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.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Wally Wood Hike in Western NY

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view from the Abbott Loop (photo by Larry Blumberg)

from Larry Blumberg

Saturday, April 23 was another one of those 'lucky' (our 'karma' is with us) days, for in spite of a near 100% forecasted chance of rain and showers, we never felt a single rain drop from the moment we started our hike -- and the sun even popped out for a few moments !

I am writing, of course, about the annual Finger Lakes Trail Conference-sponsored Spring 'Wally Wood' Hike along the Abbott Loop on FLT Map M17, south of Ithaca, NY, in Tompkins County, home of the Cayuga Trails Club who maintain the Abbott Loop along with about 70 miles of Finger Lakes Trail.

Fifteen hikers, primarily from the Cayuga Trails Club, the Bullthistle Club, and the Triple Cities Hiking Club came out for what turned into a very nice day of hiking. In addition we also had a special guest in attendance, Steve Randall, an FLT land-owner from Swain, NY.

Tom Reimers provided the opening remarks, he talked a little bit about Wally Wood, the founder of the FLT back in 1962 (you can do the math, but that means the FLT will be celebrating its 50th birthday in 2012 !!!). Phil Dankert, who served as the hike leader (but let's be honest - he had lots of help from his buddy Jack Vanderzee), then talked about the Abbott Loop and how it was built in the early 1990's by a couple from the Cayuga Trails Club, Cliff and Doris Abbott.

Phil chose to hike the Abbott Loop in a clockwise direction, or 'backwards' from the description as written on the back of Map M17. That, to me, meant we must have been hiking COUNTER-clockwise, since we were heading COUNTER to the map description, but I was, yes, we hiked clockwise around the Abbott Loop. Not sure it mattered, though, cause we climbed a total of 1900 feet and to my way of thinking that's the same no matter which direction one hikes the loop!

This segment is on FLT Map M17

See Finger Lakes Trail Conference

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Arrowhead Reroute Needs Congressional Introduction Again

Royal River Bluff
Royal River bluff from the Border Route on the Minnesota Arrowhead (photo by jhy)

from Call of the Wild, the newsletter of the Star of the North Chapter of the NCTA

A delegation from the North Country Trail Association— including past NCTA president John Leinen— traveled to Washington, DC in February as part of the Hike the Hill Trails Advocacy Week.

A significant component of NCTA’s message was the Arrowhead Re-route, the legislative effort to change the NCT’s official route in NE Minnesota to include the Superior Hiking Trail, Border Route Trail, and Kekekabic Trail. The trip was fruitful. There appears to be broad bi-partisan support from across the NCT for the Reroute because it is well-supported here and doesn’t involve federal spending.

The NCTA; however, is still waiting for Rep. Chip Cravaack (R-8th District MN) to introduce the Arrowhead Re-route bill in the U.S. House. Senators Klobuchar and Franken have indicated that they will gladly co-introduce the corresponding bill in the U.S. Senate once Rep. Cravaack has taken action.

If you live in Minnesota's 8th District, we encourage you to contact Cravaack’s office in North Branch and to make it known that you support the Re-route and would like to see the Representative take the lead by introducing the bill.

Contact Rep. Cravaack at:
6448 Main Street, Suite 6
North Branch, MN 55056
(651) 237-8220 / 1-888-563-7390 / Fax: (651) 237-8225

See Star of the North Chapter of the NCTA
See Update on Status of the Arrowhead Reroute

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Proposed Taconite Mining Very Near NCT in Wisconsin

map of NCT in Wisconsin near iron deposits

based on a news article at the Wisconsin State Journal

NorthStar Economics, of Madison, Wisconsin, announced in April that a taconite mine is being proposed near Ashland. If the Gogebic Taconite (GTac) mine were built, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion, the two-year construction period alone would create 3,175 jobs and $20.6 million in state and local tax revenue. The estimated life of the mine could be 35 years, a huge economic impact.

While this would be quite a boost to the local economy, there are environmental issues to balance the question. Ann Coakley, director of waste and materials management for the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, pointed out that there would need to be extensive environmental review. Impacts on surface and ground water, wildlife, threatened and endangered species, and air pollution would all need to be evaluated.

Any sections of the North Country National Scenic Trail which are certified will have a certain level of standing which also will need to be taken into account. Mellen, Wisconsin, is usually considered to be the first ever "Trail Town" along the NCT, and Gogebic Taconite holds an option to lease a 22-mile stretch between Mellen and Upson. Upson is just northeast of Mellen, and the North Country Trail traverses a ridge on the north edge of this entire stretch before entering Copper Falls State Park and then heading south into Mellen.

This segment is on NCTA map WI-01

See Chequamegon Chapter of the NCTA

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Encampment River Bridge Update

broken Encampment River Bridge
site of former Encampment River Bridge

from Gayle Coyer, Executive Director, Superior Hiking Trail Association

The news about the Encampment River bridge is not good. When the huge ice jam hit the bridge it tipped the middle crib over. As the bridge broke apart in the middle (as it is designed to do) the ice snapped the cable for both pieces and they went down the river. One half was several hundred feet downstream and Han was going in there today to try to secure it. The other half is gone completely, maybe all the way down to Lake Superior. With the river still high and road restrictions on, we don't know when we will be able to replace the bridge.

The ice buildup was from a freaky situation where we got a hard rain on Dec. 31st which brought the water up really high. Then a new layer of ice formed about 3 or 4 feet above the old layer. So instead of about 1 foot of ice they ice was 3-4 feet thick. It was this thick ice that took the bridge out, even though the bridge was raised a couple of feet when we rebuilt the cribs and ramps last October.

