Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lost on Kekekabic Trail – Update

hikers rescued from the Kekekabic trail
The rescued women were flown by
helicopter out of the Boundary Waters
Canoe Area Wilderness to Ely. photo CBS
a news release of Boundary Waters Advisory Committee

In October, two hikers from Duluth, Minnesota, were rescued after being lost for several days on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) Kekekabic Trail. Shortly after that, the Boundary Waters Advisory Committee (BWA Committee) offered help to the US Forest Service with trail maintenance.

In November, to identify the troublesome sections of the trail, Martin Kubik, Founder of the BWA Committee (and of the Kekekabic Trail Club) backpacked and cataloged the 42 mile trail during a solo, three day through-hike. “The Kekekabic represents a challenge even to most expert hikers. The burned area, about 13 miles long, has many segments where the trail simply disappears from one spot to another. Because the trail is unmarked, there is no way for hikers to reconnect the path between more visible segments. This increases a visitor’s risk, because they have no idea when and how many times this will happen, and whether they will be able to stay on trail to complete the journey ,” said Kubik.

The BWA Committee offered to update the guide to the Kekekabic Trail in a meeting with the US Forest Service two years ago. The Forest Service officials dismissed the idea, contending that guide would be inappropriate for a trail in wilderness area. USFS officials have also turned down suggestions to mark the trail. Kubik responds that “with hikers getting lost on the Kek, and the rescue costs mounting to tens of thousands of dollars, we hope that will change. We need to find a reasonable compromise that meets the wilderness criteria while permitting the backpackers to enjoy the wilderness and stay safe.”

The BWA Committee plans to cooperate with the USFS to develop a plan to revitalize the Kekekabic Trail. Without such a plan, the trail will continue to deterioriate, and in the interest of hiker safety, may need to be closed, as it was in 1980. The Kekekabic Trail was designated a Community Millennium Trail in 2000 and it is expected to become a part of the North Country Trail in 2009.

The BWA Committee is a non-profit, grass roots organization that advocates restoration of historic, intrinsically beautiful hiking trails in the BWCA wilderness. The BWA Committee volunteers have adopted the Eagle Mountain/Brule Lake trail and have cleared segments of the Snowbank and Kekekabic Trails this year.

Photo essays showing the trail and volunteers in action are at Smugmug

Read about the women who were lost and rescued at

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