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, August 30, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad is in Eastern New York

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from and Nimblewill's Journal

The cold front that was forecast to come in yesterday afternoon finally arrived around two this morning, bringing rain.

Another dark and dreary morning. The rain is on hold, but there's plenty of fog.

Gordon scouts out Cuyler while I'm headed there, to not only find a cafe, but to find it open--at six-thirty Sunday morning. Oh yes, this day, though foggy and threatening rain, is starting out just fine. The special, biscuits and gravy, plus a pot of coffee for us to split. Yup, starting out just fine!

Out of Cuyler the FLT has had to be rerouted onto a very long round-about roadwalk, the result of closure of a parcel of private land where the trail previously passed. On SR-13 just past West Keeney Road a farmer's dog comes out for a piece of my leg, with the owner right behind, trying to make the dog mind. In the process I meet Todd. He's very familiar with the FLT and the NCT, has a friend who's hiked the AT and is out on the PCT now. I ask him about the land closure just down the road from his place, and we also talk about possible alternate off-road routes to take the trail into Morgan Hill SF. During the exchange, Todd says he wouldn't mind the trail crossing his property! Have to pass that information along.

More climbing today, but not to the extent of previous days. And for the most part, the tread is hardened in from much more use, making staying on trail very easy. It's a joy hiking well marked and maintained trail. The rain has been threatening most the entire day and finally comes in at four in the form of thunderstorms, wave after wave. Not pounding rain, but enough to create a gullywasher out of the trail.

Late afternoon, when I break out on Highland Park Road, in Highland Forest County Park, Gordon is right there, waiting patiently. "Got something for you to think about." he says with a smile, knowing that I want to hike on at least another hour. "Here's dinner, and we've an invitation to stay in the park tonight, in a cabin or in the old administration building, which has a shower." He'd gone into the Skyline Visitor Center where he met Lucy. Folks at Skyline know I'm coming through, there's a reception scheduled for me in the morning, and so Lucy has invited us to stay.

I'm tired, soaked, and dirty. The decision is easy--quit for the day and accept Lucy's fine hospitality. And that's exactly what we do.

A wedding reception is in full swing at the center, but Lucy has time for me, as does her entire staff. They each take a moment to introduce themselves and welcome me. A happy, cheerful bunch: Karen, Alicia, Bob, Tyler, Gina, Kaylee, Melanie, and Sean. Also the folks catering the event stop to meet me. They're the folks who put the dinners together for us.

Oh my, an hour ago I was just hoping to find a place to park the van, and perhaps, should the rain quit, have time to crank the Coleman and cook dinner. A beautiful thing--how this day has come around!

Nimblewill Nomad's NCT Journal

Friday, August 28, 2009

"See" the Newest Miles of the SHT

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Rudi Hargesheimer says "I’ve traveled the world over shooting photos. There are spectacular places with artistic photo compositions waiting to be brought to light everywhere. But, it is in my home state and around our big lake that I’ve returned time after time, and I never stop craving more." He is referring to the North Shore of Lake Superior.

He is also a past board member and President of the Superior Hiking Trail Association. His love for the North Shore extends to the hiking trail. Among his popular trail presentations is a program "Sentiments from the Heart," which combines lines from SHT logbooks with his beautiful photographs.

On September 22, Join Rudi for a look at the newest 78 miles of the Superior Hiking Trail. He will present the 48 miles of trail between Jay Cooke State Park and the northeast end of Duluth. Rudi also will give a sneak peak at the new 30 miles of trail that wraps around to the west and south of Two Harbors. Most of this did not officially open until Labor Day. The Superior Hiking Trail is famous for its northern 205 miles, but this show will introduce attendees to the newest miles.

The program will be in the Expedition Room, Midwest Mountaineering, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 7 pm.

