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Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Winter Rendezvous 2017

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

Save the Date! 2017 Mobile Skills Crew Events

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, 2017 Mobil Skills Crew Events

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

Phenomenal Trailbuilding Accomplished at Dueling Mobile Skills Crew Projects

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Event 2016

Perfect fall weather created ideal working conditions for #TeamMerrimac and #TeamRibLake. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.

The 2016 Mobile Skills Crew “Stones and Ripples” tour ended in triumph at two project sites. Thanks to the combined efforts of 180 volunteers and a whopping 3,222 volunteer hours, a phenomenal amount of work was accomplished – and finished ahead of schedule.

A sense of community and collaboration formed between the two projects through a good-natured social media duel featuring each team’s creativity and trailbuilding skills. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe

What to do when the best laid plans hit a snag? As all seasoned volunteers know…with eyes forward, you shift on a dime and give it all you’ve got!

The planned Storrs Lake project in Rock County is on hold for 2016, regrettably. This change of plans, therefore, enables us to finish what we’ve started, which we strive to do. This mindset led us to organize two Mobile Skills Crew events which will run concurrently from Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 23.

The Sauk County event (Merrimac Segment) will build 3,600 feet of tread that was corridor cleared at the August event. The Taylor County event (Rib Lake Segment) will focus on finishing up work began in May on the Timm’s Hill Trail Connector. (The Sauk County project will be the larger of the two events.) Continue reading

IAT Volunteers Exemplify Passion, Enthusiasm, and Excellence!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County 2016 Mobile Skills Crew event

Joanne Ellarson and Steve Brandt work as a team on a boardwalk retrofit project.
Photo credit: John Helling

The goal of every Mobile Skills Crew event and local Trail improvement effort is to create and maintain a sustainable footpath that fosters new discoveries and broadens our collective connection to the outdoors. Over the course of five rainy, and sometimes stormy days, at last week’s Polk County MSC event, we did that, and more.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew project 2016

Wendell Holl (left) and Jerry Pfeiffer dive into muddy boardwalk work.
Photo credit: Joanne Ellarson

Thanks to the efforts of 119 volunteers, over the course of 3,268 hours, an amazing amount got accomplished:

  • 630 feet of technically demanding wood structures were either built or refurbished;
  • four new Dispersed Camping Areas were opened for use;
  • two trail reroutes were completed;
  • two miles of trail signage were refreshed; a trailhead kiosk was installed; and,
  • numerous hazard trees were cleared.

The cook shanty was kept warm by the efforts of the crew who prepared three square meals a day. In addition, 11 sawyers attended a chainsaw certification course.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew project 2016, boardwalks on the Trail

Randy Kalal capably hauls a board, to be used to construct a new 20-foot-long bridge, to the work site.
Photo credit: Tracy Menchaca

Perhaps, what best exemplifies the impassioned enthusiasm, of those striving for Trail excellence, is this snapshot. Picture a thousand feet of wide, muddy, rutted forest road, beat up after many trips moving materials and tools with an ATV and UTV. Now picture six tired volunteers, at the end of a very long week, mustering the energy to wield McLeod’s, with the purpose of reshaping the holes and ruts, in order to return the road to a like-new condition.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew event, Barron High School

Barron High School Conservation Club makes work look fun as they help clear brush from the trailhead.
Photo credit: Stephanie Eastwood

Special Thanks to:

  • Dean Dversdall for providing an idyllic base camp location;
  • The Frederic Lions Club for providing picnic tables;
  • Herb and Cork Lundberg for use of their shed and UTV to store and haul materials, and for the bevy of brownies;
  • The Imperial Lion Troupe and Mark Lutz, direct from the Twin Cities, for delightful entertainment celebrating not only this event but the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival, a major Vietnamese and Chinese holiday celebrating the rice harvest.

To gain a larger sense of the work accomplished during the MSC project, you may click here for more photos.

To gain a better sense of the areas where the numerous projects took place last weekend, click here for a map.

Thank you, volunteers!

We appreciate you!

