Weekly Walk: Glimpses of spring
The Weekly Walks for May 9 and 10, 2017
The 4 p.m. Tuesday hike, reported by Jake Gerlach:
On a very nice spring evening seven hardy hikers went to the Oleson Cabin to hike from there to "Confusion Point" on the horse trail and back on the Ice Age Trail. The wildflowers along the horse trail were not very exciting—the most common was the invasive garlic mustard. There were also a lot of dandelions and a few violets. Once we got on the Ice Age Trail, things improved. The buttercups were mostly closed, but there were still several patches of pussy-toes. Yellow bellwort was in bloom in the burnt area east of County Highway H. There were also the yellow flowers of the wild mustard that the farmers call "yellow rocket." Back in the woods we saw some anemones—I think these were the wood anemone. Just before we got back there were wild geraniums in bloom. For a group that just likes to hike, the spring wildflowers are a very nice addition. At the end of the hike, everyone seemed to appreciate the change of scenery from our usual route around Lake La Grange.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday long hike, reported by Marvin Herman:
With weather conditions sunny and warm and rain not expected until later in the afternoon, it was a perfect day for a spring walk in the woods. Leader Andy suggested a hike with options to extend it to up to 15 miles for any hiker who might be preparing for the National Trails Day 20-mile hike on the Ice Age Trail.
Leaving the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place, we traveled to the Nordic Trails and took the first long blue-blazed loop to the one-and-half mile marker then moved over to hike the connector bike trails toward the Emma Carlin Trails. When we reached the road, we reversed course and hiked back on the other connector towards the John Muir Trails. In all we covered a distance of over seven miles and no one was interested in hiking any further at that time, noting that a light rain was starting to fall and hunger pangs for lunch were beginning. The botanists on this hike were largely silent, which meant to me that there were no interesting new plants observed on this day's adventure.
The hikers wore moisture-wicking material and long-sleeved T-shirts which proved to be comfortable for today's hike. The ticks are out in great number and one hiker picked up a wood tick which would be displayed during lunch—our lunch, not the tick's. All of the 16 experienced hikers in attendance knew to check themselves for ticks when they got home.
Most of the hikers regrouped at the La Grange General Store for soups, sandwiches, and great-looking desserts.
The 10:30 a.m. Wednesday short hike, reported by Jake Gerlach:
With Ellen fighting a bad case of bronchitis, I led 10 guys and one dog across the road to hike the Ice Age Trail to Esterly Road and back on the horse trail. This section of the Ice Age Trail has a lot of rocks embedded in the trail. It also has quite a few hills and, as always, tree roots to trip over. I find that I use a lot of time on this section of trail just watching where I put my feet and not too much time looking around. We were still able to spot a lot of flowers, of course—always the least desirable such as garlic mustard and dandelions. But there were lots of violets blooming, including the yellow wood violets. The anemones that are still in bloom are mostly the wood anemone. The shooting stars are just starting and there are quite a few wild geraniums also beginning to blossom now.
We took a nice break at Esterly Road and then headed back. Again we saw a lot of flowers, including yellow bellwort. Near the end of the hike we saw something that had me stumped, but Greg suggested that it was a kitten-tail. A quick check via his phone proved that it was indeed a kitten-tail but much taller than I had remembered. We then saw some more in that location that were closer to those in my memory. Most of us regrouped at the General Store for food and conversation.