Superior Hiking Trail

Monday, August 17, 2009

Signs of Passage

trail entering Chippewa National Forest
where the NCT enters the Chippewa NF at the east on County Rd 132 (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

The pavement walk from the Chippewa to the Kekekabic is done! My total came in at 183.2 miles (which included a 3-mile detour we had to take one day). Even though there were some beautiful moments, that many miles of pavement will never be my favorite. Here are just some signs of the passage. When we reached the sign that said 15 miles to Ely we felt like we were actually getting somewhere even though there were 2 1/2 more days to walk. Ely is a big hiking/camping/canoeing/biking center and we felt like we were among those who understood instead of being two crazy ladies out walking a hot road.

Now we are headed into the woods today with backpacks to do the final miles I have left on the Superior Hiking Trail.

sign leaving Chippewa National Forest
(photo by JHY)

sign entering Superior National Forest
(photo by JHY)

Ely sign
(photo by JHY)

Kekekabic Trail sign
connecting with the May hike! (photo by JHY)

It's really hard to describe the thrill of connecting with the location where our wilderness hike ended this May. Note the same signpost as in Home, the Hike Was Great!, (with a lot more greenery evident.)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Connections on the Mesabi Trail

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typical Mesabi Trail (photo by JHY)

OutdoorBlips: vote it up! by JHY

I've almost connected the back portion of the Minnesota Arrowhead from the Chippewa NF to the Kekakabic Trailhead east of Ely. We have 2 1/2 hiking days left. Today is a day off, with a morning at an internet cafe, so I'm trying to do a post. About half of the distance can be hiked on the Mesabi Trail, a paved multi-use trail. It's not ideal, but it's better than a road walk, and some parts are very pretty. It have met walkers, bicyclists, roller bladers and a lady being pushed in a wheelchair who uses it every day.
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partially reclaimed mine land (photo by JHY)

The trail follows the Mesabi Iron Range on Minnesota and has one basic industry- iron mining. Almost every hill is a artificial pile of red rocks, and almost every lake is an old mining pit. Yet there is a real beauty in the landscape. The mining companies are working hard to do better and improve their image and provide recreational facilities for people in the area. The Mesabi trail is about 40% rail trail and 60% on other land, which may be mining land, so it is not often the flat, straight boring surface of many paved trails.
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trailheadsign (photo by JHY)

Each town has a trailhead, with a kiosk and an archway with the town name. There is still a lot of work to be done, including completing a lot more miles to the north. It's not ideal for the North Country National Scenic Trail, but it is certainly a viable alternative to a pure roadwalk for now.
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red breasted nuthatch (photo by JHY)

We've seen a lot of small wildlife, some quite close, which has been fun. Here's a red-breasted nuthatch.

I've posted this from an internet cafe, but we have to scoot. Really soon. Total miles of NCT, almost 3850 now! Still hikin'!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Border Route Trail Reconnaissance Trip

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from Ed Solstad

We're looking for a few good people for a weekend of wilderness day-hiking and canoeing on the BWCAW section of the Border Route Trail.

Now that we have your interest, please read on.

After receiving reports on the less than ideal condition of the wilderness section of the Border Route Trail, we've decided that we really need to send out a reconnaissance trip in order to accurately assess the situation ourselves. While this trip is not for the casual day-hiker who loathes roughing it, neither do we require you to be a graduate of Marine Corp Recruit Depot, Parris Island - although that might not be a bad thing judging from some of the reports that we've seen. Still interested? See below for further details.

In order to get a first hand idea of the condition of the Wilderness section of the Border Route Trail between Clearwater and Loon Lakes We'd like to take a reconnaissance trip the weekend of August 15th and 16th. The plan is to do this as a series of day hikes and to spot a canoe or canoes at Stairway Portage in order to have a reasonable hiking distance per day. (See below for details) The ideal trip size would be 4 people but we could possibly accommodate as many as 8. Participants should be in sufficiently good physical shape to be able to hike up to 9 miles on trails that have an unknown amount of deadfalls and brush. GPS experience would be helpful as we want to create records of what needs to be done where. The plan is to leave Friday night and return on Sunday night. We could also go up for 3 to 4 days if people were interested. Trip cost would be no more than $49/person.

