outstanding Landowner is Tom Lakenen, probably no surprise to readers of previous issues of North Star, where we have read of his generosity in inviting the public to wander his property to see all the whimsical metal sculptures scattered throughout, or even camp in the shelter he built! Boilermaker Tom owns Lakenenland Junkyard Art Sculpture Park, located on M-28 east of Marquette, Michigan. Not only is Tom the fantastic artist who crafts these wonders, he also hosts the North Country Trail across the back (southernmost) portion of his property. A snowmobile trail located on an old railroad bed also crosses Lakenenland Park between the NCT and the sculptures. Tom has signs at both trails pointing north and welcoming hikers and snowmobilers to visit the park, sign the July-September 2014

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Dennis Garrett, another Trail Builder, has enabled the Wampum Chapter to move miles of trail off-road in the last few years by his patient, careful work with private landowners. He and his wife Cathy host the trail on their property near the Ohio border with Pennsylvania, so he speaks from experience with potential new trail hosts. Not every attempt has met with success, but Dennis has remained enthusiastic about finding ways around the “no’s” in order to connect the “yesses.” Furthermore, he maintains a good relationship with the permitting landowners after the trail is on their property, which should go a long way toward keeping all parties contented. Due to his negotiations, the Wampum trail now approaches new Trail Town Darlington on off-road trail. Ron Navik has been the trail chair for a 70 mile portion of the Finger Lakes Trail tended by one hiking club for over thirty years. Even though much of their trail is on public land, there is also a lot of rural private property linking the state forests and parks, and it seems as if Ron’s segment has suffered more major losses of permission than should be expected. No development pressures, but a few big changes in ownership caused by retiring farmers have forced him to build an unending string of major reroutes. Not only is he willing to do the asking and negotiating, he also works day after day on daunting projects like a climb up the face of a steep hill which required continual side-hill benching for thousands of feet. There was simply no other place for the trail to go, so Ron built it all with the help of only one other man, and Ron has new hip joints! Trail Builder, indeed. Ron has also been the VP for Trail Preservation for the FLT for some years now, so has shepherded dozens of permanent trail easements all over upstate NY. Communicator went to Linda Johnson and Susan Hauser for their heroic efforts to bring the Minnesota trail guide to fruition over the last three years. Contributions written by fifty volunteers were edited, verified, and coordinated into a commercially published book in the spring of 2014. Linda managed the mileage data and communicated with the component writers, while Susan, a professional writer and retired professor, edited the contributions to provide a readable and uniform text. She also arranged a publisher and negotiated that contract. While Susan was paid $1000 by the four Minnesota chapters for the project, her approximate 400 hours far exceeded that value, and Linda put in another estimated 200 hours.

register book, grab a cup of coffee or even have a hot dog if he is there grilling…all for free although donations are welcome. In the past two years, the NCT Hikers Chapter had a group of “destination” signs routed and included Lakenenland as a destination for hikers on those signs in the hopes that other hikers would enjoy a break from the woods to feast their eyes upon Tom’s creations. Trail Blazer went to Plum Creek Timber Company, the largest corporate land owner of forested lands in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. As such, NCTA chapter volunteers and staff regularly interact with Plum Creek on a wide variety of trail projects and trail use agreements. They have funded grants that enabled UP Chapters to research trail protection possibilities and provided materials for projects. Plum Creek personnel meet with the NCTA staff and volunteers regularly to understand our needs and to put their resources behind the projects they support. Their staff recognizes the benefit of outdoor recreation, so have entered into long term trail agreements that have permitted miles of new trail to be built on their properties, and then they help us carry out the projects, even suggesting special scenic routes! The collaboration with and support from Plum Creek is generous. The NCNST is in a stronger position in the UP of Michigan because of this partnership with Plum Creek Timber Company, whose thoughtful approach to land management and being a good neighbor is to be admired. Trail Builder is another award that brings in a high number of great nominations, so these three are really special. Bobby Koepplin of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter in North Dakota has been instrumental in every stage of new trail creation. From convincing private landowners to permit the trail’s passage to arranging permissions with public agencies, from finding grants to fund post-flooding repairs…several times! organizing work parties and materials for projects, from negotiating with BNSF railroad to use an old railbed for the trail to creating Scout projects, he has been a leader in creating nearly fifty miles of new trail in a half-dozen years, an accomplishment few can match.

Lorana Jinkerson


The North Star

Trail Builder Bobby Koepplin

July-September 2014

Trail Builder Dennis Garrett

Jacqui Wensich

Dave Brewer

Deb Keopplin

Trail Blazer Jeff Joseph U. P. Resource Supervisor Plum Creek Timber Company Jeff works with both NCT Hikers and Peter Wolfe Chapters.


Trail Builder Ron Navik




Matt Davis

Matt Davis

Vanguard Richard M. Nolan

Communicator Susan Hauser and Linda Johnson

Vanguard Ray Burpo

Matt Davis

Matt Davis

Vanguard Carolyn Upton

Sweep Ken Rugaber

Sweep Paul Johnson

Jacqui Wensich

FLTC’s Forever Society, in which membership of $1250 contributes to the endowment fund. Meanwhile, he was legally blind but still wanted to become an end-to-ender across New York on the FLT; however, his faulty heart broke his dreams and took him from us in December of 2013. His legacy is memorable, and he certainly deserved a Sweep award.

Bill Menke

Tim Hass

One of the Vanguard Awards went to Minnesota Representative Richard M. Nolan, who, since his term began in 2013, has been eager to work on behalf of the NCTA to introduce and take the lead on the Arrowhead Reroute legislation. More than that, however, he and his staff have wanted to ensure that the bill stands a legitimate chance of passage in the partisan House Natural Resources Committee, so they have spent many hours working behind the scenes. The willingness to help from Rep. Nolan and his staff has proven refreshing, and has restored many Minnesotans’ faith in Congress. The other Vanguard was bestowed upon Carolyn Upton and Ray Burpo of the US Forest Service in the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota. They provide well-maintained equipment, gasoline for mowers, and even transportation, all in a spirit of dedication that is memorable to us volunteers. For instance, Carolyn created a kids’ outing that freed up the parents to take sawyer training and first aid class, an immense help. Another time Ray worked with us on his day off, then kept working long after the time he had said he would have to leave. It turned out that he was late to his own birthday party because he kept working with us! They also provide free camping space for us while we are maintaining, and always make us feel welcome no matter how overworked they are. Three Sweep awards went to those whose quiet work in the background contributes so much. Ken Rugaber personifies the “sweep” for a hiking organization: he can’t even hike, but plays a critical role for the Superior Shoreline Chapter. He learned how to manage their website, then realized all the features it needed to be useful, so keeps adding them. He welcomes each new member with a personal letter and pile of information, and has contributed suggestions for a trail segment that the chapter promotes as accessible for all abilities. Ken created the chapter Facebook page, created reporting forms for members, and interviews passing through hikers for their website, taking pictures himself. In other words, he has created the welcoming persona for this chapter, while remaining nearly invisible. While Paul Johnson has been a faithful trail worker for long years, he was nominated for a Sweep for other activities that he carries on with singular devotion. He offers to shuttle hikers who want to walk a long segment, all over northern Wisconsin or even neighboring states, and refuses to accept money for the service. The daunting logistics of taking a long hike are thus made so much easier by Paul’s gift. He also is the only Brule-St. Croix Chapter member who routinely mans the NCTA table at an annual outdoor show well south in Madison. Jarret Lobb’s contributions to the Finger Lakes Trail Conference were pivotal and significant, but most members never even saw him because his labors were in the finance realm. Every organization, as it matures, needs guidance to stay up to its task, and Jarret was recruited by some wise members to help us with that. Jarret continued the recent project of codifying our financial practices, moved us to an annual outside audit, shifted us to a professionally managed portfolio in order to make more money, and was responsible for the creation of the


Sweep Jarret Lobb

Continued on page 10

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Mick Hawkins


Finally, in gratitude for their generosity, our Blue Blazes Benefactor was bestowed upon Bill Lynch and Barbara Manger and the Manger Lynch family. They have made several major financial contributions to trail-wide initiatives as well as to local projects in the western Upper Peninsula in Michigan, an area they love. They fully financed and volunteered many hours on building a hiker shelter in memory of their son Matt in the Peter Wolfe Chapter section of trail. Most recently Bill and Barbara have provided valuable input to several important land protection and strategic planning issues.

Bill Menke

Manger Lynch Family

Distinguished Service went to three deserving nominees. Larry Hawkins, well known to many of us as the NCTA Board immediate past president, has been influential and hardworking on both chapter and national levels for more than a decade and a half. At his prodding, the Chief Noonday Chapter has created a wonderful website (Larry Distinguished Service dragged his brother Mick into Larry Hawkins that job!), instituted many trail care programs like chainsaw training, kiosk maintenance days, partnerships with local schools to host trail segments, and created an aggressive outreach program locally. For the whole NCTA, not only was he president of the Board but also led the effort to refine their Strategic Plan, and he has also presented his program “Backcountry Medicine” to two Distinguished Service national conferences now. Peter Nordgren Peter Nordgren also rated a Distinguished Service award. Not only did he start the Brule-St. Croix Chapter in Wisconsin and serve as its first president, he has held nearly every Chapter post since. He is especially credited with ensuring that their trail has outstanding signage, especially trailhead interpretive panels, and campsites at appropriate Distinguished Service intervals. Peter participates Joyce Appel annually in a trek to the state capital for Superior Days, an effort to keep state officials aware of upstate needs and especially the North Country Trail, and is currently chair of the NCTA National Advocacy committee. Joyce Appel exhibits organizational leadership locally for the Butler Outdoor Club by conducting the annual Outdoor Extravaganza every Memorial Day weekend, the BOC’s primary fundraiser, a festival of hiking and boating fun at Moraine State Park attended by many. She brought her high energy level and ambition to organizing the 2013 Slippery Rock NCTA Conference, too, and is an NCTA board member. As an active Keystone Trail Association member, she has brought their work projects to western Pennsylvania and promoted the NCT with that state-wide organization for hiking trail advocacy, thereby showcasing the NCT to the populous part of that state. For all of these projects over many years, Joyce was also honored with Distinguished Service.