A Little TLC – and Voila! – Beauty Revealed: Help Build the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew Projec

Sunset on Straight Lake
Photo Credit: Rita Fox

Huge volumes of molten lava gushed through a split in the earth’s crust a billion years ago, forming the exposed basalt rock outcroppings we see along the Straight Lake and Trade River segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Toss in a continent-sized glacier 10,000 years ago, four Mobile Skills Crew events five years ago, steady love from local trail maintainers and — voila! — a signature section of the Ice Age Trail, the gift we and countless others enjoy today. Continue reading

Hands-on Learning on the Merrimac Segment and at IAT-U

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event Sauk County, Merrimac Segment

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe
The Baraboo Bluffs are beckoning…this is the view the Trail reroute will provide.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keep learning stays young.”

~ Henry Ford

Educating and Empowering volunteers to build maintain and steward the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is the cornerstone of the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Program. In the words of Henry Ford, “Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” If this is true, then our end-of-summer MSC event in Sauk County is a veritable fountain of youth.

Bring your youthful back-to-school spirit, because the best way to learn is by doing, and we’ve got a substantial, hands-on Trail improvement project in the works. This section of Trail meanders through the beautiful Riverland Conservancy owned Merrimac Preserve, near Devil’s Lake State Park. A dilapidated bridge and boardwalk will be replaced, ready for their own infusion of youthfulness. Continue reading

Working Together, Impressive Results

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Taylor County MSC 2016

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe – Wood Lake graced by a Bald Eagle and two Trumpeter swans.

Taylor County, sculpted by the powerful forces of glacial ice, is known for its undulating, hummocky terrain and smooth-as-glass kettle lakes reflecting sky and clouds, is already beautiful, and last week, it just got more attractive.

A 104 volunteers with a shared vision of making the Ice Age Trail the best it can be, accomplished a phenomenal amount of Trail improvements on three of the seven Trail segments in Taylor County over the course of 7 days and 3,100 hours of effort. Continue reading

Taylor County Trailbuilding Event

Ice Age Trail Alliance Ice Age National Scenic Trail Mobile Skills Crew Event July 2016

Photo Credit: D. Caliebe – morning mist rising on Wood Lake

July is a month of celebrations. Picture puttering around the garden in the early hours of the day, or gathering with friends around a grill while enjoying the flicker of fireflies in the dusky hours of a long summer evening. On weekends, a great migration occurs as folks shuffle routines and voyage north to forests and picturesque lakes for peace of mind and adventure.

We hope you’ll join us for a mid-summer adventure of your own! Head North with us for our second Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County this year and fifth in the last 15 months; we’re tackling a whole lot of lumber, rock, and dirt across 50 miles of Taylor County. Continue reading

Welcome to Wisconsin’s Jungle!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Ice Age Trail Alliance Blue Hills Mobile Skills Crew

Photo credit: D. Caliebe

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail inspires an intensity of passion and purpose that is pure and rare.  If you could bottle it up, you could sell it for a fortune.

This enthusiastic dedication was unleashed in a whirlwind of focused activity when 77 volunteers pitched in for 2,794 hours to maintain and upgrade an astonishing 20+ miles of Trail, spanning three counties, and five Ice Age Trail segments. Continue reading

A Texas-Sized Project in the Blue Hills – Join Us!

Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Ice Age National Scenic Trail

MSC volunteers Gail Piotrowski and Kevin Welton paint a fresh set of blazes to mark the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Photo credit: D.Caliebe

Think of a Texas-sized project spread out along 30 miles of trail with outsized brush, brambles, beaver dams, hoodoos and swamp-like-terrain.  This area is remote and Mother-Nature is law-less and overgrown.

Please join us in the Blue Hills to help care for and steward the Trail by reinvigorating and keeping existing Trail segments clearly signed and open for hikers. This MSC project is full-on, straight-up trail maintenance. Continue reading

How to Build a Cathedral in 2016

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Trailbuilding at Rusch Preserve

Photo credit: R. Roberts

The great cathedrals of Europe were years in the making. Like the Ice Age Trail, the wonders of Notre-Dame, Saint-Denis and Chartres demonstrate how solutions evolve and the work of one generation leads to and builds on the work of another.