Let me know if you're interested. If you can't make it on the 15th and 16th, would you be interested if it went out later and if so, what weekends would work for you.

Minnesota Rovers

Monday, August 3, 2009

NCTA Conference- Saturday

Sheyenne State Forest- stiarway to heaven
"stairway to heaven" (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

Saturday at the Valley City NCTA conference was filled again with lots of activities. One of the hikes offered both Saturday and Sunday was to the Sheyenne State Forest, North Dakota's only state forest. It is an ecological oddity with bur oak and hills, and the state's only registered waterfall. The hike begins with the "stairway to heaven," a long climb up a hill on steps built into the hill.

Views from the trail are lovely with the rolling Dakota hills in the distance, here framed by leadplant. Many of the prairie plants will only be seen along the North Country Trail in North Dakota. The trail ends at the small waterfall. This is a certified section of NCT, but it does not currently connect to any other portion, so thru-hikers usually follow a road and miss seeing it.

Sheyenne State Forest- view with leadplant
"leadplant frames the North Dakota hills" (photo by JHY)

Annual awards were given in the evening, with many well-deserved recipients. The highest honor, the lifetime achievement award, went to Al Larmann of New York. His efforts to connect the Finger Lakes Trail with the Adirondacks have moved the NCT across New York and brought the trail to the attention of many people. Recipients must have more than ten years of volunteer service to the trail.

Al Larmann and John Leinan
"Al Larmann (left) receives the Lifetime Achievement Award from past president John Leinan" (photo by JHY)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

NCTA Conference- Friday

people in a workshop

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by JHY

The day began with workshops. Some were geared towards the goals of the NCTA, such as dealing with problem areas within chapters. Other sessions were of more general interest, such as GPS use or photographing wildlife.

hikers at Kathryn, ND
In the afternoon, participants had several hikes to choose from. One hike followed the former rail bed of the "Ladies Line" from Kathryn, ND to Claussen Springs Recreation Area. The Ladies Line was so named because it connected the towns of Kathryn, Alice, Elizabeth, Marion and Myra.

dinner tables

auctioning a stuffed horse
Friday, dinner moved inside to a more elegant setting. This was followed by the live auction, with Bruce Matthews, NCTA Executive Director, serving as auctioneer. Here, Bruce poses with Molly the Wells Fargo bank mascot, as Molly goes up for bids.

Between the live and silent auctions, $6000 was raised for the NCTA. One of the two most expensive items was this quilt. It was made by members of the Sheyenne River Valley Chapter out of t-shirts that have been issued by the NCTA over its history. It sold for $525.

NCTA quilt

The evening concluded with a program by Gregg Treinish and Deia Schlosberg about their 7800 mile trek the length of the Andes Mountains.

NCTA Conference- Thursday

Dave Cornell, Bobby Koepplin
Dave Cornell passes the gavel to Bobby Koepplin (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

The 2009 North Country Trail Conference began Thursday in Valley City, North Dakota. Many people went on hikes or took a bus tour to the western terminus of the trail. However, NCTA business is always conducted on Thursday including a meeting of the board of directors. Dave Cornell finished his two years as President, and passed the gavel to Bobby Koepplin. Bobby's custom license plate is ENER G, and that is certainly appropriate.

Koepplins do the polka
Bobby and Deb Koepplin do the polka (photo by JHY)

The evening included a barbeque, and live music. Bobby and wife Deb demonstrated some more of that energy with a lively polka.

Included in the evening's fun was a demonstration by a local Cavalry reinactment group. Not only did they show off military skills, but everyone was treated to pie, cornbread and other treats baked in dutch ovens.

Also, the National Park Service handed out volunteer awards to those people who have donated 100, 200, 500, 1000, and 2500 hours of service to the NCTA.

Cavalry reinactment
shooting demonstration by the Cavalry reinactors (photo by JHY)