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.


Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buckeye Trail Celebrates 50th Anniversary This Year

map of the Buckeye Trail
based on a news release in the Columbus Dispatch, "Buckeye Trail cuts circular path through amazing diversity of Ohio"< by Steve Stephens, April 26, 2009

No matter where you go in Ohio you are likely to run into the Buckeye Trail's blue blazes.

The longest single-state loop trail in the US, the Buckeye Trail is 1440 miles long. The NCT is concurrent with it for about 800 of those miles. "The trail follows dedicated gravel or dirt hiking paths, old canal towpaths or railroad rights of way, county roads and even a few city sidewalks. It cuts through vast forests, skirts industrial land and farm fields, passes museums and historical sites, descends into beautiful, steep valleys and traverses seemingly unending plains."

Gary Williams, board member of the Buckeye Trail Association, explained that there is very little public land in Ohio. But where the trail follows roads, the route is chosen to find roads that are very little used. "Sometimes, you can hike on these roads all day and never see a car, " Williams commented.

This year is the 50th Anniversary of the trail, and in addition to the many hikes that are planned, there will be a special celebration June 12-14 at Camp McPherson near Danville.

About 100 people have hiked the entire loop. One weekend a month there is a hike that works at the continuous loop, so that dedicated participants can complete the entire trail, given enough time.

To kick off the 50th anniversary of the trail, the Buckeye Trail Association will hold a special celebration May 16 at the Grandma Gatewood trail section in Hocking Hills. in the Hocking Hills. "Grandma" Emma Gatewood, at age 67, in 1955, became the first woman to hike the entire Appalachian Trail.

Gatewood became one of the primary supporters of the Buckeye Trail project and reportedly donated the money to buy the first few pails of blue blaze paint, used on the trail through the Old Man's Cave area. The May 16 adventure will begin at 10 a.m. with a ribbon-cutting and a 6-mile round-trip commemorative hike.

See Buckeye Trail Association

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Looking for Guest Bloggers

While I am hiking not much is going to happen on this blog. I will only have internet access a couple of times, and I go to the woods to get away from all the technology.

I would be interested in hearing from anyone who would like to be given access as a guest blogger to at least do a few posts between May 5 and May 28.

Contact Joan Young
See Young Announces Plans to Finish NCT in 2010

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Buckeye Work Party to Continue Towpath Recovery

trail crew cutting trail
working on the Miami-Erie towpath trail in 2003 (photo by JHY)
submitted by Rick Adamson, BTA Trail Coordinator

The Buckeye Trail / North Country Trail towpath section east of Defiance, Ohio, will be the site of another multi-day work session, May 5-9.

Several years ago the Ohio DNR decided to take advantage of the fact that they still owned the right-of-way for the 150-year-old Miami-Erie Canal. In a number of places where the route had not been overcome by trees or plowed under by farmers the BT/NCT was already using this pathway. But the DNR determined that there were another 47 miles of off-road trail that could be added to the system, and they decided to act on this.

So for several years, the Buckeye Trail has been hosting work crews to recover these miles of towpath which are often completely overgrown. For this work party, camping will be at Mary Jane Thurston State Park. There are fire rings and flush toilets.

Work will begin at 8 am each morning and conclude at 3 pm most days and noon on Saturday, the final day. Participants need to provide their own food and water.

There are all levels of work and trail building abilities needed. If you are interested in weed which will leave you with a sense of real accomplishment, contact Rick and sign up to help.

Contact Rick Adamson

See Buckeye Trail Association

Monday, April 27, 2009

Program to Highlight the Border Trail

Border Route trail sign
where the BRT and SHT join (photo by JHY)
from Ed Solstad

John Garbe, Sara Gille, and Ed Solstad will be presenting a slide program on the Border Route this Tuesday, April 28th at 7:30pm at the MN Rovers weekly meeting at Macalester College, Olin-Rice Science Hall, Room 350. Macalester College is located at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Snelling Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.

There will be slides from the initial construction in the 70's, slides showing many of the great vistas, slides from the Ham Lake fire, and of course, slides form maintenance trips.

Minnesotans - Support the Arrowhead

New York Times Reports About NCT

The New York Times ran a great article about the North Country Trail on April 24. Reporter Stephen Regenold traveled to Wisconsin last summer, sampled the NCT, and wrote a story about his experiences.

The article includes photos of Brownstone Falls at Copper Falls State Park, and a section of wooded pathway (no specific location identified).

Regenold had interviewed Andrew Skurka who thru-hiked the NCT in 2004 as part of his Sea-to-Sea route hike, and decided to find out more about the trail for himself. He says of the NCT, "Laced through more than 100 state parks and state forests, 10 national forests and areas managed by the National Park Service, the trail brings millions of day hikers each year into some of the finest natural places that New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and North Dakota have to offer."

Last summer, he encountered Peter and Lynne Nason in the Brule River State Forest in Wisconsin. They were out for a work day on their section of trail, clippers and bug spray in hand. Regenold was impressed with the Nason's enthusiasm and friendliness, offering tips on the best sections to hike.

He continued through the Chequamegon National Forest. "For the next day we would see not another soul on the trail, hiking the winding track, following blue blazes marked on trees, and brushing branches out of the way for mile upon quiet mile. Frogs burped and gurgled in tiny ponds. Wind brushed in treetops, a swishing like water of leaf against leaf."

