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.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Minnesota is Humming Along

Jerry Trout on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest, Minnesota
Jerry Trout on the North Country Trail in Paul Bunyan State Forest, Minnesota (photo by JHY)

submitted by Jerry Trout

Charlie Maguire was at the Walker, MN library Nov 18 and gave a rousing rendition of the ballad of the North County Trail, which he wrote for the Trail in 2007. Itasca Moraine members were there in their volunteer vests and NPS/NCT scarves. Beth Trout traded Charlie a scarf for his latest album, "Wilderness Road." Charlie's appearance was funded by the Legacy Amendment and the regional library system. Also, today marks the 1st anniversary of completing the North Country National Scenic Trail between the Chippewa National Forest and Itasca State Park.

In 2008 the citizens of Minnesota voted for the Legacy Amendment. This provided that the sales tax be raised 3/8 of 1% and these monies would be distributed to Outdoor Heritage (hunting, fishing) 33%; clean waters 33%; Parks and Trails 14.25% and Arts and Cultural Heritage 19.75%. This amendment received more yes votes than did the president of the US in Minnesota. Governor Tim Pawlenty remained silent on the issue. His mantra was and continues to be no new taxes. This has resulted in millions of dollars for the groups listed above. The NCT hopes to benefit from the Parks and Trail money that is now available.

The Kitchigami Regional Library System received a grant from the Arts and Cultural Heritage group to promote music in the library system. This is what made it possible for Charlie to do his thing. He was also at Park Rapids and Longville and other places. Charlie wove a lot of history into his program plus his music, approximately 1.5 hours. He made the point that his program was designed to advance history (arts) and the outdoors with his music, thus speaking to the entire Legacy spectrum.

The North Country Trail song is on his new album, Wilderness Road, Melo-Jamin Music, 18 folk songs, 60 minutes about Minnnesota State Parks. Gordon Johnson played bass on the North Country Trail and Split Rock Light Station songs.

This segment is on NCTA maps MN-09, MN-10

See Itasca-Moraine Chapter of the NCTA

Saturday, November 6, 2010

North Country Trail Promo

from Maranda TV

Maranda TV has created this video about the North Country Trail in West Michigan, in the Lowell State Game Area.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-03

See Western Michigan Chapter of the NCTA

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Backing Needed for New Wisconsin DNR Trail Rule

trail leading to WI DNR office
a trail leading to the Wisconsin DNR South Central Headquarters (photo by Todd McMahon)

submitted by Todd McMahon

A new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resourses Rule aimed at speeding up development of the North Country Trail and Ice Age Trail will have a public hearing on November 3, 2010 in Fitchburg, Wisconsin.

The rule allows the trails to be built before the Master Plan for a property is developed. It can take 6 to 10 years for a Master Plan to be developed for properties purchase by the Wisconsin DNR. The new rule applies to lands specifically purchased for trail development. Currently, there are over 70 such properties awaiting a Master Plan including the recently purchased Nemjadi River Tract and Stilin Property Tract for the North Country Trail.

According to an email sent by Kevin Thusius of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the new rules “will make it possible to start new Trail Construction…immediately upon acquisition.” And according to a DNR Correspondence by Matt Frank, “These rules would provide property managers guidance for pre-Master Plan management of lands purchased for the Ice Age and North Country trails.”

The Public Hearing will be held at 6 pm, Wednesday, November 3, 2010 at the DNR South Central Region Headquarters, 3911 Fish Hatchery Road, Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Written comments on the proposed rule may be submitted via U.S. mail to:
Ms. Brigit Brown
Bureau of Parks and Recreation
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707.
Comments may be submitted by email to

Comments on the proposed rule must be received on or before November 5, 2010.

This segment is on NCTA maps WI-01-03

See Wisconsin DNR Proposed Rule Page for more information

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Encampment River Bridge Repaired.

Encampment River Bridge
Encampment River Bridge before repairs (photo by JHY)

by JHY with information from the "hiker" egroup

When my hiking buddy, Marie, and I crossed the Encampment River bridge (Superior Hiking Trail, MN, just north of Two Harbors) in August of 2009, I happened to be a bit ahead. Noticing that it was an odd bridge, with the steep, cleated ramp at one end, I ventured off the trail to take some pictures. I quickly discovered that it was a bridge in need of serious repair! Notice that almost all of the supports in the middle of the span are broken or missing.

Since Marie isn't crazy about dangerous passages, I simply didn't point out the situation till we were well across the span and had clambered up the ramp!

Another hiker coming from the opposite direction has said "The "stairs" down the west bank to the bridge over the Encampment River are functional, but terrifying..."

The SHT is a portion of the North Country Trail, which follows the north shore of Lake Superior.

