Trail News

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NPS Representative Dan Watson Will Speak at Chapter Meeting on Mon., Mar. 20

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Our next chapter meeting will be held at 6:30 PM Monday, March 20 at the Chippewa Falls Public Library. Special Guest Dan Watson of the NPS will be on hand, and we will discuss our participation in all the April trail events happening in Chippewa County.

Dan Watson, IAT Volunteer Coordinator at the National Park Service in Madison, will be on hand to provide some updated training on handling medical emergencies and making the trip to the medical facility pain-free as far as the paperwork is concerned. He’ll review any questions we have on managing safety in the field, and then provide an overview of some of his experiences with the National Park Service including his experiences fighting forest fires in the west. It should be an interesting meeting and another opportunity to remember that we are all volunteers with the National Park Service, which celebrated its centennial last year.

The coming mini-MSC workdays (in April), our chapter workday(s) (in April), and the IATA Annual Conference (yes, in April) will provide lots of opportunities to get involved, get muddy, get connected, and get updated after wintering with other pursuits. Read on for more about these opportunities.

Chippewa Moraine Master Plan Final Open House

The DNR is having a final Open House at the Obey Interpretive Center from 4-7 PM next Tuesday, March 21. An earlier open house provide background about the master planning process and offered an opportunity to submit comments. 

This event is to give the public a chance to weigh in on specific options posed for the plan which will guide future development of the park. You will be able to see maps and information about the property, and have a chance to talk with agency representatives at the open house. Once the comments are gathered, the DNR will make final decisions on the plan and send it on to the Natural Resources Board for approval. 

The DNR has a webpage with much of the information available: There are links to five Planning documents showing the options for development in five different areas. 

The plan includes very limited additional primitive camping opportunities and a number of additional trails. Several of the trails loops connect to the Ice Age Trail. 

Spring Fever Workdays at Firth Lake, Fri-Sat, April 7-8


The long-anticipated rerouting of the IAT west of Firth Lake will begin in earnest on Friday and Saturday, April 7-8. It’s a mini-MSC event, coordinated from IATA headquarters, so you should check the full description here. If you can, please register using your account from that web page — it helps with planning the event and meals. Hint: do NOT click on the bright yellow button.

Get a sneak preview of the stunning route planned for the new segment. The activity will be mostly corridor clearing. If you wish to stay overnight on Saturday, indoor facilities are available. Dress carefully, as weather and soil conditions can be highly variable this early in the season! 

Meet at 10 AM at Firth Lake parking area on 250th Ave. (It is a very small parking area, so carpooling is encouraged.) Locally, check with Tony Schuster if you want help with arranging carpooling. The workday ends at 4 PM both days. 250th Ave is about 3.25 miles north of Cornell via Hwy CC (about 1.25 mile north of the Hwy CC Ice Age Trail parking area).

April Trail Cleanup Workdays

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Our annual spring cleanup on the trail is planned for Saturday, April 15. It’s our annual chance to whip the trail into shape for spring hiking and especially the Chippewa 50K UltraMarathon, coming up on Saturday, April 29. Observations so far tell us that the wind in recent weeks has left a lot of branches and downed trees in its wake. We target the trail between Hwy E and Mudbrook on this day, but would love to do more with enough hands. 

Meet at 9 AM at the Obey Center, or at 9:15 at the Deerfly Trail crossing. Bring a lunch and water, and dress for the season (wet conditions, ticks). Bring gloves, and a friend who hasn’t been along before. 

We have also scheduled an Earth Day workday on the following Saturday, April 22, in the event of inclement weather on the 15th, and to cover additional sections of trail east of Hwy E, especially those to be used on one of the Annual Conference hikes. This time we will meet at 9 AM at the Hwy CC parking area near Cornell. If you are overwhelmed by taxes on April 15, then you can celebrate on the trail on April 22!

Thousand Miler Book Talk & Signing - Wednesday, April 26


A special presentation by Melanie Radzicki McManus, author of Thousand Miler— Adventures Hiking the Ice Age Trail, will be given at the Chippewa Falls Public Library as a warm-up event to the annual conference. The presentation will be at 6:30 PM Wednesday, April 26, at the Library at 105 W Central St, Chippewa Falls. 

McManus’s new book, which is being released on April 22, recounts her 36 day traverse of the IAT’s 1100 miles. While the list of “thousand milers” has increased by a few intrepid souls each year, those who carry that honor are definitely in an elite group. McManus not only did it in a very short time frame, but happens to be journalist, writer, and editor, so she put it all together in a book to whet the appetite and provide guidance to those who will follow in her footsteps, as well as providing an opportunity for those who will never accomplish the feat to share in the experience.

Annual Conference - April 27-28 in Chippewa Falls


We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to participate fully in an IATA Annual Conference right in Chippewa County this year, and our chapter is encouraging as many of our volunteers and trail enthusiasts to participate fully. In fact, we’re helping pay your way! You can learn more about the conference in Mammoth Tales (sent to all members) when yours arrives (it is in the mail), or you can read about it and register online -

The featured speaker on Friday evening at 7:15 PM is Dr. Eva Selhub, physician,author, and expert on the importance nature plays in our health and wellbeing. 

