EP 710 | Iowa Outdoors

Hi, I’m Kellie Kramer. And I’m Scott Siepker. Welcome to Central Iowa. And our latest edition
of Iowa Outdoors. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Coming up on this episode of Iowa Outdoors — Recreate a piece of Iowa’s chilly outdoor history. Learn about all the care
that goes into building Iowa’s trails. Tag along as
grade-schoolers learn to survive an Iowa winter. Meet an Iowa photographer
who curates photos from across the planet. And explore a
trail in a minute. We’ll have all
that and more. So sit tight. Iowa Outdoors is
about to begin. Funding for Iowa Outdoors
is provided by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov. As temperatures drop,
only the most intrepid of adventurers
remain outdoors. For an example, look no
further than this episode. This journey will take
us deep into the Iowa wilderness, teach us how
to survive there and show us one way we can share
our love of the outdoors with the whole world. But first, let’s take a
trip back in time to an era when reaching for a
cool drink required some serious work. For thousands of years,
the only way to get ice was to harvest
it and ship it. And up until the 1960s,
Northeastern Iowa was one of its main exporters. To celebrate its history,
Lansing, Iowa has started holding an ice harvesting
demonstration every February to show the
current generation all the work that went into
getting ice before the advent of the freezer. When it comes to
celebrating a community’s heritage most areas
would opt for warmer temperatures and
clearer skies. But for Lansing, an Iowa
town in the farthest northeastern reaches of
the state, to properly represent its history,
observance must be made at the coldest time of year. So come February,
Lansing hosts its annual Winterfest, embracing its
frigid legacy with sleigh rides, snowshoe hikes,
ice carving and chili cook-offs. But in recent years the
town has included a piece of area history that has
almost been completely forgotten, ice harvesting. (engine starting) In the
late 1800s until the mid-1960s, Lansing was a
well-known harvester and exporter of
block river ice. With the railroad carving
right through town, an ample supply of frozen
fresh water, come winter Lansing was an ice
harvesting powerhouse. Karen Galema: The ice
field got very large. It would be twice the size
of a football field and it was a big production,
three or four trucks hauling steady. Alright, go, go, go, go! Karen: It employed a lot
of farmers, construction workers and grocery stores
each had their own ice crews. There were several ice
houses around town. Gary Galema: Seven big ice
houses, they would hold several tons of ice. Karen: Oh,
many, many tons. Married more than 50
years, Karen and Gary Galema are two of the few
remaining connections to this piece of
Lansing history. Gary: I got in on the last
harvest that they did commercially in the
winter of ’64, ’65. I was a truck driver
through here and her dad ran the local fish market. And so between Christmas
and New Year’s holidays there’s no fish sales, so
her dad asked if I could come over and drive a
truck for him to haul the ice from the ice field
down to the ice house. So I have a little bit of
an idea what we’re doing out here. Go, go, go, go, go, go! Gary: I don’t do
much work anymore. I just kind of watch and
tell them what they’re doing wrong, but I let
them try it first. ♪♪ In spirit, the
demonstration showcases what went into
ice harvesting. On a smaller scale,
there’s the same tools and basic processes. A grid is plotted on the
ice — ♪♪ Followed by long metal picks breaking
ice blocks, loading them onto a truck with tongs
or a pull-in rope. Unlike an actual harvest
that was dangerous, nonstop work, the
demonstration is much more about fun. (cheering) And even a
few activities that are decidedly not traditional. ♪♪ ♪♪ While the
demonstration is all about smiles and a fun winter
activity, for years ice harvesting was serious
work and a means of making a living. Familiar faces seen in
this 1948 crew are Jack Erlich, Ben Sweeney,
John Prodsman — For generations, this was
the only way to get ice. Hoards of men would
descend onto the frozen banks of the Mississippi
and area lakes to saw, pick, pry and load up
block after block of crystal clear ice. Karen: Almost all the
little river towns along here had ice crews,
Harper’s Ferry, DeSoto. I remember when we used
to ship ice out east, the rail cars weren’t
refrigerated and they packed them in river ice
because we had a big crusher at the fish
market, you’d still have chunks of ice this big and
they would hold on the fish all the way into New
York or into Chicago or out to the West Coast. Each block of ice weighed
several hundred pounds. In its heyday, ice
harvesting provided a good income as well as barns
full of ice blocks that would stay frozen year
round for keeping meats and dairy, as well as
fisherman’s needs. And while today’s
