Volunteers Open 1.7-mile of Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ringle Segment, Mobile Skills Crew Event

Volunteers relax in the warmth of a campfire after a day of trailbuilding. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

A sense of amazement coursed through the volunteers circling the campfire every time a streak of light from the Perseid meteor shower shot across the sky – nature’s fireworks for millennia. Those shooting stars are like the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew event volunteers who came together in a brilliant stroke of skill, effort, and camaraderie and blasted through the work set in front of them.

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ringle Segment, Mobile Skills Crew event

Dolly McNulty expertly pops a rock at the Ringle trailbuilding event. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

Once the glow of the meteor shower faded from the event, a new 1.7-mile section of the Ringle Segment was open for hikers. Thank You to the 75 volunteers who contributed over 2,000 hours to this great effort.

Phase One of the Ringle transformation is now complete and we got a good head start on Phase Two with an additional half-mile of corridor clearing. In another year, the meteors will return – and so will the volunteers of Mobile Skills Crew events.  Another opportunity to shine bright and light up the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Special Thanks:

Gail Piotrowski, Rachel Riehle, and the Marathon County Chapter for helping prepare for the event and organize a trip to the wonderful Concert in the Clouds

Jerry Pfeiffer for doing a standup job as Crew Leader Manager

Thelma Johnson and her cadre of helpers for keeping everyone fed and happy

Sitka Salmon Shares and Pine River Pre-Pack for donating yummy smoked salmon and cheese spread for evening happy hour.

The Marathon County Solid Waste Department for providing basecamp location, tables and chairs, and on-going support for the Trail.

Professional photographer, Cameron Gillie of ThePinholeThing.com created an album of the event and a time-lapse video of trailbuilding – check both the album and video at his facebook page.

 

Support for this project was provided through the Marvin & Ruth (Rudie) Schuette Fund of the Community Foundation of North Central Wisconsin.

Next Up:

Join us for big-time fun as we build a brand new segment of the Ice Age Trail in Manitowoc County. Come see for yourself the dramatic expression of the Kettle Moraine which provides a perfect setting for a September 13 – 17 trailbuilding event at the Walla Hi County Park.

We appreciate our sponsors who GENEROUSLY support the 2017 Mobile Skills Crew Program.

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, REI CO-OP corporate partner, Mobile Skills Crew program 2017

 

 

 

 

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, National Parks Foundation, Mobile Skills Crew program 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sitka Salmon share corporate partner, Mobile Skills Crew program 2017

Welcome to the Party!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Manitowoc-Two Rivers Trail Community

It’s official! Luke Kloberdanz, Director of Outreach and Education for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, looks on as Greg Buckley, Two Rivers City Manager, and Justin Nickels, Manitowoc Mayor, cut the ribbon designating their cities as official Trail Communities. These attractive signs will grace the entrances to each city. Photo by Dolly McNulty.

Manitowoc and Two Rivers, we’re thrilled to have you join the Ice Age Trail Community family!

Hikers! Take a look at our Trail Communities for ways to appreciate the towns you’re hiking through. The Manitowoc and Two Rivers area have the only segments of Trail that put your toes into Lake Michigan waters. You’ll find maps of the Trail (and area segments) making it easy for you to follow the path as it winds through each city. There’s plenty of suggestions, too, for how to extend your stay in a fun and memorable way. Oh, and don’t forget to hit the Washington House for an ice cream sundae. After all, the first sundae in the world was made there!

Volunteers “Amp Up” the Lake 11 Project

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Lake Eleven Project

A project beginning with a small, focused premise, grew quickly as seasoned Trail Eyes broadened the perspective (recognizing additional underlying issues could be addressed with the robust crew on hand). Replacing a footbridge with a 36-foot-long state-of-the-art bridge, designed to last 50 years, was not enough; two critical trail reroutes were added, then a third. Signage upgrades covered a mile and trail maintenance with mowers, weed whackers, and chainsaws extended for an additional three miles of Trail.

A similar expansion occurred with the 88 volunteers at the event. With every tree grubbed, blaze painted, swing of the pick mattock, and sandwich prepared, the individuals completing these tasks became an integral member of this trailbuilding community and helped “amp up” the project. The team went above and beyond, cranking it to 11, Lake 11 that is. Continue reading

A First in the Fourth

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mike Summers Winter 2017 thru-hike

The all too familiar icicles of winter hiking. Photo by Mike Summers.

by guest writer Mike Summers

I crunched up the snow-covered remnants of the Niagra Escarpment in Wisconsin’s Potowatomi State Park on a sunny, 32-degree December day. My westbound thru-hike of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) had begun, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Neither did anyone else.

