A Brilliant Finale for the 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Project, Reconnect
A volunteer crew shovels rotten granite into a pile for distribution along soft tread. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Like the witch-hazel flowers that dazzle in autumn as its leaves fall to the ground, the 2020 Reconnect Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season had a final flourish before settling in for winter. We all needed a bright spot this year, and Mother Nature provided plenty of brilliance during the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event. The weather, the leaves, the volunteers were perfect.

It was a much-needed respite from the unsettled “real” world. Bad news only came when your name was called to help move rotten granite. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Event: Join us on the Ringle Segment!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Event
The final MSC event of the 2020 trailbuilding season will be taking place on the Ringle Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on October 5-11. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Mobile Skills Crew Event

Ringle Segment

Marathon County (Central Wisconsin)

October 5-11, 2020

To say the least, it’s been a weird year. With plans everchanging, we hold on to the normal activities – the ones we can still do – to anchor our lives. A constant on the Mobile Skills Crew event (MSC) calendar since 2017, trailbuilding along the Ringle Segment provides familiarity: the base camp setting, the scenery, the type of work. It’s fitting, in this discombobulated year, that we end with an old friend.

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Boardwalk Construction a Speedy Success!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Southern Kewaskum Segment, Boardwalk, Trailbuilding, MSC, Mobile Skills Crew
Completed boardwalk on the Southern Kewaskum Segment through the efforts of volunteers during the September Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Exceeding expectations is easy when ideal weather and the perfect group of volunteers align, as they did for the Washington County Mobile Skills Crew event. This combination generated a momentum that blew ahead of the pre-set schedule.

Each task was sizeable but proved no challenge for the crews. Veteran trailbuilders brought new volunteers up to speed under their careful tutelage. A strong team formed to knock out the work, while wearing masks and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

The final product, a 269-foot-long boardwalk, includes a bump-out designed as a wheel-chair passing zone and look-out platform for hikers wishing to slow down and listen to the springtime chorus of frogs.

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Mobile Skills Crew Event a Success During Pandemic!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Volunteers, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC, Boardwalk, LaBudde Creek Segment
A volunteer works steadily and safely while adding the kick plate, a finishing touch along the 248-foot-long boardwalk on the LaBudde Creek Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Our first Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event since February, the LaBudde Creek event brought a kaleidoscope of emotions:

  • anxiety, like when dancing after not having done so in a long while;
  • change, as when seeing with new eyes a way to navigate new norms;
  • gratitude, like when an old friend breaks silence with laughter.

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Trailbuilding & Stewardship Event

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Trailbuilding and Stewardship Event, Gibraltar Rock, Mobile Skills Crew Season
A crew burns brush piles to restore a remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment in Columbia County. Photo by Kevin Thusius.

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!
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Ice and Stalwart Volunteers!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Boardwalk construction, Mobile Skills Crew events 2020
We’re befriending ice to set 22 bridge abutments beneath 8 inches of ice and through 30 inches of cold, dark water to support what will become a 577-foot-long boardwalk elevated 6 feet. Photo by Kevin Kuhlmann.

Wednesday, February 5th, through Saturday, February 8th, we embark on the most complex boardwalk construction project in Alliance history.
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Wildcard Season! Join us!

It’s wildcard season with not one, but two wildcards! The main event will take place in Marathon County to continue work on the Ringle Segment. A second, smaller event will take place in Langlade County along the Summit Moraine Segment (formerly Old Railroad) to continue storm damage cleanup.

Help us end the “Building for the 23rd Century” tour on a high note by signing up for one (or both) of the events! Please register by Sunday, October 13th.

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Now a Longer, More Sustainable Trail!

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance

Two volunteers work on securing deck boards for the 166-foot-long boardwalk across Bohn Lake. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

With a chain of lakes as a result of a tunnel channel and deep kettles among the oaks and pines, it’s easy to surround yourself with spectacular glacial landscapes when hiking the Ice Age Trail in Waushara County.

Last week, you chipped in to help the Trail grow a little bit longer and a lot more sustainable. Boardwalk construction, stonework, tread construction, and trail maintenance all whirled together to create a project that improved overall access and visibility to various segments throughout the county.

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Build Trail Where a Meltwater River Flowed!

Enjoy the final fall blooms of native prairie plants as you build Ice Age Trail in Waushara County. Photo by Tim Malzhan. 

