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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Barbara and Ron Hike Kettle Moraine

Don't you love it when you meet new friends and then feel like you've known them forever?  Barbara and Ron from The Road Less Traveled invited me to go hiking with them.  When they heard I'd be camping at Kettle Moraine's Ottawa Lake the night before we were to meet they decided they'd meet me at the campground and have more time to scope out the great spots to see in the State Forest.

Ready to tackle the Scuppernong and Ice Age Trails

"Poor Wayne" had to work, but I even got invited to dinner!  After work on Monday I showed up at the campground at 7:00 p.m. for my spaghetti dinner with my first full-time-rv-blog friends.  I learned a lot about them over dinner, including the story about why they always eat kale and how Ron can't pass up almond kringle when they're in Wisconsin.

I don't want to give away too much, after all if you meet them you'll want to hear the stories for yourselves.  We had so much to chat about over dinner that the next thing I knew it was after 9:00 and I had to go set up my tent in the dark!  Good thing I pack so light, right?

Monotropa Uniflora

The next morning we scooted on over to the Scuppernong Trailhead and made our decisions about how long to hike.  There is so much to see in the area that they didn't want to overdo so we could see some other area highlights afterward.  We settled on taking the orange trail with a few minutes on the Ice Age Trail for a bonus shortcut that put us at about 3.5 miles.  We weren't on the trail long before Barbara spotted Indian Pipe popping up.  I was so excited to see so much of it scattered around and even more excited that I remembered the Latin name.

Well, Barbara and Ron were so impressed and were ready to be wowed by all my flower identification, but it turned out that most of the flowering plants we saw after that were new ones and I couldn't identify them!

We'd been talking about my recent iPhone purchase and Barbara said I needed to have it with me so I could ask Siri some questions while on the trail.  At first I laughed it off, but by the end of the hike I was starting to think that eventually I might be doing just that.

Ron kept asking all kinds of interesting questions I didn't know the answers to.  What is the "kettle" in Kettle Moraine?  Does the Ice Age Trail follow the edge of the last glacier?   He had to wait a few hours until we stopped at the State Forest Headquarters to get his answers from the experts.

Tall Hairy Agrimony

Ron was right in his thought that the "kettles" were made from chunks of glacial ice being deposited in the soil as glaciers retreated.  When the ice block melts, depressions called kettles are formed.  In most cases these depressions eventually fill with water sediment or vegetation.  My guess was it had something to do with the lakes in the area, so I wasn't wrong but Ron definitely knew his glacial stuff!

Now you're wondering what a moraine is, right?  A moraine is glacial debris ranging from sand to large boulders that get deposited as the ice moves and then melts.  Kettle Moraine is a belt of irregular ridges and upland areas that extends for more than 120 miles.

Deptford Pink (dianthus armeria)

Did you know that the most recent era of the last Ice Age is known as the Wisconsin Glaciation?  The route of the Ice Age trail generally follows the last outline of Wisconsin's most recent glacier 10,000 years ago.  The trail is one of eleven National Scenic Trails in the country.  I'm still hoping to pick a spot and do my first overnight solo hike on one of its segments before the year is over.  I bought the new Ice Age Trail guidebook while we were at the Forest Headquarters so I can get started.  I have a feeling 6 years is not going to be enough time for me to get fully acquainted with this trail before we retire, but I'll do my best.  

Help is needed identifying this giant plant with the pods on top pictured above and below.  We were all stumped.  Did you notice Barbara's Merrell hiking shoes?  She got them on sale at Shopko for $25!  Why don't I ever get that lucky?  I'm in the market for a new pair, but I know I'll end up paying a lot more than that.  All three of us wore our Columbia hats.  Great minds think alike.


Another way we think alike is our preference for avoiding smoky campfires.  We were all pretty relieved the other party wasn't going to be trying to smoke the other one out.  Pollen was bad enough in the air without adding that misery, and of course I didn't remember to use my inhaler until AFTER the hike.   That's what happens when you're too excited about getting on the trail.

Evening Primrose

As if the wildflower variety wasn't enough to keep us entertained, we had some butterfly visits as well.  We really enjoyed the iridescent blue color that shimmered in the sun as it moved on the specimen below. Thanks to the Wisconsin Buttterflies site I was able to identify it as the Red Spotted Purple.  Turns out butterflies take up water and minerals from wet sand.  I give up counting how many new things I learn each day, because I'll guarantee you it's way higher than one!

Mosquitoes weren't too bad on either trail and Barbara took a picture of my Bug-Me-Not spray bottle after I told her I just ordered two more bottles on the internet.  Even though you have to reapply every half hour it works well enough to be worth it, the smell is light and easy to wash out of clothing, and the price is less than other similar concoctions I've run across.

Sunflowers - Hairy Sunflower maybe?

Since they got to the campground the day before I did Barbara and Ron checked out the Scuppernong Springs Trail too and said they enjoyed it immensely.  They pointed out that while it's not much of a looker to start out with it turns out to be a very interesting trail and they met a very interesting gentlemen who is doing a lot to help it along including trying to eradicate the knapweed there. But I'll let them tell you that story, I'm sure they'll be posting about it eventually.


I thought for sure the above plant was Wild Mint so I crushed the leaves but didn't get the minty smell I was expecting.  I was not on my game as far as identifying plants goes that day, let me tell ya!  It's probably Motherwort which is a member of the mint family so I feel a little better about my identification-faux-pas.

White Campion

This darling bloom is most likely White Campion just starting to open.  When we were in Kewaunee recently as part of our Manitowoc wanderings I spotted its relative, Bladder Campion which is very pretty too.

Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) 

I'm fairly certain it was the Aphrodite Frittilaries that were floating around the Wild Bergamot near the end of our hike.  If you crush the leaves you'll get a scent similar to oregano from this plant.  I've been contemplating getting some of this for my flower bed, it's been especially pretty this season probably due to all the rain we've had this year.

In addition to the two different trails named Scuppernong there is also the Scuppernong River and the Scuppernong Prairie to visit if you're in the area like Barbara and Ron were. Wonder why everything is called Scuppernong in the area?  Me too, so if you find out let me know!  More about my new friends tomorrow, we had more to see at Bald Bluff.

P.S. - don't ask me how many hours it took to research this post!


  1. Some nice hikeing there and great to meet up with new people

  2. well (thanks to your research), Pam ... this was a delightful post (they all are). I love the trails you venture on; this time with newly found friends. I enjoyed the beautiful botanicals and also the butterflies. Interesting note about them feeding when on the ground

  3. Love my Blog Friends who become real life friends!! Barbara and Ron seem like nice folks. I've been reading her blog for a long time!

  4. It's always so much fun to get to meet blogger friends, isn't it? Great post.

    I need to get one of those Columbia hats.

  5. This is great. You did all the research for me. Although your pictures are so much better, I don't know how many I'll post. We had fun. Thanks again for showing us around.

  6. Such GREAT flower pictures. I sympathize with you on the research time but that's the only way I'd learn anything and I know if I weren't putting it on the blog I might well not make myself look things up. I'm guessing but Scuppernong is a grape. Wonder if it was growing wild everywhere. I thought it was a southern grape though since I've only seen it in the south. But then again maybe there is a guy named Scuppernong around there. Wonderful that you could meet up with some full timers. I didn't realize your departure date was so far in the future. Must be really hard to wait.

  7. Thanks for stopping by Pam. I was reading Barbara's blog and when I saw she mentioned you had hiked together, I came to see all the beautiful flowers I know you would have on your blog ... I wasn't disappointed. It's the after-the-fact research that gets me every time ;-)