Weekly Walks: Adventures on the trails
The Weekly Walks for Aug. 22-23, 2017
The Tuesday hike, reported by Jacob Gerlach:
On an almost perfect summer evening, with a gentle breeze, only a few puffy clouds in the sky, and temperatures in the 70's, nine hikers showed up for the Tuesday hike. We headed around Lake La Grange and we encountered rough blazing star in glorious bloom on the hill and again in the prairie. There are probably over fifty varieties of goldenrod and a lot of them were just starting to bloom along the trail. The big blue stem grass and the Indian grass are both taller than I am.
I looked for the egret and/or the great blue heron but they were not there this evening. When we got to Russ's bench we stopped for a water break. When we got to the cornfield, Ed found an ear of corn and declared it good. Then it was on to the connector trail. This evening the breeze and the sunshine held the mosquitoes down; I did not have to use any insect repellent.
I wanted to add a little distance by going over one of the gravel areas that used to be roads in the long abandoned subdivision. The first road was a little overgrown, the second was even worse, but the third road looked usable so we went up that path and then over the berm onto Sherwood Forest Road and then back to the parking lot. It was a great hike on a great evening.
The Wednesday short hike, reported by Ellen Davis:
An Ice Age Trail Alliance photographer from Madison was waiting at the U.S. Highway 12 kiosk this morning, ready to photograph a variety of hikers in action on the trail. This morning he started out with the never-camera-shy short-hikers, who chose a scenic but easy hike around Lake La Grange for his first adventure in the Southern Kettle Moraine.
We set off over and down the bluff, along the lake-shore, through the honeysuckle-lined corridor, into the woods, then across the prairie to take a short break at Russ's bench. We stopped again at Ruth's point, the photographer still busy snapping pictures. A mother with three young girls appeared on the trail, headed in the opposite direction; he decided to hike with them for a while, and then catch up with our group again.
We went on across the new prairie, well-populated by very tall weedy-looking plants that none of us could identify several weeks ago and still could not today. From the crest of a hill we saw a line of backpackers coming toward us on the trail. They turned out to be young men from Chicago on an Outward Bound hiking and camping adventure, most of them smiling happily and eager to stop to chat for a few minutes before going on.
It was obvious that the lure of a third group of people to photograph on the trail would be too much for our photographer to resist, and that turned out to be the case. Our group went on, past the cornfield, into the woods, and onto the access road leading back to the trail-head. Several went on to lunch at the La Grange General Store. I read my book and waited; eventually the backpackers and the photographer, safe and sound, appeared, took a very short break, then waited for a break in the Highway 12 traffic, crossed the highway, and continued on their way.
This was another very enjoyable hike. It was fun to share the trail with two diverse groups of fellow-hikers -- and an enthusiastic gentleman with a camera.
The Wednesday long hike, reported by Marvin Herman:
Temperatures were cool for late August and they would not reach 80 degrees for the hike. Our leader was doing work and was absent so the 11 long hikers huddled to decide where to go. There were several suggestions and we voted on the top two. The winner was the Nordic ski trails. Once there, we received a phone call that two more hikers were on the way for a total of 13 hikers.
We next moved to the large map and planned our route. We would hike the blue-blazed trails omitting the first large loop. After the big hills we call “the Alps” we would switch to the purple trail. We set off along the wide trail with a nice breeze blowing the mosquitoes away from our faces. When we reached the top of the overlook where the blue and green trails are merged, Nancy C. and Jo delighted us with nice grapes and cherries to lift our energy levels and our spirits.
As we continued the hike, we saw some of our group with hands on their knees, staring down. The point of interest was a small red snake of undetermined type. By the time I got up to the others, it appeared to me that the snake was dead. We also saw a tiny toad hopping along the trail.
Near the end of the hike, two of us took a small short-cut to avoid the big hills and the rest of us continued on to the end where we all met. The entire hike covered a distance of about 6-¼ miles. Most hikers regrouped at the La Grange General Store for good food and conversation.