Thursday, July 28, 2005

We have been active with the Ice Age Trail since 1998. In fact, I've told many people that the IAT is our first trail, our gateway trail to the long-distance hiking bug that sent us from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail in 2000 and Mexico to Canada on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2004.
We volunteer six weekends a year to work on trailbuilding projects across Wisconsin with the Mobile Skills Crew. The photo of Esther is from a work day in Rock County, WI, on a section of trail near Milton. We worked with South Central Field Coordinator Tim Malzhan to scout out a corridor and spent many weekends establishing tread and placing signs. Our involvement with the trail has decreased because we are no longer able to attend county chapter functions. The trail is maintained by volunteer chapters around the state, organized by county. I helped edit and wrote the introduction to the 2004 Ice Age Trail Companion Guide and am currently editing the 2006 edition. The 2004 guide is in its fourth printing and I just heard that it is for sale at REI's along with the Ice Age Trail Atlas that just came out this year.

The Ice Age Trail is a planned 1,000 mile footpath that loosely follows the terminal moraine of the last glacial advance through Wisconsin about 10,000 years ago. Personally, it is a lifeline for Esther and I to connect with a trail community that is hard to find in the Midwest. It offers us a chance to give back a little something to the abstract "trail," though that is misleading because the volunteer experience gives us so much more than we give back. The debt continues to grow.