There are a variety of packages for you to choose from based on the number of days you can attend, and these packages include meals. Registration deadline is April 21. 

To encourage as many to attend as possible, after the conference, based on the number attending, the chapter will reimburse up to $50 toward your fees (specific amount to be determined later) as long as you are an active chapter member in good standing. 

Volunteer Opportunities at the Annual Conference

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You can volunteer to help at the annual conference by taking a shift at the registration table to welcome and orient new arrivals. We need volunteers for all shifts from 6:30 AM to 5 or 6 PM, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. We need two persons per shift, and will break it into shifts. If you are interested, let us know which shifts you would like to cover (and recruit a friend to partner with to make it even more fun). If you don’t plan to attend the conference, pick whatever works for you. If you do wish to attend the conference sessions, take a look at the schedule online before committing to a particular block of time, and instead plan to help during a period that doesn’t interfere with what interests you on the program. Give us your general times, and we’ll build a schedule around it (sign up early and get first crack!).

If greeting old friends and new doesn’t excite you, then perhaps a day in the field will, and where better than on our own trail relocation project just west of Firth Lake. Plan to help with corridor clearing on Thursday from 8 AM to 4 PM and get your hands dirty!

Cold Cacheing in the Cold!

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Learn about glaciers by ColdCaching on Wisconsin's spectacular Ice Age Trail

Wisconsin program teaches about glaciers and the outdoors. 

By Jennifer Jeanne Patterson Special to the Star Tribune

FEBRUARY 24, 2017 — 11:02AM


Wisconsin’s ColdCaching program includes a self-guided GPS tour of glacial history for families at Devil’s Lake State Park.

My kids and I stood bundled up in 6-degree weather, wearing facemasks and snow pants while trying to work a handheld GPS along the Wisconsin Ice Age Trail in Devil’s Lake State Park. The land was barren, brown and peaceful — a typical winter landscape.

“I think we’re supposed to go that way,” 10-year-old Caleb said uncertainly, pointing, while 8-year-old Anna shivered beside him. Why didn’t I pay closer attention to the park naturalist’s instructions?

It’s said that the average American child engages in only four to seven minutes a day of unstructured play outdoors. I’ve come to realize that for our children to grow up caring about our planet, I need to fight my urge to hibernate and expose them to a winter wilderness that extends beyond the backyard.

Chapter Election Results

The election results are in, and we have a slight rearrangement of officers for 2017. In case you missed it, here are the results: President, Richard Smith; Vice President, Tony Schuster; Secretary, Diane Harp; and Treasurer, Nancy Schuster. In addition, Jerry Sazama is our Maintenance Chief. 

Heavy Winds Leaves Tree Snarls In Its Wake

Steve White studies snarled trees across Ice Age Trail, Harwood Lake Segment.

Heavy winds early in the morning of July 27 left nearly 100 trees down across the trail or in tangled knots, causing some temporary closures and very difficult hiking in the Harwood Lake segment. The damage was most severe in an area near the Deerfly Trail. Small groups of volunteers were able to wield chainsaws and hand saws and untangle the mess and leave the route generally passable within 10 days. Thanks to a lot of effort, the entire mess was cleaned up over a span of about 3 weeks.

Our recent experience with storm damage has brought to light where you can find trail condition postings on the Ice Age Trail Alliance website, When you want to check the trail status in a particular area, especially if its away from home, go to the interactive map. To open the map, click on “FIND the TRAIL” in a bright yellow box on the right side of the page. When you get to the map, be sure to check the box for Trail Conditions under the map, then zoom into the area of your destination. Or you could bookmark the page: In addition to Trail Conditions, you can choose to highlight Parking areas, Trail Stories, and suggested hike Itineraries. 

Trail Safe!

A new safety initiative from the National Park Service offers participants online self-study videos that examine the objectives taught in the Park Service Operational Leadership training. It’s an approach that focuses on the mindset needed to work safely, not a cookbook on how to use a tool. Take a look at the NPS IAT website and scroll down to the Trail Safe! feature to find the link. Start at the beginning and complete the Training Verification Roster back at the Trail Safe! home page, and you’ll receive a pin and other info from NPS. Also be sure to keep track of your time spent and report it to the chapter to be sure we capture your volunteer hours. Questions about the series can be directed to Dan Watson.

Two New Trail Segments Opened

Spectacular New Trail Added in Camp Nawakwa Area

Spectacular is not too strong a word to describe the beautiful new segment of trail created and opened at September’s IATA Mobile Skills Crew trailbuilding event. The segment passes by several lakes and ponds and winds up, down, and around stunning terrain, to give awesome views of Picnic Lake and a large tamarack bog and lake. The scene is especially gorgeous right now, as the leaves are so colorful, so don’t hesitate to get out on a sunny day and check out the new trail.

You can start a 2.75 mile hike either at County Highway E (just south of Camp Nawakwa’s entrance road), or at Deer Fly Trail. You can also start at County Highway E and walk about 1.5 miles and return. Off-road parking is available at either trailhead.

In addition to touching up the ½ mile segment built last season, a completely new 1 mile segment was completed. The remaining 1.25 miles was re-blazed to modern trail signage standards.

Addition to Chippewa River Trail Removes Road Walk