Online Shopping and the Ice Age Trail Alliance

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, AmazonSmile, Online ShoppingThe Holiday season is in full swing…

…and there are TWO ways to benefit the Ice Age Trail Alliance AND get your holiday shopping done!

FIRST:

For those of you who like to do your shopping online, from the comfort of your recliner, and from Amazon.com then you may want to take advantage of AmazonSmile where Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Continue reading

We Are Hiring!

Photo Credit: Jo Ellarson

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is pleased to announce we are hiring three intern positions for 2017.  These opportunities are based in three program areas: Land Conservation, Outreach & Education, and Trail. The length of employment ranges from 6 – 9 months. Please read the position descriptions linked below.

In addition, the Alliance is seeking to contract the services of a professional photographer.  Please read the description below for more information.

 

Photo Credit: Jo Ellarson

Nine Black Friday Hikes: #OptOutside

#OptOutside. Get a dose of fresh air and hike off that extra slice of pumpkin pie. Photo by Dave Caliebe

#OptOutside. Get a dose of fresh air and hike off that extra slice of pumpkin pie.
Photo by Dave Caliebe

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to participate in #OptOutside with our partner REI, Inc. In its second year, #OptOutside takes place on Black Friday and encourages people to take a hike! Here in Wisconsin, the day after Thanksgiving is also the heart of deer-gun hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have set up nine hikes where deer hunting is not allowed.

All of the following suggested hikes take place in Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities. Continue reading

Phenomenal Trailbuilding Accomplished at Dueling Mobile Skills Crew Projects

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Event 2016

Perfect fall weather created ideal working conditions for #TeamMerrimac and #TeamRibLake. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.

The 2016 Mobile Skills Crew “Stones and Ripples” tour ended in triumph at two project sites. Thanks to the combined efforts of 180 volunteers and a whopping 3,222 volunteer hours, a phenomenal amount of work was accomplished – and finished ahead of schedule.

A sense of community and collaboration formed between the two projects through a good-natured social media duel featuring each team’s creativity and trailbuilding skills. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe

What to do when the best laid plans hit a snag? As all seasoned volunteers know…with eyes forward, you shift on a dime and give it all you’ve got!

The planned Storrs Lake project in Rock County is on hold for 2016, regrettably. This change of plans, therefore, enables us to finish what we’ve started, which we strive to do. This mindset led us to organize two Mobile Skills Crew events which will run concurrently from Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 23.

The Sauk County event (Merrimac Segment) will build 3,600 feet of tread that was corridor cleared at the August event. The Taylor County event (Rib Lake Segment) will focus on finishing up work began in May on the Timm’s Hill Trail Connector. (The Sauk County project will be the larger of the two events.) Continue reading

IAT Volunteers Exemplify Passion, Enthusiasm, and Excellence!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County 2016 Mobile Skills Crew event

Joanne Ellarson and Steve Brandt work as a team on a boardwalk retrofit project.
Photo credit: John Helling

The goal of every Mobile Skills Crew event and local Trail improvement effort is to create and maintain a sustainable footpath that fosters new discoveries and broadens our collective connection to the outdoors. Over the course of five rainy, and sometimes stormy days, at last week’s Polk County MSC event, we did that, and more.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew project 2016

Wendell Holl (left) and Jerry Pfeiffer dive into muddy boardwalk work.
Photo credit: Joanne Ellarson

Thanks to the efforts of 119 volunteers, over the course of 3,268 hours, an amazing amount got accomplished:

  • 630 feet of technically demanding wood structures were either built or refurbished;
  • four new Dispersed Camping Areas were opened for use;
  • two trail reroutes were completed;
  • two miles of trail signage were refreshed; a trailhead kiosk was installed; and,
  • numerous hazard trees were cleared.

The cook shanty was kept warm by the efforts of the crew who prepared three square meals a day. In addition, 11 sawyers attended a chainsaw certification course.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew project 2016, boardwalks on the Trail

Randy Kalal capably hauls a board, to be used to construct a new 20-foot-long bridge, to the work site.
Photo credit: Tracy Menchaca

Perhaps, what best exemplifies the impassioned enthusiasm, of those striving for Trail excellence, is this snapshot. Picture a thousand feet of wide, muddy, rutted forest road, beat up after many trips moving materials and tools with an ATV and UTV. Now picture six tired volunteers, at the end of a very long week, mustering the energy to wield McLeod’s, with the purpose of reshaping the holes and ruts, in order to return the road to a like-new condition.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew event, Barron High School

Barron High School Conservation Club makes work look fun as they help clear brush from the trailhead.
Photo credit: Stephanie Eastwood

Special Thanks to:

  • Dean Dversdall for providing an idyllic base camp location;
  • The Frederic Lions Club for providing picnic tables;
  • Herb and Cork Lundberg for use of their shed and UTV to store and haul materials, and for the bevy of brownies;
  • The Imperial Lion Troupe and Mark Lutz, direct from the Twin Cities, for delightful entertainment celebrating not only this event but the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a major Vietnamese and Chinese holiday celebrating the rice harvest.

