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