A few slips on the trail, but winter views are grand
Marvin Herman writes:
Although we had been cautioned by our wise leader that the weather was going to deteriorate last Tuesday, four hikers nevertheless gathered at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place. The temperature was in the mid 20's when we departed for the Muir bicycle trails off of County Highway H to hike the White trail, a distance of just over three miles.
When we arrived at Muir, the snow began to fall, continuing to cover the icy trail with a coat of light snow. Ice grippers were a great help in staying vertical to the trail. As dusk fell, we encountered a single "fat tire" biker heading toward us as we walked the trail against bike traffic.
On the way back to our homes, two of us heading south encountered near white-out conditions as the wind kicked the snow across the farm fields and out over the road.
Thirteen long hikers reassembled at the Muir Bike Trails on this overcast morning last Wednesday with temperatures in the mid-teens. About an inch of snow covered the slick ice on the trails making the use of grippers a wise choice. Led by Norwin Watson, the group followed the Purple Trail to the Rainy Dew segment which we hiked in reverse just in case there were bikers encountered during the hike (there were none).
All hikers successfully completed the six mile hike with just a few slips and no falls. Everyone seemed glad to be back together with the larger group of hikers. One hiker was heard to say that joining the group was the best thing she had done in her retirement. Amen to that.
After the hike, all repaired to the LaGrange General Store for hot soup, sandwiches and coffee and good conversation, much of which centered around new electronics received for Christmas.
Because I had not been on a long hike for a couple weeks I decided to take the short walk this Wednesday. It does not take long to lose ones conditioning. I probably would not have had trouble with a four or five mile hike but would likely have struggled to keep up on the longer one this day.
This short walk was led by Jake Gerlach on his favorite figure eight loop at the Muir trails. This is a very short walk of less than three miles, a bit shorter than I would have liked, but I must admit that it was a beautiful walk. We started out on the short inner loop opposite to bike traffic, turned off with the white to orange, right to the Rainy Dew trail, then right again as we reached the short trail. This took us past the exit of the white which we previously had taken. We continued to complete the short loop to finish the figure eight.
In my opinion the prettiest part of this hike is on the loop that includes the orange and Rainy Dew trails. This part has trails on steep side hills in beautiful hilly wooded terrain which was accented by snow and lack of leaves which obstruct the view in summer. This is one reason why I prefer winter hiking.
Our hikers used various versions of ice gripping footwear which was useful on some parts of the trail.
Ellen was more observant than I was as she reported seeing numerous mouse tracks in the snow. I did see an abundance of squirrel tracks
Afterwards most of us regrouped at the LaGrange General Store for great food and conversation. As we were leaving we greeted the long distance hikers who were arriving.