Category Archives: trails

Earth Day 2017

Celebrate Earth Day

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – As the nature awakens, we celebrate Earth Day today. The first widely recognized Earth Day was held in 1970 when an environmental Teach-In group planned an event for April 22.

But every day is an Earth Day celebration to recognize the greatest resource of all, and that is our planet Earth.

To celebrate the Earth Week, I started my annual walk to the Franciscan Life Process Center (FLPC) on Monday. The 1.8 mile hike on a gravel road has been a staple of my mental and physical sanity since 1995 when we moved out into this northeast corner of Kent County in West Michigan.

I marveled at the untouched nature coming to life; plants vigorously emerging from the wet dirt from yesterday’s rains, robins hopping under the pine trees among the new ground cover.

Crisp morning air and dew covered the new grass and stems.

The area consists of preserved farmland thanks to late philanthropist Peter Wege, apple orchards, woods and streams. Wild flowers are now popping out in the woods, and morel mushrooms are around the corner, or should I say around the stumps.

I love the farm markets with the local produce starting soon with local asparagus.

Different trail systems like the Fred Meijer River Valley trails and Lowell Area trials meet here at the confluence of Grand River and Flat River. We’ve been blessed with an abundance of natural resources from the Bradford Dickinson White Nature Preserve in Lowell Township, Wege Wittenbach AgriScience center, Sessions Lake and Fallasburg Park. Hundreds of inland lakes dot the picturesque region.

The Midwest entices with its variety of seasons, landscapes, Great Lakes and diverse communities.

For more info on the trails go to:

www.traillink.com

Land Conservancy of West Michigan

www.naturenearby.org

Wittenbach/Wege Center

http://www.lowellschools.com

Franciscan Life Process Center

http://www.lifeprocesscenter.org

 

Copyright © 2017. Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

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Provence most beautiful villages

Step back in time in Provencal villages

My summer writer’s retreat in France takes me from Burgundy 450 kilometers south into the heart of Provence. Continued from “In Provence” https://emmapalova.com/2016/08/31/in-provence-aug-26-aug-29-2/

By Emma Palova

Provence, FR- Our trip to Provence took us 450 kilometers south of the home base in the wine village of Fixin in Burgundy. After lodging at the Provençal bastide no. 23 on Chemin de la Font du Pin located between Cheval-Blanc and Merindol, we were ready to explore the most beautiful villages of France.

They are: Ansouis, Gordes, Lourmarin, Menerbes, Roussillon, Seguret and Venesque.

Provencal villages
Chateau de Marquis de Sade in Lacoste, Provence.

Hugging the slopes of the Luberon mountain range or its foothills, these charmers share common elements of more than a century of history & arts, cafes, connecting trails, fortifications and majestic châteaux.

At the bastide, our international “ladies squad” loaded up into one car to make the trip up treacherous narrow roads framed by the Luberon easier.

“I hear that you need a Mexican to drive you,” joked versatile Selene who changed her hat from a chef to a skilled driver.

Driving on the narrow roads through the villages of the Luberon is a true art that I have never mastered.

“Do you know who Marques de Sade was?” Emma asked me.

“They didn’t teach us that in Czech,” I laughed.

“The word sadism is derived from his name,” Emma said. “You haven’t seen the Federico Fellini movie “120 Years of Sodomy?”

Now, that grabbed my attention. I love Federico Fellini and until now, I only knew about sadistic dentists and their scary assistants in not so sterile, white offices.

Provencal most beautiful villages.
The view from château in Lacoste.

Well, I was just about to find out the story of this exiled aristocrat from Paris.

“An exile in Provence, must be nice,” I thought.

“Yes, he had all these servants and poets on the chateau with him, what an exile,” said sarcastically Claude.

“He spent 30 years being locked up,” Emma said.

Our roadside attractions were olive groves, vineyards, old farm and wine growers homesteads and vegetable plots. Further on in the villages of Les Beaumettes, Goult, Bonnieux, I admired the boulangeries, patisseries and endless restaurants such as the Fuming Cow Café.

The medieval village of Lacoste, pop 450, was built into a steep hill in several levels, a typical fortified structure from the 11th century.

At the peak sits the ruin of the castle of the notorious Marquis de Sade. I took in the surreal view breathlessly.

