Category Archives: Trails

Public Access to Private Land: gratitude for the kindness of strangers

Public access to private land is taken for granted. For several days along the Superior Hiking Trail in Minnesota prompted a strong sensation of enjoying the kindness of strangers.  Trail signs reminded me to respect the property rights of those permitting the trail corridor to traverse their land, and other signs clearly marked the NO TRESPASSING boundaries. With one exception this permissive access was granted anonymously.  The land owners likely live nearby, but we walkers don’t know who the are.  The one exception was a tribute to landowner Sarah Ellen Jaeger, who not only granted permissive access, but put her land in a trust.

While we in the USA are blessed with lots of public lands for trails, we are also often dependent on the kindness of private land owners who grant rights of way for trails.  Musing on this, Thomas Jefferson’s metaphor came to mind:

He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. 

As I reflected on our founding father’s notions about sharing intellectual property, I also realized the limits of the metaphor.  When a few hikers or bikers damage a trail, access to private land is compromised by their offensive footprints.

 

When landowners get fed up with ongoing disrespectful behaviors on the trail (e.g. littering, trespassing, camping, and lighting fires), they sometimes rescind the permissive access to the  trail corridor.

As a result, trails must be re-routed at great effort and expense.  Fortunately rescinding of access happens very infrequently.

In the USA under “permissive access” to private property: all the private land owner has to do to bar others is to post a NO TRESPASSING sign.  In some other nations traditional rights of way across private land are protected and “right to roam” legislation guarantees free trail access for the public.

It is easy to bemoan what we don’t have in terms of access rights to private land, and I agree with these arguments.  But as I walked the SHT I was overcome with gratitude for what we do have: thousands of anonymous land owners who willingly grant public access to their land because they believe in the importance of trails and in sharing their woods, rocks, trees and vistas.

It was a special pleasure to see one special land owner memorialized on the trail.  Thank you Sarah Ellen Jaeger and all the other generous owners of private land who allow us to walk.

 

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

 

Huts & Trails: Programs at the International Trails Symposium

You can’t have huts without trails.  Surprisingly there is no communication at a national level in USA between the huts and trails communities.   Next month a conversation will begin at the International Trails Symposium (ITS).

The ITS is a rich mix of hikers, operators of many of the major trail systems in the world, federal and state land managers, and people interested in all aspects of trail planning, building, and operations. It turns out most of these folks don’t know much about hut systems, but they are curious to learn more about accommodation systems for long-distance human-powered travelers.

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Shelter from the Storm: The Story of New Zealand’s Backcountry Huts: book review part 1

Book Review by Sam Demas:

Shelter From The Storm: The Story of New Zealand’s Backcountry Huts

(Part one of a two part book review)

2012, Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, NZ.

Text and most photographs by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown, and Geoff Spearpoint.

With its highly-organized system of 1,000 backcountry huts New Zealand (NZ) — about the same size (area and population) as Oregon — is the hut capital of the world.  By comparison, the USA has about 110 huts operating within 17 different hut-to-hut systems; Switzerland and Norway each have about 500 huts.  Every nation’s approach to outdoor recreation — including how its citizens organize overnight stays in the wild — is based on local causes and conditions such as geography, size of the country, climate, terrain, history, economics, politics, and cultural values.  Shelter from the Storm is a richly illustrated, well-researched history of the causes and conditions that created NZ’s unique hut culture, and a beautiful tribute to the huts themselves.

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Shelter from the Storm: book review part two

Book review continued:

Shelter From The Storm: The Story of New Zealand’s Backcountry Huts

(Part two of a two part book review)

2012, Craig Potton Publishing, Nelson, NZ.

Text and most photographs by Shaun Barnett, Rob Brown, and Geoff Spearpoint.

For part one of this review click here.  Following are some fascinating themes and stories that are skillfully elaborated in Shelter from the Storm, about New Zealand Backcountry Huts.

