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The Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin – March through November 2016 – comments from visitors

2 Dec

From March to December, volunteers of the Blue Hills Trail Association keep busy with trail maintenance in preparation for their favorite time of the year: winter! Visitors to this 20-mile system of non-motorized trails enjoyed a rare bug free spring/summer/fall and shared their experiences with comments in our guestbook.

Recent comments from the logbook in the warming house are included in the picture gallery that follows. Find comments from Wisconsin (Augusta, Bruce, Cadott, Chetek, Eau Claire, Hawkins, Ladysmith, Madison, Milwaukee, Phillips, Rice Lake), Minnesota (Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, St. Paul, Zumbrota), Indiana (Indianapolis), Michigan (Traverse City)…

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

28th Annual Fundraising Banquet for the Blue Hills Trail located in northwest Wisconsin

8 Nov

The annual fall banquet for the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. (BHTA) was held Saturday, November 5th at Lehman’s Supper Club in Rice Lake. While bidding on the numerous silent auction items, this group of silent sports enthusiasts enjoyed camaraderie, libations, great food, and laughter. Storytelling by author/humorist Michael Perry created outlandishly funny images that had us howling.

After a delicious buffet meal, master of ceremonies (Patty McGown) turned the floor over to BHTA president Ron Jasperson who summarized the many significant events impacting the Blue Hills Trail this past year, including: an amazing amount of erosion following a May 31st deluge; the huge number of volunteers helping throughout the year; the tremendous all-season usefulness of the 2014 John Deere Gator with Camoplast tracks purchased spring of 2014; and a good (but short) ski season during the winter of 2015-16 despite a strong El Nino event. Ron reported the trails are in good shape as we head toward winter, and noted that fundraising this fall has been very successful. He was pleased to note that the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. remains financially solid. Follow this link to read the full text of this year’s State of the Trails.

To honor a few of our many volunteers, three special awards were presented: Jonathan Stanley accepted the “2 BZ 2 Pee” traveling trophy (a porcelain urinal) honoring his numerous contributions of time and energy to many area organizations, ours included. Then beer connoisseur Ron Jasperson was honored for his many years working on the trails – he received a growler with glasses emblazoned with the logo “Got Trails?” And to recognize his incredible sleuthing skills and ability to explore issues fully, Ron received a special trench coat and cuban cigar and was publicly honored as our own Columbo (he does bear a striking resemblance to Peter Falk).

Following Michael Perry’s presentation, prizes valued at more than $5000 were distributed to the attendees — including Jim Cargill winning the raffle for the Spring Street Sports $250 gift card, and Bob Peterson winning the raffle for the New Moon $250 gift card.  Our many donors graciously give back to their communities — when the opportunity arises, be sure to offer them a sincere thank you. Colder weather’s overdue, get your skis ready!

Illegal truck traffic damages ski trail in Blue Hills of northern Wisconsin

18 Oct

Cross country skiing on a wide, smooth, beautifully groomed ski trail is a pure delight.

Recently (probably the weekend of October 10-11) a truck illegally drove on a significant portion of the core loop of the Blue Hills Trail and created deep ruts on these soft, damp, and muddy sections that are prone to erosion. We’d like your help catching this person. Please read on.

Photos (below) show some of the damage, as well as the route traveled. It’s been an incredibly wet summer here in the Blue Hills. So… imagine driving your truck on really soft ground just after the frost is out, and that’s an example of some of the damage.

To access this non-motorized trail and create this damage required:

  • Driving past an official “No ATV” sign
  • Driving through a route used by an active logging operation
  • Driving around a Rusk County Forestry gate
  • Removing encroaching brush on a rarely traveled logging ‘road’
  • Driving past a non-motorized sign at the boundary of the trail system
  • Driving on a long section of smoothly-mowed, wide trail while creating deep ruts (section 24-3 on map)
  • Passing two more non-motorized signs (at map points 4 & 5)
  • Driving on 100 meters of a very soft section of trail (trail section 5-9), creating very deep ruts, then turning around
  • Then driving 80 meters on a different even softer muddy trail section (trail section 5-6), creating even deeper ruts, and turning around
  • Leaving by the same route used to access the trails

Make no mistake. This damage was not the result of a logger accidentally driving off course; or a County Forester out marking trees. This driver was way out of bounds, and clearly knew the actions were illegal.

