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All abloom along the Ice Age Trail

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Russ Helwig
May 29, 2013

Marvin Herman writes: In spite of the rain that fell earlier Wednesday morning, six intrepid hikers met in the parking lot adjacent to Lions field across from Kishwauketoe Conservancy in Williams Bay at 10:30 to drop cars near downtown Lake Geneva. That mission accomplished, by just after 11 a.m. they were met by two others from the Wisconsin Highway 12 meeting place.

The original plan was to hike a bit in the Conservancy before heading out along the shore path adjacent to Geneva Lake. Because of the continuing threat of rain, we hiked only about a half-mile before crossing over to the lake path. By the time we reached Lake Geneva, we had hiked just over eight miles. The rain largely held off although there was a brief time when rain gear came out of backpacks.

After the hike, the group gathered for a late lunch at Sprechers (the old Houlihans) at The Cove. After hiking back to the previously parked cars, the total distance was nine miles.

This was a total change of pace from the usual hike in every way. Beautiful estates were being readied for the arrival of their summer occupants and boats were also being installed at newly placed piers. Beautiful plantings were seen by the group, alas mostly non-native. Also 3-4 large turtles were seen looking for the sun on this mostly gray afternoon. No hikers were seen traveling toward us from Lake Geneva until the very end of the hike.

All eight of us enjoyed the hike and look forward to doing other segments of the Geneva Lake walking trail.

Columbine. Russ Helwig photo.

Russ Helwig writes: In the meantime it had been raining prior to our meeting and those of us who chose not to go to Geneva Lake to hike figured that we might get an hour or two of hiking in before the rain returned. We chose to hike around Lake LaGrange with Jake Gerlach in the lead.

As we hiked around the lake we saw ducks, geese, a great blue heron, and many smaller birds. Along the way Lynn Larson checked on one of the six bluebird houses she inspects periodically in this area as a volunteer for the South Kettle Moraine State Forest. Mother bluebird was sitting on several eggs in the nest.

After lunch three of us continued our adventure by checking out a few other places that are known for wildflowers. At our first stop on a hill near the Ice Age Trail we found a nice variety of beautiful wildflowers on display. Included among others were fringed puccoon, hoary puccoon, birds-foot violet, shooting stars, and prairie smoke.

Our next stop was Scuppernong Springs. We found that the whole area around the springs had been recently burned after removal of most of the underbrush. This made for beautiful scenery with an abundance of wildflowers. In addition to many of those we had already seen there were drifts of wild lupine, starry Solomon's seal, and golden Alexander in bloom.

Lupine. Russ Helwig photo.

Half way into the one and a half mile nature trail walk it began to rain. We put on our rain jackets. Then it poured. Rain was running down the trail and by the end of our walk we were wet from the waist down. In retrospect, because of the unstable weather, we should have put our rain pants on before our hike.

After some ice cream at Picket's in Rome so we returned to our meeting place via the beautiful wildflower ditch on Koch Road by the Prince's Point Wildlife Area. There we found red and yellow trillium, May apple, and a large drift of wild geranium in full bloom. The rain held off for our stop at the ditch but started up again on our way home.

The Tuesday walk was a quick one around Lake LaGrange as nearly all of us were planning to attend the monthly meeting of the Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter, IATA meeting at the U.S. Bank in Elkhorn, where colleagues Gerhard and Theresa Stegemann were to talk about their native plant landscaping.

It was an enjoyable walk where we saw blue-eyed grass and fringed puccoon blooming in abundance.

Shooting star. Russ Helwig photo.

At the meeting Gerhard and Theresa's presentation was superb. They described every step in the planning and construction of their beautiful native plant landscape including the propagation of plants from seed. Their talk was supplemented with beautiful photos of their project and by some actual plants being raised.

Happy trekking,

Russ

Events:

Saturday, June 1, 8 a.m., National Trails Day Hike: Meet at the Rice Lake parking lot near Whitewater to hike 3, 5, 10, 15, or 20 miles on the Ice Age Trail toward the Emma Carlin trails on Hwy Z. Pack your own food and water. Stop half way for lunch at the Oleson Cabin. Also volunteers needed for shuttles. Contact: Russ Helwig, (262) 473-2187.

Thursday-Sunday, June 13-16, MSC trail work: MSC weekend at the Blue Hills Segment in Rusk Co. Contact: Gary Klatt, (262) 473-4973.

Saturday, June 15, Kids' event at Ottawa Lake Welcome Station: Toddlers do a stroller friendly Nature hike with Monty, story time, and crafts. Grade-schoolers go on a scavenger hunt along Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail. If you have any kids available, sneak them out to this fun afternoon outing. Contact: Barb Converse, (262) 473-7304.

Tuesday June 18, 7 p.m., Monthly Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter, IATA meeting: Meet at the U.S. Bank, Elkhorn community room. Contact: Carol Prchal, (262) 495-8502.

Saturday, June 22, Trail Work: Meet at the Wisconsin Highway 12 kiosk, 5 miles east of Whitewater, for trail maintenance: cutting back honeysuckle, buckthorn, etc. Contact: Jerome Convese, (262) 473-7304.

Friday-Sunday June 28-30, Camping at Buckhorn State Park: Kayak, bike, hike, and wildlife viewing. Camp at Buckhorn SP and see nearby Necedah Wildlife Area, a must see. Contact: Eileen Harris, (262) 723-3715 or Bob Nold, (262) 763-4233.

Weekly Walks: We meet each Tuesday at 4 p.m. and Wednesday at 10:30am at the Hwy 12 Ice Age National Scenic Trail crossing located about 4 miles east of Whitewater, about a quarter mile east of the intersection of Wisconsin Highway 12 with Sweno Rd. The parking lot is at the west end of Sherwood Forest Road, which is a short road that intersects Wisconsin Highway 12 at each end. We include two or more walks of different distances on Wednesdays and also do this on Tuesdays when desired. All ages are welcome. Note that a current state park pass is required to park a car at the Wisconsin Highway 12 meeting place. A daily or yearly pass may be purchased at the meeting place provided correct change is available.

Trail passes are available also so if you plan to cross country ski you should pick up one of these also. You may also purchase passes at the forest headquarters between Palmyra and Eagle on Wisconsin Highway 59. A park pass is not required to park at the forest headquarters.



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