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.


Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Marcellus Shale Gas Drilling and the NCT

NCT and Marcellus Shale
how the Marcellus Shale is located in relation to the North Country Trail. Right click the map to enlarge or follow the FLT link below to see the full-size version (graphic from the Finger Lakes Trail Conference)

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from several sources

The Marcellus Shale is a geological formation in a large part of New York and Pennsylvania. The proposals to extract gas from this layer are being scrutinized closely by New York, and less carefully by Pennsylvania.

The extraction method will be hydraulic fracturing, also called fracking. This involved boring horizontal tunnels, and injecting water under pressure until the rock fractures, releasing the gas. The Marcellus Shale is about 6000 feet below the surface. There have been reported problems with the method in Wyoming, where it is being blamed for aquifer contamination.

If drilling is allowed it is highly likely that it will impact the North Country Trail in multiple locations.

Retired Pennsylvania DCNR Policy Director, Rick Carlson, supported a temporary moratorium, and the passage of HB 2235, which will temporarily stop new leasing of State Forest land while the potentially harmful effects on land and waters are studied.

New York has prohibited the practice in the New York City watershed, essentially the Catskills.

The Finger Lakes Trail Conference has offered a position paper on Marcellus Shale drilling. It states: "The draft SGEIS [Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement] characterizes “trails” as “visual features”. However, the FLT is much more than a passive visual feature; it is a long distance, wilderness character footpath, and provides numerous benefits to people across the state and for out of state visitors. The simple application of “line of sight” and “view shed” criteria does not provide adequate protection of these benefits. Although the occasional vistas do provide long views of the surrounding countryside, much of the appeal of the trail is in the active, physical involvement with close-by sights, sounds, smells, and the overall experience of being in a natural setting." It includes a 9-point list of reasons the FLTC opposes the drilling. These are:
  • Dilution of trail resources
  • Loss of wilderness
  • Loss of trail quality
  • Loss of trail continuity
  • Loss of membership
  • Hiker safety
  • Landowner relationship degredation
  • Increased motorized use
  • Reduced likelihood of permanent protection

This affects all FLT maps M1-M33 and NCTA map PA-01, 02, 03

The entire FLTC statement can be read at Comment on the [Draft] Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

NCT News from Keystone Trails Association

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from the Keystone Trails Association, Nov 2009 newsletter

The Keystone Trails Association (KTA), a volunteer-directed, public service organization is a federation of membership organizations and individuals dedicated to providing, preserving, protecting and promoting recreational hiking trails and hiking opportunities in Pennsylvania, and to representing and advocating the interests and concerns of the Pennsylvania hiking community.

KTA Consolidated Grant
Thanks to funds received from the KTA DCNR Consolidated Grant and the assistance of Moraine State Park, two successful certification trainings for nearly 30 volunteers were held at Davis Hollow in August. Dave Krueger from SOLO was the wilderness first aid and CPR instructor, and Jerry Dixon and Sheldon Winters from Allegheny National Forest were chainsaw instructors.

Student Conservation Crew
Consolidated Grant funds were used to support a 21 day Student Conservation Crew that worked on State Game Lands 285 and 95 in Beaver and Butler Counties. Local NCTA volunteers from the Wampum and Butler Chapters stepped up to host, orient, and work alongside the crew as they built new trail and rerouted trail to improve the footpath.

This segment is on NCTA map PA-03

See Butler Noonday Chapter of the NCTA

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mother Goose Undecided about NCT Plans


Bonita | MySpace Video

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from the journal of Mother Goose

Dec 17, 2009- Since the end of summer and the aborted attempts to hike I have been pretty inactive as far as walking goes to give the leg plenty of time to heal. This being the case I have packed on the pounds as my metabolism needs the exercise to have any chance to keep the weight off. Hopefully I'll get it under enough control in the time I have in Florida to last till I go to the Superior Trail in May. Plan on it Sue. Looks like my grandson will graduate in May so I'll be staying in the east until after the graduation, then I have to choose what I want to hike after that-----maybe go back to the bridge between lower and upper peninsula of Michigan, maybe go to the PCT, or maybe to NM section of the CDT. SO MANY TRAILS TO LITTLE TIME!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Burt Hill State Forest- Featured Location

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by JHY

Burt Hill State Forest is located in New York's Southern Tier, on the Finger Lakes/ North Country Trails, between Bath and Hornell. In the video above, Ed Ressler takes you on a quiet walk from Windfall Road, east through Burt Hill to Spencer Hill Road. He is accompanied by Scrappy the dog on a lovely October day.

