Hike 100 NCT Challenge (Miles 42.4 to 44.9)

In celebration of the National Park Service's Centennial Anniversary, we are hiking 100 miles of the North Country Trail in 2016.
To read about our first 7.1 miles, click HERE. To read about miles 7.1 to 18.9, click HERE. To read about miles 18.9 to 30.4, click HERE
To read about miles 30.4 to 42.4, click HERE.

In August we volunteered for a weekend with the Heritage Chapter to help build a new section of the NCT near Copper Falls State Park in northern Wisconsin. Trail building is hard work but it's also very rewarding. You eye-ball a path through the forest then start clearing away rocks, logs, hummocks, duff and roots to create a smooth and level path.

It was a hot, muggy and buggy weekend.
"Bench" work = taking the angle out of a hill to make the trail flat and level.

The tiniest mushroom.

Before & After

Sometimes it feels like you're not making much progress, but at the end of the day, when you walk back over all of the new trail you've just cut in, there's a huge sense of accomplishment.



Yarn Along: Ready Player Shawl

I'm linking up with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.

Knitting: Striped Shawl
I started dyeing yarn over the summer and have been playing around with creating ombre yarns. I thought I would knit a shawl using my ombre yarn to see how the colors change. This is a pretty mindless knit. Just rows and rows of garter with a few short rows thrown in. I'm just about to get to the next color in my skein and I can't wait.
Pattern: Striped Scarf by Hiromi Sakurai
Yarn: Cascade 220 Worsted in colorway Charcoal Gray and my own hand-dyed ombre yarn.

Reading: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline (audiobook)
Set in the year 2044, a virtual reality game called the OASIS has people scrambling to solve riddles and clues to win the fortune of the game's deceased creator. The book is rife with '80s references and, as a child of the '80s, I find this to be highly entertaining. I'm not a video game player and I don't think you need to be in order to enjoy this book. The narrator is fabulous (Wil Wheaton) and it's one of those books that leaves me wishing I had more time to spend in the car so I can keep listening.

What are you knitting/reading this week?


Sunday Wake-Up

October 16, 2016 at 8:16 a.m.

Fall colors peeking through the morning fog and corn ready for harvest.



6th Wedding Anniversary

Christian and I just celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary by going out for ice cream at our favorite place. Scoopers is where we went after we said our vows and each year we go back to take a picture out by their sign. Here's a walk down memory lane. (I couldn't find photos from the first two years so I plugged in some other photos of us.)
2012 - Kayaking in the Apostle Islands
2011 - Honeymoon in Jasper National Park
2010 - Just Married!


Yarn Along: Ariana Catcher

I'm linking up with Ginny for this week's Yarn Along.

Knitting: Ariana Shirt
I'm almost ready to knit the final rows of my summery shirt… just in time for fall! LOL. That's the way it goes, right?  
Pattern: Ariana Shell by Kathryn Ashley-Wright
Yarn: Cascade Yarns Pima Silk in colorway 5134

Reading: Baby Catcher: Chronicles of a Modern Midwife by Peggy Vincent
There's a Little Free Library a few blocks from my workplace. I've driven past it numerous times but never checked it out. Last week I walked down there during my lunch break to see if it had any good books to offer. Baby Catcher caught my eye so I decided to give it a try. Oh my gosh - this book is SO good! Extremely entertaining and a little bit horrifying for someone who's never given birth. I highly recommend it! I almost want to write a thank you note to put in the Little Free Library to whomever dropped off the book.

What are you knitting/reading this week?


Garden Update: How Quickly Things Grow!

Before we left for vacation in Montana, Christian and I spent a lot of time de-weeding the garden. We didn't have anyone come over to look after it while we were gone so we made sure it was in good shape when we left and then crossed our fingers. Thankfully, we had warm weather with lots of rain. I was shocked by how much the garden grew. 

Here is what the garden looked like when we left:

And 3 weeks later:

Corn stalks are taller than my head. Sunflowers are blooming. We have zucchini and beans up the wazoo. Tomatoes have climbed to the top of their cages. Garlic was harvested last night. Incredible! 

We planted annual rye grass as a cover crop in between the rows this year to help keep the weeds down and fix nitrogen. That is the bright green "grass" you see all over in the garden. It's working well!

Every year I try to grow one thing that I've never grown before. This year I tried bok choy. What do you think - a success? 


Building Trail with ABWF

The second half of our Montana vacation was spent volunteering with the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation. We had never heard of the A-B Wilderness before and found this opportunity through www.volunteer.gov.

"The ABWF is a non-profit organization dedicated to inspiring people to protect and preserve Wilderness by developing their understanding and appreciation for the values and character of the Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness."

Our "inspiration" came in the form of a 4-day trail crew. The A-B Wilderness is located just to the north of Yellowstone National Park. We were working close to Nye, Montana (about an hour northwest of Red Lodge) in the Custer National Forest on the edge of the A-B Wilderness.

map source: spokesman.com

We met up with the other 5 members of the crew at the Old Nye fishing access. The road up into the mountains was a little too rough for our Prius so we hitched a ride in with crew-mate Jerry, an old friend from Green Bay who now lives in Montana.

We set up our base camp about a mile up the road from the Initial Creek Campground on the West Stillwater River. What a beautiful location!

West Stillwater River (our base camp was on the left)
Base Camp

Once camp was set up, we had some lunch then began our work on the trail which was just on the other side of the road - very convenient! Our mission was to build a trail (to be mainly used by horses) that would connect the Initial Creek Campground to a trailhead for the A-B Wilderness a mile up the road. There is limited parking at the trailhead and it would be hard to get a horse trailer up that last mile of road. You also wouldn't want to be riding a horse on the road if a vehicle was coming. It will be safer to park a horse trailer at the campground and ride on the new trail up to the trailhead. The forest service had come in before us and flagged a route through the trees of where the trail should go. They also cut some trees out of the way which made our work a tad easier.

Using the flags on the trees as a guide, we would eyeball a path through the woods then get to work. We used pulaskis, picks, shovels, and rakes to clear duff, move rocks, cut through tree roots and dig out a trail. 

We worked on the mountainside with the West Stillwater roaring below us. Not bad for an office!

So, this is what we did for 4 days. We woke up, ate breakfast, worked on the trail for awhile, took a long lunch break, worked on the trail some more and then finished around 3:30. The rest of the day was spent cleaning off in the river, collecting firewood, cooking dinner, and chatting around the campfire. The ABWF provided all of the food (we ate really well!) and they gave us plenty of downtime so it felt like a vacation - not working on a chain gang. 

Building trail is HARD WORK but it's also extremely rewarding. Seeing all of your progress at the end of the day is one of the coolest things ever.

We really enjoyed the company of everyone we worked with and hope to volunteer on another ABWF trail crew next summer. I can't say enough good things about them. Have you ever done a volunteer vacation? I would love to hear about it!