The all too familiar icicles of winter hiking. Photo by Mike Summers.
by guest writer Mike Summers
I crunched up the snow-covered remnants of the Niagra Escarpment in Wisconsin’s Potowatomi State Park on a sunny, 32-degree December day. My westbound thru-hike of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) had begun, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Neither did anyone else.
No one had attempted a self-supported thru-hike in the winter months, and many thought it a little strange to try.* But for me, the dreaded “fourth season” of backpacking invoked not fear, but intrigue. This hike would be a test to see if I really enjoyed backpacking, even in the most unforgiving of conditions. Continue reading
Wet spring trails greeted Annie Weiss as she traveled through the Northwoods.
Photo by Long Nguyen.
by guest writer Jonnah Perkins
When you mention the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, most people picture the civilized, buffed out trails of the southern and eastern segments. These trails are heavily trafficked by runners and hikers, flocking to the beauty of the forest, from Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. Farther up in the northern part of the state, there are wild, remote sections of trail many would not imagine could be found in Wisconsin.
This adventure is exactly what ultrarunner Annie Weiss was after when planning an attempt to break the fastest known time (FKT) on the Ice Age Trail. The personal time-trial-trend is growing in popularity in the ultrarunning community. Setting a new FKT, or even pursuing one, is a coveted notch on the belt of ultrarunners. On May 1st, Annie set out to complete the roughly 1,200 miles of the trail system in 19 days. That’s three days ahead of the current record of 22 days and 6 hours set by Jason Dorgan in 2007. This meant Annie would need to average over 60 miles per day to meet her goal. When I talked with Annie a few weeks ahead of her departure, she was brimming with optimism and a healthy dose of trepidation for completing her plan, especially the northern segments. Continue reading
Students and their professor from a Northland College summer geology class formed a dynamic team with crew leader Ruth McCann.
Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Fresh spring energy unleased in May wove its way through 2,539 volunteer hours and materialized into recognizable magic in the geologic “Landscape Crossroads” of Marathon County.
Join us as Trail friends continue to shape tread and bring boulders to rest in retaining walls. This renewed August effort will open 1.7 miles of brand new trail. Continue reading
The work site where the new 35-foot clear span bridge will be constructed and installed.
Photo by Tim Malzhan
Deep in the velvety silence of the Chequamegon National Forest, gnarled trees remind us of the power nature unleashed 15 years ago when the Gilman tornado touched down and chewed through 4,000 acres of forested land, of which 900 acres were approaching old growth status.
Here is where the Ice Age Trail Lake Eleven Segment crosses a stream via an aged pedestrian bridge, declared “unsafe” four years ago. Now, we’re constructing a new 35-foot clear span bridge designed to last 50 or more years.
Join us for this mid-summer adventure where daytime industry meets campfire conversation and flickering fireflies. Continue reading
Photo by Michael Maziarka
The secret sauce of our wildly successful and award-winning Mobile Skills Crew program?
Well-trained volunteers. Absolutely.
When the Mobile Skills Crew trailer pulls up to a work site, the flurry of activity that follows is nothing short of astounding. Tents are set up, meals are cooked, trails are built and boardwalks constructed. Much of what is accomplished, over the course of a few days, happens, in part, because the Ice Age Trail Alliance staff is able to rely on knowledgeable, capable volunteers. Individuals who have raised their hands and said “YES” to learning new skills or deepening their existing capabilities in service of the Trail. Continue reading
The Cross Plains Segment shows off its best summer look. Photo Credit: Lou Ann Novak
In 2017 the Village of Cross Plains became one of eight Ice Age Trail Communities. This designation is more than a sign on the highway and a ribbon cutting. It is an invitation to use the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to celebrate the local culture, history, landscape, and businesses.
This July 14 and 15 the Village, in collaboration with the Cross Plains Chamber of Commerce, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Dane County Chapter, will be taking up the invitation to celebrate! Continue reading
The newest class of boardwalk builders looks on as hikers try out their creation.
Photo by Dave Caliebe
The best place to hike through a wetland is…above it!
Piece-by-piece, 21 participants in the boardwalk training built two elevated boardwalks totaling 193 feet. Every measurement taken, every pan placed, every screw installed was an opportunity to learn and hone new skills. Continue reading
Keeping 15 miles of hard-to-access Ice Age Trail open and passable through rough, rocky terrain is no easy task. It takes a certain amount of grit to volunteer for a project of this magnitude, and 59 volunteers rose to the challenge and committed 1,471 hours to this worthy cause.
The Blue Hills are a gem and, thanks to your service and stewardship, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is in fine condition for enjoyment by visitors from far and wide. Continue reading
Hiking at the edge of a pasture.
Photo credit: Rachel Roberts, IAT volunteer
Farm Technology Days is our chance to feed the farmers who traditionally feed us.
Farm Technology Days (FTD) begins Tuesday, July 11th and runs through Thursday, July 13th. This fundraising opportunity, for the Trail, is about making friends, providing a crucial service, and raising awareness. It’s important to foster a friendly alliance within the farming community; numerous Ice Age Trail segments run alongside swaths of farmland.
While, fences make good neighbors, so does reaching out and being friendly. Let’s be neighborly. Continue reading
Ice Age Trail University is summer camp …
… for Trail wizards of all ages. Plenty of fresh air, good sunshine, and happy times learning new things.
The best way to learn is by doing, and we’ll be providing lots of hands-on learning!
We’re super excited to partner with the Merrill Area School System and the Friends of the Merrill School Forest to build two boardwalks, and super excited about this year’s Camp Chef course.