See Northern Exposure: Hiking the North Country Trail, in The New York Times

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Trail Work in Eastern Ohio

alt text
lock remains on the Sandy Beaver Canal in Beaver Creek State Park (photo by JHY)
based on community news in the East Liverpool Review, with additional information

The Great Trail - Sandy Beaver Canal chapter of the North Country Trail Association has scheduled a work day for at 9 a.m. Saturday at Beaver Creek State Park. The meeting place is the primitive campground on Leslie Road at the park's main section.

The chapter is to begin working on adding a new section of the North Country Trail west of the state park. This is very good news, as there is currently a road walk from the Park all the way to Lisbon.

Volunteers are welcome, as well as youths wishing to perform community service. Tools will be provided, but dress appropriately and bring your own food and drinks.

For more information, contact Brad Bosley
or Andrew Bashaw

Friday, April 24, 2009

Finally! NCT Trail Guide - DIY Wiki Style

Wiki Trail Guide sample
from the North Country Trail Association

At long last... there is going to be a guide to the North Country Trail! And it will be built by the people who are out working on it and using it week after week.

Although several people have seriously considered doing a guide, the only effort that came close to covering the entire trail was make by Wes Boyd (editor of the North Star NCTA magazine at the time). He came really close to finishing, and finally made the entire work available for free. It is now seriously outdated, and has been taken off the web site.

But something even better has arrived! Using the same software as Wikipedia, the framework for a user-built guide has been added to the new NCTA web site. Anyone can log in and add or alter entries. To date there is only a small amount of information entered. But that will probably change rather quickly. The site was only publicly released today.

The guidelines are:
  • Respect authors' and publishers' rights and do not add any content from existing guidebooks, websites or other sources that may be copyrighted.
  • Please do not use it as a forum to push an agenda regarding allowed uses and activities on the NCT.
  • Be respectful, but by all means push the content (and other contributors) to high standards of accuracy and creativity.

If you work on a section of trail, start entering what you know. If you have recently hiked a section of trail, start entering what you know. Most important... start entering what you know! In no time, we'll have a constantly up-to-date trail guide!

See NCTA Wiki Trail Guide

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad Reaches Paul Bunyan

Nimblewill Nomad
Nimblewill Nomad reaches Paul Bunyan State Forest
based on a news article at Detroit Lakes Online, "Nimblewill Nomad on hike along North Country National Scenic Trail," by Jean Ruzicka, April 20, 2009

M.J. Eberhard, Nimblewill Nomad, left Lake Sakakwea on March 23. He's now survived two blizzards and frostbitten cheeks, "But it didn’t hurt my looks," the wizened hiker joked.

He had to bail out of impassible trail and walk the North Dakota roads, but he plans to return after he reaches Lake Champlain in New York, to hike those trail miles. In North Dakota, he was supported by Gordon Smith with a van, but now he is backpacking, carrying his own gear and tenting at night.

On Wednesday, he made a stop in Walker, Minnesota, where an Itasca Moraine chapter volunteer provided him with a shower and met him for lunch at the Outdoorsman restaurant. "I had a double dose luncheon," Nimblewill Nomad reported. He ordered a second full lunch special to the astonishment of the waitress.

Nimblewill's journal has him arriving at Grand Rapids, Minnesota on April 17. From there he will turn north on roads to reach Ely and the Kekekabic Trail.

Nimblewill Nomad's NCT Journal

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Enhanced Driver's Licenses

Michigan Sample enhanced driver's license
Michigan Sample enhanced driver's license (from Michigan Secretary of State)
compiled from several sources

Michigan has just announced that they will offer an Enhanced Driver's License (EDL), joining New York which has been offering a similar license for several months. These licenses will allow residents of those states to enter Canada and return, by land or water, without a passport. Beginning June 1, 2009, it will no longer be sufficient to present a regular driver's license and a birth certificate.

For people who regularly travel from Michigan to New York this is great news, since the fastest way to make this trip is through Ontario, Canada. People who wish to travel quickly from one end of the North Country Trail to the other will also find going through Canada convenient. It can also be a nice option to follow the north shore of Lake Superior from northern Minnesota to Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

The Enhanced Licenses cost about half of what is required for a passport, with no waiting period. The Michigan Secretary of State says, "When travelers approach an American border station in a vehicle, they simply hold up their EDL. Technology in the card allows it to be scanned from a distance. By the time travelers reach the station, security personnel will usually only need to make a quick visual check. No personal information is transmitted during this process." The licenses comply with the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative (WHTI).

In Michigan, one must obtain an EDL at a SOS Super!Center. These can be found by following the link at the end of the article.

The ACLU has taken a stand against the cards because they contain an RFID, a radio frequency identification chip. They say that this can be read by anyone within about 30 feet. Authorities say that the chip contains nothing but a random number so that encrypting it is superfluous. The ACLU counters that anyone with that number could also break into a database and obtain sensitive information about a person. Companies are already selling protective sleeves that claim to block the ability to read the cards remotely.

For anyone who travels through Canada frequently, the card may be a reasonably priced alternative to obtaining a passport.

See Michigan Enhanced Driver's License
See New York Enhanced Driver's License
See ACLU of Michigan Opposes Enhanced Driver's License

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

SHT/NCT Part of TrekNorth Education

based on a news article from the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, "Ultrafit: An outside education," April 13, 2009

TrekNorth is a public charter school in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but students participate in an Outdoor Adventure Program that takes them from Alaska to the Appalachian Trail... and the North Country Trail. Backpacking on the Superior Hiking Trail section in northern Minnesota is one of the standard components of the program.