This book tells the story of how a geographically remote island nation came to create a robust international outdoor culture, and how a disparate collection of huts built for other purposes – I like the phrase infrastructure lying in wait — came to form the backbone of the world’s largest hut system. Continue reading

“On Trails: An Exploration” by Robert Moor

On Trails: an exploration by Robert Moor, Simon and Schuster, 2016

Book Review by Sam Demas

Robert Moor is intellectually intrepid in his exploration — as a writer and a walker – of the genesis, meaning and wonder of trails.  Trails of all kinds.  He writes in the spirit of intellectual adventure represented by authors like Henry Thoreau, John Muir, Robert Macfarlane, Annie Dillard, Jared Diamond, and Bruce Chatwin.  Through fluid writing, artful character sketches, long walks, and deep research, he opens our eyes to the fact that trails are everywhere one goes in the world, and that they all have stories to tell and wisdom to impart.  As Moor says, his book is a trail whose destination is a quest for the wisdom of trails. I’ve read (or listened to) this book several times in the past year and am finally sharing my enthusiasm with the readers of hut2hut.info. Continue reading

AMC Huts & Unification of White Mountain Trails

See Introduction below.  The primary content of this post is this link to a reprint of Chapter 36 “Unification of the White Mountain trails” from the book Forest and Crag (AMC Books, 1989) by  Laura and Guy Waterman.  This chapter is reprinted with kind permission of Laura Waterman and AMC Books.  Forest and Crag is the Waterman’s magesterial history of hiking and trailblazing in the Northeastern US.  Chapter 36 is preceded by a chapter on the Long Trail and followed by a chapter on the Adirondacks region.

 

Introduction to Chapter 36 reprint

by Sam Demas

Huts and trails:  you can’t have huts without trails, hut building usually follows trail building, and the presence of huts inevitably shapes patterns of hiking in a region.  How does this work?  The AMC’s system of eight huts and the network of trails in White Mountains of N.H. were developed concurrently.  Chapter 36 of Forest and Crag (Appalachian Mountain Club Books, 1989) offers a fascinating look at how a cohesive regional trail system evolved over a period of about 20 years, 1910 – 1930 along with the AMC huts, the first in the USA.

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Alta Via 1 (Italy) Trip Report

ALTA VIA 1

The route I’m about to describe is not the full Alta Via 1, but an adaptation to fit it in one full week. This route is also known by the name Alte Via Dell Adamello. It is a 8 day hike and 1 resting day, 9 days in total. It is possible to skip the resting day if you are fit.The route starts out easy and gets tougher every passing day. This helps the participants that aren’t that experienced in this terrain to prepare before getting into the heavy stuff. It is possible to do the route the other way around, although it might get a bit boring at the end. If I have to repeat the route I would do it again south to north. I walked this route in 2016 and it might not all be the same in a year’s time. Also a different time of year or different weather might make that you will experience this route completely different.  

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Island Trek in the Azores & Eco-Cottages

ISLAND TREK IN THE AZORES

“To awaken in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” — Freya Stark

Island Trek in the AzoresI wake up to the sound of the surf — waves crashing on rocks somewhere outside my window.  As I come out of my dreamstate I remember that today is a day for walking.  Not just any walk at that — the Grand Route of Santa Maria Island in the Azores is in my sights for the next five days.  The “Grande Trilho Santa Maria” is about 80 kilometers (50 miles) of walking around the circumference of the island with a hike up over the highest peak on the island, Pico Alto, thrown in for good measure.

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Hut-to-Hut in Mallorca, Spain: trip report

{Note: this trip report contains many beautiful photographs.  Keep on scrolling as you enjoy them and you’ll come to more
of the text of the article interspersed among them.–Sam}

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

I love the idea of long-range hiking routes. Typically arranged to support multi-day itineraries, these kinds of routes let you go out and lose yourself on the trail (Note: not the same as getting lost). My latest look into the world of long-range hiking routes had me checking out Spain’s “GR” or Gran Recorrido routes. There are 13 GR routes in Spain and two of them, GR221 and GR222 are located on the island of Mallorca.

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