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, September 27, 2009

Milford, Ohio - Embracing the Trail Town Concept

Trail Junction sign
the sign which will be placed at the actual junction of the eight trails, with Joan Young and Ron Strickland (photo by JHY)

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by JHY

The sycamore leaves were twirling on a lazy breeze, and the rain which had fallen all week backed off to at least a trickle, as the Citizens for a Better Milford hosted the 4th Annual Trail Junction Festival. A town crier rang his bell and Mayor Charlene Hinners presented certificates of appreciation to several members of the Citizens Group.

Trail Junction festival displays
each trail had a display (photo by JHY)

Not only was each of the eight trails which meet in Milford, Ohio represented, many of them gave presentations throughout the day. Attending for the North Country Trail were Andrew Bashaw, Regional Trail Coordinator for Ohio/Pennsylvania, and Joan Young, hiker. Another face familiar to many NCT folks is Ron Strickland who explained the Sea to Sea Route which will include the North Country Trail.

Milford has a plan which, if brought to fruition, will set the bar very high for trail towns. In keeping with the theme, they hope to build a Trail Junction Park. This area along the Little Miami River includes everything from an elevated road crossing to safely bring hikers and cyclists across a busy highway to a hotel! Two camping areas are also included in the park, and a large conservatory for botanical displays.

Trail Junction park master plan
Trail Junction park Master Plan (photo by JHY)

The key element of the park will be an eight-sided building, with one entrance on each face dedicated to one of the eight trails. As a person enters the building they will be able to see displays, a mini-museum about the designated trail. On the second floor of the building will be classrooms which could be used for education, workshops, etc. and offices where he hopes each trail will want to situate a staff member. And the top story of the building will be an open room for large meetings, banquets, etc.

Some NCT folks will remember Steve Boller, and wife Sharon, who attended the Annual Conference in North Dakota this summer. Steve, a retired lawyer, is one of the key players in the Citizens for a Better Milford group. They note that the small city was pleased to discover that they have a single meeting point for so many trails, and believe that the feature is too unique to ignore.

Steve Boller
Steve Boller poses beside the Master Plan (photo by JHY)

It's unlikely that this plan would come to fruition in time for the Annual Conference 2011, but after spending a weekend with this energetic group, it wouldn't surprise me a bit to see Conference 2018 in Milford, Ohio!

See Trail Junction Festival
See Junction Trails Park Newsletter

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Gone Hiking

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from JHY

I'm headed out hiking following the Trail Junction Festival. Planning to finish the NCT in Ohio with 104 miles - the southernmost of the entire trail.

Not sure if I'll be able to post along the way or not. See you in a few days.

SeeA Major Hiking Decision

Friday, September 25, 2009

Trail Junction Festival Tomorrow - Milford Ohio

Trail Junction Festival logo

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a news release of Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

The Trail Junction Festival in Milford, Ohio kicks off tomorrow, Sept 26, for two days of trail fun. The purpose is to celebrate and bring awareness to the over 22,000 miles of Long Distance Hiking, Cycling and Paddling Trails that converge in Milford.

Milford, Ohio is situated at a unique crossroads of America's Long Distance Trails. They celebrate this connection at The Junction! The Fourth Annual Junction Trail Festival in Milford celebrates the following trails:
  • Buckeye Trail
  • North Country National Scenic Trail
  • American Discovery Trail
  • Sea to Sea Long Distance Hiking Route
  • Underground Railroad Cycling Route
  • Ohio to Erie Cycling Route
  • Little Miami Scenic Trail
  • Little Miami Scenic River

A number of NCT folks will be there, including Joan Young, with a slide show, and informal question session, book sales and signing. Andrew Bashaw, OH Regional Field Coordinator for the NCT, and BTA executive director will represent our trail, and Ron Strickland will promote the Sea to Sea Route.

Hike, paddle, bike, go fishing, eat ice cream and enjoy a campfire. Everyone is praying that the predicted rain will hold off.

If you live anywhere near... it should be great.

Trail Junction Festival

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad is Back on the Trail

Nimblewill Nomad
Nimblewill Nomad in NY a few weeks ago (photo from Mary Coffin)

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submitted by Todd McMahon

On Sept 11, Nimblewill wrote in his journal, from the Border Route Trail "My right knee gave me a fit the entire day last, not a moment of letup with the pain. Rolling out this morning, I am very stiff and sore. Finally, I'm pack up and moving, although ever-so-slowly. I've a hunch these last couple-three miles will stick in my memory awhile."

He had, indeed, injured his knee, and headed home for some work and recuperation time, hoping to finish the NCT yet this year. He continued "After 4100 miles, only 300 left to finish this odyssey--I don't understand, I just don't understand. And so, with great reluctance, we turn from this trail, load, and head for home."

But word was received via email to Todd McMahon on Sept 23 that Nimblewill Nomad is headed back to the trail! Todd said "Eb Eberhardt, AKA NimbleWill Nomad, is apparently going to be headed back up to Northern Minnesota to finish the last 8 miles of the Border Route, then hike the Superior Hiking Trail down to Two Harbors."