The completion of a high adventure is a requirement for graduation from the school. In the Black Hills of South Dakota, a TrekNorth junior realized, "I could do this for the rest of my life." He is now headed for a career as a geologist and a third-year student at Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan.

Dan McKeon is the school's executive director, and the instigator of Outdoor Adventures. He has taken students to the Needles of South Dakota, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, and more. He believes that students build traits on the trips that are impossible to gain in a classroom. "Students learn on trips that they are tougher than they realized, and can do more than they ever thought possible."

One former student commented, "TrekNorth changed my life, and it's so good to see it getting the recognition it deserves. More schools like this across the country would be a boon to future generations."

Monday, April 20, 2009

Matthews to Co-Host Outdoor Writers Assoc Conference

Bruce Matthews
Bruce Matthews (photo from Triad 2008)
based on a news article in the Flint Journal, "Outdoor writers to flock to Grand Rapids," by David Graham, April 20, 2009

Bruce Matthews, Executive Director of the North Country Trail Association will co-host the 82nd Outdoor Writers Association of America (OWAA) conference.

About 500 members of the OWAA are expected to attend June 13-16 in Grand Rapids Michigan. The conference will be based at the Amway Grand Plaza hotel, with trips to trout streams, islands, national forests and parks. It is the first OWAA conference to be held in Michigan since the 1980s.

Two events on June 13 are open to the public. The first, "Becoming an Outdoor Communicator," will run from 8 a.m.- noon. Aspiring outdoor writers must register in advance at the web site. The second public even is that evening from 6:30-9:30 p.m. and is a benefit auction.

The other co-host is Tom Huggler, a well-known outdoor writer who currently writes for Shooting Sportsmen.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

General Resources for Hike Planning

by JHY

In a continuing effort to help those who are planning hikes on the NCT another page of information has been retrieved from the old NCT web site.

This page is simply a collection of links to some resources:
  • 15-day weather forecasts for cities along the trail
  • National Weather Service regional map with current weather conditions and hazards.
  • National Weather Service 3-Month Temperature Outlook
  • Precipitation Outlook from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction
  • Snow Cover from Weather Underground
  • National Weather Service 5-day flood advisories
  • National Weather Service fire information
  • USGS Water Watch
  • CDC Lyme Risk Map
  • ALDF Lyme Incidence Maps
  • CDC West Nile Reported Cases Map
  • UV Index Map

Go to the unofficial home page of the North Country Trail Long Distance Hikers and click on the link in the right column

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Reporting Illegal Activities on the NCT

including portions of an article by New York State DEC Ranger Jim McPherson as published in the Central New York Chapter newsletter, April 2009

A valid question one might ask is, "To whom should I report a non-emergency problem or illegal activity that I observe on the North Country Trail?" While it would make perfect sense for there to be one agency to handle such reports, such is not the case.

The answer lies in the management paradigm. For one agency to handle all issues there would need to be something known as corridor management to be in place. This means that no matter what political land division the trail traversed, that some width of right-of-way would have the same rules and the same management authority for the entire length of the trail. In reality, there are over 150 land owners along the length of the trail, and each has their own rules and enforcement agency.

On New York State lands controlled by the Department of Environmental Conservation, eg. State Forests, we now have a definitive answer as to whom to call with reports of illegal hunting, motorized vehicle use, cutting, dumping, etc. That answer is given by NYDEC Ranger Jim McPherson:

While hiking the Finger Lakes Trail or The Link Trail/ North Country Trail on DEC lands, should you encounter illegal activities reporting to the appropriate police agency will help to get that situation corrected. The DEC grants “care, custody and control” of DEC managed & administered lands to the New York State Forest Rangers. Forest Rangers are police officers who specialize in enforcement of the state’s Environmental Conservation Law and all other laws in order to protect the public using those lands and the state’s environment. Rangers are also authorized through legislation to conduct search & rescue operations and to handle wildfire suppression & wildfire management incidents in the fire towns and fire districts of New York State.

Report any in progress violations or incidents on DEC lands as emergencies to the DEC Ray Brook Emergency Dispatch Center @ 518-891-0235. They will dispatch the Forest Ranger assigned to that district, or if unavailable the closest available DEC officer, to handle the complaint.

Central New York Chapter

Friday, April 17, 2009

Invasive Plants Workshop at Allegany State Park, NY

Asiatic Tearthumb, Mile-a-Minute Weed
Mile-a-Minute Weed, Asiatic Tearthumb, Polygonum perfoliatum(from Purdue University)
from Meg Janis, Natural Resource Steward -Biologist, Letchworth State Park

Forests, streams, lakes and fields are being degraded or irreparably damaged by alien invasive species. The cost to eliminate or mitigate the effects from these species will be vastly higher the longer we wait. The economic damage suffered by other parts of the country will happen here unless we are vigilant now. Emerald Ash Borer is confirmed just south of Cattaraugus County; Asian Long-Horned beetles have been found in the Long Island Region; Mile-a-Minute Vine and Giant Hogweed are in Cattaraugus County.

Asiatic Tearthumb, Mile-a-Minute Weed eastern US range
Mile-a-Minute Weed Range (from USDA
Allegany State Park is offering a free workshop on May 7. Learn how to properly identify the invasive specie and then what to do in response to help eradicate the problem. The three main topics at the workshop are aquatics, plants and insects.

Speakers are: Mike Goehle (USFWS) - Aquatics; Paul Furhman (Ecology and Environment, Inc.) - Plants; and Melissa Plemons (OPRHP Invasive Species Biologist) - Insects.