demonstration looks strenuous, it’s nothing
compared to what actual ice harvesting demanded. Gary: Before these gas
powered ice saws, we had a horse drawn ice cutter
that the horses would pull across the ice but you
had to make three or four trips with that because
you could only cut about an inch at a time to get
deep enough to where you could get it off. When you have nice smooth
frozen ice two people can just pull that saw, they
don’t really pull it, it will pull itself, drag it
to the other end back and forth all day long. Karen: It was a tough
life, it was a hard life and you learned early on
that you had to be hard to survive. It’s important that the
kids realize what is involved and there’s
nothing like first-hand experience. Like so many skills and
trades before it, ice harvesting is an industry
that in our modern refrigerated era is
commercially impractical. Now the backbreaking,
freezing cold work of harvesting has been
retired to museum shelves and history books. Still, it’s demonstrations
like Lansing’s Winterfest that helps connect the
next generation with its past. Karen: I do a lot of
classes that come through the museum and when we get
to the ice box they’ll say, what did they
need an ice box for? And it’s a simple answer. Well, you know they didn’t
always have ice makers in every refrigerator. So that is where it came
from, it came from hard work, sacrifice, and it
came from the river. ♪♪ For nature lovers,
few things top a good hike. And with over 100 state
parks, forests and preserves, the options are
practically boundless. Come January 1st the Iowa
DNR celebrates these trails with a statewide
outing dubbed First Day Hikes. While thousands of hikers
turn out, many may not be aware of the amount of
work it takes to create and maintain the
many trails of Iowa. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Hiking is a thing in Iowa, so much so that when the
2013 state conservation and outdoor recreation
plan was released, the statewide survey
discovered Iowans’ number one outdoor activity
was walking and hiking. ♪♪ Events such as the
DNR’s First Day Hikes are a perfect example of
Iowans’ love for hiking. Amidst some freezing
temperatures across the state, walkers and hikers
of all ages through Iowa’s state parks to take in the
unbridled beauty and learn about our shared
environment. When the owls eat things
like mice they can digest the meat part of it but
they can’t digest the hair and the bones. And so that kind of builds
up in a little pouch that they have and when there’s
enough in there, they regurgitate or kind
of throw it up. It gives you a good idea
of what that owl has eaten, what kind of
critters are in this habitat. Of course, for events like
First Day Hikes to occur, there first
must be trails. And if trails are to
withstand thousands of hikers, someone needs
to make sure they are established with
conservation and sustainability in mind. Pete Englund: We’re in
Bellevue State Park in Bellevue, Iowa
at the Dyas Unit. This trail has been in the
process for four years and it was just
completed this year. A lot of the trails,
especially in this park, are four foot
wide mowed paths. And so this one isn’t. It’s a two foot wide bench
that we’re hiking on that dips and meanders through
the landscape to make it more sustainable so that
you don’t have to put a lot of time and effort
into maintaining it. While a fount of trail
creation knowledge, Pete Englund also has a genuine
love of the outdoors. Pete: We call these the
three sisters because these are some pretty
old, gnarly trees. There’s not too many other
big oaks in a group like this. I think they’re
pretty cool. Having worked on trail
crews across the country, Pete has helped create and
blaze numerous trails. And with each new path
comes a new set of objectives. Pete: We go down the creek
a little bit and you can see where they cut
with a bulldozer. But then you get up the
hillside a little more and then you lose the trail. And so you’re in this
bottom but it was never really mowed. So you just take
your own path. And again, you have a
trail that you can’t find, which is the whole reason
for this trail that we’re on, so that you have an
accessible trail that you can find, hike and it’s
not unsustainable like that one or the trail
that’s over here. As hikers pass over
bridges, around switchbacks and along rock
retaining walls, it may seem like they’re
encountering simple pieces of trail character. However, the truth is
those elements were specifically designed and
implemented pieces of trail engineering. Pete: One of the crew
members put this switchback in, so this is
made out of cedar and then the rock was carried in
and it’s just a nice switchback where a
climbing turn would have been too steep, and so to
put in this retaining wall kind of brings the soil
up and gives it a more sustainable slope on the
trail than just putting it in. Whenever we do these too
we want to put in where there’s an anchor that you