The knee is still a little swollen, but he just can't stay home any longer! Eb quoted Lance Armstrong, "Pain in temporary. Quitting lasts forever."

There is no update on his journal yet, but we wish him well!

Nimblewill Nomad's Journal

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tom Salwasser's Impressions of the Chippewa

NCT at Co 132 Chippewa NF
where the NCT enters the Chippewa NF at the east on County Rd 132- prior to maintenance! (photo by JHY)

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from Tom Salwasser (excerpted from a a post to NCT Friends)

I recently took over maintenance duties of a small section of the NCT from the Forest Service. I've been amazed at the quality and beauty of the NCT in the Chip, something I'd long ignored. The Forest Service did an excellent job in building this trail and gave each section an annual mowing, but we didn't do our part. It's gone largely unused except for the occasional NCT thru hiker. All the maintenance in the world won't help a trail that isn't hiked.

I hope to section hike all 68 miles of the trail this fall and spring. Last week I hiked the eastern most section of the trail, 3.5 miles from CR132 to the National Forest boundary plus a bonus 2 miles. This section of the trail may be abandoned due to the Arrowhead Reroute, which would be a shame.

Easy access off Hwy 200 east of Remer on CR132 leads to an ample parking area. The Carsonite post will lead you into the woods. After a half mile of freshly mowed trail, it joins up with a Forest Service road used by ATV's. This road follows the abandoned railroad bed of the Pine Tree Spur #309. From 1911 to 1916 gear driven Lima Shay locomotives hauled logs up grades approaching 13% en route to the nearby Soo Line railroad and ultimately a lumber mill in Little Falls, MN.

You cross a wide bridge over the creek between Saylor Lake and Thibeault Lake. These pristine lakes and stream offer a good source of water (be sure to filter) and unofficial campsite. I want to return with a kayak when I get a chance. The remainder of the trail has been over run by ATV usage but is a pleasant walk none the less.

At some point I left the Chippewa National Forest and crossed from Cass County to Aitkin County. This trail is a snowmobile trail in the winter with wide wet wallows in spots. My goal is to reach Holy Water Lake, another pristine, undeveloped lake I saw on the map and heard about from others. The lake received it's name when in the early 1900s a Catholic priest owned land near the lake. Surveyors discovered most of his land was at the bottom of the lake so they named it Holy Water. I did reach this lake and it was worth the extra 2 (or so) miles. It offered a couple camp site options and a beautiful sandy beach. It was as wild and beautiful a spot as I had ever seen. I cleaned up a pile of beer cans and trash from the camp site.

I do hope we manage to retain this section of the trail as a spur to the main NCT after the reroute. Tracing my route back to CR132 gave me a nice 10 mile hike.

I've posted a map of the North Country Trail in the Chippewa National Forest, MN in the files section NCT Friends group. This is my favorite map of the several available. It was published by the Forest Service many years ago but is now out of print. In addition to being an excellent map, it has lots of interesting and useful information about the trail.

Join NCT Friends

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

5 of MI Top 10 Hikes Include NCT Sections

Tahquamenon Falls
Tahquamenon Falls (from the NCTA web site)

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based on an article in the Saginaw News

Hugh Bernreuter, sportswriter for the Saginaw News has put forth a list of the ten best day hikes in Michigan, based on his personal experiences. He is an avid hiker and backpacker, and has been checking out Michigan trails since grade school.

Of the ten hikes he selected, five of them include sections of the North Country Trail. The very first words on his list are "North Country Trail." How cool is that?!

Black River
one of the falls on the Black River (photo JHY)

1. "North Country Trail/Porcupine Mountains waterfall hike, Bessemer" -- Here one can take an 11-mile walk and almost see one waterfall per mile. Head north along the Black River to Lake Superior passing 7 waterfalls, hike east four miles to the Presque Isle River and follow that to see 3 more falls.

2. "Chapel Loop, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Munising -- This 6.5-mile loop takes you past one of the state's top waterfalls (Chapel Falls) and to one of Michigan's most scenic beaches (Chapel Beach)." Chapel Beach is on the Lakeshore Trail, another section of the NCT.

4. "Tahquamenon Falls, Paradise -- Perhaps Michigan's best river hike. The 4.5-mile, one-way trail takes you from the Upper Falls to the Lower Falls along the Tahquamenon River." Once again, this piece of state park trail is also a portion of the NCT.

5. "McCormick Wilderness, Michigamme -- If you want solitude, this is your hike." Several short trails begin at the parking area on the west side of the wilderness. "The North Country trail runs along the southern edge of the McCormick and can also be accessed from the parking lot." Be prepared if you want to hike this one. Wilderness cannot be blazed, and many have gotten lost here.

Pond in the McCormack Wilderness
pond on the main trail in the McCormack Wilderness (not on the NCT - photo JHY)

7. "Sturgeon Falls, Sidnaw -- A challenging one-mile trail takes you into a deep canyon to the falls, a powerful blast of 30 feet. The area is a hot spot for rock climbers and you can also access the North Country Trail from the parking area."

Be sure to check out Hugh's article for his other selections!

