A New Bridge Spans Sailor Creek!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sailor Creek Bridge, US Forest Service, Jerry Lake Segment
Volunteers cart soon-to-be repurposed deck boards to another location. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Perfect weather, minimal bugs, and a fantastic crew, made for quick work as the bridge over Sailor Creek rose from the mud like a lotus. The squelching of boots through curmudgeonly swamp accompanied the din of hammers, saws, and drills, as 20 volunteers came together to complete the 178-foot-long Forest Service structure. In just over three days, the Jerry Lake Project totaled over 500 service hours! “Big Spider Bridge” will allow for the safe crossing of Sailor Creek for the next half century.

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A One-Mile Section Becomes a Jewel

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding season
A newly built 311-foot-long boardwalk greets hikers as they emerge from the woods along the Montrose Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After two days of sawdust-filled work preassembling frames and cutting deck boards, all hands were on deck to begin construction in the middle of the week. Over three days, despite challenging weather (Tuesday was cut short due to rain), 20 volunteers donated 351 hours of service to construct 311 feet of boardwalk and a 12-foot bridge. These structures offer easier passage for hikers across an area notorious for standing water and muddy conditions.

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Highlighting the Glacial Beauty of the Blue Hills Region

Images worth a thousand words: Glacial rock and water formations are scattered throughout this beautiful landscape in Rusk County. Volunteers took in the sights while walking the land and planning how to best route future trail to highlight and preserve these features. Photos by Dave Caliebe.

Over four days, 19 individuals methodically explored more than six square miles of remote Rusk County. Building on the trail layout event last October, we continued to narrow down the locations for future Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Our group sought ways to connect significant geological features of the area and avoid wetlands and logging interaction where ever possible.

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Ready! Set! Plant!

An image of volunteers getting ready to plant trees. They line up before the area where the trees will be planted, holding red flags that will be used to mark newly planted trees. Pine trees tower above them in the background, before partially cloudy skies.
Volunteers line up, ready to plant trees that will eventually transform the old pine plantation at the Brownrigg-Heier Preserve into a sustainable hardwood forest. Photo by Amy Lord.
2021 is a year of new beginnings, new growth, and reconnecting. Our reforestation effort in Manitowoc County upholds this sense of hope for the year and beyond.

Beginning on Friday, April 30 – National Arbor Day – 60 volunteers came together to plant 5,500 young trees on the Ice Age Trail Alliance-owned Brownrigg-Heier Preserve. Volunteers (some coming from three hours away) donated 730 hours to help improve the earth in an effort extending beyond their lifetimes.

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Volunteers Upgrade Structures on the Waterville Segment

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding, Reconnect 2021
Members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter work together to deliver a boardwalk frame to the construction site. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Over three official days (and one unofficial), 31 volunteers donated 615 hours to build four structures totaling 450 feet. Ahead of the project, efforts by the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter generated momentum with pre-built boardwalk frames. The on-site crews, composed predominately of chapter members, maintained the pace with their skillful construction. They also remained undeterred by the fickle weather, which alternated between snow squalls and spring sunshine. Continue reading

Volunteers Transform Slopes of Steenbock Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Steenbock Preserve, Gibraltar Rock Segment, MSC, 2021, Mobile Skills Crew, Volunteers, Land Stewardship
Dane County Chapter volunteer Tom Wise clears trees to help transform the hillside from an encroaching juniper forest into diverse oak and prairie habitat. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
For the fifth year running, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) came together with volunteers to continue restoration efforts on the Gibraltar Rock Segment. Under exhaustive conditions, crews worked to remove the invading juniper forest from the slopes of the Steenbock Preserve. Thanks to your efforts, biodiversity will be increased and nearly three acres of historic prairie can begin to heal and reclaim the landscape.

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Volunteers Ensure Successful 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Stone Steps, Trailbuilding, Volunteers
Volunteers spent 7,727 hours building and improving segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this trailbuilding season, including these beautifully crafted stone steps on the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
In an especially trying year, we learned how valuable the work we perform is as countless people discovered adventure near home. Parking lots filled and overflowed. Quiet, little known segments awoke with the footsteps and chatter of newly initiated hikers.

In May, after an unsettling absence, volunteers reconnected with the Ice Age Trail. Your skills and efforts were needed – and appreciated – more than ever. With our productive start to the year in the rearview mirror, we regrouped and accomplished quite a bit – and did it safely. Thank you for everything you did this year, and in the previous decades, to create one of the Midwest’s best hiking trails.

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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 Patrick Gleissner.
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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