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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Getting "Nipped" on the Ice Age Trail

I know I mentioned it in passing, but last weekend I dragged the tent cot out of the basement and headed over to Kettle Moraine's Pinewoods campground.

Since I just showed up on a late Saturday morning my choices were a little limited.  I normally prefer to stay in Loop 3 by the hiking trail, but had to settle for site 18 in Loop 1.  I walked the loop to scope it out, and my recommendation is anything from sites 20-36 would be ideal.  Those sites are more "piney" and plenty large as well.  Only drawback to Pinewoods is no hookups, but there are showers and flush toilets closer to Loop 3 and water is available in each loop.

When I checked in at the ranger station at Ottawa Lake I got some hiking advice and was encouraged to try the Eagle segment of the Ice Age Trail which was just a five minute drive down the road.  I was also encouraged to wear Deet to protect against mosquitos and ticks but I'm an all natural girl so I had to keep on eye out for ticks as I set up my campsite.  Nary a one, I'm happy to report.  Mosquitos were also not a the campground that is.

I headed out to the parking area for the Ice Age Trail near Piper Road and right away the mosquitos made themselves known, but as long as I kept moving I was okay.  The closer I got to the highlight of the hike, the more they assembled.  When I got to Brady's Rocks it was a full scale attack thanks to the swampy area nearby.

That lovely open area?  Swamp.

Supposedly the area contains some rare ferns, but I was too busy hurtling through the small loop to notice.  I did take a moment to get a shot of a frog I heard in the undergrowth.  Was it worth the bites I got on my hands and face?

I also stooped down to catch some of the Columbine growing along the trail.  Love me some Columbine.

I've popped a few new plants in my flower bed of this native variety.  I used to have a ton of the dark purple stuff but for some reason it's almost disappeared.  My Columbine plants suffer from leaf damage by leafminers, but research indicates it shouldn't hurt the plant though it's not very attractive.

Michael Brady, an Irish immigrant, lived here with his family in 1855 and quarried rock here.  I hope they didn't live too close to the swamp or they probably suffered from significant blood loss.

While I was swatting the swarm of mosquitos off my face I literally stumbled over a catnip plant.  Ah, a friend in need is a friend indeed!  I snatched sprigs off and rubbed them vigorously over my exposed arms.  When the mosquitos backed off a little bit I stuck a sprig on each side of my backpack strap for good measure.  It helped a little, and my cat hasn't left my camera pack alone since I came back.

When I said "getting nipped" you thought I was only talking about the mosquitos, didn't you?  Ever see that episode of "Father of the Pride" called Catnip and Trust with their daughter the "Niphead"?  It starts out a little slow but gets really funny after they find her stash.

It wasn't all catnip and Columbine on the Ice Age trail, there was tons of wild geranium as well.

Close to the parking lot for the Eagle segment was a beautiful prairie.  The light breeze ruffled the grass as I walked through it and I could imagine the early settlers listening to that sound as they went about their work.

I also participated in another wildflower outing with Ranger Don that day, just wait until you see where he took us!

I'm trying not to be discouraged by my early season mosquito encounter.  We leave for Door County later this week and I'm sure they can't wait for fresh meat to arrive!


  1. The mosquitoes certainly are plentiful this year. I've had to resort to DEET to keep from becoming anemic. :(

  2. That Tent Cot is a nifty little set-up. I don't like putting bug juice on but don't like giving blood either. Wish there was something the put on that wasn't smelly and sticky that worked.

  3. That ten cot is very cool. Although maybe not the greatest thing if mosquitoes are going to keep you indoors. HA! We're having the same mosquito experience. Walk fast and swat a lot. Everyone says this is the worst they've seen them. Of course, the year I come. Great columbine and frog pictures I appreciate your sacrifice in getting them.

  4. great walk Pam; you're well set up. Shame about the mozzies. I've picked up two ticks in the past six months...they sure itch forever long afterwards! Nasty critters. Think my habit of leaning against a tree trunk when taking bird photos could be an issue. The casuarina trees (she-oaks) are said to be a host. Fascinated to see the Columbines growing wild too.

  5. I really liked that wooden path. The flower pictures are beautiful.

  6. I hadn't seen too many mosquitos until I went out on a trail walk yesterday - city living has some advantages, I guess. Your pictures and commentary were very enjoyable :)
    Love the Father of the Pride!