The first full day of Fall and it was nearly 90 degrees and sticky. That didn't stop seven humid hikers from enjoying UW-Waukesha's Field Station. Before the hike officially kicked off, our fearless hike leader went off trail and helped me collect prairie plant seeds for my school's restoration project. Once on the trail, she and her newest hiking buddy kept well ahead of the adults.
When these two happy hikers did allow the adults to catch up, it was to ask permission to play. Naturally, we agreed. We made shelters, played in the dirt, and even found the famous Halloween Tree.
The play continued with a closer look at Scuppernong Creek and some log balancing. We even stopped to find things along the trail. Whether it be walnuts, critter holes, and/or mushrooms, keeping our eyes open to the world around us was a key to discovery.
When you attend a kid-led hike, you must expect the unexpected. When our hike leaders went down a path I had yet to venture on in my previous visits, I was excited to find a trail camera set up. Upon further inspection, this camera was part of the DNR's Snapshot Wisconsin program, the trail camera program I am fortunate enough to be a part of as well.
Embry was especially fond of the extra large milkweed pods she found.
After saying farewell to the guests form today's hike, we ventured over to the Wildlife in Need Center and found a litter of opossums getting fed. While these little guys may not grow up to be the cutest woodland mammal, they love eating tricks, so I love having them around.
Our next nature day stop was at the Retzer Nature Center's Apple Harvest Festival. Like the Ice Age Trail Alliance, I also am proud to be a volunteer at Retzer and enjoyed seeing so many guests enjoy this amazing place, even in unseasonably high temperatures.
Embry enjoyed making a rainbow butterfly,
and launching frogs onto lily pads in a game called Leap Frog.
Taking a break from the games and crafts, she practiced her facial expressions while exploring the scarecrows.
After hearing her daddy and other guest readers share a variety of picture books, it was time for more games.
She played, apple ring toss,
won at Wildlife BINGO,
and finished off some cold apple cider and a caramel apple.
She even had enough energy to celebrate a wonderful day of nature with one final rock hop.