Weekly Walk: One bright way to stay dry

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Ellen Davis | September 28, 2016

The Weekly Walks for Sept. 20 and 21,  2016

The  4 p.m. Tuesday hike, reported by Jake Gerlach:

On this very warm Tuesday evening only four people showed up for the hike. We drove to the Nordic Ski Trails north of La Grange for a very invigorating hike in the counterclockwise direction on the rugged Green Trail.  

Just after getting underway, I saw a red squirrel at the old homestead. I have seen three different varieties of squirrels in this part of Wisconsin. The largest of the squirrels is the fox squirrel, which has a lot of red on it. Next is the grey squirrel which is usually grey in color but can be any shade from white to black. The smallest is the red squirrel, which is about the size of a chipmunk with a bushy tail.

The ski trails are wide and well-maintained and make for nice conversational opportunities.  We saw plenty of asters still blooming, but most of the goldenrod was past its prime. We did find two puffball mushrooms: the first had been stepped on and destroyed and the second was small, soft, and dirty-looking inside – nothing of value there. At the bench overlooking the pond we stopped for water and a short break. The rest of the hike was spent just trying to keep up with the other hikers going up and down the hills. All in all, it was a great 3.6- mile hike.

The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported by Anna Hrovat:

Despite thunderstorms in the area, a small group of us decided to brave the severe weather and took to the Nordic Ski Trails. The Nordic trails offered the group the opportunity to cut the hike short in case the weather got worse. Six hikers and a dog pushed into the woods on the Green Trail.

Armed with proper rain gear and hiking poles, we stayed relatively dry under the trees and held secure footing on the slick trail. We took turns talking with each person on the trail about preferred hiking gear, recent travels, and more. Spirits were high despite the overcast skies.  

On the trail we spotted goldenrod and asters, and admired the sumac which had turned a deep red. The hiker with the dog cut back after four miles and the rest of us continued on the Green Trail, including a couple of blue detours to bring our mileage up to 5.2 miles total. To celebrate another solid adventure, we ate lunch at the La Grange General Store for a warm and yummy reward.

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

The weather report for our corner of the Southern Kettle Moraine looked very iffy for the next few hours, though it did predict a break in the rain in the early afternoon. I arrived at the Highway 12 IAT kiosk about 25 minutes early to find it already occupied by four hikers, including short hike co-leader Jake looking like a large Christmas elf in a bright red plastic rain poncho.

Some of us had seen lightning flashes on our way to the meeting place, and all had heard thunder. A smart-phone app showed that most of the lightning was centered more to the southwest of our location but we were not entirely in the clear. Karen Helwig (former leader Russ's widow) drove in with three visiting family members, planning a memorial hike to Russ's bench.  The rain kept falling, punctuated by occasional thunder.  

By 10:30 a.m., 12 wet weekly hikers were stuffed into the kiosk. It was decided that the short hike was canceled, the long hike would be shorter than usual, and Karen's car-full would take the shortest route to the bench. The three groups went their separate ways – four hikers to the La Grange General Store for coffee, six to the Nordic Trails for a hike in the rain, five to visit Russ's bench then join the short hikers at the General Store. Jake just headed for home.  Although hiking in the rain is enjoyable, the majority of us felt that this was indeed a very good day to revel in the comfort of home.

Happy trekking.

Respectfully submitted,

Ellen Davis

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