Category Archives: People

Ray Zillmer: Ice Age Trail Founder

 

By Drew Hanson, http://pedestrianview.blogspot.com/

Ray Zillmer left for posterity Wisconsin’s greatest trail, the organization that promotes and protects it, the Badger State’s first and still only backcountry huts and a backpack full of conservation and exploration accomplishments.

Born in Milwaukee, WI in 1887, Zillmer attended Harvard Law School and received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. From 1914-1960, he practiced law in Milwaukee.

Ray Zillmer in Canadian Rockies

During the 1930s–1940s, Zillmer became an accomplished and respected explorer and mountaineer. In 1934 Zillmer was part of a team of five mountaineers who completed the first ascent of Anchorite Peak, British Columbia, Canada. He would go on to summit many other peaks and describe previously uncharted lands.

In the summer of 1938, he and a companion retraced the steps of Alexander MacKenzie’s 1793 expedition between the Fraser and Bella Coola rivers, through part of what is today Tweedsmuir South Provincial Park. He described the adventure in detail in his first of four articles published in the Canadian Alpine Journal.

The American Alpine Journal also published several of his exploration and mountaineering articles, including:

“The Exploration of the Source of the Thompson River in British Columbia”, 1940;

“Exploration of the Northern Monashee Range”, 1942;

“The Location of Mt. Milton and the Restoration of the Names ‘Mt. Milton’ and ‘Mt.Cheadle'”, 1943;

“The Exploration of the Cariboo Range from the East”, 1944;

“The Exploration of the Sources of the McLennan River”, 1946.

In recognition of his accomplishments, Mount Zillmer, Zillmer Creek and Zillmer Glacier in British Columbia’s Cariboo Range were all named in his honor.

Back in his home state of Wisconsin, in addition to being an accomplished attorney at law, Zillmer had a keen interest in natural history. He was well aware of Wisconsin’s rich array of landforms created during the Pleistocene. Indeed, North American geologists refer to the last phase of the recent ice age as the Wisconsin Glaciation. During this by-gone epoch, vast oceans of ice that covered northern latitudes would make today’s disappearing alpine glaciers seem like mere creeks of ice.

One of the unique areas of Wisconsin is the Kettle Moraine, a belt of ridges and depressions created by the combined action of two lobes of a Pleistocene ice sheet. It is the place where geologists first determined that Pleistocene ice sheets had lobes and that interlobate regions had their own set of landforms. Through the Izaak Walton League, Ray Zillmer was a leading advocate for the acquisition of land for the Kettle Moraine State Forest, which today covers 55,000 acres within a hundred-mile corridor.

For many years Zillmer led weekend hikes to explore the Kettle Moraine during fall, winter and spring. The hikes were memorable for the miles covered as well as the lunch which consisted of various cans of soup brought by fellow hikers, all combined into a single pot.

In the 1950s he worked closely with the Wisconsin Conservation Department (precursor to the DNR) to design backcountry huts for hikers in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. He then donated thousands of dollars to their construction. These nine shelters remain the only set of backcountry huts in Wisconsin.

Ice Age Trail map

Ice Age Trail map

In 1958 he established the Ice Age National Park Citizens Committee and the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation, later renamed the Ice Age Trail Alliance. His articles proposing an Ice Age National Park in Wisconsin were published in 1958 by the Milwaukee Public Museum and in 1959 by Wisconsin Alumnus magazine. The proposed park and a long-distance hiking trail through it would follow the Kettle Moraine of eastern Wisconsin and continue west along the terminal moraine to the state’s western boundary. Bills were introduced in Congress to create an Ice Age National Park in Wisconsin.

Zillmer’s insistence that long, narrow corridors of public land serve greater numbers of outdoor recreationists than the big national parks of his day and his proposal for a long-distance hiking trail in Wisconsin made an impression on Wisconsin Governor Gaylord Nelson. Armed with this appreciation and later as a U.S. Senator, Nelson introduced legislation to designate the Appalachian Trail the first National Scenic Trail and introduced the National Trails System Act of 1968. Congress finally designated the thousand-mile Ice Age Trail a National Scenic Trail in 1980.

In 1933 the Wisconsin Izaak Walton League named Zillmer “Man of the Year” for his work on the Kettle Moraine State Forest. In 1959 he was presented a plaque by the National Campers and Hikers Association for his efforts to preserve natural areas for public use. A trail system in the Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest is named the Zillmer Trails and a park in St. Croix Falls is named Ray Zillmer Park, both in his honor. He was inducted into the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in 1993. Today the highest award of achievement given by the Ice Age Trail Alliance is the Ray Zillmer Award.

Following his death in December, 1960 the Milwaukee Journal opined, “…the people of Milwaukee and of Wisconsin and the conservation movement nationally are deeply indebted to Mr. Zillmer. His vision, his boundless energy and his dogged determination in behalf of worthy causes to which he was devoted became legend . . . No community and no state ever has enough of men like Raymond T. Zillmer. And the loss of even one, inevitable as it may be, is cause for deep regret.”

 

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Sources:

“Our Greatest Trail”, Erik Ness, Wisconsin Trails magazine, April 2002, Vol. 43, No. 2

“Climb Anchorite Peak”, The Montreal Gazette, July 23, 1934.

Along Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail, University of Wisconsin Press, 2008, page 8.

“Scorning A Glacial Gift”, The Milwaukee Journal, August 21, 1988.

“Origins of Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail”, Sarah Mittlefeldht, Wisconsin Magazine of History: Volume 90, number 3, spring 2007, page 7.

