Cool, wet walk still pleasant

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Russ Helwig | December 10, 2013

The temperature last Tuesday was about 40 degrees with dense fog as I left for our walk. My wife would say that it was a “two utility pole day,” as one cannot see more than two utility poles ahead at a time. Ten adventurers met and we hiked around Lake LaGrange. The fog began to condense to a gentle rain as we were finishing. We had our headlamps but did not need them.  The walk was pleasant, but uneventful.

After the walk I replaced my dripping rain jacket with a dry one for the trip home. The fog had nearly disappeared.  As I approached home the there was no rain but still mist in the air and the fog reappeared thicker than ever.

Short Wednesday hike, by Ellen Davis:   

It was a moist and foggy morning with visibility about 200 feet, according to a local weather report. Under the circumstances, the wide Nordic Trails offered the best footing and the least amount of dripping undergrowth overhanging the trails. It was a unanimous decision.

With Jake in the lead, we set off counterclockwise on the White Trail – the reverse of the normal direction of travel – to experience this familiar hike from a new perspective. Our group today included three hikers who normally participated in the long hike; their presence and the fog-limited visibility encouraged even more conversation than usual. 

The conversation continued over lunch at the La Grange General Store, as those involved in trail-building around the state with the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew shared stories of their adventures and victories over rocks and swamps and almost-vertical slopes. The rest of us were happy to sit with our soup or coffee and listen – perhaps to be inspired to join in these activities in the future.

Long Wednesday hike, by Russ:

Five of us and a friendly canine carpooled to Lapham Peak for a hike on the ski trails. There we were met by six more hikers who drove directly there rather than carpooling.

The trails were muddier than I had thought that they would be because the ground had not thawed out completely leaving the thawed surface greasy, but there was grass and leaves on the sides which helped with traction on the hills.

During the first part of our hike we found a couple volunteers burning some of the brush piles we had seen the week before.

After stopping for a rest stop at the Homestead we took the paved accessible trail back to the Ice Age Trail on which we returned to the Evergreen Grove trailhead where we had started the adventure. We had thought that this would be a good choice because after 120+ steps to the summit it is downhill all the way to our starting point.  Wrong thinking!  It was downhill, but difficult walking. The trail was extremely muddy and slick because the ground was frozen with the surface couple inches thawed and nowhere for the moisture to go.

As we approached the large kettle pond near the lodge there were more new brush piles near the Ice Age Trail waiting to be burned at a later date.

We did make it back with no casualties although one in our group slipped but had only a muddy pant leg to show for it.

On our way back there was a stop at the Sunny Side Up restaurant for great Mexican food and another stop at the forest headquarters to purchase park stickers and trail passes for 2014. Peg Oettinger who had met us at Lapham Peak had noticed that the ranger station was open on the way out and purchased her park sticker there before having lunch with us. The station was closed when we arrived in the morning.
Happy Trekking,


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