No one had attempted a self-supported thru-hike in the winter months, and many thought it a little strange to try.* But for me, the dreaded “fourth season” of backpacking invoked not fear, but intrigue. This hike would be a test to see if I really enjoyed backpacking, even in the most unforgiving of conditions. Continue reading

A Bold Attempt

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Jonnah Perkins ultrafarmer guest writer

Wet spring trails greeted Annie Weiss as she traveled through the Northwoods.
Photo by Long Nguyen.

by guest writer Jonnah Perkins

When you mention the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, most people picture the civilized, buffed out trails of the southern and eastern segments. These trails are heavily trafficked by runners and hikers, flocking to the beauty of the forest, from Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. Farther up in the northern part of the state, there are wild, remote sections of trail many would not imagine could be found in Wisconsin.

This adventure is exactly what ultrarunner Annie Weiss was after when planning an attempt to break the fastest known time (FKT) on the Ice Age Trail. The personal time-trial-trend is growing in popularity in the ultrarunning community. Setting a new FKT, or even pursuing one, is a coveted notch on the belt of ultrarunners. On May 1st, Annie set out to complete the roughly 1,200 miles of the trail system in 19 days. That’s three days ahead of the current record of 22 days and 6 hours set by Jason Dorgan in 2007. This meant Annie would need to average over 60 miles per day to meet her goal. When I talked with Annie a few weeks ahead of her departure, she was brimming with optimism and a healthy dose of trepidation for completing her plan, especially the northern segments. Continue reading

Help Open New Trail in Marathon County!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Northland College, Mobile Skills Crew project

Students and their professor from a Northland College summer geology class formed a dynamic team with crew leader Ruth McCann.
Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Fresh spring energy unleased in May wove its way through 2,539 volunteer hours and materialized into recognizable magic in the geologic “Landscape Crossroads” of Marathon County.

Join us as Trail friends continue to shape tread and bring boulders to rest in retaining walls. This renewed August effort will open 1.7 miles of brand new trail. Continue reading

Lake Eleven Bridge Building Project

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event

The work site where the new 35-foot clear span bridge will be constructed and installed.
Photo by Tim Malzhan

Deep in the velvety silence of the Chequamegon National Forest, gnarled trees remind us of the power nature unleashed 15 years ago when the Gilman tornado touched down and chewed through 4,000 acres of forested land, of which 900 acres were approaching old growth status.

Here is where the Ice Age Trail Lake Eleven Segment crosses a stream via an aged pedestrian bridge, declared “unsafe” four years ago. Now, we’re constructing a new 35-foot clear span bridge designed to last 50 or more years.

Join us for this mid-summer adventure where daytime industry meets campfire conversation and flickering fireflies. Continue reading

There is no IAT-U without … YOU!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail University, IAT-U

Photo by Michael Maziarka

The secret sauce of our wildly successful and award-winning Mobile Skills Crew program?

Well-trained volunteers. Absolutely.

When the Mobile Skills Crew trailer pulls up to a work site, the flurry of activity that follows is nothing short of astounding. Tents are set up, meals are cooked, trails are built and boardwalks constructed. Much of what is accomplished, over the course of a few days, happens, in part, because the Ice Age Trail Alliance staff is able to rely on knowledgeable, capable volunteers. Individuals who have raised their hands and said “YES” to learning new skills or deepening their existing capabilities in service of the Trail. Continue reading

Cross Plains Celebrates the Ice Age Trail

The Cross Plains Segment shows off its best summer look. Photo Credit: Lou Ann Novak

In 2017 the Village of Cross Plains became one of eight Ice Age Trail Communities. This designation is more than a sign on the highway and a ribbon cutting. It is an invitation to use the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to celebrate the local culture, history, landscape, and businesses.

This July 14 and 15 the Village, in collaboration with the Cross Plains Chamber of Commerce, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Dane County Chapter, will be taking up the invitation to celebrate! Continue reading

21 New Boardwalk Builders

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Eagle Segment Boardwalk 2017

The newest class of boardwalk builders looks on as hikers try out their creation.
Photo by Dave Caliebe

The best place to hike through a wetland is…above it!

Piece-by-piece, 21 participants in the boardwalk training built two elevated boardwalks totaling 193 feet. Every measurement taken, every pan placed, every screw installed was an opportunity to learn and hone new skills. Continue reading

Volunteers Rise to the Challenge

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, Blue Hills Storm CleanupKeeping 15 miles of hard-to-access Ice Age Trail open and passable through rough, rocky terrain is no easy task. It takes a certain amount of grit to volunteer for a project of this magnitude, and 59 volunteers rose to the challenge and committed 1,471 hours to this worthy cause.

The Blue Hills are a gem and, thanks to your service and stewardship, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is in fine condition for enjoyment by visitors from far and wide. Continue reading

Make Friends, Raise Awareness

The Ice Age Trail staffs a food tent at the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days

Hiking at the edge of a pasture.
Photo credit: Rachel Roberts, IAT volunteer

Farm Technology Days  is our chance to feed the farmers who traditionally feed us.