Encampment River Bridge
Encampment River Bridge after repairs (photo by Kim Fishburn)
But, thanks to some great work by volunteers, the bridge is repaired, at least temporarily. On the weekend of October 16-18, over 20 people arrived to help. The work was supervised by Han Taylor of North Shore Trail Maintenance.

The project involved hauling in heavy materials about 150 yards from a private driveway, building and placing the stairway anchored to heavy cables on the south side of the bridge, hoisting the bridge up using a come-a-long and cables, re-building the crib out of 6” x 6” timbers, resetting the bridge, and building a ramp on the north side of the bridge.

By comparing the two pictures, you can easily see that the supports have been restored.

The banks were found to be extremely prone to slumping, and it took extra time to do the repairs. The final conclusion is that this bridge must only be considered temporary, and a suspension bridge will probably be the permanent solution. Meanwhile, hikers can safely cross the Encampment River, with confidence.

This segment is on SHTA map 01

See Superior Hiking Trail Association
See hiker egroup

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Controversy at East Sheyenne Grasslands TH

Sheyenne National Grasslands trailhead
Sheyenne National Grasslands east trailhead (photo by JHY)

based on a news article at Fargo-Morehead InForum

The simple access site to the North Country Trail at the east side of the Sheyenne National Grassland (North Dakota) has become a controversial topic.

In 2007, the Forest Service (Grasslands Managers) proposed a project to create a campground at the east trailhead of the NCT. This would provide camping for hikers and horseback riders/ campers. The campground was proposed in order to improve sanitation issues which have become critical due to a large volume of dispersed camping. However, the nearby Sheyenne Oaks Horse Camp and RV Park, which opened in 2009, has gotten the ear of Senator Byron Dorgan (D), and he has requested that the Forest Service abandon this campground project.

The problem is that several other access gates to the Grasslands will be closed as part of the project. One of these was near Sheyenne Oaks, and provided users of that facility easy access. However, they private campground was allowed to build a gate of their own.

Sheyenne National Grasslands manager, Dave Piper, said, "The Forest Service’s proposal is designed to accommodate the needs of all campers desiring to use the area, not just horse use. The goal is not to compete with any private services, but to allow the public to enjoy the Sheyenne National Grasslands."

Dorgan would like the Forest Service to build a trail that links to Sheyenne Oaks. The Forest Service has explained that they "cannot use federal tax dollars to specifically benefit a single, for-profit business at the exclusion of access to others."

Inflammatory media coverage has not helped, with headlines such as, "Private North Dakota campground loses grassland access," which is not even remotely true.

Monday, October 18, 2010

First NCTA Extended Outing Program

camp lunch
Lorana on KP duty

by Lorana Jinkerson, excerpted from the NCT Hikers newsletter, Footprints, fall 2010

Mary Coffin, NCTA BOD member from New York, has lead many Extended Outing Programs for the Adirondack Mountain Club. Modeling it after that successful program, she lead the first NCTA Extended Outing Program from September 8 through September 15 along the Superior Hiking Trail (soon to be officially part of the North Country Trail). I was lucky to be one of the 11 NCTA members on that trip.

We met in Duluth, MN on Wednesday, September 8 for preliminary instructions. Each day we were given several options of possible day hikes/activities and, depending upon weather conditions and the feelings of the group, we chose the hike/activity that was most appropriate.

Our first hike took us north of Judge Magney State Park where we started heading south on the Superior Hiking Trail towards Judge Magney Park. This hike was relatively easy, although there were some steep ups and downs, very similar to some of our segments to the west of Marquette. The afternoon brought us to Devil’s Kettle, a mysterious hole in the ground where water from a waterfall goes, never to be seen again, or so they say.

The next morning, we chose to hike within the Cascade River State Park, to Cascade Falls and up Lookout Mountain. The late afternoon found us in Grand Marais, hiking out to Artist’s point and on the breakwall. With the wind coming in, we donned our rain gear for protection from the wind.

Saturday night it began raining around midnight. We awoke to a light mist and lots of fog. Our hike was up on a ridge and, most of the day, we saw nothing but fog. Finally around lunchtime, we started getting a few breaks. There actually was a sign that said “Hellacious Overhook.”

Monday we broke into two groups to hike. My group headed south on the Superior Hiking Trail from our camp area, including climbing the notorious Drainpipe, a challenging rock climb, ascending for about 150 feet. Luckily my group was going up but it required all points, hands and feet, on the rock at all times.

Tuesday morning we closed up camp and then headed south towards Duluth, stopping along the way at Gooseberry State Park for a hike along Lake Superior, our lunch and a wrap-up session.

I would highly recommend the NCTA’s Extended Outing Program to all of you. In the future, there are hopes more than one a year will be offered. But, for now Mary has one scheduled for Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from Wednesday, August 8 - 15, 2011.

