Colorado or Bust: Days 4 and 5.
There were some fun trail segments here in the very heart of Wisconsin, as I crossed the southern half of Portage and Waupaca Counties. The majority of the two days of hiking were off-road, in the woods, with birds singing and cool breezes. I got to visit Shunk and Foster Lakes and meander the surprisingly rugged terrain between them, got to hike through flower-studded savanna in Emmons Creek Barrens natural area and listen to the noisy creek at a rest stop beside a truss-style footbridge. I got to traverse the length of Hartman Creek State Park, all on dedicated foot trail in the woods, and I had some good up-close-and-personal walking beside the Waupaca River, but somehow it was the quirky things along the road walks that most caught my fancy. First came the view above, of the spilt beans. And no … these are not Jelly Beans.
Here's the full story. A field had just been planted in soybeans and the center-pivot irrigation system was cranking away, trying to get the little beans to germinate. I passed the access road to the field and …
… did you know that soy beans are pink? Well, after they're prepared with a coating of protective stuff, nutrients, and fungicide they are. The farmer left a trail of them that spilled out of his planter.
Second comes bustling downtown Petersonville, situated right on Peterson Creek.
The shot above was taken at the intersection at the center of town. Directly diagonally across this intersection stood the town directory, requiring first names only:
On another bit of road walk I passed a field left fallow since last year and had to stop for a photo. It was showing its colors in the drifts of some sort of weed that had taken up residence in place of last year's crop.
Lastly came this quiet pond at the edge of a big factory dairy farm. The cattle, seen behind, shackled 24/7 in their stalls, with piles of feed forever heaped before them, had the waterfront view, the water provided by their own 'runoff'.
Wisconsin is famed for its milk and cheese, but the trend toward factory farms like this is seriously disturbing.
But enough of all that. On to the real segments of trail, where real nature takes top billing.
First, when I got on trail I passed the only Ice Age Trail hiker shelter I've encountered - a quaint log cabin wedged between a quiet rustic road and a noisy quarry.
It was neat as a pin inside, with a bench and table, neatly rolled blanket, and fresh carpet.
There was an upper loft, a trail register book, and a genuine privy hidden in the woods 100 feet away. Reminded me of the Appalachian Trail, where such amenities are found every few miles along the whole 2000 miles of trail, but with much less population pressure. The register had about one entry every two weeks.
This shelter makes it clear that the Ice Age Trail builders are serious about their trail. Many trail segments are posted with plaques like this.
The Mobile Skills Crew picks and prioritizes the trail work projects, and when they show up the job is done right.
Okay, now to the nature shots. Waupaca River first.
Noisy little Emmons Creek as viewed from the rest stop by the bridge.
The field studded with wild lupine, being restored to prehistoric oak savanna.
Blooming water lilies in Foster Lake:
And the rest was trail in woods or beside woods, where the scenery isn't all that remarkable, but sometimes what the eye sees isn't the richest part of the experience. Listen to the Wood Thrush, please.
And remember the words of Henry David Thoreau:
"Whenever a man hears it [the song of the Wood Thrush] he is young, and Nature is in her spring; wherever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country, and the gates of Heaven are not shut against him."
Here are the GPS tracks for the Day 4 and Day 5 hikes.
I'm continuing south through Central Wisconsin and crossing from Spring into Summer. In my next report I cover a long uninterrupted road walk of 14.2 miles, but highlight the little things along the roadside - wild-flowers and such. It was actually one of the most fun days yet. Stay tuned.