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, November 27, 2011

Grand Rapids Press Article about Jeff McCusker

Jeff McCusker
Jeff McCusker- NPS Manager for the NCT (photo from Andrea Ketchmark)

based on a news article in the Grand Rapids Press

Jeff McCusker joined the North Country Trail family quietly. I've had the chance to spend some time with him on several occasions, and he's a quiet guy. But don't equate that with ineffectual. Jeff is the National Park Service Manager for the North Country Trail (the past two people in that post have been Fred Szarka and Bill Menke).

With McCusker came a big change that highly benefits the NCT. Instead of being based in Madison, Wisconsin, McCusker's office is in Lowell, Michigan, where the headquarters for the North Country Trail Association are located. This arrangement should save lots of money for both the agency and the association, since they need to spend so much time working together.

Today, the Grand Rapids Press featured McCusker. He's quite the world traveler, and hard worker. Two years were spent in Morocco working for the Peace Corps. Mongolia's first national park, under the United Nations, benefited from his efforts. He's worked on trails in Gombe National Park in Tanzania, and has an upcoming trip to Mozambique to help train locals for trail building in the Gorongosa National Park.

If you've had a chance to meet Jeff, you know that he's been watching and analyzing what needs to happen to complete the NCT. He told Howard Meyerson, of the Press, "“I am optimistic. We are in the phase of trail construction where we have miles and miles of suburban and agricultural lands to get across. It’s private land, and some of it isn’t the most endearing. The big thing that has hit me since I’ve come to Michigan is the dedication of the volunteers who are building this trail. They aren’t getting paid to do it. They do it because they love the trail,”

See North Country Trail Association

Monday, November 21, 2011

Agate Lady Hikes NCT Near Grand Marais

NCT in Burt Township School Forest
NCT in Burt Township School Forest (photo by Karen)

excerpt from School Forest North Country Trail Hike by Karen, used with permission

Karen, the Agate Lady hiked in early November from the bridge in the Burt Township School Forest to the Lake Superior shoreline down the North Country Trail.

This section of the North Country Trail goes through different forest ecosystems as well as along ancient dunal formations. I'm not sure how long the hike is -- probably around three miles. It is like a reward to finally reach the shore. Yesterday the color of the lake was summer-like-blue. The waves seemed to patiently roll in with six foot curls.

Lake Superior shoreline
Lake Superior shoreline (photo by Karen)

Visit Karen's blog for more pictures and the rest of the story!

This segment is on NCTA map MI-09

See The Agate Lady: Adventures and Events

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Clarion shelter
new Clarion shelter (photo from the Clarion Chapter)

from the Clarion Chapter

The Clarion Chapter of the North Country Trail Association recently completed work on a hiking shelter near the Highland Drive trail head.

This shelter is the first hiking shelter ever built on Clarion Chapter’s section of the trail. It was paid for mostly by the chapter’s efforts selling chapter president Ed Scurry’s homemade hiking sticks. Several chapter members attended tthe geocaching event Geowoodstock IX in Warren, PA this past 4th of July weekend and were able to sell about $700 worth of Ed’s sticks and other items to the geocaching community throughout the weekend.

We decided that a good use of these funds was to build a hiking shelter.

The shelter was built during several work sessions in September and October. On October 23, 2011 Clarion Chapter held a picnic to serve as the grand opening for the shelter. Many members came out to celebrate Clarion Chapter’s first hiking shelter.

And now we will rest for the holidays and winter and plan to pick up our tools and build Clarion Chapter’s second hiking shelter in the Maple Creek area as soon as the weather breaks in the spring. Hikers next summer will have plenty of comfortable options for overnighting in Clarion County.

This segment is on NCTA map PA-03

See Clarion Chapter of the NCTA

Saturday, November 19, 2011

What Kind of Training Would You Like from American Hiking?

National Trails Training Partnership Logo

from the American Hiking Society

The National Trails Training Partnership (NTTP) is conducting research on training needs and satisfaction. The goal is to improve the quality and availability of trail-related skills. American Trails is conducting the online survey and will be compiling and interpreting the data with NTTP member groups and agencies.

Anyone involved in trails as an employee, volunteer, or supporter may take the survey. They would like to know your experience and ideas, such as:
• What types of training and delivery methods do you feel are effective?
• What important skills do you think are lacking in your agency or organization?
• What good examples of training are you acquainted with?

The "National Trails Training User Satisfaction Survey" was requested by the Federal Interagency Council on Trails (a partnership of the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Fish and Wildlife Service, Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Federal Highway Administration). The intent of the survey is to "determine the level of service and customer satisfaction of national training related to trails. The information obtained from the survey would be used to evaluate current trail training programs, partnerships, and training delivery and processes; to ask for input on trail training needed, quality, providers, and availability; and to initiate training improvements."

The deadline to take the survey is November 30, 2011.

