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Friday, 11 May 2018 07:33

Showers can’t dampen the beauty of a spring hike

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig’s hikes
The long-hikers enjoy the springtime beauty of the Nordic prairie trails. The long-hikers enjoy the springtime beauty of the Nordic prairie trails. Photo by Andy Whitney

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: On a warm spring evening, 14 hikers showed up. I had a couple of places in mind and asked for other suggestions. Andy said how about going toward Duffin Road and returning on the horse trail. That was quickly made our selected trail for this hike.

This is the time of year when the most flowers are in bloom. I saw false rue anemone, wild strawberry blooms, bloodroot, wild geraniums, violets, yellow woods violets and Jack in the pulpit. I even found one totally white hepatica. The wild geranium plants were everywhere but the major bloom is still several weeks away. The May apples had large buds but no blooms yet.

After climbing a long hill on the Ice Age Trail, we stopped for a water break at the first cut-off. We then proceeded toward Duffin Road to take the cut-off in the pines. After a short time on the cut-off we emerged on the horse trail and headed back to our starting point. This hike had been about 3.5 miles and everyone seemed to enjoy the flowers and the hike.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: Arriving at the U.S. Highway 12 parking area shortly after ten o'clock, I found two of our regular hikers already there, eying the sky surreptitiously. The promised rain began a few minutes later; we took cover in the kiosk and were soon joined by more hikers as they appeared, sporting a colorful assortment of rain-wear.

Thunder and lightning were not predicted at this point, so both the long- and short-hikers elected to take advantage of the quick-draining Nordic Ski Trails. Our group consisted of five humans and one dog. Jake chose the 3.5-mile white trail. A light rain was still falling and the air smelled fresh. Wild plums covered with buds lined the left edge of the trail, with one tree in full bloom behind them. A little farther on, patches of bellwort appeared.

The gentle rain repeatedly let up then started again a few minutes later throughout this hike. The terrain changed as the white trail left the purple trail to descend into the hills.

We were soon going uphill again, this time through heavy sand. Jake and Wayne waited at the top with a surprise — a large patch of pussy-toes in bloom and still more along the trail as we crossed the plateau. Back in the hills and the woods, common blue violets lined the trail, sometimes accented with a yellow wood violet or two.

The hills ended and we began the relaxing trek through the pines. The light rain had stopped — at least for a while. A carpet of white violets with blue centers met us as we emerged again into a grassy meadow. Further on, we noted spruce trees sporting bright pink baby pinecones on some trees, pale yellow ones on others. Then we were back in the woods again. We completed the hike in fine spirits — most of us somewhere between damp and wet, despite our rain gear. Still, this had been a nice hike on a rather unpredictable spring day.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: Light rain was falling when I pulled into the meeting place. The long-hikers were aware of the possibility of wet weather throughout the morning and early afternoon and were dressed accordingly with waterproof boots and other water-resistant clothing.

Because of the good drainage and close proximity of Nordic Trails, our leader asked the 14 long-hikers present to regroup there. The rain repeatedly subsided and then intensified throughout the hike. We started off toward the first large blue-blazed loop. Some hikers had not seen this part of the trail for a while and were pleasantly surprised to see that it had been cleared of invasive brush, leaving a large area of white and red pines. Some bellwort also was observed on this part of the trail with its yellow blossom hanging downward in the gentle rain.

When we reached the 2.5-mile marker, we chose to carry on with the blue trail until it connected with the green. Some of the hills were muddy. We encountered a small frog trying to climb a steep hill to stay out of the deep puddles. We also saw pussy tail and appreciated the dry woody stems at the side of the trail, providing a nice texture to the landscape.

We followed the green trail to its end and Andy asked for electronic estimates of how far we had hiked. Most were a bit under six miles and one was over so the consensus was agreed upon as six miles.

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