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, January 31, 2010

No New CMF Network Ads

I PREVIOUSLY WROTE: I will not be accepting any new network ads on CMF. After my calculations from yesterday at Just Throw Money, I have decided that it is just plain unfair to those who have paid a full 10 cents a month to advertise here. Instead of their ads being shared among 3-6 others, they are now shared among 12 others, giving them much less exposure time.

I have already accepted the initial wave of ads, but I won't be accepting any more.

UPDATE 2/3/10: The CMF staff have addressed this concern by limiting network ads to 30% of the views on any blog. Given this response, I will now accept any network ads that I feel are appropriate.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Watch the NCT's Newest Bears Be Born

bear in den
Lily in her den (captured from the Bear Cam)

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from the North American Bear Center

Near Ely, Minnesota, a bear named Lily is about to give birth to cubs. The expected arrival date is today, January 22. And you may be able to watch it all! Click the link below to watch Lily, live.

The North American Bear Center, in Ely, Minnesota, has fitted this den with an infrared web cam. Actually, Lily is only 3 years old, so she is quite young, and it's impossible to tell if she is truly expecting. But her activity seems to indicate it. She is not in deep hibernation. Today, she seems to be quite active. She had plenty of fat stored when she first entered the den in fall. And she is bringing in cedar and fir boughs, to create clean bedding.

The exact location of the den is being kept secret, to protect Lily. But we can probably assume that any hikers of the Kekekabic Trail portion of the NCT might encounter Lily and her cubs this next summer!

Lily is a wild, female bear. She is part of a long-term study of black bears being conducted by the North American Bear Center. She is the 3-year-old daughter of a bear named June who is now 9 years old. June is the daughter of a bear named Shadow who is now 20. Shadow is the local matriarch of the bear clan in the Ely area.

When passing through Ely, which an NCT hiker is sure to do sooner or later, be sure to stop at the North American Bear Center. The facility opened to the public in 2007, and has acres of displays and trails to educate people about bears.

Two links are provided because the Bear Center's feed has been overwhelmed with visitors. Lily seems restless and uncomfortable at 10:30 am EST!

Lily gave birth to one cub around noon. You can see the segment caught from the web cam here.

See Lily's Den Cam
Or Lily's Den Cam

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

No. 12/15 To No. 19 Road Reroute

bridge and steps
bridge (photo by Arlen Matsen)

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from the Grand Traverse Hiking Club NCTA Chapter Newsletter, Dec 2009 used with permission

by Arlen Matsen

Phase 3 of last year’s Hodenpyl - NCT Reroute was completed on November 2. This new section of the NCT measures 4.7 miles from the corner of No.12 and 15 roads to its terminal point where it reconnects to the NCT at No.19 Road. There is parking at No.12/15 Road, and another lot adjacent to Harvey Bridge at No.19 Road.

This reroute was built from August to mid- November by our Trail Crew of 32 workers. It is our most rugged section of hiking trail and involves eleven stream crossings, and numerous steep ravines. Bridges are in place, water bars built, steps installed, trees blazed the familiar blue, and signage erected where necessary.

Never was there a section of trail built that involved so much benching into clay, while working through an unusually wet October. Heavy were our shoes as they became laden with Manistee River clay, but the views of the river, and the sound of rushing creeks in the ravines gave us an inspiring contact with a truly wilderness setting. On two occasions we brought an orange plastic sled from home to help carry decking to the bridge sites, while we used Ed’s wagon to do the same. The skillful use of 4x6’s, 2x4’s, 2x6’s, 6x6’s, nails, spikes, drills, Pulaskis, McCleods, bowsaws, loppers, levels, hammers, flagging, and miles of walking classify all of this crew as “Pros”.

trail steps
Sara's steps (photo by Arlen Matsen)
We secured two grants from the NCTA totaling $1306 to pay for some of the materials. The more we worked, the more needs we discovered, so another grant from the NPS for $286 was secured. The ravines and streams challenged us again for more funding. As we began to approach rifle deer hunting season, a 16-foot bridge needed to be built and adjacent 17 steps up the Big Ravine. Deena Barshney and Sara Cockrell came to the rescue and both wrote checks to cover the need of an additional $850. So, when you are out hiking the new NCT, about a mile from Harvey Bridge, you will discover two very special places. We call them Deena’s Bridge and Sara’s Steps, a most surprising legacy indeed; our crew and club are grateful.

An outstanding feature of this reroute is that there are at least 12 scenic vistas along the Manistee River. At the eastern end of this section of trail, where the new trail joins the existing NCT, coming from Wheeler Creek, there is a fantastic overlook which some of us believe exceeds even the Highbanks Rollway site. You may wind up with muddy boots, but the hike is worth it. And hopefully the trail is wide enough so you won’t be scratched by many of those thorn bushes (puckerbush) and hawthornes. True, there aren’t the flowers of the Hodenpyl area, but you can try to spot the unusual blue beech trees.
Manistee River
Manistee River (photo by Ed Morse)

On the subject of the Highbanks Rollway, the section of trail leading to it has been faithfully maintained for many years by Fred & Kathy Sabel and Larry & Donna Dodd. It has been included in their reports as a place needing restoration due to trashing and erosion. Dick Naperala, John Heiam and I will propose to the Cadillac DNR when we meet for our annual meeting that this site be given particular attention as a special place worth stabilizing and protecting.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-05

See Grand Traverse Hiking Club Chapter of the NCTA

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sam Gardner to Take on NCT and More in 2011

Sam Gardner
Sam Gardner (photo from his web site)

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from The Initiative

Sam Gardner will begin what he is calling "The All-In Initiative" on January 1, 2011. His plan is to hike the four longest National Scenic Trails, back to back. He will begin with the North Country Trail, and is hiking east to west. He will hike unassisted, going ultra-light, planning to finish in 14 months. This will set a new record if he succeeds.