To gain a larger sense of the work accomplished during the MSC project, you may click here for more photos.

To gain a better sense of the areas where the numerous projects took place last weekend, click here for a map.

Thank you, volunteers!

We appreciate you!

Bestow a High Honor

Award nominations are due!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Public Award NominationsDo you like to be recognized for the time and energy you spend on a project?  If so, then you know how good it feels to bask in someone’s appreciation and words of praise (even if it feels as little embarrassing or awkward).

Now is your opportunity to turn the tables and heap a little admiration on someone else who has stepped up in a significant way in support of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

A Little TLC – and Voila! – Beauty Revealed: Help Build the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew Projec

Sunset on Straight Lake
Photo Credit: Rita Fox

Huge volumes of molten lava gushed through a split in the earth’s crust a billion years ago, forming the exposed basalt rock outcroppings we see along the Straight Lake and Trade River segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Toss in a continent-sized glacier 10,000 years ago, four Mobile Skills Crew events five years ago, steady love from local trail maintainers and — voila! — a signature section of the Ice Age Trail, the gift we and countless others enjoy today. Continue reading

Successful Hands-On Learning!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Merrimac 2016

The new 24-foot-long bridge, with lengthy approach ramps, for a total of 268 feet of boardwalk, now spans Parfrey’s Glen Creek. Photo credit: Dave Caliebe

August is prime time for community festivals big and small, celebrating the heart of each locale. Last week’s MSC event in Sauk and Columbia Counties rolled out the big top, anchored by four heavyweights of the Ice Age Trail – stonework, trailbuilding, woodworking, and most importantly, learning. These four anchors held the big top sturdy through high winds and downpours. These four anchors play a key part, every day, along the Ice Age Trail, expanding the big top to include more volunteers and hikers. Continue reading

A 100 Years Worth Celebrating!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, NPS Centenniel Celebration, John Muir County Park, Ennis Lake

Photo credit: L. Unruh
Ennis Lake glitters in the distance, surrounded by clouds and prairie.

The spirit of John Muir floated on clouds reflected in his favorite kettle lake. It danced with the Milkweed swaying in the prairie. It whistled while sauntering along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail which now loops through land he dearly loved.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the NPS centenniel

Photo credit: L. Unruh
Yes, there are a 100 candles on that cake!

It was felt in the breeze which kicked up and helped blow out the 100 candles on the National Park Service Centennial Celebration birthday cake. Continue reading

Hands-on Learning on the Merrimac Segment and at IAT-U

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event Sauk County, Merrimac Segment

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe
The Baraboo Bluffs are beckoning…this is the view the Trail reroute will provide.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keep learning stays young.”

~ Henry Ford

Educating and Empowering volunteers to build maintain and steward the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is the cornerstone of the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Program. In the words of Henry Ford, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” If this is true, then our end-of-summer MSC event in Sauk County is a veritable fountain of youth.

Bring your youthful back-to-school spirit, because the best way to learn is by doing, and we’ve got a substantial, hands-on Trail improvement project in the works. This section of Trail meanders through the beautiful Riverland Conservancy owned Merrimac Preserve, near Devil’s Lake State Park. A dilapidated bridge and boardwalk will be replaced, ready for their own infusion of youthfulness. Continue reading

Working Together, Impressive Results

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Taylor County MSC 2016

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe – Wood Lake graced by a Bald Eagle and two Trumpeter swans.

Taylor County, sculpted by the powerful forces of glacial ice, is known for its undulating, hummocky terrain and smooth-as-glass kettle lakes reflecting sky and clouds, is already beautiful, and last week, it just got more attractive.