The Ice Age Trail, entering its 36th year as a National Scenic Trail, also continues to evolve and improve from the lessons learned and hard work of successive years. Thank You to all 171 volunteers who pitched in for 3,672 hours to help build a cathedral of the ages for the current generation, and those well into the future, along the Rib Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Continue reading

Team Building: Hard Hats Not Hard Heads

Ice Age National Scenic Trail Mobile Skills Crew Leadership Training

Emerging leaders from the Spring 2016 Crew Leadership Skills class.
Photo credit: D. Caliebe

Did you know a trail, as it winds through the woods or across a grassy field, has an “anatomy”?

The “body parts” of a trail include aspects like a corridor, the bench or tread, drainage features, structures, anchors, edges, and gateways, just to name a few.

This glossary of terms, along with the why and how of sustainable trail design, were the nuanced details of trail building learned by the most recent participants of the Ice Age Trail Alliance Crew Leadership and Skills training. Continue reading

A Fresh New Season of Trail Building Begins

The Ice Age Trail Mobile Skills Crew

Photo credit, Dave Caliebe: Women busy getting the job done!

As Jack Frost fades out of view, the warmer temperatures and budding wildflowers unmistakably signal that winters rest is over – the “Stones and Ripples” trailbuilding season is upon us!

The first full-scale Mobile Skills Crew event of the year takes place in the always friendly and ever challenging terrain of Rib Lake. Thanks to special funding received from Michelob ULTRA’s Superior Trails Contest we’ll call Taylor County home twice this season. The punch list is long; please join us and help move us one step closer to reestablishing new and greatly improved section of the trail near Rib Lake. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Season Lifts Off

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Photo Credit: Dave Caliebe

Despite the frozen landscape of February, the first stone placed of the 2016 MSC tour rippled forth with refreshing change from the Treehaven education, conference and research center during the Winter Rendezvous. Trail folk from around the state celebrated the 2015 season, renewed fellowship with trail friends and looked ahead to the coming trailbuilding season. Amid snowshoe races, jigsaw puzzles and reminiscing about trailbuilding events of the past, a fire was lit in the very core of the Mobile Skills Crew spirit that will burn bright all season long.

Don’t worry if you missed the Rendezvous, the 2016 MSC Stones and Ripples tour is coming to an Ice Age Trail Segment near you. Next stop is in Rock County, April 27 – May 1 for Crew Leadership and Skills Training. If becoming a Crew Leader is not your fancy, join us at any of the other trailbuilding events. Check the schedule and register today. We look forward to making memories in 2016 that will kindle the fires of next year’s Winter Rendezvous.

Let’s Rendezvous!

photo by Tim Malzhan

photo by Tim Malzhan

As the calendar shuffles along toward spring and shadows get shorter our thoughts of trailbuilding are gaining momentum. Soon it will be time to slap new laces on steel toes, pick up a fresh pair of gloves and file a clean edge on the pick mattock. In a few short months we’ll be back in morning roundup and our tools of the craft will have a nice patina of duff and sawdust. Until these warm thoughts come to fruition, we’re planning on helping you scratch that trailbuilding itch with the Winter Rendezvous!

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photo by Dave Caliebe

Just like the French voyageurs of the past, hearty souls will gather at UWSP – Treehaven in Tomahawk from February 5 – 7 to share stories of winter adventures, enjoy the landscape and rekindle fires. Please join us and catch up with old friends or make new, and find out what is in store for the 2016 Mobile Skills Crew season. There will be plenty of frivolity mixed in with x’s and o’s. No previous trailbuilding experience is necessary as all are welcome. You can register and see a full agenda here.

We look forward to seeing you at the Winter Rendezvous or on the Trail in the near future. Until then, we hope your thoughts of creating new Ice Age Trail experiences break up cabin fever and help you gain a spring in your step.

New Ice Age Trail at Lapham Peak

ThursRoundUp_bc

Thank you to the 226 volunteers who pitched in 4,127.5 hours superbly improving over a mile of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in one of the most heavily trafficked portions of the entire Trail: Lapham Peak in Waukesha County.