Keep your ear to the ground. Perhaps we can catch the responsible party. Any information should be reported to the Rusk County Sheriff’s department: 715-532-2200. Or contact the Blue Hills Trail Association Inc (BHTA) at bluehillstrail@gmail.com

The BHTA is currently working with the Rusk County Forestry department and the Wisconsin DNR to help repair the damage prior to ski season.

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Blue Hills Trail work day is Saturday morning, October 3rd

30 Sep

A quick reminder…
Our annual trail work day is this Saturday, October 3rd.
Wear blaze orange, arrive at the warming house at 8:30 a.m., and
bring gloves, branch clippers/loppers, spade shovels, chainsaws, and power brush cutters (ATVs may also be helpful).

Please Note:
As we divide up into various crews, one crew will focus on removing accumulated debris from under a couple bridges. That group will need footwear, gloves etc that will allow work in and around water. If interested in joining that work crew, please dress appropriately.

If the morning is quite chilly, we’ll probably have the furnace turned on in the warming house. Fun time in the woods, consider joining us for a few hours.

 

26th Annual Fundraising Banquet for the Blue Hills Trail located in Northwest Wisconsin

1 Nov

The annual fall banquet for the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. (BHTA) was held Saturday, November 1st at Lehman’s Supper Club in Rice Lake.  While bidding on the numerous silent auction items, this group of silent sports enthusiasts enjoyed camaraderie, libations, great food, and Bob Unbehaun’s dynamic slide show presentation (“Paddle the Puddle”) describing his 2004 solo kayak trip around Lake Superior.  After a delicious buffet meal, master of ceremonies (Patty McGown) turned the floor over to BHTA president Dave Olsen who summarized the many significant events impacting the Blue Hills Trail this past year, including: the huge number of volunteers helping throughout the year; and the successful Spring fund drive that allowed the purchase of a John Deere Gator with Camoplast tracks (to be used for winter grooming and summer trail maintenance).  Dave reported the trails are in great shape as we head toward winter, and noted that fundraising this fall has been very successful.  He was pleased to note that the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. remains financially solid.

To honor one of our many volunteers, a special award was presented: vice president Ron Jasperson accepted the “2 Busy 2 Pee” traveling trophy (a porcelain urinal) honoring Ron’s numerous contributions of time and energy.

At that point, prizes valued at close to $6000 were distributed to the attendees — including Bob Schwartz winning the raffle for the Spring Street Sports $250 gift card, and John Waldron winning the raffle for the New Moon $250 gift card.  Our many donors graciously give back to their communities — when the opportunity arises, be sure to offer them a sincere thank you.  Colder weather’s on the way, get your skis ready!

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Fall colors in the Blue Hills of northwest Wisconsin

8 Oct

This year produced some of the more intense fall colors in recent memory.  The trails are in great shape, a beautiful place to unwind.

Recent comments from the logbook in the warming house

  • 9/28: Visitors from…  –Deerfield, WI
  • 9/28: Productive workday in the Hills! –Ladysmith, WI
  • 10/4: Visitors from…  –Rice Lake, WI
  • 10/5: Great day for a walk in the rain! –Apple Valley, MN
  • 10/7: Enjoyed a gorgeous day for trail work, then cleaned up the warming house & swept its roof.  Ready for snow! –Ladysmith, WI

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Summer on the Blue Hills Trail in northern Wisconsin

20 Sep

Spring, we thought it was a goner.  But it came back, the very next day.  Summer finally arrived…