The beauty of Provence with its fields and “Climats” or vineyards, broken by an occasional road or a village, laid at our feet. The 11th century castle is now home to stylist designer M. Pierre Cardin.

It is not unusual in France, that the castles are privately owned.

From the top we headed through the ruins down the “calade” cobblestone path to the base of the village. The path was busy with tourists. We passed abandoned boulangeries, open terraces with belfries, and old stone houses, some of which are being restored.

Chateau Marquis de Sade
The walk through the chateau ruins in Lacoste.

You closed your eyes and you could imagine the life in this village in the time of Marquis de Sade, live with horses, coaches and escorts that he abused.

The sunset cast soft light on the ruins and sculptures by Greco and other artists. The amazing black“Arms” sculpture embraced the visitors on foot, bikes or on horseback from all over the world.

The café de Sade offered colorful smoothies, regional wines and Provençal cuisine.

Among the activities held in most of these Provençal villages are markets, concerts and festivals.

We prepared our own Provençal dinner at the bastide that featured apero from the olive vendor in Merindol with cheese and olivenade, olives, local bread, beef and turkey brochettes and wine rose from a cave in St. Tropez.

Chateau in Lacoste.
Belfry at chateau de Marquis de Sade in Lacoste.

The dry heat persisted into the evening lit by colorful lanterns and other “lumiere” creations. The conversation carried both in French and English languages. The topic: the beauty of Provence still waiting to be explored tomorrow.

For more information on villages of the Luberon go to: www.provenceweb.fr

To be continued…………… Lourmarin, Ansouis and St. Remy-de-Provence

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

Into Burgundy

“Climats” in Burgundy present a cultural landscape, a 2015 UNESCO world heritage site

Note: After my third visit to the wine region of Burgundy in France, I consider it to be my annual summer writer’s retreat amidst vineyards, exceptional gastronomy and the “Climats.”

By Emma Palova

Fixin, FR- On an early Sunday morning, I woke up to the ringing of the church bells and a local gentleman shouting at his dog, a lot louder than the dog’s barking.

From my studio, I heard the cars rolling down the narrow Rue Magnien that leads into the tiny wine village of Fixin. The walls around the estates magnify the sounds and funnel them into endless echoes.

Wine villages of Burgundy.
Major street through Fixin

But, just before the light broke, I could hear the chirping of the birds in the mulberry tree. The mulberry tree is the only tree that grows between the bricks in the small courtyard in front of the house.

The stone house rises three stories with “lucarnes” or windows in the roof. Sources tell me that the house was a brasserie, before getting divided. After the division, the house lost the right wing, but none of its Burgundian charm or massiveness.

Surprisingly, the house does not have an adjacent vineyard behind it. New or old vineyards in Burgundy are hard to come by, according to my daughter Dr. Emma Palova-Chavent. However, a dream to get a vineyard sometime in the future may become a reality, knowing my daughter.

The journey from the corn and soy bean fields of Michigan, USA to the vineyards of Burgundy is about 4,000 miles long across the Atlantic Ocean. After an endless flight to Paris, we took a reasonable Uber ride for 45 euros to the Gare Percy train station near the famous Lyon Station, one of seven train stations in Paris.

I have a great affinity to train travel that originates in my homeland in Czech Republic.

Typical Burgundy architecture.
Township hall “Marie” in Fixin with school.

The local train took us swiftly into Dijon, the capital city of Burgundy, a principal wine-producing area. Travelling by train in France is a great alternative to the automobile due to the efficiency of the entire transit network.

Fixin sits on the Grands Crus Route which winds from the northernmost Chenove to Remigny in the south for a total of 57.8 kilometers.

You can ride it, bike it or walk it for a unique experience of a lifetime. Whichever you choose to do, there are accommodating facilities along the way like Hotel les Grands Crus in Gevrey-Chambertin sitting directly on the wine trail.

The “Balades en Bourgogne” app offers e-guided tours highlighting off the trail locations with châteaux, churches and wineries.

I’ve experienced the magic of this wine route during my three distinct visits to Burgundy. In 2009 with a base in Nuits-Saint-Georges, then in 2013 in Dijon and now I stay in Fixin in the north part of the Grands Crus Route.