Take the survey

Note- I did take the survey, and in order to complete it with integrity you will need time to look over the NTTP web site. Keep this in mind.

See American Trails

Friday, November 18, 2011

NCT News in Top 75

This blog has made it to the top 75 in the Camping Blogs Excellence selection process. The blogs chosen will be those with content updates and whoever sends traffic via the badge on the right.

Each week they will also "feature" one blog from the list who has displayed excellent quality that week on their site. During the Final 25 round, we will take it to a vote to help in the consideration of the winner.

On January 1st, 2012 there will be only 1 blog remaining as the top outdoors blog.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Land Purchases Could Preserve NY Trail

land for sale
real estate photo of the Virgil property

from Mike TenKate via the Finger Lakes Trail newsgroup

There are two plots of land for sale in Virgil, New York, that either have trail or could have trail on them that are currently for sale. As you all know changes in ownership can sometimes be a little scary for permissions. I have included links below in the hopes that maybe we can find a friend of the trail who wants to buy one (or both).

Item #1 - 238 Acres currently has about only about 50 feet of trail on it due to a funky property line we only recently became aware the trail was even on this property. It is crucial to linking Kennedy State Forest to Tone Road. This property could have the possibility with a permitting landowner to host miles of trail and eliminate nearly all of the Tone Road, Route 392, Carson Road Road walks and replace them with really nice trail and lots of it. This is a really nice property and includes a lot of Gridly Creek.

Item #2 - 28 AcresThis property is one that we worked on getting a permanent easement on over the last few years. It seemed as though it was a done deal when the property owner decided to sell it instead. She decided against an easement first due to fear of lowering the value. This property is also very nice. It is only 26 acres but due to its shape could have about a half mile of trail. It could replace the Carson Road portion of the road walk and rejoin the current trail near the Woodchuck Hollow Lean- to.

Contact Mike TenKate with questions.

These segments are on FLT map M19

See Finger Lakes Trail Conference

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grand Marais Seeks to Be Identified as a Trail Town

Grand Sable Dunes
Grand Sable Dunes (photo by jhy)

based on a story at

Grand Marais, Michigan has always been a small town at the end of the road: a gravel road, on the eastern edge of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. If you want to hike through, east to west, on the North Country/ Lakeshore Trail, you must stop at the ranger station there to get your entry permit. You also have this great view of the Grand Sable Dunes.

There is camping at the city park, and a couple of places in town to get some food. Not much else.

However, now Alger County H-58 has been paved, making the drive between the ends of Pictured Rocks much less time-consuming. In the past, most of the "action" has been at Munising, but now that it is easier to reach Grand Marais, things may change.

Grand Marais Outfitters is a fairly new business on the county road which caters to many types of activities. "We’re trying to make this a destination for outdoors activities and we’ve got a chance to be a trailhead for the North Country Trail," said Dennis Weaver, adding that he will host ski tours of the Grand Sable Dunes in the winter and paddling seminars during the warmer months. He and his wife, Kim, opened in July.

"There’s no other sports shop around for two hours, so we have a little of everything. We’ve got backpacking foods, kayaks and fishing gear," he said. They also carry items for motorcycle enthusiasts. A one-stop shop.

The recently revived Superior Shoreline Chapter of the NCTA replaces the defunct Grand Sable chapter. Based in Alger County in the eastern Upper Peninsula (U.P.) of Michigan, the Superior Shoreline Chapter is responsible for a 120-mile section of the NCT from the mouth of the Two-Hearted River on the East to Rock River Road on the West, passing through Grand Marais, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, and Munising.

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

See Superior Shoreline Chapter of the NCTA

Monday, November 14, 2011

NCT News Nominated for Top 100 Camping Blogs


North Country Trail News has been nominated as one of the top 100 Camping Blogs. Here's what they say:

Your Blog Has Been Chosen As One of the Top 100.

Each year, Justbackpacksonline spends weeks reading and ranking hiking, backpacking, and camping blogs to determine who has the best content, advice, and ideas in the outdoor blogging world. We have read your blog and we believe that you have proven yourself to be one of those. By simply putting the badge on your site, you will automatically enter yourself to win an Amazon $100 and more on January 1st, 2012. Then we will choose from the field of 100 to determine who is the best. How will the winner be chosen?

Each week we will narrow the field by 25. As of next week, we will release our first "Top 75" list. We have read each and every blog closely and will continue to do so. The blogs chosen will be those with content updates and whoever sends traffic via the badges provided below. Each week we will also "feature" one blog from the list who has displayed excellent quality that week on their site.

On January 1st, 2012 there will be only 1 blog remaining as the top outdoors blog.

I think this is a nice honor, and winning a few dollars would sure help this blog stay in "business." If you are willing, why not click on the logo, either in this post or in the sidebar. You might even find a nice pack you like.

In any case, thanks for reading!