I had chosen this direction so that we would go up the hill at the end. I was afraid of a big slip going down the hill. Slips going uphill are much more manageable. No one actually slipped and some were not too happy with the big hill at the end of the hike. When we got back to the parking lot there was still enough daylight for me to read the time on my watch (5:03 p.m.). Each week now the sun sets about eight minutes later, so in a few more weeks, I will be willing to take the Tuesday hike to other locations that take just a little more time.
The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: I arrived at the U.S. Highway 12 parking area early, wondering if any brave souls would come out for a hike in this damp and misty weather. Apparently the lure of a hike in almost-30-degree temperatures far outweighed the grayness of the day, for I counted 19 short-hikers as we began our hike on the roads of the abandoned Sherwood Forest subdivision — now a series of horse and snowmobile trails. Jake thought that we would not need ice cleats today, since most of the trails would be gravel or grass. We started out on the emergency access road, easily avoiding patches of ice in tire and snowmobile tracks and the footprints of earlier hikers.
The first loop featured hills and more hills. We progressed carefully, appreciating the misty vision of ridges, kettles and trees. Many hills later, we regrouped. Jake offered the nearby access road as an option for any hikers who wished to return to the trailhead at this point. There were no takers, but Bonnie offered a longer hike around the lake as an alternative for any who were up for it. Nine hikers thought that was a fine idea, and off they went. Our main group, now diminished, turned away from the access road for a seemingly endless trek up the longest hill of the day. Several narrow deer trails crossed our path. We could hear the occasional small bird, but saw none.
We concluded the hike in good spirits and many regrouped at the La Grange Country Store for lunch. We were soon joined by most of the hikers who had chosen the longer hike with Bonnie, then two more short-hikers who had gone around the lake in the opposite direction with Ruth and Dana and their three dogs. Hikers occupied every chair in the room and conversation and laughter flowed. It was a perfect ending to a bracing hike on a damp winter day.
The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: A misty winter morning with temperatures pushing 40 degrees brought seven long hikers to the U.S. 12 meeting place. An eighth hiker with a flat tire caught up with us later. We questioned whether the weather and trail conditions were right for ice-gripping devices. The correct answer was a resounding no. The trails at Nordic were covered with wet snow and leaves and there was little ice, if any. One needed to be a bit careful on steep downhills to avoid slipping, however. Spiky ice grippers would have collected the wet snow and mud and be irritating if not hazardous.
A bit further on, when the owner of the flat tire joined us, we stopped for refreshments of Italian white chocolate (which contains no chocolate) and delicious little orange segments, the flavors of which were quite complementary. We proceeded on the white trail in reverse and eventually walked parts of the orange, red and green trails before finishing with no less than 5 1/4 miles for the day. Andy reported that we had walked an average of 20-minute miles, which was excellent for the given conditions.
All hikers regrouped for soup and sandwiches at LaGrange General Store. More often than not our post-hike lunches provide intriguing information about our lives and the world we live in.