North Country Trail Hikers are keeping the Earth clean one trail at a time

North Central UP

MARQUETTE, Mich. (WJMN) – The U.P. is home to many trails. People from all over travel to the Upper Peninsula to take in the natural beauty that the landscape has to offer. The North Country Trail Hikers Trail Committee has vowed to upkeep these trails for generations to come. The NCT partners with various organizations to teach the importance of trail maintenance and proper procedures when doing so.

“Today we’re meeting with the NMU conservation crew,” said Felicia Hokenstad a North Country Trail Hikers Trail Committee Leader. “One of our main goals for the North Country trail hikers chapter of the NCTA is to get more young people involved with, really anything that they’re willing to do to help us with the trail.”

An NMU Conservation Crew member Rachel Eitniear said her love for being outside is what originally drew her to join the club. After COVID put a stop to trail clean-ups, Eitniear finally got the chance to participate in one at Wetmore Pond. When on the trail, picking up trash isn’t the only thing the crew is looking out for.

“We’re looking for overhanging branches if you’re like, six-five, that would hit someone, mainly stuff that goes three to four feet into the trails,” Eitniear said. “Trees, rocks, stones, branches, that would be in the way loose boards that people are walking over that’s the main stuff they pointed out was going through.”

While on the trail, the crew found a tree that they hit the requirements to be removed. Armed with a hand saw, Eitniear with the help of some fellow conservation crew members decided to tackle the tree by hand in honor of Earth Day.

“It was really fun getting to the near end of it,” said Eitniear. “I liked when Jane came and kicked it down. I like the group effort of it, I don’t think I would have wanted to finish it on my own.”

Everyone can do little things in order to leave the planet a little better than you fount it.

“You don’t want to go through and drop your garbage everywhere,” Hokenstad said. “I know a lot of people do that. So one of the things that I do when I’m hiking is I carry a bag with me, that’s specifically for picking up trash on material, and then you’re leaving it better as you go.”

Without the efforts of people like the North Country Trail Hikers and the NMU Conservation Crew, hiking here in the Upper Peninsula would be a little more difficult here.

“I guess you’re more, you’re more apt to go back if the trail is easy to follow,” Hokenstad said. “And when there are trees and stuff falling down on the trail, it makes it hard to not only follow but even get through. So, it’s just important that we’re out here taking care of the trail and cleaning it up so that people can get out and go hiking. I mean, somebody has to do it.”

For more information about the NMU Conservation Crew click here

For more information about the North Country Trail Hikers click here

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