Bring your own lunch. The closest restaurant or store is a 10-minute drive away.

9:00-9:30 AM       Registration
9:30-10:00 AM       Welcome
10:00-11:00 AM       Presentation #1
11:15-12:15 PM       Presentation #2
12:15-1:00 PM       Lunch
1:15-2:15 PM       Presentation #3
2:15-3:00 PM       Wrap-Up

Please pre-register by May 1 with Cassie Wright or (716) 354-9101 ext 236. There is space for only 80 participants.

See Skip the Sushi- New Tapeworm in Great Lakes
See Biological Pesticide Found for Zebra Mussels
See Bloody Red Shrimp Invades the Great Lakes
See Birch Leafminer Controlled in Northeast

Thursday, April 16, 2009

NCT in Clarion County Greenway Master Plan

evergreens in Cook Forest State Park
Cook Forest State Park (photo by JHY)
based on a news article from the Clarion News

Clarion County (Pennsylvania) commissioners were presented this week with a 160-page document outlining a greenway plan for their county.

The plan combines towns and villages with the natural resources such as rivers, streams, lakes, trails, roads, hunting lands, boating access sites, historic sites and parks. "The Greenways plan is designed to connect everything together in a way that protects natural resources, provides for recreational opportunities and enables economic development opportunities though tourism and recreation."

The plan includes 14 potential greenways-- most are waterways. The land-based trails include the historic Baker Trail, and the newer hiking trail, the North Country Trail. Several former rail lines have been identified as possible trail corridors. "The plan ranks the county’s natural greenways on these criteria, and lists the Clarion River at the top, followed by Mill Creek, the Allegheny River and Cook Forest State Park in the “exceptional priority” category."

For economic development to occur, trail towns are important. All too often, land or water trails end outside of town at a trail-head parking lot with no easy route to businesses in the town. But it must be easy for hikers, bikers, canoeists, etc to gain access to businesses for them to spend money on their visit.

"Trail towns must provide at least three of four elements to qualify for trail town status: food, lodging, fuel and a main street shopping district. Other factors are optional attractions but they help: entertainment, recreation, historic attractions and other attractions."

"The plan lists five potential trail towns in Clarion County : Clarion, Cooksburg, East Brady, Foxburg and New Bethlehem. All have three of four major elements, but not all are exploiting the potential for tourism-based economics."

The county commissioners will consider adding the plan to the county's comprehensive plan on April 28.

See Clarion Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad Enters Minnesota

NimblewillNomad hiking
from Lakeland PBS
from the journal of Nimblewill Nomad

Nimblewill Nomad left Lake Sakakawea on March 22, beginning a planned thru-hike of the North Country Trail. Almost immediately a blizzard hit the upper Midwest!

March 23- "We've been listening to the weather report and it isn't good. Blizzard conditions are forecast to begin late this afternoon. We can see it, it's coming. Gordon suggests I stick to ND200 and keep heading east. That's what Ed Talone and Gordon's sister, Sue, did when finishing their westbound NCT hike under similar conditions back in October 2004. So stick to ND200 it is."

March 26 - "Another day to wait, holed up in Underwood, though we do make an attempt. I try getting out this morning, in the wind, the snow, with wind chill around zero, but turn back due to concern about Gordon and the van. With street tires it's hard getting the van to go, and when rolling, it's scary trying to haul 'er down. The roads have been scraped but remain pretty much solid ice. We had a half-inch of freezing rain before the snow came in last Monday. Over a foot has since accumulated and it's near white-out again as I write this. US83 is ice, as is ND200. There's been no sanding or salting, even at the intersections. Vehicles are in the ditches along--a very bad situation."

March 31- "The roadwalk is certainly much shorter again today. On ND200, I'll cover only 22 miles. But as the day progresses, do these 22 miles become the most difficult extended miles I've ever had to endure through the cold. Temperature's started out in the low 20s, with heavy snow, driven by a northeast wind that quartered me from the left front--25 per, gusting to the high 30s, all day."

April 5- "Talked to a local during dinner last, at the Steak Out next our motel. His family runs cattle on the Grasslands--the NCT crosses nearby. He was very familiar with the trail. 'No way to hike through there now,' he remarked, 'drifted snow, ice, flooding, too risky--you couldn't find the trail.' Oh my, so okay, way it looks now folks, North Dakota will be a total roadwalk. I did hike, oh maybe 100 yards of certified trail by the sign at Lake Sakakawea--that's it!"

April 8- (in Minnesota) "The road east, out of Rothsay, is closed due to flooding. Locals direct us around. The terrain is changing rapidly now, from the plains, the prairie, to wooded, rolling hills. It's certainly a welcome change. There are actually places where the wind doesn't blow! There's a bit of designated trail in Maplewood SP. I hike over that way, but then go on past. Western Minnesota's had lots of snow, and most of it's still around. No way to hike the park trail; park roads aren't even plowed. Just keep hammerin' the roads, old man. Spring'll get here, sooner or later-later."

Read all of Nimblewill Nomad's Journal
See interview with Nimblewill Nomad on Lakeland PBS (segment starts at about 11.75 minutes)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Opportunities to Help Clean Up Ice Damage to SHT

from the Superior Hiking Trail Associaton

Our biggest task for maintenance on the North Shore for May and July will be to clear the SHT from the devestating ice storm that hit the trail in March. Volunteers can sign up to help on the following dates. From the meeting point, we will be creating crews of 2-3 people to go out with certified SHT chainsawyers to buck up trees and clear the trail.

