As I mentioned last week I wanted to return to the North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in order to climb up Parnell Tower and take a look at the kame field. A few miles from my destination I started seeing kames in random farmers' fields.
They are a little harder to spot in the Parnell Tower area as they are pretty heavily covered in trees.
After you park in the lot which has vault toilet facilities and a picnic area it's a steep climb to the tower.
When I got there on Saturday morning there was a group of Boy Scouts running up the stairs. I hung back with the dads talking about hiking and glacial features. I'm pretty comfortable hanging out with dads, and I didn't bring up my opinions about the BSA at all. I do show some restraint every now and then. Besides, I wasn't going to argue with getting young people outdoors.
The climb to the top of the tower was pretty strenuous and it was cold and quite windy to boot. I got to admit it's a got good view though.
The freezing wind got me off the tower and back into the trees pretty quickly. The boys headed off on their loop hike and I took the 0.6 mile spur to the Ice Age trail. Just past the junction with the IAT I met up with this guy and his dog. As I was blocking the freezing wind from my exposed face with my gloved hands he shouted "Great day for a hike!" as he breezed past. He looked like he might have been training for cross country skiing so his enthusiasm in the face of temperatures that were pushing my limit might be understandable.
Want to know what a "kame field" really means? It means sudden, steep drops in the terrain which you then have to turn around and climb right back up. After only about a mile my calves were starting to complain but luckily Katrina called to tell me she was ready to meet up in Appleton so I had an excuse to turn around and head back to the car. Next year if I get back this way I'll want to set up a shuttle hike to knock out a big chunk of this difficult section.
As I was retracing my steps I narrowly avoided stepping in a pile of fresh dog mess from what I can only assume was the enthusiastic hiker's dog. There's no way he didn't notice his dog stopping and taking a squat, right? Must be no room for baggies in his gear. I scooted the pile of leaves off the trail so the next hiker didn't get a nasty surprise. You think he could have at least done that much, it wasn't hard.
I knew the spot where the IAT crossed the road was closer than hiking back through the forest so onto the county highway I went, taking note of the few plants trying to hang on in the face of winter. I saw quite a few blooming Queen Anne's Lace and some asters making a last attempt but things are definitely done here in Wisconsin and even colder temps moved in today. We'll be lucky if we get above freezing now for the next few months, even in the southern part of the state.
My roadside route brought me to an informational sign about how there are plans to harvest the pines that were planted throughout the Kettle Moraine State Forest and reintroduce the original native trees like the oaks. Cool.
I'm working this afternoon but tomorrow I'm driving in to Milwaukee to check out some hotels for our 25th wedding anniversary getaway next week. Hopefully I'll find something my allergies can tolerate because I'm pretty excited about the possibility of three days in Milwaukee to do some things I normally don't have time for. Most folks stay in hotels, eat in restaurants, and take in a show but these are things we don't ever do and Milwaukee is an easier city to get around than Chicago. I've already warned Wayne that I'll be dragging him to City Hall to get an inside peek at the restoration efforts. I made that a goal a year and a half ago and I'm hoping I'm finally going to make it happen!