I saw everything on my 8 mile hike on Thursday from tall pines in sandy soil to meadows to narrow rocky sections that twisted and turned mercilessly up and up and up. I started my hike by going in the opposite direction of the bikers on the blue trail. They've restructured some of this trail so it doesn't really correspond to the maps posted on the trail, and I got turned around onto the old trail and the emergency exit a couple of times, adding 2 miles to my original plan. I finally made it to the spur for the Pioneer Lime Kiln, seeing a few fall flowers and berries with insects out enjoying the beautiful day too.
Kettle Moraine doesn't have much in the way of fungi, but there were a couple of logs that were doing their best along my route.
It was only a 1/2 mile one -way detour to the lime kiln. I guess I was expecting something a little more extravagant for all my sweat and effort, but the lime kiln was simply a crude, circular lime kiln which was probably constructed by Norwegian settlers by digging into the ridge and lining the pit with granite boulders. It is about 10 feet deep with granite walls and a clay floor. Limestone was collected and put into the pit, covered with brush and logs and then set on fire. The intense heat would turn the limestone into a powder that could be used for mortar, plaster, whitewash, soap, candles and other products. The kiln might not have been very impressive, but I was glad for the excuse to rest for awhile before continuing on to the orange loop and making my way out. It was a good thing I did, because that orange loop was steep, narrow and rocky. I can't imagine riding a bike on it, you'd be on your brakes the whole time trying not to slam into trees on all the tight curves!
I've been finding that my Keen hikers are great for traction and stability but on long hikes like this one the bottom of my feet are quite angry due to lack of shock absorption. Does anyone know of a good hiking shoe that also offers some springiness? I have a history of plantar fasciitis and also some mild arthritis of the knee and really need footwear that will temper the impact. We're headed for the Porcupine Mountains in a week for what is probably our last trip of the season and I plan to do a lot of hiking...as much as I can before the cold Midwest winter sets in!