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The North Country Trail: A year in review

The early months of 2018 were spent assessing the final route descriptions of the North Country Trail for the second edition of the "Guidebook to the North Country Trail in Minnesota." A small editorial team made up of Matt Davis, North Dakota/Mi...

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Bruce Johnson built and installed five benches on the North Country Trail this year. (Submitted photo)

The early months of 2018 were spent assessing the final route descriptions of the North Country Trail for the second edition of the "Guidebook to the North Country Trail in Minnesota."

A small editorial team made up of Matt Davis, North Dakota/Minnesota Regional Coordinator for the North Country Trail Association; Linda Johnson who, along with the late Susan Carol Hauser were the editors of the first edition; Bruce Johnson, Trail Builder of the Year Award Winner in 2011; Laurentian Lakes Chapter President Barb Jauquet-Kalinoski and Itasca Moraine Chapter President Eric Haugland met regularly at the Johnsons, proofreading the book. The book was published in May and can be obtained at Beagle & Wolf Books or online at northcountrytrail.org/shop or itascabooks.com.

The late spring prevented access to the trail, so in its stead, eight PlayCleanGo boot brush kiosks donated by the Minnesota DNR to prevent the spread of invasive species were installed at trailheads in Hubbard County, with Jerry and Melinda McCarty and Bruce Johnson taking the lead. Bruce Johnson also built and installed five benches at scenic trail overlooks and campsites.

The chapter's annual meeting was held near Park Rapids in April, and Janice Springer shared her training on the trail the previous spring in order to hike and conquer the Camino de Santiago in Portugal and Spain that summer.

The ground was dry and brush and grass high when we could finally get out for trail maintenance. A June Trail Tune-Up Day brought three new adopters to help maintain our 75 section of the trail. We were fortunate there were no straight-line wind storms this year, but still maintaining the trail through Itasca State Park, Paul Bunyan State Forest and Chippewa National Forest was a responsibility not taken lightly and was cleared, mowed and lopped through the season by dedicated volunteers.

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We also said goodbye to Jerry and Beth Trout, the founding members of the chapter who moved from Hackensack to Minneapolis this summer.

Opportunities available in the chapter included a monthly guided hike by boot, snowshoe or skis, a monthly column in the Park Rapids Enterprise, participating in the inaugural ACTION Park Rapids volunteer fair and website. The commitment Linda and Bruce Johnson had to see through to the publishing of the second edition of the guidebook was recognized. Both were honored for the annual chapter award.

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Eight PlayCleanGo kiosks were installed at NCT trailheads in Hubbard County. The goal is to encourage individuals to be stewards of the places they love by cleaning their boots before their next adventure and preventing the spread of invasive species.

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