Dave Brewer

The North Star

July-September 2014

Doug Welker


Blue Blazes Benefactors Barbara Manger (seated on left), Bill Lynch (center standing) and Luke Manger Lynch (seated on right)

Hikers enjoy the shelter funded and built by the Lynch and Manger family in memory of their son.

HIKING SHORTS Right: Waboose Lake Loop adopters during their post-finals trail work.

Right: Rep. Rick Nolan working with the Itasca Moraine Chapter on the North Country Trail in Minnesota.

Cascading porcupine poops leave no doubt as to that hollow tree’s inhabitants at Waboose Lake.

Florence Hedeen

— Erika Bailey-Johnson Sustainability Coordinator Bemidji State University and Northwest Technical College

Erika Bailey-Johnson

MINNESOTA - On May 8th, the Bemidji State University Sustainability Office hiked the Waboose Lake loop to help decompress after finals week. The Waboose Lake loop is a 4-mile side trail off the North Country Trail in the Paul Bunyan State Forest, located in the Itasca Moraine Chapter area. Side trails are typically marked with white blazes, as you can see in the photo of the group with the huge white pine. Since we are adopters of this trail, we removed sticks from the trail and smaller trees that had come down over the winter. Some held loppers to prune back long branches that reached into the trail. “Cairn” was added to our vocabulary as we investigated the humanmade rock piles. It was discovered that several porcupines occupied this location. Students noticed denuded bark from several trees and piles of scat that were fairly impressive. One porcupine was unprepared for our arrival and scooted up into a big Norway pine. Following the adventure, we decided unofficially to call this the Trail of Gaag. Gaag is Ojibwe for porcupine. Thank you, North Country Trail, for bringing us back to earth.

Erika Bailey-Johnson

Bemidji State University Sustainability Office Cleans up the Waboose Lake Loop

U.S. Representative Rick Nolan gets down and dirty on the NCT!

MINNESOTA - On Saturday, June 28th, volunteers from the Itasca Moraine Chapter gathered with a very special guest to work on a short relocation of the NCT in the Chippewa National Forest near Walker, Minnesota. The special guest was none other than U.S. Representative Rick Nolan, the House sponsor of the North Country Trail Route Adjustment Act of 2014. After his election, Rep. Nolan offered to spend a day working with our volunteers on the NCT and the Chapter was more than happy to make that happen. The short relocation was completed in a couple of hours and the Congressman actually worked right alongside our volunteers. Afterward, the entire crew enjoyed a picnic lunch at the trailhead. Following the workday, articles appeared in the Bemidji Pioneer and Walker PilotIndependent and Rep. Nolan shared photos of the workday via his website, e-newsletter, and via social media. One moral of this story is that it is important for the NCT community to talk constantly with our elected officials, local, state, and federal. Share with them what your Chapter is up to on the Trail. Tell them what your issues are (especially if there are any remedies they might be able to help with). Invite them to events that you’re hosting. Stress to them the importance of trails like the NCT in terms of providing healthy outdoor recreation opportunities and helping to sustain local economies. Who knows, you might even recruit a volunteer or two. —Matt Davis

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Benois Walton, VP of the Darlington Borough Council

Minnesota Guide Book Is Ready!

Darlington, a Pennsylvania town of 300 people but offering all the resupply needs for hikers and a supportive atmosphere, became an official Trail Town this summer. Submitted by Dennis Garrett of the Wampum Chapter.

Mary Stenberg

MINNESOTA - The Guide to the National Scenic Trail in Minnesota, Co-Edited by Susan Carol Hauser and Linda D. Johnson and published by Trails Books/Big Earth Publishing is now available! This first-ever guidebook introduces the NCT’s route across Minnesota (including the Arrowhead Re-route’s gap area and three existing trails) and provides detailed mile-bymile information on the 163 mile segment from the Chippewa National Forest through Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. The book is available via online book sellers, in the NCTA’s Trail Shop, and at select outdoor retailers and bookstores in Minnesota. For more info, visit northcountrytrail. org/MNguidebook. Suggested retail $19.95.

Chequamegon Chapter

WISCONSIN - As can be seen by the protective outfits required, mosquitoes have been a real problem in northern Wisconsin this year. This was a nature hike on June 8th (their rain date!) for National Trails Day by the Chequamegon Chapter. From a bridge a grandmother pointed out something to her grandchildren, while teenage girls modeled the latest mosquito wear.

Marty Swank

The license plates on cars belonging to Lorana, Dennis, and Marv tell us that the rest of us are missing out on something.


The North Star

July-September 2014

Tina Toole

PENNSYLVANIA - The Butler County and Wampum Chapters of the North Country Trail Association teamed up to make the 2014 Keystone Trail Association (KTA) Work Week a big success. On days one and two, Dave Brewer, the Wampum chapter trail chief, headed up the team of volunteers to repair and rebuild the timber framed stairs in McConnell’s Mill State Park which lead from the Point parking lot down to the Slippery Rock Creek. And while in the area they moved rock, installed railings, and made the well traveled trail at the foot of the gorge easier to walk for the many thousands of visitors to the park. This area is particularly beautiful with its deep gorge filled with huge boulders, all under a dark canopy of hemlocks. This valley was carved out by sudden and successive releases of a huge ice dam at the end of the last ice age.

The 100 mile completers L to R: Chadwick Robinson (OH), Ian Young (OH), Ryan Sayers (PA), Eriks Perkons (PA), Dave Gantz (PA), Eric Chapman (PA), Brian Smith (PA), Tom Carlyle (OH) & Joe Maichrye (OH).

Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge

Friday start time for the challenge. That much rain made for very muddy trail conditions and swollen stream crossings. It was heart-warming to watch hikers help each other across the swollen creeks Friday evening; some were very fast flowing, with scary high water. A road wash out was also a problem for the bus driver. No one knew about it beforehand, so she had to find a way around it on remote forest roads and still get to the 50 mile pickup spot and then north to the starting spot in a reasonable time. She did great, finding a way to get everyone to the start in plenty of time.

Dave Adams

—Tina Toole

Alisha Glasgow and Kim Reed (50 milers).

Continued on page 14

Tina Toole

PENNSYLVANIA - The Allegheny National Forest Chapter of the North Country Trail Association held the annual Allegheny 100 Hiking Challenge on Friday, June 13th at 6:00 P.M. to Sunday, June 15th at 8:00 P.M. Eighty six hikers challenged themselves to hike 25, 50, 75 or 100 miles of the North Country Trail in the Allegheny National Forest (ANF) in the 50 hour time period. The A-100 is unsupported so hikers were responsible for supplying their own food, drinks and equipment. The participants ranged from local hikers to people from Wyoming, Ontario, Michigan and North Carolina. Half of the hikers attempted the 100 mile trek. Even with very wet, muddy conditions, nine of those hikers reached that difficult goal. Many of the hikers reached their personal challenge of 25 to 75 miles. Everyone enjoyed the beauty of the Allegheny National Forest, the friendships formed on the trail and the hospitality of the area. Many are already making plans to return next year for a new challenge! Depending on where you were in the forest, 2 to 4 inches of rain fell in the 18 hours before the 6:00 P.M.

Keystone Trail Association Work Party

Alpha Falls, one of many beautiful spots inside the gorge along McConnells Mill.

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John Stehle

— John Stehle

Irene Szabo

On the third day, Joe Hardisky took the crew downstream a few miles along the North Country Trail to shore up some switch back trail which was sagging down the slope. Various devices, techniques, and incantations were used so that the improvements to the tread that would last at least a season or two. The opening lines to Robert Frost’s Mending Wall seem to apply here: “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, That sends the frozenground-swell under it, And spills the upper boulders in the sun.” The remainder of the week was led by Dave Adams from the Butler Chapter. The crew spent one day on the Killdoo trail near McConnell’s Mill, moving rocks, cutting away roots, and filling in washouts. Many people passed us while we worked and always expressed their great appreciation. They often wondered if we were paid workers, giving us an opportunity to explain that the KTA was sponsoring this work and it was all done by volunteers from the KTA and NCTA. The final half day was spent positioning puncheon frames along some muddy areas on the NCT in Moraine State Park. For accommodations several of the volunteers stayed at the beautiful Davis Hollow Cabin, an 18th century era cabin maintained by NCT volunteers in the Park. The Butler and Wampum chapters of the NCT want to thank the KTA for the great support. It is appreciated! KTA, Pennsylvania’s statewide hiking trail advocacy association, contributes up to $1000 to feed and house volunteers, and three new people joined the work week who aren’t part of the NCTA.

Finger Lakes Trail Spring Weekend

NEW YORK - Every year the FLT holds big weekends both fall and summer somewhere in NY (oops, correction; once we stayed in Canada near Niagara Falls to hike on the Bruce Trail!); this spring we stayed at Cazenovia College for another delightful weekend, this one a combined event between the FLT and the statewide Adirondack Mountain Club. Amidst all the normal activities like hikes, hilly bike treks, canoe paddles, and evening programs, NCTA Executive Director Bruce Matthews visited on his way back from a meeting in the state capital with NY State’s Office of Parks. There was a brief roundtable discussion offered for interested FLT and NCTA members one afternoon when Bruce was able to bring us up to date on the ongoing slow progress toward the creation of a Memorandum of Understanding between Parks and the NCTA, in order to protect the unmotorized status of the Trail within park properties statewide. So far...still talking.

Top Left: Heavily used descent from the parking lot would be steep and slippery without these sturdy steps, refurbished by the Keystone Trail Association trail crew. Below: Tom Baumgardner and Dick Boettner add a bridge over a constantly wet swale.

Dave Adams


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July-September 2014

Bylaws Change Initiates New Election Procedure Below: National Trails Day fun for the Central New York Chapter included a camera workshop on taking closeups of swamp things led by Hugh Yeman, Chapter Member.

