Weekly Walk: A spring preview
The Weekly Walks for March 21 March 22, 2017
The 4 p.m. Tuesday hike: Jake is having a fine time on vacation!
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported Marvin Herman:
It was 29 degrees and sunny when I arrived at the parking lot for the Blackhawk segment of the Ice Age Trail. In order to assess the condition of the trail and check for downed trees, it was determined by leader Andy that we would carpool to Oleson Cabin off Duffin Road and hike back to the Highway 12 parking lot, a distance of around five miles. Fourteen hikers joined in this undertaking, including and Sharon and Vic, newly returned from hiking in the bush country of Australia and also Tasmania. Various layers of clothing were chosen by the hikers depending on their tolerance for cold and their optimism concerning whether the temperatures would rise. I was both cold-tolerant and optimistic though I did wear light glove-liners. No complaints were made about excessive outerwear and only a few hikers were seen removing jackets as we walked.
I didn't see any downed trees, though I was told that there was one that I walked under. At the map post, Jo offered sweet fresh grapes. Just before we approached Russ's bench, we noticed that someone had written the word "peace" in bright green letters on a trail signpost. I suggested that this word be painted over, since the embodiment of the word is all around us in the woods and no explanation is needed. One hiker in opposition remarked that we should "...give 'peace' a chance." Stay tuned for further updates on this issue.
The last part of the trail was very muddy in the warmth of the early afternoon sun. When we reached the bench at the top of the hill, I checked for pasqueflowers and found that it was still too early. Reaching the parking lot, Bonnie transported the carpool drivers to their vehicles and about half the group met at the La Grange General Store for lunch. Peg presented her beverage bottle for opening by stronger hands. After three failed attempts by various hikers, Andy easily popped it open. Conversations ensued about a wide range of topics -- including how much all had enjoyed this day's hiking adventure.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:
Seventeen short-hikers committed themselves to a hike from the Oleson Cabin to audition a circular route proposed for the "Signs of Spring" hike on Saturday, April 8. We parked beside Duffin Road, supervised by three horses in the field across the way, and arrived at the cabin in time to see the long-hike group heading south on the Ice Age Trail. With Judy H. and her daughter Kelsie at the forefront, we safely navigated a confusion of horse trail and more than one connector trail to arrive at the Ice Age Trail and the beginning of our trek northward.
The trail, trough-like in places from soil compression from years of foot traffic, first meandered through gently rolling woodlands. Tiny new leaves were visible here and there -- we noted Virginia water-leaf and cinquefoil—as well as swelling buds on the honeysuckles. The kettle lake was silent as we passed. Then into the pines, where bright green moss and a scattering of ferns provided a pop of color. One hiker took a fall, a reminder to the rest of us to beware the low stumps barely peeking out from the pine needles covering the trail.
Our route took us across Bluff Road and continued through the pines and across County Highway H. Face to face with a dauntingly large hill, we started up a scenic series of switchbacks to reach the top—and found that sections cut from a fallen tree were just right to sit on for a break. Discussion ensued, and the three Master Gardeners plus at least two specialists in trail maintenance participating in today's hike shared their knowledge and experience during the rest of the hike.
Continuing on the Ice Age Trail to "Confusion Corner," we headed downhill on the horse trail, re-crossing Highway H and Bluff Road and entering the woods again. Several hikers stopped to speculate on the origin of objects (and parts of objects) in an abandoned dump site near the trail. The remainder of the hike featured varied topography and vegetation, with the Master Gardener/trail maintenance contingent stopping at points of special interest and getting farther and farther behind. We reunited downhill from the Oleson cabin, and many of the group went on for lunch and further discussion at the La Grange General Store. Several people commented on how much they enjoyed the hike—mostly flat or rolling with only one large hill—on this cool but sunny spring day. We traveled 3.5 miles.