This segment is on SHTA maps 1-4

See North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA for the entire article
See Pictured Rocks Extended Outing for info about 2011

Friday, October 15, 2010

Land Purchases Bolster NCT in Wisconsin

submitted by Todd McMahon

Two major land purchases and several smaller ones have bolstered the North Country Trail in Northern Wisconsin. Using state and federal funds, the 3995 acre Nemadji River Tract on Wisconsin’s western border was purchased in August. Also, in late September the State of Wisconsin purchased land northeast of Copper Falls State Park. Plus, several smaller tracts are being purchased near Solon Springs in hopes of eliminating the road walk there.

The purchase of the Nemadji River Tract from the Wausau Paper Company will allow 6 miles of the North Country Trail to be built on that property. Plus, 4 more miles of the trail could be built on adjacent lands. The Nemadji River Tract was purchased using 1.9 million from the State of Wisconsn’s Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and another 1.9 million from US Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program. The 3995 acres will become part of the Douglas County Forest.

At its September 2010 Board Meeting, the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources agreed to purchase the 720 acre Stilin Properties Tract. The property adjoins Copper Falls State Park to the east, and other state property to the north. In the purchasing agreement, it specifically states that the North Country Trail will be sited, developed and maintained through the property. It will help eliminate the Trail’s dead end at Copper Falls State Park. The land was purchased for $936,00, which includes a $85,028 donation from the John Dolan Dee Estate. The land will become part of the Ashland County Scattered Forest Lands Program and some of the land may eventually become part of Copper Falls State Park.

Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has purchased 3 smaller properties near Solon Spring. One of the properties is a key link to eliminating the road walk north of town. The two other properties are private properties that the NCT currently is on.

The Brule/St Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail is working on eliminating another dead end by completing the trail from Spring Creek to Gordon Dam County Park. According to Tim Mowbray, President of the Chapter, the trail is already cleared to Gordon Dam County Park, but it passes through some wet areas where boardwalks and a puncheon will need to be built. In order to obtain the permit to build the boardwalk and puncheon, a Certified Floodplan Engineer will be hired to prove the structures will not be a flood hazard. The National Park Service has set aside money to hire the Certified Floodplain Engineer and the Brule/St Croix Chapter has already bought most of the materials for the project. The Chapter is hoping to work on the structures next summer.

This segment is on NCTA map WI-01, 02

See Brule- St. Croix Chapter of the NCTA

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Tornado Hits NCT/FLT Near Rock City NY

map of FLT Tornado damage area
map from FLTC

a news release of Finger Lakes Trail Conference

The recent tornado damage from Access 2 (Little Rock City Picnic Area) to Access 3 (Old Seneca CCC Camp) is 0.7 mile long and 0.2 wide and has flattened most trees, closing the trail. A timber salvage operation and trail restoration may take up to two years, so in the meantime, bypass by using Little Rock City and Hungry Hollow Roads (brown squares). Mountain bike trails (purple dashes) may also be used to bypass the damage area shown below.

While Queens, New York, and southeastern Ohio received more publicity about damage from these September storms, the trail was also affected.

This segment is on FLTC map M3/CT3

See Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Pennsylvania- Watts Mill Shelter

Watts Mill Shelter
(photo by Dave Brewer)

from the North Star, by Dave Brewer

Four miles from the Pennsylvania and Ohio border, landowners Dennis and Cathy Garrett helped us build a backpackers' shelter on their land, by working with us and donating materials. Chapter President, Lee Fairbanks, planned and directed the crews, procured materials, and did as much pre-construction off site as possible. An NCTA Field Grant provided the funding to make the project possible.

In total, sixteen Wampum Chapter members and friends along with thirteen AmeriCorps volunteers contributed their cheerful labor over two days in May to haul in the material and build the shelter.

This segment is on NCTA map PA-03

See Wampum Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

NCTA Hires David Cowles for Development

David Cowles
David Cowles

based on an article in the North Star

David Cowles comes to the North Country Trail Association from NOLS, the National Outdoor Leadership School, in Lander, Wyoming. His role for the NCTA is Development Director.

The NCTA has been hopeful of hiring someone for this important function for a number of years. One of the ongoing challenges for any non-profit is that of raising funds. The ability of the NCTA to fulfill its mission has continually been limited by the funds available. Cowles will dedicate his time to remedying this situation.

Cowles holds a Master's degree in Nonprofit Management from Regis University. His professional experience spans several decades, including seven years with NOLS as Associate Director of Development.

With wife, Anita, and his two children, David has moved to west Michigan to guide the NCTA fund-raising efforts. He says, "The single most transformational outdoor experience I have ever had was a 90-day trek on one of our National Scenic Trails. That trip chiseled life lessons into my life that still guide my values today."

Welcome, David!

