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Monday, 29 April 2019 07:04

Hikers avoid rain, observe signs of spring along the trails

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig's Hikes
Long-hikers pose in front of red pine logs piled high off of County Highway P. Long-hikers pose in front of red pine logs piled high off of County Highway P. Andy Whitney photo

The Tuesday Hike report by Jake Gerlach: On a beautiful spring evening, nine hikers showed up for our hike around Lake La Grange. We did see two pasque flowers. These flowers are very fragile and if a person walks over the area where they appear, they usually kill several of them which are just getting ready to emerge. For that reason I ask the hikers to just look at them from the trail.

The trail was firm even though we had had snow on Sunday. The honeysuckle bushes now have leaves and some of the trees are in bloom. Trees that bloom in the early spring almost all have very small flowers, but I know they are in bloom by the pollen that plugs up my nose.

We took a brief water break when we reached Russ’ bench and then it was on around the lake. When we were on the connector trail heading back, Nancy spotted a garter snake. The snake was actually moving rather quickly trying to get away from us. We don’t usually see snakes until much later when the weather is warmer. The rest of the hike was uneventful and we arrived back at the parking lot a little after five, having had our exercise for the evening.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: The weather looked iffy this morning. Though I had arrived dry at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place, Jake and several others had experienced a rain shower during their commute. In light of the fickleness of today’s weather, we decided on another hike on the Nordic Ski Trails. And off we went to County Highway H.

We regrouped at a picnic table — 12 humans and Judy’s two Pomeranians, ready for whatever the weather might do. Jake selected the white trail, and off we went. The trail was in good condition — a few damp places, but no puddles. The buds on the wild plum trees were swelling and might soon be in bloom. We conversed our way to the intersection where the trail makes a sharp left turn and heads down a steep hill. Those toward the end of the line noticed a dead tree with a large rectangular hole near the base, above a pile of rectangular wood chips — two indicators that a pileated woodpecker had been at work recently, perhaps creating a nesting space.

We went on through a picturesque woodland, up a steep hill, across a plateau and into the woods again, now going downhill on a scenic, twisty trail. Then back to almost-level ground, a meadow, and a long stretch of recently-cleaned-up pine woods.

Eventually we stopped for a short break, then carried on. We found ourselves walking a straight path between two rows of pines, the light at the far end of the row like a cathedral window. The trail soon turned to the left, and soon our thoughts turned to lunch as we paralleled the road, drawing ever closer to the trailhead.

This was a pleasant 3.25-mile hike, filled with good conversations, damp fresh air, nature and scenery to admire — and a real promise of spring at last. Most of the group went on to lunch at the La Grange General Store.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: The big question at the meeting place this morning was whether the rain would arrive before or during today’s hike. Based on what people were wearing, few were taking any chances. Rain gear was out in full force, including rain pants covering legs that would soon be perspiring in the air temperature of over 50 degrees. Not a drop of rain would fall during our hike.

We waited for traffic to subside before starting to cross U.S. 12. A Walworth County sheriff’s vehicle passing by kindly pulled over and flashed its lights so that we could cross safely. Once across the busy highway, the 16 long-hikers started hiking the Whitewater Lake segment of the Ice Age Trail in a southwesterly direction toward County Highway P.

Along the trail, we saw the bright green moss that signified recent growth near the trail and also violets and hepatica deeper into the woods. Pennsylvania sedge seed heads were also observed. We took brief refreshment stops at Norwin’s Rock and Esterly Road.

When we reached County P, we saw logs of red pine piled high on the far side of the road and posed for a photo. We then checked out the contiguous land, once the site of an old homestead. There we saw non-native plantings of glory-of-the-snow and Siberian squill that continue to grow in the area of that former home.

We headed back to our vehicles via the horse trail, enjoying the wide trails and gentle hills and soon we were crossing U.S. 12 again. We had covered six miles. Most of the hikers regrouped at the La Grange General Store for lunch and good conversation.

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