I usually talk about the Lodi Valley Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance in these posts because I am writing for an audience that consists largely of people from the Lodi Valley. (I do hear from Ice Age Trail enthusiasts from around the state who read this column, which is gratifying.) While my focus is local, the Lodi Valley Chapter is just one component of a network of chapters across the Ice Age Trail. With that in mind, I decided that this week I will talk about the work of chapters and why those efforts matter to those of us in the Lodi Valley.
The Ice Age Trail winds through 30 counties as it meanders across Wisconsin. There are 19 Ice Age Trail chapters that span the Trail, with each chapter taking responsibility for the segments of Trail that pass through their area. On the Ice Age Trail Alliance website the chapters are referred to as the “soul of the Ice Age Trail” and, in fact, the Trail wouldn’t exist without them. Chapters carry out a number of important roles including building and maintaining the Trail, leading hikes, organizing special events on the Trail, and promoting the Trail. Ice Age Trail Alliance staff provide critical support for all these activities but it is the chapter members who make things happen at the local level.
In addition, many chapters serve as a resource to hikers from across the state who are planning to hike in the area and want to know about the conditions of the local Trail segments. This can be a valuable source of information, especially when storms such as the ones Wisconsin has been experiencing lately have come through and there may be trees or water blocking parts of the Trail. Some chapters have members who provide “shuttles” for segment hikers, meeting them at a trailhead and driving them to another trailhead to save them from having to backtrack to their car. In other chapters, members may provide a place for through-hikers to sleep for the night.
Sometimes a chapter operates within the boundaries of just one county and other times there are multiple counties that are included. You can go to www.iceagetrail.org/volunteer/chapters to see a list of all the chapters. The map on this web page allows you to hover over a particular segment of Trail to see what chapter that segment falls under. You can then click on that chapter to learn more about it, including a schedule of local events and contact information for the chapter coordinator.
Like most great achievements, the Ice Age Trail is not something that happens through the efforts of one person or one group. The Ice Age Trail is the gem that it is because of the efforts and passion of thousands of people within and outside of Wisconsin, many of whom are members of a local Ice Age Trail Chapter. As a member of the Lodi Valley Chapter I would like to take this space to express my appreciation for all the chapter members who enable each of us to have amazing experiences…….Along the Ice Age Trail.
Patti Herman live in the City of Lodi with her husband, Bill Welch. A retired educator, Patti is glad to be living in the Lodi Valley where she is surrounded by so much natural beauty, including the beauty to be found along the Ice Age Trail.