Wednesday, May 28, 2014


Starting on the UW-Waukesha Field Station grounds alongside a prairie restoration project, this beautiful segment takes a jaunt through some wooded and meadow-like fields before a mile-long road connect takes you deeper into the hilly woods weaving through residential neighborhoods.

In the woods, there were various wildflowers and ground cover covering just about every portion of the color spectrum. I did notice many downed and uprooted trees that had been taken over as homes for different animals. As a very primitive photographer and enthusiast of art, something about the site of the uprooted root structure that can be seen is quite remarkable so I was sure to snap a few pictures.

The sun peeking it's way through the trees and the chorus of birds made the up and down terrain's strain on my weary quadriceps much more pleasant.  I tend to walk one way and trail run the way back.  Not sure if I was tired after a long, long week of kindergarten or if this segment was extra hilly, but I stopped to rest on more occasions than usual this Saturday morning.

Though a solid chunk of the trail did wind through some beautiful forests, it did clear up near the end into some more cleared prairieland and marshy areas. A few boardwalks helped make the trek over low-lying areas a bit drier though there was gentle stream that had to be hopped over. The trail ended at a road connect which was a hop, skip, and a jump away from the next segment on my adventure: Scuppernong.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Early Morning at Loew Lake

With National Trails Day just around the corner, I was motivated to get to know the entire section that would be traversed that day: just over four miles of Lowe Lake and three-and-a-half of Monches.  Since Monches is one of my favorite and most traveled-segments, I woke up early on this frigid morning to complete a segment I hadn't yet done completely: Loew Lake. I have done a portion of it in the past and am especially enamored with the first mile or so which guides you through a pine forest where the needles are like cushions on you feet as long as you can avoid the protruding roots and eventually takes you alongside the Oconomowoc River.

After meandering through the woods, working my way through an open prairie, and taking the road connection, I was ready to embark on new portions of the Ice Age Trail.  This initial open meadow are included distant, but picturesque views of Holy Hill and the basilica as well as many, many birds.  I'm still learning about the different species, but I am pretty sure I recognized some gold finches, juncos, and at least one pair of sandhill cranes.  I also saw a soaring bird too high to describe besides a call that reminded me of a rusty gate swinging open.

Eventually, after some hilly terrain, the trail meandered through woodlands.  For some reason, many of the downed trees I saw today sparked the children's book author side of me and gave me potential ideas for a new book. I also saw many "bent" trees and others uprooted.  I am a huge fan of trees and love seeing the different types and unique characteristics of them throughout the trail.

After another short road connect and some more meandering woodland trails, a massive opening with some beautiful outlooks appeared.  I could se that this was the end of this segment and the beginning of another as it seemed to be intersecting with other trials from the Kettle Moraine State Forest. This expansive opening allowed me to observe a few different families of deer, including a pretty close encounter with one of the smallest fawns I have ever seen. The weather had warmed so much and the deer motivated me to continue my trek for an additional mile or so into the Holy Hill segment, which kicked off with a quick ascent into the forest and more grassland-type features with many more birds and a plethora of bunnies.
I am very much looking forward to National Trails Day on Saturday, June 7th and am hoping to see many fellow hikers, nature enthusiasts, and animal lovers enjoy a tremendous day on the trails.  While Monches is still my favorite segment so far, I thoroughly enjoyed this segment and look forwards to continuing exploring more of the Ice Age Trail and all of the beauty and adventure it has to offer.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day at Monches

Wisconsin's own palm tree


Beautiful signage thanks to the Blazin' Babes

One of my favorite parts. . . .ridge on one side, river on the other
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for hiking, so what better way to spend Mother's Day and my 33rd birthday than a hike on one of our favorite segments: Monches. There were many, many hikers  (lots of kids :) out on the trails today. Monches is always a great place for the dramatic variety of landforms as well as species of plants. Though the trees were just starting to bud, the trilliums and other wildflowers were out and much of the land was swarmed with lush, green undergrowth. No deer sightings today, but we saw a ton of birds from herons to woodpeckers and plenty of red squirrels. One part my wife and I especially enjoy is seeing how many downed trees and hollowed out stumps serve as homes to wildlife. This was our first full family hike with the new hiking carrier and the little one was enamored with the views, though picking and holding dandelions was probably her favorite part.