Notice: I've taken a part-time job, and it's definitely affecting my blogging time. I'll continue to add content here as often as possible. Pertinent guest posts are always welcome.


Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Winter Hiking in Yankee Springs

Paul Henry/ Thornapple Trail bridge
Paul Henry Thornapple/North Country Trail (photo from Fortune Bay Expeditionary Team)

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submitted by Pathfinder for the Fortune Bay Expeditionary Team

Members on this hike, Pathfinder, Vic, Papa, and Magellan. The Fortune Bay Expeditionary Team is a wilderness exploration group and educational institution. The team is open to everyone of all ages, regardless of skill level or ability. The Team is on a quest to hike the North Country Trail in Michigan's Lower Peninsula.

I was hoping that we would get a winter storm for our hike this morning, but no dice. I always love a good challenge.

There was a challenge however, and that turned out to be the trail in Yankee Springs. Now, I have taken the trail a few times through Yankee Springs and it has always seemed to be well marked. I have also spent some time hiking the Chief Noonday trail sections and have always been pleased with what they have.

But, I have to admit that we had a very difficulty following the trail at times, today. We first wonder why they are using nail up blazes down there. Is it a requirement of the land manager? The nail up blazes seemed to be a victim of vandals at times and just plain old weakness at others. Parts of the trail are completely unmarked for over 200 yards. Some turns are unmarked and at other times, the trail simply isn't there because of the confusing nature of two tracks. I would like to let any noondayers [Chief Noonday Chapter Members] on the group know that the Yankee Springs section north of Hall Lake Rd needs some attention, especially Hall Lake to 179. Otherwise, great job on the reroute south of Gun Lake Rd. There are painted blazes on that section. If you can paint, please do.

Very few hikers out there, today. The turkeys however are all over. At times, we discovered 100's in fields.

The day was mostly filled with crunching and sliding. Two sets of hunters were headed out to take down tree stands. The winter sports parking area was empty and a few brave souls have ventured out onto Hall Lake to try their luck (in a couple of ways - fishing and stable ice).

About 9 miles of crunching an slippery walking today. We will be doing about 6 miles on Monday which should bring us to the doorstep of Middleville. It will be a short day as we have another "Christmas" celebration that day.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-02

See Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA
See Fortune Bay Expeditionary Team

Monday, December 28, 2009

Watch the Demolition Video- Crown Point Bridge

Crown Point bridge comes down
Crown Point bridge comes down (from the WCAX video- see link)

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see the video at

And for more about what happens next, see Morning News Follow-up at

See the bridge come down at the link above

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Watch Crown Point Bridge Demo- Monday 10 am

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based on news from WRGB Channel 6

The Crown Point Bridge, at the eastern terminus of the North Country Trail, and a necessary connection to extend the trail into Vermont, will be demolished Monday morning, Dec 28, 2009 at 10 am. The bridge was discovered to be in a critical condition after unusual erosion of the piers was noticed. The bridge closed on October 16, 2009.

popular Crown Point Bridge design
most popular proposed design for the new bridge (from NY DOT)

Several designs for a new bridge have been proposed, and it is hoped by those in the trail community that a pedestrian walkway will be included. The specifications on the NYS DOT web site do not mention any such plan.

Supposedly the demolition can be viewed live via webcast at the NYS DOT. According to the DOT, all members of the general public will be able to view the demolition of the bridge from the boat launch in Port Henry where a few chemical toilets will be available. An alternate viewing location will be open at Bulwagga Bay Park in Moriah however there are no toileting facilities at this site. Only media and essential staff will be permitted at the Crown Point Historic Site. The Crown Point Historic Site is designated just outside the 1,000 foot safety zone. Those planning to be present should dress for bitter cold, and bring ear protection, as the blast will exceed 150 decibels.

See Crown Point Bridge Closed

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Spot 2 GPS Messenger Recall

Spot 2

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from the Spot Messenger web site

Spot LLC will be conducting a voluntary return on any new model SPOT Satellite GPS Messenger™ (SPOT 2) purchased since October 1, 2009. During recent testing, we discovered that some of the new SPOT 2 devices might not meet battery and messaging operating specifications.

To see if your SPOT-2 unit is affected by this issue, please do the following:
  • If you have activated your SPOT-2 unit, login to your account at, click on the My GPS Locations tab and a message will display indicating if you have an affected SPOT-2 unit.
  • If you have not activated your SPOT-2 unit, do not activate. We highly recommend you return your product for replacement at your earliest convenience.

