Hay Creek Road closure

Hay Creek Road slump, April 2017

Hay Creek Road slump, April 2017

According to the Flathead National Forest’s Facebook page, The Hay Creek Road is closed due to a slump a short distance from its junction with the North Fork Road. Depending on when repairs are made, his could be a real problem for our spring activities in the Hay Creek drainage.

A road slump up Hay Creek Road #376 has caused closure until the road dries out and repairs can be made. Please be cautious when driving on roads that are saturated with water due to snow melt and run off. If you find damage to roads when you’re out and about, please let us know so we can evaluate conditions and make necessary repairs when conditions improve.

It’s tick season, take precautions

Deer Tick, Adult Female - UMaine Cooperative Extension-Griffin Dill

Deer Tick, Adult Female – UMaine Cooperative Extension-Griffin Dill

They’re baaack!

This an update of an article posted almost exactly a year ago…

Speaking from personal experience, tick season did its usual early April arrival on the North Fork and the nasty little critters will likely stay active into September. Ticks prefer moist, brushy areas, but even seemingly dry, more open areas like the trail to Glacier View peak have their share of ticks right now.

Actually, Glacier View has more than its share of ticks. The lower reaches are absolutely infested with the little bloodsuckers right now.

So, precautions are in order. The basics are long sleeves, long pants, a hat and vigilance. Light colored clothing makes ticks easier to spot.

Pre-treating hiking togs with a permethrin based spray will actually kill ticks that get on your clothing. The treatment lasts through several wash cycles.

Insect repellent will keep flies and mosquitoes away, but won’t discourage ticks from hitching a ride. They’ll simply walk across repellent-treated areas in search of a tastier spot to dig in.

And, of course, check yourself and your gear thoroughly when you get home.

For more information, here are a couple of useful articles:

10 Important Ways to Avoid Summer Tick Bites (LiveScience)
Preventing tick bites (Centers for Disease Control)

Alert: USFS Northern Region invites public to help identify priority trail maintenance work

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2) in Flathead NF, July 2014 - W. K. Walker

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2) in Flathead NF, July 2014 – W. K. Walker

This press release by the U.S. Forest Service, Northern Region came out on March 14, but no one noticed it right away. Needless to say, we’ll be following up on this.

Short version: The public has until April 5, 2017 to submit ideas and comments “to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.” It looks like Kent Wellner at kwellner@fs.fed.us or (406) 329-3150 is the primary Northern Region point of contact for this.

Here’s the full text of the release . . .

Release Date: Mar 14, 2017 Missoula, MT
Contact(s): Scott Fenimore, 406-329-3047, Kent Wellner, 406-329-3150

Partners, volunteers integral to addressing maintenance backlog

MISSOULA, MONT. – The Northern Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.

Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance has contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.

The Northern Region manages more than 28,000 miles of trails enjoyed by residents and visitors alike and includes opportunities for year-round motorized and non-motorized trail use of all types. In the Northern Region, volunteers and partner groups contributed approximately 112,000 hours of service maintaining trails in 2016.

”We’ve already received some ideas from our partners,” said Northern Regional Forester Leanne Marten, “and we’d like to hear more. Our volunteers and partners help make this Region great and are critical components to the trail maintenance program. We look forward to hearing from additional organizations and individuals in the coming weeks.”

Continue reading

Behind the scenery: ‘99% Invisible’ talks trails

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2), mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Moran Basin Trail (Trail 2), mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

This was an interesting find. “99% Invisible” is a professionally produced podcast “about all the thought that goes into the things we don’t think about.” Recently, they focused on the U.S. national trail network.

This a two-part article. Links to both segments are below . . .

The U.S. National Trails System‘s 30 Scenic and Historic routes alone span over 50,000 miles, longer than the entire Interstate Highway System. Extending across all 50 states, the National Recreation Trails network contains over 200,000 additional miles of public pathways. A person could walk these trails continuously for years and still experience only a fraction of the total system.

Sustaining public trails throughout the nation is a herculean task coordinated by various federal agencies (including the National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, USDA Forest Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) as well as state-level organizations, like the California Conservation Corps (or: CCC). In turn, these agencies rely on a huge number of paid and volunteer workers to create and maintain both federal and state trails nationwide.

Read more . . .

Also read part 2 . . .

Trail 2 open for the year

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

Trail 2 Maintenance, July 7, 2016

The North Fork Trails Association is pleased to announce that Trail 2 is now open. Randy Kenyon, Alan Peura and Bill Walker removed all the downfall and brushed the trail out a bit on July 7.

Trail 2 is a popular trail running from Moran Basin Road to Coal Ridge, the location of a number of old lookouts, including the 1928 “Coal Ridge Patrol Cabin.”

We were in a hurry to clear the trail because there is an upcoming hike along Trail 2 to Coal Ridge in conjunction with the Montana Wilderness Association’s Wilderness Walks program on July 16. See the NFTA schedule at http://nftrails.org/calendar/#activities for details, including a registration link.

