Another weekend gone, but the spring weather made it a fantastic one. Though spring cleaning is a necessity, my family couldn't let all of the sunshine go to waste.
I was able to go on a guided hike with a much more experienced Ice Age Trail hiker on Saturday, exploring a five mile stretch that began at the tower at Lapham Peak state park and wound up at the UW-Waukesha field station. Besides enjoying the stroll, I was able to get free history lessons on Native American marker trees, a local and abandoned boys detention school, volcanic bedrock, illegal lumber collection, and prairie restoration. Though I was a bit disheartened to hear this section had been vandalized with stolen benches and graffiti expressing someone's distaste for our current government structure, the beautiful kettle-fed stream and a jaunt along where the Ice Age Trail and Glacial Drumlin state trail come together made it a very worthwhile hike.
Sunday was a family hike day. I was excited to share a portion of the Hartland segment which I had just discovered the week before. After driving to a wayside connected to the Hartland Ice Age Marsh, the ladies and I took a short but exciting two-mile trek through a marshy section of the trail. In this section, a scenic overlook named after Wisconsin naturalist Aldo Leopold was highlighted in the Ice Age trail information I use to help me on my hikes. However, I had a purpose of finishing up a longer stretch on my first trip through this segment, so I avoided really digging into this seemingly standard overlook that was just off the Ice Age trail's path. Boy, did I miss out! My wife and I decided to take a separate path and explore the overlook. When we did, we noticed that it included several trails within it. Spring had certainly began the awakening process for the native plants and animals that inhabited this marshy conservancy area. We noticed many waterfowl, especially geese, mallards and a pair of sandhill cranes. We saw the usual mammals and saw some woodpeckers and juncos as well. We were able to cross a bridge over a very peaceful stream and climb to different heights to get various looks at the area from a different perspective. I am sure we will visit this area again once we get deeper into the season.
In the next week, I'll be looking into how I can help for National Trails Day on June 7th and learn more about the Saunters program, a child-based outdoor education program focusing on nature and the Ice Age Trail.