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.

Continue reading

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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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.

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

Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Old Railroad Segment, Langlade County

Register here

Overview:

This event is all-hands-on-deck & a HUGE opportunity! Please join us and help reroute and reimagine nearly 10 miles of the Ice Age Trail. This is the first MSC event to occur in the gargantuan tableau of Langlade County and promises to be fun for all.

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities. The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Tuesday, October 9, and concludes Sunday, October 14. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

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

Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Cross Plains Segment, Dane County

Register here

Join supporters and staff as we celebrate 60 years of building, stewarding, protecting and promoting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Celebrate with us at Ice Age Trail Days in Cross Plains, which is both the headquarters of the Alliance and a designated Ice Age Trail Community focused on increasing awareness of the Ice Age Trail and the mission of the Alliance. If you would like to attend other events during Ice Age Trail Days, click HERE to learn more.

Overview:

This new-trail construction party in the Village of Cross Plains celebrates community and built-to-last camaraderie. Tread, signage, stonework and trail stewardship zones will be the focus of this shindig!

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities. The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Wednesday, August 8, and concludes Sunday, August 12. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

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

Mudbrook Bridge Ready for Summer Hiking

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Harwood Lakes Mobile Skills Crew event, MSC

Volunteers working on the Harwood Lakes Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail make phenomenal progress as they build a new bridge across the marsh. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Sometimes the best person to summarize a project’s outcome is the boots-on-the-ground chapter leader who was involved with every aspect. Richard Smith offers this recap of the Harwood Lakes MSC event:

“The newly constructed Mudbrook bridge midway between Plummer Lake Road and Deer Fly Trail offers a spectacular view of the wetland in the Mudbrook floodplain, and provides a solid and dry passage through the area. It replaces a bridge and rickety boardwalk conglomeration that has traversed the combination of wetland and beaver dams and which was well beyond “end of life.” Continue reading

Thinking Beyond the Blaze: IAT-U

Ice Age Trail University, IAT-U, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Volunteers gather around to learn the finer points of tread construction from Tim Malzhan, Director of Trail Operations for the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

Private citizens coming together to create a public resource is an astonishingly complex undertaking. The momentous scale of developing and stewarding the Ice Age National Scenic Trail  requires a shared vision for the Ice Age Trail and the skills and resources necessary to bring that vision to life.  It isn’t easy, but it happens one volunteer, one steward, at a time. It happens during Ice Age Trail University (IAT-U).  Continue reading

3,000 Feet of Hard-Won Tread!

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

Hard-won tread now winds through Marathon County along the rerouted Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Massive undertakings are best tackled in small bites. Thanks to those who joined  us at the Ringle Segment Mobile Skills Crew event, that small bite resulted in more than 3,000 feet of new, hard-won tread anchoring phase two of the revamped Ringle Segment. In addition, a new Dispersed Camping Area opened along a 28.5-mile road walk in southern Marathon County. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Event – Ringle Segment, Marathon County

 

Register here

Overview:

You helped open 1.7 new miles last year. This year, help take it further. Discover this “Landscape Crossroads” where ancient glacial drift meets ‘new’ Wisconsin drift – ephemeral ponds, boulder-strewn hillsides, and ice-walled lake plains harboring stones from hundreds of miles distant. This new section will be sure to inspire.

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities. The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Tuesday, May 15, and concludes Sunday, May 20. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

 

Renew Your Passion for the Trail!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ringle Segment, Mobile Skills Crew

Mysterious Ringle Segment. Photo by Drew Hanson

After a winter’s rest, recharged trailbuilding spirits bring renewed passion to the transformation underway in the geological significant “Landscape Crossroads” of Marathon County.

During three 2017 MSC events, 227 volunteers gave 5,363 hours of energy and effort to superbly hand-craft the first 1.7 miles of the envisioned 6.7-mile reimagined Trail experience of the Ringle Segment. Continue reading

Collaboration Yields New Ice Age Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Bloomer High School Senior Class

The Bloomer High School Senior class spent a day giving back to their community through their trailbuilding efforts. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Entire tomes of poetry have been written about picturesque autumn days such as the ones enjoyed at last week’s Mobile Skills Crew event. But the heart of the story lies in the collaboration the Ice Age National Scenic Trail enables. Continue reading

The Northwoods Are Calling: Crisp air, colorful trees, and trailbuilding!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC Mammoth

Spring arrived early enabling a hardy group of volunteers to clear corridor and grub out stumps in anticipation of October’s MSC event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

The trees of the Northwoods are beginning to turn red and gold and, as we say good-bye to summer, a new beginning lies ahead for the Firth Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Due to the expansion of an All-Terrain Vehicle trail in the Chippewa County Forest, to ensure a non-motorized experience for users of the Ice Age Trail, we are building a newly designed 1.7 miles of improved Ice Age Trail. Change can be a good thing. Continue reading