The vision which guided the purchase of 235 acres surrounding Bohn Lake in 2004 – to create a focal point for the interpretation of a glacial tunnel channel – continues to unfold this month in Waushara County as we build new and improve on existing sections of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Did you know? Bohn Lake is part of a 14-mile-long glacial tunnel channel, created by a meltwater river flowing beneath glacial ice whose outlet was where the Village of Hancock stands today. The Trail weaves in and out of this tunnel channel, opening for interpretation the subglacial flow of water which carved the landscape.

Is this your first trailbuilding experience? We’re offering a dedicated, guaranteed hands-on “Trail Building Basics” class for first-time volunteers

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Persistence, Skill, and Ingenuity!

A volunteer crew who embodies persistence, skill, and ingenuity, smiles despite the rain and mud. Photo by Tim Malzhan.

Nothing comes easily when building new Ice Age Trail in Marathon County. Through persistence, skill, and ingenuity, volunteers overcame all challenges – boulders birthing boulders, remote access to work areas, rain and physical constraints – in what is destined to be a spectacular interpretation of Wisconsin’s glacial landscape. Continue reading

Help Open Two Miles of Trail

A boardwalk built during a previous (Act II) Mobile Skills Crew project along the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Another long-awaited section of new Ice Age Trail will be open for hikers this summer!

The stage has been set for Act III. All we need is you. Join us in our quest to open two additional miles of Ice Age Trail along the Ringle Segment!

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Cultivate New Skills at IAT-U

The green and blue of July are highlighted along the Emmons Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail. (Photo by Cameron Gillie)

June is gone with the wind, and with the solstice behind us summer in Wisconsin is in full swing. From St. Croix Falls to Potawatomi State Park, wildflowers are in bloom and green blankets the glaciated landscapes along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. July is a time for growing and cultivating, only to reap what we’ve sowed in weeks to come.

You’re invited to participate in Ice Age Trail University, a four-day educational event (July 18 – 21) filled with knowledge, inspiration, and solutions to challenges we face on the Trail.

Grow and cultivate new skills to carry with you and share with others for the rest of your seasons on the Ice Age Trail. Community, dedication, and hands on experience is what keeps our shared vision of the Ice Age National Scenic vision alive and well.

Join us at IAT-U to learn from seasoned and committed volunteers and staff what makes the Ice Age Trail what it is – and what it can be. Continue reading

Trailbuilding Results: Audacious. Sustainable. Inspiring.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Interpretive Site

A volunteer helps build a brand new portion of the Ice Age Trail on the Cross Plains Ice Age Interpretive Site Thursday on the second day of the five-day Mobile Skills Crew event. (Photo by Cameron Gillie-www.aroundwisco.com)

165 volunteers over the course of 3,751 hours helped create audacious, sustainable, inspiring results! 

The physical highlights – sandstone outcrops, windswept views for miles, a glacial story carved in stone, timber retaining walls, a 48-ft Bridge, two elevated boardwalks, and thousands of feet of artfully crafted trail wending harmoniously with and across the landscape – will surely be appreciated for generations to come.

Less apparent are the quiet keys to success; your dedication, your selfless teamwork, and the way in which you cheerfully stuck with what must have felt, at times, like thankless, but no less important, tasks.

Thank you!  We are grateful for all you did to create a masterful new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail!

As we head into the July 4th weekend, there is much to celebrate! Bring your friends and family out to this new section of Trail and show them what a force for good and a collaborative spirit can create!

Download a Project Outcomes map to get a better sense of where the progress is being made for this multi-year project.

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The Story Continues…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Interpretive Site, Mobile Skills Crew event,

A volunteer trailbuilding crew uses their “trail eyes” to assess progress on a new section of tread. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Had the World Trails Network (WTN) existed when Ray Zillmer traveled the state talking with farmers, politicians and the movers and shakers of the day about his vision to create a “Glacial National Park” in Wisconsin, maybe Ray would have borrowed these lines from the WTN Trail Manifesto: “trail is our story…our answers lie not at the end but on the way…every trail makes a life.”

A long-awaited section of new Ice Age Trail is ready to open in Dane County. We just need you! Join us and be part of our trail story. Continue reading

9 Boardwalks and 1.4 Miles of New Trail!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew event, Trailbuilding

One of the nine boardwalks constructed along the newly opened 1.4 miles of Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Gail Piotrowski.