See North Country Trail Association

Friday, September 17, 2010

Wegmans FLTC Passport Hikes

Finger Lakes Trail / Wegmans Passport Sign
Wegmans Passport check-in location (photo by Gene Bavis)

from Finger Lakes Trail Conference

Wegmans Grocery and the Finger Lakes Trail Conference have just kicked off a great program to get people out exploring trails. Hikers can earn the chance to win great prizes from Wegmans. There are 12 locations included in the passport, but after you hike just four of them you can earn a patch, and receive coupons from Wegman's and other sponsors. When you complete 10 hikes, your name will be be added to a pool for either a $100 Wegmans gift card or a free Wegmans picnic pack for you and 20 of your friends to enjoy. These grand prizes will be awarded once each year, in mid-October.

Once you pick up your passport book at any Wegmans, or various other locations, you can begin your hikes. All maps needed are included in the booklet. Hikes are located on FLT maps L1, L2, M8, M9, B1, B3, M12, M14, M16, M18, and M19.
Finger Lakes Trail / Wegmans Passport overview map
Wegmans Passport locations

Hikes vary from 1.5 to 4 miles. Somewhere in the course of each designated hike there will be a green mailbox and a sign like the one above. Sign the trail register you'll find in the mailbox. Open the passport, and find the page designed for rubbings. Use a pencil or crayon and make a rubbing of the map number from the sign. This is your proof that you were at the location.

Complete directions for how to participate are found in the booklet.

The booklet is also available for download from the FLTC web site.

This segment is on FLTC maps L1, L2, M8, M9, B1, B3, M12, M14, M16, M18, and M19

See FLTC Passport Program

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Painters Hike Much of UP

Dale & Kathy Painter
Dale & Kathy Painter at the Castle Rock Trailhead

submitted by Dale Painter

Kathy and I wanted all of our new NCT "friends" to know that we completed our 321 mile hike across the UP (note: we skipped over the Pictured Rocks because of 5 days lost because of a funeral we had to return to...and we'd done that section several times previously; plus we did not do all the connector segments or long roadwalks.)

What an amazing hike we had and we are deeply indebted to all of you who helped us along the way. You are an incredible and kind bunch of special people and we thank each of you for the part you played in making it so easy for us at critical junctures and with important information.

We received valuable insight to the many hours of work that is invested behind the scenes in keeping the NCT open to hikers like us...and the uphill effort it is to promote the trail and encourage others to take advantage of this national treasure. Several of you noted how few hikers actually get out on many sections of the trail and we ourselves were a bit flabbergasted when we during 24 days of hiking that we met NO other backpackers the whole length of the trail (with the exception of one day in the Porkies) and encountered only a handful of day hikers, all within 3 miles of a trailhead.

Though we have never previously posted a trail journal on-line for others to share, we decided that the very least we could do in support of the NCT (and all the work that all of you perform) would be to write up the account of our hike and include a bunch of pictures that others can read to become better educated about the NCT in the Upper Peninsula and in Michigan. If you would like to read our journal, you can access it and the pictures at the web site called "" (see link below).

Again, thanks for your hospitality and hopefully our paths will cross again somewhere out there on the NCT!

This segment is on NCTA maps MI-9-14

See Dale & Kathy's 2010 NCT Trail Journal

Monday, September 6, 2010

Guide to Hodenpyl Reroute

portion of map of Hodenpyl reroute on North Country Trail

by JHY

The Grand Traverse Hikers Club chapter of the NCTA has worked hard over the past several years to complete about 15 new miles of trail. One could argue that some of it is one of the prettiest pieces of trail in the whole lower peninsula of Michigan. But there have been a lot of questions about finding the new section.

The trail association has issued, this summer, a new edition of the official map MI-05. However, the Grand Traverse Hikers have also created a guide to the section. It includes a general overview map, with trailheads, campsites, and text to describe each section. The entire brochure is available at Northern Exposure and Fletcher Campgrounds. However, the map and guide info is available as a pdf download below.

Also check the Trail Wiki at for a complete description of the section. Please add any comments you have to the Wiki.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-05

See Wiki Guide
See GTHC brochure, p 1 a pdf

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Trail Damage in Paul Bunyan from ATVs

does anyone have a picture of this?

based on a news article in the Park Rapids Enterprise

ATV damage to trail built through the Paul Bunyan State Forest in Minnesota has prompted outrage from both the local North Country Trail Association chapter, and the local Timberland Dirt Devils ATV Club. "There have been a lot of positive moves by many groups (of ATV riders), but we have to respect each other’s designated areas," said Bruce M. Johnson, president of the Itasca Moraine Chapter.

Timberland president agreed. He was angry and said that his club actually confronts irresponsible riders if they catch them in the act.

