Late bloomers already showing their colors due to heat
Because there was a meeting of the local Ice Age Trail Alliance chapter on Tuesday, Aug. 21, I decided to lead a short hike around Lake LaGrange on the Ice Age Trail and horse trail while Norwin Watson and a small contingency continued the walk farther along the Ice Age Trail.
A couple of us went out part way on Kangaroo Walk at the south end of the lake where we saw a couple great blue herons and a great white egret take to the air. The herons continued to fly farther north to the east shore while the egret returned to land closer to us.
The next day we split into three groups. Norwin took a small contingency of long-distance walkers north of U.S. Highway 12 along the Ice Age Trail to the Bluff Creek State Natural Area, where they hiked to the headwaters of the creek.
I took another small contingency to explore some of the same natural area that Norwin’s group did, but instead of walking from the parking lot on the Ice Age Trail, we car pooled to the Lone Tree Bluff parking lot on Esterly Road.
We did not walk as far as Norwin, but it felt like it. It was tough walking because the entire area, including most of the trails, was covered with buckthorn, honeysuckle, burning bush and other invasive trees and bushes. It had been cut earlier in the year.
We had heard that some bottle gentians were blooming in prairies, so we looked for some of these, and fringed gentians, which grow in the area, but did not find them. It is a bit early for them to bloom, but this has been an unusual year and many flowers have been early due to the hot weather. We did, however, find Lady’s Tresses orchids, Grass of Parnassus and other wildflowers to enjoy.
In the meantime, Ellen Davis, who was in charge of the largest group of walkers, those who preferred a less strenuous walk, carpooled to the Ice Age Trail parking lot on Island Road near Rock County. She reported the following:
Two new hikers from Twin Lakes joined us this morning for a hike on the Ice Age Trail through the Clover Valley State Wildlife Area. Our group of 21 car pooled to the site, where Barb Converse summarized some of the history of the area and the work involved in its restoration. Much of this land formerly was owned by the Converse family; Barb and her husband Jerome “adopted” this section of trail, becoming responsible for its maintenance and improvements.
The first section of trail led us across former farmland, now a prairie beginning to show its fall colors.
Three huge old willows, their centers hollow, framed the path. In past seasons the ground here was usually damp to muddy throughout the warm months. Now it was hard and dry.
Bright red seed heads of Jack-in-the-pulpits provided bursts of unexpected color against the dark soil. As the path led us to higher ground, we stopped to examine an unusual plant tableau --Soloman’s seal and false Soloman’s seal, both bearing berries, side by side for easy comparison.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- Group camp, Sept. 7-9: Group camp at New Glarus Woods State Park and ride the Badger and Sugar River state trails. Contact: Peter Packer, (262) 215-8277.
-- Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter Ice Age Trail Alliance meeting, Sept. 18: Meet at 7 p.m. at U.S. Bank, Elkhorn. Contact Carol Prchal, (262) 495-8502.
-- New trail construction, Sept. 18-21: MSC Project, north of Wisconsin Highway 52 in the Plover River State Fisheries area. Contact Gary Klatt, (262) 473-4973.
-- Trail work, Sept. 22: Meet at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Highway 12 trail crossing, five miles east of Whitewater, for trail maintenance. Contact Jerome Converse, (262) 473-7304.
-- Harvest Moon Hike, Sept. 29: Meeting place and time TBA for this hike on the Ice Age Trail in Janesville from Riverside Park west to the arboretum. Contact Gary Klatt, (262) 473-4973.
-- Weekly walks: The Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance meets 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, which may be purchased at the site. Contact Russ Helwig, (262) 473-2187.