Top Ten: Michigan Day Hikes

Monday, September 21, 2009

Border Route Maintenance - East

Border Route Trail leaves Otter Lake Rd.
the Border Route Trail heads north from Otter Lake Rd. at the northern end of the Superior Hiking Trail (photo by JHY)

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from Ed Solstad, Mechanized Maintenance Coordinator, Border Route Trail Association

We're pleased to announce that all portions of the Pigeon River Cliffs section of the Border Route Trail from The SHT / BRT Otter Lk Rd Junction through to McFarland Lk have now received both a dead-fall and a brushing sweep between mid-May, 2009 and mid-September, 2009. All it needs now is more users to help keep it open. This is where all of you come in.

If you've avoided hiking the BRT because of the usually exaggerated reports of impenetrable brush and dead-falls every few feet, take heart. While it is still not up to Hennepin Park standards, we want to keep it that way on purpose. The Pigeon River Cliffs Section has many of the same characteristics as the BWCAW sections such as magnificent overlooks, stands of old growth forest, and solitude without having to deal with wilderness restrictions, permits, lack of road access, etc. We guarantee that you won't be disappointed.

Pigeon River Cliffs on the Border Route Trail
Pigeon River Cliffs on the Border Route Trail (photo by JHY)

We highly recommend that you give it a try this fall while the recent maintenance is still fresh. If you can't make it out to hike this fall, consider joining one of the BRT maintenance trips next Spring.

Speaking of maintenance trips, we're planning a non-mechanized trip to the East Rose Lake Section on Oct. 2nd through the 5th. Contact Chris Fothergill at 651-454-7030 or for further information. There are also two mechanized maintenance trips to the Gunflint Section on the weekends of Oct 3rd & 4th and Oct 16 through 18th. Contact Ed Solstad at 612-822-0569 or

We welcome anything that will help to keep this trail open and usable be it as simple as a getting out and taking a day-hike to one of the easily accessible overlooks to a longer overnight, or for the truely hardcore, a through-hike. What the is most in need of however is maintenance in the Wilderness Sections. One way of improving the situation would be to establish a network of interested people who actually live closer to the trail. Trying to run an adequate trail maintenance program from the Twin Cities is certainly not the most efficient way of doing things. If you can provide anything along the lines of sugestions, contacts, actual manpower, etc. pleas contact us. The trail thanks you. In the meantime, get out there and hike.

Border Route Trail
Contact Ed Solstad at 612-822-0569 or

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hosting Nimblewill Nomad in New York

Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club
members of the Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club greeted Nimblewill Nomad in August

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submitted by Mary Coffin

The Onondaga Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK-ON) and Highland Forest Park staff co sponsored a welcoming reception and lunch on August 24 for through hiker Nimble Will.

Fourteen ADKers were on hand to welcome him at Highland’s beautiful Skyline Visitor’s Center as he passed through. Highland Forest County Park provided a great location as the North Country National Scenic Trail and concurrent Finger Lakes Onondaga Trail cross the park. The staff at Highland and caterer, Orchard Vali, donated a wonderful buffet lunch to the group. Highland Forest is proud to host both these prestigious foot trails and ADK Onondaga members enjoy maintaining them.

We had the opportunity to pick the brain of this through hiker, 70 year old, retired optometrist, to determine the enjoyment he receives from such a feat. Nimble Will has hiked nearly 20,000 miles including six original National Scenic Trails (ex: Appalachian Trail etc). He commented that his “grand dad and dad died in the woods” and he hoped to also. He loves the outdoors and the woods as he feels that “God is there”, it is a spiritual experience and added, “there is no cathedral as grand as a half acre (of woods).” Being outdoors “recharges his batteries”. In this busy world we can all take a lesson here. In Nimble Will’s opinion if one is reasonably fit and packs light, long distance hiking is 80% mental. It is most important to take care of one’s feet.

[Ed note: Nimblewill is currently off the trail recuperating from a knee injury]

See Nimblewill's journal
See Nimblewill Nomad Off Trail with Knee Injury

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gordon Lachinet Nearing the 1000 Mile Club

Gordon Lachinet
Gordon Lachinet)

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by JHY, based on Gordon's journal and personal communication

Gordon Lachinet keeps vowing that he’s not going to do any more long hikes, but every time he gets home from one he’s quickly cooking up plans for another. Now he’s realized just how close he is getting to becoming a member of the unofficial 1000 Mile NCT Club, so he suspects that he’ll be tempted into the woods again. He’s affectionately known to many hikers as “Grumpy Gord,” nevertheless, he’s agreed to let me share some of his experiences with you.

This summer he checked out some of the great trail miles in Wisconsin. He likes to write up trip reports just for himself. It’s the “the type of thing I keep to read on winter evenings,” he says.

One of the things Gordon tried is that he used a shuttle service, D&J Shuttle to take him from Mellen to Solon Spring. It’s pretty awesome that there are at least a few places along the NCT where one can find this kind of service.

