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Monday, August 3, 2009

NCTA Conference- Saturday

Sheyenne State Forest- stiarway to heaven
"stairway to heaven" (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

Saturday at the Valley City NCTA conference was filled again with lots of activities. One of the hikes offered both Saturday and Sunday was to the Sheyenne State Forest, North Dakota's only state forest. It is an ecological oddity with bur oak and hills, and the state's only registered waterfall. The hike begins with the "stairway to heaven," a long climb up a hill on steps built into the hill.

Views from the trail are lovely with the rolling Dakota hills in the distance, here framed by leadplant. Many of the prairie plants will only be seen along the North Country Trail in North Dakota. The trail ends at the small waterfall. This is a certified section of NCT, but it does not currently connect to any other portion, so thru-hikers usually follow a road and miss seeing it.

Sheyenne State Forest- view with leadplant
"leadplant frames the North Dakota hills" (photo by JHY)

Annual awards were given in the evening, with many well-deserved recipients. The highest honor, the lifetime achievement award, went to Al Larmann of New York. His efforts to connect the Finger Lakes Trail with the Adirondacks have moved the NCT across New York and brought the trail to the attention of many people. Recipients must have more than ten years of volunteer service to the trail.

Al Larmann and John Leinan
"Al Larmann (left) receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from past president John Leinan" (photo by JHY)

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