Weekly Walk: Staying cool in the heat

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Ellen Davis | August 3, 2016

The Weekly Walks for July 19 and 20,  2016

The  4 p.m. Tuesday hike,  reported by Marvin Herman:

With no little amazement I counted six hikers – including Ruth, a new hiker -- subjecting themselves to the 87-degree heat. To dull the agony of lurching around Lake La Grange in this furnace, George invited the hikers to his lovely home on Beulah Lake for pizza and cold beverages, followed by a leisurely ride around the lake on his pontoon boat. All we had to do was finish the hike and we would be whisked away to this promised paradise! I am pleased to report that all hikers, even those who could not accept the invitation due to other commitments, dashed around the lake as fast as they could. Perhaps it was the promise of more delicious cherries from the freezer-pack brought by Ed that spurred them on, but all finished in good time.

Along the way we saw a young rabbit, some chipmunks, and some small frogs. They were not invited for pizza and skipped away into the woods. The colorful flowers along the trail bravely withstood the heat almost as well as the hikers. We finished the three-mile trek in just over an hour, with some brief stops for water.

Thankfully, George fulfilled his promise and most hikers regrouped at his home to continue with a refreshing late afternoon and evening which only broke up as George's wife Betty steered the watercraft into the shore station at sunset. Our Tuesday hikes are becoming great parties – all our hikers are invited to try to join us whenever possible.

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

It was already 85 degrees by 10:30 a.m. when the eight long-hikers departed the Blackhawk trailhead on U.S. Highway 12 for the Nordic trails. Because of the heat and humidity, it was determined that the Nordic would be a good site for our hike since a longer hike can easily be cut short should circumstances dictate.

We noticed, as we ambled along, that the wildflowers were nodding in the heat as if to agree that our slow pace was allowable on such a day. When we reached the junction with the Green trail, there was still at least two miles to go. Fortunately, the sun chose this time to hike behind thickening clouds and a cool breeze kicked up. The group suddenly became infused with greater energy and we concluded the hike at a somewhat brisker pace. Curtis' pedometer read 6.6 miles and that was the only mechanical reading available. I thought the hike was less than six miles. However, if there were such a measurement as a “heat factor” I think it would be about 1.5, making the total distance feel like nine miles.

There was much conversation along the trail about trips taken and yet to be, by kayak and otherwise, and also the usual talk of our aches and pains and those of our friends, families, and loved ones. Most of us adjourned to the La Grange General Store for soup (French onion), salads, sandwiches, and more conversation at an outdoor picnic table. All said that it was a great hike for a hot day.

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

I wondered how many hikers would appear today, as many of our regulars were in Zenda, volunteering at the Farm Technology Days exposition to raise money for the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Attendance was looking rather sparse until about 10:20 a.m.when a new hiker from Williams Bay arrived, followed closely by a hiker from Stoughton, then several others. As the long-hikers prepared to leave for their hike, Marvin handed me a tiny scrap of paper containing a first name and a phone number – a hiker on her way from Racine to join the short hike for the first time today. A phone call revealed that she would reach us in about ten minutes. She did – and turned out to be a woman who had completed our whole 20-mile National Trails Day hike in the rain earlier this summer, now returning to the Southern Kettle Moraine for a less-grueling adventure. Our group – now 10 in number – headed at last for the wooded hills of the John Muir bicycle trails, Jake anticipating that the heat and humidity would limit the number of bikes we would encounter.  

Well-seasoned with sunscreen and bug spray and equipped with hats, hiking poles, snacks and water, off we went on a trail shrunken to a thread of its winter width by walls of overly enthusiastic honeysuckle bearing bright red and orange inedible berries. An impromptu blockade of fallen branches soon blocked our way, shunting us off onto a newer trail featuring some masterly stonework that crossed and soon re-joined the original, then took us through the pines to the intersection with the Rainy Dew trail – and a water break.

We were back on the main trail only briefly before Jake led us onto the revised white trail down the slope, around the hill on the orange, then up again on the scenic Rainy Dew. We experienced several re-routes – painstaking work done by volunteers – and several more re-routes-in-progress marked by flags. This is a large undertaking, and we hikers are eagerly awaiting the new Southern Kettle Moraine Forest and Trail maps reflecting the changes.

We met few bikers today: one group of three, a solo cyclist, and another group of three who appeared to be unhappy to actually see hikers on the officially designated bike and hiking trails. Two additional water breaks were greatly appreciated, especially by Melinda the dog, who almost mastered the art of drinking from a bottle. Wildflowers were absent from the woods, and only the usual roadside varieties appeared along the trail in open areas. The scenery and the terrain were, as always, impressive – and the mosquitoes, for a change, mostly absent. We emerged from the woods to find brisk refreshing breeze and a sky filled with low grey clouds. Recorded mileage for this hike ranged from three to almost five; Jerry's 3.76 miles sounded just about right.  Most of the group stopped at the La Grange General Store for lunch and conversation, agreeing that it had been an interesting, varied, and enjoyable hike for a sticky summer day.

Happy trekking.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Davis

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