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Thursday, 09 May 2019 08:36

Hikers able to mostly dodge the rain and log some miles on the trails

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig's Hikes
Julie Dibler of Delavan and the short-hikers are still smiling after hiking 3.5 miles. Julie Dibler of Delavan and the short-hikers are still smiling after hiking 3.5 miles. Ellen Davis photo
The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: On my way to the meeting place I noticed that the Bradford pear trees are just starting to bloom. I was in Tennessee the last of February and the pear trees were blooming there. We are just two months behind them.
This Tuesday was a rainy, cold day and I did not expect many hikers would show up. Five hikers showed up, each of us wearing appropriate rain garb — four regular hikers and Nancy M., who just got back from Florida and will be a regular hiker with us until fall. I elected to walk around Lake LaGrange. There were quite a few places where water was standing on the trail and a few places where the trail was muddy, but for the most part, the hikers stayed on the grass at the edge of the trail and had no difficulty.

When we were on the connector trail heading back toward the parking lot, I heard an exclamation from Marvin. He said he saw a white-tailed deer. I looked down the trail and saw a small deer scamper across. Being a cloudy evening in the woods, I assumed that the small deer was a fawn, but I could not see well enough to know if it had spots or not. We walked quickly because of the rain and arrived back at the parking lot at exactly 5 p.m.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: The sky was bright this morning following two days of rain. Bright gray, that is, but at least it wasn't raining. We weren't expecting a large number of hikers today, but the parking area was filling up quickly. Jake and I agreed on the Nordic Trails for the short hike, as those gravel-filled trails would be well drained. His plan was to hike the 3.5-mile green trail to the intersection where the orange trail leads back to the trailhead, offering a shortened hike to those who preferred it. Off we went to reassemble at the Nordic Trails.

We arrived to find many of the long-hikers also reassembling there. We set off in opposite directions with 18 short-hikers in our group.

The trail was damp but solid and occasional drops fell from the trees. We reached the meadow and turned downhill at the signpost, on the green/orange trail as went up and down a series of small- to middle-sized hills. Buttercups bloomed here and there, and we could recognize other common wildflowers not yet in bloom — shooting star, bellwort, Dutchman’s breeches and anemones. Later, at the point where the orange trail turned back toward the trailhead, Jake and three others opted to go back. Fourteen of us continued on the green trail, up and down ever-larger hills and then through a relaxing pinewoods.

We were past the halfway point by now, and the biggest hill of all was still to come. After a break, we set out again, refreshed and ready for whatever awaited us. We reached the top of the biggest hill and the trail turned right, onto a plateau. About a hundred feet later we heard voices. Some of us had our suspicions as to who the noise-makers might be, and we were right. It was the long-hikers, coming up hill from the opposite direction on the blue loop. They had snacks. The groups merged to munch and converse at length.

At last we went our separate ways. This last section of trail was mostly flat and relaxing. We passed the area where an old homestead had been located, and noted the raggedy remains of a flower garden planted by the former owners, a brick front step to the non-existent house and the sunken outline of its location. We reached the trailhead in fine spirits. All agreed that it had been a fine hike, and most went on to share stories and plans over lunch.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: On an overcast morning with temperatures in the upper 40s, the rain was expected to hold off until our hike was done. Eighteen long-hikers joined at least as many short ones on the short jaunt to Nordic Ski Trails, where we split up. Our group started out on the blue trail. There was not much standing water on the trails since they are well drained and situated on sandy soil. Because of the recent rains, Nordic was a good choice for today’s hikes.

After a couple of miles walking along white pine forests recently cleansed of invasive plants and junk trees, we stopped for a break knowing the dreaded “Alps” lay ahead. All hikers made it through the Alps in good shape but when we stopped for a refreshment break at the intersection of the green trail, a couple of our hikers wishing a shorter walk took that trail back to the parking lot. The rest of us carried on through the blue, cutting out a loop here and there until we reached the intersection marking the longest loop in the nine-mile blue trail. We chose not to take that long loop and headed straight to the parking lot. Even without that long loop, our consensus distance was at least seven miles.

With the coming of the month of May, we see sproutings of shooting star, Solomon seal and an anemone of some type. I was impressed by the beauty of the rusty sumac against the green and gold trailside plantings near the overlook with two benches on the green trail. This is a beautiful and exhilarating hike that should be done often.

After the hike, most of us regrouped at LaGrange General Store for lunch and, of course, plenty of conversation on a variety of topics.

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