The Northwoods Are Calling: Crisp air, colorful trees, and trailbuilding!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC Mammoth

Spring arrived early enabling a hardy group of volunteers to clear corridor and grub out stumps in anticipation of October’s MSC event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

The trees of the Northwoods are beginning to turn red and gold and, as we say good-bye to summer, a new beginning lies ahead for the Firth Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Due to the expansion of an All-Terrain Vehicle trail in the Chippewa County Forest, to ensure a non-motorized experience for users of the Ice Age Trail, we are building a newly designed 1.7 miles of improved Ice Age Trail. Change can be a good thing. Continue reading

348 Feet of Boardwalk in 3 Days?

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Clover Valley MSCConstruct a 348-foot-long boardwalk in three days? No problem! Volunteers quickly gained experience as they rotated between crews. This rotation gave everyone the opportunity to learn the necessary skills and to fill in seamlessly wherever someone was needed. Adding to the remarkable pace was the knowledge and previous experience of nine volunteers who had taken part in a boardwalk training earlier in the summer. The seeds planted at the boardwalk training visibly sprouted at Clover Valley and are emerging along the Trail. Continue reading

Help Build Sustainable Trails in Walla Hi!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Walla Hi County Park, Mobile Skills Crew Program

Yellow pin flags mark the center line along the route of the new Ice Age National Scenic Trail as it travels through Walla Hi County Park in Manitowoc County. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Walla Hi County Park in Manitowoc County is home to undulating terrain formed as continental-sized loads of rock and soil, carried by two massive lobes of ice, met and co-mingled. The resulting 125-mile interlobate Kettle Moraine rises in a topographic swell more typically associated with the Adirondack Mountains. This dramatic expression of glacial landscape will soon host nearly 2 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Sustainably built trails, following natural contours of the park, will highlight the impressive rugged beauty of the region. Continue reading

Volunteers Open 1.7-mile of Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ringle Segment, Mobile Skills Crew Event

Volunteers relax in the warmth of a campfire after a day of trailbuilding. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

A sense of amazement coursed through the volunteers circling the campfire every time a streak of light from the Perseid meteor shower shot across the sky – nature’s fireworks for millennia. Those shooting stars are like the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew event volunteers who came together in a brilliant stroke of skill, effort, and camaraderie and blasted through the work set in front of them. Continue reading

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

Help Open New Trail in Marathon County!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Northland College, Mobile Skills Crew project

Students and their professor from a Northland College summer geology class formed a dynamic team with crew leader Ruth McCann.
Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Fresh spring energy unleased in May wove its way through 2,539 volunteer hours and materialized into recognizable magic in the geologic “Landscape Crossroads” of Marathon County.

Join us as Trail friends continue to shape tread and bring boulders to rest in retaining walls. This renewed August effort will open 1.7 miles of brand new trail. Continue reading

Lake Eleven Bridge Building Project

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

The work site where the new 35-foot clear span bridge will be constructed and installed.
Photo by Tim Malzhan

Deep in the velvety silence of the Chequamegon National Forest, gnarled trees remind us of the power nature unleashed 15 years ago when the Gilman tornado touched down and chewed through 4,000 acres of forested land, of which 900 acres were approaching old growth status.

Here is where the Ice Age Trail Lake Eleven Segment crosses a stream via an aged pedestrian bridge, declared “unsafe” four years ago. Now, we’re constructing a new 35-foot clear span bridge designed to last 50 or more years.

Join us for this mid-summer adventure where daytime industry meets campfire conversation and flickering fireflies. Continue reading

There is no IAT-U without … YOU!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail University, IAT-U

Photo by Michael Maziarka

The secret sauce of our wildly successful and award-winning Mobile Skills Crew program?

Well-trained volunteers. Absolutely.

When the Mobile Skills Crew trailer pulls up to a work site, the flurry of activity that follows is nothing short of astounding. Tents are set up, meals are cooked, trails are built and boardwalks constructed. Much of what is accomplished, over the course of a few days, happens, in part, because the Ice Age Trail Alliance staff is able to rely on knowledgeable, capable volunteers. Individuals who have raised their hands and said “YES” to learning new skills or deepening their existing capabilities in service of the Trail. Continue reading

Summer Camp for Trail Wizards!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, IAT-U, Ice Age Trail UniversityIce Age Trail University is summer camp …

… for Trail wizards of all ages. Plenty of fresh air, good sunshine, and happy times learning new things.

The best way to learn is by doing, and we’ll be providing lots of hands-on learning!

