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Trails transformed by burns, wildflowers

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Russ Helwig | May 15, 2014

Twelve of us hiked from our meeting place on the Ice Age Trail to Esterly Road and back last Tuesday. Nine of us returned on the horse trail a distance of three and a half miles, while the others retraced their steps on the Ice Age Trail for a total of four miles.

There was a striking difference between the scenery where a recent burn which removed much of the invasive underbrush and the areas which had not been burned in the past. The view through the open wood in the burned area was wonderful whereas buckthorn and honeysuckle blocked the view of the terrain in the unburned areas.

Bloodroot and hepatica were blooming in the burned area near the trail and other wildflower plants were emerging. 

Marv Herman writes:
 
On an overcast morning with temperatures in the mid-50s 12 long-walk hikers gathered at the U.S. Highway 12 meeting place and drove to the Oleson Cabin off of Duffin Road last Wednesday. From there, they carpooled to the Tamerack Road, crossing for the Ice Age Trail. They then hiked the Trail back to the cabin, a distance of about 5-1/2 miles, covering this distance in about two hours which included a snack stop at the top of Bald Bluff. All present, including an expectant mom (seven months), enjoyed the hike and the exhilarating experience of the morning. Amongst the many observations of nature, were, from the fauna category: a bluebird, and from the flora: bloodroot, Solomon's seal and pussy toes.
 
After reuniting the carpooled drivers with their cars, most of the hikers carried on to the LaGrange General Store for good food and conversation.

Ellen Davis writes:

The short hike last Wednesday consisted of 19 humans of various sizes – and four dogs, also of various sizes. The latter consisted of (in ascending order): Shi-tzu, Pomeranian, Labradoodle, and yellow Lab. Both species were well-behaved and enjoyed the hike.
 
We saw a few pasque flowers hiding under the bushes on the top of the hill, and dandelions and dark blue common violets blooming near the Kangaroo Walk. A few minutes later a great blue heron took off, followed by an egret. A second egret remained in a tree but kept an eye on us. A flock of goldfinches – several beginning to show their mating colors – were active in the bushes by the trail. We saw pussy toes hiding in the grass as we approached the bench overlooking the lake and the prairie, and a patch of pale blue violets as we passed the second bench. Entering the woods, we noticed clumps of blooming hepaticas, wild strawberries, and rue anemone by the side of the trail, as well as large colonies of May apples not yet in flower further back in the woods.  Those hiking for exercise went on ahead, those in the middle looked for wildflowers, and those at the end stopped to take photographs; we re-connected for another lunch at the La Grange General Store.

Addendum: While Ellen was leading the walk I was hiking with the group which stopped to take photos. The keen eye of a young hiker spotted many things that the rest of us had missed, but not all creatures allowed us to photograph them. One was a northern water snake. Many species of birds were seen here, including several egrets scattered in trees on the far shore of the lake. The upper part of a skull of an animal was found near the trail which we took some photos of.  I later determined that it was likely that of a coyote.

Happy Trekking,

Russ




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