Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Saunters Wednesday. . .Burning and Learning

Today's hike was a sizzler. With clear skies and the sun beating down, I was just waiting for the complaints and whining to commence. It never did. In a quick conversation amongst student hikers, I overheard one child say "his neck felt like it was burning" yet "he couldn't wait to come back tomorrow." Those are the moments that allows any Saunters-related stress to melt away.
Our hike today began at the Lapham tower. We hiked through the woods and along the trail that will be majorly renovated in the upcoming Mobile Skills Crew project. We enjoyed searching for snakes in the grasses, listening to the sounds of the bird orchestra, and talking about the many important uses of trees, including trekking just a bit off the Ice Age Trail to find and observe a Native American marker tree. When nature wasn't the main topic of conversation. it was entertaining to hear the kids sing karaoke to the latest hits (and some oldies as well) and play word games.
After lunching ans re-charging at the Evergreen shelter, we hustled across Highway C and into the more prairie-esque landscape. We enjoyed finding different wildflowers and trying to figure out similarities and differences between habitats like forests, prairies, marshes, and oak savannas.

Saunters students took over the role of hike leaders as we marched toward the Delafield Segment. We stopped at a little forested area I like to call Chipmunk Alley to explore and work on our journals and sketches.
As we left the Lapham Peak boundary and walked a portion of the Delafield Segment, we decided to stop at Cushing Memorial Park for a tour of Fort Cushing,a pretty sweet playground. Strangely enough, the playground is where we had our two of our closest encounters with nature. Narrowly avoiding a sprinting deer darting in the grassy area next to the swings, we also visited a boardwalk over some marshy land and caught a peek at a very young turtle.
Hard to believe we are more than halfway through this Saunters experience. This is a wonderful group of children who are teaching me more than I could even try to teach them.  Now, tomorrow. . . on to finish up the Lapham Peak Segment and do some service-learning at the Waterville Prairie.

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