A Genuine Team Effort Expands the Trail!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Chaffee Creek Segment, Pleasant Lake easement, Land Protection
A setting sun lights up the sky, celebrating the brand-new mile of Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Riley Dupee.
MT Summer 2023-p11-11_Land Conservation highlights_Pleasant Lake Management District_Locator Map)

Wins Delivered for Many Participants.

Article author: Tricia Baker, guest writer and member of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter
Thanks to a genuine team effort, the Chaffee Creek Segment in Waushara County just got one-mile longer. Explore this section of Ice Age National Scenic Trail using summer’s extra daylight hours. And, while you saunter, ponder the collaboration that delivered key wins for so many people – including you!

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2023 Trail Steward of the Year: John Kolbe

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Trail Steward of the Year
John Kolbe, 2023 Trail Steward of the Year, is flanked by members of the Trail Team: Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Manager (L) and Chad DuChateau, Director of Trail Operations (R). Photo by Cameron Gillie (aroundwisco.com)

John Kolbe, a resident of Delafield and member of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter, was named Trail Steward of the Year. The Ice Age Trail Alliance staff bestowed this honor during the Awards and Recognition Ceremony at the Annual Conference and Membership Meeting in Sheboygan in April 2023.

The Trail Steward of the Year award recognizes a volunteer whose work contributes in an extraordinary manner to Trail management and development.

These contributions include:

  • Strengthening landowner and/or partner relations;
  • Trail layout, design, and construction;
  • Significant trail maintenance and stewardship efforts.

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2023 Spirit Stick Caretaker: Bob Funk

Spirit Stick Award Winner 2023 Bob Funk
Robert "Bob" Funk, 2023 Spirit Stick Caretaker. Photo by Cameron Gillie (aroundwisco.com)

Robert “Bob” Funk, a resident of Whitewater and member of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter, is the Spirit Stick caretaker for 2023. The Ice Age Trail Alliance staff bestowed this honor during the Awards and Recognition Ceremony at the Annual Conference and Membership Meeting, in Sheboygan, in April 2023.

Bob Funk inspires the entire Ice Age Trail Alliance community with his passion for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. His long-time dedication has encompassed a wide range of activities: Trailbuilding and maintenance, Crew Leadership, and serving for many years on the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Board of Directors.  

The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Spirit Stick award symbolizes long-term dedication and service to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and is presented to only one recipient per year. The Spirit Stick nominees must exhibit a passion for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that has become a way of life; lead by example and inspire those around them; and carry out their service in a spirit of cooperation, optimism, and enthusiasm.

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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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Burn Season Notice

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Burn Season, Prescribed Burn, Prescribed Fire, Land restoration, Habitat Improvement Program
Prescribed burns – intentionally lit fires under controlled conditions – help create healthy, native-species-filled plant and wildlife habitats. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.

Spring = Burn Season in Southern Wisconsin

Along with crocuses and daffodils, spring also heralds “Burn Season”. Fire, a useful tool in land restoration efforts, promotes healthy ecosystems. Prescribed burns – intentionally lit fires under controlled conditions – help create healthy, native-species-filled plant and wildlife habitats.

Each year, in southern Wisconsin, between late March and mid-May, prescribed burns on Alliance-owned preserves and properties owned by the state, county, or private land-owners will close sections of the Ice Age National Scenic. These closures may last for hours, or sometimes for a day or two.

The Alliance will post day-of-event property-specific burn notices for Alliance-owned preserves. However, we cannot always track the prescribed burns happening on properties owned by the state, county, or private-landowners.

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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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Two Events Complete a Successful Season

Ice Age trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, MSC Season, trailbuilding, MSC
Two MSC events bring the successful trailbuilding season to a close. Photo L: Dave Caliebe. Photo R: Patrick Gleissner.

Firth Lake Segment: October 17 – 21

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, MSC, trailbuilding, boardwalk, firth lake segment, chippewa moraine chapter
The new 736-foot boardwalk rises above the mud along the Firth Lake Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Cold, blustery conditions did not deter the 37 hardy volunteers who framed up half of the 736-foot-long boardwalk on the first day. By the fifth day (or 1,081.5 service hours later), a new structure stood proudly along the route, and the old one had been dismantled and carted away.

How’s that for a wildcard project? It muscled its way onto the calendar a few months ago when funding from the National Park Service came through. Typically, projects of this magnitude are planned out a year or two in advance. Continue reading

Hunting Season and Hiking on the Trail

A woman and her dog wear blaze orange on the Ice Age Trail in fall.

Photo by Paulette Walker Smith

There can be a lot of details to navigate when you hike the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin’s fall and winter seasons: hunting season dates, trail closures on private property, and public lands where the Trail is open and hunting is also allowed.

Visit our Hunting Season and the Ice Age Trail page to get a full breakdown of all the things to consider.

Here are the main things you’ll want to remember: Continue reading

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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