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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

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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

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