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Thursday, 06 June 2019 09:46

Wildflowers and spring sounds delight the senses along the trails

Written by  Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig's Hikes
A peek under the leaves of a giant Jack-in-the-Pulpit A peek under the leaves of a giant Jack-in-the-Pulpit Photo by Ellen Davis
The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: On this overcast and less-than-ideal evening 14 people showed up, including Dan, a new hiker from Janesville.
We started off to go around Lake La Grange, and the first thing I noticed was that the honeysuckle was in full bloom and the air was heavy with its sweet scent. There was even honeysuckle in the areas that had been cleared a few years ago by the Department of Natural Resources. The wild geraniums also were in bloom.

We took a short break at Russ’ bench and then it was on around the lake. When we started the descent to Ruth’s point, someone found a newly hatched turtle in the path. Some of the hikers made sure that it got safely down to the lake. Even though we often hike around the lake, there is almost always something new and exciting on every hike.

Hiking is vigorous exercise even at the pace we walk and several people had to remove their jackets as they got warmed up. We arrived back at the starting parking lot warm and thankful for another great hike.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: For an overcast day with a chance of rain, an unusually large crowd assembled at the Ice Age Trail crossing for the Wednesday hikes. Jake’s short hike suggestion would be a challenge, but all 15 of us were up for it. Off we went up the hill, through the horse-trailer parking area, and down again to the access road. This route was relatively dry. Soon it turned to the right, taking us to the ill-reputed Puddle La Grange — a formerly formidable water-filled dip that stretched across the road and into the woods. Now, thanks to our heroic trail crew, a small drainage ditch effectively removed much of the water.

Tiny wild strawberries bloomed along the edges of the road, at times sharing the space with poison ivy. Lavender wild geranium flowers added another hint of color and two columbines added their bright red and yellow blossoms, but the predominant tone was green — a soft, calming green. We followed the access road to its end, where the Ice Age Trail goes up a hill that seems to go on forever. Erosion had eaten away at it, leaving gritty gulleys between the usual rocks and roots. It was necessary to watch our footing, looking up occasionally to see that the trail was still going upward as far as the eye could see. The top came in sight — but no, the trail turned to the left and the climb continued.

We were definitely in the hills now. We were seeing Jack-in-the-pulpits and blooming mayflowers in addition to the wild geraniums and strawberries. Everyone I could see was smiling. Eventually we came to the pines and the long cut-through to the horse trail. We took it, ending up on a wide grassy trail bordered here and there by banks of wild geraniums. It was another scenic hilly trail, but this one seemed to go predominantly downhill. Hawkweed appeared, plus yellow wood violets and shooting star. Conversations flourished.

We followed Jake through the trail intersections, arriving at last at the berms and Sherwood Forest Road. It led us gently downhill. More than half of the group went on to lunch, eaten outdoors at the La Grange General Store. This had been a rather challenging but enjoyable 3.5- hike.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: Today we took a new hike that most of us had never taken before. Andy and Ron came upon this trail when they were out cutting wood and now our group of 21 long-hikers would have the advantage of their discovery. We reassembled at the parking area on Duffin Road near Oleson Cabin. The sky was mainly overcast and the temperature just under 60 degrees with only a slight chance of rain during our hike.

From the cabin we took the Ice Age Trail in a southwesterly direction past the trail leading to the Old Lime Kiln and soon we could see Shelter #3 through the trees on our right. We then swung to the right on an emergency access road serving the Muir bike trails. Peepers were heard from the marshy area below us and wild geraniums and strawberries were plentiful along the trail. Pussy toes and false and true Solomon seal were also observed. At least one hiker saw a swallow tail butterfly and some columbine. Next, we entered a bike trail that swept to the left. I recognized a sign designating the Muir bike trails section called Sandy Bottom and we hiked along the narrow trail probably closed to bikes this day due to recent rains. After a while, we crossed Bluff Road and then County Highway H and regained the IAT on our way back to the cabin, where we stopped for water and a rest.

Today’s hike covered five miles. Hikers expressed that they enjoyed the varied terrain, sandy soil and some flat trail on pine needles beneath the towering trees. Hikers were seen to slow down to admire the beautiful unnamed lakes in the kettles far below the trail and to listen to bird calls they might recognize.

After the hike, most regrouped at La Grange General Store for delicious soups and sandwiches and, of course, desserts furnished by Nancy C.

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