A 104 volunteers with a shared vision of making the Ice Age Trail the best it can be, accomplished a phenomenal amount of Trail improvements on three of the seven Trail segments in Taylor County over the course of 7 days and 3,100 hours of effort. Continue reading

Nature’s Complexity Excites the Curious Adolescent Mind

Education, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Summer Saunter's Program, Milwaukee School District, UW Waukesha Field Station, Bird's Nests, Active Trails

Photo credit: J. Haag
Milwaukee Saunters intently listen about nesting methods at the UW Waukesha Field Station

Musings by Jacob Haag, 2016 Ice Age Trail Alliance Intern

It all started with a hike in the woods.  First as a mentor to fourth graders as part of the Summer Saunters program through Lodi’s school district; now, years later, in my 20’s, as an Intern with the Ice Age Trail Alliance.  It’s the dawning realization of how crucial it was for me, personally, to get outside in nature as a kid, and how important I think it is for others to have a similar experience.  Now, as a group leader, I get to lead bus-loads of kids through a series of stretches and jumping jacks and encourage them to scream at the top of their lungs, “I am a star!”  Why?  Because it’s a fun way to energize bodies and minds after a long bus ride and readying them for their immersion into nature. Continue reading

Explore the Kettle Moraine

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Parnell Segment Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest

Photo credit: B. Bednarek, Parnell Segment, view from Parnell Tower

Did you know, world famous glacial landscape features are within an easy drive from your front door?

This might not seem like such a big deal until you consider that walking across the high ridge of an esker, or peering down into a kettle lake is a bit like time travel, giving you a peek into how the landscape of Wisconsin was formed.

Conveniently, the almost 30,000 acres of the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest contains some of the most stellar glacial remnants of the last Ice Age. In fact, this region was formed as two tongue-shaped ice sheets collided, creating a valley of ice some 10,000 years ago. As these huge sheets of ice melted, the meltwater cascaded into crevasses carrying sand, gravel, and boulders, depositing them along the way. This is what shaped the rolling ridges and deep kettles – large crater-like depressions – that make up the topography of this beautiful forest. Continue reading

Calling All Creatives! IATA Photo Contest

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Jerry Lake Segment Taylor County Chippewa Moraine

A glimpse of boardwalk along the Jerry Lake Segment of the Chippewa Moraine in Taylor County.
Photo credit: D. Caliebe

Have you ever, while hiking along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, found yourself standing in awe, exhaling a huge sigh, your heart filled, and knowing there were simply no words for the beauty you were witness to?

Perhaps, in the next moment, you whipped out your phone, or dug around in your day pack for a camera, sincerely hoping the adage, “a picture is worth a thousand words” was true and you could adequately capture the way the sun slants golden across the field; the way the trillium spreads across the forest floor, a delicate white carpet fit for a fairy queen. Perhaps you sought to hold on to the expression of sheer happiness on your hiking partner’s face and his or her wind-tousled hair.

Maybe, you too, have felt the truth of Ansel Adams’ statement, “When words become unclear, I shall focus with photographs. When images become inadequate, I shall be content with silence.”

For you, your love affair with life is reflected in the photographs you take while immersed in nature. If you are the one with camera in hand on a hike, then we would love to partner with you. Continue reading

Full Moon Hikes

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail, the Ice Age Trail Alliance, Full Moon Hikes

Photo credit: R. Roberts. A full moon rising above a fine Wisconsin prairie.

Fireflies rising from prairie grasses – little flickers of earth-side starlight; soft, velvety nighttime air freed from the heat of the day; a glowing moon on the rise – a pendant hanging from a chain of stars.

These are summer evenings in their full grandeur. A perfect way to extend them, luxuriously past dusk, is to head out for a full moon hike. Several Chapters of the Ice Age Trail Alliance are honoring July’s full moon in this manner – happily leading hikes along various segments of the Ice Age Trail. Continue reading

Taylor County Trailbuilding Event

Ice Age Trail Alliance Ice Age National Scenic Trail Mobile Skills Crew Event July 2016

Photo Credit: D. Caliebe – morning mist rising on Wood Lake

July is a month of celebrations. Picture puttering around the garden in the early hours of the day, or gathering with friends around a grill while enjoying the flicker of fireflies in the dusky hours of a long summer evening. On weekends, a great migration occurs as folks shuffle routines and voyage north to forests and picturesque lakes for peace of mind and adventure.

We hope you’ll join us for a mid-summer adventure of your own! Head North with us for our second Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County this year and fifth in the last 15 months; we’re tackling a whole lot of lumber, rock, and dirt across 50 miles of Taylor County. Continue reading

Welcome to Wisconsin’s Jungle!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Ice Age Trail Alliance Blue Hills Mobile Skills Crew

Photo credit: D. Caliebe

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail inspires an intensity of passion and purpose that is pure and rare.  If you could bottle it up, you could sell it for a fortune.