I Kathy Eisele John Stehle

Paul Henry, Charles Wiley (an intern with Moraine State Park) and Bill Dietrich, past president of Keystone Trail Association, hauling rocks.

n the last edition of North Star, Board President Tom Moberg discussed the recent Board revision of the North Country Trail Association’s Bylaws and changes that were imminent in some of our Board procedures. One of the changes is based on a review of the Association’s Incorporation documents by our attorney, who found that the Association’s Bylaws were not fully consistent with Michigan corporate law. The primary issue was with the election procedures we used to elect new board members and reelect incumbents to another term. Our procedures for a number of years included members voting in an election by mail. The nominees, in the past, were recruited by the Board’s Nomination Committee from leads provided by other Board members, Association staff, and officers and members of Chapters and our Affiliates. These nominees were then presented to the membership in a spring edition of the North Star magazine and members would then send in their ballots. Those candidates took their place on the Board at the August membership meeting. This had to be changed to bring the procedure into compliance with the law. Changing the procedure was delegated to the Board’s Development Committee, successor to the Nomination Committee. The Development Committee has taken the necessary preliminary steps by making changes in the Bylaws and other documents relating to the Board election, which the Board approved at the April 26, 2014 meeting. Under the new procedure, consistent with Michigan law, the Development Committee will recruit candidates, interview and assess them, and then recommend them to the full Board at the August meeting as a nominee for a Board position. It will be up to the full Board to elect or reject the nominee. The new election procedure will be implemented this year. New Board candidates will be presented at the August 21, 2014 Board meeting in Duluth. The membership continues to have a very important role to play through identifying and recruiting potential Board members. Most of our past candidates had some direct connection with the Trail and wished to experience and help guide the organization. In the future, we will also be looking to bring in new Board candidates from outside of our normal recruiting environment. We are asking Board members, Association Staff, Officers of Chapters and Affiliates, and NCTA members to help us find possible candidates in industries associated with outdoor recreation, interested media personnel, and others in their communities who might have a vested interest in seeing the successful completion of the Trail. The Board Development Committee alone cannot identify possible candidates in seven (soon to be eight) states. It needs the eyes and ears of the entire NCTA to identify candidates for Board. Board candidates should be people who would like the experience, excitement, and satisfaction of guiding our national Association and who can bring new talent, thinking, and ideas to the Board. The Development Committee will be sending out a recruitment guide shortly to help with this important task. The Board will be made up of the individuals identified by the membership and Staff of this Association, as it has been in the past. The only change will be that a new procedure is being used to elect them and actually move them onto the Board. The Board will continue to be a reflection of the people who are recruited by the membership of this organization and their interest in finding individuals whom they trust and know will be energetic and helpful in carrying out their Board duties. It is a serious responsibility and it is up to each of us to help carry it out. —Gaylord Yost Chair, Board Development Committee V. P. West gaylyost

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Left: Marie Altenau and Joan Young at Maine Junction, where the NCT will soon officially meet the Appalachian Trail. Below: John Derrick, long time developer of the Trail Around Middlebury, and NCT supporter.

Ho!Conquer Vermont EasretenwMaournd tain Girls The G

Story and pictures by Joan Young


he Green Mountains of Vermont rose in front of us like an intimidating wall. After all, the North Country Trail isn’t known for its elevations. But the proposed route eastward to connect the NCT with the Appalachian Trail called to me with a siren song. Marie Altenau and I had just finished several days of hiking the eastern end of the Finger Lakes Trail in the Catskills of New York (making me FLT E2Eer #370; Marie has a few gaps to fill in), and my next goal was to check out the NCT Vermont extension. On foot, of course. Is there any other way? We’d had a couple of tough days in the Catskills. Big ups and downs with steep trail, black flies, and the realization that we aren’t getting any younger. Now those Greens sprang out of the plains of the ancient Champlain Sea from an elevation of only 400 feet to over 3300 feet, in just a few miles. Lake Champlain, 15 miles west of the mountains, the remains of that sea, is only 200 feet above sea level. Our planned hike would rise over 3000 feet. The music of the mountains was as irresistible to me as that of the legendary muses of the lower world, but I had hopes the experience wouldn’t end in a fatal collision with any rocks. I was excited to return to Crown Point. The bridge to Vermont, across Lake Champlain, that used to mark the eastern terminus of the NCT had been demolished in 2009 and the new bridge opened in 2013. I’d seen pictures of it, and was pleased that the design looked beautiful as well as functional, and pedestrian walkways had been added. The reality is, indeed, artistically pleasing. It’s about a half mile walk across, with views of the Adirondacks on the left and those unknown Green Mountains on the right. Before we leave Crown Point, let’s talk history. This peninsula that juts into the lake has long been a strategic location for defense. The water route from Albany, New York, through Lake George and Lake Champlain into the St. Lawrence River was like the north-south interstate highway of colonial times. Whoever controlled this narrow passage, now spanned 16

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by the friendly bridge, controlled the movement of goods and troops. The first to build a fort there were the French, who constructed Fort St. Frederic in 1734. It was never successfully attacked, but when the British marched on it with 10,000 men it was abandoned and burned, rather than allow it to change hands. The British built the Crown Point Fort, a much larger undertaking, enclosing almost five acres. That fort was also never conquered, but burned when a fire spread to the powder stores in 1773. Only a small garrison of troops remained after that, and it was surrendered to the Americans in 1775. The lower walls and trenches of the star-shaped fort are intact, as are the walls of the officers’ and soldiers’ barracks. It is considered one of the best military remains of the time period. Periodically, there are re-enactments on the site, and I plan eventually to return to see one of them. Crown Point is a jewel in the NCT vision to showcase historical treasures of the northern United States. Now, onward to Vermont! Once across the bridge, there is currently a day of road walk awaiting. The goal for our day was Snake Mountain, a smallish peak that is easily distinguishable by its shape. There is good hope of future off-road trail over that hill. Sections of trail already exist, but the thru-route is unofficial and had been damaged by a bad storm just before we arrived. We were advised to stay on the road, and road walks are not without perks. The views of the Adirondacks, back to the west, were literally breathtaking. Somehow, their 5000-foot peaks did not intimidate the way those Green Mountains ahead of me did. I’ve done many hikes in the Adirondacks, and they felt like old friends. We saw an osprey and ogled centuries-old stone houses. On our second day, we followed the TAM, the Trail Around Middlebury. We were helped with planning this trip by John Derrick, a man who’s been a driving force for the TAM for two decades. He met us while loading up his tractor on a trailer, after an early-morning mowing session to keep the trail open. He’s an enthusiastic NCT supporter. The TAM is a 20-mile loop. We followed the western half, but so far, the NCT leaves it open for hikers to decide which half to use.

ong a divinely ol of English al Bread Loaf Scho reet. New England st

The cliff s of Mt. Horrid, p

This patchwork trail is a mini example of how the NCT threads itself through the landscape. On the western side, we edged our way around meadows, took in Bittersweet Falls, followed the shade of a woods at the base of a bluff, while looking out on a sunny stream, meandered through Middlebury College grounds, experimental gardens, and solar array, skirted a golf course on a ski trail, crossed over the substantial pedestrian Boathouse suspension bridge, and ended our day after passing through Jeffrey Murdock Nature Preserve. The third day was a straight up road walk. It may be difficult to take most of these miles off the pavement. Route 125 climbs from 400 to 2200 feet in twelve miles of walking. Lots of history and rock-face botany to be seen there, too. We passed Bread Loaf School of English, a graduate school of Middlebury College, which was founded in 1915, and is known for Robert Frost’s association with it. The mid-nineteenth-century buildings are impressive. At the height of Middlebury Gap, the NCT joins the Long Trail. Here, the logistics for our hike had to change. Up until now, we’d been base camping and day hiking. With back problems, Marie’s backpacking days are really over, and I’d had a nasty health attack just before this hike that had ruined my own stamina. We could do one day on the Long Trail as a day hike. It was just ten trail miles to the next road crossing at Brandon Gap on route 73. South of that were twenty miles with no road access. We knew we weren’t up to that many hilly miles in one day. What to do? My feverish brain finally overcame its obsession with being prepared for everything. We stripped down the packs to bare essentials. I carried 29 pounds and Marie managed 15. Her back didn’t complain, and my stamina improved daily. We decided simply to enjoy what may likely be our last backpacking outing together. We took our time and spent two nights and three days doing that final twenty miles. It’s not always about how fast you can go. And it was a wonderful second completion of the North Country Trail! The intimidation I’d felt from the imposing Green range changed to feelings of joy. As we began to climb Worth Mountain, and I checked the map for the thousandth time, I realized none of the peaks we were about to cross was as high as we’d just walked in the Catskills. The trails were wellused and well-maintained. (The Long Trail claims to be the oldest hiking trail in the U.S.) The vegetation was familiar, the

blazes were white rather than blue, but present. We met several hikers each day, an uncommon occurrence on most of the NCT. Highlights of the now-concurrent NCT/LT section include views made spectacular by that abrupt rise of the Green Mountains from the surrounding land. The biggest peaks the trail crosses are Worth, Gillespie, Cape Lookoff, Mt. Horrid, and Mt. Carmel. Mt. Horrid isn’t so horrid to cross, but the cliffs one sees from Brandon Gap are spectacular. The sheer rock face provides nest sites for peregrine falcons. A side trail to view the cliffs from the top is closed most of the summer to protect the nesting area. The Green Mountain Club has done extensive rock work, creating water bars, steps, and placing level rocks to flank stream crossings. We found that with a couple of exceptions the long climbs or descents were not as strenuous as we expected. There are a couple of shelters and bivouac areas, and dispersed camping is allowed. We had wondered if the terrain would make it too difficult to find places to slip into the trees and place a tent, but we easily found private campsites. Just one mile north of returning to the car at route 4, we reached Maine Junction, a significant fork in the trail where the Appalachian Trail, the Long Trail and the NCT come together. The AT joins the Long Trail at the Massachusetts/Vermont border and follows it north for 100 miles to Maine Junction where the AT then heads east and north, while the LT continues to follow the Greens to Quebec. Although my official completion of the NCT was four years ago, this new milestone was more emotional than I expected. There is something about making a connection with another “big” trail that is a heady experience, and brings on thoughts of continuance rather than of endings. With these 66 miles (probably a few more if off-road route can be found) the NCT is accomplishing more than adding to its length. That’s a pyrrhic goal at best, since we can’t afford the miles we already have. However, as trails learn to view connections as assets rather than competitions, or sources of unwanted hikers (a position I’ve never understood), more adventurers will succumb to the siren songs of the trail. These new, eastern miles add more value to the North Country Trail than just some distance. People in Vermont have heard of the NCT, they already value hikers, and will welcome you when you are ready to take on our eighth state. What are you waiting for?


July-September 2014

falcon n est sites .

