Weekly Walk: Good hiking weather continues
The Weekly Walks for Nov. 3-4
Thank you for voting for the Ice Age Trail in Michelob's Ultra Trail contest. We won! Our trail had the highest number of votes nationwide and will receive a $25,000 grant to help improve, maintain, and protect the Ice Age Trail! What an honor – and what a gift, thanks to your support!
The 4 p.m. Tuesday hike, reported by Norwin Watson:
Seventy degrees and sunny with little wind: what a great day for a hike! We decided to hike around Lake LaGrange, agreeing with Ed's suggestion to travel clockwise so we wouldn't have to climb the big hill in the dark, which comes an hour earlier now that Daylight Saving Time has ended. The sun was lower but still bright and there was a bit of fall color left as we walked along the lake. I stopped to take some photos, catching up with the group at Russ's bench for a short break before continuing.
We saw some young kids fishing near Ruth's Point. Bonnie, with her dog Oreo, stopped to chat with them while we went on ahead. As we turned onto the white access trail to return to the trailhead, we noted that there was some color left in the red oaks and poplars in the woods. With about a half mile left to go, Bridget started to pull ahead of the rest of us. Ed and I decided to see if we could catch up to her. We did, eventually, but only because she had reduced her speed and started her cool-down. We reached the trailhead as Bonnie and Oreo were leaving – they had doubled back on the trail instead of proceeding. It had been a very nice three-mile hike and all eight of us were looking forward to another nice hike tomorrow.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported by Marvin Herman:
On a bright and sunny day with temperatures in the low sixties, ten long-hikers departed from the U.S. 12 meeting place walking south on the Ice Age Trail. Our destination was the hill overlooking Rice and Whitewater Lakes, a little more than a mile south of County Highway P. This challenging segment of the IAT is very familiar to the hikers in our group. With the temperature expected to rise to seventy degrees, some of us would have our stamina tested.
We came upon a downed tree about a mile into the hike, and Norwin made a note to contact the appropriate personnel to have it removed. The surface of the trail was covered with dead leaves, obscuring the rocks and roots that would normally be visible and easy to avoid. Nevertheless, there were no falls that I observed. A few sections of trail were covered with pine needles that proved to be a soft smooth hiking surface. Some hikers reported seeing mushrooms just off the trail, but they were uncertain of the variety. There was also a report of colorful pokeweed, and we all noted bright yellow leaves remaining on some of the maple trees as we walked along.
When we reached the overlook, Jo rewarded us with fresh grapes as we rested a while and admired the scenic view below us. On the return trip we elected to take the horse trail back from County Highway P, cutting about a half mile off our hike for a total distance of 7.1 miles. Almost all of us regrouped at the LaGrange General Store for food and conversation. All agreed that, given the time of year with wintery conditions on the way, this hike was an exceptionally pleasant experience.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:
Twenty short-hikers – plus one toddler and two dogs – re-grouped at the Emma Carlin Trails for a three-mile hike through a variety of terrains. We started out on the Ice Age Trail, crossing County Highway Z and heading through the scrub toward the prairie, dogs on-leash and Rita pulling her grandson (age 3 ½) in his lightweight “babymobile”....
The prairie was a study in rolling golden-tan hills dotted with occasional now-leafless trees. Indian grass – some taller than our heads – lined the trail, and the sun made the fluffy seedheads of goldenrod and asters sparkle. We came upon an area of feathers littering the ground and stopped to examine them. The grey, tan, and brown patterning on the larger ones hinted that the owner might have been a pheasant. Comfortably warm by now, we removed excess outerwear to the sound of guns from the McMiller firing range and continued across the prairie and through the woods to forest headquarters for a short break.
The next phase of our hike took us around the kettle pond on the nature trail and up the old Ridge Trail along the top of the esker. We stopped briefly to admire the view of Scuppernong Prairie from the shelter, then picked our way around rocks and roots down the trail and across a meadow to a wide well-groomed ski trail leading to the old Stute Springs Homestead.
We paused at the springhouse where a few of our group were brave enough to sample watercress for the first time. It was declared to be “radishy” and “peppery.” The chinked-log smokehouse was admired, the pump tested (in vain), and the stone chicken coop examined. Then back through the pines to the access road, a few minutes' hike along the edge of the highway, and we were back at the trailhead. Ready for lunch.