By Christi Lee Ehler, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Outdoor spaces are everyone’s right to enjoy without being subjected to danger, suspicion, and violence. The tragic events in recent weeks, resulting in the senseless deaths of black Americans, exposes a challenge to our mission that goes well beyond the Trail.
Simply, we are appalled.
Note: Updated 5/27/2020
A hike on a favorite segment of Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers mood-boosting fresh air and sunshine and provides a respite from the uncertainty around us. The Ice Age Trail is a perfect place for slowing down, gathering your internal resources, and gaining clarity.
It’s also important, while we are out exploring the Trail, that we remain respectful of the fact COVID-19 is still in our midst. It’s important to help stop the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve with considerate and responsible behavior.
Some days feel like they take FOREVER to get here. This year, Saturday, June 6, National Trails Day, is one of those. We’re marking its arrival by joining together and taking Mammoth Steps on behalf of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
This day will be among the first opportunities for Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers to get back to doing what they love best: creating, supporting, and protecting the Ice Age Trail.
It’s a day to reconnect with the Trail from which they’ve been apart during the last few months.
Imagine…if they photographed the best features of the Ice Age Trail along the way: the expansive views, tread unfurling ahead, and ephemerals peeking up from the forest floor.
Imagine…a snapshot of the Ice Age Trail, in its entirety, as it looks on a single day!
This vision could become a reality with your help.
We have 120 Ice Age Trail segments waiting for you to enjoy, camera in hand and eyes finely-tuned for beauty, as part of our National Trails Day celebration on Saturday, June 6.
This description is of a rather rare insect that resides in central Wisconsin – the Karner blue butterfly (Lycaeides melissa samuelis). Its existence is so threatened it was placed on the federal endangered species list in 1992.
Its tiny size makes it easy to miss as it flits between grasses and wildflowers, and because it doesn’t attract a lot of attention, it’s disappearance from our Midwest landscape might not seem like such a big deal. Yet, each and every species, like the Karner blue butterfly, plays a valuable ecological role in nature. Each loss destabilizes this fragile balance. As the folks at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service point out, “experience has proven that many plants and animals have properties which will prove beneficial to humans as sources of food and medicine. With the loss of each species, we lose a potential resource for improving the quality of life for all humanity.”
A growing number of people, it seems, are particularly drawn to places where they might witness evidence of our ability to repair past environmental damage and create a healthier future for the earth. Ice Age Trail (IAT) segments where there are ongoing, large-scale efforts to rebuild ecological diversity are becoming some of the Trail’s most popular hikes.
Try the trail of the Ice Age today,
nature’s glacial destruction display.
Hike the terminal path
of the cold weather wrath
where Wisconsin held fast in the way.
From the Sturgeon Bay calm of its shore
to the Falls of St. Croix and their roar,
it’s history’s trail
through nature’s travail
that would alter forever earth’s lore.
It’s adventure that fits to a “tee”
spirits yearning for splendor to see
— whether done end to end,
or by segment, or bend —
time remembered as all it can be…
…amid features of rock to exalt
in the bluffs and the cliffs by default
now natural beauty
derived from the duty
of becoming a mineral vault.
Limericks are the answer! These short, silly poems offer a much-needed dash of humor to an otherwise uncertain situation.
Try your hand at writing an Ice Age Trail inspired limerick, (or two, or more) and enter them into our contest (in honor of National Poetry Month).
Your limerick could be an ode to mosquitoes, permethrin, ticks, yellow blazes, eskers, or kettle lakes! (Or wherever else your inspiration is found!)
They’re easy enough to write – get the kids involved!
As you turn your face to the sun and head out on a hike, be on the look out for these woodland beauties:
Help Flatten the Curve:
Hike Responsibly, if You Choose to Hike: Continue reading
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is open (except where it crosses federally owned land in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest).
Reopening does NOT extend to restrooms, campsites, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations, and concession buildings. These facilities remain closed until May 26, 2020. Continue reading
Please note, voting is based on location and the Ice Age Trail Alliance is being featured in the Madison/Southern WI market which means Fitchburg, Janesville, Lake Geneva, Madison, Pleasant Prairie, Racine, and Sun Prairie. However, if you live outside these urban areas, you can select one of these stores to be your Target store at which point, the Ice Age Trail Alliance becomes one of your voting options.
We’re asking our supporters, especially those of you who live in the urban areas listed above, to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to create, support, and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”
~John Muir, environmentalist and author of Our National Parks, 1901
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s highest priority is the health and well-being of our staff, volunteers, and hiking community during the rapidly evolving health concern of the Coronavirus/COVID-19. Continue reading
Thank you to the 164 volunteers who gave 1,391 hours and contributed to this stewardship effort. Continue reading
Join a chapter-led, Full Moon hike near you on March 7th, 2020! Continue reading
This success is thanks to YOU! Along with the help of conservation-minded donors in the Dane County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and local business owner, Mary Devitt, of the Crossroads Coffeehouse, we were able to raise private funds to supplement funding from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the Dane County Conservation Fund.
For the fourth year running, we plan to torch eastern red cedar and other undesirable woody plants to restore a wonderful remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Already, many pockets of native prairie species are thriving where trees have been removed and seeds are exposed to sunlight. With every push to restore native prairie we also push to revitalize the beautiful views of Wisconsin’s unique topography and waterways.
This special Leap Day event is a twice-in-a-decade type of experience, don’t miss out!