Burt Hill is in the town (township) of Howard in Steuben County. Agriculture was attempted by early settlers in the 1800s. But by the Great Depression and the crash of 1929, the rocky soil had been abandoned. The 403-acre forest was acquired by New York State in the 1960s. Steep terrain is common, with flat hilltops. Most of the area is accessible only on foot. The FLT/NCT passes through the northern edge.

I hiked this section in April 2002, and passed my 2000-mile mark on the NCT near here. This hike was my dog Maggie's one overnight on the NCT. It was easily determined that she was not a hiker dog! In the chapter of North Country Cache, "Thousands of Miles," I wrote:
"This is Maggie's first overnight hike. Sleeping outside is certainly nothing this comfort-loving dog has ever longed for. We reach Burt Hill Lean-to early on our first day; the woods are warm and quiet. Maggie is nervous; she chases the woodchuck, ignores the whistles of the tufted titmouse, and doesn't see the turkey, but she is not at all happy about the hammering of the pileated woodpecker. She woofs and paces and is happiest when we finally snuggle in to the sleeping bag for the night. She is bigger than Chips [my first hiking dog] was, and leggier too. She would like to be inside the sleeping bag, but there isn't room for the both of us. So the compromise is that she curls into my chest, as I lie on my side, and we pull the flap of the unzipped bag over both of us."

This segment is on FLT map M10

See NYDEC map
See Books Leaving Footprints to order North Country Cache. (one chapter is available free as a download)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Interesting Geology Above the Manistee

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Manistee River from the NCT (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

Today the Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA hiked the popular route from High Bridge trailhead to Leitch Bayou and back. This was about a 6-mile round trip, on an extremely scenic section above the Manistee River. The brown and gray months which may be less appealing are great for seeing the river and other geologic features.

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Udell Hills from the NCT (photo by JHY)

This hike includes the highest point on the trail our chapter maintains. From near that location, at this season, you can see the second highest section of hills, Udell Hills, which is the home of Big M ski and mountain bike area. We were at about 984 feet here, and Udell Hills is about 920 feet at the highest. Where are they? See a low ridge of blue that is slightly higher than the horizon? It runs for about 2/3 of the picture. That's Udell. The NCT also goes through there.
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Caberfae Ski Area from the NCT (photo by JHY)

This view is of Caberfae Ski Area near Cadillac. One definitely has trouble finding these hills in the summer months. But you can clearly see the remaining snow on the slopes at this time of year.
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glacial esker on the NCT (photo by JHY)

Finally, as the trail descends from the high point to the level of the river in Leitch Bayou, it follows a glacial esker. This is a winding ridge of material which fills in tunneled streams which flow near the bottom of the glacier. The NCT winds along its top for at least a quarter mile.

This is definitely one of the scenic spots in our chapter's range.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-05

See Spirit of the Woods Chapter of the NCTA

Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Trekking The North Country Trail" by Nimblewill Nomad

Nimblewill Nomad
Nimblewill Nomad

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submitted by Todd McMahon (TMan)- an interview with "Eb" Eberhard, Nimblewill Nomad.

TMAN: Hi Eb, From looking at your website I understand that you will be having a new book coming out soon "Trekking The North Country Trail" by M. J. Eberhart. I have some questions for you, which I’ll pass on to Joan Young at the North Country Trail News. I am about half way into [reading] "Ten Million Steps" your previous book. Is "Trekking" in the same format, where you write a day to day journal?
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: Yes, daily journal entries with supportive day-ending quotes.

TMAN: What is your process for writing? Do you primarily use the Sony Microcassette recorder to take notes for writing, or do you use other means?
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: I try to write my thoughts for the day, at the end of each day. It's sure not easy, especially after a 25- or 30-miler, but I try. I tell friends that hiking is hard and writing is hard--and hiking and writing is very hard! I do carry my little recorder with me at times, to keep thoughts, remember people's names, etc. But primarily, I try getting my feelings and thoughts into words on a daily basis using my little PocketMail Composer. When I don't have support, I carry the Composer with me in my pack. It's part of my six to seven pounds of basic pack gear-- sure a luxury.

TMAN: What were the biggest surprises that you encountered on the Trail? Either pleasant surprises or not so pleasant ones?
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: I was dealt some really bad weather right from the very beginning of the journey. The lingering winter in North Dakota and Minnesota, having to deal with it every day, was brutal. And it was day-to-day. The fact I had support to begin with was a blessing. I could not have endured otherwise. I knew, to succeed, I'd have to deal with the long-mile days one at a time. But I had no idea how daunting a challenge it would ultimately become. All hikers do high mile days, time-to-time, but back-to-back 25s, for days, weeks, months--a totally different ordeal. I did deal with it though, the very long, seemingly unending days of rain and cold.
Reaching that goal, the goal of trekking the NCT as a thru-hike, 4,500 miles of it, I believe (especially at age 70), has turned to be one of my most proud accomplishments. The good Lord sure was by my side on this one! To have been granted the strength and determination, the will to see it through, it has certainly proved humbling.

