By Lucy Tyrrell - Bayfield Poet Laureate 2020–2021
A poetry trail idea was hatched as a project during my tenure as Bayfield Poet Laureate in 2020–2021. Instead of using a literal walking trail, in coordination with the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce, I organized the first Bayfield Poetry Trail (2021) in which 22 businesses (Bayfield Chamber members) posted poems in their windows. Many shops shared poems related to their business or location. The "trail" lasted for a month from mid-August to mid-September.
In 2022, the Bayfield Poetry Trail was expanded to include 26 businesses—this time during September to overlap with Art Escape and Bayfield Festival of Arts. Poems from the two past Bayfield Poetry Trails are available for reading in a binder at the Bayfield Carnegie Library, sponsor (with the City of Bayfield) of the Poet Laureate program.
I thought it would be good to have garden or flower poems posted on local trails in concert with Bayfield in Bloom. This led me to wonder whether 2023 might be the year to have poems posted during June instead of September. Carol Fahrenkrog, Director of the Bayfield Chamber, suggested that trail poems be part of the Garden Tour and retain the Bayfield Poetry Trail in September.
To give Salmo Trail users a chance to read about nature and blooms, I placed eight poems along the trail for the week of Bayfield in Bloom, listed as Stop #16 for the Garden Tour (June 10, 2023). Some poems were written by contemporary poets, while others were penned centuries ago.
If you did not get a chance to experience this year’s poetry on the Salmo Trail, maybe there will be a repeat with different poems in 2024.
The third annual Bayfield Poetry Trail will be staged for Art Escape, September 9-17, 2023 and poems will be posted for the entire month of September. Twenty-six businesses have signed up to participate. You can view a map of the poetry trail in the Art Escape brochure.
The poetry trails and walks have been a group effort. Thanks to all!
The bridge across the creek is coming soon – to be installed in mid- July by the Anderson Bridges company (you’ve seen their bridges around if you’ve been on trails in northern Wisconsin and elsewhere). Several volunteers have already cleared the bridge access, including cutting down large black ash trees, in preparation for the bridge installation. Brit's Tree Care removed the more challenging willow and box elder trees overhanging the bridge site to ensure that they don’t harm the white and yellow birches on the creek bank.
The new trails will be available for hiking and snowshoeing. Due to the DNR’s special management of the Pikes Creek Fisheries Management Area, no bikes are allowed. Meme will be closed during the mud-season to keep the trail in good condition through these sensitive areas. Enjoy!
Bayfield Area Trails volunteers braved the June 2023 mosquito invasion to work on repairs and upgrades along the Gil Larsen and Pine Bluff Trails in Bayfield’s Big Ravine. Due to extremely high runoff from this year’s abundant snow, the creek in the Big Ravine deepened its channel and carried away all the steppingstones at creek crossings. This runoff also created gullying on the lower Pine Bluff Trail, putting the trail at risk of extreme erosion.
So, starting with World Trails Day on June 6th, 13 volunteers teamed up to rebuild the washed-out creek crossing near the base of the Sweeny Switchback Trail, restored and stabilized a section of the lower Pine Bluff Trail with rock armoring, and completed several improvements to the boardwalk and stairs on the lower Gil Larsen Trail.
Gene’s concluding thoughts? “Everyone involved is really happy to have this to do. And for anyone who’s donated to the project in any way, it’s a source of pride.” Happy Trails!
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