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Steuben County, New York: More Cows than People Story and pictures by Mike Goodwin


t was June 5th, and I had hiked on Finger Lakes Trail Map M8 west of Hornell, New York, from the 4.2 mile mark at route 70 to the 13.2 mile mark, the start of a hike from near Swain to Bath. Short day, since I was dropped off shortly after noon. I thought I had found what is called Bossard’s Cabin on the map, but I was puzzled by the three strands of barbed wire right across the front porch, making the cabin inaccessible. Wondering if this was really the right place, I doubled back and found I had missed the stile that took me over the barbed wire fence after which the side trail continued to the rear of the cabin. Surprised by the size and furnishings of the place,

I wasn’t convinced this was the right spot until I found the logbook/register. Wow! This was going to be a great place to spend the night! I signed the book, thanking the Bossards for their generous hospitality to hikers. After unpacking a few things, I sat on the porch swing and enjoyed the great view, clicking off a few photos while 18

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July-September 2014

I snacked. A couple of chipmunks scrambled around the woodpile near the porch. But then, I heard something snort, a much bigger, deeper sort of snort than a little chipmunk could make. Along ambled a brown cow, curious about me, and slowly approaching me on the front porch, sitting on the swing with my knees nearly to the wire. She drooled…a lot. Maybe she was hoping I’d share my granola bar, but instead I left the swing and moved back to a bench a few feet back from the barbed wire. She leaned her head over and drooled more. Sorry, I’m not a fan of being drooled on and wanted my granola bar, all of it. I clicked off a few more pictures. She was so close I could clearly read her ear tag; “Honey Dip” was her name. A minute later, her black-and-white Holstein pal, “Panini,” came along. They both nibbled at the bark on the fenceposts. I’m guessing they were trying to say, “Look at us, reduced to eating bark, while you sit there with a tasty granola bar. Surely you want to share!” I thought back at them, “No, I’ ll finish this myself, and don’t call me Shirley.” They wandered off.

Lots of memorable things happen on the Bossard’s hillside farm, where the trail frequently makes little changes as they change the fence lines. Back in the eighties my dog Maggie met her first electric fence with a wet nose, and I fell to my knees in the cow lane where the trail was that year. It was inches deep in wet mud and cow flop, and there I was on hands and knees with a full pack on. Luckily there is sizeable Slader Creek at the bottom of the hill, which has its own legacy of stories of imaginative ways people have crossed it! —Editor

We are on the south tower of the Big Mac, facing south towards Mackinaw City with the windmills in the background and since we are on the south tower you don’t see the second (north tower).

Spur Trails, Viewsheds—What Could Be Better? Story and picture by Lorana Jinkerson


n May 22, 2014, Cliff Stammer, the NCT Hikers Chapter Trail Boss, and I embarked on what I believe to be the one and only vertical spur trail on the NCT that goes both down and up. As is widely known, the Mackinac Bridge spans the Straits of Mackinac between Mackinaw City and St. Ignace, Michigan, and is the only 5 mile stretch of the NCT that is closed 364 days a year to foot traffic. Each year on Labor Day, the Bridge welcomes thousands of walkers to partake of the views the Bridge offers, unique in their own right compared to all the other views one gets when hiking the NCT. Few, however, are afforded the opportunity to veer off the Bridge road surface down to water level or above the road surface to the top of the Bridge towers. That’s exactly what Cliff and I got to do. The Mackinac Bridge Authority gives 25, out of around 800 non-profit organizations who apply each year, a set of tickets for the Bridge Tower Tour. The non-profit organizations lucky enough to be selected either raffle off or sell them at a benefit auction. Last year, the NCTA was selected and I purchased those tickets at last year’s NCTA Annual Benefit Auction in Pennsylvania.

Luckily for Cliff and me, we were given an additional tour of the bridge anchors. We descended approximately 200 feet via a ladder and stairs to view the inside of the concrete anchors and the bridge cables as they are anchored to hold the bridge in place. Included was an outside, near water level excursion where I snapped pictures north and straight up at the underside of the bridge roadway. Of course, that meant we had to climb those same 150 or so steps back up to the roadway. Our guide, Dillon, a Lake Superior State University student, who works as a grounds person for the Bridge Authority, then took us up the south tower via a tiny elevator, barely large enough for the three of us. We crawled through “submarine” doors and then up a forty-foot ladder before emerging out on the catwalk, 552 feet above the water, about 350 feet above the road surface. Talk about a view! Even with the slightly overcast day, this one tops them all! For more information about the Mackinac Bridge visit ​

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We National Park Service Volunteers


The Minnesota Representative to Congress who served from 1975 to 2011, James Oberstar, died on May 3rd of this year. Pertinent to our world, he created and sponsored the original legislation that applied federal money to alternative transportation facilities, creating hundreds of miles of hiking and biking trails, especially rail trails. In 2007, the NCTA thanked him with the Vanguard Award.


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July-September 2014

—Daniel W. Watson, Volunteer Coordinator Ice Age and North Country National Scenic Trails

Connie Potratz-Watson

reetings! Over the past five years, it’s been my pleasure and honor to meet and get to know so many of you. My only regret is in not being able to interact personally with all the great volunteers of the North Country National Scenic Trail as often as I would like. I know we see each other once a year when I have the joy and privilege to present awards and recognition items honoring your volunteering milestones, and maybe once in a great while we briefly connect at some other event or meeting, but by and large the relationship between me and all of you is through emails or phone calls. I wish it were otherwise. None of you has ever seen my work cubicle here in St. Paul, Minnesota. (heck, neither has my boss!), but I will tell you that on the wall above my desk is a large map of the NCT, the trail route sprinkled with all the little hash marks and numbers outlining the boundaries of each chapter and affiliate group. I’ll also tell you that I spend considerable minutes each day staring at that map, mulling over the many challenges of improving our Volunteers-In-Parks Program, figuring out how best to support and serve all of you represented on that map across such a huge landscape. Quite often as I stare at that map, the realization strikes me that even though I communicate with various volunteer leaders fairly frequently, the larger picture of the overall VolunteersIn-Parks Program perhaps isn’t as unifying for us all as it should be. Let’s take this opportunity to discuss that notion now. Let me ask you this. When you go out on the trail to build, maintain, or otherwise volunteer in some way, do you also see yourself in a Civil War uniform reenacting a skirmish at Gettysburg National Military Park? Or answering visitors’ questions on the pathway to Old Faithful Geyser in Yellowstone National Park? How about tending a lighthouse at Cape Hatteras National Seashore? Perhaps conducting scientific research at Grand Canyon National Park? Maybe even giving guided tours at Statue of Liberty National Monument? If not, you should be.

As volunteers of the National Park Service, you share a common bond with all those other volunteers across the country. You are they, and they are you. It’s more difficult, I know, for you to think in those terms than it is for many NPS volunteers. You don’t often see an NPS co-worker in the traditional green and gray uniform, complete with Stetson hat. You don’t have an NPS office in which to take a break from the visitor tour schedules and peruse the various employee memos and bulletins pinned to the info board. And you don’t drive through a main entrance gate on your way to work welcoming you to “Such-and-Such National Park.” But make no mistake about it. You are a National Park Service Volunteer! It’s no exaggeration to say that you have an elite position. The role of volunteers in the National Park Service changed in 1970. Legislation was created to recognize you as integral members of the NPS, and Director’s Order #7 was established to professionalize the way in which volunteers serve throughout the Service. And because being an NPS volunteer is an elite position, it comes with responsibilities shared between you and the NPS. In order that we all share a common vision of those mutual responsibilities, please take a moment to visit the North Country NST’s National Park Service website at Click on the “Volunteer Resources” link, and there you will find our “Professionalism in the Workforce” policy (it’s in the process of being posted; if you don’t see it there today, please check back very soon), along with many other links to work standards and safety practices that affect us all, volunteer and uniformed employee alike. While you’re at it, visit Check out the news articles and announcements from across the Service. See what other volunteers—your peers in the National Park Service— are doing in their areas. Think of it as your “company news letter,” because it is!

Matthews’ Meanders Bruce Matthews Executive Director

Going home…


he glacially sculpted steep hills and valleys of central New York are only one of many unique areas along the North Country Trail, defined by its diverse landscapes and ways people have adapted to them. In Cortland, and southern Madison and Onondaga Counties, the north/south oriented hilltops are typically forested, eventually sloping into pasture and then lower in row crops to the bottomlands featuring tree-lined creeks and a few lakes, and interspersed with dairy farms. Growing up as I did in a Syracuse suburb, these hills south and east of town offered my first taste of freedom. Liberated by a new driver’s license, fishing rod and camping gear, these central NY hilltops, forests and creeks were where I first experienced that heady sense of freedom and solitary exploration. The headwaters of Limestone and Chittenango Creeks surely held trout of momentous proportions! There was camping in Highland Forest, including one memorable winter night at 11 below…and that late September Sunday afternoon break from grad school, fishing along Fabius Brook, with a lovely nap among the bankside stalks of Joe-Pye weed and goldenrod… and then later leading my Cortland College Outdoor

Education students through Hoxie Gorge on their 24-hour experiences…or my 5th grade classes through Taylor Valley, seeking clues of man’s presence in the re-forested landscape… For much of my formative and early career years, these places played a most special role in my life. And so, in May this year when the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) held a joint spring outing at Cazenovia College it was easy to find reasons to be there. I was privileged to participate in a hike through Hoxie Gorge as well as another in Morgan Hill State Forest on the FLT/Onondaga/NCNST. I followed the trail which connected many of these places made special to me by the long-ago experiences I’d had, and the people I’d been with. It was coming full circle. Coming home. And this is what you do, the volunteers and patrons of the North Country Trail Association, and our partners like the FLTC and ADK-Onondaga Chapter. You build and maintain a trail that creates and connects stories, people and places, so that even after 50 years people like me can revisit, recall, renew and reconnect with special places, and memories of those who once shared in those experiences. And for some, this is all we have left of them—memories in special places. Like the North Country Trail. Norman Maclean in his beautiful novella says it best:“Eventually, all things merge into one, and a river runs through it.” I think, for us, it’s the trail that runs through it. Thank you ADK-Onondaga, FLTC and NCTA-CNY Chapter for the homecoming. And thank you, NCTA chapters and volunteers, for replicating these kinds of experiences thousands of times over, all along our Trail.

