Sunday, September 21, 2014

Lapham Peak

When I rolled out of bed this morning, noticed the soggy ground and eye-balled the threatening clouds looming in the distance, I wondered if the scheduled hike would actually even take place. As we packed up and headed out, the rains picked up and so too did my worries about whether taking my toddler out to the woods was the best option. However, as soon as we approached the park, the weather cleared, the sun peeked through, and all was well with the world.

Today, my family and I were also able to bring a long some friends relatively new to hiking the Ice Age Trail. While I love hiking on my own and enjoying the serenity and tranquility the woods can bring, enjoying the beauty of the trails with my family and close friends is something I treasure and look forward to doing more regularly in the future.
I always stop to hug one of my favorite trees.

Starting at one end of Lapham Peak, our hike leader Russ took all 9 hikers and one 4-legged friend  through some steep and rocky sections while stopping to give us personalized experiences from his own work with the trail. Kevin, another wonderful volunteer, handled sweeper duties, but also served as an informative source about trail maintenance. From learning about the tin can that hikers once used to catch a sip from a kettle-fed spring to learning about illegal loggers and stories about the now abandoned boys school, what I call "history hiking" is always something this history geek and outdoors enthusiast can appreciate.

We stopped to discuss other topics like fungi, prairie plants, outwash plains, and the upcoming plans to re-route some of the trail that water erosion has damaged. My wife, a botany and bird fan, also helped us all learn about bird calls and plant identification, including fungi and lichens.

As we approached the tower, the rain returned, creating a perfect opportunity for a quick pit stop. As many of the group underwent wardrobe changes, a history lesson on Increase Lapham commenced before heading down the 100+ steps and traversing through Lapham Peak's beautiful forests.

Though initially gloomy, the weather held the temperatures cool and comfortable for the duration of our journey. My friends all had fun, learned lots, and expressed interest in joining us again soon. I know I look forward to it, and I am pretty sure my daughter does too.
***Special thanks to IATA Volunteer Kevin Kuhlmann for some of the pictures from today's hike.

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