On August 20 he hiked the road section out of Solon Spring to reach the Brule- St. Croix Portage section of the trail, an awesome historical pathway. This major connection between the two waterways is marked with commemorative stones with the names of important people who have used the portage.
North Country Trail in Bayfield County Forest, Wisconsin
Gordy didn't take pictures, but this is from the Bayfield County Forest NCT, taken in October 2005

The first night he camped in the bluff site at Jerseth Creek. Following that he camped at Erick Lake Campsite in the Brule River State Forest and Bayfield County Forest.

After entering the Chequamegon National Forest, dispersed camping is allowed. Gordy reports that he didn’t have much trouble finding the trail through the Rainbow Lake Wilderness. This is really good news because Region 9 of the Forest Service (all but North Dakota on the NCT) does not allow blazing in designated wilderness.

At the Lake Owen picnic grounds he first encountered other people, a mother and children who had driven to this access point. Continuing east in the Cheq, Gordy reports that the trail became more difficult to find, especially where the ski trails in the Penokee area braid through the NCT. (Hikers found this very true ten years ago as well!)

He concludes that, in August, water can be difficult to find along the route but “overall it was a good trip.”

You can read Gordy’s full report at the NCT Friends message board, where he has posted his itinerary and comments. See the entry on Sept 18. This is a significant off-road section trail that really doesn't get the use it deserves. Why not plan a Wisconsin adventure for next year?

NCT Friends Yahoo Group

Friday, September 18, 2009

Color Blindness and Trail Blazes

a painted 2x6 inch trail blaze
a properly painted North Country Trail blaze

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excerpted from the Finger Lakes Trail e-group, Sept 7,8, 2009

Recently, on the Finger Lakes Trail e-group there was a discussion about trying to follow trails if one is color blind. Some of the branch trails of the FLT system are blazed in orange, and these blazes are nearly invisible to those who are red-green color blind. The problem primarily affects men, with somewhere between 5 and 7% of the population being unable to discern red and green. Other, much less common problems with color perception occur. About one-half of one percent of women are red-green color blind.

Many trails are marked with colors that contain large amounts of red or green pigment, so in the discussion that followed several people offered suggestions for how to see trail blazes when there are problems discerning colors. Three different fellows in the group admitted that they have difficulties with this, so the situation does come up.

Someone said that it is a problem for him to tell the FLT white-blazed main trail from the blue-blazed side trails. At a junction he’s never sure if he’s continuing on the main trail or headed for a campsite or water source.

Another person mentioned that in Europe sometimes blazes have stripes so that the colors can be seen. That doesn’t seem like a very good solution. It’s often hard enough to get trail maintainers who will keep a trail blazed with one color, let alone coming back when the paint is dry to add a stripe!

Another man said that he always hikes with a non-color blind friend.

Lynda Rummel, the Finger Lakes Trail Conference Director of Trail Quality offered several good ideas. First she identified two parts of the challenge: “picking out the manmade blazes from the natural blobs on the trees, and secondly, identifying the color of the blaze, once the blaze has been seen”

She offered an interesting aid for color blind hikers. She suggests getting several pieces of vinyl siding (or something similar), and cutting them into 2x6" rectangles, which is the size of an FLT, or North Country Trail, or Buckeye Trail blaze. Then paint each one with the official colors of the blazes in the areas where you hike. The local trail maintainer should be able to help you with this. When these dry, write on each one with a permanent marker what color it is.

When you are hiking you can hold these color swatches up to a blaze to see which shade is the better match.

Linda also suggested using other clues, which are good advice for anyone:
  • At junctions, ask yourself, "Which trail has more use?" The main trail is likely to be well worn, where a side trail will be narrower and less compacted.
  • If the blazes are not the precise rectangles they are supposed to be, is there some similarity between the wrong-ness of the blazes. Perhaps they tend to trail off down the tree. Noting such details can help a person tell a blaze from a blob.
  • Become familiar with GPS and use it

On the other hand, trail maintainers can help by
  • making sure that blazes have crisp corners (a rectangle is not a normal shape in the woods so it can be spotted)
  • touching up often so the blazes are fresh and bright.
  • Bbeing sure to paint over blazes on abandoned trail sections with black, gray or camo paint so that they really are gone.
  • adding reassurance markers following junctions which may be disks, emblems or whatever symbol is preferred by the trail manager.

See Guide to Painting Trail Blazes

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Nimblewill Nomad Off Trail with Knee Injury

Nimblewill Nomad
Nimblewill Nomad

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received from Nimblewill Nomad, via Todd McMahon

The Lord sure works in mysterious ways. I don't know the why of this, what's going on, just trust it'll all work out for the best. Last Wednesday I blew my left knee out in the incredible tangle of brush and blowdowns that makes up most the entire Border Route Trail. I endured the remainder of that day, up from Heston's, toughed it through to within a couple miles of the trailhead, Arrowhead Trail (38 total, give or take) on Thursday, then hobbled and stumbled for two hours to make it the remainder, to where Gordon was patiently waiting Friday.

I'm home now and hope to get in to see a sport's doc tomorrow. Good Lord willin', I'll heal up enough to finish the last eight miles of the BRT and the SHT before winter sets back in on me. I dearly want to complete this NCT thru-hike, I've endured so very long.

