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Thursday, 08 February 2018 15:01

Equipped with ice cleats, hikers navigate slick trail conditions

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig’s hikes
Long hikers maneuver the slick hills of Wednesday’s hike. Long hikers maneuver the slick hills of Wednesday’s hike.

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: Ten people showed up for the hike Tuesday including Max, a new hiker from Clinton. 

Someone asked if we needed ice grippers and I said I didn’t think so. Andy said we needed them. Early on I decided that I should have worn the ice grippers, as the trail was just ice in a lot of places. Going down the hill I managed the first set of steps but I fell at the second set. I thought that I had not suffered any damage but when I got home, I found that there was a scrape and a knot on my calf. The rest of the hikers all remained upright. For the rest of the hike I was always walking on the edge of the trail or in snow.

There was talk on the trail about the supermoon, blood moon and the eclipse that would take place in the early morning. Of course the sky was completely overcast and we could not see anything.

In spite of the ice, we made reasonably good time and Max even indicated that he would be back for a future hike.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: A surprisingly large group assembled for this morning’s short hike — until Jake described the very icy conditions on the trails. At that point, a number of hikers without ice cleats departed to find a safer outing. Those remaining — 15 brave souls — were ready to chance it. Off we went on the access road, heading for the horse trails.

We avoided the large frozen puddle that extended across most of the trail. The footprints of 45 participants in an Owl Hike the previous Sunday night had thawed and refrozen, creating a maze of streaks and islands of ice on the trails, with small areas of grass or gravel in between. We managed. Those hiking without ice cleats stayed on the edges; we all sought the safest footing.

It was better on the horse trails — still icy, but better. The woods still had solid snow on the north slopes and low areas and patchy snow elsewhere. The group was spread out, those without cleats treading slowly and carefully. Jake waited at every intersection for us to re-assemble, and offered an option to return to the trailhead. He had no takers, and we started up another trail. We were well warmed up by now, and many began removing gloves and hats and unzipping jackets.

As we reached the access road again on the final leg of our journey, one of our experienced hikers took a tumble and went down. He decided to stay down for a minute — until a friend started pouring snow on his head. He sat up, assessed his condition, stood up slowly and completed the hike with the group — no harm done, we hope.

The Wednesday long hike report by Barb Roeder: On this morning of the super, blue, blood moon, 14 long hikers met at the Oleson Cabin on Duffin Road. Our leader, Andy, had an adventure in store for us.

Ice cleats were highly recommended as we took off on this 6 1/2-mile trek and proved to be a valuable accessory. We began on a horse trail, but the hike included connector trails, the Ice Age Trail and some bushwhacking. Andy seemed to know where he was going, so we followed. We crossed County Highway H a couple of times and the same with Young Road. Some were afraid we were going to get lost around Bald Bluff (our bushwhacking segment), but our fearless leader got us back on trail.

Some hikers had spills, but popped right back up. Back at Oleson Cabin we agreed it was a fun hike on a milder than most winter day.

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