In this case there may be a chance to do just that. On August 14, hiker Byron Knapp discovered the damage. Trees had been knocked down, ruts left on the hiking trail, and new trails cut through the underbrush. But one of the ATVs that caused the mayhem was also damaged, and parts were found in the woods. The Hubbard County Sheriff's Department is looking for the vandals.

The damage site is northwest of Emmaville.

This segment is on NCTA map MN-10

See Itasca Moraine Chapter of the NCTA

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Connection to GET Progressing via Crystal Hills Branch

connection of Great Easter Trail to Finger Lakes Trail

info from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference

The North Country Trail will soon be connected to the Great Eastern Trail (GET). The GET roughly parallels the Appalachian Trail, but on the west side of the mountains. 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 Pinnacle State Park. Next, the trail passes through McCarthy State Forest and reaches the Village of Addison at a small cemetery. It will ultimately join the Finger Lakes/ North Country Trails. Orange blazes mark the route of the GET.
portion of Crystal Hills map

A new section of the Crystal Hills Trail is now open which continues the route from Addison. The new trail is on map CH2 and starts from where the blazing previously stopped at the corner of Maple St. and Ames St in Addison. Hike north from there through cemetery, tree farm, and woods. You come out of the woods on Mose Rd., just west of Beeman Hollow Rd. The new section is 4.0 miles long. There are also two new short spur trails, one to a waterfall and the other down to parking on NY 417. Not only is this a pretty section of trail to hike, but it eliminates the roadwalk along busy NY 417.

This segment is on FLTC map CH 2

See Finger Lakes Trail
See Great Eastern Trail Moving Closer to Connection with NCT/FLT

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Hiking Rush Hour Expected on Otter Lake Road

Otter Lake Road
Swamp River Bridge on Otter Lake Road. The Superior Hiking Trail Trailhead is ahead just around the curve, while the Border Route Trail Trailhead is directly behind the photographer (photo by Todd McMahon)

a guest post by Todd McMahon

Otter Lake Road is a remote forest road in northern Minnesota just a few miles from Canada. It doesn’t get very much traffic, probably just a handful of cars a day. But on the morning of Saturday, September 18, 2010 a rush hour will occur on Otter Lake Road, when two NCT affiliates launch organized hikes from the road.

The Superior Hiking Trail Association will be hiking 8.7 miles from Otter Lake Road south to Jackson Lake Road. Meanwhile, the Border Route Trail Association will be doing a Reconnaissance and Maintenance Hike on the Pigeon River Cliffs Section of the BRT.

The SHTA hike will cover the northern-most section of the Superior Hiking Trail, which includes Rosebush Ridge the highest point on the trail. This hike will have beautiful views of Lake Superior along with some challenging ascents and descents. Gayle Coyer, Executive Director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association, will be leading the hike. The hike is free for anyone who wants to attend. Gayle will be camping at Judge Magney State Park and will be hosting a Campfire Program on Saturday Night. Park admission and camping fees will apply to anyone wishing to camp at Judge Magney State Park. Gayle will also be leading a 5.1 mile hike from Jackson Lake Road to the Arrowhead Trail on Sunday, September 19.

Meanwhile, the Border Route Trail Association will be having a hike to find possible locations for new campsites on the Pigeon River Cliffs Section of the Border Route. And they will be doing some trail maintenance, especially in the three timber sale areas on the trail that were clear-cut this spring. Ed Solstad, the BRTA’s Mechanized Trail Director will be leading this hike. The BRTA will be camping at the Otter Lake Trailhead Campsite. This outing will start on Thursday evening, when they will be driving up from the Twin Cities and end on Sunday evening when they drive back. The cost for the trip is $55 per person, which includes transportation from the Twin Cities and all food on the outing except for the pit stops on the way up and back.

According to Gayle Coyer, the last time the SHTA hosted the Northern Hikes over 50 people attended. The BRTA’s hike has a limit of 12 people, due to transportation reasons. For more information about these hikes check out their websites.

See Superior Hiking Trail Association
See Border Route Trail

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Partnership Creates Premier Experience

worker drilling holes for boardwalk
Jim Heaton of Kalamazoo prepares understructure for boardwalk

by JHY

Sterling Marsh? Where the heck is that? Well, thanks to the partnership efforts of the North Country Trail Association (NCTA), National Forest Service (NFS) and National Park Service (NPS), Sterling Marsh should soon become a popular local wildlife watching destination.

Located in Lake County, Michigan, along the course of the North Country Trail, Sterling Marsh has historically been anything but a popular destination. In fact, it’s been one of the more dreaded sections of NCT in Michigan. Sometimes knee-deep in water in spring, and seriously muddy at most any time of year, thru-hikers sighed and slogged through while day-hikers simply avoided the place.

