Light snow cover paints a pretty picture on hiking trails
The weather warmed up to above freezing for our walks last week. The snow was soft and easy to walk on, although a few hikers wore their Yak Trax just in case. We had been informed that the well-used trail part of the Ice Age Trail around Lake LaGrange did have some icy spots, so we avoided that section of trail.
On Tuesday we hiked on the Ice Age Trail south of U.S. Highway 12 to the second intersection with the horse/snowmobile trail near County Highway P and returned on the horse/snowmobile trail for a five-mile walk.
The sun was red in the western sky for the first part of our walk before it set. After twilight the trail was still visible as the snow remained white and we did not need our headlamps. It was a great walk.
Many animal tracks were visible in the snow, including deer, fox or coyote, rabbit, squirrel, raccoon and turkey.
The next day we split up into two groups, both hiking loops from our meeting place utilizing the Ice Age Trail and horse/snowmobile trails.
Ellen Davis reported the following on the shorter walk:
The short hike today took the horse/snowmobile trail from U.S. 12 to Esterly Road. We soon found ourselves spread out in fast, medium, slow and very slow-moving clusters, as some members of our group were returning to the trails after several weeks of inactivity.
One hiker mentioned that the trail around Lake LaGrange had been icy earlier in the morning. Our trail was comfortably snow-covered -- slightly sticky in the sun and crunchy in the shade, but no visible ice and not yet packed down by snowmobile traffic.
Those in the front waited for the rest of us at Esterly Road. Four energetic souls decided to continue on the Ice Age Trail to the intersection above County P, return via the horse trail to Esterly then take the Ice Age Trail back to U.S. 12 for a total of five miles. Those wanting a shorter but still challenging workout would return on the IAT for a 3.5-mile hike. The majority of the group, however, simply turned around and went back the way we came -- three miles was enough for some of us.
Meanwhile, my long-distance hikers went in the other direction starting on the horse/snowmobile trail on the southeast side of Lake LaGrange. This avoided the slippery part of the Ice Age Trail by the lake. We then continued to the Ice Age Trail to hike east to Duffin Road and returned on the horse/snowmobile trail, a distance of about six miles.
Half of our group, including me, was lagging behind the lead group because we walked a bit slower to enjoy the scenery. We decided to take a shortcut to the horse/snowmobile trail, which cut off most of a mile for the hike. I called Lynn Larson who was in the lead group to inform them what we were doing so they would not wait for us. That group eventually caught up with us and then we all walked back together.
All of the animal tracks we saw the evening before were seen again. The terrain was beautiful with steep hills that are not visible in the summer with underbrush and leaves on on the trees. It was a beautiful hike in a couple inches of soft snow on a warm and sunny day.
Happy trekking, Russ
Candlelight Ski, Jan. 26: Meet from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., at Nordic Trails. Both ski and hike the 1.64-mile purple loop of the Nordic Ski Trails that will be illuminated by 450 candles. No hills. The Nordic Trail is located on County Highway H, about three miles south of Palmyra and 1.5 miles north of LaGrange. Hot beverages and food will be available for sale in a heated shelter. A bonfire/charcoal fire will be available. Bring your marshmallows and food you would like to cook. Dogs are allowed at this event only. No skate skiing and no skijoring.
Moonlight Hike, Jan. 26: Meet at 7 p.m., at Price Park to hike or snowshoe under the nearly full moon and the stars. Price Park is on Hodunk Road south of County Highway D or north of Potters Road. Contact: Ron Nacker, (262) 642-4372.
Mobile Skills Crew Rendezvous, Feb. 2: At 10 a.m., MSC participants or wannabes are invited. See the the IATA calendar at www.iceagetrail.org for details. Contact Gary Klatt for info/carpool arrangements, (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 p ark 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.