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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Kettle Moraine's Ice Age Visitor Center

The Ice Age visitor's center (part of the State Forest and not to be confused with the Ice Age trail) was my first stop after I got my tent all set up at Mauthe Lake on Saturday.  I wanted a map for the North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

Mary Beth recommended some hikes and gave me some background info about the geology of the area, and we both agreed that even though the fall color was probably spectacular here a couple of weeks ago it's nice to come when the trees aren't leafed out.  The bare trees make it easier to see the glacial features when hiking the area.

I asked if there was a guide for tree identification available but they were out.  She ran in the back and got me a basic guide for Wisconsin trees that they probably hand out to school groups.  What a gal, right?

scrape marks on rock from glaciers grinding across it

 I wasn't a big fan of the movie they showed, it was pretty much aimed at "teaching" school children, though for that purpose it was pretty well done.  I watched for awhile but it wasn't telling me anything the signs in the display area couldn't so I just read those.

One of the glacial "hitchhikers" on display in the visitor center is a 365 pound piece of copper that made its way down here from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  I didn't take a photo, I figured you'll be more impressed if you see it for yourself.

It's a kame!

Something that was new to me in the North Unit that I don't remember seeing in the South Unit is kames. A kame is a conical hill formed from water flowing downward through fissures in glacial ice that carried sediment with it.

Outwash plain in the foreground, kame in the background

The whole area here is a result of an "end moraine" which logically enough is where the glacier edge ended.  An outwash plain is formed from meltwater and loose debris flowing out from the glacier.  If you look right at the middle of the map below just under the word End Moraine you'll see the town of La Grange.  La Grange and Little Prairie just slightly to the north and further north into the next town of Eagle is where I do my usual South Kettle Moraine hiking.  The area is at the Walworth County/Waukesha County line and I live further south at the Walworth County/Kenosha County line.


There is a "kame field" further north from the Ice Age Visitor Center that you can view from Parnell Tower but I didn't have enough time to do that on this trip.  Maybe I'll get up there this weekend if the weather looks nice...and if I get a warmer sleeping bag.

1 comment:

  1. Looks very flat round there. Was that the map you used, wonder you can make anything out