For more than 40 years, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail passed through a parcel of private land, squeezing between a shed and a house on the Ringle Segment. Thanks to your help, the Trail is now open; wending through a more scenic setting, bypassing private property, and is permanently protected.

Thanks to the 172 volunteers who contributed 3,124 hours helping to open 1.4 miles of new Trail that includes 9 new boardwalks totaling 514 feet, dozens of painted blazes, well-crafted tread, and durable stonework tossed in for good measure.

Download a Project Outcomes map to get a better sense of where the progress is being made for this multi-year project.

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Burning Brush Prepares for New Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, Interpretive Site, Dane County, MSC

Photo by Rachel Roberts.

Saturday afternoon, 4 p.m.: Muscles sore after two days of hauling brush and wielding saws. Pots and pans dirtied from cooking two days’ worth of chili. Leaving the woods, you looked back to see a broad swath, 50-to 100-feet wide, newly cleared of buckthorn, slippery elm, and widow makers; of white and red oak freed of encroaching invaders; and, of yellow pin flags, curving through the woods, awaiting your return.

Thank you for being who you are. Thank you for your generous spirit, your passion, your faith in community and your willingness to embrace the power of teamwork one step, one kerf, one pin flag at a time. Continue reading

Spectacular MSC Season Finale

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Langlade County MSC, Mobile Skills Crew event 2018

The rock work crew proudly gathers at the culmination of their efforts. Photo by Alaina Dedo.

The Mobile Skills Crew 2018 (MSC) season finale was a thundering conclusion to a successful season of Ice Age National Scenic Trail development, construction, and stewardship. The first-ever MSC event in Langlade County generated the most project hours in the history of all IATA events, and the most miles of new Trail opened in one fell swoop since such data has been reliably tracked. Continue reading

Old Railroad Segment: North woods extravaganza!

Morning mist rises on one of the many lakes along the re-imagined Old Railroad Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

A grand time of year to be in the north woods is when the sugar maple, oak, and aspen light up in fall colors and, at long last, the mosquitoes, gnats, and flies have had their final say for the season.

Beginning Tuesday, October 9th and continuing through Sunday, October 14th, please join us for the season-finale of the 2018 Mobile Skills Crew “Light the Candles” tour and help create a new, nearly 10-mile long, reroute of Ice Age Trail in Langlade County.

This event is all-hands-on-deck and a HUGE opportunity to elevate the hiker experience in the north woods. Continue reading

Mud, Rain, and Slab Hill

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Project, Walla Hi SegmentDespite rain and challenging conditions, our third MSC event in 15 months at Walla Hi County Park was a great success. Hardy volunteers, 79 in total, helped create and open for business a new, signature section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Over the course of three and a half days and 1,908 volunteer hours, a little over a half-mile of spectacular new trail, one that beguiles the imagination, emerged from within a 15-foot wide trail easement. Slab Hill – the steep pitch that rises 47% over 80 linear feet – will forever be a focal point for trail users. Telling of the skill and dedication of the builders are found in the subtleties – trail drainage dips, well-crafted tread, thoughtful trail signage, and the scores of invasive plants eradicated.  Continue reading

Cross Plains Will Soon Host a New Segment of Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Cross Plains Conservancy, Mobile Skills Crew event

Sandstone rock outcroppings will soon be given their due. Corridor clearing for new Ice Age Trail will highlight these lovely landscape features. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Trailbuilding Event & Celebration
Cross Plains Segment
August 8 – 12, 2018
Dane County
Project Area Map [PDF]

Light the Candles for a mile of NEW Ice Age Trail, the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, and the 60th birthday of the Ice Age Trail Alliance!!!

It’s not often we get to rub shoulders with the folks who will benefit most directly from our efforts. Yet, trailbuilding in collaboration with a Trail Community affords us this opportunity. Week-long, we’ll gather with residents of the Village of Cross Plains, sustainable farming practitioners, outdoor retailers, elected officials and other trail enthusiasts from near and far to celebrate the splendor and diversity of Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail, and the soul shaking experience of all stripes of people of all ages and all walks of life coming together over the span of 60 years to make real a shared vision for long distance hiking, conservation, and community. Continue reading