Yet, for the brave, the area is rich in wildlife. Birds enjoy the open water portion of the marsh. Local frog census taker for the state, Vicky Kelly of Baldwin, visits there regularly as a locale on her counting route. She and partner, John Cooley, are also the volunteers who regularly maintain that section of trail. “It can be pretty tough to get through in the spring,” Vicky commented. But that is changing.

muddy area near boardwalk
note old trail and too-low bridge beside new boardwalk- taken in April 2010
For two summers, the Spirit of the Woods Chapter (SPW) of the NCTA has been making a lot of noise in the woods between Jenks Road and 96th St south of the 76th St. trailhead. They are nearing the end of year two of a three-year project to get the Sterling Marsh trail out of the mud by building a raised boardwalk through the area. When complete, there will be over a half-mile of dry wooden walkway. Following a recent group effort by volunteers, over 1700 feet are already complete.

The project is a perfect example of how partnerships create better trails. The NPS is the managing authority for the trail, and in that capacity offers competitive matching funds for improvements to the North Country Trail. The match can be made in volunteer hours. Local groups, such as the chapter, are usually willing to work, but can’t possibly come up with the money to build large projects like this. The NFS comes into the picture because they manage this section of land within the Manistee National Forest. They had to approve building such a project, and in this case they have also supplied some of the materials. This is allowing the chapter to extend the boardwalk even farther than the original plan.

This past week, the chapter hosted a Volunteer Adventure week, organized by the NCTA. People signed up to come camp and work hard for a whole week. Their only reward was free food and seeing a job well done. Over 15 people showed up at various times from as far away as Kalamazoo, Holland and Stockbridge, MI. About half the volunteers were regulars from Spirit of the Woods. With the help of two portable generators to power the drills and saws, and a power wagon to aid in transporting the wood, the workers saw their product slowly snaking behind them through the trees– a lovely raised walkway.

people adding boardwalk decking
Peg Roth and Loren Bach add decking boards
A small deck has been added near the middle of the structure. The NFS has agreed that it makes perfect sense to make the approach to the north end accessible, and will fund construction of this detail. Thus, when complete, the entire boardwalk will be wheelchair friendly, a great addition to local trail opportunities.

SPW trail work coordinator, Ed Chappel of Irons, has overseen the huge project, and reports that thousands of volunteer hours have been invested so far, with more to come.

So, next time you are wondering where to find a piece of premier trail for a stoll, think Sterling Marsh. Happy birding... frogging... hiking!

This segment is on NCTA map MI-05

See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA

Friday, August 27, 2010

National Geographic Chooses SHT - a Best American Adventure

hill on the Superior Hiking Trail
photo by JHY

from National Geographic

National Geographic has just added 50 new trips to the America's Best Adventures feature, raising the total to 100 iconic escapes. These include not only hiking, but biking, paddling, surfing, climbing, etc. Minnesota's Superior Hiking Trail, which is a portion of the North Country Trail, is one such recently added destination.

NG calls the SHT the "best long hike in the country between the Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail." Reasons for this high praise include ancient mountains, Lake Superior, and forests of birch and aspen mixed with the boreal balsam and spruce.

The wildness of the area and terrain coupled with its proximity to access and services if needed is a winning combination. Over 30 trailheads and 86 free backcountry campsites provide great flexibility for trip planning. One can hike with only a few encounters with civilization, or follow the entire 287-mile trail with a lodge-to-lodge approach.

The article mentions connections with the Border Route and Kekekabic Trails, but sadly, never mentions the NCT. This may be due to the fact that we are all still waiting for official Congressional approval of their inclusion in the North Country Trail route.

This segment is on maps produced by the Superior Hiking Trail Association

See Superior Hiking Trail Association
See Update on the Status of the Arrowhead Reroute

Sunday, August 22, 2010

24 Hours of the Chip Provides Premier Trail

mowing woods trail
NCTA volunteers Joe Chovan and Barb Pavek mowing during the 24 Hours of the Chip

OutdoorBlips: vote it up!
if you like this article, click the Blip chiclet!
condensed from the Star of the North newsletter, Summer 2010

Barb Pavek’s dream of early hiking season maintenance in the Chippewa National Forest turned into an event of wondrous proportions. “24 Hours of the Chip” took place June 26-27. 2010, in the Chippewa National Forest (CNF), which is located between Walker and Remer, MN. The CNF manages about 72 miles of the North Country Trail.

Over the course of the two-day event, 25-30 volunteers completely cleared and mowed these miles of trail, helping to ensure that summer hikers would have an enjoyable trail experience.

The project was truly a joint venture. The National Park Service, through Volunteer Coordinator Dan Watson, provided personal protective equipment, and rewarded participants with a snappy bandana. Local businesses provided t-shirts, and their support is being duly noted by those who live nearby. The Walker Ranger District of the Forest Service made sure the volunteers had enough mowers, tools and gas. They also provided transportation to and from trailheads, and radios for communication

A central command post for check-in, rest time, lunch pick-up, and porta-johns was also maintained by the rangers. Free camping was provided for the workers.

