Thursday, July 23, 2015

Tyke Hike #13 - Pike Lake

Tyke Hike ventured out of Waukesha County. . .sort of. Unfortunately, the first attempt was rained out. Today's rescheduled event was muggy and buggy. These less than desirable conditions and the fact that this was a rescheduled event may have factored into there being only five hikers tonight.

Either way, the show must go on and all 5 happy hikers ventured out on hike in beautiful Pike Lake. Prior to the hike, we met up with a volunteer from the Washington/Ozaukee County Chapter who described how the last workday only brought in 2 people, so it was somewhat comforting to know that this happens. :) He also mentioned how he has worked tirelessly to remove wild parsnip from the area we trekked.

Taking turns as hike leaders, the two toddlers in the group had a great time bopping the blazes, playing hide and seek in the trees, and being carried by their parents. The bugs and heat couldn't stop the girls from entertaining us with their quips and quirkiness.

Only a few more weeks until the next Tyke Hike, embarking form Centennial park in Hartland on Thursday, August 6th. I really hope the turnout is great as a representative form Milwaukee Public Radio will be there to learn about and get information for a special feature on the Tyke Hike program. Please come out and join us!

Saturday, July 11, 2015


As a hike leader, one of the questions I get asked is "Are you a Thousand Miler?" I joke when I say yes. Ever since I joined the Ice Age Trail Alliance as a volunteer, the idea of becoming a Thousand-Miler has been quite intriguing. However, at this stage in my life, with a career and a young family, trekking out new segments  is tricky, especially those that fall out of my surrounding counties. I do take silly credit for being a Thousand-Miler considering I''ve hiked some of the same segments with my toddler seemingly a thousand times. Joking aside, I am impressed with all that have completed the whole trail, those that are int eh process, and those that are like me, aspiring to doing it someday.

I did however get to take my toddler out to a new segment this morning. Reading my field guide, I noticed a segment adjacent to one of our favorite state parks, Pike Lake, was more of a tour through a trail town, meaning the majority of the trail follows roads and sidewalks. So, off to the Slinger Segment we went.

Of course, with limited parking at the trailhead, we parked in Pike Lake parking area and enjoyed a small chink of the Pike Lake Segment before making our way to Slinger. Even though we had just scouted this part of the trail for an upcoming Tyke Hike, we enjoyed it once again. With all my Tyke Hikes, I like to find a nice turning point, This usually ends up being at what I call a "turnaround tree." I missed the face on this tree a few days but look forward to sharing it with kids next week.

As we left Pike Lake, we came across one of my least favorite parts of the trail: a road connect. Luckily, this was only a 0.3 mile jaunt before being back in a more natural area.

When we first stepped foot onto the Slinger Segment, I noticed that unfortunately, it looked like someone had recently been there before us. Luckily, I had a spare bag in my supplies to clean up the collection of beer bottles and garbage they left behind. It also appeared that someone had driven their truck through this section. From Highway 60's trailhead, the trail follows a grassy path through some woods and farmland before reconnecting with a road in a neighborhood. It appeared someone had been using the trail as a shortcut. The tread damage was considerable. the jury is still out on if the litterer and driver were the same person.

Putting that behind us, my daughter and I walked through a mosquito-laden area and noticed breaks in the brush offered spectacular views of farmland and ridges in the distance.

The narrow but worn path allowed my daughter to lead the way safely. She loves being the hike leader and is sure to bop any blaze along the way and choose (mostly correct) what direction to travel when there is any type of intersection. Today however, she got tired quickly as the temperatures rose and the bugs increased. After leaving the woods and trekking through a neighborhood, her boredom with the trail town concept shone brightly, signaling it was time to cut our hike shorter than I had expected. We stopped for a water and snack break and headed back towards Pike Lake.
The short break did rejuvenate her for a short time. She ran ahead on the trail, stopping to smell the flowers along the way.

She did allow me to stop and read an information sign about Slinger's history as a trading post, one of my favorite topics to learn about. As a history geek, I can never have enough information posts on the trail.
I ended up carrying her back most of the way, so at least I got my workout in. While walking along roads and through sidewalks of neighborhoods isn't my favorite part of the Ice Age Trail. it does allow for a unique and intimate perspective of how the trail can impact a community. I look forward to completing this segment sooner than later, though I may have to go sans child. 

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Pike Lake Preview

With just a week left before the next Tyke Hike, it was time for Embry and I to do some scouting. And since this is the first Tyke Hike to leave the friendly confines of Waukesha County, we wanted to to make sure we had a nice route for all the potential new hikers.

We departed from the Powder Hill parking lot and set off to the forest. Before we arrived, we were mesmerized by the butterflies and dragonflies that inhabited the savanna-like habitat leading to the woods. Embry was especially entranced with the berries and flowers that decorated the trail.

Once we made it to the woods, we enjoyed the cooler temperatures and fresh feeling that nature provided. We saw lots of interesting tree growth, though it was cute that Embry whimpered every time she  saw a "tree fall down." The moist forest floor was the perfect conditions for moss, nurse logs, and a variety of fungi.

I usually try to keep my hikes to about a mile or so. It worked out beautifully that on this section of the trail a road intersected the trail at the half-mile mark. A wonderful turn around time. It's always fin seeing the same trail from a different perspective. It really makes it seems like a whole new trail.

On the way back. my little tyke had to "bop" every blaze along the way, a new and enjoyable hiking tradition. A proud moment of fatherhood occurred as we came across our starting point and saw our vehicle. Embry, connecting seeing the vehicle to leaving, yelled out, "MORE WOODS PLEASE!"  I was happy to oblige.

We continued on the Ice Age Trail on the opposite side of the lot before trekking off  of it and taking a nice summer stroll on one of our favorite trails, the Black Forest Nature Trail. We were delighted by the calls of birds, invited by the chorus of frogs, and excited by the fluttering insects along the way. Unfortunately, we also came across a very young raccoon who was "sleeping" on the trail. Embry and I made sure to tiptoe around it so we didn't disturb its sleep. 

I am looking forward to another excellent Tyke Hike in an absolutely wonderful  setting.  Until next week. . .