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.


Sunday, May 31, 2009

Mother Goose Nears ND-MN Border

Mother Goose
Mother Goose
excerpts from Mother Goose's Journal

Mother Goose, Bonita Helton, has been hiking east on the NCT from Lake Sakakawea since May 2, 2009. She has been experiencing the great North Dakota hospitality and many of the after-effects of their spring flooding this year.

washed out North Dakota road
washed out road east of Ft. Ransom, ND
Here is a washed out road east of Fort Ransom. When she reached Lisbon she had "to make a round about way to get across the river in Lisbon as the dirt levees they put up for the flood are still there and they won't let you cross them."

But she says she is looking forward to the actual off-road trail in the Sheyenne National Grasslands. The Forest Service advised her that portions of the trail are under water, but at least the weather had warmed enough that she could take off her longjohn shirt.

Mother Goose concluded about the Grasslands, "I do love it, flowers, prairie grass, rolling terrain and a trail right thru it whats not to love."

See Mother Goose's Journal

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Tom Funke- NCT Hiker- To Talk About UP Hikes

50 Hikes in Michigan's UP
based on a news article submitted to various news services

Tom Funke is no stranger in North Country Trail circles. He has hiked over 1500 miles of the NCT, including all of Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He will present a program based on his book, "50 Hikes in Michigan's Upper Peninsula," on June 10, 2009.

Binder Park Zoo in Battle Creek will welcome Funke, who is currently director of conservation of the Michigan Audubon Society, at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 10. The program will focus on selected hikes from Funke’s book, featuring commentary on the natural history of each area to go along with the topography, elevation, and hike difficulty.

Funke has spent most of his life exploring the outdoors. He grew up in Bangor, Michigan, roaming the fields, forests, and swamps on his parent’s rural 25-acre hobby farm. “I basically spent my entire childhood chasing frogs, climbing trees and exploring streams,” said Funke. He went on to study biology and environmental studies at Western Michigan University.

From Western, he was employed by the Binder Park Zoo as an education intern. He progressed to become director of conservation education, before taking his current position with Michigan Audubon.

See the Battle Creek Enquirer

Friday, May 29, 2009

Hiking the Minnesota Arrowhead

hiker on a rocky outcrop
Marie Altenau and Ed Morse on a rocky overlook (photo by JHY)

by JHY

What an awesome hike! I think that we managed to hit the very best time to hike the Minnesota Arrowhead on the northern Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route and Kekekabic Trails. Despite all the horror stories that we have been told, we were able to follow the compacted treadway over the entire 133 miles of the hike.

For all but the Kekekabic Trail we were treated several times a day to rocky outcrops, usually with great views. However, the weather was cold and damp for most of the first 10 days. All those nights were below freezing, and one of the days we walked in snow and a cold wind all day. The picture below is attractive, but we longed for some warmer weather. And before the end of the trip we did seem to really encounter spring.

fog on the hills
fog rising between the ridges (photo by JHY)

All along the Border Route the scenery is just incredible. The views just never seem to stop. The lakes that form the boundary between the US and Canada are stretched below the trail.

hiker overlooking a lake
JHY overlooking the US-Canadian border from the Border Route Trail (photo by RMA)

One of the most fun things that happened was that we encountered Matt Davis leading a group of hikers on the Kekekabic Trail coming west to east. We stopped and chatted with them for about an hour! Believe it or not, we met more hikers on this remote section of trail than we have ever met on any of our other NCT hikes.

See My Quality Day for more details from the hike.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Gone Hiking!

The owner of this blog has gone hiking, and won't return till near the end of May. To follow the hike, in the Arrowhead of Minnesota, on the North Country Trail, go to My Quality Day.

Thanks to all my readers. See you in a few weeks!

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Early Spring Challenges in the Upper Peninsula

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damaged bridge (photo by Jim Studt)
from the Chief Noonday Chapter

Hikers from the Chief Noonday Chapter and West Michigan Chapter headed north to the Upper Peninsula last week to get an early spring hiking fix.

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finding a way (photo by Jim Studt)
Winter can be really hard on trails, especially structures. Above you can see that there is no dry-boot solution for gaining access to what is left of this bridge. However, if someone can find a spare board, there's always a chance for a temporary solution!

And the next picture is a good illustration of the value of puncheon. Often, in the middle of summer it seems odd to come upon a raised wooden walkway in the dry woods. However, early spring is a great time to learn the value of all those man-hours of work!
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puncheon saves the day (photo by Jim Studt)

For all the pictures, go to Jim Studt's Picassa Web Album

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Missing AT Hiker Found, Safe - Take a Lesson

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Ken Knight (photo from Backpacking Light)
compiled from several sources While most of the universe was oblivious, a rather frightening drama has been unfolding on our sister trail, the Appalachian Trail.