La Perriere XII century mansion
La Perriere mansion of the Dukes of Burgundy in Fixin.

The vineyards in the heat of the day are just as peaceful as they were a century ago when the monks established them. Perfect rows of wines in small plots that hug the slopes, are sometimes divided by stone walls, stone arches or by stone shelters known as “cabottes.” An occasional walnut tree oasis with a bench serves as an observation platform.

The UNESCO has recognized this complex magic in designating the vineyards of Burgundy as the “Climats,” a world heritage site in 2015 to be preserved for all mankind.

This small plot viticulture of vineyards that are terrain based create an impressive mosaic of more than 1,000 Climats lined up from Dijon to the Maranges.

Wine villages in Burgundy.
Hiking between the wine villages of Fixin and Couchey.

“In Burgundy, when we speak about a Climat, we don’t look to the sky, we keep our eyes to the ground,” said Bernard Pivot, writer and president of the support committee for the Climats.

As I walk the winding path through the Climats, in the distance a church steeple in Couchey shimmers with yellow and blue tiles. Only the bell tolls the time. The time has stopped here in the vineyards and the watch seems unnecessary.

I bend down to pick a bluish purple small grape, the Pinot noir grape variety of the region of Burgundy deeply embedded in the red soil. As the sweet juices touch the palate, I realize that thousands of years of hard work have gone into this one grape to bring it to perfection.

And that this second is the same as it was one thousand years ago when the monks established the vineyards.

Church of St. Martin, Fixin
Church of St. Martin, 1172 in Fixin .

The monks, the Valois Dukes of Burgundy, the wine merchants and wine growers, have all carried the wine tradition over the centuries.

On the horizon to the left, I see the magnificent seat of Dijon nestling in a valley with all its museums, archaeological abbey, the Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy and the gourmet restaurants.

Walking from one wine village to the next, is like being born again with a new view on the world.

During my different stays in Burgundy, I noticed that some little things have changed, while the most remain the same. It’s that same stability that we constantly seek around us, no matter where we are.

Burgundy wine caves in Fixin
Burgundy wine caves

Among the changes are: more bilingual tourist stations and chambers in the villages, greater use of the wine trails via bike tours, walking and hiking.

However, the steady constant vibrates in the romantic wine villages with stone architecture, in the gastronomy and in the exceptional Crus wines.

The Climats have given us the high quality wines sought after around the world. These include: Montrachet, Romanee-Conti, Clos de Vougeout, Corton, Musigny, Chevalier-Montrachet, Chambertin and more.

Unique and fragile, the Climats, vineyards of Burgundy, are our heritage, one that must be protected and passed on. Their inscription on the UNESCO World Heritage List as a “cultural landscape” is part of this objective. This is a commitment that has been undertaken, and witnessed by the community of nations, to respect and to preserve the “Outstanding Universal Value” of the Climats, as “combined works of nature and man.”

[Article 1, paragraph 3 of the Convention of World Heritage]

 For more information on the Climats go to www.climats-bourgogne.com

For more information on Burgundy go to http://www.burgundy-tourism.com

For “Balades en Bourgogne”: a collection of trails app go to Google Play or Appstore.

To be continued

 

Copyright © 2016 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

IW-Hiker babe walks 4,600 miles in memory of daughter

Inspiring Women at home and around the world

Orchids in full bloom
Enigmatic orchids

Note: This is the fourth installment in a feature series about Inspiring Women. It is dedicated to all women who are trying to make a difference and better other people’s lives, as well as their own.  In putting together this feature series, I was inspired by several moments in life that in particular stand out.

No.1  A dedication of a Relax, mind, body & soul book by Barbara Heller from my son Jake: “I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” Kuba

No. 2  While on a story before Mother’s Day, I dropped in at Ace Bernard Hardware to talk about the prizes with owner Charlie Bernard. We talked also about the Lowell Area Chamber and its director Liz Baker.

“You know what I like about Liz, she keeps re-inventing herself,” Bernard said.

No. 3 Again on a story for the International Women’s Day I talked to Sow Hope president Mary Dailey Brown.

“If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty.”

