Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Tyke Hike #56 - West Bend

On a gorgeous and comfortable Tuesday evening, six hikers enjoyed a hike on the West Bend Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

However, for a moment, we felt we might be hiking all by ourselves. In fact, Embry found a stump a safe distance from the road and waved at people to "invite them."

Once our guests arrived, we trekked through a more open are lush with wildflowers before entering the woods to bop blazes, build structures, and search for critters.

We even stopped for some trail art using one of our favorite outdoor tools.

After an up and down (literally) walk through the woods, we ended up at Silver Creek. We watched some fish swim through the shallow waters before stopping for a snack.

On the way back, we found some toads and fungi and worked on more structures. However most of the walk back was led by the creativity of the children. They played a few imagination games. The kids took turn being the mammoth and chasing other animals. I didn't have the heart to tell them mammoths weren't predators. They also took the roles of characters from the wildlife show Kratts Creatures.

While the older children played together, Oakley even seized the opportunity to practice being a Tyke Hike leader. It was another great hike on the Ice Age Trail.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Urban Explorations - Urban Ecology Center - Riverside Park

The girls and I decided to do some urban exploring today so we headed to one of the three sites of the Urban Ecology Center. I personally have been to the Riverside Park site before but never shared the experience with my daughters. After exploring, I told my daughter this was just one of three of the sites and she immediately asked if we could go to the next one after dinner.  Not quite yet. . .but we will get there soon.

We kicked off our adventure inside, discovering the live animal room and finding some amazing art.

Of course, Embry still found time to play.

After continuing our trip upstairs, we headed outside to climb the observation tower and see more of what Embry liked to call "masterpieces."

As we then trekked to some of the wonderful trails around the center, we stopped to climb, balance, and build. There were plenty of great nature play areas and we definitely took advantage of every spot we came across.

Walking through this restoration area reminded me of my first visit about four years back where seeing this area in an earlier stage of restoration inspired me to pursue a similar type of project on my own outdoor learning area. I am happy to announce that that process is well underway.

After a brief respite back inside, we headed down a new trail in an attempt to "find the river."

After a few play stops, we did find the river and caught a glimpse of a great blue heron. Look closely at the picture below and you might see this majestic bird in flight.

In two short weeks, this site will be one of three field trip sites for a very special nature-based conference I have been a part of the last few years. I am humbled in that my own site will also be a part of this same field trip. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tyke Hike #55 - Lapham Peak Service Hike

On a balmy evening in July, thirty hikers set out to do some service and hike the Ice Age Trail,

The group worked together to add gravel to the end of a puncheon being created by a group of volunteers known as the Monday Mudders. Led by volunteer extraordinaire, Pat Witkowski, this group works throughout the year to improve the trails for hikers of all ages and abilities. It was our pleasure to help them out in any way they can.

After adding gravel, we carried boards down to the other end of the puncheon to add to the wonderful progress. Then, we headed out for some hiking.

We trekked in the heated and buggy air, stopping to bop the blazes and check our prairie flowers.

Of course, we also found a place to explore off trail and play. We even found some friends along the way,

It was a fantastic night of service and discovery on the trail.