Lady’s slippers, a wild orchid, bloom early this year
Last week, I was walking in Texas while visiting relatives in Dallas and Austin. We had great weather there and I understand that it was nice here also, with 38 hikers showing up for the Wednesday walks.
I did not get back in time to participate in the Tuesday walk this week, so I will just be reporting on the following day’s adventures for the longer walk. But Ellen Davis gives the following report on the shorter Wednesday walks for both weeks:
In recent weeks the short hike has added an option for a not-so-short hike. Last week, the high point of the day was the abundance of butterflies, most notably the giant swallowtails and the monarchs.
This week, 19 of us started out on the Nordic orange trail. Though the morning had started out chilly, most of us soon removed our jackets as the day turned warm and breezy. The wild geraniums were almost over; but the wood anemones were blooming, as were wild black raspberry bushes and multiflora roses. Again, butterflies were everywhere.
We added the second blue loop to our venture, then divided into two groups. Eight hikers and a canine continued on the orange trail back to the trailhead, while nine hikers took the green trail. We successfully identified Japanese hedge parsley (an invasive), hawks-eye and domesticated poppies gone wild. We also sampled tiny ripe wild strawberries.
Back at the trailhead, the short hike GPS had a reading of 3.66 miles. If that was correct, then the longer short hike would be close to 5 miles. In any case, the weather was beautiful.
Fourteen of us participated in the long walk this week, which started and ended at the Scuppernong ski trailhead where we had carpooled to meet. We started out clockwise around the outer green trail and included the half-mile loop to the scenic overlook. Shortly after the overlook diversion we intersected the Ice Age Trail on which we hiked back to the starting point.
We found fleabane, yellow hawkweed, starry Solomon’s seal, false Solomon’s seal, shooting star, wild geranium and a few other wildflowers in bloom, but not the abundance of them that we had seen on other walks. It was, however, a great walk with the Ice Age Trail going down switchbacks into a beautiful valley with one hillside covered with ferns.
After a lunch break, we headed back to our meeting place.
Several of us decided to search for lady’s slippers, beautiful wild orchids that usually bloom in early June but probably would be blooming early this year. We were not disappointed. We found large numbers of yellow lady’s slippers in full bloom. Most of the white ones were past bloom as they are a bit earlier than the yellow as well as being much smaller in size.
The wet prairie where we saw them was sprinkled with many other wildflowers such as prairie phlox, hoary puccoon, blue-eyed grass, wild indigo and golden alexander.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- Camp/hike/bike, June 8-10: Contact Eileen Harris for information about this weekend at Perrot State Park, (262) 723-3716.
-- Tyke hike and children’s entertainment, June 16: Short hike for toddlers and kids with Monty, the wooly mammoth mascot for the Ice Age Trail, followed by a kid-oriented concert featuring Ken Lonnquist, singer, songwriter and storyteller. Meet at the welcome building at Ottawa Lake. Contact: Barb Converse, (262) 473-7304.
-- Also on June 16: Rock County Conservationists host a night hike at Janesville’s Rockport Park from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Meet at the west end of the parking lot next to the swimming pool. Look and listen for the wildlife of a Wisconsin summer night: bats, owls, tree frogs, fireflies and glow worms. Program for families with small children or for Scout groups, church groups etc. Call Dave Bendlin at (608) 868-3824 with questions.
-- Weekly walks: We meet at 4 p.m. each Tuesday and at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age National Scenic Trail crossing located about four miles east of Whitewater and about a quarter-mile east of the intersection of U.S. Highway 12 and Sweno Road. The parking lot is at the west end of Sherwood Forest Road, which is a short road that intersects U.S. Highway 12 at each end. All ages are welcome. A state park pass is required to park a car at the U.S. Highway 12 lot and may be purchased at the trailhead.