Matt Davis, North Country Trail Association Regional Coordinator, helped with logistics Having never done anything like this before, it was difficult to know how long it would take to mow and clear sections of trail. When the variables of weather and trail conditions and various people were added in, it was amazing that things went so smoothly. Some groups finished earlier, some later than expected. Some mower breakdown issues occurred. But overall, the plan came together, and the schedule was relatively intact.

People came and went all day, both days. The trail was entirely mowed through the Chip with the exception of the few miles where logging was being done. Teams of 2-5 were assigned trail sections to mow, two mowers wide. Some went in front to clear fallen branches and other obstacles, while others pushed trimmer mowers. With two mowers, they did longer sections, tandem mowing. Smaller groups with one mower went out and back, doing shorter sections.

Tom Schackman, a CNF Ranger, commented that this is the earliest the trail had been completely mowed in the year. It’s like a walk in the park now. The plan is to make this an annual event and maintain the Chip a destination for a premier hike on the North Country Trail.

This segment is on NCTA map MN-09

See Star of the North Chapter of the NCTA

Friday, August 13, 2010

Wabash-Cannonball Connection Seriously Damaged

alt text
The photo shows the state of the damage on Nov. 11, 2009. View to South, from the trail centerline showing bulldozer and backhoe damage of NORTA property. Water flowing onto the trail ditch on S. side of trail approx 1800 W. of Co. Road 16

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from the Cannonball Courier, the NORTA newsletter, July 2010, by Jay Budde

In November 2009, the NORTA Board of Directors learned of a serious incident of damage to the trail in Williams County between Williams County Roads 16 and 15. The damage appeared to have occurred as part of an adjacent landowner’s attempt to drain his land. Heavy equipment, believed to include a bulldozer and backhoe entered NORTA property, crossing and destroying a fence that was clearly marking the southern boundary of NORTA property. Earthmoving equipment cut through a natural embankment blocking drainage from the adjacent landowner’s property and opened a 4 foot wide by 5 foot deep trench draining directly onto the trail.

During the spring and summer of 2010, surface drainage flows, as a result of this damage and heavy spring rains, have eroded the trail surface in this area. The Board is attempting to work with the parties believed to have caused this damage to restore the trail to its condition before the damage.

Although this is slightly west of where the North Country Trail leaves the Wabash-Cannonball trail and heads north, the resources needed to deal with problems of this magnitude divert attention from other improvements.

NORTA, Northwest Ohio Rails to Trails Association

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Chief Noonday Recognized for West Michigan Influence

chief noonday, Noahquageshik, Nawquageezhig
Chief Noonday statue

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complied from several sources

"By learning about our past," Peter Secchia said, "we then therefore understand a little bit better what we have become."

This statue of Noahquageshik or Nawquageezhig, also known as Chief Noonday, was unveiled August 10, 2010 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Chief Noonday Chapter of the North Country Trail Association bears his name in honor of his influence in West Michigan. The chapter covers Barry, Calhoun, and Kalamazoo Counties on the North Country Trail. Kent County, where the statue was placed, is actually covered by the West Michigan Chapter.

It is outstanding to see recognition given to an important historical figure. Grand Rapids is erecting a series of 25 bronze statues, the Grand Rapids Community Legends Program, to commemorate some of the city's most influential people.

Chief Noonday's likeness is placed on the west side of the Grand River, near the Blue Bridge on the campus of Grand Valley State University. The statue is a gift of the Peter F. Secchia Family Foundation. It is unclear how historically accurate the facial features are.

The Pottawattomi's "influence was felt among all tribes in this section of the country. He was a leader for the British in the war of 1812, witnessed the burning of Buffalo, and was at the side of Chief Tecumseh when the latter was killed," states the Chief Noonday Chapter web site. Very few historical records document his actions, but he was instrumental in opening Michigan to settlement.

See Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA
See Chief Noonday statue unveiled in Grand Rapids from M-Live
See Chief Noonday statue unveiled in Grand Rapids from WZZM-13

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Joan Young- FIrst Woman to Complete NCT on Foot

a news release of theNorth Country Trail Association

Joan Young of Scottville, Michigan becomes the first woman to hike the 4400-mile North Country National Scenic Trail.

On Tuesday, August 3, Young took the final steps of her 20-year quest to complete the trail. Since 1991, when she took her first NCT hike, Young has been slowly adding sections each year. The North Country Trail, a sister to the Appalachian Trail, spans seven states from New York to North Dakota. The North Country Trail was authorized by Congress in 1980, and is one of the eleven National Scenic Trails so recognized. NSTs are designated to showcase outstanding environmental, cultural and historic features of the United States.