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 North Country Trail Association Address 229 East Main Street City Lowell, Michigan 49331 EMail

State Day Time Phone

July-September 2014


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National Park Service


Mark Weaver Superintendent

Certification Is Back! Certificaton Process The revised Certification Form is being reformatted as an agreement between property owner(s), lease or permit holders, trail maintainers and NPS and should be available on the NCTA website by publication of this issue of the North Star. As an agreement rather than an application, it becomes a collaborative effort and not a one way “you fill it out, and we review and get back with you” effort which we at NPS realize was very frustrating for folks along the trail. Many of you may be involved in the new Optimum Location Review process (OLR). The culmination of the OLR and subsequent actions is the planning, acquiring and building of permanent, high quality trail. So if you’re preparing an OLR, you’re well on your way toward certification. Congratulations! For those of you that have not been involved with the OLR process because your work started well before the OLR process existed, the new Certification Form will help fill in the blanks that an OLR would normally fill. When you’re ready to start the certification process your first step is simply to download the Agreement Form on the NCTA website, take a quick look at the instructions and then call our Trail Manager Jeff McCusker. He’ll walk you through the Agreement Form and most probably fill in a lot of the blanks to get you started. Our goal is to make sure we have all the information necessary to make a good decision. If you have a certification request already submitted, we will get the information you’ve provided onto the new agreement form, and will contact you in the next few months. Please give us a “heads up” if you’ve been waiting on us; with the change in leadership and three office moves, we are sure nothing has been lost, but we are still swimming in boxes.

What Do The Law And The Comprehensive Management Plan Say About Certificaton? The National Trails System Act (NTSA) says nothing about Certification of National Scenic Trails. It DOES identify permitted and prohibited uses on National Scenic Trails which have an impact upon a decision regarding certification: “The use of motorized vehicles by the general public along any national scenic trail shall be prohibited…”(Section 7(c)) “Potential trail uses allowed on designated components of the national trails system may include, but are not limited 22

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to, the following: bicycling, cross-country skiing, day hiking, equestrian activities, jogging or similar fitness activities, trail biking, overnight and long-distance backpacking, snowmobiling, and surface water and underwater activities.”(Section 7(j), amended 1983) The Comprehensive Management Plan (CMP, 1982) for the North Country Trail identifies certification as the process to designate “official” North Country Trail. It further explains required and potential uses on the trail, who determines the uses, the difference between certified and connector trail, and how certified trail is recognized: “All segments of the NCT shall [must] be open to travel by foot, i.e., hiking and backpacking.” (p 28, CMP) and “Other nonmotorized uses, including bicycling, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and jogging, may be permitted on a given segment according to the desires and policies of the managing authority responsible for the segment” (p 28, CMP) and “Because it will be many years before certifiable trails are established for some portions of the NCT route, and because it is desirable in the interim to identify other routes which link together certified NCT segments, the National Park Service will recognize as “North Country Trail Connectors” other marked routes and trails which do not qualify for certification as the official NCT route due to current motorized multiple recreational use or location on roads. “Connectors” should be marked but may not be signed with the official NCT marker…..Recognition will be in the form of including them on maps of the NCT and referring to them in written descriptions of the NCT route.” (p 27, CMP) and “…certification of trails as segments of the NCT is highly encouraged but completely voluntary…” (p 35, CMP)

Three points about the above: • There are only two trail types mentioned, certified and connector. We recognize that there is a wide range of terms that have come to pass over the years to best describe the condition or status of trail segments. We’ll be sorting this out soon. • The term “Managing Authority” has caused a bit of heartburn for many people over the years. Rest assured, we have cleared that up in the Agreement form by acknowledging everyone’s roles. (We are also preparing a Glossary that will include clarification to a number of terms that may be confusing some of you.) • And, there may be existing situations that you know of that do not fit or comply with what is stated above, for example, use of snowmobiles on a very few certified trail segments. What is described here won’t be applied to anything retroactively.

Certification Criteria

Certified, “Official” North Country Trail segments must comply with the Law and the CMP: Required for Certification: • Non-motorized. • Open to travel on foot. Permitted: • Other nonmotorized uses per the desires of the Managing Authority. Other criteria will be considered, that when weighed together, represent the best that can be reasonably achieved in a particular area for the long term. They include: • The trail generally follows the route in the CMP or any subsequent approved planning documents, such as Regional Plans or Optimum Location Reviews (OLRs). • The trail maximizes physical or visual connections to the best scenic, natural, historic and cultural qualities an area has to offer.

• The trail is fully constructed. • The trail is secured for the long term, ideally, in perpetuity. Finally, does certification bestow any kind of authority upon the land, the trail or the parties involved? Former Superintendent Tom Gilbert sums it up in a 2001 article in the North Star: “Public officials and private landowners frequently ask what the implications are of having trail on their land certified. It has almost none. While it formalizes a mutual agreement between the NPS and the applicant on the location and management of a segment of the trail, it does NOT convey to the federal government any property rights or management authority over the lands on which the trail lies.

Wisconsin Extended Outing Along The Brule and St. Croix Rivers There is still time to sign up for the backpack trip from Sept 15 to 20 along the Brule and St. Croix Rivers, led by Bill Menke. Cost is only $95, because you provide your own food and transportation, with food advice provided by Bill. To sign up or find out more information, contact Bill


Certification can be terminated if one of the parties views it as no longer mutually beneficial. The NPS could terminate certification if the owner/manager of the trail has opened it to a prohibited use, such as all-terrain vehicles, or the trail is not being monitored and maintained and no longer provides a safe and quality experience… Certification, in the final analysis, is a benign but important procedure that provides a common way to count and keep track of the segments of the trail that are completed and (hopefully) up to standard, as well as a way to demonstrate a magnitude of need to those who allocate resources.” I hope this clears things up a bit. But if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. —Mark Weaver (616) 430-3495

North Star Submission Guidelines

Without your material, we cannot have a magazine, so we eagerly request your submission of pictures and text for every issue. Please send both to Irene Szabo at, 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. 4 is October 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 July-September 2014

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Brandon Mulnix

• The trail is designed to support the approved uses, complies with the Trail Handbook and is environmentally sustainable.

We cannot tell a public landowner how to manage their lands beyond what they are willing to do voluntarily. Certification is not binding on either the NPS or the applicant (or the landowner/manager, if the applicant is a third party such as a trail organization). Agencies, organizations, and individuals that establish segments of the North Country NST are not required to apply for certification, but such segments cannot be marked with the official trail marker until they are certified. Likewise, the NPS is not required to approve an application if it deems there are significant deficiencies in the way the trail is constructed or managed.

National Trails Day: June 7

Sara Cockrell

Grand Traverse Hiking Club’s By Sara Cockrell

Ribbon-Cutting, Hike and Potluck Picnic, Celebrating the new Fife Lake NCT Re-Route



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Gail Lowe, a thru-hiker who was in the neighborhood over National Trails Day, cut the ribbon on the new trail.

Sara Cockrell

A ribbon cutting ceremony took place at the US 131 Manistee River Roadside Park beginning at 10:00 A.M. on Saturday, June 7. John Heiam, NCTA Board member, introduced the speakers. Dick Naperala, GTHC Field Trails Coordinator, talked about the beauty of this new section, while Arlen Matson, GTHC Administrative Trails Coordinator, discussed the construction process, and generous contributions from the National Park Service, TBA Credit Union, Traverse City Track Club, Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, and an anonymous donor. Noreen Broering, past President of Fife Lake Village, and Lisa Leedy, current President, spoke about what the trail means to their community. Josh Vissers tells us that Broering said that she had wanted to connect Fife Lake to its surroundings through hiking trails, but “never did I dream we could hook up to seven states!” David Cowles, NCTA Director of Development, discussed the benefits of being an NCT “Trail Town,” and Jeff McCusker, NPS Trail Manager for the NCT, talked about the National Park Service’s role and support for this reroute. After the ceremony, hikers drove their vehicles to the Old US 131 State Forest Campground to drop off their dish-to-pass and vehicles. A Fife Lake school bus was provided for the shuttle back to the Roadside Park to begin the 2-mile hike. Once back at the campground, all enjoyed the picnic, with tents for the tables of food, and picnic table seating.

New trail on the sandy bluff above the river.

Marilyn Hoogstraten

he Grand Traverse Hiking Club completed a three year, 13-mile reroute of the North Country National Scenic Trail just in time for this year’s National Trails Day Celebration. The reroute follows the Manistee River from the campground east to the MDOT Manistee River Roadside Park. At this point, the trail heads up Fife Lake Creek, following it north through the picturesque Headquarters Lake region. This section continues to Spring Lake Campground, near the village of Fife Lake, finally circling west and rejoining the current North Country Trail at M-186. The new route is not only scenic along the Manistee River and Fife Lake Creek, but with the old NCT route open on the west side of US 131, it now becomes a great loop trail of about 22 miles.

GTHC picnic after a sampler hike on the new trail.