Replacement units are anticipated to be available in early 2010. If you exchange your eligible unit, you will also receive 1 additional month of your current SPOT service plan and associated services.

See Spot Exchange for complete information.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Thanks to Volunteers from the NPS

alt text

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See National Park Service

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chief Noonday to Be 2nd Grand Rapids Community Legends Sculpture

bust of Chief Noonday
bust of Chief Noonday (photo from the CND Chapter web site)

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based on a news article on

Peter Secchia, Grand Rapids patron, has begun a 50-year project to commemorate 25 local heroes by commissioning statues which will be placed around the city. Lucius Lyon, a land surveyor who became one of Michigan's first U.S. Senators was the first, but the second will be Potawatomi Chief Nawquageezhig, known to the settlers as Chief Noonday. The North Country Trail Association Chapter which covers Barry and Kalamazoo Counties is named for him. He was an influential Native American who fought with Tecumseh in the War of 1812, and supposedly was the one who carried the body of Tecumseh from the battlefield where that great Shawnee warrior died at the Battle of the Thames.

Many natural features near Yankee Springs bear his name. In just a few months, Grand Rapids will receive a new sculpture of Nawquageezhig, which will be created by Antonio Tobias Mendez.

There are no known photographs of the Chief, and the bust above is likely to not be an actual likeness, although it too, honors his memory.

In preparation for his sculpture, Mendez commented, "I'm looking at photos of other Indian chiefs of the period, so it'll be a composite of what I find," The final work will be seven feet tall and should be completed in August 2010.

The Chief Noonday Chapter's sections are on NCTA map MI-02 and 03

See Who was Chief Noonday? on the CND web site.

Monday, December 14, 2009

USGS Goes to Digital Topo Quads - FREE!

topo map sample
topo map sample

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from the United States Geological Survey

The United States Geological Survey has long recognized that the time lag between production of their paper maps and known updates was way too long. The standard 7.5' Topo Quads used to be updated every 25 years! Nowadays, people want data updated every 25 minutes!

Soon, you can have just that. Simple go to the USGS web site and use their map interface to locate the map you want. You can view the map in satellite, topo or hybrid mode, and with or without a quad division overlay.

Then, best of all, you can download the file instantly, for free! You also have the option to order a paper map for $8 a quad.

The USGS says, "Arranged in the traditional 7.5-minute quadrangle format, digital US Topo maps are designed to look and feel like the traditional paper topographic maps for which the USGS is so well known. At the same time, US Topo maps provide modern technical advantages [including data layering] that support wider and faster public distribution and enable basic, on-screen geographic analysis for all users."

So far, these digital layers have been produced for 17 states. None of these are North Country Trail states, but every NCT state except Michigan is scheduled for 2010.

See USGS Map Production status

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Might You Meet Bigfoot on the NCT

captured by a motion sensor camera near Remer, MN (photo by Tim Kedrowski)

based on a news article in the Pioneer Press

This image was captured October 24, 2009 by Tim Kedrowski and his sons, Peter and Casey, near Remer, Minnesota, near the Chippewa National Forest. Kedrowski says that he is skeptical, but has not been able to account for anyone who was in the area of the camera on the night the picture was taken.

The Northern Minnesota Bigfoot Research Team was called, and they are taking the image quite seriously. Don Sherman of the Research Team, went with the Kedrowskis to the camera site and compared the photo with the tree. He was able to estimate that the being in the picture is about 7 feet tall.

The Kedrowski brothers said that no one else knew where the camera was located, and that they polled all their neighbors for anyone who might have been in the woods there at the time the photo was recorded. For the first few hours after retrieving the image the family members each blamed the other for playing a prank. They finally determined that not one of them had set up the scene.

Two elderly neighbors reported hearing strange squealing noises when they went to use the outhouse at about 2 am, near the time of the image capture.

Minnesota sightings of Bigfoot have been reported annually since 2006, including four reports this year. Footprint casts were taken from one of the sites. In another incident, a truck driver swears that the creature ran across the road in front of his truck.

Others, naturally believe this is a hoax.

But, just in case you see Bigfoot or his spoor while hiking the North Country Trail, contact Don Sherman at 218-308-1451 or Bob Olson at 218-246-8493.

