Northern Minnesota Man Will Spend a Month Clearing Trails in the Boundary Waters

Blowdown damage on the Kekekabic Hiking Trail, November 2016
Blowdown damage on the Kekekabic Hiking Trail, November 2016 (Photos courtesy Derrick Passe)
Derrick Passe
Derrick Passe

Wilderness hiker Derrick Passe is planning to spend the month of May in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, helping re-open the Kekekabic Hiking Trail, about 20 miles east of Ely.

“May will be a fun month,” Passe said. “Hopefully we will get the trails ready for use again.”

The area’s forests were damaged by powerful storms last summer, especially on July 21, when wind gusts reached 60 miles per hour, and at least two campers were injured by falling trees. Hiking trails were blocked by the blowdown.

Little was known about the state of the Kekekabic until Passe investigated it last fall, and the report of a hiker from the Gunflint Trail end who almost gave up trying to find a way through.

“He actually ended up bushwhacking out along the clear cut of Snowbank once he got out of the wilderness,” Passe told the Lake County News Chronicle.  “I told him I really respected that he made it through because I couldn’t even find the trail in a lot of places.”

Passe will get help from several groups who will spend time with him during the month. A crew of seven Mennonite volunteers between the ages of 18 and 28 will join him from May 8 to June 4. Two groups from Kekekabic Chapter of the North Country Trail Association will work on the trail in the Thomas and Alworth Lakes area. Individuals interested in volunteering can email Passe at derrickpasse@gmail.com.

Read more about the trails and Passe’s plans in the Lake County News Chronicle.

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