No. 4  At a parents teacher conference at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell in mid 1990s: “Mrs. Pala, we do not give up,” teacher Karen Latva said.

Lowell woman completes North Country Trail to memorialize daughter

Name: Gail Lowe

Occupation: retired intensive care nurse

Residence: Lowell

Hobbies & Interests: hiking, reading, writing

 

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Lowell, MI – It’s never easy to lose a parent, but to lose a child is a traumatic event beyond imagination.

Gail Lowe calls herself “Hiker Babe”, and she truly is a veteran hiker of 10,000 miles with just one fear left.  And that is she won’t be able to hike anymore because of aging and related health reasons.

Hiker Babe
Gail Lowe on a mission walk in memory of daughter.

On Thanksgiving of last year, Lowe completed the most difficult hike of her life. It was “Becka’s Hike” to memorialize her daughter Rebecca Carrie Lyons, 46, who died of breast cancer in May of 2013.

Lowe is working on a book “My Best for Becka” about the end of her daughter’s life.

“It’s like opening a scar and an old wound,” she said. “It’s very difficult.”

It is Lowe’s hope, that the book will help the grieving process and foster personal growth.

“Becka’s biggest fear was that she would be forgotten,” Lowe said. “I wanted to make sure that would never come true.”

Daughter Becka
Rebecca Carrie Lyons

So, Lowe embarked on a 4,600-mile long hike of the North Country Trail (NCT) on March 18, 2014. She wanted to complete it as a thru hike which means in one season.

“It was a hike with a mission,” she said.

Lowe had previously hiked twice the Appalachian Trail which is only half as long as the NCT.

One of the most difficult parts of the hike was in the western half of the Upper Peninsula, where the trail was overgrown.

“I had to do a lot of bushwhacking,” she said. “I was attacked by a raptor. I saw two wolves and bears.”

Lowe who has also hiked in Alaska, said, the UP part of the trail was much more remote than the one in Alaska.

On the other hand, probably the easiest part of the hike was through North Dakota.

“People welcomed me immediately,” she said. “I was dreading hiking there, but it was easy and it is a beautiful state.”

Becka's Hike
Victorious Gail Lowe at the end of 4,600 mile hike.

But, what was even more difficult  than the length of the hike, was the extreme solitude. Lowe said that on the other trails people camp at night and share shelters together.

“I was it, there were no other hikers,” she said. “The loneliness was overwhelming.”

To fight the loneliness, Lowe went to as many towns as she could to meet with the locals and to reach out to them.

And that was mutual, because Lowe had the help of more than 100 “trail angels.” Trail angels are people who help hikers either with shelter, food or transportation from the trail to towns and back.

“The hike was truly blessed. People took me in for the night,” she said. “It was mind-boggling. Sometimes they did meet me along the way.”

Staying in a tent at 20 F would have been hard, if it wasn’t for the Methodists who opened their doors to Lowe.

“They truly practice their faith,” she said.

Lowe had planned her hike to start and to finish in Ohio. Three couples helped her by taking her back and forth between the trail and the town, so Lowe didn’t have to carry the “rock” or the big backpack.

“I could just use the day pack for four to five days,” she said.

Even though by now after thousands of miles of hiking, Lowe has it down to a science. She carries 26 to 28 pounds on her back.

She averaged 30 to 35 miles a day, before her health became an issue. Lowe came down with mononucleosis and had to make three trips to three different emergency rooms. Her average mileage was down to 15 miles.

“I was exhausted with respiratory infections,” she said. “There really is no treatment for it. I took massive doses of vitamin c.”

Becka's Hike
Mission accomplished

Against all odds including the nasty 2014 weather, Lowe finished the thru hike in one year as the only woman in the USA. She received major publicity including TV, NPR radio and 40 to 50 articles.

“It was a combination of being the first woman to do it in one hiking season and in memory of my daughter,” Lowe said. “I asked myself how do I want to finish this hike.”

Lowe wanted a quiet finish  just between her and Becka. That’s why she planned the last two miles on Thanksgiving Day.

“I could sneak in under the radar and have the type of finish I wanted,” she said.

But, Lowe also wanted to know that Becka was with her all along.

“I told myself if I find a quarter on the ground I would know Becka was with me,” she said.