On Tuesday, Ken Knight failed to meet his hiking partners, and then Wednesday did not appear in time to catch his flight back to Michigan, where he lives. It turned out that no one had seen him since last Sunday. An official search began on Thursday. Friday, several members of the popular "greatlakeshikes" email group flew to Virgina to assist the Search and Rescue teams in looking for him. Ken Knight's regular job is as an editor for Backpacking Light magazine, and he produces "The Wandering Knight," a series of podcasts.

Ken is an experienced hiker, even familiar with this section of trail, however he is visually impaired. It is assumed that this contributed to his becoming lost. He has hiked many miles on his own. It was this experience that gave people hope that he would be located. This afternoon while the searchers were scouring the woods, local firefighters spotted a brush fire and responded. They found Knight had set the fire in hopes of attracting attention. He was slightly dehydrated, but walked out of the woods under his own power with the firefighters. A very welcome end to this story. And we certainly wish Ken the best!

Meanwhile, Nimblewill Nomad has been having an adventure on the Kekekabic Trail which illustrates the serious nature of a hike at the wrong season. Sheer determination carried him through the Minnesota northwoods to Heston's Lodge. After some self-recovery, he has decided to skip to Two Harbors, and return to the Arrowhead later in the season after the snow has melted.

His journal reports: "It's really hard to say if I've gotten lost any given time today, or if I've even been off-track the least bit. Places like, say, above Seahorse Lake and by Chub River, more than not, there simply is no trail, an occasional, piddly two- or three-rock cairn, a scrap of flagging underfoot, or the guess at a blowdown sawcut--that's it. In these places, and as I search intently, there's nothing to be seen but brush, rocks and char, nothing else, no tread, certainly no evidence that man has ever set foot here."

Yet this is a section that has been cleared by the Kekekabic Trail club several times since the blowdown of 1999. I personally participated in one of these trips to that exact section. It's quite eerie to know that someone, just a few years later, can't tell that we were ever there.

Nimblewill also wrote: "Through the Kekekabic Lake area I'm in the thick of the storm devastation. The going is incredibly slow, and the tread has become more faint. To stay on trail I must constantly look for axe or saw evidence. More often now, that's the only sign. In many places there is no tread. Also, today I am faced with some very scary stream fords, what with the snowmelt runoff at near full tilt. My feet get hardly a moment's rest from the ice cold water."

By the time he reached Heston's his feet were totally numb, he had fallen and twisted a knee, broken a hiking stick and the snow was still two feet deep. He is hoping to not have permanent nerve damage to his feet.

These experiences should remind us that going to the woods is a serious undertaking even on a well-traveled trail like the AT, or the NCT, which most people assume to be very tame. I personally find these stories particularly riveting this week as I am packing food to leave for a hike of the area Nimblewill has just found so challenging. I am hoping that the 10 days between his experience and mine will eliminate most of the snow.

But let's all take a lesson for heading out on the trail. Being prepared and making good decisions can certainly mean the difference between life and death.

See Hiker Missing on the Appalachian Trail
See Kenneth Knight Found Alive
See Nimblewill Nomad's Journal, scroll to April 22

Friday, May 1, 2009

Great Eastern Trail Moving Closer to Connection with NCT/FLT

Great Eastern Trail map
Great Eastern Trail in red
based on an article in the Finger Lakes Trail News, Spring 2009, by Pat Monahan

The Great Eastern Trail (GET) is building trail and connecting existing trails to provide an alternate north-south hiking route along the Appalachian ridge. This trail is located to the west of the mountain range.

Connection to the Finger Lakes and North Country Trails will be in Steuben County New York. Pat Monahan reported on the 2008 trail building progress.

In Pennsylvania the GET follows the Mid-State Trail to the New York border. At that point there are about 6 miles of road walk in Steuben County's Town of Tuscarora. At that point the trail enters the Pinnacle State Park. Orange blazes mark the route of the GET. Next, the trail passes through McCarthy State Forest and reaches it's current ending in the Village of Addison at a small cemetery.

Working from the Finger Lakes Trail south, in November 2008, 35 volunteers began cutting trail through Bradford State Forest. (On FLTC map 13, between access points 4 and 5). In the spring, work will continue through the Watson Homestead Conference Center grounds to West Hill State Forest. Final approval for that section is pending.

An Alley Cat Trail Crew is scheduled for August 5-9, 2009, to continue to work on the connection for the Great Eastern Trail.

If you would like to be involved in any aspect of this project, contact Pat Monahan
See Great Eastern Trail