Nimblewill's Journal

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Transportation Amendments Defeated!

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from the American Hiking Society

American Hiking Society and other trail organizations asked you to call your Senator and respectfully request that they vote NO on two amendments that would have threatened significant funding for trails and the hiking experience. Moments ago, the entire Senate voted against these amendments. More than 500 people took action on short notice, and thanks to your voice, these damaging amendments were roundly defeated!

To view video of the recent votes, visit
See How your Senator voted

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Make a Call or eMail To Save Transporation Enhancements

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from American Trails and the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy

Tomorrow, Sept 16, the US Senate will vote on the FY10 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development appropriations bill. Senators Coburn and McCain have teamed up to write an amendment which will gut the Transportaion Enhancement Fund that pays for many bicycle paths and paved pedestrian walkways. In an effort to bail out the Highway Trust Fund, they are seeking to eliminate funding for anything other than motorized transportation.

Despite the fact that some of these are required by law, the amendment calls non-motorized pathways "some of the many examples of extraneous expenditures." They are calling for the Transportation Department to set new priorities. Of course, if the Highway Trust Fund had been managed properly there would be no need to raid the enhancements.

McCain and Coburn state that the new priorities must be set because of the "realities of a collapsing transportation infrastructure." It seems as if they have forgotten that all the bike paths funded by enhancement dollars had to meet the criteria of "alternate transportation routes." Because of pedestrian and bicycle paths many people choose to stay off the roads, thus relieving some of the stress and congestion. The Safe Routes to School program has used these funds to make it possible for children to ride bikes or walk to school rather than being driven by parents.

If you think that, despite some highly publicized examples of misuse of Transportation Enhancement Funds, rails-to-trails, urban pathways, pedestrian walkways on bridges, and bicycle lanes on streets and highways have values, please contact your senator and ask him or her to vote against Amendments 2370 and 2371 to H.R. 3288.

Amendment 2370 would prohibit the use of federal funds for pedestrian or bicycle facilities, efforts to reduce vehicle collisions with wildlife, or other specified Transportation Enhancement (TE) projects if the Highway Trust Fund cannot cover unfunded highway authorizations.

Amendment 2371 would allow states to eliminate spending on TE, the nation’s largest funding source for trails, walking and bicycling. Congress currently sets aside a portion of federal funds for TE to support these projects in all states.

Read the Coburn- McCain amendment

Monday, September 14, 2009

NCT / Buckeye Trail Section Closed for a Month

rail trail Corwin Ohio
SR 73 bridge south of Corwin (photo from Little Miami Scenic Trail)

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based on a news article from the Dayton Daily News

A section of the paved Little Miami Scenic Trail in western Ohio will be closed starting today, Sept. 14, 2009, for approximately one month. Both hikers and bicyclists are being told to find an alternate route for the miles south of Corwin.

Corwin Road parallels the trail through the section and may be used as a detour. There will construction activity to be avoided, and precautions should be taken. Alan Ferguson, state park manager for the Cowan Lakes Region said, "We regret the inconvenience of a trail closure, however, it became apparent during our last site visit that due to the extent of the erosion and the size of the heavy equipment required to conduct the repairs, that a safe route around the project would not be possible."

Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District helped secure a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency to pay for repairs to the riverbank. The original railroad right of way forms the foundation of the trail, and needs to be stabilized.

The section in question is on the Caesar Creek Buckeye Trail map. Hikers have another alternative by taking the route through Caesar Creek State Park, which is probably preferable for hikers anyway. The foot trail here leaves the rail trail (going south to north) at Elbon Road, follows the shoreline of Caesar Creek Lake, and then returns to the rail-trail via Spring Valley Road.
Buckeye Trail Association

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hiawatha National Forest Hike

Roxbury Creek
hikers at the Roxbury Creek mouth (photo by M Fogarty)

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based on a posting to the NCT Friends Yahoo group, by Ewa Roszczenko, used with permission

From June,26, 2009 to July,1, 2009 a few of us were hiking a small section of the North Country Trail in the Hiawatha National Forest in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. This was a 57.4 mile NCT section hike ( minus 3 miles, I explain later), starting at the Lower Falls Campground at Tahquamenon Falls State Park, and ending at the H-40/Trout Brook Pond Trailhead.

We hiked from 8 miles to 14 miles per day. The trail is extremely well marked and it felt like it was just for us; we did not meet any hikers. I felt like in a fabulous land where I walked through ferns almost my height (well, I'm not tall, but ferns almost 5 feet,may be called tall). Many beautiful wild flowers, grass, creeks, rivers,lakes, hills and much more ... just splendor of Nature.
camping on the NCT in the Hiawatha NF
campsite with the rain and bugs (photo by M Fogarty)

The weather, shine, rain, rain, shine and more rain. And the Bugs... some time more annoying some time less, but not bad as one would think. It was raining most of the nights, but I think our sleeping bags were never wet,or just little bit, but of course a few times we had to pack wet tents/tarps. So, we were busy on our lunch breaks drying our gear.

