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Friday, November 6, 2015

Kames Konquered - Tackling Holy Hill

After my adventure in stealth camping last Saturday night I packed up my gear and headed to the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary Help of Christians at Holy Hill, I swear I am not kidding you about the name!   Home to the Holy, it's also home to a section of the Ice Age Trail, and a sweet erratic at the top of one of the kames.

24 ton granite erratic that hitched a ride on the glacier

Kames are what it's all about here, with slopes throughout the site ranging from 2% to 30% grades.

Kames might make for strenuous hiking, but the views are great, especially with all the leaves falling.

I missed the color show by a good week here, but this time of year is really good for showing off the glacial landscape, and those cone shaped kames popped up all over from small to the 1335 foot kame the Basilica itself sits upon.

At 8:30 in the morning I had the woods to myself, and was even serenaded by church bells!

The present church was completed and consecrated in 1931, and since it was Sunday there were a lot of visitors to the Basilica and to the Stations of the Cross at the bottom of the large moulin kame that I passed on a spur trail.

I didn't go past the entrance, I'll go back and visit another time when mass isn't in session.  Besides, the trail was calling...

The leaves are off the trees and covering the ground, but a few fungi were still visible.

And there was even a quiet little pond where I startled up an early morning wader.

Kames and more kames lined the trail, some boasting views of the Basilica as a reward at the top.

The scenic tower is open to the public and stretches 192 feet from its base to the tip of its spire. By climbing 178 stairs, you can reach nearly to the top to view a panorama of the Kettle Moraine area.  I'll have to make a point to come on a weekday during peak color next fall when it's less crowded with churchgoers.

One of the things I like about the Waukesha chapter of the IAT is their signage.  Not only a topographic map posted at the trailhead on Donegal Road, but distances between landmarks too.  This is the only county I've seen this in so far in my explorations.  Thanks to their map I know I traveled about 3.4 miles from where I parked at the Erratic Spur to Donegal Road and then back to my car by way of Carmel Road.

Of course I lost yet another lens cap.  I bought a clip that attaches to your camera strap to hold the cap, but the way I bang around I knocked it out of that, and they always fall out of my pockets so what is a girl to do?  I've bought at least 4 of the 52mm ones alone this year so far! I'm getting smarter though and just went ahead and bought a spare along with the replacement this time.


  1. Isn't it nice the way the landscape is so much more visible once the leaves fall!

  2. The forest floor is just lovely with all the color! I love walking in the leaves:)

  3. I love walking on crispy leaves, but now we've had rain and the fallen leaves are sodden. Nice to have the trail to yourself (mostly), but shouldn't you have the IAT just about finished now? :- ) Best of all this time of year -- no ticks, eh?

    1. I have walked most of the "southern" segments, but all northern ones are still calling. Wisconsin is a big state! While a lot of the southern routes are short with lots of road miles in between the northern routes are miles and miles with little to no services available, even access to water.