Weekly Walk: A bit of the white stuff
The Weekly Walks for Feb. 28 and March 1, 2017
The 4 p.m. Tuesday hike, reported by Jake Gerlach:
Seven hikers and two dogs showed up for the scheduled hike on this Tuesday evening that was threatening rain. We decided to go to the Nordic ski trail to hike the white trail. All seven were excellent hikers and the group moved relatively quickly. We noted a fairly large dead tree that had major woodpecker damage -- the type that is only caused by the seldom-seen piliated woodpecker.
The ski trails are wide, so conversation was easy, and we encountered minimal mud. It was a good choice of trails and another good hike.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported Marvin Herman:
White stuff was falling from the sky this morning. It's hard to know what to call it because its consistency changes with the air temperature. It may be snow, sleet, freezing rain, or whatever you might call tiny pellets the size of rice. Not much was accumulating, so the trails would be quite muddy today for the nine hikers present.
Our hiking friend Norwin is gravely ill and in our thoughts today. Hike leader Andy suggested that we cross the highway to the Whitewater Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail and hike as far as County Highway P. That way we could walk the trail section maintained by Norwin for many years and somehow convey to his spirit our wishes for a time of peace and well being for himself and his family.
Along this part of the trail much brush has been cleared and the pine trees stand as sentinels in the icy breeze. One of these days the DNR will arrange for the harvesting of these pines — at least the ones marked with blue ribbons.
When we reached County P, most of us descended the hill to go to the center of the road to touch our toes to the farthest extremity of the hike, then walked north a few yards to the horse trail to climb up this long but gradual incline to meet the few hikers who decided to wait for us at the map post. For the return trip, we continued along the horse trail to the point of beginning, a total of about five miles through the mucky surface.
The group completed the distance in good condition and said that they enjoyed the hike in spite of the weather. Most adjourned to the La Grange General Store for soup, sandwiches (in my case, Mardi Gras coleslaw) and lively conversation.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:
Jake's plan for today's hike featured the nearby abandoned subdivision roads, now a picturesque series of intersecting loops for horse-riders and snowmobilers. Knowing these trails to be wide, well-drained, mildly challenging but not taxing, we quickly set off, carefully skirting Puddle La Grange -- a six-inch deep seasonal puddle that now extended from one side of the trail almost to the other.
Our group of 10 this morning included two newcomers, neighbors of one of our faithful long-time hikers, Mark. There was not much to see. Light snow coated the layer of wet leaves on the hilly trail. The woods were again shades of tan, brown, and grey. The light rain was with us on and off, the trails mostly firm with very little mud. the only spots of color were the hikers' jackets and the occasional small unseasonably early green leaf. This provided a fine opportunity for conversation and getting to meet our new companions.
Toward the end of the hike about half the group was several hundred feet ahead of the leaders. They stopped at an intersection and stood looking left and right, heads moving in unison. Then they turned to look back at us and Jake pointed to indicate the correct direction. Again all the heads moved in unison: This one? Yes! Really? Yes! OK! And they turned as one onto the new trail. Their unintended choreography was very well done and provided a good laugh to those of us witnessing it.
We reached the trailhead with no mishaps, warm, energized, and somewhat damp. The group adjourned to the La Grange General Store for home-made soup, sandwiches, coffee, laughter, and more conversation.