No snow means the trails are seeing a lot of hikers lately
It was unusually warm in the upper 50s for our Tuesday walk the first week in December. We decided to take on the Nordic Trails. The sun set as we started our walk and it was breezy.
A combination of the green trail with the extension of adding a blue side loop would give us about four miles of great twilight into dark hiking.
The stars came out and after the hike we admired the constellations with the planet Jupiter being the brightest object in the sky.
The next day was a great day for hiking and we had 34 participants, although it was much colder. It did get slightly above freezing by the time we started hiking, but it felt much warmer with the sun and almost no wind.
Ellen Davis and Jake Gerlach led the short hikers. Ellen gave the following report:
Sixteen hikers carpooled to the Nordic Trails for the short hike. We set off on the orange trail, warming up quickly by the end of the second hill. The trails had been groomed recently -- leveled, widened and mowed -- in preparation for the anticipated ski season.
The cool, sunny day and the width of the trail invited conversation, and any deer or hunters in the vicinity would have been well aware of our presence.
We left the orange trail to take the second blue loop through the valley, up the hill and along the top of the ridge to reconnect with the orange. This extra loop would add approximately a half mile to our hike, for a total of three miles. At the intersection, Jake offered an option for an additional mile on the hilly green trail, which was greeted with enthusiasm.
Several of us who chose the three-mile hike decided to carpool to forest headquarters to purchase our new park stickers for 2013. There was just time for a brief tour of the museum, then back to La Grange for lunch.
In the meantime the long-distance hikers carpooled to Lapham Peak for a five-mile hike. We started out on the Ice Age Trail going in the opposite direction that we did the week before. This took us on a new boardwalk over a kettle pond which was nearly dry from the drought. Then we hiked through beautiful prairie and a couple small patches of woods.
We took a side trail to Nemahbin Spring before continuing to the western edge of the Lapham Peak property.
On the way back we took the horse trail, which crosses the Ice Age Trail a few times.
When we reached the newly paved bike trail we took a left on it to the Evergreen Grove parking lot where we started. There we decided to add more mileage to make it a full five-mile hike.
As a result we took the IAT a short distance southeast and cut over to the ski trail and hiked to where there was snow making the week before. Near the snowmaking machines we found several piles of snow that had survived the recent warm weather.
We finished our walk back to the parking lot on ski trails.
After the walk we drove to the Water Street Brewery in Delafield for a tasty lunch and conversation.
Several of us stopped at the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest office on the way back to purchase park passes and trail passes for 2013, which are now available and are good for the rest of this year.
Park passes are required to park at our meeting place and other trailheads in the forest. Trail passes are required for cross-country skiing, biking and horseback riding in the forest.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- Tuesday, Jan. 1, First Day Hike: Meet at 11 a.m. at the John Muir hiking and biking trail on County Highway H one mile north of U.S. Highway 12. Both short and longer hike options are available. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. Contact: (262) 594-6200, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Tuesday, Jan. 1, New Year’s Day hike/snowshoe and potluck: Meet at 1:30 p.m. at Kishwauketoe Nature Conservancy to hike. Afterwards bring potluck refreshments to share at Eileen Harris’, 213 N. Church St., Elkhorn. Call (262) 723-3716. Please note: This is a day of our scheduled 4 p.m. Tuesday weekly walk. Russ Helwig will probably do this hike at Kishwauketoe instead and encourage participation. He will try to have someone meet at the regular meeting place to lead a hike if anyone shows up.
-- Weekly walks: We meet at 4 p.m. each Tuesday and at 10:30 a.m. each Wednesday at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age National Scenic Trail crossing located about four miles east of Whitewater, about a quarter mile east of the intersection of U.S. 12 with Sweno Road. The parking lot is at the west end of Sherwood Forest Road, which is a short road that intersects U.S. 12 at each end. We include two or more walks of different distances on Wednesdays and also do this on Tuesdays when desired. All ages are welcome. Note that a current state park pass is required to park a car at the U.S. 12 meeting place. A daily or yearly pass may be purchased at the meeting place provided correct change is available. Annual passes for 2013 are now available and are good from purchase date throughout 2013.