This was my favorite section of the segment, the wildflowers were a little more prevalent as the trail was starting to move away from Lake Michigan instead of paralleling it. No mosquitoes for most of the hike, but the title isn't just a clever alliteration...
|Lye Leaved Rock Cress Arabidopsis lyrata|
When I hiked the Kewaskum segment I left behind my hiking stick/monopod. Most likely right there in the parking or else the last place I stopped to take a photograph. When I stop to take pictures I often have to shuck everything off my back, change lenses, squat on the ground, decide whether to use the monopod or the gorillapod, get a drink of water, and then repeat the whole process in reverse.
I'm still not used to the whole hiking pole thing, they really aren't needed for most Midwest hiking situations. As a replacement I ordered the above Mountainsmith Trekker from REI. At half the price it does the job just as well as REI's version that I previously had and I actually like the foam removable handle better than the cork one. I'm ordering another one to stick in the RV in case I lose this one too!
|No hiking pole needed for this mostly flat hike|
The forest is newer growth, the Point Beach area was heavily lumbered in the 1800's and the hemlock trees that I enjoyed so much were used in the leather tanning industry. The trees were cut not only for lumber but to fuel the many steamships that ranged up and down Lake Michigan as well.
It might seem like there isn't much to look at on trails like these, but just slow down and keep your eyes open. I found a burrow that had me wondering whose home it was.
And the Juniper shrubs that snaked across the old dunes weren't fully covered and sported some interesting orange fungi.
Old stumps and not so old trees have stories to tell too, sprouting colonies of lichen that look like miniature worlds.
Further along the trail the dunes reappeared, so strange as I was moving farther away from the lake and not closer to it.
Sandy Bay Road ends and turns in to CountY V as it veers west away from the lake. I crossed the road and continued on, entering the Rahr Memorial School Forest which has served the Manitowoc area schools as an outdoor classroom for 50 years.
Most of it is quite swampy, the mosquitoes will be unbelievable in another few weeks. I was thankful the weather was cool and they weren't very active. It's hard to imagine that this area was part of the great Peshtigo Fire that raged in 1871 with all the moisture I saw. Did you know that the Peshtigo Fire happened the same night as the Great Chicago Fire? Land clearing practices of the time left piles of dry wood laying around and the combination of several factors including drought led to numerous fire outbreaks at that time in the Midwest. The Peshtigo Fire was a firestorm that turned sand into glass, jumped rivers and claimed the lives of 1500-2500 people. Interested in learning more? Here's a link to the Wisconsin Historical Society whose archives has documents and pictures about the tragedy.
Even though I've seen a lot of Marsh Marigold lately it was still lovely, and some new things are sprouting up alongside it, including an interesting two toned plant that is probably an iris of some kind.
Part of the education program includes a 1640 foot boardwalk that was completed thanks to 4851 hours of volunteer work.
After exiting the boardwalk I came upon a small pond in a clearing and then it was back in to the woods for a short while where I was mercilessly attacked by mosquitoes. Why there and not on the boardwalk across the swamp? Perhaps the temperature had finally warmed up enough to get them moving?
|violets cover the ground until the emerging plants fully mature|
They were swarming around me as I hurried out into the road, and when I opened my mouth to breathe I sucked a few in and down the gullet they went! I was hungry, but insects were not what I had in mind for a snack.
|See the mosquitoes?|