North Central Technical College is offering a special training through their Culinary Arts program. It’s an exciting time for those who want to become more involved in the volunteer-support side of our Mobile Skills Crew events. Continue reading
Silver Creek as it winds through the Marth Property. Photo by Kevin Thusius
A gem lay camouflaged, hidden between large brick buildings in a 1.38-acre piece of commercial property. The purchase of the Marth property, by the Ice Age Trail Alliance, brought the potential of this piece of land out of hiding and into focus. Now, a picturesque wetland, with sweetly named Silver Creek, is permanently protected and will someday host the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading
Photo by Allan Henn
Wild, wet weather greeted us Tuesday and made repeated guest appearances all week. Thank you for drawing upon your personal stores of resiliency to make the first “MSC Mammoth” event of the season a success.
Bringing a Trail to life requires a certain toughness and the capacity to adapt and forge ahead. 107 volunteers, over the course of 2,539 hours, had fun, worked safely, and built great trail. Significant progress was made towards our August goal of opening 1.7 miles of new, sustainable, premier Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading
Photo by Tim Malzhan
The regal silence of the Blue Hills, with its lichen-covered logs and rugged beauty brimming with other worldliness, is interrupted only by bird calls and bubbling streams.
This expansive trail stewardship project attempts to tame a sliver of forest to provide hikers with both the rich rewards of a true north woods experience and a good, hike-able Trail as it winds through Rusk County. Join us outside. The Blue Hills (and slapping of beavers’ tails) are calling. Continue reading
National Trails Day is Saturday, June 3rd and there is plenty to celebrate along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Photo by Dave Caliebe
Hikes for Kids of All Ages
Guided hikes inspire, energize and rejuvenate!
Chippewa County, Chippewa Moraine Segment: Celebrate National Trail Day (Chippewa Moraine Chapter)
It’s hard to find a more scenic trail with it spectacular overlooks, mature forest, and the long meander along the shore of Picnic Lake, the highlights of this recently rebuilt and rerouted section.
Portage County, Emmons Creek Segment: Wildflower Hike (Portage County Chapter)
The Emmons Creek Segment highlights the charming Emmons Creek State Fishery Area and oak woodland and savanna areas. Continue reading
Photo by Dave Caliebe
The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program is at risk. It is the number one source of funding for land purchases that protect and expand the Ice Age Trail. Funding from this program, in 2016, extended the Trail in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest in Sheboygan County, as well as, in the Straight Lake State Park in Polk County.
Please call your representatives TODAY. Assembly Bill 338 (AB338) has been introduced and it could be voted on any day now. Please urge your Assembly representative not to vote for AB338.
Talking Points for Your Call: Continue reading
Photo by Dave Caliebe
GET OUT: Hikes
Boost your happiness; immerse yourself in a healthy dose of nature (vitamin Green!).
Dane County Chapter, Cross Plains Segment: Birding Hike
Early spring mornings are the time to see and hear migrating and newly-arrived birds of the woodlands, savanna and prairie habitats along the loop in the highlands above Cross Plains. Bring binoculars; hike leader will help identify avian friends! Continue reading
“The newly re-routed Ice Age Trail segment is designed to be an attractive walk. This initial 1.5 miles of trail will meander across rolling terrain filled with big oaks. These old trees create a dramatic over-story and help highlight impressive glacial features like large erratics and boulder fields,” stated Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Specialist. Photo by Tim Malzhan
Life’s transformative events might stew and brew for years until one day…poof; we turn around and find our very being has expanded in ways we could barely imagine.
The reimagining of the Ringle Segment is one such transformative event for the Ice Age Trail. Here, spring peepers chorus, wolves roam, trillium bloom, and rock, as all farmers, geologists, and trail builders know, begets rock.
For those who embrace bringing landscape stories to life, Ringle is a legacy event. Continue reading
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!
Ground work has been laid for ongoing tread construction on the Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Brad Crary
Students from the Medford School District eagerly engaged in trailbuilding. Photo by Tracy Sewlund
Prestigious United States Forest Service Eastern Region Honor Award for Volunteerism and Service bestowed on the Ice Age Trail Alliance
The United States Forest Service recently recognized the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s commitment to creating and delivering an outstanding volunteer experience as part of its Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) program.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance forges strong relationships with a wide-range of partners as a means to engaging a diverse population with the vision of creating, maintaining and protecting a thousand-mile footpath through Wisconsin. A popular mantra of the Alliance, “Trailbuilding is people building”, ensures quality skill-building and service-learning components go hand-in-hand with the trail work that must be accomplished during an MSC event.
The dedication to these ideals were evidenced in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail Infrastructure Overhaul project. This collaborative, multi-year effort spanning 2012 – 2016, addressed infrastructure upgrades to popular segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail where it traverses the Chequamagon National Forest. Continue reading
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
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
A tamarak bog along the Harwood Lakes Segment, a featured hike at the conference.
Photo credit: Dave Caliebe
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.
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
Photo credit: Fred Paasch
Welcome 2017 with a dose of fresh air. Say good-bye to the holiday cookies and chocolates. Burn a few calories with a fun, relaxed-paced, yet blood-pumping hike on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Best of all, a walk in the woods, all serene and blanketed with snow, is a perfect way to connect with yourself. Nature, like you, is a white canvas, ready for a fresh set of possibilities. Take a few moments and consider your path forward into this brand new year. Continue reading
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
The Holiday Season is in full swing…
…and there are TWO ways to benefit the Ice Age Trail Alliance AND get your holiday shopping done!
For those of you who like to do your shopping online, from the comfort of your recliner, and from Amazon.com then you may want to take advantage of AmazonSmile where Amazon donates 0.5% of eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. Continue reading