Yes! Finally, a weekend without tons of stuff going on, certainly I can find a couple of hours for a hike. I did yesterday! I hiked 6 miles on the Ice Age Trail in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest of Wisconsin. It was a great day to get out for a winter hike. Not too cold at 26° F and lightly snowing when I arrived at the trailhead. Before I started my hike, I helped to free car that was stuck in the snow of the unplowed trailhead parking lot. If you decide to come here be prepared, do not try parking in the lot right at the trailhead if you are driving a car with low ground clearance, I have seen people park on the road directly across Highway P from the trailhead.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin is not yet complete, with only about 600 miles of blazed trail segments out of the 1200 miles of total length. For more information about the Ice Age Trail, check out the Ice Age Trail Alliance website at www.iceagetrail.org.
My afternoon hike encompassed only a short piece of this great trail totaling about 6 miles. Walking south from the Highway P Trailhead near Glenbeulah to State Highway 23 and then following the same route back to the truck. This completely wooded section of trail has an elevation gain of about 365 feet. There is no shortage of great views along this hike. The first two miles the trail follows hardwood ridges, with great views overlooking wooded valleys on both sides. The third mile brings you into thick pine stands and the Aspen Reforestation area before coming out of the woods where the trail crosses Highway 23.
This is the first time I have done this hike in winter. It is always neat to take in an area during different seasons. In the winter, you notice things that you cannot see in summer when there are leaves on the trees limiting how far you can see. Winter in any woods is special for many reasons; you can easily see the tracks where the wildlife walk and the picturesque views of snow hanging in tree branches is simply awesome. The trail conditions are really nice right now. Snowshoes are not required, but there is just enough snow that they would definitely be helpful.
At the end of the day I felt great having finally gotten out for a hike this winter (it’s been way too long). I recommend to anyone getting out and spending some time in nature especially as the winter drags on, there is plenty of natural beauty to cleanse and rejuvenate your body and mind. Don’t forget to Like my Wild Stewardship Facebook page, and check out my website www.wildstewardship.com.
It’s two days after Christmas, did you get everything you asked for this year? It’s time to get outside and test out all those new gadgets and gear that got unwrapped in the last few days. Maybe you got a new bird feeder to put out in the yard, or some new hiking socks, a GPS, or trekking poles to test out. No matter what your favorite outdoor gift was this year, make sure you put it to good use and get outside.
Now is also the time to think about New Year’s Resolutions for 2017. To be successful at keeping your resolution, make sure your goal is realistic. It may also help to write it down and put it somewhere visible so it is not forgotten about. Try setting your resolution as a task or reminder in your phone, we all know those go with us everywhere these days. Don’t forget, it is ok to have multiple smaller goals, not just one big one to work toward. In fact, having a list of resolutions can be a benefit because you are more likely to find some success, and crossing goals off your list can motivate you to complete even more. If you don’t get to all of them that is ok too, you can roll the rest of the list over to next year.
Need some help coming up with an outdoor resolution? Here is a short list of ideas to get your wheels turning:
- Try hiking a new trail each month. There are many smartphone apps out there to download that will show you the trails near you.
- Check out a state or county park that you haven’t visited yet.
- Take your running to another level and try trail running. We all know running is great exercise, but getting out in nature will help to boost your state of mind as well.
- Teach someone to hunt, fish, or trap. Passing on your knowledge helps to ensure a bright future for these outdoor sports.
- Put up a bird house or feeder in your yard. This is not just a good way to give back and help the birds in your area, but also allows for bird watching opportunities. Remember to check out www.wildstewardship.com when shopping for your bird house.
- Learn to process your own venison or other game meat this next hunting season. It is a wonderful feeling and connection to nature to know exactly where your food comes from, and what goes into it.
- Give kayaking a try. Lakes and rivers are everywhere, get out there and start paddling.
- Join a conservation group. There are lots of them ranging from local sportsman’s clubs to state and nation wide organizations.
- Plan a backcountry backpacking trip, either near you or out of state.
- Plan an out of state hunt. Maybe you are a Midwesterner who has always dreamed of going on a Moose, Elk, or Caribou hunt. Take a step this year toward making it a reality.
Merry Christmas to all, get outside and make your new year an exceptional one!