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Thursday, 14 December 2017 12:35

Nothing like a vigorous hike to warm up a cold day

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig’s hikes

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: On a windy and cold day seven hikers showed up for the Tuesday evening hike. I had been thinking about the wind direction and which way to hike and decided to go down the hill so we could walk across the prairie with the wind at our backs.

We walked at a very brisk pace. When we got to Russ’s bench we stopped just long enough for Andy to take a picture. On the connector trail we encountered two different places with a tree across the path. Andy noted the trees and I think he will see that the path gets cleared in the near future. The sky was clear, and we finished the walk at 4:56. That is just a 56-minute walk.

While this was not the shortest day of the year, it was one with the earliest sunset. We did not need headlamps, but someone had a new one that they turned on as we reached the gate at the finish. Several people commented that they were glad that the wind was at our backs while crossing the prairie. It was a great hike.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: After all the unseasonably warm weather recently, the wait in the parking lot for the hikers to assemble seemed almost unbearably chilly today. The wind whistled through in gusts around 20 mph — an un-wished-for complement to the 25-degree temperature. Jake wisely suggested a bike trail for today’s hike, the woods and the hills affording shelter from the wind. We agreed and set off for the John Muir bike and hiking trails on County Highway H.

Fifteen brave hikers followed Jake along the Orange Trail, and the brisk pace soon had us feeling warmer. The rocky, narrow trail zigzagged up and down through spectacular glacial topography of dramatic eskers and deep kettles not just under our feet but all around us, visible through the leafless trees. Cranes were heard in the distance; looking up, we saw several groups of birds circling higher and higher to reach the right currents for southward flight. Several minutes later the cranes were heard again, this time passing overhead in a nicely formed “V.”

Some of our newest hikers were introduced to their first kettle lake, now mostly filled in with reeds surrounded by only a narrow band of open water. The trail led us uphill again shortly thereafter — this section featured some very nice stonework and banked turns. One distracted hiker stepped on a round stick which rolled and deposited him on his rear. No harm was done except to his dignity. We soon turned off on the scenic — and challenging — Rainy Dew Trail to take us back to our starting point for a total distance of 3.5 miles.

We were very warm indeed by the time we reached the trailhead. All were in agreement that this had been an excellent hike on a bright but cold late fall day.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: It was below freezing all day. I was told that more than 35 hikers were at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place. Eighteen were long hikers and all had hats and gloves to withstand the cold and wind. Ellen and Nancy C. were observed doing a “get warm” dance under the kiosk.

The sun shone brightly but provided little warmth this day. Leader Andy wanted to stay in the woods to increase the chances of shelter from the breezes and suggested the Scuppernong Ski Trails in Waukesha County.

We regrouped in the parking lot off County Highway ZZ and investigated the new warming house at Scuppernong. It is a good size and almost finished just in time for the snow to fall. We walked to the big map and decided to start on the green trail. The entirety of our hike on this trail was on wide packed trail covered with slippery oak leaves, courtesy of the heavy winds of the previous night. After about 3-1/2 miles of this on an undulating terrain, we lost sight of about five of the hikers in the lead group. Later, we discovered they had taken the “scenic loop,” giving them an extra half mile. The rest of us passed by this feature knowing the others would catch up to us.

At signpost S4 we found the Ice Age Trail and hiked the Scuppernong Segment about 2-1/2 miles back to the parking lot. Most of us hiked a total of 5.6 miles and the rest a bit over 6 miles. On the Scuppernong we enjoyed the ruts and rocks typical of the IAT and stayed warm by hustling up and down the hills. George and Jo provided chocolate energy as well.

After the hike, most regrouped at Sunny Side Up Restaurant near Dousman for food and conversation. A few of us visited the Department of Natural Resources Headquarters after lunch to buy 2018 parking stickers.

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