Weekly Walk: Even youngest hikers enjoy snowy trails

Share on Facebook Comments Comments Print Print
Russ Helwig and Ellen Davis | February 19, 2015

Norwin Watson offered this account of last week Tuesday's hike:

By 4:05 p.m. the temperature was 31 degrees, with cloudy skies and a light wind. Six hikers and one small Pomeranian (Jesse) headed out on the Ice Age Trail around Lake La Grange. The trail today was uneven hard-pack snow and ice. Everyone wore ice cleats (except four-footed Jesse), but walking was still difficult.

We stopped at Russ' bench for a short break, watched two ice fishermen trying their luck on the lake, and continued on our way. Despite the rough trail, it was a nice three-mile hike.

Marvin Herman submitted this report on the Wednesday long hike:

Eleven long-hikers joined the short hikers as we re-grouped at the John Muir Trails. The sunny sky was mostly blue and temperatures were in the low thirties. Almost all of the long hikers wore ice grippers to help navigate the slippery spots on the trail.

The trail in general was hard snow flattened by the fat tire bike riders who are practicing for a race on Saturday. We hiked the Green and Rainy Dew trails up and down the hills for a total of six miles. After the first couple of miles, I had a shoelace slip off my boot cleat and the other hikers went ahead while I re-laced my boot. Walking alone to catch up with the group, I traversed some beautiful pine forest and was able to enjoy the quiet of the day disturbed only by the whistling wind.

Later in the hike, we noticed some black specks that seemed to be jumping around in a deep boot print left by an earlier hiker. These were identified as snow fleas--a species of dark blue springtail, so named because they have long blue appendages that look like tails sticking out from their abdomens. These “tails” are folded under the body and held in place by two hooks; when they are released, the insect is catapulted through the air. Springtails are a valuable part of nature's cycle, feeding on organic matter and aiding in its decomposition so plants can more easily pull nutrients from the soil. I have never seen such a flea, and promptly researched more information on-line.

Following this winter's day learning experience, I joined many of the other hikers at the La Grange General Store for food and conversation.

The Wednesday short hike report was written by Ellen Davis:

Our group today was composed of 14 hikers-- including a three-year-old who alternated hiking with being pulled on a sled-- and two dogs. We left the trailhead with the long-hikers but soon turned off on the new section of the White trail. The surface of the trail was in excellent condition, well-packed and firm. Icy spots were minimal. In short, it was perfect!

As we crossed the old trail, the wind on the ridge was biting. Entering the protection the pines, our comfort level increased considerably. Then downhill again, still out of the wind. We took a break at the junction with the Rainy Dew Trail, waiting for our youngest hiker and his two attendants to catch up. His delight in meeting one very small canine was very evident.

We continued on the Rainy Dew to the Orange and then the White for the return trip. This route is one of Jake's favorites, and ours too: it is varied, scenic, and just hilly enough. Back at the trailhead, Mark's GPS registered 2.47 miles and the elevation equivalent of 18 flights of stairs. We were warm, energized, and ready for lunch. It was another very good hike indeed.

Respectfully submitted--and happy trekking!

Ellen Davis

Share on Facebook Comments Comments Print Print