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Flora and fauna filling the summertime trails

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Russ Helwig | July 9, 2014

Marvin Herman writes:

Seven hikers met at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place last week Tuesday. There had been heavy storms in the area the night before and although there was a cool breeze, mosquitoes were abundant on the trails. We elected to cross the road and hike down to Esterly Road. Because the horse trail, often used as a return, was not mowed, we returned the way we came over the Ice Age Trail. The total distance covered was about four miles. Due to the pesky biters, the hikers were well advised to douse themselves liberally with repellant.

New sightings of flora this day included wild bergamot, black-eyed Susan and purple prairie clover. There were several branches fallen on the trail due to the high winds of the previous night. The hikers worked to clear the trail as best they could as they walked along. The storms were much worse in the reporter's home town of Delavan, where many utility poles were blown down and debris from trees fell on roads making them hazardous. It appeared that our hiking area today fared much better.


Marvin Herman also writes:
 
Eleven hikers and a dog called Mufy departed the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place to the hunter parking lot north of Wisconsin Highway 59 last Wednesday. From there, all carpooled to the Wisconsin Highway 67 trail crossing to begin the hike back to the hunters lot via a segment of the Ice Age Trail through the Scuppernong Prairie.

A steady mist of rain was falling and cool breezes blew but as long as we kept walking, none of the hikers without rain gear were bothered by the weather. The trail was wet and some of the hikers whose footwear was not entirely waterproof got damp feet. The breeze was enough to keep the mosquitoes off but some hikers used bug spray. Despite the slightly less than perfect conditions, all enjoyed the hike which did not include the Brady's Rock portion which was determined to be too overgrown and insect-laden.

Amongst other flora and fauna, one or more hikers appreciated plentiful spiderwort in full bloom, common milkweed also in bloom, great quantities of black-eyed Susan, prairie dock and blazing star ready to bloom. Also seen on the trail were tree swallows, sandhill cranes and a monarch butterfly. We also saw a garter snake lying on the trail but upon further inspection, said snake was deceased, having been decapitated by a mower.
 
Most of the hikers regrouped at Edge of Town Cafe for lunch and conversation.

On the way home, I found County Highway H to be closed between U.S. Highway 12 and County Highway A, although I had been advised it was open despite signs to the contrary. A large cement truck blocked the road and I had to backtrack and use County Highway O.  Hikers using County Highway H are advised to verify the extent to which it is open between those points.


Jacob Gerlach writes:

Eight people on the short hike started at the Bald Bluff parking lot last week Wednesday. When we got to the Ice Age Trail we turned right. The trail had grass encroaching on the trail and the mosquitoes were out in full force. At Young Road several hikers stopped to put on insect repellant. After that the mosquitoes were barely noticeable.

Along the trail tree tickfoil was full of pink blossoms. When we got to the horse trail we turned left and shortly met two people on horseback. At the second crossing of Young Road we stopped for water and a short break. The sand in the next stretch was loose but the recent rains had helped pack it down some so the walking was not too bad. Then we entered the woods again and finally got back on the Ice Age Trail, heading for the back of Bald Bluff.

The prairie section just after we rejoined the Ice Age Trail had a lot of flowers blooming; I only identified a few of them. After considerable banter about the climb we all made it to the top and enjoyed the view.

The general description of the hike was vigorous with lots of rocks, roots, hills and sand. Then it was down the front side and back to the cars, heading for a much deserved lunch or for home.

Four of us decided to take an easy, short walk around Lake LaGrange last week Wednesday.  Here the prairie is beginning to be peppered with great color from seasonal wildflowers. The last time I hiked here it was in the late afternoon and spiderwort blooms were not open as they only open in the mornings. This day they were open and beautiful with drifts of the pretty blue flowers scattered throughout the prairie. These were accented with butterfly milkweed, purple coneflower, brown-eyed Susan, and other prairie flowers such as gray-headed coneflower which was in bud but not yet in bloom.

We had taken the route counterclockwise around the lake so we hiked quickly through the woods and slowed down as we approached the lake and prairie so that we could amble leisurely while enjoying the scenery.

An egret was perched on a tree on the other side of the lake and a couple dogs were enjoying a dip in the lake while their owner looked after them.

A trip to the LaGrange General Store for lunch followed and after a short time we were joined by members of the other short walk.


Happy Trekking,

Russ



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