On the last two miles of the last day, Lowe looked down and found a quarter.

“That was a message she was with me,” Lowe said. “The outcome of the hike is that the entire nation is aware of Becka. The mission was accomplished.”

Her major motivation for a hike that took 8.5 months to complete remained Becka.

“I consider myself a bad ass in hiking,” Lowe said. “I almost drowned, had a surgery and encountered a man with a gun. But knowing that it was in Becka’s memory carried me all along.”

Lowe’s advice to those thinking about hiking the trail is not to tackle it in one season.

“The mileage is daunting,” she said. “There are unmarked areas and the solitude, it can be overwhelming. Give it at least two years.”

Because northern Michigan still had snow in May, Lowe had to turn back to Ohio and hike east and wait for Michigan to thaw.

How did Lowe succeed in spite of all the challenges?

She trained for two months before the hike walking 10 miles a day with an over weighted backpack.

Lowe turned 65 on the NCT hike on Sept. 4th, and she still wants to hike the Continental Divide trail to be the first woman with a quintuple crown award.

Becka's Hike
Gail Lowe shows a quarter as a message from her daughter

 

“Hiking is my passion, my church,” she said. “I feel closer to higher power. It has given me strength, freedom and confidence. It has come with tears, sorrow and joy. My trail name is Chosen. I am living out my destiny.”

 

Lowe said she will do the Continental Divide trail ASAP, before the aging process takes over and makes it impossible.

“My hiking days are numbered,” she said. “I have learned that it’s not the best motivator just pounding out miles, but the most inspirational was the kindness of the people and making lifelong friends. I could feel love coming over me like an ocean of love washing over me.”

Lowe says about herself that she is not religious, but she is spiritual.

“None of us does a hike like this alone,” she said. “I can picture a chain of people holding hands and those are the people who came out. I didn’t do it alone.”

Lowe calls her hikes pilgrimages.

“It’s a time to reflect, it gives insight and introspection,” she said. “The greatest fun is succeeding at your goal, finishing what you start. It gives me incredible accomplishment and confidence.”

Lowe ignores negative people in order to accomplish her goals.

“It’s my responsibility to step over them and keeping my eye on the goal and not let them affect my ability of moving forward,” she said. “I’ve become strong mentally, physically and spiritually.”

Lowe’s final advice:

“Don’t quit, no matter what.”

However, as far as the  grieving process itself, Lowe says there is no closure on grieving, ever.

“Becka was my best friend, and when all was said and done, we both forgave each other everything and loved each other dearly,” Lowe said. “I miss being able to do the simple things with her like talking on the phone, going out to eat together, going “thrifting” at thrift shops, travelling together, and listening to her sing at karaoke.  She lived for music and had an amazing voice!  I miss being able to touch her and kiss her face.”

NCT is scenic.
NCT runs through Fallasburg Park in Kent County, Michigan.

Since the establishment of NCT in 1980, only five men have completed a thru hike of the trail and Lowe was the sixth person, and the only woman in the USA.

NCTA executive director Bruce Matthews said Lowe’s hike elevates the awareness of the North Country Trail.

“It fires people’s imagination and makes the trail more accessible to women,” he said. “It expands the horizon. It is unusual to complete it in one season.”

Matthews hopes that the experience Lowe has had will inspire other people to follow in her footsteps.

“You have to be prepared,” he said. “NCT is different from the Appalachian or the Pacific trails.”

What distinguishes NCT from the other trails is that it runs through different environments, and it does not follow a mountain range.

“Trail angels will be looking for you ready to help,” he said. “You can share experiences and volunteers make the routes more scenic.

On the theme of the extreme solitude on the trail, Matthews said:

“Solitude is part of the NCT experience,” he said.

On the psychology aspect of the strenuous hike, Dr. Daniel Ehnis, professor at Cornerstone University, said that taking on this challenge aids the healing process in a few ways:

“First of all, it helps the mother to do something extreme and distracting, rather than sitting by helplessly.

Second, the mother’s agony and suffering helps her transfer her psychological pain into physical pain.  The physical discomfort can be easier to manage than the emotional turmoil from the loss.

Finally, her daughter’s wish to not be forgotten would take something extraordinary to honor that request.”

