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Thursday, 31 May 2018 09:43

Hikers admire wildflowers and try to ignore mosquitoes

Written by Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig’s hikes

The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: On a hot Tuesday evening nine people showed up for our hike. 

The group headed out on the connector trail. Two people got quite a bit out in front and decided to just go around the lake. The rest of us turned right when we got to the Ice Age Trail. That trail had one section where both sides of the trail was just a profusion of wild geraniums. I saw a lot of cinquefoil in bloom and another yellow flower that was similar that I did not recognize.

There were a lot of white blooms that appeared to be wild blackberry. I am reluctant to say that is what they were since the raspberries bloom first and I have not seen any raspberry blooms yet this year. So either it was raspberry blooms or actually blackberry blooms. We also saw some Jack-in-the-pulpit.

e took the first cut-off since it was hot. Unfortunately there was some poison ivy growing in the cut-off. I think I managed to step around most of it. I still took a shower as soon as I got home. The entire hike was just short of three miles and took just over an hour.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: At 10:15 a.m., the Ice Age Trail parking lot on U.S. Highway 12 was almost empty. A mere handful of hikers stood near the kiosk, looking at the sky and wondering which of the weather reports would turn out to be correct. The cloudy sky was releasing light sprinkles of rain on and off, but by 10:30, a respectable number of hikers had assembled — including 10 short-hikers, properly dressed and ready to go, whatever the weather.

Jake picked a nice safe Nordic Ski Trail for today's hike — the orange trail plus the second blue loop. Off we went to County Highway H, reaching the trailhead just as the light rain was letting up. The gravelly trails are excellent hiking in wet weather, so off we went. Wild geraniums bloomed profusely along the edges, with tall shooting stars and tiny white star-shaped flowers with grass-like leaves adding interesting contrast here and there. The mosquitoes were fierce and relentless.

After the variety and contrasts in the woods, the meadow seemed less interesting. It was green. Just green. We reached the top of the ridge on the blue loop and found tired pussy-toes going to seed. The next woodland added the small yellow blossoms of cinquefoil and some hawkweed to the day's wildflower list. We stopped for a short break at the bench above the kettle lake, but the hungry bugs quickly drove us onward.

Rounding a bend, we came upon a hillside with many trees full of clusters of white blossoms with a rather heavy perfume. Jake identified them as black locust. We saw more here and there most of the way back to the trailhead, along with sweet Cicely and blackberries and black raspberries in bloom, promising an abundance of fruit.

The Wednesday long hike report by Peg Oettinger: Fourteen adventurous hikers showed up under a light rain at the kiosk. Donned in rain jackets and colorful ponchos, they carpooled to hike around the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus and the city of Whitewater.

The hike began at the edge of the campus in prairie and wooded sections. This area abounds in flora and fauna. At the beginning of our hike we saw Virginia waterleaf and spied invasive Dames Rocket, which is despised by some and loved by others. We moved on to some green prairie land and spotted three deer along the way but at quite a distance. There were prairie bouquets of Golden Alexander and false white and blue indigo as well as Spiderwort. Along the way we stopped for a snack of fruit and nuts.

Early on jackets and ponchos were abandoned as rain let up and bodies warmed up. The temperature was a humid 80 degrees. As we approached the football field, there was an array of deep lavender catmint bordering the bleachers. Their team colors are purple and white, hence the deep purple catmint.

One of our esteemed photographers snapped a photograph of the hikers sitting under the “h” of the Warhawks logo, which was the favorite perching spot of one of our beloved deceased hikers. After leaving the stadium, we walked through the campus, encountering a lovely flowered path and a courtyard with a waterfall.

We had hiked more than 5.5 miles, working up an appetite for soup, salads and sandwiches and even a fish fry. The hikers left for home fully satisfied with food and laughter.

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