|Chubby Chipmunk: hopefully not my new nickname!|
I got on the 3.1 mile long Monches Segment of the Ice Age Trail on E. Kilbourne by a railroad underpass filled with colorful graffiti. It looked like there may have been a basic mural underneath at some point because I spied some hot air balloons floating above the "tags".
You may have seen on the Weather Channel the other day that our area got hit with some heavy rain and severe thunderstorms. That tornado that leveled Rochelle, Illinois passed about a mile north of our house as it lost intensity on its trek into Wisconsin. The sirens were going, the rain came down in sheets and we even got hail, but luckily the tornado was no longer on the ground.
All that rain means high water on the Oconomowoc River, and some of the trail was a little squishy and muddy too but that's what waterproof hiking shoes are for!
Always willing to do what I have to do to get the shot I want, for the picture above I tucked my extra lens in my pocket, shed my pack and climbed up on a very large fallen tree to get a higher vantage point. Getting up wasn't too hard, walking along the tree not so bad either. It was the not-quite-big-enough jacket pocket that was the problem and my extra lens went rolling out and landed in the water. Do I regret being so casual with a lens that cost me almost $600? I hope I don't have to, I'll send it in to Canon and see if it can be cleaned up but it was loaded with water, not to mention the drop from about 6 feet in the air, who knows what it hit on the way down.
Since I was only about five minutes from the car I switched my DSLR out for my point and shoot and put the lens tragedy out of my mind. There was nothing I could do about it and I was determined to enjoy the hike. It wasn't long before all I was focusing on was the red headed woodpecker who didn't fly away and the skunk cabbage blooming on the side of the trail.
|hiking stick is great for pulling stuff aside without getting your hands dirty!|
There was even one lonely marsh marigold blooming, putting on a show just to cheer me up.
The Monches Segment is mostly flat and meanders through the woods, keeping close to the Oconomowoc River and a few little brooks cascading towards it.
I noticed a ridiculous amount of trout lily pushing up out the ground and a passing couple confirmed the fact that in another week or two the middle of the segment is eye popping. They also warned me that up ahead where the trail crossed the river there was some flooding and I might need to turn back. That wasn't an option today, I had a plan to have Katrina pick me up at the end of the segment since she was nearby at the Milwaukee Zoo with her new boyfriend who lives in Waukesha.
Two gals came around the corner with their shoes in their hands and confirmed that while the water was cold it was easy to follow the trail through the 50 feet or so where the trail was flooded so I took my shoes off and that's what I did!
A boardwalk and a bridge waited for me on the other side so I let my feet dry out before continuing on. I knew this section was kind of swampy and I chose this time of year to hike it in order to avoid hordes of mosquitoes which was a great plan, I certainly have no regrets when it comes to avoiding tick and skeeter season when I can.
|bridge rail lichen|
After crossing the Oconomowoc River on the bridge the river was on my right and gradually I left it behind as I started a gradual climb up some eskers. It was great to have such a level hike for a change, but I was happy to see what is becoming familiar glacial terrain for me as I keep exploring the Ice Age Trail. I timed the end of the segment perfectly and Katrina and Charlie met me at the terminus minutes after I got there. Tonight I'm camping a half an hour south of where I hiked at Ottawa Lake campground and tomorrow I'll tackle the 4.8 mile Loew Lake Segment and take advantage of Katrina's proximity to this area again to get it all done in one shot.