You must pre-register in advance by the Thursday before each work date so we know how many people to expect. Email the SHTA Office at or call at 218-834-2700 to sign up.

Participants should dress for work: wear sturdy boots and long sleeve pants and shirts. Bring hard hats, safety glasses, gloves and ear protection if you have them -- if not they will be provided. Bring a lunch and beverages. The day’s work should be done by 3:00-4:00.

Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd, 8:30 a.m.: Meet at the main building of the Wolf Ridge Environmental Learning Center in Finland, Minnesota

Saturday, May 2nd and Sunday, May 3rd, 9:00 a.m.: A second group of trail clearers will meet at the Britton Peak trailhead parking lot and will concentrate on clearing the sections from Temperance River State Park to Lutsen.

Saturday, June 6 and/or Sunday June 7, National Trails Day: SHTA will be hosting free camping Friday the 5th, Saturday the 6th and Sunday the 7th at Tettegouche State Park and providing a free picnic supper on Saturday for all volunteers.

Duluth Maintenance Work Projects: Larry Sampson will be continuing as the Duluth Trail Maintenance Supervisor in 2009. Larry has several projects planned such as putting in small re-routes, adding steps to steep trail sections, and adding water bars to parts of the trail for erosion control. Larry has a small group of dedicated volunteers who help him out with projects, but he would like to increase his numbers of volunteers. If you would like to be on Larry’s volunteer email list, please email him at

Contact Gayle Coyer, Executive Director, SHTA.
See Coyer Views Ice Damage on SHT from the Air

Monday, April 13, 2009

Coyer Views Ice Damage on SHT from Air

ice storm near Beaver Bay
Beaver Bay Ice (photo by Gayle Coyer)
from Gayle Coyer, Executive Director Superior Hiking Trail Association

I was able to fly over a part of the SHT last week (quite a fun ride!) to view the ice storm damage from the air. From the south, it's generally not too bad until you get to about Fault Line Ridge. Beaver Bay, Silver Bay, Bean and Bear Lake, Wolf Ridge seem hard hit. Eric Lindberg tried to get to Bean Lake last week and said in about 2.5 miles there were about 1,000 (!) trees covering the path (mostly young aspen).

So it's going to take quite a while to get everything cleared up. There's still at least 1-2 feet of snow in the woods (I've been measuring with a yardstick!) so a lot of the blowdown is still covered by the 16" blizzard that followed the ice storm.

ice storm near Beaver Bay
Twin Lakes Spur Ice (photo by Gayle Coyer)

I didn't take any photos from the air, but here are some taken at ground level of the damage. I'll be posting some trail clearing opportunities shortly for those of you who might be interested.

Superior Hiking Trail Association

Sunday, April 12, 2009

American Chestnut Trees for the Wayne NF

planting chestnut seedlings
Gary Willison assists Jamie Grinch, a Boy Scout from Troop 73 from Grandview, Ohio to plant a chestnut seedling. (photo from USFS)
excerpted from National Forest Success Stories "American Chestnut Trees Planted on National Forest Reclaimed Mine Lands," by Gary Chancey, April 4, 2009, used with permission

Special American chestnut seedlings developed by US Forest Service Research are planted on the Wayne National Forest, in SE Ohio, with hopes for better survival, growth and development of seedlings.

Almost one-thousand blight resistant American chestnut trees and 200 disease resistant American elm trees were planted in early April by Boy Scouts from Columbus, Ohio, as well as Forest employees from the Watershed Restoration Group and local volunteers.

The seedlings were planted on a piece of reclaimed mine land that was restored last year in Athens County. The Forest planted 600 American chestnut trees on the Ironton and Athens Ranger District in 2008. This year, the Forest estimates 3000 of the trees will be planted by the end of April on both districts. The project is in partnership with researchers from the U.S. Forest Service Research Lab in Delaware, Ohio.

The American chestnut tree was nearly wiped out by a blight that killed an estimated four billion trees in the eastern United States in the early 20th century. The naturally surviving trees remain vulnerable to the fungus, however through years of cross breeding with its disease-resistant counterpart, the Chinese chestnut; researchers are seeking to develop a blight-resistant American chestnut.

The American Chestnut Foundation's backcross breeding program produces seed that combines the disease-resistant traits of the Chinese chestnut with the superior size and timber traits of the American chestnut. In order for the seedlings to grow in the poor soil conditions of the reclaimed mines, Forest Service Researchers inoculate the chestnut seedlings with mycorrhizal fungi that will aid in the survival, growth and development of the seedlings.

Mycorrhizal fungi play a vital role in reforestation by providing the plant several benefits that are critical for its survival and growth in a nutrient poor and hostile environment such as in reclaimed mined sites.

The re-establishment of native vegetation like the American Chestnut & American Elm has been made a priority for the Wayne National Forest. In the Forest's 2006 Land and Resource Management Plan, it lists the Forest's initiative to promote the planting of disease-resistant species on the Wayne as varieties become available.

Editors note: there are a number of places along the NCT in New York where resistant chestnut trees are growing

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Hiawatha S to S Annual Meeting to Include NCT History Program

Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter hike
Debbie Durn and Ben
from the Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter

Who was building the North Country Trail 30 years ago in Michigan's Upper Peninsula? Come to the April 18th Hiawatha Shore to Shore Chapter (HSS) meeting and find out.

The day's events will kick off with a hike at 2:30 PM. Dress for the weather— hiking boots may be adequate for your feet! (Covering remainder of body in some fashion is definitely suggested)

Following the hike at 5:30 PM at Pure Country in Rudyard the HSS Annual Meeting will begin with appetizers, salad, pizza buffet, and dessert for $10.00.

