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Wednesday, 03 July 2019 08:33

Hikers cover varied territory — from scenic outlook to ‘the Pits’

Written by Ice Age Trail Alliance Helwig's Hikes
The Tuesday hike report by Jake Gerlach: During the afternoon on Tuesday there was a very heavy thundershower. When we got to the meeting place, the sky was blue and it felt like a wonderful summer day. Because of the wet conditions I chose to go around Lake LaGrange. All along the trail going down the hill the powder blue lobelia were in bloom. Halfway down the hill someone said that there was a turtle and sure enough, there was a turtle on the edge of the path that I had walked past.
The trail along the lake is bordered by lush growth. I saw a lot of red clover and cinquefoil in bloom. Again this evening we went past Russ’ bench to take a break on the benches at Ruth’s point, where we could sit in the shade.

The hike around the lake has a hill some prairie and then some woodlands, a lot of variety on a relatively short hike. Near the end of the hike we saw daisies along the path. It was a great hike on a warm summer evening.

The Wednesday short hike report by Ellen Davis: The largest group of the year appeared this morning — 23 hikers ready for an adventure on the Ice Age Trail. They came from Fort Atkinson, Whitewater, Richmond, Delavan, Elkhorn, Lake Geneva, Mukwonago, East Troy, Spring Grove and Lake County (Illinois) — and points in between. Jake’s suggestion of the section of trail accessible from the Rice Lake parking area was greeted with approval and off we went.

Everyone easily found our starting point near the boat launch. With sunscreen, bug spray, water bottles and hiking poles dealt with, off we went down the drive, through the picnic area and down a slippery slope to the Nature Trail, then across a wooden bridge barely higher than the water below.

We soon came to the blue connector trail and took that uphill, across Kettle Moraine Drive, and through the recently denuded pine woods minus its traditional understory of ferns.

Our connector trail ended at the Ice Age Trail at Hi-Lo Road. We crossed Hi-Lo on the IAT and worked our way through the lowland woods, uphill past the campground and finally sharply upward via a long flight of railroad-tie steps ending at the lookout over Rice and Whitewater lakes. The reward for all that exercise was a well-deserved break with snacks provided by Minnesota Nancy.
It was over all too soon and we retraced our steps back to and across Hi-Lo Road. This time we took the IAT to the right, through the oak woods, down a picturesque hill and through another pine woods to arrive at the bridge over Whitewater Creek. On the return trip — up-hill — it was easier to spot interesting plants along the way: pokeweed, giant Jack-in-the pulpits, prunella, small wild berries not yet ripe and many more.

The blue connector trail took us back to the lagoon where some chose the hilly Nature Trail traveling clockwise, and others retraced their steps counterclockwise through the muddy spots. A large fancy fungus resembling coral was spotted, as was a dragonfly circling a brilliant pink water smartweed in the lagoon. The group reunited in the parking area, then went our separate ways, some to lunch, others off to other activities. This was another nice three-plus-mile hike, with two challenging large hills, varied scenery and good hiking companions.

The Wednesday long hike report by Marvin Herman: Today’s hike on a hot and humid morning was literally “the Pits.” As we do almost every year, leader Andy suggested that we embark on an adventurous trip to the Scuppernong Springs Nature Trail off of County Highway ZZ, south of Dousman. Fourteen long-hikers, including the daughter and two teen grandchildren of regular hiker Barb R., regrouped in the nature trail parking area.

We started out walking south on the nature trail to the ruins of the Marl Works that operated from 1909 to 1915. All that is left is a graffiti-covered wall. Marl, rich in lime, was formed in a glacial lake from an aquatic plant called chara. Workers extracted the marl from the pits and it was used in fertilizer and sometimes as a sealant between the logs of cabins.

We walked along the trail skirting the pits, taking care not to slip in the chalky muck. We saw many native plants and a couple of turtles sunning themselves on logs sticking out of the water.

We then back-tracked and regained the nature trail, walking down many sub-trails to various springs, including Hotel Springs, Emerald Spring, Indian Springs etc., where we could see water bubbling up out of the ground.

Beautiful flowers were in evidence along the trail, including crown vetch and spiderwort.

Back at the parking lot, we needed additional mileage so we crossed the road to the campground and walked the circular road until we found one of the many trails skirting Ottawa Lake and hiked it back to the nice beach. By the time we reached the parking area again, we concluded that we had hiked five miles. It was time for lunch.

Six of us continued our adventure at Sunnyside Up restaurant, where we were in high spirits after an interesting hike.

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