Farm Technology Days (FTD) begins Tuesday, July 11th and runs through Thursday, July 13th. This fundraising opportunity, for the Trail, is about making friends, providing a crucial service, and raising awareness. It’s important to foster a friendly alliance within the farming community; numerous Ice Age Trail segments run alongside swaths of farmland.

While, fences make good neighbors, so does reaching out and being friendly. Let’s be neighborly. Continue reading

Summer Camp for Trail Wizards!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, IAT-U, Ice Age Trail UniversityIce Age Trail University is summer camp …

… for Trail wizards of all ages. Plenty of fresh air, good sunshine, and happy times learning new things.

The best way to learn is by doing, and we’ll be providing lots of hands-on learning!

We’re super excited to partner with the Merrill Area School System and the Friends of the Merrill School Forest to build two boardwalks, and super excited about this year’s Camp Chef course.

North Central Technical College is offering a special training through their Culinary Arts program. It’s an exciting time for those who want to become more involved in the volunteer-support side of our Mobile Skills Crew events. Continue reading

Big Things Come in Small Packages

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Marth Property Acquistion, City of West Bend

Silver Creek as it winds through the Marth Property. Photo by Kevin Thusius

A gem lay camouflaged, hidden between large brick buildings in a 1.38-acre piece of commercial property. The purchase of the Marth property, by the Ice Age Trail Alliance, brought the potential of this piece of land out of hiding and into focus. Now, a picturesque wetland, with sweetly named Silver Creek, is permanently protected and will someday host the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

Resilient Volunteers

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew event, Ringle Segment

Photo by Allan Henn

Wild, wet weather greeted us Tuesday and made repeated guest appearances all week. Thank you for drawing upon your personal stores of resiliency to make the first “MSC Mammoth” event of the season a success.

Bringing a Trail to life requires a certain toughness and the capacity to adapt and forge ahead. 107 volunteers, over the course of 2,539 hours, had fun, worked safely, and built great trail. Significant progress was made towards our August goal of opening 1.7 miles of new, sustainable, premier Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

The Blue Hills are Calling

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event, Blue Hills Rusk County

Photo by Tim Malzhan

The regal silence of the Blue Hills, with its lichen-covered logs and rugged beauty brimming with other worldliness, is interrupted only by bird calls and bubbling streams.

This expansive trail stewardship project attempts to tame a sliver of forest to provide hikers with both the rich rewards of a true north woods experience and a good, hike-able Trail as it winds through Rusk County. Join us outside. The Blue Hills (and slapping of beavers’ tails) are calling. Continue reading

National Trails Day Hikes

National Trails Day is Saturday, June 3rd and there is plenty to celebrate along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Ice age National Scenic Trail, Ice age Trail Alliance, National Trails Day

Photo by Dave Caliebe

Hikes for Kids of All Ages

Guided hikes inspire, energize and rejuvenate!

Chippewa County, Chippewa Moraine Segment: Celebrate National Trail Day (Chippewa Moraine Chapter)

It’s hard to find a more scenic trail with it spectacular overlooks, mature forest, and the long meander along the shore of Picnic Lake, the highlights of this recently rebuilt and rerouted section.

Portage County, Emmons Creek Segment: Wildflower Hike (Portage County Chapter)

The Emmons Creek Segment highlights the charming Emmons Creek State Fishery Area and oak woodland and savanna areas. Continue reading

Dismayed by Proposal to Cut Stewardship Funding

Photo by Dave Caliebe

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is at risk.  It is the number one source of funding for land purchases that protect and expand the Ice Age Trail.  Funding from this program, in 2016, extended the Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest in Sheboygan County, as well as, in the Straight Lake State Park in Polk County.

Please call your representatives TODAY. Assembly Bill 338 (AB338) has been introduced and it could be voted on any day now.  Please urge your Assembly representative not to vote for AB338.

Talking Points for Your Call: Continue reading

Get Out & Give Back – May 20th & 21st

Trail Happenings!

Photo by Dave Caliebe

GET OUT: Hikes

Boost your happiness; immerse yourself in a healthy dose of nature (vitamin Green!).

Dane County Chapter, Cross Plains Segment: Birding Hike

Early spring mornings are the time to see and hear migrating and newly-arrived birds of the woodlands, savanna and prairie habitats along the loop in the highlands above Cross Plains. Bring binoculars; hike leader will help identify avian friends! Continue reading

A Mammoth Invitation to Reimagine

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew 2017

“The newly re-routed Ice Age Trail segment is designed to be an attractive walk. This initial 1.5 miles of trail will meander across rolling terrain filled with big oaks. These old trees create a dramatic over-story and help highlight impressive glacial features like large erratics and boulder fields,” stated Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Specialist. Photo by Tim Malzhan

Life’s transformative events might stew and brew for years until one day…poof; we turn around and find our very being has expanded in ways we could barely imagine.