July-September 2014

Fife Lake Story II Story and pictures by Josh Vissers


hen my brother Sam and I headed north from Grand Rapids to hike the newly opened Fife Lake Loop Trail, we intended to arrive Saturday, start the loop on Sunday, and head home Monday afternoon, but almost immediately after getting there, our plans started to change. At the ribbon cutting for the new leg of the North Country Trail along Fife Lake Creek, I started talking to Dick Naperala, who was involved in the reroute from the beginning, and he told me about some nice campsites that were just a couple miles up the trail. After talking with Sam, we figured we could handle a little hike in the afternoon so we wouldn’t have to cover so many miles on Saturday to get to Spring Lake Campground. Before hitting the trail around 1 p.m., we enjoyed a National Trails Day hike on the new trail along the Manistee River and a picnic with “Chosen Hiker” Gail Josh on left, brother Sam on the right, and Marcella’s family in Lowe, who is trying to hike the whole NCT this season, Fife Lake. National Park Service Trail Manager Jeff McCusker, Arlen Matson, and around 60 other hikers and After crossing the county line, we reached the Cadillac Spur members of the Grand Traverse Hiking Club at the Old US-131 of the Shore-to-Shore trail. The clearing here allowed a bit of a State Forest Campground. breeze to give us a break from the bugs. This was about as far as Just as we left the picnic, a Fife Lake village resident named Sam and I had planned on going for the day, but we didn’t want Marcella who was at the picnic stopped to talk with us. She had to camp on the Shore-to-Shore trail, and Headquarters Lake was been hiking in Europe before and remembered how great it was just another mile or so down the trail, so once again, we kept when people there opened their homes to her. Wanting to give the hiking. same kind of experience to people hiking the NCT, she offered Headquarters Lake was the first place we got a real break from the same for us when we made it to Fife Lake. If we wanted a the bugs. Both where the trail first meets it, and on the land shower, a beer or a place to sleep safe from mosquitoes, we only bridge between Headquarters and Fuller lakes, the breeze and needed to send her a text when we got close to the village. clearing allowed us to take a break and look around. It was early We retraced our steps along the day hike and headed north and evening by this time, and Sam and I needed to make a decision east toward Fife Lake. The new section of trail along the Manistee about how far we would go today. River sometimes dips low to run along the bank, and other times We decided to go at least as far as the Spring Lake climbs the bluffs to scenic overlooks right above the river. There Campground, but not before letting Marcella know that we’d are three brand new benches at a couple of these overlooks. actually be fairly close to Fife Lake that night. She cheerily After a couple miles keeping the river in sight, the trail turns responded with a picture of the Fife Lake beach and encouraged north. As we left the Manistee to follow Fife Lake Creek, we also us to hike right into town. We said maybe, but we both knew left behind the breeze that was keeping the mosquitoes down. the temptation of a shower, after all the sweat, dirt and repeated In the 85 degree weather carrying our 20-pound packs, we kept applications of bug spray during the day, would be almost sweating off our bugspray. The only way we had to keep away impossible to resist. from the mosquitoes was to walk faster than they could fly. We reached Spring Lake Campground around 7 p.m., and Despite our brisk pace through this section of trail, it was easy while the campground looked nice, (fire rings, outhouses, picnic to see why this reroute was so popular. Fife Lake Creek flows tables and a small beach) and the bugs let up a bit, we hardly through some beautiful stands of evergreens, and in June, with stopped before hiking onward toward the village. Marcella picked the ferns almost finished unfurling their leaves and the water us up on her way back from the beach and drove us the last mile flowing briskly, the threat of blood-drinking insects was barely or so into Fife Lake. After meeting Marcella’s kids, having a meal enough to keep us moving. of cheeseburgers and potato salad, and taking a hot shower, Sam We did find the campsite that Dick told us about at the picnic and I were tired, relaxed and ready to hit the hay. in a nice little clearing about three miles from the roadside park, The next morning, Sam and I woke up before everybody else along a two-track that leads right down to the creek. It would’ve and walked about a half-mile down the road to The Loon’s Nest, been a nice spot to stay the night, but it was still early in the a little restaurant and bakery right in the heart of Fife Lake. afternoon and the bugs were still biting, so Sam and I decided to There we enjoyed a breakfast of hash browns, bacon, eggs and press onward a bit farther. toast while looking at old pictures of the historic ice harvesting industry. Ice for iceboxes was harvested out of Fife Lake and

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shipped by train to the Grand Rapids area before refrigerators were in average homes. After checking out Fife Lake’s small beach and well-stocked party store, we headed back to Marcella’s to grab our gear, and hiked back out of town to where we had left the trail. Feeling fairly well rested and quite well-fed, we made good time to M-186, where the new NCT reroute meets back up with what is now the Fife Lake Trail, (old NCT) newly blazed in orange. While less picturesque than the new trail, the old section was pleasant, despite the few sections where logging had intersected the path. We made very good time across the level terrain and the cooler weather meant our bug spray worked much better for us. We had a couple run-ins with ticks, but nothing a vigilant eye didn’t remedy. Just as my car once again came into view, we passed the field where the GTHC had treated us to our picnic the day before. There another picnic was taking place, and when the people there saw us with our packs on, they called us over and insisted we join them. The Rogers family welcomed us and treated us to brats, hot dogs, watermelon and assorted salads, as well as lemonade and iced tea, a mere 20 yards from the trail. When all was said and done, Sam and I ended up eating only one meal (Sunday’s lunch) and a little trail mix out of our backpacks. Not only is the new reroute a beautiful new section of trail, but the Fife Lake community showed a very welcoming spirit to backpackers. I like to leave wiggle room in my plans for when things go wrong, but on this trip, so many things went right that Sam and I ended heading home, tired and sore but amazed and grateful, an entire day early.

Ed’s Overlook with Sam in the Manistee National Forest.


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Map produced by NCTA

Right: The trail now labelled Fife Lake was the old route of the NCT, which now forms a loop with new trail on the east side. This area is southeast of Traverse City in the lower peninsula of Michigan.

Hiking the NCT: A Newcomer’s Perspective July’s NCTA Extended Outing in New York By Shelley Lowe


Day 1: Looking out from behind Tinker Falls. We climbed up to the falls on day 1, and hiked out to the top of the falls on day 5. Beautiful from both angles.

t 50, I told my husband I wanted to spend the next 20 years hiking the Appalachian Trail end-to-end. As hikers, tent campers, backpackers and outdoorsmen, I thought a goal would keep us both engaged in our passion. Stu responded, “I have a better idea.” He had made us members of the NCTA. I wasn’t convinced it would be better than my original plan but was excited that the longest piece of the trail led through Michigan. We could easily access it through our normal travel within our state, and we began hiking the section between Harbor Springs and the Mackinaw Bridge. With every step, I was more convinced that this trail was our trail. When the opportunity to hike the Finger Lakes region of New York on the Onondaga Trail section arose, we weighed it. We aren’t group hikers. We like to do our own thing, but knew it would give us a taste of parts of the trail we might not get to right away. The trip would also tell us if we should continue considering some backpacking trips we’d been thinking about; we hadn’t backpacked in several years and several knee surgeries ago. We determined this trip would also help us decide if a 90 mile hike around the base of Mt. Rainier was realistic or not. We signed up and prepared using the information from our guide, Mary Coffin, and the other hikers, whose e-mail addresses were serious hiker monikers so we wondered what we were getting in to. With every step, I was more convinced that this trail was our trail.

The view over Labrador Hollow from Jones Hill, worth every huff and puff. These hikes reached hilltops as high as 2000 feet after crossing valleys 800 feet below.

Red eft. Sometimes it’s hard to walk without stepping on these frequent little creatures, especially in wet weather.

On July 13, we met our leader and team and began learning about their hiking adventures. Two had hiked with Mary before. Several had hiked in Spain and Europe, and out west. Two were new to hiking and hoped this would be a good introduction. It was clear after the first day that hiking with a group of like-minded strangers was as fulfilling as conquering a trail alone simply from the perspective of perspective itself. Stu and I were of the ilk that just took trails as they came. We never thought much about how they got there or what it took to keep them. As we marched forward, it became clear that trails like these don’t just happen; were it not for the people like those surrounding us on this trip, many of these trails, including the North Country Trail, would not exist. The need for an organized relationship between other types of trail users in order to assure enjoyment, demand, and support for the trails also became clear. As we walked the North Country National Scenic Trail, over Cuyler and Midlum Hills and on to Irish Hollow along the cascades of Maxon Creek, past the Hemlock Glen Leanto and over Mossy Falls cascades, through Chickadee Hollow and Morgan Hill State Forest, then through Tioughnioga Wildlife Management Area and DeRuyter State Forest past Armstrong Pond, I thought about the number of individual, state, and county landowners who make this trail possible. We traversed trails used only by hikers and skiers and crossed trails shared by bikers, snowmobilers, and horseback riders. All support the space needed for trails to exist. As we walked along ridges, and came upon the vast panorama of the Jones Hill overlook of Labrador Hollow, and stepped over rocky streams to experience Tinker Falls from both top and bottom, and watched geese at Spruce Pond, and skirted the edges of farm fields, and came out on to paved roads for short stints because a landowner between two segments of the trail chose not to include his property in Continued on page 30

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Map Updates By Matt Rowbotham, NCTA’s GIS Coordinator


’d like to bring you an inside look at a number of new mapping and GIS related products we’re working on at the NCTA. GIS stands for Geographic Information Systems, the tool we use to maintain information on the trail and its associated features. GIS can provide detailed statistical analysis and reporting on the trail, and is the primary tool NCTA uses for map production. Over the last year or so, we’ve seen rapid technological growth in both the professional and consumer ends of the GIS industry. We’ve got new digital/paper maps, an interactive web mapping system, lots of neat options for taking trail information with you on your mobile devices and some really cool borrowed ideas from our friends on the Pacific Crest Trail. Like a lot of you, I prefer my time in the woods to be “unplugged,” but I’ve found many of these tools to be non-intrusive and in fact very useful and efficient. One of the most common questions I hear along the trail is “How do we get more young people involved?” Maybe this sort of stuff is one step in that direction? ArcGIS Online (AGOL) A few months ago I began developing some simple web maps using our newly purchased subscription to ArcGIS Online, the new “cloud” based mapping service offered by our long-time GIS software supplier ESRI. ArcGIS Online is similar to Google Map or Google Earth, in that it provides a streaming online map service via an internet connection. The big difference is that it is perfectly compatible with the GIS data we maintain here at the NCTA. By compatible, I mean that “out of the box” it is able to handle large and robust GIS data sets. This data is presented as an overlay on any one of a variety of basemaps, including street maps, topographical maps and aerial and satellite imagery. Not only does this allow for neat looking and dynamic (zoom/ pan) maps, but also enables the general public to access the real heart of what makes GIS GIS, the detailed database of information we maintain for our trail segments and point data. Just click on a section of trail and up will pop a table


