Meet Arlette Laan, the woman hiking all 11 National Scenic Trails

Arlette Laan posing on enormous erratics along the Trade River Segment. Photo by Roberta Smith.
Arlette Laan posing on enormous erratics along the Trade River Segment. Photo by Roberta Smith.
Once Arlette completes the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, she will be the first known woman to have hiked all 11 National Scenic Trails. She is working towards that goal as we speak! We are excited for the Ice Age Trail to provide the backdrop for this incredible achievement.

Arlette graciously took some time from her busy hiking schedule to answer our questions. Read on to hear from this inspiring long-distance hiker and dollmaker from the Netherlands.

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A Long-Awaited, 350-foot Lodi Marsh Boardwalk is Complete!

Volunteers wasted no time utilizing built sections of the boardwalk to more easily navigate the marsh as they finished construction. Photo by Riley Dupee.
Volunteers wasted no time utilizing built sections of the boardwalk to more easily navigate the marsh as they finished construction. Photo by Riley Dupee.
In typical April fashion, 40 volunteers experienced all four seasons over three workdays. Each day brought a surprise. Would it rain or snow? Who would lose a boot to the marsh? The only thing volunteers knew for certain: two-inch thick, white oak deck boards are heavier than they look. Nevertheless, they tackled it all with good humor – laughter was as common a sound as the squelching of muck boots.

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The Student Conservation Association is hiring an Ice Age Trail work crew!

Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Photo by Cameron Gillie.
A partner organization, the Student Conservation Association (SCA), is hiring an Ice Age Trail work crew for the summer!

This is a great opportunity for those starting out or considering a career in the outdoors.

Crew members will spend their summer with a team of like-minded peers, gaining hands-on training and developing trailbuilding and leadership skills. And they’ll be working in some of the most scenic locations Wisconsin has to offer, right along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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Farewell to Brad Crary, Special Projects Coordinator

Brad Crary assisting with food prep at an MSC Event. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Brad Crary assisting with food prep at an MSC Event. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
On Friday, April 1, after 14 years with the Alliance, we say goodbye to Brad Crary. Many of you know Brad from his years coordinating project support for scores of large-scale MSC events. He was a fixture at basecamp, managing logistics big and small: setting up the tent, assisting with food prep, and ensuring coffee was ready first thing in the morning. No matter the hour, he wore his trademark smile.

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The Case for Connector Routes

By Mary Cieslewicz, Thousand-Miler
Hiking with a buddy will ensure those connector miles fly by. Photo by Mary Cieslewicz.
Hiking with a buddy will ensure those connector miles fly by. Photo by Mary Cieslewicz.
Anyone who hikes the Ice Age National Scenic Trail speaks enthusiastically about its fauna, flora, and geological features. Each hike offers lessons on myriad topics: beavers, butterflies, derechos, erratics, fossils, flowers, and ticks. In addition to traversing natural spaces, the Ice Age Trail is also composed of connector routes. These rural roads link off-road sections of Trail together, and in many cases, they bring hikers into cities and towns. The designers of the Ice Age Trail intentionally placed the Trail near populated areas, hoping close and easy access would increase its usage.

Knowing many aspiring Thousand-Milers merely tolerate road miles and other hikers eschew them entirely, I devote this essay to the joy of hiking connectors, hoping to inspire an appreciation for the miles marked not by yellow blazes but by white stripes.

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What I learned Backpacking the Ice Age Trail

By Cameron Gillie, Thousand-Miler and Contract and Volunteer Photographer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Cameron Gillie celebrating the completion of his thousand-mile journey at the western terminus of the Ice Age Trail. Self-portrait by Cameron Gillie.
Cameron Gillie celebrating the completion of his thousand-mile journey at the western terminus of the Ice Age Trail. Self-portrait by Cameron Gillie.
Hiking an entire National Scenic Trail is bound to change you in some ways. You have a whole lot of time to think about things as you walk alone with only your thoughts for 1,200 miles. I’m a photojournalist, and I set out to tell the story of Wisconsin’s landscapes, communities, and people for a photography book. Here’s what I learned on a personal level.