Now, explanation about "minus 3 miles." As we know, sometimes hiking NCT we need to walk on the roads. On one rainy day, we walked on the paved road, rain and almost dark, 3 miles to go... and suddenly the track stopped and a very nice man told us he can give us a ride. First, in our minds, it will be great, I was thinking to take off my wet socks, make tea and crawl into my cozy sleeping bag, I was not alone with these thoughts, my fellow hikers were thinking the same. But, we started a conversation, is it going to be cheating, do we have to come back some other time to hike these 3 miles to say we did it? A nice man, in the truck, was listening to our dialogue and said "look at, it is dark, it is cold, it is raining, just hop into my truck"... and we hopped into his truck! He gave us a ride, 3 miles.
Tahquamenon River
Tahquamenon River (photo by M Fogarty)

The hike was organized by Mike Fogarty, with friends Ewa and Jeff participating.

See all their pictures at Webshots
Join the NCT Friends Group

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Vermont Connection Seriously Considered

based on a news article in the Addison County Independent

The Trail Around Middlebury, Vermont, the "TAM" as it is known locally, is a major project of the Middlebury Area Land Trust. It is a 16-mile footpath, encircling the village of Middlebury and linking several hundred acres of town land, conserved properties, schools, and other local landmarks.

In the revived effort to connect the North Country Trail eastward to connect with the Long Trail, and thus the Appalachian Trail, Middlebury may be an important link. All of this connection needs to be created in Addison County, within which Middlebury is located.

“We’re seeing this as an opportunity to connect the TAM to other trail systems, like Moosalamoo, Snake Mountain and Dead Creek,” said Josh Phillips, executive director of the Middlebury Area Land Trust, which maintains the TAM.

When the NCT was authorized in 1980, the original plan was to connect with the Appalachian Trail, but that plan has languished for nearly three decades, and the eastern terminus has been at Crown Point, New York. With so much current interest in trail connections, the time may be right to extend the NCT into Vermont.

This would allow hikers to connect easily to the Atlantic Ocean via the International Appalachian Trail. Such a connection would be one more piece of what is becoming known as the Sea to Sea route, first hiked by Andrew Skurka in 2004-2005.

Middlebury Area Land Trust

Friday, September 11, 2009

Remains of Missing Hiker Found in Alaska

alt text
Paul Schoch (photo from Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College)

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from several sources

The remains of Paul Schoch, of Lake Nebagamon, Wisconsin have been found, and returned to his home for burial. Schoch disappeared in Alaska, two years ago. He was a volunteer and supporter of the North Country Trail.

Schoch was found by hikers in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, Alaska, last month. He had been camped in a remote area of the park, accessible only by plane. He was located about 12 miles from his campsite, and it looked as if he had sat down on a rock to rest, had a heart attack and died. Schoch was camping alone in the Skolai Pass area.

“He did a lot of the stuff most people only dream about,” said Chuck Zosel of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. “He was willing to take those challenges.”

In June, a campsite along the NCT was dedicated to Schoch. Friends told stories, sipped wine he had made and shared photos. "Our memories of Paul are all connected with the North Country Trail,” wrote Peter and Lynne Nason of Solon Spring, Wisconsin. (Lynne is the chair for the Ashland 2010 Conference.)

Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College has established a scholarship in Schoch’s memory. The Paul Schoch Memorial Scholarship will be available to WITC-Ashland students this fall. Preference will be given to non-traditional students enrolled in the marine repair technician program.

See Brule- St. Croix Chapter of the NCTA
See Hiker's remains found in Alaskan park, Superior Telegram
See Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College Scholarship

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where Are the NCT Long Distance Hikers?

Nimblewill Nomad
Nimblewill Nomad

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from various sources

Nimblewill Nomad, Eb Eberhard, reached Crown Point, New York last week, returned to Michigan and participated in the Mackinac Bridge Walk.

He began the one missing portion of his NCT hike today. Returning to northern Minnesota he will complete the Border Route and Superior Hiking Trails. In the spring, he was hiking so early that after completing the Kek with much difficulty in the deep snow, he hop-scotched down to Duluth with the intent to come back in the fall. He's doing that now! He also plans a side trip down the very little used Grand Portage Trail as it extends east from the Border Route after its junction with the SHT.
Bonita Helton Curtner
Bonita Curtner

Meanwhile, Bonita, "Mother Goose," left off hiking after Pictured Rocks in the Upper Peninsula. She had hoped to be at the Bridge Walk as well, but was called home for some family business. She's resuming her hiking in Ohio, hoping to get in some more miles this fall. So it is presumed that her hike will be completed at next year's Bridge Walk.

She writes, "plans are for catching the train on Oct. 11th and picking up the trail at Battle Creek Mi. hiking south from there hopefully to make it to Pennsylvania before it gets to cold to go on. I may not be able to make it all the way as the daylight hours will be diminished to about 8. The planning of this has more to do with transportation connections then anything about milage."
Joan Young
Joan Young

Yours truly has an estimated 419 miles to go to complete the trail. I will be attending the Trail Junction Festival in Milford Ohio on Sept 26, and then will finish Ohio. After that, there are 56 miles to do in New York, and the remaining miles are all in Michigan.