This enthusiastic dedication was unleashed in a whirlwind of focused activity when 77 volunteers pitched in for 2,794 hours to maintain and upgrade an astonishing 20+ miles of Trail, spanning three counties, and five Ice Age Trail segments. Continue reading

Redefine Beauty: 2016 Photo Contest

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Ice Age Trail Alliance Photo Contest 2016

Photo credit: K. Thusius

There are segments along the Trail that could do with a little more attention – they feel a tad lonely, neglected, forgotten; sidelined by the paparazzi’s rush to photograph the more glamorous segments of the Trail, like the handsome Devil’s Lake Segment, the statuesque Gibraltar Segment, or the elegant Dells of the Eau Claire Segment.

Beauty Redefined:

We’re urging Trail aficionados to go beyond the traditional definition of beauty – go bold, get radical; give some camera love to wild, rugged, asymmetrical, quirky, distinctly unique segments like these: Continue reading

Summertime: Be Playful, Be Curious, Be Inspired

Ice Age Trail Alliance Ice Age National Scenic Trail Active Trails Grant National Park Service

Photo credit: B. Bednarek

Playing in the sprinkler, climbing trees, and catching lightning bugs make for happy childhood memories.

Nostalgic summer days include Tom Sawyer-like activities: expeditions across fields and through woods, splashing in creeks, and catching wily frogs.

These rushed modern times with tight, busy schedules don’t seem to lend themselves to those long hours of exploration and discovery. To address this need for quality time outdoors, the National Parks Foundation has partnered with organizations like the Ice Age Trail Alliance by awarding an Active Trails grant. This financial support sustains Saunters, an IATA program designed to get kids outside and connected to nature in a playful, active, and inspiring way as they hike segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

A Texas-Sized Project in the Blue Hills – Join Us!

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

MSC volunteers Gail Piotrowski and Kevin Welton paint a fresh set of blazes to mark the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Photo credit: D.Caliebe

Think of a Texas-sized project spread out along 30 miles of trail with outsized brush, brambles, beaver dams, hoodoos and swamp-like-terrain.  This area is remote and Mother-Nature is law-less and overgrown.

Please join us in the Blue Hills to help care for and steward the Trail by reinvigorating and keeping existing Trail segments clearly signed and open for hikers. This MSC project is full-on, straight-up trail maintenance. Continue reading

How to Build a Cathedral in 2016

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Trailbuilding at Rusch Preserve

Photo credit: R. Roberts

The great cathedrals of Europe were years in the making. Like the Ice Age Trail, the wonders of Notre-Dame, Saint-Denis and Chartres demonstrate how solutions evolve and the work of one generation leads to and builds on the work of another.

The Ice Age Trail, entering its 36th year as a National Scenic Trail, also continues to evolve and improve from the lessons learned and hard work of successive years. Thank You to all 171 volunteers who pitched in for 3,672 hours to help build a cathedral of the ages for the current generation, and those well into the future, along the Rib Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

Explore a Trail Segment Near You!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail John Muir County Park

A trail flows through a sea of wildflowers in the John Muir County Park.
Photo credit: K. Mcgwin

Trails do not just magically appear in the woods or along a ridgeline for our hiking pleasure. It might seem like it as we take a stroll down a long, shaded path, with a glimpse of it unfolding ahead of us. Most of us don’t spend a lot of time thinking about how a trail is constructed or the dedicated hours of design and layout (about a 100 hours) involved for every mile of trail, not counting the hours dedicated to the actual building, mile per mile, of trail.

In fact, most of us have a limited knowledge of exactly how many miles of trails exist in our country, not thinking perhaps beyond the trails in our own county or state parks, or the few mountain trails we’ve hiked, in Colorado, perhaps. It turns out, according to the American Hiking Society, there are 200,000 miles of trail throughout the United States. Continue reading

No Sense of Direction?

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Mammoth Tracks App

Do you lack a reliable sense of direction? 

It can be a seriously annoying trait when you’re driving, trying to get somewhere on time. It can induce a panicky feeling when you are out in the woods and there’s only a few hours of daylight left to locate a camp site and pitch your tent.

If you can relate to the cartoon above, then hopefully, you and Siri, are good friends by now and she’s helped you navigate, turn-by-turn, to your various destinations.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance has you covered while you are out and about on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail with our new app, Mammoth Tracks. Continue reading