Spent Sunday morning/early afternoon wandering the ~7 mile segment from the Emma Carlin trailhead to Bald Bluff with my buddy Rick.
It couldn't have been a more perfect day to hike, upper 50's and a crisp, beautiful blue sky, and I was hiking a completely new segment of the Ice Age Trail for me.
While most of the trees were still mostly green, the Ash (I think) were a stunning golden.
We kept walking, up hills, down valleys, spotting a neat little pond, completely green with algae.
It was such a bright day, even being beneath the trees, everything was bright. It was a difficult thing to capture in pictures, but it was almost as though the woods were dancing with the sunshine.
Every time the breeze blew, the shadows seemed to disappear and the sun peeked through even farther. It was clear to me, I needed this day to wander... and even though my calf started bugging me midway through the hike, it felt so good to be outside.
We came upon a knife-like ridge as we wandered up, a really cool feature you don't see much in Wisconsin, and the trail wandered along it for a couple hundred yards. Looked like a lot of trail work had been done there, and it was a really cool little stretch of trail.
Of course, right after this stretch, there was another amazing golden Ash tree, and I couldn't help but snap a few pictures of it.
As we passed the halfway point, and the horse campground, we came upon the world famous Stone Elephant -- although I have no idea how it got that name, and I doubt it's world famous.
After searching a bit online, hoping to figure out the origin of the name (no luck on that, but it apparently used to be an important spot for the Potowotomi Indians), I will say it's amazing how different the spot looked than even 5 years ago, the amount of undergrowth is crazy.
We continued walking enjoying the scenery, and finally slowly began to climb up a long stretch of trail. Suddenly popping out from the woods and finding ourselves on Bald Bluff, with a very pretty view to the Southwest.
On Saturday I did a short 7 mile jaunt around Lapham Peak with my sister and her boyfriend. They were camped overnight on the Ice Age Trail backpacking campsite and I wandered down and met them there.
After which we proceeded to hike the IAT south until we joined one of the wide cross-country ski trails. Wandering the black section of ski trail, we encounted some pretty big rolling hills.
If you're one of the people who actually ski it... more power to ya.
Once we completed that loop and wandered back up to the tower, I drove my car out to the west side of the park while the other two of my party wandered West down the Ice Age Trail. I wanted to show them the little-seen meadow section of the IAT in the park.
While I wandered back towards them from the West end of the park, the long grasses and wild flowers were amazingly pretty. The breeze kicked up compared to when we were in the woods and the air felt less like breathing sticky water, and more like actually breathing air.
The coolest part of the hike for me, however, was definitely the gigantic Monarch butterflies which were flying around. Sadly, I forgot my good camera and couldn't snap a decent picture of them with my phone.
After the hike, we went over to the Delafield Brewhaus for a beverage and a burger. Delicious food and good times were had.
I ran into some of the locals while I was cruising along, getting used to my new PacerPoles and had to stop and take a picture or two.
About a mile in, the trail splits, and I decided to wander the "nature path" which was much narrower (compared to the wide-open ski trails) and gave me a bit of a better workout.
A half mile after that, the nature trail rejoins the wide open loops. My time cut short, I beelined for the observatory tower to snap a few pictures from the top.
Another mile and a half later, I was back at my car and on the road... a little over an hour, 3 miles of walking, and happy I'd gotten outside.
Took a brief jaunt on Tuesday after work, wandered 3 miles in the Pike Lake segment of the Kettle Moraine State Park. Lots of nice little hills, narrow nature trail walking and a beautiful observatory tower which gives a great view of the lake and gives you a peek at Holy Hill to the south.
There are quite a few loop trails in the park, ranging from 2.5 miles up to a 5 mile loop. A portion of the Ice Age Trail also runs through the park (and overlaps these loops).
Post Sunday Tailgate, I went out with a couple friends for a late afternoon hike. We did just shy of 6 miles, starting near North Lake, WI and hiking the Monches segment of the Ice Age Trail.
We trucked the nearly 6 miles in just over 2 hours. We were moving at a pretty good clip (considering we had 2 dogs, and numerous stops for photos).
The segment spent most of the time along the darting in and out of view of the stream running between a couple of millponds.
A couple really pretty boardwalks kept our feet dry, as did a really nice log bridge.
The trail was amazingly peaceful as the sun was setting, and we didn't see anyone else hiking that evening. Once we crossed the highway intersection, we slowly climbed up onto the ridge, and then dropped down to the river again.
After zig-zagging around some farmland (the Ice Age Trail has a ton of private lands which gracious people have allowed the trail to go through), and a short roadwalk we found ourselves walking up on a ridge, with a great view of Holy Hill.
I snapped a couple of pictures, wishing I had a better camera, as the sun on the church looked absolutely spectacular. We made it back to the car just short of darkness, split ourselves an ice cold Hamms (left over from the tailgate) and then headed our separate ways.
I was fortunate enough to grow up with parents who instilled in me a love of the outdoors. I grew up camping, hiking, and going on family vacations centered around those things, the first of which I remember is a trip to the Rockies when I was almost 5 years old.
I don't remember much from the trip, but I do remember a couple things. First, I recall losing a little toy airplane (and being very, very upset about it) -- which my Dad reminds me of at least once a year.
Secondly, I remember how excited I was when I was told we'd be "Hiking up a mountain." While I'm sure we walked about a mile, in my young mind I was wandering the peaks in complete awe of my surroundings.
Since that day, I've traveled all over the US with my family, from the Black Hills in South Dakota, the Bighorns in Wyoming, Yellowstone in Montana and the beautiful red rocks of southern Utah and northern Arizona.
It wasn't until almost 20 years later that I finally made it back to the Rockies again. A friend called me up, asking if we wanted to spend a week in Breckenridge in August. I went, hiked a bunch, slept a bunch, and fell in love with the mountains again.
I went back 2 years later.... and 4 years after that.... and 2 years after that... and again last summer. To say I'm hooked on Colorado would be an understatement.
The trip in 2012, I dragged my poor sister up the second day we were there, and we hiked towards Pawnee Pass.
She got altitude sickness fairly badly and ended up bailing back to the car (insisting I continue on, despite my protests -- I didn't know how bad she was until I got back to the car).
I made it up to the pass, and sat for a half hour, in awe.
Three days later, I picked another hike, this time my 62 year old father joined me and my sister.
We decided to go find Lost Lake.
Wandering a bit off trail, we followed the stream up, up and up some more. Passing beautiful waterfalls, and over an amazing old log bridge. Not far after the bridge, we got to the lake. It was the first time in a long time I was proud of the old man.
He made it up the mountain with me.
I'm 6 weeks out from my first trip to California. My 230 mile backpacking trip. I'm excited, and freaked out at the same time.
Kid A is an avid hiker, backpacker and outdoors enthusiast located in Milwaukee