go around otherwise people will cut them. So on your next hike,
between moments learning about and communing with
nature, consider the hard work and passion that went
into the more than 8,000 miles of trails our
state has to offer. Pete: We say that trail
building is people building. We’re building trails
but we’re also building relationships and we’re
offering people an opportunity to go out and
experience nature on its own terms. ♪♪ Surviving the
treacheries of nature can be a bewildering task. And all too frequently one
poor decision can be the difference between
life and death. That’s why each year
during Spring Break, the Polk County Conservation
Board hosts a camp specifically designed to
educate grade-schoolers on a few outdoor essentials
that may one day save their lives. Good morning. Welcome to survivor camp. Take a moment and think
back to when you were 10 years old. Somehow you find yourself
lost in the wilderness, all alone, it’s the middle
of winter and you have only your wits and a few
pieces of equipment to survive. Now, the idea is
definitely more attractive than the reality. But think of the unique
challenges modern society never asked you to tackle. Could you find your
way through the woods? Build a shelter? Start a fire? Find water? Well, if you answered no
to any or all of those questions but would still
love to learn how to face down Mother Nature’s
worst, then survivor camp is for you. Patrice Petersen: Kids
just get excited about learning something new. It was not, hey I’m going
to lead you around through the woods, it was
saying, here’s your responsibility, give them
a GPS unit and show them how to use it and they
get pretty excited. And that’s putting
it rather mildly. For a full day during
Spring Break, the Polk County Conservation Board
exposes a couple dozen ten to twelve year olds to
a handful of new and thrilling outdoor
endeavors. Between geocaching,
shelter and fire building and archery, survivor camp
is a day of discovery and self-reliance. Joe Boyles: The experience
and the interest in these skills varies greatly. We have some that have
hardly ever even been out of the city let alone
trying to build a fire. And then we have those
that are camping with their families all the
time that are very comfortable around
campfires and tromping through the woods and
things like that. Nate Strawn: They kind of
just let us roam free and do our own thing kind of. Ryan Hanzi: Yeah, we got
to do by ourselves instead of having so much help
like we usually do. It should be over here. Self-guided discovery of
the outdoors is a big part of survivor camp and doing
so in a safe space is what makes it possible. I see it! We know that at this age
is when you start building those lifelong habits,
that lifelong passion so if you’re getting kids
introduced to it now, realizing hey it’s okay to
get muddy, it’s not taboo to be doing some of those
things, this is the age to get kids really excited
about being in the outdoors. Delaney Clark: We were
just walking and we were looking on the ground for
footprints and stuff and we just saw this weird
thing sticking out of it and it was an antler. While geocaching can turn
up some excellent finds, the following event is
always a hit, even if it can be a little
frustrating. Boyles: I think anytime a
kid has a chance to build a fire it’s pretty
exciting for them. Boyles: So we do a lot of
safety talk, but that’s by far the most popular. Jackson Brinker: I think
the hardest thing is to just be patient when
they’re doing this stuff and just keep trying. Jackson Brinker has
attended survivor camp for four years in a row and
while he’s older than the other kids he still
loves the experience. Brinker: I love being
outside and I love doing this stuff. I’m very outdoorsy, I
like to hunt and fish and stuff. My personal favorite
is the archery. It’s pretty fun to do. Archery is the perfect
event to close out the day. It gives kids first-hand
experience throwing atlatl spears and letting loose
a quiver of arrows. ♪♪ Ultimately, when
the camp comes to a close, kids have expanded their
outdoor horizon and go home with a lot of
good stories to tell. Riley Walsh: My favorite
activity today is geocaching since I really
like to just walk through the woods. Fire when ready! Andrew Ponties: Archery is
something that I’ve been wanting to do for a while
but building a campfire is by far the most important
skill here I think. Katie Strawn:
Geocaching was fun. Audrey Janssen: But our
GPS was kind of confusing. Katie: Yeah because it
had us going in different directions. My favorite activity was
archery because I really like shooting
bows and arrows. When I get a bullseye
is my favorite part of archery and I feel happy
with I get a bullseye. Survivor camp may be
uncovering new skills for kids to develop, but in
truth, the day is about something much simpler. Petersen: The overall idea
is that we’re getting people excited about