For more info on Gail Lowe go to: www.naturenymphllc.com

North Country Trail Association go to www.northcountrytrail.org

Copyright © 2015 Emma Blogs, LLC. All rights reserved.

IW Inspiring Women

Inspiring Women at home and around the world

Orchids in full bloom
Enigmatic orchids

Note: This is the first installment in a feature series about Inspiring Women. It is dedicated to all women who are trying to make a difference and better other people’s lives, as well as their own.  In putting together this feature series, I was inspired by several moments in life that in particular stand out.

No.1  A dedication of a Relax, mind, body & soul book by Barbara Heller from my son Jake: “I dedicate this to my inspiring and motivational mother.” Kuba

No. 2  While on a story prior to Mother’s Day, I dropped in at Ace Bernard Hardware to talk about the prizes with owner Charlie Bernard. We talked also about the Lowell Area Chamber and its director Liz Baker.

“You know what I like about Liz, she keeps re-inventing herself,” Bernard said.

No. 3 Again on a story prior to the International Women’s Day I talked to Sow Hope president Mary Dailey Brown.

“If you want to make a difference in this world, seriously consider helping impoverished women. Helping women is the key to unlocking poverty.”

No. 4  At a parents teacher conference at Cherry Creek Elementary in Lowell in mid 1990s: “Mrs. Pala, we do not give up,” teacher Karen Latva said.

Vestaburg woman leads in trail development

Carolyn Kane chaiperson
Carolyn Kane received an award in Washington DC for trail development in 2011.

Name: Carolyn Kane

Position: chairperson of Friends of Fred Meijer River Valley Trails

Residence: Vestaburg, Michigan

Family: husband Dale, daughters Carol, Kim, Connie, and 14 great grandchildren

Hobbies & Interests: snowmobiling, family

By Emma Palova

EW Emma’s Writings

Vestaburg, MI- Working frantically on a $300,000 grant application from the Natural Resources Trust Fund with an April 1st deadline, Carolyn Kane can get a little stressed out.

Kane’s official title is the chairperson of the Friends of the Fred Meijer River Valley Trails. But her multiple tasks reach far beyond the title, along with the awards for spearheading the development of mid- Michigan trails since 1993.

“I was fortunate enough to retire young,” Kane said. “We planned well and had luck with our investments.”

Kane retired from GTE/Verizon at the age of 52 with an entire space of opportunities ahead of her. As a passionate snowmobiler, Kane was upset when she found out that the Heartland Trail didn’t go anywhere except from Elmdale to three miles outside of Greenville.

“It was a wonderful opportunity to have safe trails,” she said.

At, first, she was elected as secretary of the Friends of Fred Meijer Heartland Trail, and later Kane got involved with the Montcalm Economic Development Alliance.

“I’ve always been interested in recreational corridors and economic development,” she said.

Other than snowmobiling, Kane with husband Dale were avid motorcyclists riding through all but five states.

“Summer after summer we traveled in small groups and we had a wonderful time,” she said.

They also had a fifth wheel and a boat on Burt Lake at Indiana River.

All these were driving forces behind Carolyn’s extensive involvement with West Michigan Greenways Coalition.

“I am a person with a lot of interests,” she said. “I enjoy different things. I’ve never focused on just one thing.”

So, Kane made a natural switch from snowmobiles to trails.

Growing up on a farm near Owosso as the oldest of seven children, Kane learned to be an administrator responsible for her actions.

“I turned into a workaholic,” she said.

Since, Kane learned to take on responsibility early on in life, she also learned to plan for the future.

“When I say I am going to do it,” she said. “I do it. It still boggles my mind that I invite all these managers along the corridor and they show up.”

 As a project coordinator, Kane has no qualms about calling people up whether for a meeting or for money.

One of her biggest achievements in spite of its delay was a trail project around St. John’s.

“We stayed the course, but there also has been a lot of interest in trails,” she said.

One of the biggest challenges was naming the trail from Lowell to Greenville because of the many municipalities involved.

“It took us three years. We had to come up with a compromise,” Kane said. “Greenville finally relented the Flat River in the name and it became the Fred Meijer Flat River Valley Trail.”

