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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Arbor Ridge Segment

Since the expected rain didn't materialize on Saturday I tossed some cool weather clothes on, grabbed my new camera accessories and headed for a section of the Ice Age Trail in Janesville.  I've spent a lot of time in Janesville over the last 2 decades because my daughter used to figure skate at their rink.  But aside from shopping and their fantastic public library I didn't explore the area much, and I did not know the IAT ran right through town.

Arbor Ridge trailhead

The Arbor Ridge trailhead is 2.1 miles and is inside the Robert O. Cook Memorial Arboretum which is located at the intersection of Austin Road and County Road A (Memorial Drive) on the west side of Janesville.  Again, I sure wish the IAT Guidebook would include something as simple as an intersection or GPS location in their descriptions of the trailheads.  I had to look it up and google map it.  Written directions from a specific point don't do you much good if you're not heading from that point.  Park in the first lot that you come to when you enter the property.

The trail starts out paved and passes a neat log cabin from the 1840's.  The local schools use the arboretum for educational purposes and there is also a lot of signage on the trails about the trees and the forest ecosystem. Just past the cabin the IAT turns into the forest.  Keep an eye out for the yellow IAT blazes as there are a lot of intersecting paths for the first mile.

shot with 10-22mm lens mounted on hiking stick monopod

I was astounded at the amount of Mayapple growing here.  In another week they will all be sporting their blossoms that hang underneath the leaves.  I hope the schools bring the kids out so they can bend over and peer in at them.

Mayapples line the trail and march through the woods

Also in abundance on this segment was Rue Anemone.  Most were white but some were tinged with a little pink.

Rue Anemone

The above flower and the fungus below were shot with the macro lens.  I found it heavy and awkward to use, as well as difficult to autofocus, which surprised me.  I also found the shots I did manage to get were no better than using a good zoom lens or a set of extension tubes which weigh a lot less and take up a lot less room in my bag.  So, surprisingly, the expensive lens is going back.

shot with macro

shot with zoom and then cropped

However, the 50-250mm zoom lens I bought was a joy to work with!  So lightweight that I could even leave it around my neck,  and it has a longer zoom range than the heavy Canon 18-135.

Interesting skeleton I found while looking at orange fungus- which small mammal is this?

As for the 50mm lens I found it to be redundant with the 50-250mm lens covering that distance just fine.  I had to step further back from objects than I would have liked to get them to fit in the frame.  That lens is going back as well, but I'm going to order the 40mm lens to see if it will work better for trail shots.  Most likely it will go back also, I'm finding I can always pull out the point-and-shoot or my iphone for those type of shots.  I did like the quality of the image with the 50mm lens, and think it would work perfectly for portraiture like the picture I took of Pumpkin.  But, as you all know portraiture is not really something I get the opportunity to do.  Maybe when I have grandchildren, right?

The trail winds up and down along an esker before coming to a road near the end of the segment.  Just follow the yellow arrow down the road to the intersection of Northridge Drive and County E to get to the next segment which is the Devil's Staircase.

shot with iPhone

I didn't know whether I was going to attempt the Devil's Staircase or not since I got a late start at 2:30 and stopped often to work with the new lenses, but I decided to push on expecting I shouldn't have any problem doing the return trip by 7:00.  Turns out I arrived back at my car at exactly that time, and it was worth the extra miles because the views and the wildflowers were glorious!  I took a little video on the Arbor Ridge Trail, including some of the deer I startled on my return and what I think is a groundhog. ("Don't drive angry!")  The video quality is great...until I try to edit it in anyway.  The first video was on my DSLR and the other two on my iPhone.  When I tried to edit them in Movie Maker it went crazy pixelated, and the same thing happened when I tried to edit them in YouTube's Editor.  Anyone know the solution to this problem??

For the groundhog you might have to click on the YouTube button and watch in fullscreen mode.  He is right behind the tree, kind of hard to see until he darts back in to the ground toward the end.

To see a sample from the Ice Age Trail Guidebook that I bought for $30 that covers these two shorter segments, click here.  On Tuesday I'll show you the connecting 1.7 mile Devil's Staircase segment.

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