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Image description: A wet, gooey trail is host to several mud holes.

by Jo Swanson, NVC Executive Director

If you’re like me, you’ve traded out your normal shoes for mud boots more than once this past month. While we commiserate over the seemingly relentless rainfall, it’s worth remembering that our beloved trails are impacted by rain as well.

Wet conditions harm trails in many ways. When soils are soft, they are easily damaged. If trail users leave deep footprints or tire tracks behind, those holes and ruts fill with water. Mosquitoes love this; humans don’t love it, and they often skirt the wet areas, further damaging the ecosystem around the trail.

Whether you hike, bike, or recreate with motor vehicles, think twice about heading out to your favorite trail when conditions are soggy. Consider alternatives that may be more sustainable in wet conditions. If you’re going to the Superior National Forest, the SNF website is a great place to check for updates on road conditions, ideas for where to explore, and more.

If you’ve never given back to a trail by volunteering, now is a great time to join our effort to improve Moss Lake and South Lake Trails! Volunteers will work July 11-14 and August 1-3 to improve trail conditions. These beautiful trails near the Gunflint Trail have some wet areas where we'll work to make the area more sustainable. First-time volunteers are encouraged! Together, we can make sure these trails are around for generations to come. Learn more and sign up here.

Image description: A foggy lake in early-morning light is accessed by a volunteer-maintained trail.

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by Jo Swanson, NVC Executive Director

Happy trail workers prepare for the day.
Smiles all around as the crew prepares to head out. Photo by Kevin Myrmel.

This month, I had the joy of spending a day working with the Kekekabic Trail Chapter of the North Country Trail Association. The primary project was constructing an important connector trail which will link the Kekekabic Trail with the Border Route Trail. 

It takes a lot of hard work to build and maintain trails, but it also takes a lot of laughter. I don’t think I went a full hour without laughing during my day with the Kekekabic Trail Chapter, and that was despite it being a dreary, rainy day! Volunteers always have both skills and stories to share and I felt lucky to meet so many amazing people and reconnect with some old friends, too.

That’s what I’m looking forward to most about NVC’s upcoming projects at Moss Lake Trail and South Lake Trail this summer - the stories and laughter we’ll share while on the trail together. NVC is still seeking volunteers for those projects, so please consider joining us. Tools, training, camping, and laughter will be provided. You can learn more here!

Wet volunteers are still happily working.
A little rain didn't deter the crew! Photo by Kevin Myrmel.

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Hello! My name is Jo Swanson and I am excited and honored to be joining Northwoods Volunteer Connection as the Executive Director! I’ve spent many years living, working, and volunteering in the Northwoods, collecting miles, campsites, and friends along the way. There’s no place that feels more like home, and I look forward to connecting others to this great northern landscape and its many opportunities.

My journey to NVC began as a volunteer on trails in Lake County. At the time, I had no idea what it takes to create and maintain access to outdoor recreation opportunities. I learned quickly that this is group project work unlike any other. It takes an enormous amount of dedication to keep trails open, canoe entry points cleared, and campsites maintained. If you’ve played in the Northwoods, you’ve almost certainly benefited from the great work of volunteers. 

Volunteers are awesome and so important! Most recently I worked for the Superior Hiking Trail Association, where I was able to meet and work with fantastic groups of volunteers. Every year we coordinated and led projects along the entire route of the 300-mile trail. Volunteers consistently went above and beyond, impressing me with their dedication every day.

As we celebrate the arrival of 2024, we at NVC hope you will consider joining us in our mission. We will announce upcoming projects beginning in February. Please sign up to receive project announcements here.

In the meantime, we continue to rely on donations to help fund our stewardship work. Your contributions are used as critical match dollars as we leverage private and federal grants to fund our projects. You may donate at any time by clicking here. We appreciate the support.

I am looking forward to leading NVC and working with you on the trails! 

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