A project whose stunning success serves as a testament to the woman it honors, will be dedicated at the Moccasin Trail west of Elcho on Saturday.
Michelle’s Lodge, constructed after a fast-paced fund-raising campaign, is being dedicated in memory of Michelle Koss, who was killed in a traffic mishap in March, 2016 while bicycling near her Bryant-area home.
The event is slated at the trailhead from 1 to 4 p.m., with a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony at 1:30 p.m. The trails will be open for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, and, for the adventurous, moonlight will light the trails in the evening.
Dr. Charles Wetzel, president of the Elcho Cross-Country Ski Club,
hangs a wreath on the door of Michelle’s Lodge,
which will be dedicated on Saturday.
The wreath was made and donated by Tina Rasmusseun,
a classmate of Michelle Koss,
in whose honor the lodge is named.
The afternoon will also include a chili dump, with people invited to bring small batches of their favorite concoctions to add to the roasters. There will also be hot chocolate, water and treats available along with a bonfire, both for comfort and for those who may want to roast a marshmallow or hot dog.
Those planning to stay for the afternoon may want to bring a chair for lounging by the bonfire, as inside seating in the lodge is rather limited.
The frigid weather snap has claimed one scheduled event for the weekend, with the Antigo Bike and Ski Club canceling Breakfast at Gartzke due to the below zero readings predicted during the morning hours. But with temperatures predicted to inch into the single digits above zero, sun and a southern exposure at the Moccasin Trail, breakfast organizers are urging everyone to keep the lodge dedication on their agenda.
The lodge is located in the Langlade County Forest with the trail system maintained by the Elcho Cross-Country Ski Club for four-season use by skiers, hikers, snowshoers, horseback riders and others.
From Antigo, take Highway 45 north to Elcho and turn west onto Enterprise Lake Road. Turn left on Moccasin Lake Road to Bear Lane and left to the trailhead. There are plenty of signs to guide the way.
Similar in design to the Spychalla Lodge at Jack Lake, the building was constructed in part by students from Elcho High School technology education classes, with funding through a cross-section of the community, including local foundations, businesses, civic clubs and dozens and dozens of those known simply as Friends of Michelle.
Koss graduated from Elcho High School in 1980 and went on to become a nurse and health educator. A passionate competitor, she was involved in the Birkebeiner cross-country ski race, The Wolfman Triathlon along the Wolf River at Langlade, created the Splash-N-Dash aquathon at Veterans Memorial Park and the women’s Monday night summer bike rides among a myriad of other activities.
Plans call for the lodge to be the centerpiece of an indoor/outdoor classroom for use by the students, especially since it is only a short drive from the Elcho school. Portions of that idea have already been put into place, with the formation of an Elcho Silent Sports Club for students of all ages.
Along with the educational component for students, the facility will promote physical fitness and outdoor opportunities for all ages and abilities.
Angie Close, executive director of the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation, said the lodge and trail improvements will create another marketable asset for Langlade County.
Any enhancements to our trail and park systems strengthen the perception to our visitors, people who live here, and people who we are trying to attract here that Langlade County clubs and organizations like the Elcho ski club support and encourage life-long, healthy habits, Close said. ‘Tourism generates a positive impression of Langlade County’s image, which is critical for economic development.
The project received the endorsement and the support of officials from the Elcho school district, Langlade County, the town of Elcho, city of Antigo and the Langlade County Economic Development Corporation. It was also chosen for a major three-year commitment by the Antigo Optimist Club, the Sheldons and Remington foundations and many others.