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Thursday, 30 November 2017 11:06

Hikers leave the woods to the hunters, enjoy an urban trek

Written by  Written by Ice Age Trail Alliance, Helwig's Hikes

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: The gun deer season was underway during our Nov. 21 hike. To ensure that we were not in a hunting area, I chose to hike on the sidewalks and trails in Whitewater. Eleven veteran hikers showed up at our meeting place and we all went to the lakefront parking area near the depot in Whitewater.

The path took us alongside Cravath Lake, under the railroad then on the sidewalk by Main Street and then Wisconsin Street. When we got to Whitewater Creek, we crossed the road and took the trail by the creek. It is always exciting when a person first sees the dam and the water pouring over it. We then crossed over the dam and followed the shoreline of Tripp Lake before entering another path that completely blocks the view of any nearby houses. We followed that path as far as we could before turning and going through part of the Water’s Edge development and then took the sidewalk along Wisconsin Street.

When we got near the Baptist church, we took a shortcut through the parking lot and climbed the hill on Coburn Lane. The view from the top of the hill was great. The last rays of daylight were fading and the lights of the city stood out. Unfortunately, the wind was strong and cold, so we did not take a long break. It was then down the hill and retrace the first part of the hike going back to our vehicles. It was a nice change of location.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: During deer hunting season, the Wednesday hikers generally choose not to risk their lives hiking the trails in the state forest. Today 20 short-hikers headed from the Ice Age Trail parking area on U.S. Highway 12 to the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater baseball diamond parking lot off Fremont Street in Whitewater.

Well equipped with hats and gloves, we set off up the hill, then down the other side and into the prairie. Dry golden grasses were head-high and the stalks of gnarly brown compass plants stood even taller. The remains of several varieties of goldenrod were still recognizable, as were asters, milkweed, coneflowers and Queen Anne’s lace. With the sun and the blue sky, it was comfortably warm.

We worked our way up another hill and entered the woods, pausing at the next intersection to let those behind catch up. Then off on a side trail past a large area of athletic fields. Jake filled us in on the great variety of activities that take place there over the year. Next, more woods, a road crossing and we found ourselves following a wide sidewalk though a community of attractively landscaped duplex houses: Prairie Village, home to a few of our past and present hikers. We soon entered another wooded area, this one still harboring areas of frost on the ground. Emerging onto a hilly section of the prairie, the warmth of the sun felt good after the cool woods.

The buildings of the university reappeared as we crested the hill. Our long train of hikers were spread out ahead, providing a burst of color on the trail that curved with the rolling terrain. We reached our cars warm and happy and ready for lunch. There was unanimous agreement that this was a very different and enjoyable hike.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: On this chilly morning, rather than share the woods with the riflemen, we caravanned to the Cravath Lake park parking area to tramp through Whitewater parks and the UW-Whitewater athletic complex. This also gave those hikers who had pre-Thanksgiving chores the opportunity to use some of the afternoon to get them done.

From the parking area, we could see a thin film of ice on the lake, and geese enjoying the late morning sun as it melted the frost. Fifteen hikers set out on the asphalt path in a city park running along Whitewater Creek and then onto a grassy trail leading to a wooded area. There were only very gentle hills on this hike.

Ultimately, we were in sight of Perkins Stadium, home of the UW-Whitewater Warhawks football team. It was open, and we could meander inside and walk up and down the grandstands. We even posed for a group photo.

Shortly after leaving Perkins, we assessed our mileage at near four miles. Most of the group opted for lunch at Cozumel Mexican Restaurant on Main Street, and the rest walked back to the Cravath Lake parking lot. Either route would net the hike at least five miles, perhaps closer to six.

This was a wonderful way to start the Thanksgiving holiday and burn some calories.

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