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Butterflies, ripe blackberries brighten a warm summer hike

By Russ Helwig
August 27, 2013

Our first walk of the week was a short one around Lake LaGrange. We seem to do this hike more often on Tuesdays than any other hike for two reasons.  One is that, as was the case this time, I have a meeting to attend later in the evening once a month so this walk which is slightly less than three miles is perfect to allow time afterwards to get ready for the meeting. The other is that it is convenient, as we do not have to cross any roads and it starts and ends at our meeting place. In addition this is a
beautiful hike as the lake is very pretty as are the patches of prairie located near it.
As we walked we observe a variety of butterflies and saw a nice mix of prairie plants in bloom.

It was a warm evening and we encountered just enough mosquitoes to warrant a light spraying of repellent on our backs.

This was a hot and humid day and only seventeen adventurers came to hike.  We decided that the Nordic trails north of LaGrange would be the best place to go as they are wide so we would get more breezes yet narrow enough to have shade for most of our walk.

Twelve of us seasoned hikers walked a long loop in the counterclockwise direction consisting of green and blue trail.  We started on the green trail to the farthest east blue loop which we took. Then at the intersection of the next blue side trail on the ridge we re-hydrated and had a few trail snacks before taking that route.  At the northwest blue loop intersection we split up with Bonnie Nommensen, Jerry Pfeifer, and Janet Bryant taking that loop while the rest of us continued to the parking lot. Here we relaxed a bit before going to lunch.

Along the way we found goldenrod beginning to bloom and a scattering of other wildflowers.  A variety of butterflies entertained us throughout the hike.

Near either the south part of the east blue loom or the green shortly  before the blue loop splits off the green, I do not recall which Norwin noticed a dead owl, possibly a barred owl, on the north edge of the path. I had been dead for some time and we speculated upon how it met its demise.

Our walk was about five and a quarter miles long and the three who took the last blue loop added another one and three quarter miles to this. We regrouped at the LaGrange General Store were they joined us for lunch.

In the meantime the short distance hikers had taken an entirely different route as reported by Ellen Davis:

On this warm and muggy Wednesday only four die-hard regulars and one brave occasional hiker appeared for the short hike. We car-pooled to the Nordic Trails, where Jake suggested that we walk the White Trail backward. That sounded like a serious challenge until he explained that we would simply hike the trail counterclockwise rather clockwise as indicated by the signage.

As we began our hike at the end of the White Trail, it soon became apparent that this was a fine day for butterflies. We noted cabbage butterflies, many giant swallowtails, assorted fritillaries, the occasional
yellow tiger swallowtail, and one mourning cloak. The wide trail was recently mowed, providing easy access to the ripe blackberries here and there along the edge. Four fifths of us indulged.

We lost the breeze and the butterflies as we entered the woods. The trail and the intersections look very different from the opposite direction; it was interesting to speculate about what landmark might be around the next turn. Both the temperature and the humidity seemed to be rising, so we took a short water break before starting our return trip to the beginning of the trail.  
Happy Trekking,