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Thursday, 25 January 2018 14:13

Snow cover puts hikers on watch for slippery spots

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig's Hikes
From the left, Nancy Casano of Whitewater, Joe Moskal of Edgerton and Don Brockman of Lake Geneva approach the end of the trail on a clear, snowy day on the trails. From the left, Nancy Casano of Whitewater, Joe Moskal of Edgerton and Don Brockman of Lake Geneva approach the end of the trail on a clear, snowy day on the trails. Photo submitted

The Tuesday Hike report by Jake Gerlach: When I arrived at the parking lot I was pleased to find the lot had been plowed. Five of us showed up for the hike. We started out on the connector trail to go around Lake LaGrange. There was about 2 inches of new snow on the ground. By the end of the hike we discovered that the snow had actually slowed us down a little.

I had a hiking pole with me and when I walked over a frozen pond or puddle, the hiking stick would slip and I knew there was ice under the snow. No one seemed eager to stop or rest at any of the traditional spots so we just kept walking.

We saved the hill for the end of the hike so we could go uphill instead of downhill. When a person slips going uphill, it is always easily contained. A slip going downhill can be bad news. I had some difficulty on the hill. The new snow had covered a lot of the rocks and I kept hitting them with my feet and stumbling a bit every time.

When we got back to the parking lot the sky in the west was a beautiful pink. There was a small cloud bank on the horizon that made it look like there was a great hill or mountain off in the distance. It had been another great hike.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: We got off to a late start as several of our hikers, me included, were struggling to fit ice cleats onto our hiking boots. One last participant arrived as we were leaving, bringing our number to 15.

The wide gravel access road, covered with about 4 inches of fresh snow, was easy hiking. Spirits were high. Unfortunately most of us had forgotten about the hidden hazards of winter hiking — snow camouflaging the ice-filled low areas on the trail. One person in our group who didn’t have ice cleats fell and decided to turn back. Several others also slipped and took to poking the ground under the snow for lurking ice, warning the rest of the group when they found it. That helped.

We reached the junction with the Ice Age Trail with no further mishaps, and started up one of the longest slopes in the Southern Kettle Moraine, stopping for a rest as needed. Jake waited for the stragglers at the top and we crossed onto the snowmobile trail.

We regrouped at the next intersection and went on slowly. As the day warmed, blobs of snow dropped from trees and bushes, leaving pockmarks in the snow. We continued crossing the berms to Sherwood Forest Road and the IAT parking area with no mishaps.

This was a chilly but scenic hike, regardless of the ice, just right for this crisp and sunny January day. Many of the group reunited for soup, sandwiches and conversation at the La Grange Country Store.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: When I reached the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place the air temperature was 10 degrees and rising. It would hit 22 degrees by the time we finished the hike. The sunny skies completed the picture of a beautiful hiking day.

There was really no ice on the trail, but when leader Andy proposed the Muir bicycle trails for our hike, most of the hikers opted to wear ice-gripping devices to help with ascending the snow-covered hills.

Regrouping at the Muir, we started out on the blue-green trail in reverse direction to the bikers. It turned out that we did not see a single biker this day. Continuing into the woods, we were protected from the wind and we got to witness the snow lightly blowing off the pine branches, creating a wonderful sparkling effect. After a couple of miles, we entered the Rainy Dew section and stopped for a snack of chocolate. When we reached the trail blazed orange, we hiked in the same direction as the non-existent bikes.

This hike required a bit of concentration on where one stepped. The thin layer of snow hid rocks and roots that lurked as a hazard to hikers who moved their gaze to the beauty of the woods and off the trail. All hikers experienced tripping and two hikers fell early in the hike (none were hurt) before they became accustomed to the conditions. We covered about 5 1/2 miles.

After the hike, most of us gathered at LaGrange General Store for lunch. A specialty today was homemade moussaka, made with ground meat and potato in a cheesy white sauce. The whole thing is baked and served with warm rye bread. The good conversation continued well after the plates were cleared.

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