NCTA-Heritage hosts work bee to kick off season
Group to meet at Copper Falls State Park entrance at 8 a.m.
MELLEN - Northern Wisconsin is known for its beautiful scenic views, and no one knows that better than Mike Stafford.
Stafford is president of the North Country Trail Association-Heritage Chapter and has hiked the area's trails for years.
In previous years, the chapter has hosted a spring hike to kick off the hiking season, but had to cancel this year's event partly because of the weather.
"I've done this spring hike for many years," Stafford said. "We often encounter some rain, which is no big deal, but we rarely encounter snow."
May 17 -18 will be the first work weekend of the year, when the chapter begins work on finishing a five-mile stretch in the Copper Falls State Park.
"We're pretty dedicated to building out that five miles in Copper Falls," Stafford said, adding that the group has probably completed a little over half of it thus far.
"We're hoping to get a lot of that finished," he said. "It takes a long time with manual labor to build out five miles of trail."
Stafford said the group typically uses access roads so that backpackers can have a way to get water or food, and so day hikers can join up with the group at various locations. But this year, the forest service said those roads would probably be difficult to travel.
Moreover, the weather forecast was expecting another storm system coming next weekend, which was when the hike was scheduled, Stafford said.
The hike was going to cover about 38 miles of trail stretching west from the Copper Falls State Park to Highway D, which included sights such as an old Swedish settlement shelter along the Marengo River and a bluff overlooking the Bad River Canyon.
The entire North Country Trail covers about 4,600 scenic miles from New York to North Dakota. There are about 220 miles in Wisconsin, with around 115 miles of continuous trail.
The trail is entirely built by volunteers, Stafford said. The NCTA-Heritage Chapter holds work weekends once a month, running May through November, when volunteers groom the areas for new trail sections and maintain those that already exist.
According to Stafford, many volunteers who work the trails are members of the chapter, but they don't have to be. He hopes people in the area will join the project.
"If they join us they should expect to get dirty," Stafford said of volunteers. "They should bring along plenty of water because we're going to be well out into the wilderness. We'll be grubbing in the trails, as we call it; just working in the trail tread, so it would be working with simple hand tools."
The group will meet at 8 a.m. May 17 at the Copper Falls State Park entrance, then travel up to the trail head on Will Road.
Stafford said they will be camping in the park Friday and Saturday night and any volunteers are welcome to join them at their campsite.
Anyone interested can contact Stafford by calling 414-403-4575 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, or to sign up, visit meetup.com/CheqPenHikers/.
To see future work weekend dates, visit northcountrytrail.org/htg/.