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

First Day Hikes

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, First Day Hike

Photo credit: Fred Paasch

Welcome 2017 with a dose of fresh air. Say good-bye to the holiday cookies and chocolates. Burn a few calories with a fun, relaxed-paced, yet blood-pumping hike on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Best of all, a walk in the woods, all serene and blanketed with snow, is a perfect way to connect with yourself. Nature, like you, is a white canvas, ready for a fresh set of possibilities. Take a few moments and consider your path forward into this brand new year. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Twilight Trail Run: Headlamp Hustle

Headlamp Hustle Fontana Sports

If your idea of a good time is a twilight trail run with a headlamp, then we have the race for you!

Fontana Sports Headlamp Hustle

Not your average trail race, the Headlamp Hustle will take place on Friday, May 20th. Runners line for a 7:30 p.m. start and the race features 5K and 10K distances over beautiful and challenging terrain. The post-race celebration with music, a bonfire, food and Lake Louie beer is well worth the effort. Continue reading

Honor Your Mother

Photo credit: J. Wildermuth, IAT volunteer

Photo credit: J. Wildermuth, IAT volunteer

Mother’s Day is Sunday. Honor Mother Earth. Honor Mother Nature.

Honor your ever-lovin’ mama who brought you into this world.

Just like your mother, Mother Nature has the power to soothe and comfort, to nurture your soul. She just may be a reserve of enduring, quiet strength. She might also get all whipped up in a thunderous fury. Celebrate that glorious, mercurial wonder that is motherhood with a day immersed in nature.

There are some simply stunning opportunities to move your body, still your mind, and have a quality conversation with your mother along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a unique footpath which winds its way through Wisconsin. Continue reading

New Crew Leaders Prepare for Launch

The Ice Age Trail Alliance repeats the mantra “Trailbuilding is People Building” from the top of kames to the bottom of kettles. The acts of creating, supporting and protecting a 1000 mile footpath tracing glacial formations come in many forms and all lead back to this familiar phrase. Perhaps the best example of Trailbuilding is People Building is found in the cultivation and creation of the next generation of crew leaders.

It is no small feat to positively and safely guide fellow volunteers on and off-trail to create a world class hiking experience. Yet, since 2002, Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers have been doing just that. Through rigorous training, high expectations, collaboration and a heavy dose of flat out fun, crew leaders are the front-line of the Trail. This is not done through smoke and mirrors but through the Alliance’s semiannual Crew Leadership and Skills Training.

April 27 through May 1, a new class of crew leader trainees will begin to hone their “Trailbuilding is People Building” skills. We welcome these hearty volunteers and thank each of them for joining the adventure.

Make Mammoth Tracks With Our New App

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is excited to announce the newest additions to the growing list of trail user resources, the Mammoth Tracks app. Available for Apple and Android devices alike, Mammoth Tracks is designed to work with ‘offline’ maps. This digital tool will not only guide you and keep you on the Trail, it will also provide important waypoints including parking, camping, water resources, ColdCache sites, and many other opportunities for enjoying the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Download today!

5,000 Acres and Counting

The landscape of Wisconsin is a world renowned resource for understanding the impact continental glaciation had on our planet. Learning about the last major climate shift is imperative to understanding our past as well as preparing for our future. These lands are also as a medium for personal rejuvenation, exploration, physical and mental health, and an educational foundation for over 1.25 million annual Ice Age Trail users. Since 1986, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has acquired lands to protect this valuable resource in perpetuity.

Photo Credit: Jo Ellarson

During the fall 2015 through this week, the Alliance experienced a flurry of land protection activity capped by a 136-acre property donation in Manitowoc County. This acquisition protects some of the best examples of glaciation in the state and pushed the number of acres protected by the Alliance over the 5,000 mark. Indeed, since 1986 the Alliance has permanently protected 5,156 acres via 141 separate transactions.