Recent comments from the logbook in the warming house

  • 5/24: Biked the roads, trails were too wet from all the rain.  Beautiful day tho.  Saw two bears on the Eastside.  I’m going to have to come up agin when I can spend more time exploring.  –author’s location unknown
  • 6/6: Homeless living in the Blue Hills, guess I’m Blue Hills Hillbilly. –author’s location unknown
  • 6/25: Parked here & rode the fat bike up the Firelane & up Perch Lake Road.  Beautiful road for the new fat bike.  Thanks for the parking. –author’s location unknown
  • 7/12: On the hunt for the Blue Hills Beast.  No luck, but saw tracks, but no sign of the BHB.  Going toward Birchwood, hope to see him.  –author’s location unknown
  • 7/20: Rode mountain bike on almost all the Westside.  Flies are terrible when they catch up going uphill.  Otherwise awesome day in Wisconsin & the Blue Hills.  Sunny mid 70s.  Thanks Blue Hills Trial Association!  –Ladysmith, WI
  • 7/25: Thanks for the recent mowing, trails look inviting. –Ladysmith, WI
  • 8/2: Great ride, nice trails, cool enough at 58 degrees F.  No insect issues, some deer flies.  Thanks for the nice facility. –Indiana
  • 8/3: Nice “buggy” trail walk with kids & grandkids.  A few biting bugs, but beautiful. –Apple Valley, MN
  • 8/3: Rode all Westside.  Mid 70s, sunny, can’t get much better. –Ladysmith, WI
  • 8/7: Bruce High School Outdoor Adventure Group had boat loads of fun.  –Bruce, WI
  • 8/13: New heater installed, enjoy the warmth everyone. –Bruce, WI
  • 8/16: Cruising by on motorcycle ride through the Blue Hills.  Can’t wait for ski season! –author’s location unknown
  • 8/17: Visitors from… –Glen Flora, WI
  • 8/23: Visitors from… –Boise, ID
  • 8/24: It was actually exciting to get your donation request for the ski trail yesterday in the mail.  Out mountain biking the trail today, deer flies are bad. –Sarona, WI
  • 8/25: Visitors from… –Bloomer, WI
  • 9/1: Visitors (dog included!) from… –Minneapolis, MN
  • 9/7: Sunny, warm, some bugs when stopping.  Large tree across main back loop. –Cameron, WI
  • 9/8: Buggy but fun! –Eau Claire, WI
  • 9/12: Visitors from… –Durango, CO
  • 9/16: Visitors from… –Chippewa Falls, WI

Annual fall banquet brings a fun group together to share in fundraising for the Blue Hills Trail cross country ski system in northern Wisconsin.

3 Nov

The annual fall banquet for the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. (BHTA) was held Saturday, November 3rd at Lehman’s Supper Club in Rice Lake.  While bidding on the numerous silent auction items, the enthusiastic attendees enjoyed libations, great food, camaraderie, and a captivating wildlife presentation by DNR Naturalist – Chris Cold.  Master of ceremonies (Jerry Wilkes) turned the floor over to BHTA vice president Dave Olsen who summarized the many significant events impacting the Blue Hills Trail this past year, reporting the trails are in great shape as we head toward winter; and noting that fundraising this fall has been very successful.  He was pleased to note that the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc. remains financially solid.

To honor just a few of our many volunteers, two special awards were presented: Jonathan Stanley humbly passed along the “2 Busy 2 Pee” traveling trophy (a porcelain urinal) to Dick Pebler – honoring Dick’s busy lifestyle that includes many volunteer activities.  Secretary/treasurer Tom Paulsen recognized several individuals that survived near misses while performing trail work – but the hands down winner of the 1st place Survivor’s Award was Steve Porn (see his picture below; & read his story in the August 16th, 2012 Blog Post).

At that point, prizes valued at close to $5000 were distributed to the attendees — including Jerry Wilkes winning the raffle for the New Moon $250 gift card, and John Stupak winning the raffle for the Spring Street Sports $250 gift card.  Our many donors graciously give back to their communities — when the opportunity presents, be sure to offer them a sincere thank you.  Now it’s about time for a good old fashioned winter!

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Nothing is ever as easy as it looks – our summer trail work is an adventure

16 Aug

The Blue Hills Trail Association Inc pursued an aggressive agenda for trail work this summer.  Now in mid August, we feel we’ve reached most of our goals.  Many thanks to the Rusk County Forestry Department, the Wisconsin DNR, and the Rusk County Wildlife Restoration Association (WRA) for their help.

When enjoying these trails while hiking/hunting/skiing this fall and winter, take a moment to consider the work that goes into taming mother nature.  The past couple days I gained a new appreciation of the difficult task of mowing our trail system.  Club member Steve Porn operated the skidsteer-mower donated by the WRA, and I cleared debris ahead of him while scouting for hidden rocks.  A few hours after starting the mowing, Steve’s skidsteer slipped off a steep embankment and was stuck in a perilous spot.  After Steve cautiously exited the machine, we phoned for help and were rescued by one of our highly skilled local DNR dozer operators.  Three hours after the skidsteer left the trail, we were back in action.

Mowing continued into the next day.  Thanks to the drying conditions this summer, we felt fortunate to reach our goal of negotiating and mowing about ten typically soft muddy wet sections on the most distant trails of the Eastside.  As we were completing the final hour of mowing operations, we found one of the many hidden rocks the Blue Hills has to offer.  The head of the bolt securing the mower blade was sheared off, the blade went flying like a piece of shrapnel — and fortunately humans and equipment survived without significant injury.  Hard work, but enjoyable time in the Hills.  As stated earlier, I have a much greater appreciation for those that have mowed these trails the past 30 years.