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Trail Magic

By Yolanda Deloach, Thousand-Miler
Yolanda Deloach on the Ice Age Trail. All images in this article were taken by Deloach on her thousand-mile journey,
Yolanda Deloach on the Ice Age Trail. All images in this article were taken by Deloach on her thousand-mile journey,
The human experience allows for growth and change if we are open to it. During our life experience, we may find ourselves lost. Lost in a situation we could not have imagined we would ever encounter. Ultimately, it is our choice to stay on the wrong path or seek a new one.

My year on the Ice Age Trail helped me to leave a spirit crushing path. During my newbie trail days, someone had told me that there was magic on the trail. I was intrigued, but I also thought it was cliche–something cool to say about trail hiking. But as my miles added up, this magic began to reveal itself.

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Welcome Claire Finucane as our new Property Steward!

Claire Finucane, Property Steward
Property Steward Claire Finucane
I am excited to start my journey as the Property Steward for the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Growing up in the Madison area afforded me countless weekends to enjoy the Ice Age Trail. The Gibraltar Rock Segment is a favorite: I can always count on a beautiful sunset view.

I grew up on a small hobby farm where I raised chickens, goats, and a pony. Our family spent a lot of time hiking, camping, skiing, and days on Rock Lake, immersed in and enjoying Wisconsin’s incredible scenery. You can still find me enjoying all four seasons: hiking, camping, swimming, hammocking, skiing, or kayaking.

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Volunteers Braved Cold, Wind, and Ice to Help Make the Ice Age Trail More Scenic

Volunteers of all ages bundled up and came out to help with habitat management events along the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
Volunteers of all ages bundled up and came out to help with habitat management events along the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
Volunteers braved classic Wisconsin winter conditions – frigid temperatures, icy terrain, and steady wind – during the Alliance’s habitat management events in recent weeks.

Winter is an excellent time for cutting and burning. Snow cover offers relatively safe burning of brush piles, and the cold temps prevent sawyers from overheating.

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7 Reasons for Newbies to Attend the Ice Age Trail Alliance Annual Conference

Ice Age Trail Alliance
The Ice Age Trail Alliance 2022 Annual Conference and Membership Meeting is Thursday, April 21 – Sunday, April 24, 2022 in Stevens Point, WI.

Are you a recently-joined member of the Alliance? Long-time member who has never attended? Working on a section-hike or thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail? Enthusiastic hiker eager to learn more?

Our conference schedule includes many things you may be interested in: a long-distance hiking seminar, presentations from thousand-milers, special interest sessions ranging from ice age geology to trailbuilding 101, a screening of the documentary about Emily Ford, “Breaking Trail,” guided hikes, and a keynote presentation from record-setting hiker, Jennifer Pharr Davis… to name a few.

Still not sure? Here are a 7 more reasons you may want to attend!

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Welcome Sarah Driscoll as our new Philanthropic Coordinator!

Sarah Driscoll, Philanthropic Coordinator
Sarah Driscoll 600x400
I am overjoyed to join the Alliance team as the Philanthropic Coordinator. As an avid hiker, I am grateful to support the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Like many other nature enthusiasts, I spent much of my childhood outside. Every summer, I camped with my family and explored the nine acres of prairie surrounding my home. As an adult, I enjoy outdoor activities, especially camping and fishing with my husband, Bryce, hiking throughout the state, and simply sitting around campfires with my friends.

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Welcome a familiar face, Riley Dupee, as our new Field Operations Specialist!

Riley Dupee, Field Operations Specialist
Left: Riley wearing a hard hat --  important gear for staying safe, and looking cool. Photo by Riley Dupee. Right: Riley doing rockwork on the Trail at a Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
Left: Riley wearing a hard hat -- important gear for staying safe, and looking cool. Photo by Riley Dupee. Right: Riley doing rockwork on the Trail at a Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
Well Hi, Friends!

After a summer of interning with the Alliance Trail Program, I am officially part of the team as Field Operations Specialist. So, please stop calling and emailing Mike. You did it. I’m hired. Thank you!

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Welcome our new Director of Trail Operations, Chad DuChateau!

Chad DuChateau, Director of Trail Operations
Chad DuChateau
Greetings and Happy 2022

It is an honor to be transitioning into the Director of Trail Operations position with the Alliance. As a Wisconsin native, my passion and professional pursuits focused on outdoor recreation. The glacial Chain O’ Lakes of Waupaca provided my early education for what water, woods, and wildlife could do for my soul. Nature also fueled my studies at UW-Madison. Exploring lakeshore paths and Arboretum habitats, ultimately led to my degree in horticulture and natural resource management.

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Winter Hikes and More this December!

Winter beauty on the John Muir Park Segment. Photo by Alyssa Kohls.
Winter beauty on the John Muir Park Segment. Photo by Alyssa Kohls.
Our volunteer chapters are hosting winter hikes and snowshoeing excursions all month long!

Revel in the restful quiet of a snow-covered landscape. Feel the crunch of snow under foot, or snowshoe. Take advantage of leaf-off season to admire expansive landscapes of glacial features.

Hike under the full moon on the winter solstice, go for a festive jaunt with Santa, explore your favorite Segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail transformed into a winter wonderland.

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Welcome Winter with Trail Community Fun

Cross Plains 2019 Winter Solstice Hike. Photo by Cameron Gillie
Cross Plains 2019 Winter Solstice Hike. Photo by Cameron Gillie
As the air grows chilly and snow begins to appear in the forecast, it can be tempting to huddle indoors.

But don’t close the shutters till spring just yet!

Our Trail Communities are proving there are many opportunities to get out and into the festive spirit throughout the month. Venture out and enjoy the lights, the snacks, and the community at any of these upcoming events!

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Cyber Monday with Corporate Friends of the Ice Age Trail

A little love from Mother Earth along the Hartman Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Jess Dodge.
A little love from Mother Earth along the Hartman Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Jess Dodge.
Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is free. Hard to put a discount on that.

However, Ice Age Trail enthusiasts can still realize some Cyber Monday savings.

Hoping to upgrade your gear, get a new pair of hiking footwear, or get a gift for the outdoor-lover in you life? AND get some great deals?

Our corporate friends have you covered!

Find some great Cyber Monday discounts, and support the Ice Age Trail at the same time!

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2021: A Successful Trailbuilding & Stewardship Season!

One of our skilled sawyer Mobile Skills Crew volunteers, Anne Helsley-Marchbanks. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
One of our skilled sawyer Mobile Skills Crew volunteers, Anne Helsley-Marchbanks. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After months of uncertainty, the familiar smiles of volunteers returned in a big way as 2021 progressed. Small events at the beginning of the year built toward the return of our large-scale projects. Despite shifting circumstances, trust quickly emerged as the season theme. Trust the plan. Trust Crew Leaders to lead. Trust volunteers to work carefully. Trust the skills, dedication, and passion of everyone who showed up to an event. As a result, we greeted August with a rousing return to near normalcy – hosting almost 100 volunteers and spanning two segments – that added three new miles of Trail in Dane County. A few months later, the ribbon (and cake) was cut on the newly minted Ringle Segment, an achievement worthy of a year filled with smiles.

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After Five Years, the Reimagined Ringle Segment is Complete

Granite boulders are a common sight along the reimagined Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Granite boulders are a common sight along the reimagined Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Saying thank you feels insufficient compared to the accomplishment’s scale: opening the seven-mile section of the reimaginged Ringle Segment. Hewn from rocky ground, every hour you invested in this five-year project forged a world-class section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Right in our backyard, your selfless dedication created a lasting legacy. We spend our lives working toward achievements in which we take pride. If we’re fortunate, we may create something that lives beyond us. In this case, a signature segment contributing to the health and happiness of people we may never meet.

Be proud of the work you’ve done and what you’ve helped accomplish.

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A Successful Year of Trailtessa Events Planned by Women for Women

2021 Trailtessa events brought women together virtually, in-person, and even in the wilderness. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
2021 Trailtessa events brought women together virtually, in-person, and even in the wilderness. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
A blend of on-your-own hikes and virtual events kicked off Trailtessa events in 2021. Our planning focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping participants safe. Happily, many new and seasoned Trailtessa attendees (325 in fact!) joined us for these adventures. As fall approached, we offered two outdoor in-person events, enabling participants to be together, build camaraderie, and still maintain social distance.

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Closed out Trailbuilding Season with Major Upgrades to Three Segments!

Volunteers prove that moving boardwalk is a group effort. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Volunteers prove that moving boardwalk is a group effort. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
At the confluence of great weather and great volunteers is a great project. In the case of this year’s Wildcard event, three projects on three segments.

Calls of “Coming through!” rang out as hikers passed through the work area. The heavy hiker traffic caused frequent but not unwelcome interruptions. “Holy sh*t!” one hiker exclaimed. “I was here a couple of days ago, and this wasn’t here.”

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Enjoy October Hikes (and More) on the Trail!

Highland Lakes Segment. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Highland Lakes Segment. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

We have lots of upcoming hikes and activities planned, making it easy for you to get outside, enjoy glorious fall color, and log your miles as part of the Challenge.

Get these events on your calendar and enjoy new levels of fun as you achieve 41 in 2021!

Friday, OCTOBER 1: 

Saturday, OCTOBER 2:

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New Section of Waterville Segment Replaces Busy Road Walk!

Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
2020 reawakened a love of the outdoors in many Wisconsinites. A perfect distillation of this excitement came from our Waterville Gap Campaign to help get the Trail off of a dangerous road walk in Waukesha County. The call to action went out in July of 2020, and by September we had exceeded our fundraising goal. In an astonishing show of grassroots philanthropy, the project was funded and purchased in under five months, and the new Trail opened in just over a year.

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Cheers to a Successful Weeding and Wine Event Series

Seeds from native prairie plants were collected in addition to weeding out invasive plant species at Weeding and Wine. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Seeds from native prairie plants were collected in addition to weeding out invasive plant species at Weeding and Wine. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
With fall rounding the corner, we bid farewell to long summer evenings, prairies in bloom and abuzz with pollinators, and weed pulling activities. It’s sad for all of us. As the days grow shorter, we can think back to the sunsets shared on Picnic Hill to get us through the darkness of winter.

Thank you to the 40 volunteers who contributed 142 hours in our first year of the Weeding & Wine Wednesday volunteer event series. Their dedication through rain or shine and positive attitudes made this season a great success.

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Your Incredible Support Leads to Match Increase

Mueller Lake 600x400
The response to the Ice Age Trail Alliance fundraising campaign to permanently protect property for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Langlade County was INCREDIBLE. In little over a month, supporters donated nearly $160,000—exceeding our initial fundraising goal way before deadline!

Your commitment impressed the trustees of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust so much they decided to increase their match from $120,ooo to $200,000! Thanks to your generosity and that of Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust, the Alliance will be able to protect and preserve additional land across the state.

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The Reimagined Ringle Segment is almost a Reality!

The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The less-than-stellar weather, coupled with a record hatch of mosquitos, attempted to slow down the 78 dedicated volunteers at the Ringle Trailbuilding event. Over four and a half days, and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, volunteers contributed 1,972 hours to open a beautiful new half-mile section of Trail. Volunteers cut and hauled lumber, built bridges, constructed rock walls, drafted blazes, crafted tread and slung rotten granite through the air via a highline to more easily – and safely – create a hardened walking surface through a moss-covered boulder field.

The stage is set, and with October rapidly approaching, we await the final act in the Reimagining of Ringle saga.

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