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

Soul Shakedown: The MSC Season Launches!!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skill Crew Season Launches, triple-header, Ringle Segment, Firth Lake Segment, Wall Hi Segment

A moss covered erratic is one of the treasures waiting to be discovered on the soon-to-be Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Tim Malzhan

Ice Age Trail Supporters!

Dispense with data management and deadlines. The 2017 triple-header season opener is happening at three locations across the State!

All great ideas need a canvas upon which to rest. Inspired trail experiences owe their origin to clearing and cutting brush to rough in a “corridor of opportunity”.  And, it’s fun! Corridor clearing is a great way to see positive results in a hurry and a wide-range of ages and skills can get a thrill wielding a handsaw or clippers.

What We’re Doing:

We’re starting the season early to get ahead of seasonal restrictions on cutting or pruning oak trees, and to avoid disturbance to bird nesting seasons. The triple-header events will help chapters in Marathon, Chippewa, and Manitowoc counties manage their respective trail maintenance needs. Each is preparing their trails for blockbuster tread construction events to follow later in the season.

Tools will be provided, but Certified Sawyers are encouraged to bring their own gear. 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

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

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

Dane Savanna Restoration, Lodi Marsh SWA

We will augment the work today of Ed Spoon’s trail corridor clearing crew, but we will not limit our clearing of invasive brush and trees to the trail corridor proper. Besides hand tool work, there will be work for trained and equipped chain sawyers, as well as power brush cutter operators.  Contact leader in advance for details.  Meet at the Twin Pines lot on Lodi/Springfield Rd. (map/directions).

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

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

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

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

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

Welcome to Wisconsin’s Jungle!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Ice Age Trail Alliance Blue Hills Mobile Skills Crew

Photo credit: D. Caliebe

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail inspires an intensity of passion and purpose that is pure and rare.  If you could bottle it up, you could sell it for a fortune.

This enthusiastic dedication was unleashed in a whirlwind of focused activity when 77 volunteers pitched in for 2,794 hours to maintain and upgrade an astonishing 20+ miles of Trail, spanning three counties, and five Ice Age Trail segments. Continue reading

Kids Fight Invasive Species!

Hartland School of Community Learning Hartland Saunters Marsh Clean up 2016

This is what happiness looks like: sunshine, fresh air, muscles put to good use, and the satisfaction of a job well done!
Photo credit: P. Witkowski

The boundless energy of kids.

We all wish we had a bit more of it ourselves.

Perhaps you’ve even wished you could harness it.

What if you could focus all that energy and unleash it like a super power, in service of a better, brighter world?

Well, the visionaries of Village of Hartland and the Hartland School of Community Learning did just that through a collaborative service event on Friday, May 6th to clean up a section of the Hartland Marsh. Continue reading

Feeding Farmers

The Ice Age Trail staffs a food tent at the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days

Hiking at the edge of a pasture.
Photo credit: R. Roberts, IAT volunteer

Guess what milking parlors and sand manure separators; demonstrations of alfalfa mowing and conditioning; and rows and rows of skid steer loaders, balers, windrowers, and enormous tractors have to do with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail?

A mammoth-sized opportunity, through collaboration with Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, that’s what! It’s our chance to feed the farmers who traditionally are the ones in the position to feed us. Continue reading

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.