Saturday, August 23, 2014

A Muggy and Buggy Day to Get Muddy with a Buddy

Pardon my silly title, but today's hike brought back many wonderful memories from my childhood and teenage years. Today I got to spend some time with a dear friend. He is one of the smartest guys I know, especially when it comes to nature and anything scientific. Those of who who follow Wisconsin's natural news may have heard of him. Please read his journey to visit all of Wisconsin's stat natural areas, or SNA's at He mentioned today he has recently passed the 440 mark. It was truly a pleasure to take my family and visit the Hartland Marsh with a walking fountain of information and his beautiful daughter.

Though the bugs were out in full force and the trails was a bit muddier than usual, we departed from the Maple Wayside and made our way through the boardwalks before crossing Cottonwood Avenue and exploring the new chimney swift roost adjacent to the Aldo Leopold Overlook. With this being the site of the next Tyke Hike, I was anxious to get a glimpse of the new nesting site before leading a group of children there. I was also excited to read about it at When it seems like the world keeps developing and taking away methods of teaching and exploring the natural side of things, It's always amazing to hear about how new projects will help educate future generations about a new aspect of nature. To be honest, I had never heard of a chimney swift before reading about this new structure.  I can't wait to see it in it's glory, when up to 1,000 migrating birds will call it home.

On the actual Ice Age Trail portion of today's adventure, we were able to see many different wildflowers, identify a couple of invasive species, and see (and mostly hear) a variety of birds, including gold finches, blue jays, grackles, and a young family of sandhill cranes. On the muddy section of the trail, we had to avoid mud puddles and tiny toads. We all took pleasure observing gorgeous stands of oak trees, especially one particular example which was vibrant throughout its branches, but essentially hollowed completely at its base. Very unique indeed!

This mini-journey got me ready for next Thursday's Tyke Hike. Please join me and see and experience all of the beauty described above, hopefully with less mud and mosquitoes.

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