Monday, August 22, 2005

Skillin' it near Lodi, WI

This past weekend was spent on the trail, in particular a new mile of Ice Age Trail leading south from the Merrimac Ferry . The Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation hosts the Mobile Skills Crew , a volunteer trail building corps that Esther and I have been involved with since its inception in 2002. The Crew hosts seven trail building weekends a year, once a month April through October (the April session incorporates crew training into the trail building).

We had our biggest one day turnout ever Saturday as more than 75 volunteers helped on what is called the "Colsac" project, so named after the ferry boat that crosses Lake Wisconsin between Columbia and Sauk counties. We established tread along Hwy. 113 to a hill that overlooks Lake Wisconsin. The trail climbs up to a beautiful grassy overlook onto the lake. The hill was choked with red cedars and a few stately oak trees. Many of the cedars were cut down and the younger volunteers helped haul branches into a big pile. Soon, the Lodi Valley Chapter of the Ice Age Trail will use a wood chipper to make cedar ships to sell as a fundraising effort.

An old college friend of mine, Chris A., joined us and, even though he complained of soreness and fatigue after spending hours swinging a pick mattock, he agreed that seeing a completed trail gave him a real sense of accomplishment. We also took a picture of him heaving his first stump. Pregnant Esther walked up and down the hill providing tools and snacks for the workers. Sunday morning she took it a little easier and posted yellow blaze trail markers to guide hikers along the new route.

Anyone interested in volunteering for future Mobile Skills Crew projects should contact the Ice Age Trail at or call 800-227-0046.