And I’m excited about the other trail work that was accomplished this summer.

A lot of dozing of eroded areas was performed in July, then seeded within the past couple weeks.  Grass has sprouted, those newly greened trail sections look inviting, and should provide good bird hunting habitat in addition to improvements that will enhance our winter cross country skiing.

Thanks to the following for help with summer trail maintenance/improvement:

  • Rusk County Forestry – major culvert planning, provision of the culvert, tree clearing in anticipation of mowing, mowing of the Westside trails and portions of the Eastside trails, and provision of grass seed.
  • DNR (Ladysmith Center) – planning and dozing of multiple trail segments to enhance erosion control, dozing for insertion of the culvert, guidance with placement of the culvert silt fence, and rescue operation of the immobilized skidsteer mower.
  • Blue Hills Trail Assn Inc. – $300 fee for DNR culvert permit, gas for mowing operations.
  • Rands Trucking (Ladysmith) – two rolls of silt fence (donated).
  • BHTA members Frank Lowry, Jan Paulsen and Tom Paulsen (bridge repair); Tom Paulsen and Jonathan Stanley (trail inspection); John Carr, Tom Paulsen, Jerry Schneider (install silt fence around new culvert and spread grass seed); Dan Bale and Tom Paulsen (spread grass seed); John Ziemer (donated use of his ATV); Dan Bale (use of his truck); Steve Porn and Tom Paulsen (mowing); Steve Porn and Jerry Schneider (clearing of the Westside Trails); Dan Bartels (mowing).
  • Ladysmith Drifbusters Snowmobile Club member Tom Haasl – instructions in use of the WRA skidsteer mower.

Take a look at the pictures (below) to better experience the mowing adventures.  You’ll also find a map that describes mowed/dozed areas on the Eastside.

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.

Summer on the Blue Hills Trail – mowing has begun.

18 Jun

Summer is officially only a few days away.  Thanks to the early arrival of warm weather in March, grasses have been growing with abandon.  This past weekend (June 16) we decided to try out our new trail mower on the Eastside beginner loop.

At our annual meeting in early May, the Blue Hills Trail Association Inc decided to sell our worn out trail mower and purchase an updated model with a more powerful engine.  Looks like that was a good decision – the new mower powered through the heavy grass and weeds with relative ease.  Riding with the mower operator (Dan Bartels), I gained a new appreciation for the skill and time required to mow our trails.  Mowing is surprisingly similar to grooming, demanding constant attention to avoid rocks, trail margins, and negotiate bridge crossings.  And just like grooming, the mowing is very weather dependent.

Take a look at the pictures (below) to appreciate conditions before and after mowing.  The mowing clears the way for hiking now, and should make for good fall bird hunting.

Recent comments from the logbook in the warming house

  • 3/25: Ahoy! from the planets of Switzerland & New Zealand.  We enjoyed the delicious mushrooms along the trails.  We’ll be back soon!  Thanks for the experience. –Switzerland & New Zealand
  • 4/7: Stopped to say Hi! –Birchwood, WI
  • 4/8: Not skiing or snowshoeing.  Great day! –author’s location unknown
  • 4/22: Biked around & enjoyed the beautiful countryside. –Amery, WI
  • 5/1: Awesome day in the Blue Hills! –Bruce, WI
  • 5/15: Paddled on Audie Lake for 2 hours.  It was fun.  Saw a snake on some cranberry bushes to get some sun – 10 yards from shore! –author’s location unknown
  • 6/9: Came for a short hike to enjoy the woodlands. –New Auburn, WI
  • 6/16: 1st use of Blue Hills Trail Association’s new trail mower today – thanks to Dan Bartels for skillfully mowing the beginner loop.  Several hours of work created an inviting path.  –Ladysmith, WI

How to view images: To see larger versions of the thumbnail photos, view each picture individually by clicking on the thumbnail; or you can “show as slideshow” by clicking the link above the images. To move quickly through the slideshow click the photos themselves. For either option, if you want to save the image for yourself, simply right click the full size image to obtain the original; higher quality images are available by contacting our website.  To avoid copyright infringement, reprints must credit the Blue Hills Trail Association, Inc.