The program will be given by Debbie Durn, who will share stories about working on the NCT 30 years ago. Roger Morrison will have a HSS Visual Presentation. Reservations are appreciated but not necessary (Room capacity of 50).

Contact Glenn Cornwell for more information

Friday, April 10, 2009

Native Plants Promoted in the Manistee

interpretive sign about native plant pollinators
Pollinator and Native Plant Interpretive Display Sign (photo from US Forest Service)
excerpted from National Forest Success Stories "Native Plant Pollinator Gardens on the Baldwin Ranger District,"by Catherine Salm, used with permission

Four native plant pollinator gardens/displays have been established by the Baldwin Ranger District on the Huron-Manistee NF to provide habitat for pollinator insects and provide an educational experience for the public. Unfortunately, pollinator decline has been making big headlines in the past several years. Pollinators are critical to the health of our ecosystem and our human food supply.

In 2008, the Baldwin Ranger District developed two large, colorful signs explaining the importance of native plants for pollinating insects and how to construct pollinator friendly habitats. These signs were placed at two of the four gardens. The first of these gardens is located at the Loda Lake National Wildflower Sanctuary. Loda Lake is now accessible from the NCT via a connector trail. The second of these gardens is located at the entrance to a parking area for the North Country Trail.

Efforts in 2009 will focus on expanded educational efforts at these sites, including the addition of informational brochures and guided wildflower walks at the Loda Lake National Wildflower Sanctuary. In addition, seed collection efforts will be increased to provide additional nectar species seed for planting at restoration sites throughout the District.

See Newaygo Birch Grove Loop Trail Dedicated

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Sage Enjoys NCT near Yankee Springs

North Country Trail south of Chief Noonday Road
south of Chief Noonday Road (photo by Sage)
from the blog Sage Covered Hills , used with permission

Jeff, aka, Sage, likes to hike in Yankee Springs Recreation Area, Michigan. Here's what he had to say about this day, April 5. "The dog and I took a hike yesterday afternoon along the blue-blazed North Country Trail. It was a pleasant day to see what signs of spring may be lurking under the dead leaves. The trail wove in and out between hardwood stands and pine plantations. A stiff breeze was blowing, bringing in cooler and wetter weather. Tonight they’re calling for snow, but yesterday the wind rustled through the pines, creating the lonely sound that gives a rise to my desire to roam."

North Country Trail south of Chief Noonday Road
south of Chief Noonday Road (photo by Sage)
This section is handy for Sage in any season. He also visited it in February, and wrote: "I’m getting tired of this weather. We get a good base of snow, then it warms up for a day or two and rains and we have to start all over. But for this weekend, I’ve been able to enjoy cross-country skiing. Friday afternoon I skied with my daughter. The first picture is of her and the Triscuit (the dog). The dog loves to go with us, but he constantly has to stop and clean the snow out of his paws... The trees are beautiful when snow hugs the trees."

Hearing of people who use the trail on a regular basis confirms the value of trail work for many volunteers. Enjoy the trail, Sage!

See the April post A Walk in the Woods
See the February post Weekend Photos

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Patching Trail Together a Few Feet at a Time

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easement grantor David Peterson holds a basket of picnic goodies given to him as a "thank you." (photo by Lynda Rummel)
based on an article in the Finger Lakes Trail News, Spring 2009

The North Country Trail has picked all the low-hanging fruit. This is how our trail building status is sometimes described. Most of the trail that can be built on public land has been completed or, at least, routed. The remainder of the route will have to be negotiated, small stretch by small stretch, with landowners.

The Finger Lakes Trail in New York has been teaching us how to work with landowners. A great deal of that trail (which is concurrent with the NCT for over 300 miles) passes off road by the generosity of landowners, often with handshake agreements. But, those agreements need to be made more legally binding to protect both parties. Easements are a good way to accomplish this.

The Finger Lakes Trail Conference (FLTC) has just announced three new easements on what is known as the Art Kopp section. Kopp was the former head of the Finger Lakes Chapter of the Adriondack Mountain Club. The trail between South Bradford and Watkins Glen is named for him.

The three new easements total about 1800 feet of trail, yet those few feet are critical to a continuous off-road route.
  • Stephen and Kathryn Trechter, owners of Sugar Hill Farm, granted an easement of 800 feet that lie between two sections of South Bradford State Forest.
  • Shirley and Peter Koseba have allowed passage from the hamlet of South Bradford to the old Moss Hill Road
  • David and Paulette Peterson provided for continuation of that route with an easement from old Moss Hill Road to the state forest boundary.
Trail leaders work hard to build good relationships with landowners. Hikers need to take responsibility to observe restrictions which landowners have requested. By such means the trail will be completed.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eight NCTA Volunteer Adventures - 2009

volunteers doing rock work
a workshop on how to build trail using natural rock
from the North Country Trail Association

Interested in having a meaningful time in the outdoors this summer? Love trails, but never thought much about how they got there, or who takes care of them? Volunteer Adventures may be just right for you!

The North Country Trail Association is planning eight different opportunities this summer to improve the trail, in different states.

The first one is coming right up, April 15-19, in Ohio. In partnership with the Buckeye Trail Association volunteers will build new trail in the Scioto Trail State Forest in the Appalachian foothills of south central Ohio. The original Scioto Trail was an Indian trail that followed the Scioto River from northern Ohio to the Kentucky hunting grounds. The trail was later used by settlers who came upriver from Portsmouth to the first capital of Ohio, Chillicothe. During this project we’ll have the opportunity to take a break and visit some nearby historic and prehistoric sites of international significance.

