Weekly Walk: Cool breezes, colorful walks

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Ellen Davis | May 25, 2017

The Weekly Walks for May 16 and May 17,  2017

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

Wild geraniums, fragrant honeysuckle in bloom, and a toad as big as my hand: these were just a few of the amazing things you would have seen if you had joined me, Ed, and Nancy M. on today's hike around Lake La Grange. In spite of the warm and humid summer-like conditions, it was very pleasant due to the stiff breeze out of the south that cooled us as we hiked along the familiar path. Before we left the U.S. Highway 12 parking lot, we encountered four young men backpacking from Rice Lake to Pine Woods. This evening they would shelter at the facility near Wisconsin Highway 59. One of them, studying the map, was amazed at the length of the trail as it snaked up toward Sturgeon Bay.

We noticed that the cornfield had been plowed, and soon we will see whether the crop will be corn or a repeat of last year's beans. (Ed is a noted consumer of either crop, so it doesn't matter to him.)

At the end of the nearly three-mile hike, Ed told us that he had refurbished the trail sign just up the hill from the parking lot which announces the distances to Bald Bluff and other spots. The four-by-four post which held the sign had rotted, and he found the sign and post lying by the side of the trail. He secured a new post and re-mounted the sign. I helped carry the sign and Nancy carried the post-hole digger, shovel, and level to the site. The two of us furnished moral support as Ed dug a three-foot deep hole and erected the new sign. This is by no means the first time that I have reported that Ed has done such repairs at or near the Blackhawk segment trailhead. He also regularly polices the area for trash left by less concerned hikers and horse-riders using the area. Kudos to Ed!

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

On a warm and humid day on which we were favored with cool breezes and even gusts of wind, our hike leader -- with the deftness of Aaron Rodgers changing a play at the line of scrimmage -- abandoned plans to hike at the marl pits and instead decided to return to the connector bike trails between the John Muir and Emma Carlin trails.

Sixteen long-hikers carpooled to the trailhead on Tamarack Road where we started our  hike on the outbound connector trail to Young Road, the place where we ended a week or two ago. Then we continued on the reverse connector back to Tamarack. At that point we lost three hikers who decided that they had had enough for the day. The rest of us carried on via the Ice Age Trail toward Horse-riders' Park in Palmyra. At Little Prairie Road, five more hikers tapped out -- the heat and minor injuries being the suspected causes. At Horse-riders, the plan had been to return via the bike trail but most of us retraced our steps back to Tamarack Road instead, for a total distance of 5.6 miles. Bonnie and Rich did an extra mile or so on the bike trail.

Along the way we couldn't help but notice loads of wild geraniums. As we stopped to assess some greenery on suspicion of being poison ivy, we saw some nice starry Solomon's seal.  We also encountered the backpacking group which we first met yesterday at Highway 12; they were now well on their way toward Pine Woods. We presented them with a nice feather as a memento of their Ice Age Trail experience.

I can speak only for myself in stating that this hike brought on quite a bit of fatigue and I was glad to see it end. But drinking lots of water and hiking within my personal (slow) limits allowed me to finish in pretty good shape. About half of the original group met for lunch at the La Grange General Store. I enjoyed a big bowl of turtle ice cream which I was pleased to share with my fellow hikers.

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

It seemed like a perfect day to hike the Ice Age Trail across the prairie to Brady's Rocks to admire the wildflowers and exotic ferns before the mosquitoes were out in force. A look at the weather radar eliminated that plan in a hurry. We resorted once again to the Nordic ski trails, where a large number of routes available could get us back to the trailhead quickly if the weather changed for the worst.

Our group of 13 this morning included two new hikers from Cambridge and two from Richmond Township that we hadn't seen since last summer. Jake chose the white trail and off we went down a grassy alley bordered by wild geraniums, dandelions, violets, and garlic mustard. Our Cambridge hikers were pleased to be able to preview the ski trails well before snowfall.

This was another relaxed and companionable hike. We observed one impressive shooting-star in bloom, many droopy yellow bellworts, wild geraniums in all their glory, and common violets ranging in color from white through the full range of true blues. Choke cherries dangled their tassels of tiny flowers. The woodpecker-sculpted tree was still standing, harder to find surrounded by the greenness of spring. A question about poke weed and poke salad persuaded Jake to go off-trail into a tangle of dead stalks to check for new leaves. There were none. Perhaps they were sprayed, perhaps they have yet to emerge.... In any case, the wild strawberries beside the trail could provide a diminutive feast in weeks to come.  

As the humidity rose, the scent of the honeysuckle bordering the trail became stronger.  We finished the hike in a cloud of its perfume, and compared various electronic devices' opinions as to the length of our hike. No two agreed, but we agreed to abide by Mark's GPS reading of 3.4 miles. Most of the group went on for lunch and conversation at the La Grange General Store.

Happy trekking.

Respectfully submitted,
Ellen Davis

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