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, June 29, 2011

Death in Minnesota from Tick-Borne Virus

alt text
deer tick life stages and metric rule. The adult ticks (left) are approximately 1/8 of an inch long, while the nymph (third from left) is just under 1/16 of an inch. (from Minn Dept of Health)

from the Minnesota Department of Health and Minnesota Public Radio

A Minnesota woman has died from a tick-borne virus known as the Powassan Virus, named for a city in Ontario where is was first described in 1958. Only 60 cases have been reported in the past five decades, until recently. In the past three years, six cases have turned up in northern Minnesota. The victim was in her 60s, and died from the resulting brain infection after being bitten.

The virus is carried by the deer tick, and possibly Ixodes cookei, sometimes known as the groundhog tick. The virus causes an inflammation of the brain or the brain's membranes, resulting in encephalitis, or meningitis. Although rare, the disease is extremely serious, with approximately 10% fatality. In addition, the virus is transmitted from tick to human much more quickly than the Lyme Disease virus, which can take 12-48 hours. Times as short as 15 minutes have been posted on some web sites, but the MN health department states the the time is shorter, but not known with certainty.

Minnesota NCT hikers should use precautions. Counties included in the warning for this disease include Cass, Itasca, and Hubbard, through which the trail passes. Symptoms include fever, headache, vomiting, weakness, confusion, loss of coordination, speech difficulties, and memory loss. It can take a week after being bitten for symptoms to appear.

This segment is on NCTA map MN-09 and MN-10

See Laurentian Lakes Chapter of the NCTA
See Itasca-Moraine Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Windigo Doug Completes Michigan NCT- 1130 miles

Windigo Doug
Windigo Doug Boulee

from Doug Boulee

On May 31, 2011, Doug Boulee (trail name Windigo Doug) completed the entire NCT in Michigan for a total of 1130 miles. Doug tracked his statistics and reports that this was accomplished in 17 sections hiked over 5 years. He averaged almost 16 miles a day.

Doug wrote, as he was beginning his quest, "Traveling in the wilderness, days of the week and month no longer matter. The year does not exist. The only measure that counts are Trail Days." This was on May 25, 2007 in a section maintained by the Western Michigan Chapter. Hikes were not completed in a linear fashion, but he would hike some in the UP and some in the Lower Peninsula till all the pieces were filled in. "The McCormick Wilderness Tract was one of my favorite parts of the adventure with varied terrain and more fantastic views," Doug explained.

Windigo Doug
tenting in the Manistee NF
Along the way he spent 68 nights in a tent (and two in a motel, and one in a home).....Only 6 states and 3,470 miles to go! He's planning to take on Wisconsin next, starting in September. "I cannot encourage you enough to go out and find just a small bit of trail near your home to start your own adventure. It doesn't have to be of any great length or long term endeavor. There are many places to enjoy the trail just one day, just one step at a time. Get up, get out and get active."

Doug has been added to the 1000-mile Club.

See Windigo Doug's Trail Journal

Saturday, June 18, 2011

AmeriCorps Trail Work Near Marquette

benching trail at Silver Lake
benching trail at Silver Lake (photo from NCT Hikers)

from Footnotes, summer 2011

On Sunday, June 5, a group of 17 AmeriCorps volunteers from the Greater Grand Rapids Area American Red Cross arrived in Marquette to help with a variety of projects on the trail. Monday morning three different groups went to work.

One group worked Monday through Thursday, at the McCormick Wilderness segment and into Segment 25 where they cleared a slew (over 65) of blowdowns, lopped and raked the trail. Remember that no power tools are allowed in the Wilderness, so all their efforts were executed with hand tools - crosscut saws, loppers and rakes.

A second group met in Ishpeming and headed north to build new trail on the west side of the Mulligan Plains up a steep hill. A series of switchbacks were built including sections of benching the trail and adding rock steps. Four full days of physical exertion added slightly less than a mile of new blue-blazed trail up the hill for a rise of over 330 feet in elevation.

trail puncheon
new puncheon at Wetmore Pond (photo from
The third group headed out to Sigan Road in Alger County to do some heavy lopping, general trail maintenance and blazing. Just getting in and out of that work site via Sigan Road from Sand River Road was an adventure the AmeriCorps probably won’t forget for a while. This group also worked at Wetmore Pond, removing the old boardwalks and replacing them with all new materials on the Old Growth Trail. A couple of reroutes and shorter boardwalks were also tackled on the west trail. Swamping through the muck paid off when the completed project could be easily hiked without fear of falling through a broken board. Note that Plum Creek Timber Company donated all building materials for the Wetmore Pond project. A subgroup also repaired handrails, added a step to some stairs and did a small reroute on the Wetmore Landing segment on the east side of County Rd 550.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-12

See North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sign Up to Build Trail in Ohio

canal boat ride at Grand Rapids Ohio
restored canal at Providence Metropark (photo by jhy)

from Rick Adamson Ohio State Trail Coordinator

Sign up to help build trail in northwest Ohio between the communities of Florida and Grand Rapids in Henry and Wood Counties.

Rick Adamson's renowned work crew will build new off-road trail on the historic Miami & Erie Canal towpath route. Accommodations are camping at Mary Jane Thurston State Park (no electric hookups).

Some food is being provided by the St. Patrick's Catholic Church, but for most meals volunteers must provide their own.

The event runs between Saturday, June 18 and Wednesday, June 22. Work times are generally from 8 am to 3 pm leaving plenty of time for recreation.

The North Country Trail currently breaks off from the Buckeye Trail in this section and heads north through Liberty Center. Come see why the trail should continue to Grand Rapids before turning north! At Providence Metropark you can experience the canal days with a ride on a recreated canal boat, and a visit to the operating Ludwig Mill.

Contact Rick Adamson for more details.

This segment is on BTA Map Defiance Section

See the Buckeye Trail

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Judy Geisler Completes Hike/Bike of NCT

Judy Geisler on the trail

Judy Geisler completed her 7-year quest to hike and bike the North Country Trail on May 24 in New York. She began on April 25, 2005 at Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota.

Judy's plan has been to hike the sections of trail which were completed off road, and bicycle the road pieces. Her husband, Bob, has been support, driving their motor home, and being there to shuttle her and her bike as needed. It also meant that they did not have to hunt for motels or campsites on the sections where backpacking is difficult. Along the way they also visited many cultural and historic sites. This is a wonderful option for those who have a way to travel in addition to simply on foot.

Judy began the hike with her good friend Adele. In 2005 they completed North Dakota and most of Minnesota for a total of about 900 miles.

In 2006, they returned, and Judy biked a route roughly parallel to the Border Route section, after hearing that it was in bad shape. Wisconsin was next, followed by about half of Michigan's Upper Peninsula

For 2007 the Upper Peninsula was completed

The following year was filled with Michigan's Lower Peninsula which she hiked/ biked from south to north. A beginning on Pennsylvania's western portion was made as well.

2009 saw Judy finishing Pennsylvania and then hiking and riding through the eastern miles in New York. It's not clear exactly what her route was from Rome to Crown Point, but apparently this section was biked, on roads. She was hopeful of completing her quest in 2010.

She spent 2010 wending her way through Ohio. They visited lots of historic sites along the way.

Judy Geisler and Adele at Lake Sakakawea
And with only a relatively few miles left to do in New York's Finger Lakes, Judy finished in June 2011 just south of Cayuga Lake. Sadly, her friend Adele was not able to finish the quest with her. She did not track how many miles were hiked, and how many were biked.

To learn lots more about Judy's adventure, see Judy and Bob's Traveling Pages

See North Country Trail Association