being in the outdoors, so getting an appreciation,
getting an awareness, getting an enjoyment for
being outside because if you enjoy being outside
then you’re going to naturally be learning
things about it and hopefully with that also
want to respect it and to take care of it. ♪♪ For generations,
finding success in photography meant years of
practice and refining your skills with different
lenses and subjects. But with the rise of
social media, some novice photographers have
received an unexpected boost in popularity
and notoriety. For one photographer in
Northeastern Iowa, a single brush of Internet
morality led him to a role moderating outdoor imagery
from across the planet. Some photographers have
lived their whole lives with an unending desire to
capture the perfect image. Others stumble into the
pursuit after acquiring a camera that they just
cannot put down. And at the very end of the
spectrum there are people like Derek Bailey who grew
up in a family steeped in photography, but
personally hated having his picture taken, and yet
somehow he too eventually feel for the allure
of taking pictures. Derek Bailey: Well,
actually my mom is quite a bit of a photographer. Growing up she would
shoot weddings and senior portraits for friends and
family and others and a lot of pictures of
us family members. And I didn’t like getting
my picture taken. So it wasn’t something I
ever really kind of picked up. But after starting a
family, photography once again creeped
into Derek’s life. His wife’s burgeoning
interest in taking family portraits pushed Derek to
the Internet in research of a right priced high end
camera and soon enough — Bailey: There’s a lot to
learn, a lot to take in and once I kind of felt
like I had all this knowledge and picked out
the camera, I kind of wanted to go out and use
it and it’s just kind of grown from there. With his interest growing,
Derek quickly found his niche in photography,
somewhere he never anticipated to end up. Bailey: It’s kind of
funny, my wife wanted to take pictures of the kids
and actually it’s not something I’ve done a real
good job of but I find I enjoy the landscape
photography, getting out in Iowa, taking a lot
of pictures of Iowa. After falling for
landscape photography, it was another family member
who actually pushed him to sharing his work online, a
move that would ultimately lead to a higher
profile and new role. Bailey: I’ve got a brother
who also actually is kind of into photography, he
lives out in Seattle and does real estate
photography professionally. And he’s the one that kind
of suggested, hey why don’t you put your
pictures on Instagram so I can see them. But as I was on it more
and more and found communities on Instagram
and kind of got involved in some and my presence on
there has kind of grown more As Derek continued
to post photos of Iowa and tag specific Instagram
pages, one particular post gained the attention of
a few feature pages who ended up sharing Derek’s
work with thousands of Instagram users. Bailey: I took one
morning of a fence post. The lighting wasn’t really
great, it was kind of dark, but kind of was able
to edit it in a way that I thought it looked good and
I went ahead and posted it. That was this summer and
actually a couple of pages, feature pages
picked it up and featured it and got quite a few
likes and so it was kind of interesting to have a
picture get 2,000 or 3,000 likes on it. One of the feature pages
that shared Derek’s fence picture was Country
Features and with his interest peaked, Derek
responded to a call for new moderators. Bailey: I didn’t really
understand the whole process real well, I know
they featured a few of my pictures and I thought
that was pretty neat, but I did reply back to the
moderator request and they kind of welcomed
me aboard. So it was really neat to
be able to see a picture you like, you select it
and then repost it and start seeing hundreds
of people, thousands of people within an hour
start liking that photo. Feature pages like Country
Features are common throughout Instagram. Chances are if you’re
looking for a particular collection of like photos
on the popular social network there is a feature
page waiting for you. Bailey: So these feature
pages will be focused around a certain
type of photography. There’s black and white,
there’s landscape features, there’s ones
that are country related, ocean related and sunsets,
anything you can think of there’s usually
a feature page. They each have their own
hashtag, a dedicated hashtag that you would
need to include in the comments on your picture. Then the moderators go
look through the picture each day or a period of
time and they’ll search for all the photos posted
with that hashtag. So if I post a picture on
my personal page a few hundred people see it, but
if a feature page like Country Features were to
pick it up and repost it now there’s 50,000 people
that get to see it. It’s a big deal to these
