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