Weekly Walk: Summer sights along the trail

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Ellen Davis | July 14, 2015

Weekly walks for July 7 and 8, 2015

Dog owners:  It's now nesting season & dogs must be on leash at all times on State Forest land through July 31: http://dnr.wi.gov/news/weekly/article/print.asp?id=2199

The  4 p.m. Tuesday hike, reported by Norwin Watson:    

As I arrived at 3:45 p.m. for our 4 p.m. Tuesday hike, I found four hikers already waiting in the parking lot. A few minutes later two more showed up – one with two Pomeranians on leashes. After a brief discussion, we decided on the Green trail at the Nordic Ski Trails and set off for County Highway H.  

Jake suggested hiking in the reverse direction and we all agreed. About a quarter mile into the hike we spotted some orange daylilies, then black-eyed Susans, ox-eye daisies, and daisy fleabane. At the half mile point the wild black raspberries appeared and a few of us picked some for a nice snack. At the top of a good-sized hill we took a short break on a couple of benches with a great view of a small pond. Continuing our walk, we found pinks, harebells, wild bergamot, yarrow, yellow cone flowers, and St. John's wort. We returned to the trailhead refreshed after a very nice 3.62-mile hike – away from those pesky mosquitoes!
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday impromptu wildflower hike, as told by Mariette Novak:

We had five wildflower hikers this morning, including Dave and myself. My prairie was at its all-time best, so that was our first stop. We also admired a nearby crane family with two chicks, then drove to County Highway S, left one car, and carpooled to Forest Headquarters to begin our hike on the Ice Age Trail back to County S.  

Our hike began in the woodland. Wildflowers were sparse; mosquitoes were not. We saw showy trefoil and both bracken and royal ferns, but little else of note at this time of year. The prairie near the railroad tracks was a different story, and the breeze here kept the bugs away. There was too much invasive spotted knapweed, but spiderwort, butterfly weed, coriopsis, black-eyed Susans, leadplant, and one hoary puccoon were also in evidence. There was also lupine in seed. Butterflies included assorted fritillaries, red admirals, and common wood nymphs. This was a pleasant hike, but the best show of color in this area is yet to come.

The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported by Marvin Herman:

It was a sunny cool day with temperatures in the 50s as the hikers gathered at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place. Norwin decided that the long hikers would drive to the Ice Age Trailhead on Wisconsin Highway 67 and carpool to the hunters' parking lot north of Wisconsin Highway 59. From there we would use this beautifully cool hiking day to walk the prairie. Sixteen hikers were in the long group; the main group started at the hunters' lot and finished at Highway 67— a distance of 5.3 miles over generally flat terrain.  So far as I know, none of the hikers in that group hiked any portion of the Brady's Rocks area either because they were eager for lunch or because they were bedazzled by all the wildflowers in evidence along the trail.

Our attention was first captured by fragrant milkweed; many hikers sniffed it up close to fully appreciate its aroma. We also saw spotted knapweed, many tall compass plants, bright orange Turk's cap lilies, black-eyed Susans, white bergamot, bindweed, Queen Anne's lace, crown vetch, daisy fleabane, heal-all, horsetail, and timothy.  

After the hike, the drivers were returned to their cars and most of the group, along with two women from the wildflower hike, reconvened at the Main Street Family Restaurant in Palmyra for lunch and conversation.

The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:

Nine short-hikers (and two canines) car-pooled to the Nordic Ski Trails to repeat the Tuesday hike on the green trail. In addition to the wildflowers mentioned by Norwin, we also noted poke milkweed, heal-all, and New Jersey tea  (a small blooming shrub), plus monarch, swallowtail, frittilary, and satyr butterflies. This was another relaxed and conversation-filled hike, highlighted by many opportunities to pick and eat wild black raspberries.  Some of us took advantage of these opportunities.... The division between the “hikers” and the “berry-eaters” became wider the longer we hiked. Back at the trailhead, the “hikers” announced that they had been waiting for the rest of us (easily recognized by our purple-stained fingers) for at least ten minutes. That could be, but they didn't know what they were missing! We all adjourned to the La Grange Country Store for coffee, sandwiches, and further conversation.

Happy trekking!

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Davis, hike reporter

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