Unlike Bigfoot and broken promises, Baraboo is the real thing

Being nestled between the Dells and Devil’s Lake may sound like a recipe for being an outdoor-recreation also-ran, but the city of Baraboo has its own fresh-air gem in its Baraboo Riverwalk.

Part of the Ice Age Trail, the Riverwalk is only four miles of mostly-paved walkways meandering through the heart of Baraboo. It shows off a charming small city in its best light and it’s worth a trip for its own sake, although there’s plenty of bonus entertainment that comes along with it.

Hiking buddy Chris Sadler and I recently took two vehicles, parking one at the northern trail endpoint at the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County campus in Baraboo. We extended our hiking distance by heading to a parking area just off State Highway 113 in the eastern portion of Devil’s Lake State Park, where the Devil’s Lake segment of the IAT starts.

The park wasn’t in our itinerary for the day, although it and other area local spots are on the agenda for future columns.

Continue reading

Monona’s Edna Taylor Conservation Park brings mounds of benefits

The commitment to conservation and outdoor recreation by true Wisconsinites never fails to disappoint, as I was reminded during a business trip to Madison last week.

With a lunchtime meeting set up, I had planned a post-meal walk at the University of Wisconsin Arboretum before heading back to Point. A quick look at the map, however, showed me there was something much closer to the restaurant in Monona – in fact, three somethings in one.

Continue reading

Leadership, like the outdoors, is never out of season

My 9-year-old asked me to pull our bikes off the winter bike hooks in the garage this past Saturday, marking the passage of another season and inadvertently leading to another weekend of youngsters reminding me of life’s important lessons.

Lorena and a friend wanted to go to the library and accidentally rode off with no locks and no adult supervision. When overly-protective dad couldn’t find the two girls until about 20 minutes later, I scolded them a little too roundly, accusing them of not having been where they said would.

It turns out they had been, but finished so quickly – returning and checking out items, then apparently reaching 9-year-old boredom thresholds – that they headed back home. Their dismay at the unfair scolding was evident, so I sought forgiveness with ice cream at Emy J’s.

Continue reading

When change seems “barley” tolerable, head outside

It’s been so cold lately that I’ve stayed inside more, nursing a tweaked knee and reading about important scientific findings I can use to convince myself to go back outside.

Some knowledge is harder to relate to outdoor recreation, such as the piece I read about Ocean Alliance researchers using drones to collect whale mucus.  No kidding – they use what they lightheartedly call a “snot-bot” to fly over whales spouting on the surface, as it’s a non-invasive way to collect the expectorations of the great mammals in order to study their DNA.

Continue reading

Merrill School Forest a great first, second or third choice

Lesson learned: always bring snowshoes.

Frequent hiking buddy Chris Sadler and I were reminded of the need for winter preparedness during a not-so-well-planned trip to hike the Turtle Rock Segment of the Ice Age Trail last week. We set out to knock a few more miles off the IAT, but Chris forgot to prompt his hiking buddy to prompt Chris to bring the paraphernalia required to negotiate the trail.

I suppose I could blame any addle-brained behavior on my part to osmosis. After all, it was Chris who spent the previous three weeks in South Carolina, where temperatures in the 40s apparently cause most of that region’s population to hole up, barring their doors until everything blooms again and they can hear ice cream trucks jangling down the street.

Truth be told, this was just one of those trips where I agonized over a destination, and thus never picked one until shortly before Chris came to pick me up. I asked when he arrived if he’d brought snowshoes, and because he hadn’t, we decided to skip them.

Continue reading