These American Lands, Dyan Zaslowsky and T.H. Watkins, Island Press, 1994, pages 258-259.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, http://www.iceagetrail.org/iata/history/

“The Wisconsin Glacial Moraines”, Milwaukee Chapter of the Izaak Walton League, 1942.

“The Wisconsin Glacier National Forest Park”, Lore, Milwaukee Public Museum, vol 8, edition 2, 1958.

“Wisconsin’s Proposed Ice Age National Park”, Wisconsin Alumnus, March, 1959

American Alpine Club, http://publications.americanalpineclub.org/articles/12196134700/print

 

Drew Hanson blogs at pedestrianview.blogspot.com

 

New Exec. Director for Maine Huts and Trails

News from Maine Huts and Trails web site:

Please welcome Carolann Ouellette as Executive Director of Maine Huts & Trails! After a long and thorough search process, we found an exceptional leader. Currently serving as Director of the Maine Office of Tourism, she began her career right here in Carrabassett Valley, managing the Sugarloaf Inn, and also managed operations at New England Outdoor Center. A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Hotel Administration, Carolann is uniquely well-qualified for this position. In 2015 she was named by Maine Magazine as one of “50 Mainers Boldly Leading Our State”, and she’s even a Registered Maine Guide. The future of Maine Huts & Trails is in good hands.

Adirondack Hamlets to Huts: a founders’ profile

Adirondack Hamlets to Huts

Duane Gould, Joe Dadey, and Jack Drury – The Adirondacks Hamlets to Huts Team

Joe and Jack: pioneers in a culture awakening to the environmental benefits of huts

In 2013 Joe Dadey and Jack Drury came up with the idea of a lodging and trails system connecting Adirondack hamlets to huts.  I’ve been following their quest as something of a model planning process for hut systems.

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Profile of Rural Recreation Officer Patricia Deane

Meet Rural Recreation Officer Patricia Deane
By Catherine Murphy

reprinted with permission from Outsider Magazine, July 2016

Patricia Deane swapped her office job for a life in the great outdoors working as Rural Recreation Officer in South Kerry and has never looked back. Catherine Murphy catches up with her to find out more about the role and what’s happening in the Kingdom, from the ‘Friends of the Reeks’ initiative to ‘The Uphill Downhill Trail’ which was named and worked on by local school children.

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Harry Jeuken — A Farmer & his Lough Avalla Trail

Profile of a Traditional Farmer and Host of the Lough Avalla Trail

By Sam Demas

As I approached the Lough Avalla trailhead on Green Farm Road, Harry stopped his truck and greeted me with a friendly smile.  We chatted a bit, and I explained that I hoped to talk with him after walking the trail.  I was interested in his approach to farming, and about how hosting a National Looped Trail and being part of Ireland’s Walks Scheme fit into his vision of farming.  We hit it off immediately and quickly arranged to meet the next day when he had a little spare time.  Before driving on, he told me to be sure to check out the Fairy Ring, and pointed out the direction.

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Nan Shepherd featured on Five Pound Note!

Amazing!  Nan Shepherd, author of “The Living Mountain” — one of the finest books on mountains I’ve ever read — was selected by the Bank of Scotland to grace the five pound note. Not only is her beautiful visage featured, but several quotes from her elegant writings are included on the note.

What a testament to the literary culture in Scotland, and to that nation’s appreciation of mountains, walking and women!  When will this sort of thing happen in USA?!

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A Festival of Walking Art & Ideas at Carleton

Walk! logo

Prof. John Schott of Cinema and Media Studies at Carleton College has organized an interdisciplinary celebration of walking and walking art called “WALK! A Festival of Walking, Art and Ideas”.  This Walking Festival, features art and media projects, wide-ranging lectures, and many public walking events.  

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Meet our new “Pilgrimage Editor” Amanda Wagstaff

by Amanda Wagstaff, Hut2Hut Pilgrimage Editor

“A pilgrim travels differently. Always in pilgrimage, there is a change of mind and a change of heart.”

– John O’Donohue.

In a roundabout way, John O’Donohue is the reason I am living in Ireland right now. In the summer of 2014, my sister and I travelled to northern Virginia to visit a family friend who was living with cancer. We all knew that it might be our last time together, and indeed, it was the last time that I saw Aunt Ann.

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Sean Byrne: Wicklow Way farmer, host, & advocate

The Byrne family has farmed in the Wicklow hills, along the Wicklow Way, for five generations. As a teen Sean helped out just down the road at a guest-house catering to hunters and fishermen on the beautiful Lough Dan. He also worked for his neighbors, the Guinness family, on their estate on the sublime Lough Tay. This farm boy gradually developed a gracious ease in working with people of all walks of life, a strong sense of the traditions of rural hospitality, deep knowledge of the land and the region, and a guiding commitment to preservation of the mountain uplands and way of life.  Photo above of Sean and Theresa Byrne.

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Profile: Founder of a pioneering network of Atlas Mountain guest-houses

Jamal Ait Lachegar, Berber Travel Adventures

A recent five-day walk in Morocco opened my eyes to a vital modern incarnation of ancient mountain hospitality: local families providing shelter to strangers. This is the story of Jamal Ait Lachegar, who is quietly realizing the dream of home-stays for walkers as a form of cultural exchange and preservation. And the story of a man whose work is building towards a larger dream: perhaps a future “Berber Trail”, possibly operated as part of the nascent International Appalachian Trail.

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