The reimagining of the Ringle Segment is one such transformative event for the Ice Age Trail.  Here, spring peepers chorus, wolves roam, trillium bloom, and rock, as all farmers, geologists, and trail builders know, begets rock.

For those who embrace bringing landscape stories to life, Ringle is a legacy event. Continue reading

A Phenomenal Kick Off to the 2017 MSC Season!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Soul Shakedown MSC event, Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Brand new trail under construction on the Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Brad Crary

Whew! That’s one way to kick off the trailbuilding season.  2 days, 3 events, 146 volunteers, and 1,994 hours dedicated to enhancing the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the first Soul Shakedown of the year!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Walla Hi Segment, Soul Shakedown MSC

Ground work has been laid for ongoing tread construction on the Walla Hi Segment.  Photo by Brad Crary

Continue reading

Prestigious Award for Volunteeerism and Service

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Unites States Forest SErvice Easter Region Honor Award for Volunteerism

Students from the Medford School District eagerly engaged in trailbuilding. Photo by Tracy Sewlund

Prestigious United States Forest Service Eastern Region Honor Award for Volunteerism and Service bestowed on the Ice Age Trail Alliance

The United States Forest Service recently recognized the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s commitment to creating and delivering an outstanding volunteer experience as part of its Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) program.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance forges strong relationships with a wide-range of partners as a means to engaging a diverse population with the vision of creating, maintaining and protecting a thousand-mile footpath through Wisconsin. A popular mantra of the Alliance, “Trailbuilding is people building”, ensures quality skill-building and service-learning components go hand-in-hand with the trail work that must be accomplished during an MSC event.

The dedication to these ideals were evidenced in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail Infrastructure Overhaul project. This collaborative, multi-year effort spanning 2012 – 2016, addressed infrastructure upgrades to popular segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail where it traverses the Chequamagon National Forest. Continue reading

Soul Shakedown: The MSC Season Launches!!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skill Crew Season Launches, triple-header, Ringle Segment, Firth Lake Segment, Wall Hi Segment

A moss covered erratic is one of the treasures waiting to be discovered on the soon-to-be Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Tim Malzhan

Ice Age Trail Supporters!

Dispense with data management and deadlines. The 2017 triple-header season opener is happening at three locations across the State!

All great ideas need a canvas upon which to rest. Inspired trail experiences owe their origin to clearing and cutting brush to rough in a “corridor of opportunity”.  And, it’s fun! Corridor clearing is a great way to see positive results in a hurry and a wide-range of ages and skills can get a thrill wielding a handsaw or clippers.

What We’re Doing:

We’re starting the season early to get ahead of seasonal restrictions on cutting or pruning oak trees, and to avoid disturbance to bird nesting seasons. The triple-header events will help chapters in Marathon, Chippewa, and Manitowoc counties manage their respective trail maintenance needs. Each is preparing their trails for blockbuster tread construction events to follow later in the season.

Tools will be provided, but Certified Sawyers are encouraged to bring their own gear. Continue reading

Voulez-vous Rendezvous?

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Winter Rendezvous 2017

Enjoying a winter wonderland during the Winter Rendezvous.
[Photo by David Caliebe]

It’s time for the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Winter Rendezvous – a social gathering for anyone interested in volunteering for, hiking on, or learning more about  the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

The 2017 trailbuilding season starter’s whistle is ready to blow; all that’s missing is you.

Please join us and choose from expanded Rendezvous options at beautiful Treehaven, a UW-Stevens Point facility near Tomahawk. Continue reading

Save the Date: 2017 Annual Conference

Ice Age Trail Alliance Annual Conference, Ice Age National Scenic Trail

A tamarak bog along the Harwood Lakes Segment, a featured hike at the conference.
Photo credit: Dave Caliebe

You’re invited!

The upcoming Ice Age Trail Alliance Annual Conference is scheduled for Thursday, April 27th – Sunday, April 30th at the Avalon Hotel and Conference Center in Chippewa Falls.

We’ll be celebrating you – the hikers, volunteers, members and donors – and all you do to make the Ice Age Trail the treasure that it is.

If you have never attended an Ice Age Trail Alliance Annual Conference before, it is a fantastic way to meet people who are passionate and committed to the Trail.  It is super energizing to mingle with and hear the stories about the Trail from folks who are dedicated to building, maintaining, and protecting it.

GOOD NEWS! 

The 2017 Annual Conference just got more AFFORDABLE!

We are excited to announce we’ve been able to REDUCE the cost of the conference attendance by 30%. Continue reading