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, April 25, 2010

Watch for Timber Harvest Near Soldier Lake

North Country Trail near Solider Lake
North Country Trail near Solider Lake (photo from HSS Chapter)

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based on a news release of the Hiawatha National Forest

North Country Trail hikers in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan near Soldier Lake need to be aware of a timber harvest operation which will be conducted this year to remove older jackpine which are damaged by budworm.

some harvesting is taking place this spring, before the camping season, in the area around Soldiers’ Lake Campground. This spring, a timber sale just over 100 acres will remove only jack pine in a circle around the north, west and south sides of the campground. While hazard trees within the campground itself will continue to be identified by the Forest Service recreation staff for removal, the timber sale will help reduce the fire danger from this dying jack pine. The North Country Trail runs along the west side of the area. Removing the older, larger dying jack pine in the area reduces the hazards to hikers and campers who are exploring the area. The plan is to complete the harvest by May 15th in the Soldiers’ Lake Campground area.

The sale area is part of a 60,000-acre area dominated by sandy outwash plains that grow jack and red pine which lies between Raco and Strongs. The larger area has seen a lot of timber harvesting over the last two decades because the jack pine, much of it planted by the CCC, has gotten older and is susceptible to defoliation by the jack pine budworm.

Forester Martha Sjogren says “Every five to ten years, older jack pine trees’ foliage turns red and then brown as the budworm eats their needles.” The last major budworm outbreak in the area took place in 2000 and has caused tops to die and in some cases, complete tree mortality.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-08

See Hiawatha Shore-to-Shore Chapter of the NCTA

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Kekekabic Trail Closed- Fire Danger

hikers on burned trail
trail area burned by Ham Lake fire in 2007(photo by JHY)

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a news release of Superior National Forest

Beginning Friday, April 23, 2010, the Forest Service will close the entire Kekekabic Trail on the Superior National Forest to public use. The closure begins at Snowbank Lake Road: includes Wilderness Entry Point 74, Snowbank Lake Trail, Disappointment Lake Trail and all other associated connector trails and loops, Entry Point 56: and ends at Gunflint Trail County Road 12.

Superior National Forest managers are taking this step in response to the very high fire danger in northern Minnesota. The concern is that hikers could potentially become trapped if a wildfire starts and spreads in remaining blowdown fuels in the interior of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The Kekekabic Trail will remain closed until further notice.

This closure is in addition to a Forest-wide prohibition on the use of any campfires, charcoal or wood-burning campstoves on any national forest lands within the Superior National Forest. State and local government have enacted similar restrictions on other lands in northern Minnesota.

For additional information call 218-626-4300 or visit the Superior National Forest web site Superior National Forest or the Minnesota Incident Command System

Monday, April 19, 2010

Former NCTA President, Martha Jones, Dies

Martha Jones
Martha Jones (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

Word has been received of the death of Martha Jones, of Royal Oak, Michigan. Martha is well-known to those who attend the annual conferences of the North Country Trail Association.

She has supported the NCT for as long as the trail has been in existence. She served as President of the Association in 1990-91. Despite her advanced age, Martha continued to be a spark plug at any event she attended. She is pictured here with Bobby Koepplin, the current NCTA President, taken August 2009.

Mick Hawkins recalls, "Last summer in North Dakota she was with us on that hike we took to the "falls." I well remember that coming back I was hiking along at about the best clip I could muster. Martha overtook me, walked along with me for a ways and we gabbed – and then she decided she needed to move on. So help me, she took off down the trail and left me, and I never did catch up with her till we got back to the bus!"
Martha Jones
Martha Jones and Bobby Koepplin (photo by Mick Hawkins)

One story that illustrates Martha's wonderful spirit comes from the day the first picture was taken. This was at the NCTA conference held in Ohio in 1997. Martha took a nasty fall on a hike. This picture was taken as she was sitting and waiting for word that a vehicle was arriving to "rescue" her. The cut on her knee (you may be able to see the blood on the pants of the extended leg), was quite bad. She had to go to the hospital and get 15 stitches. Yet, she smiled through it all, and apologized continually for being such a bother.

Martha died suddenly of a heart attack, Thursday, while speaking on the phone to her daughter. There will be a memorial service at the Birmingham Methodist Church, Birmingham, Michigan on this Friday, April 23, at 1 PM.

The body will be cremated and the ashes spread on Whiteface Mountain, New Hampshire.

Sign the guest book at Cremation Society of Michigan
Donations may be made to the North Country Trail Association in her honor.

See more about Martha at the Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Update on the Status of the Arrowhead Reroute

Border Route Trail view
Lyle Bialk taking in the view from the BRT (photo by JHY)

from Matt Davis, Regional Trail Coordinator, NCTA

I wanted to share the latest on the Arrowhead Re-route legislation's status since it was recently discussed on the post...