The Alliance works with a wide variety of partners to determine the best ownership of each property. As such, the Alliance has transferred properties to state, county and other partners. The remaining 3,423 acres is managed and monitored by the Alliance, including 55 easements and 42 properties held in fee.

As an accredited land trust, the Ice Age Trail Alliance achieves a high standard for land protection, monitoring and improvement. Thanks to this designation by the Land Trust Alliance, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is adding protected lands and trail miles, at an impressive rate. Since September of 2015 the Ice Age Trail Alliance has acquired 10 properties totaling 279 acres, protecting an estimated 2.75 miles of yet to be constructed Ice Age Trail. Of these 10 properties, 7 were donated with a total donation value of more than $2.5 million. There is no question that the high standard the Alliance maintains helps landowners feel confident that the land they cherish so deeply will be protected for generations to come.

For more information about the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s land protection work, please visit http://www.iceagetrail.org/land-protection-management/.

Wanted: Volunteer Field Editors for 2017 IATA Guidebooks

Work has begun on updating the Ice Age Trail Guidebook, Ice Age Trail Atlas, and Ice Age Trail Databook with the goal of publishing updated versions in 2017.

We are looking for dedicated and enthusiastic hikers and lovers of the outdoors to volunteer as Field Editors. That means you!

Field Editors will be asked to hike a selected segment of the Ice Age Trail, review and verify existing book info, and submit a Field Edit Report providing any updated, corrected, or new segment information. As a Field Editor you will receive all the documents and support you need to complete your assignment (hiking shoes not included).

You can complete your assignment as a Field Editor and submit your Field Edit Report anytime between mid-April and September 1, 2016.

Segments of various lengths along the entire Ice Age Trail are available. Field editors will also have the opportunity to submit photographs of their segment for possible publication in the updated books.

The interest in being a volunteer Field Editor is expected to be very high, so sign up right now before all the assignments are gone!

To volunteer (or ask questions) please contact Gary Hegeman, Volunteer Field Editor Coordinator, by phone (414-217-7626) or email (gmheg@wi.rr.com).

The best part of being a Field Editor is the rewards. This opportunity will allow you to:

  • Get exercise (both physical and mental – always good).
  • Explore in-depth a segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
  • Be a contributor to outstanding Trail publications.
  • See your name in bright lights…or at least in the books’ list of Field Editors.
  • Be a hero — help make the Ice Age Trail more accessible and meaningful to hikers and outdoor lovers everywhere.

Duff Bucket Challenge

“Mug Shot” – Lakeshore Chapter Volunteers

One of the most-used tools along the Ice Age Trail is the underappreciated duff bucket. It’s used to haul away dirt and duff, transporting signage supplies and, perhaps, it’s most infamous use, as a seat during well-deserved breaks.

To keep the buckets employed over the winter, we came up with another use – collecting pocket change. Duff buckets are easy to fill when working on the Trail, let’s fill them with quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies – even paper money works!

We’re collecting change to make a change on the Ice Age Trail. To help you join the cause, we will send you an Ice Age Trail mug to fill. We’ll be collecting mugs full of change during the Annual Conference in Rothschild, April 7 – 10. If you can’t join us for the Conference, please hand off your mug to a chapter member that is attending or bring it to the office in Cross Plains. Your contribution will help us fill a duff bucket, or two, or…

For a little fun, we’re encouraging people to take their “Mug Shot.” Take a picture of your progress! Post it on Facebook and challenge your friends. Take it out on the Trail for a few pics and laughs.

How many can we fill? We’re hoping to need a bucket brigade to move all the duff buckets full of change! We’ll pack along the grip hoist just in case.

If you would like to participate in the Challenge, we’ll send you a mug “on the house.” Send a request to brad@iceagetrail.org or call the office at 608-798-4453.