Next, May 16-20, in the Douglas County Forest of northwestern Wisconsin volunteers will build new trail near the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway. The crew will be staying in a trail crew work camp situated beneath tall red pines. This 20 acre stand of pines is surrounded by over 4,000 acres of what is locally known as Pine Barrens. Essentially, this is a mix of grass and shrub prairie, which is managed for prairie loving species--primarily the Sharp Tail Grouse.

June 6-10, volunteers will work at McConnells Mill State Park, Pennsylvania. This project focuses on improving the trail with rock work along Slippery Rock Creek. The park encompasses 2,546 acres of the spectacular Slippery Rock Creek Gorge. Created by the draining of glacial lakes thousands of years ago, the gorge has steeps sides and the valley floor is littered with huge boulders and is a national natural landmark. A gristmill built in the 1800s is open for tours.

Trail rehabilitation in an area with steep glacial hills, waterfalls and scenic overlook will occur June 22-26 in Morgan Hill State Forest, New York. Morgan Hill State Forest is located in rural Central New York State south of Syracuse. It is a mixed hardwood and conifer forest with glacial ridges, waterfalls and valleys with steep slopes. It is one of the prettiest and most scenic parts of the Onondaga section of the Finger Lakes Trail and North Country Trail in NY

The Peter Wolfe Chapter of Michigan's western Upper Peninsula will host a crew June 25-29. The work site is in a varied area of pine plains, wetlands, small lakes, bedrock gorges, and rocky hills. Lake Superior is about ten miles away. Vegetation is diverse, with numerous pine, spruce, balsam fir, sugar maple and other hardwoods, wetland shrubs, blueberry, etc. Construction of a multi-span, 140-ft. bridge over a wetland and beaver pond, as well as construction of new NCT near the bridge site is the focus of this project.

Lonetree Wildlife Management Area is the largest wildlife management area in the State of North Dakota, is the headwaters of the Sheyenne River, and hosts 32 miles of the North Country Trail. Work will include mowing the trail, improving the trail signage and marking, and better defining the trail tread in places. The dates for this project are July 5-10.

Over 400,000 acres of the Chippewa National Forest are actually lakes and wetlands. Timberwolves, eagles, towering pines and vigorous aspen are just part of the picture. In fact, the Chippewa National Forest is home to the highest breeding population of Bald Eagles in the lower 48 Unites States! Visit the Chip August 24-28 and help with mowing the trail, improving the trail's signage and blazing, and better defining the trail tread in places.

September 17-21, a project near Marquette Michigan at the Little Garlic River is the final adventure of the year. Work would include constructing up to 5 miles of new trail by clearing debris, including some slash from logging operations, creating switchbacks and doing some benching up steep grades, developing the corridor and blazing.

See the North Country Trail Association Volunteer Adventures for more details.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Trail Clearing Opportunity on the Kek

from the Kekekabic Trail Club

Each spring, volunteer groups dedicate blocks of time to the difficult effort of clearing the trails of the Minnesota Arrowhead. Most of the trip leaders immediately filled their trips with individuals from prior trips and personal contacts All but two of the Kekekabic Trail Club Trips have already been filled for 2009. The remaining opportunities are:

May 22–25 (Drive up May 21 from Minneapolis)
NW section of the Pow Wow Trail, base camp on Horseshoe.
Contact Mark Stange 612-508-6695.]

May 29–June 2 (Drive up May 28 from Minneapolis)
Mid-western section of the Kek, starting some distance east of Disappointment, TBD based on another group's finish.
Contact Jason Johnson 651-645-7505

See Kekekabic Trail Club
See Spring BRT Clearing Schedule

Tax Day Tea Party Event at Fort Stanwix

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Fort Stanwix, NY (photo by NPS)
compiled from several sources

The Tax Day Tea Party is a national collaborative grassroots effort of conservatives, and an event will be held on April 15, at Fort Stanwix, New York. The reconstructed Revolutionary War fort is one of the three National Park Service sites along the entire length of the trail.

The Tea Party plan is for an apolitical event with speakers from the left, right and center. Politicians can attend, but organizer, Don Jeror said, "they won’t be allowed to speak because we’ve heard everything they’ve had to say. We want them to hear what the people have to say."

Jeror's challenge: Fort Stanwix was "the only American fort never to be taken by the British during our war for independence (over taxes) and the first place the American flag flew in battle. Help us symbolically protect it from another over-taxing and over-spending government."

Jeror said that he has obtained permission for the event. The group will assemble on the west lawn, which can hold over 3,000 people. There is plenty of parking.

Other Tax Day Tea Party events have been organized around the country.

For more information on this event, contact Don Jeror
See Rome Sentinel
See Tax Day Tea Party

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Aspects of the Omnibus Public Lands Act

cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore
cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore (photo by JHY)

based in part on a news article in the Grand Rapids Press, "Federal act to protect Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior, other public lands creates buzz," by Howard Myerson, April 4, 2009

Monday, President Obama signed the Omnibus Public Lands Act, and their was a collective sigh of relief from all who have been waiting a long time for various provisions of the 160 bills that made up the Act.

