It was the tale of two weather patterns for hikers
The last week in January was bad for hiking, with extremes in temperature and snow conditions.
Earlier in the day, I had checked my front yard and found it wet and muddy. The ground was still frozen below a few inches from the surface. I decided that we should not hike and called the regular participants who show up in most weather conditions to inform them, but I went to the meeting place to see if any others showed up.
Fortunately, I did have my hiking boots and rain gear along as two of the hikers I had called and two others showed up, including a first-time hiker. Ed Rynko said that he was hiking at Kishwauketoe earlier in the day and found the trails to be thawed out and not muddy. When the ground completely thaws, the water can be absorbed by the soil and the surface is firm and not muddy. My front yard is protected from the sun in winter so did not completely thaw. That would explain our different assessment of the situation.
We decided that we should hike around Lake LaGrange, because much of the Ice Age Trail there is in the open and would have a good chance of being thawed out. We put on our rain gear and headed out. The rain was coming down rather hard, so there was water either running down the trail or standing on it, but with the exception of some of the north hillside at the beginning of the walk, it was not muddy.
It was warm enough so that even when we did get wet, it didn’t really bother us. We did not need gloves and I only had the hood of my rain jacket for head protection.
The next day brought the temperature down to the freezing mark with steady snow. What a different hike! The roads were slippery on the way to the walk, but 13 brave hikers showed up. Jake and Mary Ann Gerlach led two others on a short walk around Lake LaGrange while Norwin Watson and I headed in the opposite direction with the others.
There were a couple inches of wet snow on the trail and the north sides of hills were a bit muddy, but the walking was very good elsewhere. The snow made for absolutely beautiful scenery. Everyone agreed that it was a great walk.
We had started out on the Ice Age Trail and split up at the intersection with the snowmobile trail. Norwin continued with a contingency farther on to the snowmobile trail near County Highway P before returning while I took the others back on the snowmobile trail.
Happy trekking, Russ
-- Trail work, Feb. 23: Meet at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Highway 12 kiosk five miles east of Whitewater for trail maintenance, including cutting back honeysuckle, berry bushes, etc. Contact: Gary Klatt, (262) 473-4973.
-- Weekly walks: Meet each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. 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. Two or more walks of different distances are offered on Wednesdays (and Tuesdays when desired). 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 trail head.