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Saturday, April 11, 2015

Wet and Regret on the Monches Segment

It's another beautiful day in southeastern Wisconsin so I slung an overnight bag into my car and headed for the Monches Segment of the Ice Age Trail.   I needed to burn some calories this weekend because I finally broke down and had some truffles from Chubby Chipmunk in Deadwood, South Dakota delivered.  I've only eaten one and half so far....but the more exercise I get the more I can eat without regret, right?

Chubby Chipmunk: hopefully not my new nickname!

I got on the 3.1 mile long Monches Segment of the Ice Age Trail on E. Kilbourne by a railroad underpass filled with colorful graffiti.  It looked like there may have been a basic mural underneath at some point because I spied some hot air balloons floating above the "tags".

You may have seen on the Weather Channel the other day that our area got hit with some heavy rain and severe thunderstorms.  That tornado that leveled Rochelle, Illinois passed about a mile north of our house as it lost intensity on its trek into Wisconsin.  The sirens were going, the rain came down in sheets and we even got hail, but luckily the tornado was no longer on the ground.

All that rain means high water on the Oconomowoc River, and some of the trail was a little squishy and muddy too but that's what waterproof hiking shoes are for!

$600.00 shot?

Always willing to do what I have to do to get the shot I want, for the picture above I tucked my extra lens in my pocket, shed my pack and climbed up on a very large fallen tree to get a higher vantage point.  Getting up wasn't too hard, walking along the tree not so bad either.  It was the not-quite-big-enough jacket pocket that was the problem and my extra lens went rolling out and landed in the water.  Do I regret being so casual with a lens that cost me almost $600?  I hope I don't have to, I'll send it in to Canon and see if it can be cleaned up but it was loaded with water, not to mention the drop from about 6 feet in the air, who knows what it hit on the way down.

Since I was only about five minutes from the car I switched my DSLR out for my point and shoot and put the lens tragedy out of my mind.  There was nothing I could do about it and I was determined to enjoy the hike.  It wasn't long before all I was focusing on was the red headed woodpecker who didn't fly away and the skunk cabbage blooming on the side of the trail.

skunk cabbage 

hiking stick is great for pulling stuff aside without getting your hands dirty!

There was even one lonely marsh marigold blooming, putting on a show just to cheer me up.

The Monches Segment is mostly flat and meanders through the woods, keeping close to the Oconomowoc River and a few little brooks cascading towards it.

Oconomowoc River 

I noticed a ridiculous amount of trout lily pushing up out the ground and a passing couple confirmed the fact that in another week or two the middle of the segment is eye popping.  They also warned me that up ahead where the trail crossed the river there was some flooding and I might need to turn back.  That wasn't an option today, I had a plan to have Katrina pick me up at the end of the segment since she was nearby at the Milwaukee Zoo with her new boyfriend who lives in Waukesha.

Two gals came around the corner with their shoes in their hands and confirmed that while the water was cold it was easy to follow the trail through the 50 feet or so where the trail was flooded so I took my shoes off and that's what I did!

A boardwalk and a bridge waited for me on the other side so I let my feet dry out before continuing on.  I knew this section was kind of swampy and I chose this time of year to hike it in order to avoid hordes of mosquitoes which was a great plan, I certainly have no regrets when it comes to avoiding tick and skeeter season when I can.

bridge rail lichen

After crossing the Oconomowoc River on the bridge the river was on my right and gradually I left it behind as I started a gradual climb up some eskers.  It was great to have such a level hike for a change, but I was happy to see what is becoming familiar glacial terrain for me as I keep exploring the Ice Age Trail.  I timed the end of the segment perfectly and Katrina and Charlie met me at the terminus minutes after I got there.  Tonight I'm camping a half an hour south of where I hiked at Ottawa Lake campground and tomorrow I'll tackle the 4.8 mile Loew Lake Segment and take advantage of Katrina's proximity to this area again to get it all done in one shot.


  1. Looks like a nice walk! Always nice to get out exploring.

  2. Mmmmm.....Chubby Chipmunk truffles. A must stop every summer when I'm home in the Black Hills. Bummer about your camera lens. Hope Canon can fix it. Glad to see your weather has been warm enough for hiking.

  3. Noooo, not the new lens! I admire your resolve to not let it spoil the day :)

  4. That was a super photo but not sure it was worth $600. But we do strange things for a great shot:) Hope you are able to get it repaired without too much cost. Sure looks like you had a ton of fun with the water and muck:)

  5. Oh good, the tornado passed you by. OH NO, the camera lens. I'm so sorry. I love seeing you in what looks like a winter landscape in your no sleeves. Great shot of the Pileated and the skunk cabbages. When those are in bloom in Virginia I'm wearing my winter coat. You are definitely an Ice Age gal with a great attitude. Not sure I could let go of the lens thing and enjoy the rest of the hike. Glad you did. I admire you. Is that the official name of the lichen? :-)

  6. Really like the Pileated Woodpecker shot. I'm with you on not worrying about something (bad) that's already happened ... what the heck could you do at that point? Continue on with your mostly enjoyable day, that's what! Our snow has completely melted and, thank goodness, we don't have tornado weather in this part of the country. Never mind about earthquakes! :- )