My plan is to walk my final miles on August 4, 2010, at a location which will be announced soon. I plan to invite anyone who wishes to join me for those miles and a picnic. This is not as outrageous as it sounds, since NCT supporters will be en route to Ashland, Wisconsin, for next years annual conference. Stay tuned!

See Nimblewill's Journal
See Mother Goose's Journal
See Books Leaving Footprints for Joan Young's book and speaking schedule

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mark Lewis Hikes Near Loda Lake

red pines
a red pine stand at Loda Lake (photo from the White Lake Beacon, used with permission)

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based on a news article in the White Lake Beacon, "The road More taken," by Mark Lewis, July 13, 2009, used with permission

Mark Lewis is a writer for the White Lake Beacon, and his entertaining story of a hike on the North Country Trail in the southern Manistee Forest is sure to amuse. His hike occurred soon after the infamous South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford claimed to be hiking while instead he was having an affair with a lady in Argentina! Lewis quoted a cable news station, "Nobody hikes alone, I mean, who does that?"

Yet there was Lewis, hiking a section of the NCT, alone. The answer is that lots of us hike alone! But unlike so many portions of the NCT, he found that this one near Loda Lake was well used, and hiking alone wasn't a very solitary experience.

His enthusiasm for outdoor recreation shows in the promise, "Opportunities to get outside, into some pretty fantastic and wild places, are as abundant as they are economical. I practically could have thrown a dart at a map of Northern West Michigan and hit a winner." Yet he chose to explore the fairly new NCT/ Birch Grove Trail loop near Loda Lake and the North Country Trail Association Schoolhouse. The schoolhouse was the first headquarters of the Association, and is now managed as something of a hostel / meeting place by the Western Michigan Chapter.

This section of the NCT is open to bicycles, and Lewis was passed by several groups, and also met hikers. He calls this section "the road more taken." He describes it thus:
The North Country Trail/Birch Trail loop is a nearly 10-mile circular stretch that travels through several different kinds of typographies. While slight hills dominate the western portion of the loop, things seem to get a little flatter the further east one goes. On the eastern side, the trail meets up with a junction at the Loda Lake Sanctuary Walk, a two-mile loop which takes hikers through the only wildflower refuge in a national forest. At the southern-most edge of the trail, two miles south of Loda Lake, Camp Swampy and Diamond Lake County Park provide hikers with a convenient place to camp and swim.

Lewis had hoped to camp near the trail in the National Forest (dispersed camping is allowed), but the large number of trail users made him think twice about this since he had planned to set up camp and then leave for a while to explore further. Instead he chose to stay at Camp Swampy, a Forest Service campsite (daily fee required).

The next morning he spent more time at Loda Lake, the only wildflower refuge within a National Forest. "I love to sit in there in the early morning, as the sun climbs the sky, and listen to (and watch) the long skinny trees croak and crack, their limbs pressing against each other while their trunks ache back-and-forth," Lewis shared.

For a great weekend experience, this section of the NCT and connecting trails near Newaygo would be a good destination, just be aware that it is one of those rare sections of the NCT that have been discovered!

See Newaygo Birch Grove Loop Trail Dedicated
See North Country Trail Triad- Workshops, Hike and a Bar-B-Q
See Western Michigan Chapter of the North Country Trail Association

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

SHT Guided Hike Offered, Sept 2010

Mary Coffin
trip leader, Mary Coffin

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from Mary Coffin

Have you wanted to experience Lake Superior's North Shore, but weren't sure if you were up to backpacking? Experienced guide Mary Coffin, is leading a day hiking expedition on the NCT / Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota, Sept 8-15, 2010

This is a day hiking and camping trip on the 4600 mile North Country National Scenic Trail where it is concurrent with the Superior Hiking Trail. It is said that there are no uninteresting sections of trail here. If you are looking for the camaraderie of like-minded hikers to bag a few miles of the NCNST in northern Minnesota, this might be the trip for you.

Each day hikers will cover 6-10 miles, with day packs, using vans to shuttle between base camps and trail heads. We will set up tents in state parks with flush toilets and showers and cook and eat outdoors. Wilderness Inquiry, a not for profit outfitter, will take care of logistics.

There will be opportunities to observe fall color, waterfalls, rivers, lakes, scenic vistas contrasted by deep deciduous woods, Lake Superior views, lighthouses, wildlife, birds including eagles, waterfowl and moose. Hike in the footsteps of the voyageurs and old time loggers of Paul Bunyan fame! This is a sampling of experiences along the SHT, not a thru-hike.

The trip starts and ends in Duluth. The first and last day in Duluth will be at your own expense for lodging and dinner in the Duluth Best Western Edgewater Polynesian Plaza. They have lower rates on weekdays, AAA and over 50 AARP discounts, continental breakfast and airport shuttle. There are many inexpensive eateries in walking distance.