artists, some of the comments they reply
back it’s really neat. They’re really
appreciative of being able to have their work shared
and exposed like that. Of course part of the
benefit of sharing with a feature page is Instagram
users tend to see something they like and
then go directly to the source. Bailey: 50,000 people is a
lot of people but there’s kind of a little bit of a
community there too and people start recognizing
the same people getting posted and if they see
something they like posted on the Country Features
they tend to go look at that artist’s page as well
and will probably start following you directly. So it’s kind of neat, it
really kind of grows. If you’re wondering what
kind of photo Country Features is looking
for, think broadly. The criteria for what is
considered country is not defined. Bailey: We’re open to an
open interpretation of country. Country can mean any
number of things, any number of people. So we’ve got two
moderators in Australia, one in the UK, one in
Canada, we’ve got several across all time zones in
the United States, so you do get a variety. What speaks to me might be
different than what speaks to some of the
other people. I tend to like the
landscapes and the big dramatic skies and some
other moderators tend to like a little more smaller
setting or more focus on a closer up subject. We’ve got some guys that
are big fans of cows. While the Country Features
audience is international, Derek loves the
opportunity to share his home state with the
rest of the world. Bailey: Moderating for
Country Features we’ve had the opportunity to
sometimes pick up on some Iowa artists, that’s
always kind of fun to be able to put them out
there, a little extra pride when you kind of
know it’s a home boy or someone close to you. So, with the world
waiting, who should share with feature pages
like Country Features? Anyone. That is, anyone who is
comfortable with possibly reaching an audience
of thousands. Bailey: There’s no
harm in tagging. You might be surprised. We’re not looking for
professional photos. A lot of them you can
tell are just iPhone. I think currently there’s
almost a quarter million photos flagged as with a
Country Features hashtag. So they’re not all
professional, it’s everything. So if you’re comfortable
with your picture being shared I’d say go for it. ♪♪ It’s time for
IPTV’s Trail in a Minute where we show you a
different Iowa hiking, biking or water
trail each episode. It’s an opportunity
to relive an outdoor experience or to plan
a future adventure. And it’s a pretty cool way
to view the Iowa outdoors. Take a look. The Sunset Trail Ridge
Overlook in Waubonsie State Park is an excellent
cold weather hike in Iowa’s distinctive
Loess Hills. ♪♪ At roughly three
miles down and back to the scenic overlook, this
interpreted trail offers an up close look at what
makes the Loess Hills so unique. ♪♪ With ongoing
efforts to manage native prairie grasses, the stone
covered Sunset Trail still invites visitors to learn
about the area’s many important plants and
trees, as well as the famous silt sediment only
found in Western Iowa’s Loess Hills and the
Huangtu Plateau in China. ♪♪ As you reach the
Sunset Ridge Overlook, you’ll find your first
clear view of the Missouri River Valley. If you happen to come at
sunset, you’ll know why the trail got its name. ♪♪ If you’re ready
to turn back, consider searching for the hidden
wildlife shelters along the trail. But if you’re to continue
down the path, you’re in for a long, awesome hike. ♪♪ The Sunset Trail
Ridge in Waubonsie State Park, a Loess Hills
experience that is hard to top and definitely worth
more than a few minutes, or perhaps hours,
of your time. ♪♪ That wraps up this
edition of Iowa Outdoors. We encourage you to get
outside and enjoy Iowa’s parks and recreational
opportunities. If you’re planning any
outdoor travel, check out our extensive video
archive of adventures at iptv.org/iowaoutdoors. While our episodes
continue to bring you outdoor adventures over
the Iowa airwaves, be sure to follow us on Facebook,
Instagram and YouTube for extended features
and extra content. And be sure to tag Iowa
Outdoors in your online posts. Who knows, you might even
make it onto the show. We’ll leave you now with
some more images of Iowa’s outdoor environment. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ Funding for Iowa Outdoors is provided
by the Claude P. Small, Kathryn Small
Cousins and William Carl Cousins Fund at the
Lincoln Way Community Foundation in Clinton
County to support nature programming on Iowa
Public Television. And by the Alliant
Energy Foundation. Many of Iowa’s natural
wonders you’ll find on Iowa Public Television can
be found in Iowa Outdoors magazine, the Iowa DNR’s
premier resource for conservation, education
and recreation activities. Subscription information
can be found online at iowadnr.gov.

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