Weekly Walk: Hikers find a few layers will take them a long way

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Russ Helwig/Ellen Davis | February 24, 2015

Norwin Watson writes on Tuesday's hike:

Only three hikers appeared for our hike last week Tuesday – Ed Rynko, Marvin Herman, and myself. For the last several years, the core of the Tuesday group has consisted has consisted of the three of us, plus Russ Helwig. We called ourselves the “Fearsome Foresome.” Our leader for the past 12-plus years, Russ, is no longer able to hike, and the “Fearsome Foursome” has become the “Three Musketeers”....

The sun was shining, the sky was blue, and the temperature was 17 degrees. We left the parking lot at 4:05 p.m., hiking clockwise around Lake La Grange. The trail was uneven hard-packed snow, but we were wearing our micro-spikes, so walking was a breeze.  There was nothing new to see – few tracks, no ice fishermen – just a well-known landscape covered with snow. After a short break at Russ' bench, we continued on our way and finished our hike in 64 minutes. It was a nice--if unremarkable--three-mile hike.

Marvin Herman submitted this report on the Wednesday long hike:

Last week Wednesday morning the temperatures were hovering just above zero. There was also a 10 mph breeze along with the cold that added up to a nasty wind chill factor.  Nevertheless, six hikers chose the long hike at the John Muir trails under sunny skies.  
After the first hour of hiking, we were quite warm and felt perspiration on our backs.  The surface was crusty snow with very little ice in evidence; however, we all wore our ice grippers. The trail was relatively flat, which made for worry-free ankles, and we hiked a total of four miles.

After the hike we reassembled at the La Grange Country Store where we met some of the short hikers finishing their soup. We were later joined by a few regular long-hikers who had skipped the hike in order to cross-country ski at the Nordic Trails.

The Wednesday short hike report was written by Ellen Davis:

According to the local weather report, the chill factor this morning was in the teens – below zero.  Five stalwart short-hikers (almost unrecognizable in many layers of clothing) and one canine (also dressed for the weather) began our hike sharing the trail with the long-hikers. Especially noteworthy, considering the weather, was that two-fifths of our group were in their 80s!  

The trail was well packed, fairly even, and easy walking; we soon split off on the new trail – narrower, but still in very good winter condition. Our route was the same as last week.  As we crested the ridge, we were chilled by the same wind until we reached the pines. The trail here was a bit icy in places. We humans had no difficulty, thanks to our ice cleats.  Our four-legged companion actually seemed to be delighted by her new-found ability to slide, and took many opportunities to demonstrate.  

We weren't moving fast enough to break a sweat, but were comfortably warm. By the time we reached the “Stinger” intersection, some of us were loosening hoods, rearranging balaclavas, and undoing the top inch or two of our jackets. We returned to the trailhead with no mishaps, ready for lunch. Mark's GPS credited us again with 2.67 miles and the elevation equivalent of eight flights of stairs.

Respectfully submitted – and happy trekking!

Ellen Davis

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