The trip cost will be $770 per participant which includes: Wilderness Inquiry guide for 6 days, 5 nights, ground transport during trip, all meals and snacks starting from lunch on day 2 through lunch on day 7, Eureka tents, cooking equipment, stoves, campground fees, and NCTA leader for days 1-7. Not Included: airfare, dinner and hotel on day 1 and day 7, alcohol, soda and personal items (including sleeping bag and pad), voluntary tip to the guides. Membership in NCTA is required (check or 1-866-HIKENCT)

Coffin is an experienced trek leader and guide, having led trips around the world from Hawaii to India, to many camping trips in the United States.

Contact Mary Coffin, 315-687-3589, for more information

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Sheepskin Hollow, Ohio - A Treasure of the NCT

Jack's Lookout Sheepskin Hollow Nature Preserve, Ohio
view from "Jack's Lookout" (photo by JHY)

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by JHY with material from a news article at, "Pristine, wild beauty - Sheepskin Hollow is difficult to access, but worthwhile," by Bob Downing

Sheepskin Hollow is one of the wildest spots left in Ohio, according to Bob Downing. It is a 453-acre nature preserve in Columbiana County at the eastern edge of Ohio. It nestles in the North Fork of Little Beaver Creek.

Any North Country Trail hiker who has crossed that river on the old, narrow, rusty truss bridge and then turned steeply uphill into the woods just a few yards east of the river has entered Sheepskin Hollow.

Sheepskin Hollow has no amenities: no parking lot, no rest rooms, you may be lucky to find a blue blaze. In fact, when I hiked there in 2003, we found old blue blazes farther up the road that led us astray.

Another way to enter the Sheepskin Hollow Nature Preserve is to park by a railroad overpass off Pancake-Clarkson Road and head south on foot along the old elevated rail bed for a half mile in Middleton Township. After a short walk you will find a small sign indicating that you have entered the preserve.

Downing says, "Then you suddenly come to an opening on the left that drops off into a pretty rock-walled gorge lined with hemlocks. No sign. Just go for it."

The preserve contains a small stream in a ravine with sandstone and shale walls. The maple and oak, beech and hemlock, are more often found in forests farther north. "I poked around a bit, saw one of two waterfalls in the three-quarter-mile-long hollow and was impressed by the wild ferns and eye-popping spring wildflowers," continues Downing.

The state has no plans to improve Sheepskin Hollow. Manager Charlotte McCurdy said, "It is one of the most unique state nature preserves in Ohio...It's as natural as you can get in Ohio."

The land previously belonged to the Vodrey family who began to acquire it in the 1920's. The stat began to purchase the preserve in 1986. Jackman Vodrey explained that the name came from a sheep farm which operated at the head of the stream. In the past the area has both been logged and mined for coal.

Now it is an area where such unusual plants (to Ohio) as speckled wood-lily, pipsissewa, pink lady's slipper orchid, Bicknell's panicgrass, and Canada fly-honeysuckle are found. The preserve is a haven for birds, labeled as "Important" by the Ohio Audubon Society.

And the North Country Trail traverses Sheepskin Hollow! The Great Trail Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter of the North Country Trail Association has been working hard to forge agreements to connect the trail through the preserve on to Little Beaver State Park to the west. At the present time, the trail actually dead-ends just beyond the overlook shown in the picture. A potential right-of-way has been identified, but thru-hikers need to be sure they do not stray onto private property.

The Division of Natural Areas and Preserves is sponsoring a guided hike with McCurdy on Sept. 26. The hike to the western tract will be at 10 a.m. Advance reservations are required. A maximum of 30 people can attend. Call 330-527-5118 for reservations.

Great Trail Sandy Beaver Canal Chapter of the NCTA

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Deadline Approaching to Apply for Director of Trail Development

OutdoorBlips: vote it up!
a news release of North Country Trail Association

The first call for applications for this position did not result in any suitable applicants. The deadline to submit an application is September 10.

The North Country Trail Association is seeking an experienced volunteer manager, community capacity builder and people motivator to become Director of Trail Development. He/she will be an integral member of the NCTA management team, supervising three professional regional trail coordinators (RTC’s) as well as providing oversight for volunteer and chapter operations throughout the seven-state North Country National Scenic Trail (NCNST) region. Applying a force multiplier approach and coordinating with the National Park Service, state and local governmental agencies and other partners, the Director of Trail Development works through RTC’s as well as directly with NCTA chapter and partner leadership in growing chapters, chapter capacity and volunteer effectiveness in building the North Country National Scenic Trail and telling its story. Key success indicators will include growth in NCTA membership, the number and size of chapters, the amount and quality of volunteer trail maintenance and construction, positive member perceptions/satisfaction, and the number of effective partner relationships. The Director of Trail Development works closely with National Park Service staff administering the trail. Additional responsibilities may include advocacy, easement acquisitions, land protection, grants development, landowner relations, and communications/outreach. This position requires extensive travel.

A competitive salary with benefits options is available. A resume, list of references and cover letter addressing qualifications should be submitted by September 10 to:
HR Department
North Country Trail Association
229 East Main St.
Lowell, MI 49331
*Electronic applications preferred*

North Country Trail Association