Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Taking advantage of this sunny day, I decided to take my daughter to a segment I hadn't yet discovered: the Delafield segment. As far as I can remember, this is the first segment I have explored that is essentially paved the whole way. Being part of the Lake Country Recreational trial for the first two miles or so, I was able to enjoy some picturesque views of Pewaukee Lake and an absolutely gorgeous marshy area opposite the lake right off the trail. Though I am not a bird identifying expert, I saw what I believed to be at least eight different species in this quarter mile stretch and heard the brilliant chirps and songs of many others.

The trail then took us on a stroll through the quaint and quiet downtown area where we strolled past a variety of shops and businesses before stopping to read about historic Hawks Inn and crossing Main Street to head towards Cushing Park Road.

As the trail veered left on Cushing Park Road, we followed it under I-94 and up to the expansive and hilly terrain that marks the beginning of the Lapham Peak segment.  The viewpoint from this vantage point reminded me of a section of the IAT in the Devil's Lake area. After reaching this point, we turned around and rather then heading back along the trial on Main Street, we continued on Cushing Park Road and stopped at Cushing Memorial Park for a look at the monuments honoring our veterans, a lunch break, and of course, a  few minutes at the playground.

Before reconnecting with the where the trail combines with the recreational trail, we enjoyed a walk on the river boardwalk. A nice variety of waterfowl and even a nice painted turtle (who unfortunately was too quick for me before I snapped a picture) greeted us.  Overall, a beautiful day on the trail!


Saturday, April 19, 2014


As I am still quite new in my work with the IATA, I am excited about some opportunities that lie ahead.  I am excited to hike more and more of the trail.  I am more excited about sharing my experiences in that journey.  Most importantly, I am excited about experiencing the trail with others.

Being a teacher, I am professionally dedicated to helping children grow academically, but I personally aim to help them grow socially and emotionally as people. I look forward to helping my experiences with hiking influence my perspective world. That perspective shapes how I teach, so to me, the trail is an opportunity.  An opportunity to shape the future.

Just yesterday, I had such an opportunity.  It also allowed me to continue to mascoting career now that my racing sausage days are behind me.  Working along side several other volunteers, I became Monty the Mammoth at the Wisconsin Outdoor Resource Fair, hosted by Betty Brinn Children's Museum in Milwaukee. I was involve with a skit that focused on "unplugging" children from the sometimes firm and dependent grip they have on technology and experience the wonders of a hike. This skit was especially important and pertinent to me as I have penned a picture book on that very same topic.  I loved performing for the children and hope they got out as much of the skit as I did.

The trail and the outdoors has so much to offer.  I hope we can all inspire others to take advantage!
My daughter liked the presentation much more than me hiding her as a 9-foot mammoth.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

An Ice Age Introduction

     Greetings fellow IATA members, hiking enthusiasts, and others who may have wandered onto this blog. :)

     In an effort to help promote the Ice Age Trail and the Alliance, I have created this blog and look forward to adding to it regularly with stories from my own personal adventures and experiences with the Ice Age Trail. I encourage you to check regularly and share this blog as a way of spreading the word about all the wonderful things this "hidden Wisconsin treasure" had to offer.

     Since I am hoping you become a regular visitor of this site, it wouldn't hurt to introduce myself.  I am a relatively new member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance (Waukesha-Milwaukee Chapter) and generally new to hiking.  Though my wife and I have always loved visiting state parks and other nature-themed places, the IAT has been a relatively new passion of ours. I am excited about trekking new segments and eventually joining the 1,000 Miler Club.  Until then, I will continue to enjoy and explore as many segments as I can while educating my friends, family, and students about the joys and benefits of the outdoors.

     Besides being a kindergarten teacher, retired racing sausage, and new father of a just-turned-one year old baby girl, I am also a prospective picture book author. Seeing all the great things the IAT has to offer has been an inspiration for some of my stories and maybe one day, I can turn these ideas and manuscripts into something special. I am also in the beginning stages of setting up a Saunters program through my school district, so that will be another way I will work to help support and sponsor hiking in Wisconsin.

     As you can see, I've already posted a few adventures from this year.  I look forward for many more to come.  Please join me on the ride and let's work together to promote the Ice Age Trail for all the wonderful things it is and will be!

Happy Trails!


P.S.- If you see someone carrying a beautiful red-headed baby girl on the trails, it just might be me.  Don't forget to say hi. :)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Lapham Peak & Hartland

Another weekend gone, but the spring weather made it a fantastic one. Though spring cleaning is a necessity, my family couldn't let all of the sunshine go to waste.