The Encampment River bridge is located about in the middle of the section of Co Rd 301 (Fors Rd) to Castle Danger. Here are the directions for a roadwalk:

From Co Rd 301 (Fors Rd) take the SHT 0.4 miles until it crosses Co Rd 3 (Hwy 3). Turn left (north) and go 4.7 miles to West Castle Danger Road (this road does not have a green sign but there is a bright blue sign that says "To Hwy 61" with a right arrow). Turn right (east) and go 1.6 miles to where SHT crosses road. Go left on SHT 0.1 miles to Castle Danger Trailhead parking lot.

This segment is on SHTA map 1

See Superior Hiking Trail Association

Monday, April 11, 2011

Encampment River Bridge Destroyed Again

Encampment River Bridge destroyed
where the new Encampment River Bridge used to be

from the Superior Hiking Trail Association

The new Encampment River bridge built in 2010 was pushed downstream by an ice dam this past weekend. This is on the Superior Hiking Trail in a section not far north of Two Harbors.

This is an extremely difficult place for a bridge as one bank of the river is high, and one is low. The past bridges descended a long cleated ramp to reach the bridge decking which was about 5 feet above summer water level.

However, a continual problem along the North Shore (of Lake Superior) is that in the spring water is high, filled with ice floes, and the valleys are narrow. Bridges are often damaged or swept away. Many of the smaller bridges have been cabled to trees on one bank so that if they are broken loose in the spring the bridge may be turned sideways, but may be salvaged for re-placement.

Encampment River, however, is a major bridge. It is not known at this time if the bridge can be salvaged. It's a shame, since it was finally replaced last year, after many seasons of being in a damaged and dangerous state.

One has to wonder if it might be worth the expense to build a high bridge from the upper bank, with stairs descending to the lower bank. The ice could still attack the footings, but it wouldn't present the whole stringer/decking system to the pressure of jammed ice being carried downstream.

This segment is on SHTA map 1

See Encampment River Bridge Repaired

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Michigan to Close Two Campsites Important to the NCT

sandhill cranes
sandhill cranes displaying at Big Lake (photo by jhy)

based on a news release of the Michigan DNR

Cara Boucher, assistant chief of the DNR's Forest Management Division, said, "Given the long-term trend of declining use and the inability to raise camp fee revenues, the only way to absorb the current cut in General Fund support is to close some campgrounds."

The order to close the 23 campgrounds will be submitted as a proposal at today's Michigan Natural Resources Commission (NRC) meeting in Lansing, and will be eligible for action by DNR Director Rodney Stokes at the NRC's May 12 meeting in Flint. If approved at the May meeting, the closures would be effective on May 19, 2011.

Two Upper Peninsula State Forest Campgrounds on the list are ones which can be used by hikers of the North Country Trail. Having places where camping is allowed is important for long-distance hikers.

Most surprising to me is Big Lake in Baraga County. This is a botanical treasure. When I was there in July of 2005, the beach edge was covered with several species of rare plants. We were serenaded by the Sandhill Cranes.

Reed and Green campground in Luce County is a tiny site which adds a key camping location between Culhane Lake and Muskelonge State Park.

Can the costs of servicing a latrine and a hand pump twice a year be so burdensome that even though these sites aren't used very much, everyone who does use them needs to be punished?

These sites are on NCTA maps MI-09 and MI-13

Monday, April 4, 2011

Volunteer Opportunity in Minnesota Arrowhead

Trimble GPS unit in a backpack
Howard Beye carrying a Trimble GPS unit (photo by jhy)

from Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator for MN & ND, North Country Trail Association

Cory Mensen, the Trails/Volunteer Coordinator (West Zone) for the Superior National Forest writes, "We do not have a survey for the Kek. I am hoping to get a good layer of the Kek this summer if I do I will let you know... If you know of someone hiking one our wilderness trails I can give them a quick training with a Trimble that we have and they can gather some useful information for all of us....

The "Kek" is the Kekekabic Trail, the western portion of the NCT route across the Minnesota Arrowhead, about 45 miles.

Matt adds: "Here is a volunteer opportunity for anyone who is interested in hiking the Kek or Border Route Trail this year. The U.S. Forest Service could really use someone detail-oriented and interested in GPS to record some data on the Trail. They'll provide the training and the GPS unit."

Contact Matt Davis Regional Trail Coordinator for MN & ND, North Country Trail Association

Saturday, April 2, 2011

NCTA Posts Communication Tech Position

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a news release of the North Country Trail Association

The North Country Trail Association is seeking a qualified and motivated communications technician to support website design and content management, social networking, graphic design, and public relations efforts. Additional responsibilities may include media management. Works closely with NCTA’s senior management team in supporting marketing, public relations, promotions and other communications-related activity. Person will need to physically work in Lowell, Michigan. (not a remote work opportunity)

The Communications Technician is a key member of the NCTA family and team. NCTA is a small, not-for-profit membership organization serving chapters and members throughout the seven-state region of America’s northern heartland. When completed the North Country National Scenic Trail will be the premier footpath wandering through 4600 miles of scenic, historic and natural wonder, uniting America’s Red Plaid Nation.

A competitive salary with benefits options is available. A resume, list of references and cover letter addressing qualifications should be submitted by April 15 to:

HR Department
North Country Trail Association
229 East Main St.
Lowell, MI 49331

See complete details for Communication Technician job posting