We (the NCTA) are hoping that the Senate Bill (S.553, introduced by Sen. Klobuchar) will advance out of the Senate's Energy & Natural Resources Committee early this summer. They should be having a committee markup session in May at which time the bill will be tweaked (to make a necessary change in the language that would not strip the recently obtained wiling seller authority) while amendments *could* be added. Our hope is that no amendments that could have negative impacts to the National Trails System will be added like those added to the House bill (H.R. 481) in Committee markup. We will be watching it closely and we do have an ally sitting on the Committee in Senator Stabenow from Michigan. So, we're hopeful the political shenanigans won't strike again.

Eventually, S. 553 and H.R. 481 would either need to be reconciled in conference committee (if passed by their respective full chambers) where the negative amendments could be stripped out *OR* the Arrowhead Re-route legislation could be included in another piece of omnibus legislation like 2009's omnibus public lands bill.

At this point, it's important to get U.S. Senators from other North Country Trail states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York) to sign on as co-sponsors. So far, we only have Minnesota's two Senators, Wisconsin's Feingold, and Michigan's two Senators on board. We've been told that having a Republican on board will help greatly so we're targeting Sen. Voinovich of Ohio and hoping that our Buckeye Trail folks will help us out with him. If there are any Hiker members from these states please help us. If you are from MN or MI and know of hikers and/or NCT supporters in WI, OH, PA, or NY please ask them to make some contacts.

We are hoping that this will FINALLY happen in 2010 and that we will be able to celebrate with a big, public ceremony on the SHT in Duluth...complete with a ribbon cutting by Senator Klobuchar and Rep. Oberstar.

See NCTA Arrowhead info

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Minnesota Campers- Note Fire Restrictions!

fire alert
from Web Clipart

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a news release of the Minnesota DNR

open burning restrictions to begin April 12

Due to an increased concern about wildfires across the state, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is tightening restrictions on campfires in 37 Minnesota counties beginning at 12:01 a.m. on April 12.

Counties affected by the new restrictions are: Aitkin, Anoka, Becker, Beltrami, Benton, Carlton, Cass, Chisago, Clearwater, Cook, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Isanti, Itasca, Kanabec, Kittson, Koochiching, Lake, Lake of the Woods, Mahnomen, Marshall, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pennington, Pine, Polk (that portion east of County Highway 6 and south of State Highway 92), Pope, Roseau, Sherburne, Stearns, Stevens, St. Louis, Todd, and Wadena.

Campfires will not be allowed at non-designated campsites and other remote locations. This will impact shore lunches, dispersed campsites, day hikes, and backpacking trips.

Campfires are still permitted in designated fire receptacles at residences, dwellings, campgrounds, and resorts if they are no larger than 3 feet in diameter and 3 feet in height.

In addition, fireworks will be prohibited outside municipalities due to the volatile nature of these explosives.

Similar restrictions will be in place on national forest lands in both the Chippewa and Superior National forests including the entire Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Lack of rain after the rapid spring snowmelt has heightened fire danger across much of Minnesota. The restrictions will remain in place until sufficient precipitation is received to moderate fire danger. If normal precipitation is not received in the near future, additional restrictions may be imposed.

See Minnesota fire danger ratings

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Border Route Trail Clearing Trips

trail work
trail work on the BRT (photo from the BRTA)

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a news release of the Border Route Trail Association

The "Big Blow" on July 4, 1999 wreaked havoc on the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness by toppling trees along entire ridgelines and consequently had a big impact on hiking trails in the area. The Border Route Trail has been cleared of the deadfalls related to that storm, but as a consequence of the lack of a tree canopy, brush such as Alder, Poplar, Thimble, and Raspberry thrives around and in the trail bed. And of course, trees continue to fall on the trail.

Every year in the Spring and Fall, we welcome members and non-members alike, to join us to help maintain this gem of a trail. Non-mechanized trips using two-person cross-cut saws and nippers take place on the trail where it is inside the BWCAW. Mechanized trips utilizing chain saws and brush cutters take place on the other areas of the trail. Beginners and experienced people are welcome. If you don’t like the idea of running equipment, there is always a need for people to throw the cut brush and deadfalls off of the trail.

2010 Trips:
South Lake, May 6-9 or extend it to May 13 or May 16. The South Lake trip is planned to accommodate participants that wish to volunteer for more than a weekend. Thursday (6th) evening the group will drive up to the Rockwood Lodge and stay in a bunkhouse Thursday night. Friday they will hike in on the South Lake Trail clearing the wilderness section of the South Lake Trail on the way in. Camp will be set up on South Lake. Clearing will continue on the BRT with deadfall and brushing.

Partridge Lake, May 13-16. Thursday (13th) evening the group will drive up to the Rockwood Lodge and stay in a bunkhouse Thursday night. Friday they will canoe in to a campsite on Partridge Lake. Clearing on the BRT with deadfall and brushing.

