After reading some reviews of the Turtle Rock segment that described it as rough and incredibly buggy I decided to pack up my tent and head down to Hartman Creek State Park in Waupaca.
I really loved it last time I was here in the fall, and have been looking for an excuse to come back again and hike some more of the IAT. The campground is under towering pines and the sites are well spaced, at least 40 paces between each one! Non electric sites are only $18 (with your state park pass) but most of the electric sites are not for really large RVs so keep that in my mind and check the Reserve America website for site length details. The last time I was here I found out they have great showers too, so I'm looking forward to that after hitting the trail.
|Next site so far down I can't see it! Should be a smoke free night.|
The Ice Age trail rolls through Hartman Creek State Park and then on into the Emmons Creek Fishery Area. The Waupaca River segment is mostly road miles so I have no plans to try that one.
Last time I was here I did a portion of the Hartman Creek segment and then a portion of the Emmons Creek segment. So today I picked up where I left off at Emmons Creek Road. There is a place to park there just past the segment opening that was full of flowers. The GPS coordinates for the parking area are N44 18.298, W89 13.981.
Right from the road the trail climbs through a hilly oak savanna with a sandy soil that was mosquito and tick free.
It was home to lots of berry bushes including strawberry, black raspberry, red raspberry and even some early blueberries! I decimated all the ones I could find, but there will be more later as most plants weren't sprouting them yet.
After about a mile I crossed Stratton Lake Road and came to another parking area, this one probably easier to access. Those coordinates were on the back of the sign, wish they all were! They were N44 18.092, W8914.562.
The highlight of this segment is a prairie full of grasses and wildflowers that was putting on a windy welcome for me that was a very pleasant way to keep cool as I kept my eyes open - but even I was surprised to spot a few Karner Blue butterflies since when I asked at the ranger station they said I was probably too late.
It turns out the reason why I saw them is because they have two hatches a year, and July is when the adults appear for the second time. The butterfly is only about an inch wide and is an endangered species, so it was quite a treat to spend some time observing a few of them.
I didn't get any shots of them with their wings down which is how you can tell if they are male or female. The topside of the male is silvery or dark blue with narrow black margins. The female is grayish brown, especially on the outer portions of the wings, to blue on the topside, with irregular bands of orange crescents inside the narrow black border. Maybe someone with quick eyes will be able to figure it out in the little video I made?
It's never long before you are back in the woods on the IAT though, where I kept my eyes peeled for poison ivy and bear scat, both I was content to not encounter.
I wasn't quite as thrilled when I spotted a tick on my sock, but since he's the only one I've seen all year I didn't let it spoil my afternoon.