Today, Kane has four-drawer file cabinet full of trail stuff. It was donated by the Lowell Area Chamber of Commerce. In spite of numerous setbacks, she is motivated by the passion to get the trail done.

“People are so appreciative of what has transpired,” she said.

Over the years, the inflation has taken its toll on trail projects as well.

In 1994, the 42-mile Heartland trail corridor was purchased for $245,000, as opposed to the 37.5-mile corridor from Ionia to Greenville for $2.3 million.

The 82-mile long trail from Greenville to Owosso with a price tag of $12 million is all but complete except for 26 miles.

However, there are still gaps between different communities that would complete the 7th longest trail in the USA. The 125-mile long Fred Meijer Mid-Michigan Trail Network will ultimately connect Greenville to Owosso going through Michigan heartland and farmlands.

These unfinished gaps have become Kane’s biggest fear. When asked what she is afraid of Kane responded:

“Failing to complete this project!  Just imagine 52 miles from Owosso to Saranac and from Greenville to Alma at 42 miles, a gaping hole from Greenville to Belding which is 2.2 miles, and Belding to Lowell  another BIG gaping hole 14 miles.  My image and/or reputation would be destroyed!  Certainly, I would not be inspiring!”

 Now, that response is typical for hard-driving Kane. Often, she comes into the meetings hauling in binders of trail documents in mid- winter, when others fail to show up. At other time she runs into a deer on her way to an evening meeting 90 miles from home.

Kane also faces chronic complainers with unsubstantiated whining:

“Oh, the trail will bring in crime and trash,” many complained.

“What about the deer on the trails,” others worried.

And then came the biggie: the Federal Lawsuit over the easements of the adjacent owners of the rail trail.

“Michigan has never dealt with something like this,” she said. “Going through the process was fearful. Other states lost the corridor.”

After a long battle, the trail group was able to preserve the corridor and the adjacent land owners were compensated for taking of the property, but they had to have deeds. A handful remains to be resolved.

“It’s amazing what you can do when you say I can,” Kane said. “My husband always says, if there is something you can’t get done, give it to Carolyn.”

Carolyn is amazed at the recognition she received for more than two decades of trail work.

2009 Mid America Trails award for trail work

2011 DNR Partners in conservation award for advancing Rail to Trail work

“I’ve made up my mind, if it’s going to happen,” she said. “It’s going to be up to me. I’ll stay with it until I get it done.”

But, other factors such as health come into play as time goes by.

“I am not going to put my health at risk to get it done, even though I am anxious to complete everything.”

Kane puts in anywhere from 25 to 30 hours a week, and that is without pay.

“How about goals and role models?” I asked.

“As you get older, the long term goals are not as important as they used to be,” Kane said.

“My immediate goal is to get the funding in place and go back to the Belding project,” she said.

Barbara Nelson Jameson with National Parks Service has always been a role model for Kane.

“When I grow up I want to be like Barbara,” Kane said to herself at the first meeting of the Heartland Trail. “She was eloquent in anything she did.”

The other one was Roger Sabine with Kent County Parks.

“He is really someone I can trust,” she said.

Kane is especially proud of being chosen as the National Rail Trail Champion by Rails Trails Conservancy in Washington DC in 2011.

Carolyn Kane, the woman behind the superwoman

 Emma: What makes you feel good about yourself?

Carolyn: Making time for grandchildren and great grandchildren, just doing things with them. They all have snowmobiles. Pulling them around and getting some chocolate.

Emma: What do you do for yourself?

Carolyn: My family has always been number one. I enjoy spending time with them, picking them up from McDonald’s.

Emma: How do juggle work and family?

Carolyn: Balance. There are things that you have to give and take. You have to make decisions. The clean house doesn’t seem as important as 50 years ago.

Emma: Do you prioritize?

Carolyn: I manage to set priorities, but they change, when grand babies come. Life changes you get a different perspective and you have fun with it.

Emma: What keeps you going?

Carolyn: I am very happily married. At this stage in life it makes a difference. I am blessed with a wonderful family.

Emma: What is your inspiration?

Carolyn: The Lord wanted me to do this, he has directed me and helps me stay the course. I don’t get to give up. I keep coming back to the target.”

Emma: Tips and advice for other women.

Carolyn: The key is balance and keeping things in perspective.

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