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showing relevant information we’ve collected about that segment of trail, ownership, camping regulations, allowed uses, certification status, and NCTA chapter, among other things. AGOL is a new tool and is still rapidly developing; currently there are lots of great features including location search and measurement tools. Look for more functionality in the future. To visit our public web interface for the main NCT map go to You can also access this map (with somewhat limited functionality) via the free ArcGIS App, for which you will need an active data connection or Wi-Fi on your mobile device. This is available for both iOS and Android (although the iOS version seems a little better). Once you have the app installed and open on your phone, you need to search “nct” in the app; you’re looking for a map titled “North Country Trail (Public).” I recently shared this app with Tom Ackerman who used it for much of his section hike of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. He reported great success and said it saved him from getting lost numerous times! I’ve set up the following web page that will act as a hub for all future development on this topic and other mapping related subjects: Tech Series Maps “Appalachian Trail maps are so monumentally useless that I had long since given up using them. They vary somewhat, but most are on an abysmal scale of 1:100,000, which ludicrously compresses every mile of real world into a mere inch of map. Imagine a square mile of physical landscape and all that it might contain – logging roads, streams, a mountain top or two, perhaps a fire tower, a knob or grassy bald, the wandering AT, and maybe a pair of the important side trails – and imaging trying to convey all that information on an area the size of the nail on your little finger. That’s an AT map.” A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. I remember coming to this section in Bryson’s book and literally turning red in the face: NCTA’s maps are at a 1:100,000 scale! That moment started the on and off again development of what I’m now calling NCTA’s “Technical Series Maps,” a term borrowed from Andrew Skurka, for the more detailed sets of maps he puts together for his hikes. To be fair, there is value in 1:100,000 scale maps; after all, we have walked thousands of miles with them successfully! in fact when looking at very early prototypes of these new more detailed maps during NCTA’s Dayton conference, Andrew Skurka himself said 1:100,000 is all we need for a trail like the NCT. His point is that the NCT is a well marked, well maintained and mostly a well used trail. Users are navigating from

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Sorry, Bill Bryson, but here’s a map geek note: for a scale of 1:100,000 it’s actually more like compressing every mile into a “mere” 1.578 inches. 1:63,360 is a 1 inch equals 1 mile scale. The last and probably most exciting feature of these new maps is the system used to communicate mileage. For the last few years I’ve been following what has become known as the “Halfmile Project” on the Pacific Crest Trail. This ingenious system developed by a couple of PCTA volunteers solves two common problems for us. The first is that we generally cannot fit a trail line file (track) of any substantial length and detail into a regular

The new Technical Series maps, 8.5˝ x 11˝ maps including policies and guidelines for the area covered and a QR code to download halfmile waypoints. All packaged in a plastic bag to keep them dry.

Jill DeCator

point to point following blazes, not trying to bushwhack and read the landscape. Beyond that, it’s worth pointing out that our current NCTA 1:100,000 scale maps generally give trail users a bigger picture of the landscape surrounding the NCT, including roads and towns. This is helpful for getting to the trail and really important if a hiker needs to locate a good bailout point for any reason. So our 1:100,000 scale maps are an important tool for trail users, but I still felt (as did many hikers and volunteers) that we needed a more detailed map product. Now our first edition of the new technical series maps has been released for the three chapters in north central Minnesota. Through countless hours of research and development— reviewing other trail organizations’ maps, pestering our local land navigation experts from Fortune Bay Expedition Team, and some field testing that included one very memorable bear encounter —my research led me to the conclusion that a 1:40,000 scale map with 10-foot contour intervals (50-foot in our hilly regions) is the perfect balance of topographic detail, while still allowing us to fit the most miles of trail on a single sheet of paper. Speaking of paper, the driving factor behind the page size of these maps (8.5” x 11”) was our goal of offering a download and print at home option for these maps. So from now on when hikers call the office on Thursday or Friday, asking how they might acquire maps for their weekend hike , we will be able to direct them to the download option on our website. This function is currently being put in place by a third-party contractor and I expect to see it available by the end of summer. These maps are fairly typical topographical trail maps, showing things like public lands, water, elevation, roads, points of interest. Behind the scenes, one of the biggest features of these maps is the base data, which is completely built and customized by NCTA. Although derived mostly from state and federal sources, I’ve altered this data to meet NCTA needs. This will allow us to correct all those things that are so often incorrect on state and federal map products, rural road names, water features that don’t exist, etc. This custom base map will then be available to use in all future map products produced at NCTA. I’m also excited to announce that these maps are compiled at the chapter level, with a map set for each NCTA chapter. This should prove to be a very useful resource for our chapters’ trail management efforts, as well as reinforcing for hikers that the chapters really are the local experts along the trail. For retail purposes, these maps will likely be combined into regional sets in many places. For example, the Central Minnesota map set covers the Star of the North, Itasca Moraine and Laurentian Lakes Chapters.

consumer grade GPS unit; they exceeded the manufacturer’s size limitations. The half-mile strategy for working around this was to reduce the trail line to a series of generic waypoints at half-mile intervals along the route of the trail. By sequentially numbering these waypoints, you can load this digital bread crumb trail into a GPS and in theory, always be able to find your location to within a half-mile of the trail – genius! Estimating distance works the same way, in half-mile increments. A by-product of this sequentially numbered waypoint system, is that when these labeled waypoints are shown on a map they become a mileage index system that allows you to estimate the distance between any two points on a map, theoretically to within a half-mile. This mapping project is a huge undertaking and is going to take some time to complete. With the Central Minnesota map set released, we will soon be finishing up the rest of the state with a Kekekabic and Border Route map set. You should also see sets for Pennsylvania and the Superior Shore Line Chapter later this summer. Geospatial PDFs One last thing coming down the pipe is Geospatial PDF. The mapping software I use, ArcGIS, allows for any map I make to be exported as a Geospatial PDF. A Geospatial PDF is essentially a PDF that has a real world coordinate system linking it to on the ground locations. One of the most exciting functions is the ability to view and track your location on one of these PDF maps using GPS enabled devices such as a smart phone or tablet. Among other things, you can also measure distances, find coordinates and record tracks and waypoints right on top of the PDF map. All of our downloadable Tech Series Maps will have this Geospatial PDF functionality built in. The app “PDF Maps” by Avenza seems to be the most popular for working with Geospatial PDFs: It is available for both iPhone and Android. This is also going to be really useful for sharing the kiosk and brochure maps we produce with the public (think QRCodes on the kiosks that allow you to download a Geospatial PDF

Continued on next page July-September 2014

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map on your phone!). Additionally, consider trail management applications such as trail alignments, OLR and parcel boundaries maps with the ability to show your location as well as record tracks and waypoints, while scouting in the field. To download some freely available Geospatial PDF maps now from the NCTA visit

Jill DeCator

Jill DeCator

Viewing a GeoPDF on the iPhone using the PDF maps App by Avenza. The blue dot tracks your location.

Viewing the NCT on the iPhone using the ArcGIS App. The blue dot tracks your location.

Where in the Blue Blazes?

Hiking the NCT: A Newcomer’s Perspective…Continued the path, I thought about how the work of keeping the trail intact was fluid. It became clear to me that in order for this whole thing to work, these miles, segments and sections of trail had to satisfy more than just me. It had to satisfy the private landowner, the municipality or government entity, the user, and those affected by trail use. We discovered sections of the trail that had been moved from one space to another as allowances were made or permissions taken away. By the end of the five days I had thought about my place in this process of imagining a trail where there was none, planning it and conducting the ambassadorial and physical business of creating and maintaining, marketing it and funding it, and I realized that as hikers, we all have a place on the trail. When we use them, we demonstrate their value to a community. When we use them correctly, we protect and preserve our right to be there. When we maintain them, or act as good ambassadors to the landowners who allow us access we make the trail more accessible, and when we tell others of our experiences, we bring newcomers and regenerate a population where such assets are valued. …trails like these don’t just happen… Through this hike I gained a firm understanding of my place in the process of having this trail to enjoy. The trip galvanized for me the importance of my role at any level I choose. If this trip did nothing outside of its initial intent to allow me to enjoy an amazing segment of the NCT, its sneaky undercurrent taught me that at every level we are responsible for assuring that the trail will always be here.

Kirk Johnson of Pennsylvania sent the picture for our last issue, a view of the extensive “lake” created when the Kinzua Dam backed up the Allegheny River throughout a large valley in northern Pennsylvania and the southern border of NY. The location is the Kinzua Bay arm of the Allegheny Reservoir near Red Bridge campground. Nobody guessed the spot, nor did anyone submit another mystery photo. 30

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July-September 2014

Two rainy days failed to dampen these hikers’ enjoyment of central New York’s considerable hills, even on the last day. Our author, Shelley Lowe, is in back, on the left.

Tom Ackerman

A Hiker’s Idle Brain By Tom Ackerman


s most hikers are doubtless aware, the mind tends to wander during hour after hour and day after day following the blue blazes. One thought that regularly occurred during my recent thru hike of the lower peninsula of my native Michigan was how a person might view my beloved state if their only perspective was as a thru hiker on the North Country National Scenic Trail. I was a novice hiker who decided that it was something I may be able to do only the summer before, after my local librarian recommended Wild by Cheryl Strayed. My first impulse was to hike the Appalachian Trail, but then I considered the blue blazes out my back door and chose to do my local trail. I really didn’t know what to expect and had some trouble at first adjusting to the physical demands of walking anywhere with 30 pounds on my 64 year old back, much less all day today and then again tomorrow, but perhaps the most difficult part was adjusting to the solitude of such a trek. Calling my beautiful and understanding wife twice daily helped, but much of my time was spent planning what I would say to her and then write in my daily journal. I covered all sorts of random topics like how one negative thing, like mosquitoes, can outweigh all the positives or the importance of having things to look forward to, but one recurring topic has been how a person would view Michigan if they had seen it ONLY from the perspective of the North Country Trail. I’ve probably forgotten most but here’s a few: • There are very few paved roads in Michigan. Many are gravel, but most are sandy two tracks. • The only successful farms are in the south where the terrain is flat and the soil is fertile. All southern farm houses are huge with modern equipment and enormous John Deere tractors. Plenty of money in farming down there. The only farms that exist above the 45th parallel are horse farms. It seems the only thing that really grows there is hay. I passed so many horses who seemed incredulous that a human would walk when they could ride. • There are no great lakes in the Great Lakes State. Whenever I saw a large body of water I could always see land on the other side. This is probably true only for the trail in the Lower Peninsula since it follows the shoreline of the greatest Great Lake, Lake Superior, for quite a few miles in the Upper Peninsula. • There are only eight black people who live in Michigan, and Mackinaw City has the most diversity in the state.

Tom at the END of his hike, embracing the Mackinac Bridge while he took a “selfie.”

• The only beer that Michigan people drink is Bud Light. At least that is what the ones drink who throw their cans out the car window, in the river, or on the beach. People in Michigan show their respect for the environment by tossing their Bud Light empties in a fire pit by the lake instead of just on the ground. • The most prevalent species of wildlife in Michigan is the mosquito. I witnessed about 30 deer, 20 turkeys, 7 snakes, thousands of birds and billions of mosquitoes. • Surprisingly, there are no large cities in Michigan. Battle Creek and Petoskey seem to be the largest.