This segment is on NCTA map MN-09

Friday, December 11, 2009

Java Joe Compares GPS Units

comparing GPS track errors
Etrex Legend HCx tracks (on MapSource) at their maximum distance from each other (the yellow line is the measured 82 feet)

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a guest post by "Java" Joe Dabes

Joe Dabes is the Finger Lakes Trail Mapper and has GPSed over 1700 miles in the last 6 years. He spends winters in Florida, and this test was done there. Here is his comparison of three units. JHY

Carrying my three field GPS units, I hiked the same 8.4 mile loop in the Withlacoochee State Forest here in central Florida on two consecutive days. Overhead canopy was light to moderate, primarily live oaks and long leaf pines. The three units all have the Garmin high sensitivity internal antennas that have been available for about three years now. All three were set to gather track points every 4 yards.

1. The Etrex Legend HCx (~$200) mounted on top of the left shoulder strap of my day pack
2. Oregon 400t (~$400, touch screen unit) carried in my left hand about a foot in front of my waist
3. GPSmap 60CSx (~$300) with external amplified Gilsson antenna (~$20) mounted on my hat (Note: when the external antenna is plugged in, the internal antenna is "off")

Note that the Extrex Legend and Oregon do not accept external antennas.

Here are the results for the maximum distance between the two tracks for each unit over the 8.4 mile repeats:

Etrex Legend HCx: 82 feet
Oregon 400t: 37 feet
60CSx with ext. antenna: 15 feet - clearly the best setup

Above is a clip of the Etrex Legend HCx tracks (on MapSource) at their maximum distance from each other (the yellow line is the measured 82 feet): Furthermore the Etrex Legend has been much more inaccurate on four occasions when I carried it in my hand at waist level in repeated loops or out-and-backs: three times the tracks differed by ~500 feet and once ~1000 feet. I have never noticed such great inaccuracies with the 60CSx or Oregon.

Odometer measurements (which are based on readings taken every 1 second) for the 8.4 miles:

Etrex: 8.32 and 8.37 miles
Oregon: 8.29 and 8.33 miles
60CSx: 8.44 and 8.43 miles (I suspect this is the most accurate)

I hope to do this same loop twice more with 60CSx without external amplified antenna attached.

-Java Joe

See Garmin Colorado Review

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Workshop for Rural Design Opportunity

rural design logo

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from Nancy Krupiarz, Executive Director, Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance

The National Endowment for the Arts is funding four Design Workshops for rural areas (population of 50,000 or less). The funding would allow a non-profit organization to bring design professionals to your community to tackle regional planning and design issues. The grant provides up to $22,000 for each workshop.

The submittal is due on Friday, January 8th for the 2010 calendar year. You can learn more by visiting the website and clicking on the Request for Proposals link.

See Your Town Design

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Trap Hills Hike

hikers in the Trap hills
hikers in the Trap hills (photo by Jeff Kalember)

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excerpted from Jeff Kalember's blog Outside in Michigan , used with permission

Jeff Kalember did a bit of day hiking on the North Country trail in the UP of Michigan this last weekend. November 21st was about 56 degrees, sunny and no wind. WEIRD. Usually this time of the year in the UP is wind, rain, snow mix or last year 12 inches of snow in a snowstorm. He took the family, wife, kids to Cascade Falls. Beautiful 1 mile hike along the "Valley Trail" into the Falls. On the way back Andrew, Harrison and Jeff took the "Bluff Trail." What a treat - huge views of the Trap Hills to the west and the access road (forest 400) coming in. You don't realize how big some of these UP hills are until you are standing on top of them with a sheer rock face at your feet dropping off 100 feet straight down or so.

Follow the link at the top of the article to see more great pictures.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-13

See Outdoors in Michigan

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Future NCT Hudson River Crossing?

Delaware & Hudson RR Bridge
Delaware & Hudson RR Bridge (photo from CNY Hiker)

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excerpted from CNY Hiking with permission

Currently there are no North Country Trail signs, no blue blazes, no trail markings on this future section of the North Country National Scenic Trail in the Adirondacks. That won't keep this 1.6 mile section from being part of our "Best of the North Country Trail" series prior to officially becoming the North Country Trail. We believe this future section will likely become one of the favorite sections of many NCT hikers and will surely be part of many future hiking guide books. This may even become one of those must hikes in the Adirondacks. And, yes you can hike this wonderful section now!

