Sunday, May 10, 2015

2 days, 4 state parks, 1 terminus

While the weather didn't fully cooperate, a weekend in nature is always better than the alternative. Heading out to Door County prior to peak season, we enjoyed four state parks in two days, each one with its own special characteristics.

We kicked off the state park your with a stop at Newport State Park. I missed out on the biggest wildlife encounter while I rushed back to retrieve the camera right at the start of the journey. Luckily, my wife's keen eyes and ears spotted a two-foot yellow and black snake that I just caught a glance at as it slithered away from the trail.While I missed out on much of that excitement, I was able to enjoy the next three or so miles with my two favorite ladies. We took a trail near the shoreline. Seeing the rock formations and unique tree growth along large bodies of water just makes you realize how fascinating the power of water really is.

Being only two years old, I am continually impressed with Embry's endurance and excitement on the trail. Of course, her problem-solving is also enjoyable. Fallen trees, large rocks, and root systems have nothing on this little girl. In fact, she spends a good portion of time calling out every root and rock she sees while also apologizing to the roots and asking if they are OK after she steps on and over them. Very cute.

Embry loves her towers almost as much as she loves her trees. So, at our next stop, Peninsula State Park, the tower was a must see. In fact, it was our first stop.

After a trek up Eagle Tower, we enjoyed our usual exploration of the Sentinel Trail, fully adorned with signs and markers with facts about trees. Embry especially liked the "tree identification spinner."

We made it almost the entire way before Embry realized she was without her walking stick. Every time we hit the trail, she picks out a local stick and uses it for that day's adventure before leaving it for the next tyke hiker to enjoy.

Day two of the weekend started off at Whitefish Dunes State Park. Unfortunately, blustery winds and nagging lake flies cut our hike shorter than we may have liked, but taking a break inside the nature center and playing with the puppets was a welcome respite from the chilly breeze.

We did enjoy the soft sands and especially clear waters viewable from the beach Embry, of course, found a new stick to guide her trek along the shoreline.

Adjacent to Whitefish Dunes was Cave Point County Park, so we made a quick stop and took in amazing limestone formations and more unique tree growth. Hopefully, our next visit will include some more sun and many fewer flies.

We saved Door County's southernmost state park for the finale as we headed to Potawatomi State Park. After finding the nature center closed (boo) and playing on a campsite playground (yay), we traveled the winding and pine-laden roads to get to Potawatomi Tower. Our little hikes of course made the trek extra long as she insisted on climbing each step herself.

Being a huge enthusiast of the Ice Age Trail, I finished up lunch with the family and ventured out and about on the segment from the tower for just a few minutes. 
I feel very "lucky" to be able to hike the Ice Age Trail. Apparently, so does someone else.

Embry continued her usual terned of "bopping" every blaze she sees. Though this day's hike was short, the memories made will be long lasting. My wife snapped a picture of Embry and I at the eastern terminus rock, signifying the beginning (or end) of a long Ice Age Trail Journey. While I am nowhere near the 1,000-miler status, I couldn't help but think of all the people I know who took this very same picture to celebrate their amazing accomplishment. I look forward to being able to snap this picture again soon, with many more miles on my boots.

The week of hiking isn't over yet! This Saturday, I will be leading over 400 people from my school community at our inaugural Walk in the Woods event at Lapham Peak. I am looking forward to getting people out on the trail and hopefully motivating more people to enjoy hiking in Wisconsin on a more regular basis.

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