Weekly Walk: Midsummer in bloom along IAT

Comments Comments Print Print
Janet Carriveau | August 2, 2017

The Tuesday hike, reported by Jake Gerlach:

On a very warm summer evening, 10 people showed up for the Tuesday hike. As we started out going around Lake LaGrange, the first thing I noticed is that someone had been doing a lot of trail maintenance. Brush had been cut and trimmed well back from the trail. About halfway down the hill we encountered two large mushrooms. Their caps reminded me of inverted dinner plates (they were about twelve inches in diameter).
When the lake came into view I quickly looked for either the egret or the great blue heron. I was preparing myself for writing about their absence when I saw a great blue heron flying. A little later we spied what I thought was another great blue heron on a dead branch on the far side of the lake.  
The prairie before Russ's bench had a lot of summer prairie flowers. I noticed that the rough blazing star was starting to show some color up near the top. This flower is unusual in that it blooms from the tip of the stalk down. Most stem flowers bloom up the stalk.  
In the newly cleared section just after Ruth's Point, the mullein were showing their spikes above the rest of the plants. When we passed the corn field, I stepped over to show that the corn plants were well above my head. It was then into the woods, then onto the connector trail, get past a couple of large puddles, and back to the trail head. It had been another great hike.
The Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:

We were joined this morning by Jane from West Bend, who is in the process of hiking the whole Ice Age Trail segment by segment, from east to west. Our plan for today's hike:  Rice Lake to Clover Valley Road then up to the lookout and back.
The weather was humid but still reasonably comfortable as we started out on the Rice Lake nature trail around a small lagoon, cloudy from algae and runoff from recent rains. (Jerry, one of our hikers today, has recently "adopted" this trail, parts of which have been badly in need of attention for quite some time.)  Mushrooms in vivid shades of red and yellow poked through the grasses here and there beside the trail, along with tall yellow clover, pink crown vetch, and short purple-flowered heal-all.
We crossed Kettle Moraine Drive to arrive at the Ice Age Trail, took the left fork and headed through the woods and down the hill. The air was denser here and the mosquitoes plentiful. Several giant Jack-in-the-pulpits with healthy clusters of still-green seeds were noted as we passed. We reached the creek and paused to look at the rapidly flowing water, normally clear but somewhat murky today, then went on to the road marking the end of this forested segment, turned around and started back.
The humidity had increased and the trek back up the hill was significantly slower, with some rest stops added for good measure. At the intersection we took the right fork this time, starting another long climb up an even bigger hill to the lookout over Rice Lake. Jane left us there, continuing along the Ice Age Trail back to the U.S. Highway 12 kiosk for a five-mile hike, while the rest of the group returned to the starting point at Rice Lake for a total of around three miles. For many of us, lunch and/or ice cream at the La Grange General Store was a fitting finale for a nicely varied hike on a muggy summer day.

The Wednesday long hike, reported by Marvin Herman:

Our Wednesday hikes continue to provide unexpectedly fun-filled moments. It was an overcast morning with the sun trying to peek out into the super-humid air. Leader Andy, wanting to check storm damage on the Ice Age Trail, suggested that we carpool to Oleson Cabin off Duffin Road and walk back to the Highway 12 parking lot, a distance of about five miles. Hills, heat and humidity would combine to make this a sweaty and laborious trek, and the 14 long hikers present were eager for the challenge. Another hiker would start from Highway 12 and meet us as she walked toward us for a total of 15 hikers.

Just as we were about to depart, a large, empty (except for the driver, of course) school bus pulled into the parking area. On inquiry, we found that he was waiting to meet the Janesville Summer Saunters group of high school and middle school students who were working on a three-day, 30 mile hike of the Ice Age Trail. The driver had time to spare.

The driver guy, whose name was Guy, was kind enough to transport us to the cabin so no carpooling was necessary. It was great fun to be jounced along in the school bus, and many remembered their student days when this was a daily happening. The Saunters group, Guy told us, started near the Lapham Peak unit and planned to end at Esterly Road on the Whitewater Lake segment. It was very impressive to see the kids at the end of our hike as they were just beginning their final two mile trek towards Esterly.  

We started our hike on the trail recently adopted by Doris, who was actually hiking along with us on this day. Many hikers complimented her on the fine maintenance of her portion of the trail. Just before the side trail to Shelter #3, we noticed a reroute of the IAT which was made necessary due to the erosion of the trail at the bottom of a hill. The fix flattens the trail which will keep it dry and safe for future trail users.

Of course, no midsummer hike would be complete without the recognition and identification of many plants along the trail and in the fields on either side: blazing star, flowering spurge (I love to say that name!) compass plant, butterfly weed, rattlesnake master, Sumac in blazing red flower, Queen Anne's lace, and purple and white prairie clover were amongst the botanical specimens spoken out along the trail. I noticed, too, that the wet weather has hastened the arrival of many inedible mushrooms of a medium to dark gray color. The corn in the adjacent field was extremely high but too green to eat, even for humans.

All hikers finished in good condition including two who took a left short cut at the map box where the IAT turns to the right. Many of us regrouped at the LaGrange General Store for an al fresco lunch and much conversation covering sundry topics.

Comments Comments Print Print