We’re super excited to partner with the Merrill Area School System and the Friends of the Merrill School Forest to build two boardwalks, and super excited about this year’s Camp Chef course.

North Central Technical College is offering a special training through their Culinary Arts program. It’s an exciting time for those who want to become more involved in the volunteer-support side of our Mobile Skills Crew events. Continue reading

Resilient Volunteers

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew event, Ringle Segment

Photo by Allan Henn

Wild, wet weather greeted us Tuesday and made repeated guest appearances all week. Thank you for drawing upon your personal stores of resiliency to make the first “MSC Mammoth” event of the season a success.

Bringing a Trail to life requires a certain toughness and the capacity to adapt and forge ahead. 107 volunteers, over the course of 2,539 hours, had fun, worked safely, and built great trail. Significant progress was made towards our August goal of opening 1.7 miles of new, sustainable, premier Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

The Blue Hills are Calling

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event, Blue Hills Rusk County

Photo by Tim Malzhan

The regal silence of the Blue Hills, with its lichen-covered logs and rugged beauty brimming with other worldliness, is interrupted only by bird calls and bubbling streams.

This expansive trail stewardship project attempts to tame a sliver of forest to provide hikers with both the rich rewards of a true north woods experience and a good, hike-able Trail as it winds through Rusk County. Join us outside. The Blue Hills (and slapping of beavers’ tails) are calling. 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

Prestigious Award for Volunteeerism and Service

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Unites States Forest SErvice Easter Region Honor Award for Volunteerism

Students from the Medford School District eagerly engaged in trailbuilding. Photo by Tracy Sewlund

Prestigious United States Forest Service Eastern Region Honor Award for Volunteerism and Service bestowed on the Ice Age Trail Alliance

The United States Forest Service recently recognized the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s commitment to creating and delivering an outstanding volunteer experience as part of its Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) program.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance forges strong relationships with a wide-range of partners as a means to engaging a diverse population with the vision of creating, maintaining and protecting a thousand-mile footpath through Wisconsin. A popular mantra of the Alliance, “Trailbuilding is people building”, ensures quality skill-building and service-learning components go hand-in-hand with the trail work that must be accomplished during an MSC event.

The dedication to these ideals were evidenced in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail Infrastructure Overhaul project. This collaborative, multi-year effort spanning 2012 – 2016, addressed infrastructure upgrades to popular segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail where it traverses the Chequamagon National Forest. Continue reading

Save the Date! 2017 Mobile Skills Crew Events

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, 2017 Mobil Skills Crew Events

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail meanders through the woods.
Photo credit: Tim Malzhan

The promise of friendship and laughter. The smell of fresh-cut dirt. The sound of iron on rock. The hum and conversations of multi-generational volunteers working arm-in-arm. The satisfaction that comes when contributing to something that’s bigger than us and, when looking back at the end of the day, seeing a job well done.  

Excitingly, miles of new Trail and newly imagined Trail experiences pull us through the cold towards a new season of trailbuilding. The Ice Age Trail doesn’t just happen. The Trail needs your special brand of magic to flourish and take root in the hearts and minds and imagination of Wisconsinites. Chippewa, Manitowoc, Marathon, and Kewaunee counties await construction of spectacular tread meandering up and over ice-walled, lake plains and through hiker-friendly towns alike. High-quality trail experiences will be maintained through ambitious stewardship projects, like the ones planned for Rusk, Waukesha, Lincoln, Walworth, and Taylor counties. Whether it’s crafting boardwalks and bridges, learning and sharing new skills, or meeting new people and seeing new places, the season ahead is representative of our steadfast commitment to creating, supporting, and protecting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. 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 Trailbuilding Event, Season Finale – Merrimac Segment

Register here

 

 

The above link is to our general registration system. Alliance members may also register via our new member-account system (click here to log in). Using the account you can easily register for events, manage your contact info, and renew your membership. NOTE: If you have not yet established your login info (or forgotten it) you can enter your email address to start the process.

Overview:

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. Instead, help celebrate the MSC season finale with camaraderie, friendship and craftsmanship at the Merrimac Segment.  The nickname for this event is “B&B” aka Bread and Butter since it is traditional trail work featuring three quarters of a mile of sustainable tread to bring to fruition a vision launched in August.

  • Thursday, October 20th – Sunday, October 23rd
  • Sauk County, South Central Wisconsin
  • Basecamp is at S7809 Marsh Road, Merrimac.
  • See a map of the project area [PDF]

The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer. No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities.

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Thursday, Oct. 20, and concludes Sunday, Oct. 23. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

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

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

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