Along the North Country Trail, the closest determination about a parcel of land is the 11,740-acre Beaver Basin Wilderness at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore along Lake Superior. The trail does not actually traverse this particular section, although it is nearby. And there won't be any change in the way the Beaver Basin is managed. It's actually been managed as wilderness since 2004 when it was identified as potential designated wilderness.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the federal Wilderness Act in 1964. It was a landmark legislation that defined the term for the American public and created the National Wilderness Preservation System.

The North Country Trail passes through four such designated wilderness areas: McCormick in Michigan's UP, Rainbow Lake and Porcupine in Wisconsin, and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. The Rock River Canyon Wilderness, also in the UP, is directly in the route of the NCT, but the NCT has been denied passage there, and must officially bypass it. Hikers, however, often choose to hike through rather than follow a road walk.

Of course, the biggest effect of the new Act is Willing Seller Authority for the National Park Service. Bruce Mathews, NCTA Executive director, said that provision long has been needed. "It's the first of two steps," he said. Getting Congress to authorize funding comes next.

See North Country Trail Gains Willing Seller Authority
See Michigan Rep Wants to Remove Beaver Basin from Wilderness Proposal

Young Announces Plans to Finish NCT in 2010

North Country Trail Map
NCT hiked to date by JHY in red
by Joan Young

I've officially decided to attempt to wind up my 17-year quest to hike the entire North Country National Scenic Trail in 2010. It's time.

To date I have walked 3518 miles, with an estimated 878 to go. The next hike will be the Minnesota Arrowhead's northern leg. We've been planning this hike since 2004, but we've always tried for August. Since the 1999 blowdown the trail has been closed each year by that time due to the fire danger.

This time we will take our chances with the ice! Four of us, Lyle Bialk, Ed Morse, Marie Altenau and I will begin around May 9 from Judge Magney State Park and hike to Fernberg Road, east of Ely.

Tentative plans are that I will finish Minnesota this summer and also do some additional sections in Michigan. On the map above, the parts I have completed are in red, and the blue is the planned May adventure. In 2010 I'll finish New York and Ohio, and then walk the final steps in Michigan.

North Country Cache cover
The theory has always been that I would write a sequel to North Country Cache , and "Good Lord willin' and the crik don't rise," that will also come to pass.

Plans are always up for grabs. I've been hesitant to declare what would happen with my quest too far in advance. But I want to reach this goal more than I've wanted most things in my life. And I want to finish with enough energy left to actually write that second book.

See Only a Few Miles But O So Good for my last NCT hike that counted toward my quest
See The Essential Adirondacks for a short article about last summer's hike in the Adirondacks (was my monthly newspaper column)
See Triple Play in the ADKs for a longer article about last summer's hike in the Adirondacks
A journal of a North Dakota hike is available on Xanga, but posts there don't have permalinks. If anyone would like to read it you can go to Sharkbytes on Xanga, then in the bottom left corner choose July 28, 2007 and click GO. This will take you to the preparations for that hike and then you can work through the hike with the "previous" and "next" choices in the bottom right of the page. Xanga's awkwardness is one reason I left!

And a few pictures from that North Dakota hike are at Memories of a North Dakota Hike

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Garmin 1:24,000 New York Map Download

from posts on the fingerlakestrail email group by Don McClimans and Joe Dabes

There is now a NY state topo map that you can download to your Garmin GPS. The direct link to the map is Once in Garmin Topo, open Garmin Topo and in the upper left corner it will appear as a map choice: pick "New York Topo."

This is a 24,000:1 equivalent map, with 10 and 20 ft contour intervals, showing topography, roads, water (lakes, rivers, streams), and railroads. This new map has considerably more detail than Topo 2008 which is 100,000:1. However, to see the difference you need to zoom in so that the "scale" on your Garmin GPSr or MapSource is 800 ft or less.

You can load this map into Garmin MapSource, and then download the map to your GPS unit. The site has detailed instructions for how to do this if you need help. This website seems to say you can download Garmin MapSource Topo for free, if you have a Garmin unit, even an automotive Nuvi. This is not the case. You must have MapSource already installed in order to install this latest version. Yup, no free lunch here. MapSource Topo costs about $80 at Amazon (see the link in the right column to place an Amazon order that benefits the NCTA). is a nice site to know about if you have a Garmin GPS. There are 24K maps for many states, as well as road maps, maps for multi-state regions, etc. They are done by various volunteers, so the quality probably varies. Map availability is growing rapidly -- the NY map has only been available since early February.

Excellent tutorials are available at GPS File Depot on how to load these maps into your Garmin and how to switch map sets that are loaded into your Garmin handheld unit. Yes, you can have more than one set of maps on your handheld.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

New Home for NCT Long Distance Hiker Info

footprint logos for NCT clubs
by JHY

Today I made a beginning effort to start collecting the documents about long-distance hikers into one location.

The new NCTA web site is only going to support parts of what I think interests long-distance hikers. I have no wish to be "in competition" with NCTA, but since the "Clubs" was an unofficial but allowed project of mine in the first place, I'm not going to let it all fall by the wayside.

For now, I've started putting this information in a sub-folder of a server that I own space on. Perhaps in the future I'll be able to get it a domain name and its own space.

The new site is presently very bare bones. But I have gotten the "Clubs" links in the right hand column working again. The links from those pages to trail journals or news items about the hikers now work, although I don't have all the graphics moved and re-pointed.

The Lower Michigan Passport project is NOT dead, and that will also be moved to the new location. I've also added a "Donate" button there, for anyone who would like to support the effort to get NCT Long Distance Hikers off the ground.

I'll continue to improve it as I get a spare moment or two.

See North Country Trail Long Distance Hikers