Just outside Petoskey, Michigan, on one of the highest hills in Emmet Country, Young became the 9th person, and the first woman, to hike the entire trail by filling in the last remaining gap on her trail map. No hike was too short if it was a new mile of trail. Occasionally, snippets as short as one mile were counted toward the total mileage. Her longest continuous hike was 182 miles in Minnesota, and the longest continual backpacking trek was 131 miles in North Dakota.

Part of the segment of trail she selected for her final hike was previously owned by personal friends of Young, Doug and Pam Boor. The Boors learned that their property could connect two off-road pieces of trail on city property, and decided to work with the Little Traverse Conservancy to preserve the land for the trail, forever. Young actually helped scout the route of the proposed section with Doug Boor several years ago, but had not hiked the completed trail. The trail was built by the Tittabawassee Chapter of the North Country Trail Association that is responsible for maintenance from Kalkaska to Conway, Michigan. The new section follows a high ridge and includes a location where a thru-hiker coming from the east would first be able to see Lake Michigan. A large observation platform has been added to enhance the trail at this overlook. The section is also a good place for day hikes.

Without collaborations such as this, and volunteer efforts, National Trails would not be possible. They receive minimal funding from Congress, and depend in great measure on grass roots support and effort.

“It was really strange to finish all but 2.5 miles of trail in June, and then go home and wait a month to finish,” Young commented. “But we wanted to make it possible for as many people as possible to participate, especially those who had hiked long portions of the trail with me.” Twenty-five people did join the celebration, ranging in age from a woman in her 70's down to the 5-year-old daughter of one of Joan’s hiking companions.

Bruce Matthews, Executive Director of the NCTA, attended. He added, “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Joan is the Spirit of the North Country Trail.”

Young, in addition to hiking, is a frequent volunteer for the North Country Trail both at the level of her local chapter, Spirit of the Woods. She personally maintains nine miles of trail. She is a past member of the Board of Directors of the NCTA, and currently is heading the Long-Distance Hikers Committee.

She regularly presents media programs about her experiences on the trail.

See Books Leaving Footprints for Young's speaking schedule or to book programs

Sunday, August 8, 2010

2010 Ashland Conference, Saturday

Florence Hedeen hiking on the NCT (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

The final day of the 2010 annual North Country Trail Association conference was filled with all the kinds of events that build and cement friendships across the seven trail states. Hikes ran all day long. Various tours were offered for those who wanted more sight-seeing type adventures.
Ed Sidote
Ed Sidote (photo from the FLTC)

A highlight of the evening was the annual awards ceremony where volunteers and various agencies are honored for service to the trail. The final award given every year is the Lifetime Achievement Award, given to someone who has served and promoted the North Country Trail for more than ten years. Ed Sidote, from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference, received this honor. Ed, at 92, has been a promoter of the NCT since it first became concurrent with a portion of the FLT. He has worked tirelessly to advance the joint cause of the trails, and has become such a legend in FLT circles that an annual hike is now named for him.

Full details of all award recipients will be presented in the next North Star, the quarterly magazine of the North Country Trail Association.
square dancers
folk dancing (photo by JHY)

The evening ended with folk and square dancing, called and accompanied by the Red Barn Resonators.
Jill DeCator and Lynne Nason (photo by JHY)

There is so much that goes on behind the scenes to make a successful conference. This year's, at Ashland, Wisconsin, was the largest ever with about 240 people registering for some or all of the weekend. People like Jill DeCator, NCTA staff, and Lynne Nason, NCTA volunteer, worked constantly to ensure that everyone has a good time, required equipment appears on time, and all of those necessary details.

Think about joining us next summer, August 4-7 at Wright State University, Dayton, OH!

See the Superior News Telegram for more news
North Country Trail Association for more information about the trail, or to join

Saturday, August 7, 2010

2010 Ashland Conference, Friday

people in a workshop
Chapter Leadership workshop (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

This year's conference focused on hikes, tours and lots of good times outdoors. Yet, Friday morning was devoted to workshops to help volunteers build their skills to benefit the North Country Trail. Above, Bruce Matthews, NCTA Executive Director, leads a session on Chapter Leadership.
people hiking
hikers in the Chequamegon National Forest (photo by JHY)

A number of different hikes were offered for the afternoon. Here a group walks through the Chequamegon National Forest on the NCT, on the way to the Brunschweiller River.
auction offerings
auction items (photo by JHY)

The silent and live auctions are always a popular part of the conference. Here, Bobby Koepplin, Board of Directors President, and Matthews model the ever-popular animal hats.
Frida Waara
Polar Traveler Frida Waara (photo by JHY)

The evening concluded with a funny and inspirational talk by Frida Waara, who skied to the North Pole in 2001 with 12 other women. She inspired us to pursue our dreams and that everything is more fun with snow!

See the Superior News Telegram for more news