This 3.2 mile round trip hike features the old Delaware & Hudson Railroad that the North Country Trail will use on part of it's journey through Adirondack Park. This section also features a waterfall, a walk along the scenic Boreas River and for a grand finale, the mighty Hudson River with the future trestle span that will carry the North Country Trail over the Hudson River (see panorama above). The DEC plans to add, in the future, hand rails along the bridge for added safety for hikers.

Follow the link for more pictures, explanation, and a map.

This segment is not yet mapped. The exact trail location in the Adirondacks is not fully determined.

See CNY Hiking

Friday, December 4, 2009

Kerfoots Report Hikers Still on Kekekabic Trail

Bruce & Sue Kerfoot
Sue and Bruce Kerfoot, owners of Gunflint Lodge (photo by JHY)

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based on a Club Outdoors Blog entry by Sue Kerfoot

Sue Kerfoot, of the Gunflint Lodge, a popular supply point near the connection of the Border Route and Kekekabic Trails, regularly writes for the Club Outdoors blogs of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Sue and her husband, Bruce, are the owners the Gunflint Lodge. The lodge operates year-round, and offers various levels of accommodation, for everyone from a resorter to the thru-hiker.

She reports that the lakes are beginning to freeze, although it will be several weeks until the big lakes are solid. Early winter is the best time for skating the small lakes. Cold weather, before the serious snow begins, results in clear ice with no slush. She warns that one should check with local people before skating, as the ice can be extremely dangerous.

Of serious interest to North Country Trail folks, is the following: "Sunday night we had a young couple come through who have been backpacking in the area. They sent a package for re-supply to Gunflint Lodge and stopped by to pick it up. The next leg of their journey is to hike the Kekekabic Trail to Ely. It just seems a little too cold for me to be sleeping out in a tent but we wish them well."

It is definitely heartening to hear that hikers are still out there on this very remote section of trail.

This segment is covered in the Border Route Trail Guide.

See Border Route Trail
See Live Post- What a Hike!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

KQDS TV Does Spot on Superior Hiking Trail

Gayle Coyer on SHT
Gayle Coyer on the SHT (photo a still from the video- click to see video, which will take you to the article site.)

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based on a news article at KQDS TV

Gayle Coyer, Executive Director of the Superior Hiking Trail Association, showed viewers a stretch of new trail near Two Harbors this week. This section opened in September, and extends the trail farther south from the trailhead on County Road 301.

"It's more of a walk in the woods, but it's a beautiful woods, there's old growth maple forests, red pine, previously logged areas," explained Coyer, comparing this section with others which have become well-known for spectacular views of Lake Superior. This section adds 22 new miles of trail, and four campsites to the Superior Trail System.

She anticipates the it will take about 4 more years to connect these miles with the trail through Duluth. At that point hikers can enter Minnesota on the North Country Trail at Jay Cooke State Park and hike north all the way to the Canadian Border via the SHT and the Border Route Trail.

This segment is on the new SHTA map A

See Superior Hiking Trail

New Robinson Loop Trail in NY Southern Tier

Robinson Loop Trail

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an email from Ron Navik

The Robinson Loop trails have been constructed between Swain (access point 3) and Garwoods (access point 4) off the Finger Lakes Trail. This adds 6 miles of new side trail running through woods and occasionally along the edge of a field, all of it maintained as a private wildlife preserve. You can make loop hikes with a variety of distances by combining the trails. Access is from Isaman Hill Road and from the main FLT.

This segment is on FLT map M8

See Finger Lakes Trail

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Chief Noonday Chapter Builds Stiles

stile over wire fence
stile over fence (photo from CND chapter)

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from the Chief Noonday Chapter

On the November 14th workday at Kellogg Biological Station (KBS), another stile was constructed to help hikers cross a fence without damaging it. This way there is also no chance of someone leaving a gate open.

Chief Noonday reports that this effort was headed up by Jeff Fleming, who had recently done a bang-up job of rebuilding the fence stile on C Avenue.

kissing gate design
kissing gate design
KBS would eventually like to eliminate the three stiles that exist on the North Country Trail through their property. They would prefer "kissing gates," which keep hikers on the ground, reducing liability. The theory of a kissing gate is that the passage is restricted enough that livestock cannot enter or leave by that means. In fact, it can be difficult for a hiker with a large backpack to make it through!

This segment is on NCTA map MI-02

See Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA