Thousand-Miler Turned Ice Age Trail Volunteer: Priscilla Matthews

A woman celebrates during a fall hike.
Volunteer Spotlight: Priscilla Matthews celebrates her Thousand-Miler journey.
We’re highlighting Priscilla Matthews for a Volunteer Spotlight! Priscilla is a Thousand-Miler turned volunteer who wants to help other hikers enjoy the Trail and their hiking adventures.

At the Alliance’s recent IAT-U: Trail Skills event at John Muir Park in Marquette Co., an Alliance staff member chatted with Priscilla about what inspires her, her Thousand-Miler journey, and why she volunteers.

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IAT-U Provides In-Depth Learning Opportunities

Hands-on classes spruce up an iconic segment.

Two purple coneflowers in a green prairie capture the focus of a camera lense.
Over four days, volunteers dedicated time to learn the ins and outs of Trailbuilding and maintenance. Photo by Jeff Frazer.
The boyhood land of John Muir, eminent naturalist and conservationist, provided inspiration and a scenic backdrop for Ice Age Trail University (IAT-U) activities on July 12-16, 2023. And the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s John Muir Park Segment offered an ideal setting for IAT-U’s outdoor classrooms, along with good weather: blue sky, plenty of sunshine, and the occasional breeze.
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Make Some Noise for the Trail, Comment on the DNR’s Trail Network Plan

Comment period open through August 7.

Hikers are a pretty quiet bunch. No loud gear. No noisy equipment. Most times, people don’t know when hikers are around. And, that’s usually a good thing. Hikers don’t negatively impact their surroundings.

Sometimes, hikers need to get loud. Especially when it comes to voicing their opinion on the trails they use and love—including the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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Incredible Progress Made for October’s Grand Opening

Volunteers work to move a large rock in the mud, while one dog looks on and another naps.
Volunteers work together on a stonework project, while one "volunteer" takes a quick snooze. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Clouds of Northwoods gnats swarmed volunteers, encouraging a run to Walmart for head nets! But, despite this springtime challenge, 101 volunteers donated 2,773 service hours, making incredible progress toward the October 1st Grand Opening.
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A Mighty Group Tackled Winter Storm Clean-Up in Northern Wisconsin

Three certified sawyers walk along down trees and branches from winter storm damage.
The Alliance's newly formed "roving crew" helped clear winter storm damage on the Ice Age Trail in Northern Wisconsin. Photo by Rick Gamble.
A winter of ice and snow did quite the number on the Ice Age Trail in Northern Wisconsin, making the Trail impassable in places from downed trees and brush. It took considerable effort from segment maintainers to even open parts of the Trail this spring. To help with the efforts, a hardy group of 46 volunteers spent 1,035 hours clearing the Trail where progress was measured in feet, not miles.
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Volunteer Spotlight: Alice Weinert!

Interview conducted by: Miranda Murphy, Operations Assistant.
Article written by: Maura Hanley, AmeriCorps VISTA Communications Support Specialist.
An Alliance volunteer sits on newly constructed stone steps at a Trailbuilding event.
Alice Weinert, Ice Age Trail Alliance Volunteer. Photo by Michelle McArdle.
Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers are the living breathing soul of the Ice Age Trail. They build, support, and maintain it. They donate thousands of hours of their time every year to care for the Trail.

One of these dedicated volunteers is Chicago resident Alice Weinert.

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Impressive Outcomes in Unpredictable Weather

Two images of a "Welcome Volunteers!" sign. One (on the left) with early spring weather and one (on the right) covered in snow.
The "Welcome Volunteers!" sign looks very different on the first day of the MSC Rib Lake project versus the last. Photo by Alice Weinert.
A guarantee for April MSC events: Unpredictable weather. Yet, the promise of cloudy, 40-degree days and chilly, rain-soaked nights didn’t deter 73 volunteers who donated 1,995 service hours. They remained undaunted even after waking to half a foot of snow on Sunday morning.
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Volunteers Braved Winter in Wisconsin to Help with Land Restoration

Volunteers smile and wave at the camera during lunch.
Volunteers smile and wave during the Steenbock Preserve HIP event. Photo by Bob Leedle.
More than 130 volunteers braved winter in Wisconsin—the frigid temperatures, icy terrain, and blustery wind—and volunteered at one (or multiple) of the Alliance’s Habitat Improvement Program (HIP) events.

Winter is the ideal time for controlling woody invasives. Snow cover offers relatively safe conditions for burning brush piles, and the cold temps prevent folks from overheating.

The goals of the HIP events include:

  • Enhancing hikers’ experiences along the Ice Age Trail.
  • Advancing the process of restoring native habitats by removing invasive species.
  • Creating space for a variety of native plant species and wildlife to use these habitats.

We couldn’t preserve, restore, and maintain the land’s beauty without the help of so many dedicated volunteers.

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From Gear Junkie to Thru-Hiker

Jake Braun posing in front of the mammoth statue outside of the IATA Headquarters in Cross Plains, WI. Photo by IATA Staff.
Jake Braun posing in front of the mammoth statue outside of the IATA Headquarters in Cross Plains, WI. Photo by IATA Staff.
When you’re a tech nerd who reads Reddit and researches camping and outdoor gear for fun, it only makes sense that you’d thru-hike the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, right? Right!

That’s at least the reason Jake Braun decided to thru-hike.

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The Ice Age Trail Healing Journey

Nicole Peters pictured at the Eastern Terminus in Potawatomi State Park (Sturgeon Bay, WI) at the end of her thru-hike. Photo provided by Nicole Peters.
Nicole Peters pictured at the Eastern Terminus in Potawatomi State Park (Sturgeon Bay, WI) at the end of her thru-hike. Photo provided by Nicole Peters.
As Nicole “Tree Hugger” Peters lay in bed, chronically nauseous and in pain throughout her body, one thing occupied her mind: the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

“Planning for a thru-hike of the Ice Age Trail kept me going,” she says. It was what she thought about when she was really sick.

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Welcome Lisa Szela, our new Volunteer Support Coordinator!

Lisa Szela, the Alliance's new Volunteer Support Coordinator, posing next to an Ice Age Trail sign at the Blue Hills Segments.
Lisa Szela, the Alliance's new Volunteer Support Coordinator, posing next to an Ice Age Trail sign at the Blue Hills Segments.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is excited to welcome Lisa Szela as its Volunteer Support Coordinator.

Some of you might have already had the pleasure of meeting Lisa. Before her new role, she actively volunteered along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, amassing an expansive repertoire:

  • Trailbuilding at MSC events
  • Leading guided hikes
  • Assisting with the Alliance’s Dane County Chapter’s trail maintenance activities

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A Popular Segment Made Safer!

Volunteers work together building a 330-foot boardwalk along the Lapham Peak Segment. Photo by: Patrick Gleissner.
Volunteers work together building a 330-foot boardwalk along the Lapham Peak Segment. Photo by: Patrick Gleissner.
Is it possible to complete four days’ worth of work in a three-day project? It sure is! Volunteers – 187 – from across the state (and even Illinois) donated 3,048 service hours as they tackled 3 project areas to:

  • Craft 2 reroutes totaling 2,200 feet of new tread.
  • Build a 330-foot boardwalk.
  • Construct 3 stone staircases (for a total of 15 steps).
  • Frame and fill 14 box steps.
  • Install enough check dams to stop a small river.

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It’s Election Season

Tell Candidates the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is Important

November 8 is a big election day. Wisconsin residents will be choosing Federal and State representatives. Since 31 State legislators are retiring, many of those elected in November will be brand new to their roles.

Therefore, it’s now especially important to tell the candidates about the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (and Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funding).

Candidates need to understand the Trail is important to their constituents and to the state of Wisconsin. The Trail is important to you, so it should be important to them.

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Welcome Steve Pence, our new Land Restoration Specialist!

Land Restoration Specialist, Steve Pence.
Land Restoration Specialist, Steve Pence.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is excited to welcome Steve Pence as its Land Restoration Specialist.

Steve has unintentionally managed to be on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail throughout his life. Whether it is camping and hiking with his wife and dog in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest or doing habitat restoration work, the Trail has been a quiet constant in his life.

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First Thru-Hiking Duo of the Year: Star-Lord and Sunshine

Sunshine and Star-Lord posing outside the Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters in Cross Plains, WI. Photo by: Maura Hanley.
Sunshine and Star-Lord posing outside the Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters in Cross Plains, WI. Photo by: Maura Hanley.
For most, an Ice Age Trail thru-hike is the event of the season. But, for Chandler “Star-Lord” Cole and Stephanie “Sunshine” Lorenz, it’s the perfect way to wind down after becoming Triple Crowners—a titled given to those who hiked the entirety of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), and Continental Divide Trail (CDT).

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Enjoy October Hikes, Fall Festivities, and More on the Trail!

Bohn Lake Segment. Photo by: Get Off the Couch Crew.
Bohn Lake Segment. Photo by: Get Off the Couch Crew.
There are lots of upcoming hikes and activities planned for October; making it easy for you to get outside, enjoy glorious fall color, and log your miles as for the Mammoth Hike Challenge.

Get these events on your calendar and enjoy new levels of fun as you achieve 42 miles and visit 3 Trail Communities in 2022!

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One Step Closer to Reopening the Rib Lake Segment!

Autumn was off to a beautiful start in the Northwoods during the recent Rib Lake MSC Event. Photo by: Patrick Gleissner.
Autumn was off to a beautiful start in the Northwoods during the recent Rib Lake MSC Event. Photo by: Patrick Gleissner.
Like Autumn marching into the Northwoods, volunteers steadily moved forward on the rebuild of the Rib Lake Segment. In total, 102 volunteers donated 2,625 hours for the latest effort: clearing brush, crafting tread, and constructing stone steps and retaining walls.
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