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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank You

The Alliance’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting was a success on many fronts. Guided hikes at the Plover River, Underdown and Dells of the Eau Claire segments, despite being blanketed in a late spring snow, provided the opportunity to recharge and enjoy a saunter with Trail friends from far and wide.

The Conference also featured new opportunities including daily raffles, a live auction and the final act of the Duff Bucket Challenge. The combined generosity of donors and attendees was overwhelming.

We would like to thank our generous sponsors and Trail supporters:

REI        FAV High Res Fontana Logo in Green            CWO-Logo---for-Dark-background

JHenrySons_Logo_K                             ICF logo_2015_blue on white               wawanissee logo           

ALF logo

We also want to thank Dean Dversdall and Bob Lange for their donations.

These gifts and collective energy generated at the Annual Conference make hikes and experiences on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail a reality, forming stories that shape generations. Thank you to our donors, sponsors and attendees for making these experiences. Don’t take it from us, though…let members, hikers and friends of the Trail tell their story. Enjoy our first installment of Storytellers:

The songs “Happy” and “St. Louis” used with permission by Widespread Panic.

A new safety initiative for Ice Age Trail volunteers

In conjunction with the National Park Service, we are excited to share with you a new safety initiative designed specifically for trail volunteers called “Trail Safe!

Trail Safe! is a very unique safety initiative, based upon NPS Operational Leadership training, where the human factor of safety is explored. Topics include things such as Stress & Performance, Situational Awareness, Effective Leadership, and more. NPS Operational Leadership training is typically a 16-hour classroom commitment, which is impractical for all Ice Age Trail volunteers to attend. Trail Safe! explores all of the core learning objectives found in NPS Operational Leadership training, but is made available to you in a series of eight short, self-study videos. Individual Trail Safe! video lessons run between 18 and 40 minutes long, and the entire series can be viewed in just three hours from the comfort of your own home.

In many of the lessons you’ll see your fellow Ice Age Trail volunteers (or maybe even yourself) in the featured photos!

To access the Trail Safe! video series, go to the National Park Service’s website for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. On the main page scroll down to the Trail Safe! feature and click on the link. From there you will be able to open and play all Trail Safe! lessons. Please watch them in numeric order from Lesson #1 through Lesson #8, as the learning concepts for each lesson build upon the previous lessons.

IMPORTANT: After viewing each Trail Safe! lesson, please be sure to go back to the main web page to complete the Training Verification Roster which is found at the bottom of the Trail Safe! page just below Lesson #8. Completing the Training Verification Roster takes just a few moments and gives you credit for having participated in this important training tool. Once you have viewed all eight lessons and submitted Training Verification Rosters for each lesson, you’ll receive a Trail Safe! pin and other job aids through the mail from the National Park Service.

Thank you in advance for participating in Trail Safe! and for helping ensure other volunteers learn about this important safety initiative. Specific questions about Trail Safe! may be directed to NPS Volunteer Coordinator Daniel Watson at daniel_watson@nps.gov.

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.

 

Mobile Skills Crew Season Lifts Off

DSC03166

Photo Credit: Dave Caliebe

Despite the frozen landscape of February, the first stone placed of the 2016 MSC tour rippled forth with refreshing change from the Treehaven education, conference and research center during the Winter Rendezvous. Trail folk from around the state celebrated the 2015 season, renewed fellowship with trail friends and looked ahead to the coming trailbuilding season. Amid snowshoe races, jigsaw puzzles and reminiscing about trailbuilding events of the past, a fire was lit in the very core of the Mobile Skills Crew spirit that will burn bright all season long.

Don’t worry if you missed the Rendezvous, the 2016 MSC Stones and Ripples tour is coming to an Ice Age Trail Segment near you. Next stop is in Rock County, April 27 – May 1 for Crew Leadership and Skills Training. If becoming a Crew Leader is not your fancy, join us at any of the other trailbuilding events. Check the schedule and register today. We look forward to making memories in 2016 that will kindle the fires of next year’s Winter Rendezvous.

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!

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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.

Alliance Accepting Scholarship Applications

For decades Wisconsin citizens have rallied around the Ice Age Trail, from when the idea of a thousand-mile footpath was freshly born to when the first tread was built. The future of the Trail will rely on future generations to carry on vision. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is making a down-payment on the future with the Doug “Stickman” Sherman scholarship.A photo of Doug "Stickman" Sherman

The scholarship is awarded to a college-bound young adult who has volunteered with the Alliance, in honor of the work of Doug “Stickman” Sherman, a longtime Alliance volunteer who passed away in 2014. Over a number of years, Stickman hand-carved hundreds of hiking sticks for students taking part in Saunters, the Alliance’s school program that brings kids onto the Ice Age Trail.

For weeks on end, students carried Doug’s creations all across Wisconsin – along the shores of the Wisconsin River, on towering bluffs overlooking Devil’s Lake, through the deepest northwoods forests, around the crags of Eau Claire Dells and across vast prairies.

The sticks provided balance, confidence and a helping hand. In essence, Stickman was with young hikers every step of the way as they explored the Ice Age Trail and took on a steady calm that only the solace of nature can provide. We are happy to carry on Mr. Sherman’s positive impact to tomorrow’s Trail supporters through this scholarship.