Passing the (hard)hat on the 4th

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Floating on the 4th

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Floating on the 4th

John O’Hara had a great idea for this year’s Polebridge Fourth of July parade. There’s a delay between the time the parade passes through town outbound and when it gets turned around for the return trip. John brought in a popular local magician to perform during this intermission. At the beginning of his act, he announced that the North Fork Trails Association was in need of funds and asked folks to toss whatever they could spare into the hardhats NFTA members were passing through the crowd.

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Pole Dancers

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Pole Dancers

We did well, collecting $178 in short order. That was enough to make it a very good day for our humble organization, but then “Cheryl and Mike,” whose “Polebridge Pole Dancers” float won first prize, donated their prize money ($100) to the NFTA and matched it with another $100! Make that an excellent day!

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 - Glacier NP

Polebridge 4th of July Parade, 2016 – Glacier NP

A big thank you to John O’Hara for setting up this scheme, to parade participants “Cheryl and Mike” for their generous donation and to all the NFTA members (including hat-passers, Dick Leigh, Alan Peura and Logan Funk and magician victim “Mrs. Polebridge” Janet Leigh) who helped us pull it off.

National Trails Day celebration a big success in the North Fork

Thanks to Debo Powers for this report . . .

2016 National Trails Day - Trail Crew

2016 National Trails Day – Trail Crew

Seventeen people (including 9 members of the North Fork Trails Association) showed up last  Saturday morning to work on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail (PNT). The PNT passes through the North Fork on its way from the Pacific Ocean to Chief Mountain on the east side of Glacier National Park. The event was organized by Stephanie Campbell, the regional manager for the PNT. Several members of the Montana Conservation Corp joined other volunteers to work on the trail. A delicious lunch was served for volunteers at the Polebridge Mercantile following the trail work.

National Trails Day in the North Fork! – Sat., June 4

MCC Trail MaintenanceLove Trails? Join Us to Get Outside & Give Back!

Join the Pacific Northwest Trail Association, Montana Conservation Corps, and the North Fork Trails Association for a day of outdoor fun, stewardship, and community on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail!

– Tell me more!: After meeting at Polebridge Mercantile in the morning, we will carpool to the Hay Creek Trailhead, hiking while removing trail brush and obstacles. Be sure to bring your own pack with warm layers, rain gear, and plenty of water and snacks! Long pants and sturdy footwear are a must!

– I’m in! But is there food?: Barbecue lunch provided by Polebridge Mercantile and the Pacific Northwest Trail Association.

– How do I get there and back?: Meet at Polebridge Mercantile @ 9:15am or take a MCC shuttle to Polebridge from Columbia Falls’ Super 1 leaves @ 8:15am. Shuttle back to Columbia Falls from Polebridge leaves at 2:30pm.

For more information contact Stephanie Campbell: scampbell@pnt.org or 765-465-9891.

**If you plan on attending, please RSVP to scampbell@pnt.org.**

2016 NTD Hay Creek Flyer - thumbnailView/download the
National Trails Day
event poster
(JPG, 411KB).

Check out the ‘National Trails Day on the Pacific Northwest Trail’ Facebook event page.

Forest Service backs off (for now) on reductions in Montana trail maintenance funding

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 - by W. K. Walker

Trail 2, mile 2, Flathead NF, July 10, 2014 – by W. K. Walker

In the face of some angry senatorial blow-back, the Forest Service has restored full trail maintenance funding in Region 1. For now . . .

The U.S. Forest Service has dropped its proposal to reduce funding for trail maintenance in Montana. The agency originally planned to reduce appropriations for Region One, which includes Montana, by 30 percent over the next three years. This included a potential loss of $1 million to Montana’s federal trail budget this year.

U.S. Sens. Steve Daines and Jon Tester criticized Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell last week for failing to prioritize trail maintenance in Montana. The agency proposed revising its formula for funding trail maintenance across the U.S. with an added emphasis on higher population centers. In Region One, there are 28,000 miles of federally managed trails.

The agency on Friday said it would reconsider the formula change and withdrew the proposal.

Read more . . .

Also read: Forest Service backs off planned cuts in trail maintenance in Montana (Missoulian)

MWA rolls out online Montana hiking guide

MWA - hikewildmontana.org poster

MWA – hikewildmontana.org poster

The Montana Wilderness Association announced today their shiny, new online hiking guide for Montana at hikewildmontana.org. Here’s what Brian Sybert, MWA executive director has to say about it:

Today, we’re celebrating a new chapter in MWA’s long and proud tradition of connecting people to Montana’s special places that deserve protection. We’re celebrating the state’s first-ever online, statewide trail guide – hikewildmontana.org.

Made possible by a generous grant from the Montana Office of Tourism, hikewildmontana.org is a one-stop, comprehensive tool for finding a trail in just about any given area across the state, east or west.

Hikewildmontana.org allows users to:

  • Discover trails recommended by local residents.
  • Locate trails on an electronic map.
  • Choose a perfect path based on distance and elevation gain.
  • View waterfalls, badlands, ancient forests, big views, and other natural wonders.
  • Review trail conditions added by recent hikers and add their own trip reports.
  • Contribute their own trail descriptions.
  • Find a great place near the trailhead to stay for the night or have breakfast, a burger, or a beer.

I encourage you to read more about the guide or check out hikewildmontana.org now and see all the great hikes that await, either in your backyard or the next time you visit Montana.