He will also be only the second person to thru-hike the NCT in winter. The first was Andy Skurka in 2004-2005. After completing the NCT, he will hike the Pacific Crest Trail south to north, then north to south on the Continental Divide Trail. From there he will head for the north end of the Appalachian Trail and walk it south to Georgia. Connections between the trails will be made via train.

Gardner has spent his life facing physical challenges. Presently he has nearly complete hearing loss, and could lose the remainder and the ability to balance at any time. He has decided that this means that he must seize the opportunity to take on as many adventures as he can while he still is able.

You can read more at his web site.

See The Initiative

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Sections of Southern Michigan in Winter

Battle Creek Underground Railroad Statue
T-man by theBattle Creek Underground Railroad Statue (photo by T-man)

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a guest post by Todd T-Man Mcmahon

I really needed to go on a hike. I’ve spent the last few months going to College during the day and then working at night. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very thankful for having my job back, but this schedule was wearing me down. I needed to get into the outdoors.

puncheon at Fort Custer Cemetery
puncheon in Fort Custer Cemetery (photo by Larry Pio)
I drove over to Battle Creek, Michigan where Ron Sootman of the Chief Noonday Chapter spotted me at the Kellogg Biological Station on Tuesday morning December 29. I hiked through KBS, the Kellogg Experiment Forest, the town of Augusta and Fort Custer National Cemetery on my first day of hiking. The Fort Custer National Cemetery section was different than I expected. I traveled through the woods and wetlands on the backside of the property, and traveled nowhere near the actual gravesites. I met up with Larry Pio who was doing some trail maintenance and Ron Sootman hiked in to meet me.

On Wednesday, Ron Sootman wanted to hike in Hillsdale County, so we started out at the Lake Baw Beese Recreation Area near the City of Hillsdale. We followed a railroad grade down to the town of Osseo. Then we hiked through the Lost Nation State Game Area, ending up at the Pittsford Road Trailhead. The Lost Nation State Game Area has some nice little lakes and creeks that the trail travels by. But, there are also some big hills to climb also.

On Thursday, December 31, Ron and I started at the Pittsford Road Trailhead and headed south. The NCT is a road walk here. We passed many farms and barren farm fields. The Milestone of the day was making down to the Territorial Road, which is the border of Michigan and Ohio. At that point I stepped into Ohio for the first time. We ended our hike in the cute little rural town of Waldron, Michigan. I enjoyed hiking with Ron Sootman. It was great getting to know him.

On New Year’s Day I was hiking by myself again. I started near Fort Custer National Cemetery, where I had left off on Tuesday. I traveled down River Road and connected with the Battle Creek Linear Park. The Linear Park is a paved multi-use trail that goes through the heart of Battle Creek. Along the Kalamazoo River I traveled over 5 miles into Downtown Battle Creek. I hiked by the headquarters of the Kellogg Cereal Company and the Cereal City Museum. But the most inspirational thing I hiked by was the Underground Railroad Statue. It is an excellent statue depicting slaves on their way to freedom.

After going through downtown, I hiked northeast along the Battle Creek River. I ended the hike on New Year’s Day at the Emmet Street Bridge in the suburb of Verona Park. Just a few blocks away from the bridge, I found the Idol Hour Bar & Grill where I had supper. When I was eating, I noticed a winter storm warning was being forecast on the television. I figured that it was time for me to head back to Wisconsin. But I had a great time hiking in Southern Michigan.

Todd McMahon

This segment is on NCTA map MI-02

See Chief Noonday Chapter of the NCTA

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Andy Skurka to be in Marquette, MI Jan 19

Andy Skurka
Andy Skurka at the Grand Canyon (file photo provided by

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from North Country Trail Hikers

North Country Trail Hikers Chapter General Membership Meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, January 19th beginning at 7:00 pm in Marquette, Michigan. The meeting will be at 102 Jamrich Hall on Northern Michigan University's Campus. We will hold the Business Meeting promptly at 7:00 pm to be followed at 7:30 pm with a presentation by Andrew Skurka, an accomplished 28-year-old outdoor adventurer who since 2002 has trekked over 23,000 miles.

NMU's Organization for Outdoor Recreation Professionals is co-hosting Andrew for his visit with us. They have worked hard to secure the funding to bring him to Marquette for this event.

Andrew will present "Far, Fast, and Light" at our joint meeting but earlier in the day, at 5:15 pm, he will present a "Lightweight Backpacking & Skills Clinic" in the Great Lakes Room of the University Center on NMU’s campus, specifically for NMU students but the public is more than welcome to attend as well. Both events are FREE of charge. Please share this announcement with everyone.

In 2004-2005 Skurka was the first person to hike the 7000-mile Sea-to-Sea Route which includes the entire North Country Trail.

This segment is on NCTA map MI-13

See North Country Trail Hikers Chapter of the NCTA

Note from Admin

I took a brief vacation from this blog-- just was getting somewhat burned out. Will try to stay on track for a while now. There is plenty of news, I just need to get it posted!