Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tyke Hike #29 - Monches

The last Tyke Hike before the school year hits was wonderful. Despite the heat and humidity, 19 hikers and a pooch hit the Monches Segment in search of the fungus among us.

On this beautiful segment on the edge of Waukesha County, we learned about many different things the fungus that fill the forest floor can do for both people and nature. Between some terribly amazing nature jokes and some fungi facts, we discussed the different types of mushrooms and how we can enjoy some of them for food. Then, we shared information about how they can be used for medicinal purposes.

Lastly, we focused on how fungi are important to the health of the forest. As always, I used questioning to get the children to share what they know and what they think about the topic. An impressive answer from one of our tykes brought up the concept of decomposers. From there, we talked about how trees break down and help keep the forest a great place for both plants and animals to live.

Of course, talking about fungi isn't nearly as much fun as searching for them.  Finding a special place where some decomposing trees were near the trail, the hikers enjoyed some natural play time and found many things. From fungi and lichens to frogs and logs, we enjoyed our discovery time.

The school year slows down the Tyke Hike schedule, but only a bit. We are back to our once-a-month hike, continuing next on Saturday, September 17th at 10AM at the UW-Waukesha Field Station. We will be searching for prairie plant seeds and enjoying a beautiful hike near the Waterville Segment.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Tyke Hike #28 - Hartland

Upper eighties and humid isn't ideal hiking weather, but twelve sweaty souls and one four-legged friend enjoyed a hike through Hartland anyways. This waterways-focused hike began at the Hartland Library, where a new Ice Age education area is being created in preparation for a special event later this month. This is all part of Hartland recently becoming an Ice Age Trail Community.

Early in the hike, we traveled through something apathetic for adults and exciting for kids: the Ice Age Alley. With the trail cutting through downtown Hartland, it is a bit different than the more natural terrain we experience on other tyke hikes.

Along the way, we discussed waterways impact on Wisconsin's history. From the rivers being used as transportation in the Fur Trade era to tourism and recreation impacts today and in the future, Wisconsin's waterways are extremely important to who we are and who we become.

Of course, we couldn't just talk about waterways? We had to enjoy them. It was a very "cool " experience in the sweltering heat.

After our dip, Nancy from the Hartland Library read us a wonderful story written by Jim LaMarche entitled The Raft. Growing up in Kewaskum, this author wrote this story based on his own experiences on a Wisconsin waterway, thew Milwaukee River.

After the story ended and we enjoyed another quick dip, we began the trek back to the library. Were the kids ever surprised to see a special guests on the way. While it was great to run into of the greatest Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter has to offer, I have an inkling the tykes were more intrigued by a furrier friend.

It is always great to see the official Ice Age Trail mascot, Monty the Mammoth, especially on such a hot evening. I am also sure Monty was happy to see his smiling fans and his good friend, the Tyke Hike mascot, Mojo.

Another wonderful Tyke Hike in the books. Please consider joining the last Tyke Hike before the school year starts. We're going on a Fungi Hunt Wednesday, August 10th at the Monches Segment. Also, please consider checking out the grand opening celebration of the Ice Age Education Area at the Hartland Library on August 23rd from 2-6pm.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Yosemite National Park - Yosemite Valley

Yosemite was touted as a beautiful and popular place to visit and it delivered on both those promises. Battling triple digit temperatures and large, large crowds. we managed to see a good chunk of the park and still keep our sanity.

Our daughter was an amazing trooper on the long and sometimes winding car rides up and down the mountain. Though we are now two for two on having her lose a lunch in a rental car, she rebounded quickly and didn't let a little motion sickness ruin her exploring time.

She loved seeing El Capitan and Half Dome, though climbing on stumps and rocks along the trails was much more exciting. Her trek through the sequoia a forest and rock climbing at Glacier Point seemed to preferred.

Standing on her stump seat

Mule Deer who was not intimidated by humams in the least bit

Though she was a bit sad we wouldn't let her take a pine cone home, she is aware that "nature stays with nature" and made sure to remind us that at various points throughout the trip.

Embry in her "dinosaur track"

Enjoying a fallen giant
This fallen giant was hollow the whole way through.

While anytime in nature is a good time with me, getting up close and personal with giant sequoia trees was a highlight for me. Unfortunately, the highly-touted Mariposa Grove was closed this season. However, we weren't disappointed by the smaller grove we visited. Sitting in shadows of a fallen giant, walking through a dead stump, and just taking in the sights and spectacular smells made the long drives and sweaty treks worthwhile.

A very dirt-filled nature loving girl

Hanging with one of daddy's favorite naturalists