Duncan Lake, May 13-16, and May 20-23. Thursday (13th) evening the group will drive up to the Rockwood Lodge and stay in a bunkhouse Thursday night. Friday they will canoe in to a campsite on Duncan Lake. Clearing on the BRT with deadfall and brushing.

trail work crew
trail work crew on the BRT (photo from the BRTA)
Gunflint, April 29- May 2, mechanized trip. We'll be clearing winter dead falls from the Gunflint Section of the BRT. You'll enjoy the unsurpassed scenics, great food, hot showers, and camaraderie that can't be beat. Scenic highlights will include Magnetic Rock, the Gunflint High Cliffs, the South Rim, and Bridal Falls on the BRT plus the magnificent stands of old growth cedar on the Brice-Breon Trail. This trip is open to both beginners and experienced hands.

Gunflint/ Otter Lake, April 29- May 9, mechanized trip. This trip will be a part of the Gunflint Cliffs trip for the first weekend and join the Pigeon River Cliffs trip for the second weekend. This trip will include reconnaissance of some possible new sections of trail.

Otter Lake, May 6-9. This trip leaves from the Roseville REI Thursday after work, driving up the North Shore to the lovely Otter Lake campsite on the east end of the BRT. Our work will focus on a dead-fall sweep of the entire 13.2 miles of the eastern end of the trail, with brushing as needed.

See Border Route Trail Association for complete details.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Triple Cities Hiking Club Hikes Near Cortland

Triple Cities Hiking Club
hikers from the Triple Cities Hiking Club (photo from TCHC)

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submitted by Larry Blumberg of the Triple Cities Hiking Club

A very high turnout matched the very high temperatures (upper 70's) as 17 hikers met Saturday for a really nice stretch of Finger Lakes Trail in Cortland County on FLT Maps M21 and M20.

We started high up on Cortland Two Rd, west of the Cheningo Day Use Area in Taylor Valley State Forest. This was the spot where Susan Blumberg, Diana Liu, Karen Goodman, and I had last left off in the Fall of 2009 -- this hike was the continuation of our methodical east-to-west trek along the FLT with the self-imposed requirement that each hike be done 'in order'.

From Cortland Two Rd our hike took us over Mt Roderick, Mt Tego, across NY Rte 41, and up Solon Hill to our ending point at the intersection of Baker Schoolhouse Rd and McGraw Marathon Rd (wow, say that fast 3x times !). No question that our progress up each hill seemingly slowed as the unusually warm weather began taking its toll on us, it was only a few days ago that we had been hit with a raw cold rain.

Up on Mt Roderick we were fortunate to run into Tim Davis, a trail steward from the Onodaga Chapter of the ADK (Adirondack Mtn Club). Tim was out clearing the last of the winter blowdown from his section of trail. We very much appreciated Tim's efforts, and gave him a standing ovation (well, ok, we were already standing, but it was an ovation nonetheless !) after enjoying a nice chat with him.

Triple Cities Hiking Club
hikers from the Triple Cities Hiking Club (photo from TCHC)
Lunch #1 was taken at the register box on Mt Tego, lunch #2 at the top of Solon Hill...and for about half of us, desert was taken at the "Scoop" ice cream place in Whitney Point on the drive back to Binghamton (yes, when out hiking I am a firm believer that lunch begins the moment breakfast is over, and doesn't end till supper begins !)

This segment is on FLTC maps M20, M21

See Finger Lakes Trail

Sunday, April 4, 2010

See the Kek, Clear Some Trail

trail clearing
2009 Kekekabic trail clearing trip (photo from the KTC)

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a news release of the Kekekabic Trail Club

The Kekekabic Trail Club has two open trail-clearing trips on the Kekekabic Trail (part of the northern edge of the Minnesota Arrowhead). Both are out of the Ely (Kawishiwi District) Forest Service Center. Typically, crews drive up and assemble the night before, staying at the new Forest Service Center, setting out early Friday morning, and paddling out of the Wilderness and driving home on Monday.

trail clearing
2009 Kekekabic trail clearing trip (photo from the KTC)
May 14-17 Canoe into Thomas Lake

May 21-24 Canoe into Parent Lake

To sign up, send email to Hurry, before they fill!

See Kerfoots Report Hikers Still on Kek
See Scouts Clear the Kekekabic

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Superior Trail Guidebook- New Edition

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from the Superior Hiking Trail Association

The Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail details over 277 miles of footpath on the North Shore of Lake Superior from Jay Cooke State Park near Duluth, MN. to the Canadian border.

The new (sixth) version has the newest sections from Fox Farm Rd to Cty 301. This is about 28 miles. Also the guide has been altered to have the Jay Cooke and Duluth Sections first, as they should be. The trail begins at Jay Cooke at the visitor center and follows park trails for 6 miles until the Grand Portage trailhead. The gap between Martin Rd in Duluth and Fox Farm East trailhead is about 25 trail miles.

The Guide is layed out section-by-section with each section providing trailhead parking directions, campsite and water source info, and a mile-by-mile description of the trail and scenic features. Anyone who has used the SHTA guides recognizes that theirs is an excellent and easy-to-use format.

See Superior Hiking Trail Association