Another beautiful week for hiking, wildflower viewing
As you probably have heard, there was a transit of Venus across the sun on June 5, and it would be the last one we would be able to see during our lifetime. Now I realize that most of you are not astronomy buffs, but it is a neat thing to see if you are.
Some amateur astronomers set up telescopes to project images of the sun to where it would be safe for viewing, or looked through a No. 14 welding mask glass to prevent being blinded by the sun. At any rate, the view would not be real spectacular because Venus would be observed as about a 32nd of the diameter of the sun so it would appear as a tiny spec as it crossed in front of the larger body. In our location the transit occurred during the last part of our hike and continued to sunset.
We were not prepared to see the transit, but after the walk I decided to improvise a pinhole camera to view the sun, but with little hope of seeing Venus because of its small relative size. I have done this before and had great success with it for viewing eclipses of the sun with the moon. An easy way to make one is to take two index cards, punch a small hole in one, and hold it above your shoulder with the sun at your back and look at the image on the other card held in front of you. The image is very small unless it is far from the pinhole. In this case the image becomes very faint. A larger hole in a larger card can produce bigger images farther away.
We did get a nice view of the sun but did not see Venus. However, a couple of our walkers reported on our Wednesday hike that they did see it with welding glass protecting their eyes. It was still very hard to see and the transit occurred near the edge of the sun. Any way, you can see photos on the Web, and those taken from space are spectacular.
Our walk was around Lake LaGrange and was lengthened by a mile or so by taking some additional horse trails.
The next day the longer walk was on about six miles of the Ice Age Trail from Wisconsin Highway 67 to Wisconsin Highway 59, which passes through much of the Scuppernong Prairie and by Brady’s Rocks, which is an outcrop of Niagara dolomite.
Ellen Davis reported the following for the Wednesday short walks:
Once again the short hike turned out to be two short hikes on two different trails. Six adults, one toddler, one baby and three canines took the less challenging (but scenic) route around Lake LaGrange.
The larger group of 13 drove to the John Muir Trails for a more strenuous workout on the narrow, rocky, hilly bicycle trails. We hiked the “figure 8” route -- out on the white trail, across on the orange and back on the purple -- for a total of about three miles.
The weather was perfect: Cool, with a deep blue sky, puffy white clouds and a little breeze. We saw blooming spiderwort, cinquefoil, toadflax, fleabane, dogwood, prairie rose, Solomon's seal and another mystery plant. This was later identified by Barb Converse as wax-flower shinleaf, a single stalk of tiny bell-shaped blossoms rising from a rosette of roundish leaves.
-- Ellen Davis
The week produced some beautiful walks with many prairie wildflowers and wildlife to view.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- June 21-24 -- Help build new trail at Hartman Creek State Park in Portage County. Go online to www.iceage trail.org or call Gary Klatt, (262) 473-4973.
-- June 23 -- Meet at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age Trail parking lot five miles east of Whitewater for trail work. Contact: Jerome Converse, (262) 473-7304.
-- June 23 -- Kayak/canoe trip. Paddle the Oconomowoc River with the Adventure Club. Meet at 10 a.m. at the put-in on County Highway Q in Monches (County Line Road). Paddle upstream to Lowe Lake and back, about seven miles total. For those who prefer, we could meet and carpool; contact Peter Packer, (262) 215-8277.
-- July 4 -- Whitewater Independence Day parade: Join our entry in the costumed marchers category and “hike” for a crowd of thousands. Meet at 9 a.m. in front of Lincoln School on Prince Street. Contact Barb Converse, (262) 473-7304.
-- 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.