TMAN: What are your future plans? I know from a previous email that you want to hike all 11 national scenic trails. You have 4 left to do, is that still your plan?
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: Yes, I'll depart the first week in May for Arizona . Odyssey 2010 will encompass treks o'er the AZT [Arizona Trail] and the PNT [Pacific Northwest Trail], good Lord willin'. That'll leave the IAT [Ice Age Trail] and the NET [New England Trail] for 2011-- for all 11.

TMAN: Give us an update on the Book. When will it be published, by whom and where will it be available at?
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: TTNCT will be published by Thirsty Turtle Press (a self publish). It will be available at my website, perhaps Amazon. I'm not much at marketing. But, if like previous books, it'll sell a fair number. Watch my site for release date-- coming soon.

TMAN: If you have anything else you'd like to write, please do so.
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: You'll read critical comments about the NCT, but they're all meant to be constructive. Overall, my feelings about the NCT, my thru-hike, are very positive. As thru-hikes go, it wasn't perfect. That's the nature of a thru. But it was a truly remarkable adventure. Even with the hardship, the pain, the toil, I'd do it again in a heartbeat; the NCT is one of America's greatest-- a very special trail!

TMAN: Eb, Thanks for all your inspiration and your good website that has helped many people who are hiking the NCT.
NIMBLEWILL NOMAD: I hope that folks reading about my adventure on the NCT will be encouraged to get out and try it. My books about the ECT [Eastern Continental Trail] have brought attention to the amalgam of trails that comprise that long trail. That I've played some part in bringing those trails to light, especially the FT [Florida Trail] and the SIA/IAT [International Appalachian Trail], again, has been a humbling experience.

Contact Nimblewill Nomad
Contact TMan

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Will the NCT Finally Be Funded at $1 Million?

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by Joan H. Young with materials from the North Country Trail Associaton

You might wonder how National Trails get their money. National Trails receive federal dollars. But not all trails are created equal. Although the North Country Trail is the longest of the trails, its current funding level of $928,000 is the highest it has ever been. On this budget the National Park Service supports 3.5 employees and shares the balance with the North Country Trail Association. The NCTA (with membership and grant monies added) has 5 full-time and 3 part-time staff.

You might indeed wonder how they manage to accomplish as much as they do! Whenever I hear of a million dollars wasted on this or lost on that it just makes my blood boil.

But there is some good news this week. Our trail champion in Congress, Senator Carl Levin, is circulating a Dear Colleague letter with a request to increase the base funding for the NCT to $1.323 million!

Part of this money would be used to establish a National Park Service office for the NCT in Michigan. Currently the NCT shares a Superintendant and an office with the Ice Age Trail, in Madison, Wisconsin.

Another portion of the money would help to implement the Willing Seller Authority which was granted last year after more than a decade of legislative meandering.

MI Senator, Debbie Stabenow, has already signed on. Please encourage your Senators to do likewise.

See the Dear Colleague Letter

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Help Create Spectacular Scenic Loop

Rose Lake and Rat Lake, Minnesota
Rose Lake and Rat Lake from the Rose Lake Cliffs (photo by Ed Morse)

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from Ed Solstad of the Border Route Trail Association

Join us in creating the most scenic loop trail in the Midwest.

From Tuesday, May 4th through Thursday, May 6th, we’ll be doing reconnaissance and possible initial layout for the newly proposed 2.5 mile trail connecting the South Lake and Caribou Rock Trails along the south side of Moss Lake. This proposed trail would create a loop route incorporating the spectacular Rose Lake Cliffs and Stairway Portage Falls on the Border Route Trail, the many scenic overlooks on the Caribou Rock Trail, plus the historic South Lake Trail built by the CCC in the 1930’s. It would without a doubt be the most scenic loop route in the entire Midwest.

This trip will be a part of the BRT Gunflint Cliffs maintenance trip for the first weekend and the Pigeon River Cliffs maintenance trip for the second weekend.

Thursday evening, April 29th - Sunday evening, May 9th

Lodging: Bunkhouse & Cabin at Gunflint Lodge, Car Camping at Otter Lake

Trip Cost: $120 (Consult trip coordinator for cost w/o Transportation or fewer days)

Difficulty Level: Be able to bushwhack 4 to 5 miles per day through thick woods, brush, and deadfall over semi-rugged terrain.

For more information, contact Ed Solstad