Kettles & Moraines & Knitting

As I’m sure you could guess, having sunny & 70 degree conditions meant my little band of adventurers & I were out and about yesterday. The North Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest was selected by our son for the simple reason that we could bring the dog. The other options we gave him were not dog-friendly, so it was a no-brainer for him. It was great for us, too, as we are working on training our son to be in charge of the pup for some of our larger hikes coming up this summer when the adults will have bigger packs. Win-win!

The Kettle Moraine Forest is pretty lovely. It earns it’s name from the loads of glacial features formed during the last ice age. Believe it or not, the state is very rich in geologic history — so much so that the National Park Service is in the process of building the Ice Age National Scenic Trail which is 1,200 winding miles throughout Wisconsin highlighting the glacier’s edge. This trail goes right through Kettle Moraine Forest for good reason. It abounds with moraines –unsorted gravel left by the glaciers that form ridges which can range from 10 to 300ft in height — and kettles — essentially ponds or lakes on today’s landscape, they were formed when large chunks of ice laden with rocks broke off the glacier creating depressions that then filled with the melting ice. The Ice Age Trail Alliance has awesome resources if you want to know more. Suffice to say though, Kettle Moraine Forest was once covered by a mile of ice and the landscape was molded by that. Pretty darn humbling if you ask me!

For Wisconsin, there are a lot of ups and downs in the hiking but it is very beautiful. Early wildflowers were in bloom and while we were a bit disappointed by the scarcity of warblers where we were at, I did get to see my first Gray Catbirds of the year (it was my unspoken goal for the day, so yay!), Eastern Towhees, and a handful of other songbirds as well as a Red Shouldered Hawk & a Broad-Winged Hawk. So, not a bad day birding at all even though it was not what we expected.

Our hike was about 3.5miles which doesn’t sound like much for the average fit adult, but that is about the extent of how far my bum leg & I can go these days, especially considering the hills. It’s also just beyond the reach of my daughter — when you are small, there are a lot more steps involved! In any case, I of course, snapped some photos and wrote a little story to share.

20130505-141106.jpgHitting the trail — my daughter never just runs, she ‘flies’ everywhere.

20130505-141510.jpgIt’s a relatively moist area with moss at the base of almost every tree….

20130505-141438.jpgSometimes there are flowers there, too….

20130505-141518.jpgAnd colorful lichen decorate the trees.

20130505-141449.jpgThese trees bend over the trail, an arched canopy to march beneath.

20130505-141412.jpgAnd on the other side a simple picnic awaited.

20130505-141403.jpgAnd what picnic is complete without ants? I am always in awe of how organized these little hills are.

20130505-141424.jpgThere were pines that littered the ground with their cones…20130505-141527.jpgAnd birch stands…

20130505-141536.jpgAnd just thick woods on all sides, all about to bud out with leaves. Don’t blink, they’ll do so in an instant.

imageThere were marsh marigolds on the riversides….20130505-141547.jpgAnd many more trails than our tired legs could tackle.

20130505-141718.jpgAnd at the end, while the kids enjoyed the Ice Age Center with my husband, I rested my legs with a tuckered pup.

We rounded out our evening with a campfire. And with summer thoughts in my mind, the sun on my face, & a gin and tonic in my hand, I knitted on my Kit Camisole. The linen stitch edge is slow-going, but I am about halfway through it.20130506-092138.jpgI can’t wait to wear this — it will be perfect for summer! I will admit, however, that I am already thinking about another summer top thanks to my friend, Alisa, who posted a photo of her in-progress Cap Sleeve Lattice Top (really, thanks for that, Alisa — LOL!). I suppose we’ll just have to see how quickly I work through Kit… Can you say incentive to click away?!

For any locals interested in the hike we did, you can check out the trail map here. We parked at the Ice Age Center and then hiked the Yellow Trail to Red Trail to Green Trail to Yellow Trail in a big loop. It is really pleasant this time of year, but do be aware it can be buggy (including ticks) later in the season. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions!

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