Walking the finished product Sunday afternoon, a hiker exclaimed, “This is awesome…what an amazing change!” Indeed. Together, Ice Age Trail builders, supporters and stewards built 3,500 feet of new tread, 177 feet of rock retaining walls, and 241 feet of boardwalk, and served over 1000 meals. The finished product provides new opportunities for the 350,000 people who visit Lapham Peak annually to take solace and rejuvenate on the Trail.

Volunteers take first step toward opening new Rib Lake Segment

Crew members look on as a volunteer places a rock while building new trail.

Volunteers made the first large-scale trailbuilding project of the season a great success! The Rib Lake Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County saw 2,000 feet of newly-constructed trail, another mile cleared and ready for construction and 190 feet of new stone retaining wall.

This was the first project in building and opening the 4.7-mile Rib Lake Segment. Volunteers will be back with another MSC event in September to keep the rolling stone moving forward.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Call for volunteers – upcoming MSC event: Rock County!

The next stop for the MSC program brings us to the Storrs Lake Segment June 24-28, just outside of Milton in Rock County. Join fellow volunteers for a day of being outside, working with your hands and enjoying good company!

The Milton Moraine left behind dry kettles settled by massive white oaks and shagbark hickories, and the event will delve into the heart of this landscape. Work to be done includes a half-mile reroute, boardwalk repair, signage upgrades, a full-blown attack on invasives andprep work to create…drum roll please…a new 1.5-mile section of trail to the north!

Learn more and register here

 

Spring trailbuilding projects a hearty success along the Trail

Stone steps on the Gibraltar Segment of the Ice Age Trail

The sound and feel of rock fitting solidly against rock is unmistakably satisfying. For trail builders, this sound represents a lasting contribution to the hiking community.

Thank you to the 28 volunteers who devoted a combined 1,020 hours to the Mobile Skills Crew Stonework Workshop event in Columbia County this spring, learning and applying stonework skills they’ll share along the Ice Age Trail.

Gaining stonework knowledge and experience was priority #1 during the project, but along the way, they also split boulders for new steps, built over 50 feet of retaining and side walls, and securely set a remarkable 27 rock steps in challenging terrain on the Gibraltar Segment.

Volunteers construct 100 feet of elevated boardwalk on the East Twin River Segment

Thanks also goes out to the 22 volunteers of the IATA Lakeshore Chapter region for devoting over 230 hours to constructing a masterful boardwalk on the East Twin River Segment in May. Last year’s successful Mobile Skills Crew event along the segment opened the serene 1.3-mile section, but one last item needed attention – an elevated boardwalk through a perennial wet area. Volunteers stepped up to coordinate this regional trailbuilding project and complete the 100-foot boardwalk.

Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers!

 

Help build new Ice Age Trail in Taylor County May 27-31

The hills and forests around Rib Lake in Taylor County have a rich history. From the great Wisconsin glacier that shaped the terrain 10,000 years ago to men atop ice sleds hauling hardwoods to build Milwaukee and Chicago in the last century, our stories abound.
IATA Mobile Skills Crew program logo
In the 1970s, efforts to create the Ice Age National Scenic Trail took root in the area. Join forces with volunteers young and old during a Mobile Skills Crew project to build a new section of the Ice Age Trail near Rib Lake!

The project takes place Wednesday, May 27 through Sunday, May 31. You’re welcome to join for any amount of time – even a few hours are a big help!

Learn more and register here.

We hope to see you soon!

 

 

Register now for 2015 Mobile Skills Crew events

Sunrise Stretches_long

Since becoming a National Scenic Trail 35 years ago, the Ice Age Trail has grown new audiences, welcomed new segments and nurtured the next generation of outdoor stewards.

Mobile Skills Crew events carry and expand on these themes, bringing new faces and ideas to the Trail and to the Alliance.

Register for one or many of this season’s projects below. You’ll enjoy the camaraderie of an MSC event and help keep the Trail the enduring inspiration that it is.

If you’re planning on attending multiple projects, this printable season schedule [PDF] may be helpful.

Finally, be sure to make time to hike the many new and improved sections of Ice Age Trail, hewn by you and other dedicated and determined volunteers in the coming months!