I was able to go on a guided hike with a much more experienced Ice Age Trail hiker on Saturday, exploring a five mile stretch that began at the tower at Lapham Peak state park and wound up at the UW-Waukesha field station.  Besides enjoying the stroll, I was able to get free history lessons on Native American marker trees, a local and abandoned boys detention school, volcanic bedrock, illegal lumber collection, and prairie restoration.  Though I was a bit disheartened to hear this section had been vandalized with stolen benches and graffiti expressing someone's distaste for our current government structure, the beautiful kettle-fed stream and a jaunt along where the Ice Age Trail and Glacial Drumlin state trail come together made it a very worthwhile hike.

Sunday was a family hike day.  I was excited to share a portion of the Hartland segment which I had just discovered the week before. After driving to a wayside connected to the Hartland Ice Age Marsh, the ladies and I took a short but exciting two-mile trek through a marshy section of the trail.  In this section, a scenic overlook named after Wisconsin naturalist Aldo Leopold was highlighted in the Ice Age trail information I use to help me on my hikes.  However, I had a purpose of finishing up a longer stretch on my first trip through this segment, so I avoided really digging into this seemingly standard overlook that was just off the Ice Age trail's path.  Boy, did I miss out!  My wife and I decided to take a separate path and explore the overlook.  When we did, we noticed that it included several trails within it. Spring had certainly began the awakening process for the native plants and animals that inhabited this marshy conservancy area. We noticed many waterfowl, especially geese, mallards and a pair of sandhill cranes.  We saw the usual mammals and saw some woodpeckers and juncos as well. We were able to cross a bridge over a very peaceful stream and climb to different heights to get various looks at the area from a different perspective.  I am sure we will visit this area again once we get deeper into the season.

In the next week, I'll be looking into how I can help for National Trails Day on June 7th and learn more about the Saunters program, a child-based outdoor education program focusing on nature and the Ice Age Trail.


Who uses their personal day to go to Opening Day, sees a rather seasonal forecast, and sells his tickets to spend a day on the trails??? This guy. Those who know me have noticed that hiking has become a passion of mine in recent years, especially with my interest in the Ice Age Trail, a beautiful 1,000 mile trail exclusive to Wisconsin and filled with remnants and reminders of the last Ice Age. I joined the chapter that represents my local area and am working on hiking each of the segments in my area before branching out and eventually hike the whole thing. Besides a special First Day Hike on the 1st of January, today was my first day out on the trails.  I'll keep you posted as continue my hiking journeys.

Today's trek was a muddy one as I battled the winter thaw. I was able to hike the Hartland segment (both ways) for 15.14 miles in just under 4 hours with a quick stop in downtown Hartland for brunch in the park. The hike started following along the Bark River and taking a tour of the city parks before intersecting downtown and traveling right behind the library. The trail opened up into new housing developments and more march areas, highlighted by a special Ice Age March park with An Aldo Leopold outlook. Aldo Leopold was a naturalist I learned about with my students in my 4th grade days.  Though the animal sightings were slim pickings today compared to what the signage states appears in summer, I was entertained with a variety of ducks, geese, a pair or sandhill cranes, and chirping chipmunks and red squirrels.  After meandering through an "unblazed" and affluent Delafield subdivision, I finished off with a few mile scamp through woodlands and forests before reaching the end of the segment near I-94 in Delafield.  ("Unblazed" refers to portions of the trail where connecting routes through neighborhoods and county roads lack the signature yellow "blazes" or sign markers to help guide you.)

Looking forward to the next step in my journey, especially since my baby girl will most likely be with me. :)



And It Begins . . .

In my days teaching a 4th grade classroom, I remember looking into the teacher's edition of the Social Studies curriculum which focused on the history of Wisconsin and reading an article about the Ice Age Trail. Completely naïve to this trail, I overlooked it and focused instead on aspects I thought the students might appreciate more, like the fur trade and immigration.

Years later, on a drive with my wife, we came across a country road where it seemed an abnormally large amount of cars were pulled over to the side of the road. We happened to catch a glance of people trekking into the woods, Upon further review, we saw this as the beginning of an Ice Trail segment and in essence, the beginning to a new and exciting chapter of our lives.

In this blog, I hope to share with you my experiences with the trail through stories, information, and hopefully entertainment. I hope you enjoy Tales from the Trails.