 

Let’s Rendezvous!

photo by Tim Malzhan

photo by Tim Malzhan

As the calendar shuffles along toward spring and shadows get shorter our thoughts of trailbuilding are gaining momentum. Soon it will be time to slap new laces on steel toes, pick up a fresh pair of gloves and file a clean edge on the pick mattock. In a few short months we’ll be back in morning roundup and our tools of the craft will have a nice patina of duff and sawdust. Until these warm thoughts come to fruition, we’re planning on helping you scratch that trailbuilding itch with the Winter Rendezvous!

8504999576_941fd38422_o

photo by Dave Caliebe

Just like the French voyageurs of the past, hearty souls will gather at UWSP – Treehaven in Tomahawk from February 5 – 7 to share stories of winter adventures, enjoy the landscape and rekindle fires. Please join us and catch up with old friends or make new, and find out what is in store for the 2016 Mobile Skills Crew season. There will be plenty of frivolity mixed in with x’s and o’s. No previous trailbuilding experience is necessary as all are welcome. You can register and see a full agenda here.

We look forward to seeing you at the Winter Rendezvous or on the Trail in the near future. Until then, we hope your thoughts of creating new Ice Age Trail experiences break up cabin fever and help you gain a spring in your step.

New Feature Rich Trail Map Launched

Itinerary_screen capture
There is no surprise that most people visiting the Ice Age Trail Alliance website do so to see where the Trail leads. Whether they are first timers or IAT veterans the map page is a huge draw. So when it came time to upgrade the site we turned to the online map. Thanks to financial support from Travel Wisconsin , we have added new clickable layers. The first, Trail Stories, is a place for IAT users to share their adventures with one another. This serves as a good place for seeing what is going on in the trail community at your favorite (or soon to be favorite) segment. Another layer, Trail Conditions, is a clearinghouse for all Ice Age Trail Alliance certified trail conditions. This layer includes both positive and not so positive conditions and is a good place to look before hitting the trail. Finally, be sure to look at the Itinerary layer for 18 prebuilt adventures. Itineraries fall into three categories: Avid Hiker for the backpacking sort, Family Friendly for when the kids are along and Day Hiker for just about anyone!

Each layer is designed to help you enjoy the Ice Age Trail even more than before. So please take a look, post a Trail Story, be part of the conversation and let us know what you think.

Travel Wisconsin

Village of Hartland Becomes First Ice Age Trail Community

DSC01373 2

The Ice Age Trail is projected to pass through 137 – 146 communities as it courses through Wisconsin, connecting people and places along the way. Building strong relationships is critical to the long term success of the Alliance and expansion of the Trail. To meet this need the Alliance has created the Ice Age Trail Community program.

This past fall the Village of Hartland, in Waukesha County, completed the application and assessment process to become the first official Ice Age Trail Community. The Hartland Business Improvement District (BID) and Village administration joined hands to submit an application that set a very high standard for future communities to meet. They took a look at existing infrastructure and amenities through the eyes of a hiker. Plans are underway to enhance the presence of the Ice Age Trail as it passes through downtown, raising awareness of the national treasure found within the community.

Visitors to Hartland will immediately see the impact this program has had on the community. Whether the trip takes them to the Lake Country Fine Arts School where they can see the Ice Age Trail themed mural or stop at Señor Tomás Restaurant along the banks of the Bark River, trail users will know they are in a community that supports the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The next time you are looking for a place to hike take a look at Hartland and support the communities that support the Ice Age Trail. Don’t forget to tell the business you patronize you are there to hike the Trail!

 

New Ice Age Trail Databook now available

Pages from Databook2015_2015-0805-2If you’re thinking of hiking the entire Ice Age Trail, either all at once or in bits and pieces, the Ice Age Trail Databook is for you. It includes point-to-point mileage listings for hundreds of access points along the entire Ice Age Trail. The book is intended to be paired with Ice Age Trail Atlas maps.

Special shout-out to volunteers Sharon Dziengel, Gary Hegeman, and Sue Knopf for another top-notch publication.

Check out the Databook in our secure online store.