Save The Dates Next year’s NCTA annual gathering will be hosted by the Finger Lakes Trail during their fall weekend, Sept.10-13, at Hope Lake Lodge across from Greek Peak ski slope topped by the trail and surrounded by forest, south of Syracuse. Make it a family vacation with hikes in fabulous locations, at a resort with a water park, spa, zip lines, and other bonanzas.

July-September 2014

Chuck Norton

• Michigan is Camelot. Of my 36 days on the trail, I was rained on during only 3 days when I was out hiking. The rest of the times it rained were at night when I was snug in my hammock under my tarp. I slept with no tarp about as many nights as with. Pure Michigan!

Tom Ackerman before his hike. Tom’s trail name was Hoofer589 because he has always loved to dance and because his math totaled 589 miles for the lower peninsula, so that’s how he signed in at registers.

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Thru-Hiker Oversight…


he recent increase in making endto-end thru hikes of the North Country National Scenic Trail, including accomplishing it in one season, has led to a number of questions having to do with NCTA’s oversight of such hikes and claims for their accomplishment. While NCTA welcomes and encourages such attempts, the Association neither assumes nor desires any role in their oversight or claims related to them. The NCTA’s Long Distance Hiker Committee maintains a record of hikers accomplishing E2E’s or one season thru-hikes as well as significant section hiking accomplishments, but this is the extent of NCTA’s role. Thru-hikers, E2E’s and state section hikers may apply to the NCTA’s committee for a patch with state rocker bars to indicate their achievements. Attempts to hike end-to-end on any long trail are challenging. Trail conditions are sometimes impossible to assess from a distance and hikers may encounter barriers which make the trail impassible or temporarily unsafe to attempt. Long distance hikers seeking to “bag” sections of the NCNST or the entire trail may take their own initiative in making a temporary reroute in such instances, without the fear of some long-armed oversight group attempting to manage what can best and more safely be done on the ground, in the moment. While the Long Distance Hiking Policy of the North Country Trail Association states that hikers are expected to make every effort to follow off-road trail where it exists, there is not, nor can there be, any policing of hikers or hiking claims. In fact, policing of hikers is not something we would deem desirable even if it could be accomplished. We rely on the honor system, as do all the long trails that recognize long-distance hikes. It is expected that each particular hiker will conscientiously attempt to use the official, designated off-road routes. At present NCTA’s records show there have been 13 individuals completing what is considered an end-to-end. Because the Trail’s route and length has varied since its 1980 authorization (and it continues to do so) there is little point in making comparisons among these pioneers based on their routes or methods.


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NCT NCT On-road

Trail Building Progress on the North Country Trail Summer 2014 Total Estimated Mileage

Percentage Complete

Total Completed GIS* Miles

Total Certified Miles in GIS

New York






























North Dakota







4,540 60.1% 2,791.1 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

Map Updates:

MI-05 Added Fife Lake reroute WI-02 Adjusted route in Solon Springs, WI – Railroad crossing. New release of Central Minnesota Technical Series Map (digital downloads forthcoming) MN Guidebook NCTA recognizes these pioneers: Thru-hikers (E2E in one season) Ed Talone (1994) Andrew Skurka (2004-5) M.J. “Eb,” aka “Nimblewill Nomad” Eberhart (2009) Luke “Strider” Jordan (2013) Al Learned (2013) E2E Section Hikers (date completed) Peter Wolfe (1980) Chet Fromm (1995) Allen Shoup (2005) Don Beattie (2005) Bart Smith (2007) Joan Young (2010, Vermont 2014)

July-September 2014

Completed Using Hike And Bike Carolyn Hoffman (1978) Judy Geisler (2011) More information can be found at http:// htm, and on the NCTA website here:

The Value Of Volunteer Hours


Arts on the Trail (Story on pages 34 and 35.)

n 2013, our volunteers put in 77,241 hours, worth an estimated $1,710,115. Do you ever wonder where we get that value and what the number means? Volunteer hours are one of the biggest demonstrations of public support when justifying Federal funding or applying for grants and when telling people why they should care about the NCT. Your hours illustrate the commitment citizens have to the Trail and why it should be supported by our communities. Federal agencies, nonprofits and foundations use data collected by the Independent Sector, a nonpartisan coalition that represents thousands of organizations across the country, to quantify the value of the work that you do as volunteers. The National Park Service does not send cash to NCTA based on your reported volunteer hours. We wish! But we do use those numbers to quantify the volunteer match on grant applications, to advocate for NPS funding with our elected officials and to show the world the great contribution you make with your volunteer effort.

“The estimate helps acknowledge the millions of individuals who dedicate their time, talents, and energy to making a difference. Charitable organizations can use this estimate to quantify the enormous value volunteers provide.” The Independent Sector has just posted the new volunteer value figures. For this year, please use $22.55 per hour when calculating your volunteer contribution for any grant applications. We hope the act of volunteering with the North Country Trail gives you satisfaction in itself. But you should know that it is also part of something bigger. Reporting your hours helps us show that, AND it earns you cool stuff from the National Park Service. National Park Service Awards The NPS rewards our volunteers based on volunteer hours. The Awards are presented in August (if the hours are reported by May 1st), this year at the Duluth Trailfest, except for the 250 hour parks pass which is awarded when earned. • 100 hours - NPS pin, name badge, and certificate. • 250 hours - Water bottle • 250 hours – America the Beautiful Parks Pass • 400 hours - Personalized shirt with the NCTA logo and the NPS volunteer patch. • 1,000 hours – Personalized vest • 2,500 hours - Personalized jacket • 4,000 hours - Presidential Award (Pin, certificate and a letter from White House) • 10,000 hours – Personalized Plaque

The artist cut sections of the tree into precise cubes, then reassembled them on the original trunk.

Report your hours today! members/report-volunteer-hours/

“Earth,” an adobe piece as big as a couch by Susan Wink, 1996. It was one of a series of four adobe works (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) for that season’s installation theme of “From the Earth.” In the background is the beginning of a large patch of woods where many of the trees are wrapped in white plastic. No comment.

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Here Lynda Rummel inspects the titles, while a label declares “These trees shall be my books,” from As You Like It by Shakespeare. Artist David Harper said that while creating “Stacks,” he was fascinated with the textures of bark, wood grain, and insect-carved patterns in wood as they related to book spines, pages, and writing. So he has continued making wooden books and book-like sculptures. These books are a mixture of weathered real books and wooden facsimiles, stacked in a long leaning library shelf set. This was originally commissioned by Cazenovia College in 2005. Among the hilltop displays is this tiny pond featuring a wooden “island” with a bamboo enclosure in the middle. It just invites us to peer inside to see what is in there… a bench? The ever inquisitive Sandy went to find out. “Island” by Alastair Noble, 2010.

Arts On The Trail:

The Stone Quarry Hill Art Park By Kathy Eisele assisted by Bettina Frisse, Central NY Chapter NCTA Photo caption info supplemented by David Harper, Central NY Chapter Pictures by Irene Szabo


An approach to the pond is framed by this “Pond Bridge,“ also by Alastair Noble.


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n the July-September 2013 issue of North Star when North Country Trail Superintendent Mark Weaver called on trail volunteers to integrate the arts with the North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST), he surely had places like Cazenovia’s Stone Quarry Hill Art Park in mind. Located just outside the village, the 104-acre Art Park offers a unique combination of art and nature, which was enjoyed by hikers who attended the joint Spring Outing based at Cazenovia College of the Finger Lakes Trail Conference and the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club. The Art Park was founded by Dorothy and Bob Riester in 1991 when they donated several acres of their hillside property as a public park to showcase the relationship between art and nature. They had purchased the property with its spectacular views across the countryside in the 1950s and built much of their home themselves at the top of Stone Quarry Hill. The house itself is unique, designed by Dorothy to be shaped as a cone on its side, following the contours of the land. Bob, who passed away in 1996, was an engineer; Dorothy, who now resides in Jamesville, is a sculptor. Recently, their former home was placed on the historic register. Dorothy’s A-frame studio stands near the house. Besides stunning hilltop views, the park has four miles of hiking trails with art pieces sited along the trails and throughout the park. At the invitation of the Art Park, the North Country National Scenic Trail is blue-blazed following the park’s Wetland Trail and Woodland Trail. A Board of Directors oversees the park with a Park Manager and volunteers. Each year beginning in 1992 through the Artists in Residence program, artists have been selected to come to the park and install their artwork. Some of the pieces fairly soon return to nature, such as a maze mowed in one of the meadows or a grass weaving across one of the ponds. Other installations remain for years, even decades. Among the sculptures are several bronzes by Dorothy Riester and by other artists who have donated their works.

July-September 2014

The whole “Stacks” set of shelves with another view in the background.

David Harper, trail steward, certified chain sawyer, and DR mower operator for the Central NY Chapter of NCTA, is one of those artists. The Art Park is a popular destination. In addition to the hiking trails, sculptures and views, the park has a small art gallery with changing exhibits, family celebrations such as Fly A Kite Day, musical performances, lectures, visits by local school groups, meadows, gardens and wildflowers, and the Syracuse Ceramic Guild’s annual Pottery Fair. The park is open to the public daily and free, although donations by non-members are much appreciated at the entrance. More pictures on page 33

A copper sculpture by founder Dorothy Riester, “Contemplating Man,” an interpretation of her late husband, Robert, overlooking fields below. Off the trail a little way, these white “growths” caught my eye, which seemed to grow all over a big maple. They are “A Tangled Tale” by Alice Momm. Plaster? over wire.

A favorite is “Heavy Reading” also by David Harper, of a reclining wooden figure apparently nodding off under a major tome. Sandy liked this one, too, and apparently has a real sense of what I’m about to take a picture of, so gets right in there!

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north star


North Country Trail Association


Grand Rapids, MI Permit 340

229 East Main Street Lowell, Michigan 49331

Connie Burns

Opinions from plant fanciers in five different states were consulted about this picture, but apparently the arguments will just have to continue past our bedtime. Several are firmly convinced it is lead plant while others are firm that it is silky prairie clover. Connie Burns, who took the picture, doesn’t know either! She took it in the Sheyenne National Grasslands which hosts the Trail in SE North Dakota.

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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