Thursday, January 1, 2015

First Day Hike 2015

In my opinion, there isn't much of a better way to start the year than to enjoy nature at one of Wisconsin's most beautiful state parks. Fortunately for me, the Ice Age Trail Alliance's Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter hosts a First day Hike at this location. In the past, I had attended this event as any other hiker. This year, with months of volunteering under my belt, I was lucky enough to be a hike leader, meaning a group of park patrons would be guided through the woods under my direction.  I am happy to say everyone made it out alive.

The planning committee decided to have several smaller groups depart from the Hausmann Nature Center in shifts rather than try to coordinate one massive group. Based on the popularity of the event, this was a very wise choice. I led the 4th shift of hikers, which happened to be populated by a large group of children. Being the Tyke Hike Coordinator, it was meant to be.

My group of approximately 25 hikers of all ages (and a few furry four-legged friends) set out from the nature center and took the paved path until it connected with the butterfly garden and traversed an open field of buckthorn remnants. We eventually took a short path through the woods before connecting with a groomed cross country ski trail and ultimately meeting up with the Ice Age Trail. We took the IAT to the tower before taking a quick respite, taking in the views from the tower, and hydrating. Then, it was back to hiking as we headed back on the trail through heavily eroded section of the trail and a newly flagged section just off the trail that will be converted to trail in the summer's Mobile Skills Crew. I have not yet been able to experience this trail-building and restoring adventure, so I am very excited about it being so close to home later this year. This newly flagged section led us through some wonderfully scenic overlook opportunities before looping back and connecting back with the Ice Age Trail on our way to the nature center to enjoy a variety of snacks and beverages graciously donated by trail volunteers.

Helping me lead was a very enthusiastic group of children who impressed me with their knowledge and excitement for nature. They also had an adorable puppy. :)  Those fun conversations were exactly why I am coordinating Tyke Hikes and leading a Saunters program this year. While I aimed to teach the next generation of hikers some things and get them excited for the trail and nature in general, it was I who learned so much and got rejuvenated for a new year out on the trail.

1 comment:

  1. Great day, great weather (even if there ws no snow) and great people! Could not have had a better start to 2015 than hiking the beautiful IAT with my wife and some other fun people. Looking forward to the trail building activities in August, 2015.