                                                  How to Apply

photo by Leah Bradley

photo by Leah Bradley

The Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship is a one-time $500 award and is open to young adults who are preparing to go to college. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

• A history of volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and/or serving as a Saunters mentor
• A love of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and a desire to create, support and protect the Trail for future generations
• Future goals that include a degree in the environmental or education fields or a related field

Interested students should reference the application form [PDF] for complete instructions on how to apply. All submissions must be postmarked by September 30th, 2016.

2015 Regional Rallies – Register now!

Each fall the Ice Age Trail Alliance hosts Regional Rallies to bring together volunteers from across the land for planning, training and camaraderie. These events are excellent opportunities to learn what it takes to create a world class hiking trail and get involved locally. This year’s theme is Joining Forces for Maximum Impact. Participants will hear the latest updates from the Alliance, discuss the creation and execution of exemplary trail events, and begin planning regional outings. Lunch will be provided.

  1. Saturday, October 31 – Polk County (Register Here)
  2. Saturday, November 7 –  Walworth County (Register Here)
  3. Sunday, November 8 – Portage County (Register Here)

Volunteers take first step toward opening new Rib Lake Segment

Crew members look on as a volunteer places a rock while building new trail.

Volunteers made the first large-scale trailbuilding project of the season a great success! The Rib Lake Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County saw 2,000 feet of newly-constructed trail, another mile cleared and ready for construction and 190 feet of new stone retaining wall.

This was the first project in building and opening the 4.7-mile Rib Lake Segment. Volunteers will be back with another MSC event in September to keep the rolling stone moving forward.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Call for volunteers – upcoming MSC event: Rock County!

The next stop for the MSC program brings us to the Storrs Lake Segment June 24-28, just outside of Milton in Rock County. Join fellow volunteers for a day of being outside, working with your hands and enjoying good company!

The Milton Moraine left behind dry kettles settled by massive white oaks and shagbark hickories, and the event will delve into the heart of this landscape. Work to be done includes a half-mile reroute, boardwalk repair, signage upgrades, a full-blown attack on invasives andprep work to create…drum roll please…a new 1.5-mile section of trail to the north!

Learn more and register here

 

Thelma Johnson wins National Park Service 2014 Hartzog Award

Volunteer Thelma Johnson takes in the sun at a Mobile Skills Crew Project

Celebrating you, the Ice Age Trail volunteers, at our 2015 Annual Conference, we announced one of our proudest volunteer recognition awards given by the National Park Service. Thelma Johnson of Cumberland, Wis. is the 2014 recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Enduring Service. Congratulations, Thelma!

Dan Watson, National Park Service Volunteer Coordinator for the Ice Age & North Country National Scenic Trails, submitted the winning nomination for Thelma for the 2014 award.

See a snapshot of Thelma’s dedication to feeding her fellow volunteers through an excerpt from Dan’s nomination:

“Drawing large crowds to fairly remote areas in Wisconsin for back-breaking trail work isn’t easy, yet the Mobile Skills Crew and 12,000 volunteers continue to make the Ice Age National Scenic Trail successful. The food may have something to do with that.

For the past 12 years, Thelma Johnson, now 80 years old and still going strong, has fed an army of volunteers along the 1,200-mile trail. She has donated more than 2,000 hours to serve more than 30,000 meals to hungry volunteers. She commands a crew of cooks to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for projects that run five days at a time.

Camping alongside the trail crews, she’s the first one up, setting up her mobile kitchen by flashlight at 4:30 a.m. She’s often the last to stop work in the evening, scouring pots as crews rest by the campfire. Finding food for the masses in remote areas may be difficult, but Johnson has kept it flexible and frugal, clipping coupons to keep the budget down.

Johnson’s selflessness and dedication have been noted by fellow volunteers. She is known to have dumped personal contents of her suitcase to fit more food for workers and to have sat in her car to keep her fingers warm in the frigid cold while peeling mountains of onions.”

Thelma’s positive attitude and constant smile add the extra touch to the hard work Dan described, and we’re grateful to have her as a volunteer on the Ice Age Trail!

As Thelma demonstrates, trailbuilding is more than swinging a pick mattock or using a chain saw. Join fun, welcoming and hard-working volunteers at a Mobile Skills Crew project this season and choose from a variety of jobs. You may even get to experience Thelma’s famous bread pudding!

 

Help build new Ice Age Trail in Taylor County May 27-31

The hills and forests around Rib Lake in Taylor County have a rich history. From the great Wisconsin glacier that shaped the terrain 10,000 years ago to men atop ice sleds hauling hardwoods to build Milwaukee and Chicago in the last century, our stories abound.
IATA Mobile Skills Crew program logo
In the 1970s, efforts to create the Ice Age National Scenic Trail took root in the area. Join forces with volunteers young and old during a Mobile Skills Crew project to build a new section of the Ice Age Trail near Rib Lake!

The project takes place Wednesday, May 27 through Sunday, May 31. You’re welcome to join for any amount of time – even a few hours are a big help!

Learn more and register here.

We hope to see you soon!