Ice grippers, layers make hikes comfortable

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Russ Hewig | January 29, 2014

Marvin Herman writes,

Three hearty gripper-shod hikers stepped off from the parking lot at the U.S. Highway 12 trailhead at 4:05 p.m. last Tuesday, heading clockwise around Lake LaGrange. The thermometer read 2 degrees above zero.

The hike of nearly three miles was done by 5:15 p.m., well in advance of darkness that would have called for headlamps just a couple of weeks ago. The Lake was iced over except for a small area of warm water agitated by a spring on the southeast section just beyond the Kangaroo Walk.

The hike could have been accomplished easily without ice grippers since there was a thick layer of packed snow over the ice. Nevertheless they provided extra confidence that slippage would be avoided.  

Ten of us met for the walk on last Wednesday. This is a small number for our Wednesday walk, but considering the single digit temperatures and below zero wind chills, the turnout was not bad.  I would rather see people stay home than be put at risk with inadequate preparation and clothing for the conditions. Ellen Davis had called me saying that she would not hike as she did not think that any short distance hikers would show up. I assured her that if any did show that I would lead a hike for them.

The only short distance hiker to show was Jake Gerlach, who assists Ellen with the short walks, but sometimes takes a longer walk. I was the last to arrive and everyone was already planning to hike at the heavily-wooded John Muir trails where the wind would not be a problem. They planned on a hike counterclockwise on the orange blazed trail which is a good four miles in length.

This trail is very scenic as it passes along steep hillsides, beautiful kettle formations, and a variety of trees. With the leaves removed from the trees for winter we could enjoy the view of the terrain.

On the last part of the hike Jake and I decided to take a small shortcut by tuning off on the Rainy Dew trail. When we finished my pedometer said that our hike was four miles and the others arrived only a minute after we did.

Before departing we stopped at the LaGrange Country Store for tasty soup or sandwiches and friendly conversation.

Happy Trekking,


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